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Putting it All On the Line: Giving Up Freedom for a Little Equality

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We’ve all “liked” a post on Facebook advocating for LGBTQ rights, whether that be marriage equality, adoption, non-discrimination, or anti-bullying. Many of us have shown up for rallies, blogged, or even picked up the phone and called a lawmaker.  But there are those, a rare few, who are willing to put it all on the line and go to jail so the rest of us gain equality.

Around the nation, the community has watched in fascination as Judge Robert Shelby struck down the Beehive State’s ban on same-sex marriage in December, setting off a marriage frenzy over the next 17 days as roughly 1,400 couples got hitched before SCOTUS granted an emergency stay while Utah appeals the ruling with the 10th Circuit Court. But behind the glitz and glitter of the fight over marriage equality, tireless activists in the reddest of red states have stepped up their game for a law that’s even more important: workplace and housing protections.

A non-discrimination law, barring employers or landlords from discriminating against anyone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity has been pushed every year in Utah for the past five years, with little to no results. During the 2013 legislative session, the law successfully passed out of committee for the very first time (after which it promptly died on the floor of the state senate without receiving a debate).

Despite the state’s image, the only place a non-discrimination law is unpopular in Utah is in the state legislature itself. Multiple statewide polls have all shown support for the law hovering between 67 and 77 percent, and a few weeks ago hundreds of blue slips of paper were taped to the doors of the Utah Senate by citizens of all political stripes demanding a hearing on the non-discrimination law.

sb100 2Image by Ben Winslow via Instagram

This year, Republican lawmakers (who hold a super-majority in both the House and Senate) were advised by State Attorney General Sean Reyes and outside counsel Gene Schaerr to deny the non-discrimination bill a public hearing—regardless of whether it would pass or not—for fear that some lawmaker would make an extremely bigoted statement against LGBTQ people and hurt the state’s appeal with the 10th Circuit which is set to begin April 10th. That fear seems pretty founded, as one Senator recently penned an op-ed calling marriage equality a “massacre.”

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser heeded the Attorney General’s advice, and told the media that he was not going to allow the bill to receive a hearing because LGBTQ issues are “too emotional” right now.

That was enough to push 15 LGBTQ activists over the edge.

Without warning or announcement, the group showed up at the capitol building with “We are the 72%” and “Hear SB100” signs around their necks, forming a human-barricade in front of Governor Gary Herbert’s (R) main office doors. “If the democratic process won’t work, and if we’re allowed for procedural things like tabling to stop hearing things like the nondiscrimination bill, it’s time for regular citizens to engage in peaceful acts like civil disobedience,” said Dustin Trent.

“I don’t even have a parking ticket,” added Donna Weinholtz, “but I’m willing to be arrested today.”

Several lawmakers spoke with the group, thanking them for their passion and trying to negotiate an agreement to get them to stand down. But after each offer, including a private meeting with both the Senate President and the Governor, the activists responded with a resounding “NO.” The only way they were going to move, they said, was if the Senate agreed to give the bill a public hearing, or if they were arrested.

Eventually, the governor’s staff were bustled out a side door in an attempt to take away the power of the human-blockade. But the protesters responded by moving from the governor’s office to a legislative committee room, where crowds of people and lobbyists were trying to get in and out. The crowd was not happy they couldn’t get into the room, and shouts of “Arrest them!” rang out in the cramped space. Utah Highway Patrolmen, who handle security at the capitol building, immediately placed 13 of the protesters under arrest for suspicion of disruption of a public meeting, a class B misdemeanor; and disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor.

As they were being led away in handcuffs, protester Troy Williams shouted out “With liberty and justice for ALL!”

Was it worth it? Well, Senate Republicans have still refused to give the non-discrimination bill a hearing. But on the other hand, the Utah Legislature received a pretty fat black eye as the story of the protesters spread throughout not only local media, but on national sites like MSN (and now here on NCRM!).

