Virgina AG Ken Cuccinelli Target Of Protests For Anti-Gay Policy
Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s new Attorney General, directed all state schools and colleges to remove any existing sexual orientation references from their non-discrimination policies. Now he is facing major backlash from the campus populations, LGBTQ activists, and even conservative politicians.
In a memo last week, Cuccinelli wrote,
â€œIt is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly.”
The Washington Post called Cuccinelli’s move “his most aggressive initiative on conservative social issues since taking office in January,” adding,
“What he’s saying is reprehensible,” said Vincent F. Callahan Jr., a former Republican member of the House of Delegates who serves on George Mason’s board of visitors. “I don’t know what he’s doing, opening up this can of worms.”
“It is not entirely clear what recourse Cuccinelli would have if the universities do not follow his advice. Claire Guthrie GastaÃ±aga, general counsel to the gay rights group Equality Virginia and a former deputy attorney general, urged boards to seek a second opinion. “They call it advice for a reason,” she said.
“Former attorney general Jerry Kilgore (R) agreed it would be difficult for Cuccinelli to enforce his opinion without pursuing court action. But he said college visitors swear an oath to abide by state statute.”
“U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement that Cuccinelli’s advice would “damage the Commonwealth’s reputation for academic excellence and diversity.”
On its College, Inc. blog, The Post also reports,
“The University of Virginia group Queer & Allied Activism has launched a social media campaign, urging students to protest on Cuccinelli’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and to sign a petition organized by the group Equality Virginia.
“Some students contend Cuccinelli released the letter late last week on purpose, because it caught many students leaving for break.
“I’ve never gotten so many e-mails from students wanting to do something,” said Brandon Carroll, 21, student government president at Virginia Tech. In his view, any erosion in gay rights at state universities is “going to make us lose top students. It’s going to make us lose top faculty.”
In, “Virginia Is For Haters,” civil rights activist, author, and former Clinton White House senior advisor David Mixner calls the actions by both Cuccinelli and his boss, Governor Bob McDonnell “hostile and bigoted,” a “campaign of hate,” and urges action:
“If the new generation of activists created by Proposition 8 ever needed a target, this is it.”
Mixner has offered an eleven-point action plan, and this warning:
“If we allow them to proceed without disruption, paying no price for such actions and continuing with business as usual, then we can expect others to follow in their footsteps and we should get ready to find enjoyment in being second class citizens.”
Students themselves have taken to protesting on a large scale.
A University of Virginia student group, “Queer & Allied Activism,” wrote a letter to both Governor McDonnell and AG Cuccinelli, stating,
“This move sets the tone for the state and universities and sends the message that LGBTQ individuals are not welcome in Virginia. This is a clear flip flop on his campaign promise not to promote a social agenda,” and wisely adding, “based on our own research of the top 50 schools ranked by US News & World Reports, 49 of 50 schools have non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation, and 38 have protections for gender identity.”
In conjunction with their social media campaign, they have also created a Facebook page, “WE DON’T WANT DISCRIMINATION IN OUR STATE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES!” which currently has over 4500 fans and is growing rapidly.
The ACLU of Virginia is getting involved too. Via their website:
“The ACLU of Virginia is sending letters to all public university presidents warning them against taking any action that would permit discrimination against gay and lesbian employees or students.Â According to the ACLU, gays and lesbians are protected against governmental discrimination by the U.S. Constitution.
“The letter, from ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca K. Glenberg, is intended to counteract a March 4 letter from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli informing state universities that their non-discrimination policies as applied to gays and lesbians are not authorized by state law and must be rescinded.
â€œCuccinelliâ€™s letter is an affront to anyone who stands for the principle of equal protection under the law,â€ said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis.Â â€œRegardless of state law or policy, not only should universities prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but they are required to do so under the U.S. Constitution.â€
â€œIf Ken Cuccinelli is trying to say that the U.S. Constitution doesnâ€™t apply in Virginia,â€ added Willis, â€œhis first significant act as Attorney General is a giant step backwards and a huge embarrassment for the state.â€
Let me add this. Elections matter. The time to get involved is now. As I wrote in “Eight Months From Today, The America We Know Will Be Gone,”
“Governors sign — or veto — same sex marriage legislation. Governors and mayors include — or exclude — the LGBTQ workforce from their anti-discrimination policies. (Thank you again, newly sworn-in Virgina Governor Bob McDonnell, for removing protections for LGBTQ state workers, even though you campaigned on an agenda that you claimed wasn’t about social issues, but financial ones.)
“Why does this matter? Because there still are Republicans who would like to not only ensure DOMA doesn’t get repealed, but that there’s a federal marriage amendment written into the constitution that clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Think that’s impossible today? Not when support for same-sex marriage in some polls is slightly declining, and not when the last time the Federal Marriage Amendment was voted on was less than four years ago. (And not when just two weeks ago, Senator Mike Pence called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage!)”
Lastly, let me also say this: The LGBTQ community has it tough as it is. We are second-class citizens, without the same rights that our heterosexual counterparts have and often take for granted. Like the right to marry. Like, the right to serve honestly in the armed forces. Like the right to adopt children as a couple. And so many others.
But when members of our own community actively campaign for people like Bob McDonnell, this is the end result. The Log Cabin Republicans of Virginia knew there was an issue with McDonnell when, during the campaign, the Washington Post found an old college thesis of McDonnell’s that was, to quote the Log Cabin Republicans themselves, “frightening.”
In the Log Cabin Republicans’ September, 2009 newsletter, here’s what they had to say:
“In response to the widely quoted, 20-year-old college thesis that the Washington Post recently unearthed, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has expressed his strongest support to date for the principle of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by the government.Â The dissertation expressed some frightening views for those who believe in limited government, individual rights, and equality under the law.Â McDonnell says his views on these issues have changed and that he now believes that â€œgovernment should not punish or discriminate based on anyoneâ€™s sexual orientation.â€Â Much of his voting record in the House, however, is at odds with this admirable statement, so Mr. McDonnell appears to be a work in progress on glbt issues.”
Get that? A “work in progress.” Well, folks, this “work in progress” walked in the door, was sworn in, and then actively went out of his way to remove long-term anti-discrimination protections from Virginia’s LGBTQ community. And then, his homphobic Attorney General followed suit even more strongly.
The Log Cabin Republicans of Virginia did speak out aggressively against Cuccinelli, but also did support McDonnell. It only takes a nod from the top to give all the others the support they need to do each others’ bidding.
Is anyone surprised?
I’m not. Nor is DailyPress.com’s Carol CapÃ³, who, in, “As Cuccinelli shows his stripes, what was Virginia thinking?,” writes,
“The new attorney general’s fast out of the blocks with controversial moves in his first months on the job. Controversial, but not surprising. In his campaign, he made no bones about his ideas and ideals. Now we’ll see how they work out as state policy.
“Actually, the idea of an attorney general making policy is alarming. When the governor and General Assembly do it, there are checks and balances.
“But when the attorney general starts in, where’s the check? When he comes out of the far reaches of the ideological spectrum, as Cuccinelli does, there’s no balance. Only some far-off accountability, at the next election. But attorneys general rarely run for re-election. Usually, they’re using the office to polish up their rÃ©sumÃ© for the job they really want: governor.
“To this one, Virginia, pay attention.”
Virginia, and every other state as well.
Ironically, on Cuccinelli’s own website, in a letter thanking voters, he writes,
“In addition to standing guard over your individual rights during my tenure, you can count on me to stand guard against constitutional overreaching by the federal government, but only thanks to your support and your efforts.”
So, let’s get to work!”
I suppose one could add, “Unless you’re LGBTQ.”
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'GOOD LUCK WITH THAT'
‘Trying to Have It Both Ways’: Ivanka ‘Flailing’ as Trump Indictment Slams Family
While Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have taken to their social media platforms to viciously lash out at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for indicting their father on a reported 30 charges, Ivanka Trump posted a rather muted statement on her Instagram account which simply said, “I love my father, and I love my country. Today, I am pained for both. I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern.”
According to Daily Beast conservative columnist Matt Lewis, the so-called “First Daughter,” who served in the White House with her father, is trying to stay true to her former president dad, while distancing herself from his legal problems — and it is not going to work for her.
As Lewis put it, Ivanka is “flailing” in her attempts to shed the memory of her participation in the Trump administration that reached its lowest point on Jan. 6 when supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives.
“It’s hard to argue with anything Ivanka says here, but it is not a statement of moral clarity. Nor is it (conversely) a statement of strong support for her father. She’s flailing and trying to have it both ways,” Lewis wrote before adding, “Now, it’s understandable that a daughter might not want to utterly condemn her father. Further, children are not responsible for their parents’ sins. Except, of course, if you consider the fact that Ivanka served as the primary weapon in the ‘Trump’s not such a belligerent pig as his four decades as a public figure would make you think’ propaganda push.”