While those of us who live in blue states sit back and enjoy the fruits of old labors, eagerly watching as marriage equality battles unfold, it’s easy to forget that there are many places left in the country where basic protections don’t exist and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are still vulnerable. But with heroes like this, willing to step up and put it all on the line for the sake of everyone else, I’m not too worried. Bigotry cannot long stand against the tide of justice and understanding.

protesters releasedThe 13 arrested protesters, after being released from the Salt Lake County Jail.
Photo credit: @JimDabakis

Image, top, by Ben Winslow via Twitter

Follow Eric Ethington on Twitter @EricEthington

eric ethingtonEric Ethington has been specializing in political messaging, communications strategy, and public relations for more than a decade. Originally hailing from Salt Lake City, he now works in Boston for a social justice think tank. Eric’s writing, advocacy work, and research have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, the New York Times, The Telegraph, and The Public Eye magazine. He’s worked as a radio host, pundit, blogger, activist and electoral campaign strategist. He also writes at NuanceStillMatters.com

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Less Than Half of Florida Voters Would Choose ‘Polarizing’ DeSantis New Poll Finds

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Ron DeSantis is facing much more challenging odds of winning re-election than some would assume as a just-released poll finds less than half of Floridians would vote for their Republican governor.

The poll, released by Florida progressive groups but more heavily weighted toward a GOP electorate finds just 48 percent of all registered voters would vote for DeSantis, and 43 percent would choose the Democratic nominee, Florida Politics reports. The Democratic gubernatorial primary is August 23, between U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, their former governor, and Nikki Fried, the current commissioner of agriculture.

“About 2,244 registered Florida voters [were] weighted to reflect a midterm electorate favorable to Republicans. Respondents were surveyed between July 26 and 31.” The poll was released by by Progress Florida and Florida Watch.

READ MORE: Ron DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law Goes Into Effect as Schools Scramble to Avoid Parental Lawsuits

DeSantis is viewed favorably by 50% of voters, but unfavorably by 48%.

“Given his financial advantage DeSantis remains a favorite to win re-election, but his polarizing nature could put a ceiling on his support,” a memo from pollsters Geoff Puryear and Annika Ramnath reads.

Given DeSantis’ nearly-daily press conferences, often surrounded by children or law enforcement, many forget he won his gubernatorial election in an extremely tight race, by 32,463 votes, a margin of just 0.4%.

READ MORE: ‘Combative’ Press Secretary for Ron DeSantis Registers as Foreign Agent After DOJ Inquiry: Report

To beat DeSantis the Democratic candidate would need to overcome the poll’s five-point spread, meaning securing more than half of the nine percent of undecideds or pulling several points away from DeSantis, or greatly increasing Democratic voter turnout. Back in April DeSantis decried Democrats moving to Florida, calling it “a problem” because “they would continue to vote the same way.”

The polling memo notes that 65% of Florida voters “prefer the Democratic message” on abortion.

“Democrats in Florida need to make sure that as surely as abortion rights were on the ballot in Kansas…abortion rights are on the ballot this fall, and that voters know that Marci Rubio, Ron DeSantis, and legislative Republicans support extreme abortion bans, even for victims of rape and incest,” the pollsters’ memo adds.

DeSantis has doubled down on many of his highly controversial moves, including signing into law the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which made nationwide news for months. He reversed a 50-year law that effectively granted Disney World the ability to assume most governmental operations for its district, as a punishment for the company, a huge employer in the Sunshine State, speaking out in opposition to the anti-LGBTQ law.

Authoritarianism exert Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University, in June told Insider DeSantis is “a very dangerous individual” because “he is equally repressive, but doesn’t have the baggage of Trump.”

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Trump Rambles for 108 Minutes in CPAC Speech Filled With ‘Unapologetic Fascism’: Report

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Former President Donald Trump spoke for nearly two hours in his closing address at the CPAC summit in Dallas.

In Trump’s view, America has been destroyed in the 18 months since he left office, with out-of-control crime, inflation, and oddly enough unemployment, which Trump estimates to be three times the official number.

Trump took the stage to the song “God Bless the USA” and began by thanking the “proud patriots” in attendance.

Trump said he was proud to be joined by Rep. Ronnie Jackson (R-TX), who was his White House surgeon.

“He was an admiral, a doctor, and now he’s a congressman,” Trump noted, saying he asked him which was the best.

“And he sort of indicated doctor, because he loved to look at my body. It was so strong and powerful,” Trump said.

Trump then introduced Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

“This is no time for complacency,” Trump warned. “We have to seize this opportunity to deal with the radical left socialist lunatic fascists. We have to hit them very, very hard. It has to be a crippling defeat.”

He went on to complain about Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed a procedural vote after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote while Trump was speaking, resulting in harsh words for GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“But McConnell is the most unpopular politician in the country, even more so than crazy Nancy Pelosi, and something has to be done,” Trump urged.

Trump said Biden “surrendered our strength and our everything [in Afghanistan], they surrendered our dignity.”

Michael Hardy, senior editor at the Texas Monthly, was one of the local journalists covering the speech. He said that line had “echoes of the Nazi ‘stab in the back theory’ of losing WW1.”

Trump then described crime in “Democrat-run (sic) cities” in very dark terms.

“The streets of our Democrat-run cities are drenched in the blood of innocent victims,” Trump claimed. “Bullets are killing little beautiful little children who never had a chance. Car jackers lay in wait like predators.”

Hardy described that as “some literal blood-and-soil rhetoric.”

And Trump went on saying “we need to courage to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done,” which Hardy said “is a rallying cry for street violence and worse.”

Trump went on to call for a military takeover of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Portland.

“Trump’s rhetoric is significantly more extreme than even a few years ago,” Hardy said. “This might be most frightening speech I’ve ever heard. Full-on, unapologetic fascism. Trump has either been reading Mein Kampf or having someone read it to him.”

Trump repeated his lies about election fraud and teased a 2024 presidential comeback.

Former RNC official Tim Miller said, “I know everyone in the DC GOP is just hoping Trump will die but it’s impossible to watch this CPAC speech and not come to the conclusion that he’s going to run and be very hard to beat in a primary. Sorry to be the bearer of bad weekend news.”

After his speech, Trump danced on stage to the song “Hold On I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave.

“Don’t you ever feel sad; lean on me when times are bad,” Sam and Dave sang. “Then the day comes and you’re down; in a river of trouble and about to drown. Just hold on, I’m coming. Hold on, I’m coming.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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Legal Expert Explains How Alex Jones’ Texts Could ‘Connect the Dots’ on Trump for the Jan. 6 Committee

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Appearing on CNN early Saturday morning, former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore stated that the history of texts accidentally released by attorneys representing Alex Jones may fill in the gaps for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Speaking with “New Day” host Phil Mattingly, the legal analyst was asked about reports that the texts may be headed to House investigators, with the CNN host stating, “We saw a dramatic moment in the courtroom, in the Alex Jones proceedings over the course of the last several days. He was informed that his defense team accidentally sent two years of his text records to him.”

“There are connections and overlap with what the January 6 committee is working on when it comes to that. There are discussions of the committee perhaps getting ahold of those,” he continued before asking, “What is the process? Do you see that as a potential thing that can occur?”

“The text messages and the phone records, at least in some part are now in a court record, they’ve been filed in court. That makes them a little bit easier to get,” Moore replied. “The concern I have is the issue of the phone was delivered in all accounts, it may have been delivered in error but they did nothing to correct that or fix that or file a protective order on the evidence. So that information may be subject to a challenge.”

READ: Eric Holder predicts how Donald Trump will be indicted

“The problem for Jones is that information is now known and it’s out there,” he continued. “It’s clear there was deceptive testimony during the course of discovery and I think that makes them a little easier to get.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see these subpoenas come down for the information on the phones and ultimately at the end of the day they will get it,” he elaborated. “It will be used to see if this connects any of the dots that the committee has been trying to do for the last many months. Is there a direction from Trump, is there some direction from other people in Jones’ circle that we find in the text messages there.”

Watch below or at this link.

 

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