RELATED: Trump is so ‘unmoored from reality’ he can’t act as a defense witness: ‘Art of the Deal’ ghostwriter
Noting that Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner — who has baggage of his own — both stuck with Trump in the White House for all four years, Lewis added, “As far as the former first daughter goes, she and her husband might be done with politics, but once you’ve been a party to an administration like Trump’s, it’s going to be a long time before politics is done with them.”
“So, Ivanka, you want to have a seat at the cool apolitical kids’ table? You want to be once again accepted by the socially liberal billionaires’ children you used to go to the Hamptons with and now have Miami Beach playdates with? You want to enjoy the privileges of being a Trump with none of the shame? Good luck with that,” he concluded.
You can read more here.
Dominion Wins ‘Blockbuster Victories’ Against Fox News – Last Legal Issue Will Be Decided by a Jury: Report
Dominion Voting Systems won what are being called “blockbuster victories” Friday afternoon when a judge ruled the company suing Fox News for $1.6 billion in a major defamation lawsuit had met its burden of proof that Rupert Murdoch‘s far-right wing cable channel had repeatedly made false statements.
The final, and likely greatest legal issue Dominion will have to prove will be actual malice. That issue will be decided in a jury trial, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis ruled Friday, according to Law & Crime.
Unlike previous cases, Fox News will reportedly not be able to argue the on-air statements its personalities made were opinion.
CNN legal analyst and Brookings senior fellow Norm Eisen calls Friday’s decision a “huge win for Dominion on their summary judgment motion against Fox News.”
READ MORE: Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’
“Dominion won partial summary judgement that what Fox said about them was false! Now they just have to prove actual malice and damages,” Eisen says. “Meanwhile Fox’s motion was totally denied.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor adds: “Dominion’s evidence Fox made false statements with reckless disregard is as strong as any I’ve seen.”
The judge was very clear in his ruling.
“While the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to Fox, the record does not show a genuine issue of material fact as to falsity,” Judge Davis wrote. “Through its extensive proof, Dominion has met its burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to falsity. Fox therefore had the burden to show an issue of material fact existed in turn. Fox failed to meet its burden.”
READ MORE: ‘Propaganda Network’: Media Reporter Says Dominion Filing Exposes Fox News as ‘Void of the Most Basic Journalistic Ethics’
Attorney and MSNBC host and legal analyst Katie Phang points to this key passage in Judge Davis’ ruling.
Dominion has won the argument on the issue of falsity, meaning that as the Court funds below, “it is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.” pic.twitter.com/7lKEspN0WI
— Katie S. Phang (@KatiePhang) March 31, 2023
Court watchers and news junkies are familiar at this point with the massive legal filings Dominion has made in which it exposed how Fox News knowingly made false statements regarding the 2020 presidential election. Those filings, each hundreds of pages, also detail internal Fox News communications and bombshell conversations between the company’s top personalities, executives, and even Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Image of Rupert Murdoch via Shutterstock
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’
The U.S. Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms on Friday jointly issued a statement warning they “anticipate” Trump protests across the country. The statement is not time-specific, and it states it has no information on “credible threats,” but some Democratic offices are allowing staffers to work from home Friday and Tuesday.
“The Sergeant at Arms and United States Capitol Police (USCP) anticipate demonstration activity across the country related to the indictment of former President Trump. While law enforcement is not tracking any specific, credible threats against the Capitol or state offices, there is potential for demonstration activity. USCP is working with law enforcement partners, so you may observe a greater law enforcement presence on Capitol Hill,” the statement reads.
“The SAA and USCP are monitoring the potential nationwide impacts to Senate state offices,” it adds.
The House Sergeant at Arms was conspicuously absent from the statement. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has control over that office.
READ MORE: Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor
Additionally, Axios is reporting, “several House Democrats are allowing staffers to work from home as a safety precaution,” noting that “the memory of Trump supporters ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 is still fresh on the mind.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is allowing staff to work from home for safety reasons. She told Axios, “I don’t ever want to see a Jan. 6 again.”
“I’ve been in the Trump hate tunnel, Donald Trump has gone after me, and quite frankly I don’t have security. I don’t have entourages.”
She’s not the only Democrat to raise concerns.
“Much of the language from the former President and his devotees is similar to what inspired Jan. 6th,” U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips said. “I’m concerned about safety for my colleagues and my staff.”
READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump
Meanwhile, House Republicans are issuing full-throated support for Trump and calling for protests.
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was called out by name in a six-page letter Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent to Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan Friday morning, announced she will be in New York on Tuesday to support Trump when he is arraigned. She has posted several tweets since Trump was indicted.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Thursday seemingly designed to gin up rage and action in the MAGA base.
“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
Image by Elvert Barnes via Flickr and a CC license
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