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Dear GOP Congressman Denying You Said Firing Gays Is ‘One Of The Freedoms We Enjoy’: It’s On Tape

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Republican Congresman Robert Pittenger told a reporter that he thinks being able to fire someone who’s gay is among the “freedoms we enjoy.” Now he’s denying it. But it’s on tape. Listen, right here.

Recently, GOP Congressman Robert Pittenger was asked by Think Progress reporter Alice Ollstein about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Being a conservative Republican Congressman, from the state of North Carolina, he clearly came out against ENDA. 

Rep. Pittenger was asked, “Do you think businesses should be able to fire someone if they are gay or lesbian?”

“You need to respect the autonomy of somebody running their business,” Rep. Pittenger told Think Progress‘ Ollstein. “It’s like smoking bans. Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property. In public spaces, absolutely, we can have smoking bans. But we don’t want to micromanage people’s lives and businesses. If you have a business, do you want the government to come in and tell you you need to hire somebody? Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?”

But now, Rep. Pittenger is claiming he never said that, and that a blogger just “ran with” the story.

MSNBC last week reported that Pittenger’s communications director denied “that Pittenger discussed ‘firing gay individuals,'” despite the fact that the question specified “gay or lesbian” people.

“After the event, a blogger asked for an interview and then asked about [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act]. His opposition to ENDA was ‘translated’ into ‘firing gays’ by that blogger,” the director, Jamie Bowers, wrote in an email to msnbc on Friday.

Ollstein today writes that “after local and national human rights groups began organizing around the comments and protesting at Pittenger’s office in Charlotte, he stood by them no longer.”

Local channel WSOC-TV reported: “The congressman’s office insists he never made the divisive statement…Pittinger told [ThinkProgress] he does not support the employment non-discrimination act and the blogger ran with it.”

Here’s the unedited audio, via Think Progress:

 

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Trump White House to Tell Americans to Wear Cloth Masks in Public to Protect Against Coronavirus Transmission

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The Trump White House is expected to urge Americans to wear cloth face masks when in public to help slow the transmission of coronavirus, in a reversal of current guidelines. The CDC says there is increasing evidence asymptomatic coronavirus carriers may be spreading the virus more than first believed, The Washington Post reports.

But studies going back weeks or longer made clear people who show few or no symptoms are “shedding” more of the virus – spreading it – at a rate higher than some who are fully symptomatic.

“In light of these new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of virus to those around them,” the guidance says, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

Social distancing and the stay at home policy are still recommended as the top methods to slow the spread of the virus. The cloth masks would protect others from the virus, not the wearer.

On Wednesday Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp came under fire for falsely claiming asymptomatic spreading had just been discovered “the last 24 hours.”

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HERO WHO DID HIS JOB

Navy to Relieve ‘Hero’ Captain Who Urged Help for 100 Sailors With Coronavirus: Report

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The U.S. Navy will relive from duty a nuclear powered aircraft carrier Captain after he sent a letter to his superiors urging help after more than 100 sailors tested positive for coronavirus.

The official reason will be loss of trust and confidence.

“Capt. Brett Crozier, who commands the Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000, will be relieved of his command, but keep his rank and remain in the Navy,” NBC News reports.

We are not at war,” Capt. Crozier wrote in a letter that was subsequently leaked to the media. “Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”

On Wednesday the Navy let it be known Capt. Crozier would not be disciplined or discharged.

“The fact that he wrote the letter to his chain of command to express his concerns would absolutely not result in any time of retaliation,” Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly said.

That appears to have changed.

Four Star US Army General Bary McCaffrey (Ret). a former Joint Commander of SOUTHCOM, weighed in yesterday:

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FDA Changes Gay Blood Ban From 12 to 3 Months of No Sex Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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The Food and Drug Administration has changed its ban on LGBTQ people donating blood, now requiring men who have had sex with men to abstain from sex for three months instead of 12 months before donating blood or plasma.

Plasma donations from those who have coronavirus antibodies are especially vital right now, as this popular HuffPost story shows, given the current pandemic. There are also shortages of blood across the nation.

The FDA’s “loosened” guidelines, which are now in effect due to “the public health emergency related to COVID-19,” are not necessarily permanent. They cover a lengthy list of people who should not donate blood. In addition to men who have had sex with a man or men within the past three months, it recommends a ban of those who fall in to the following categories:

Women with “a history in the past 3 months of sex with a man who has had sex with another man in the past 3 months,” donors with a “history in the past 3 months of syphilis or gonorrhea, or treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea,” donors with a “history in the past 3 months of a tattoo, ear or body piercing,” donors with a “history in the past three months of exchanging sex for money or drugs,” and donors with a “history in the past three months of non-prescription injection drug use.”

The ban on gay men is unscientific and discriminatory, given the ability to test for HIV infection, and given that men who have sex with women can still acquire HIV.

For example, a man who is married to a woman but has random or anonymous sexual encounters regularly with other women is fully eligible to donate blood. A man who is married to a man in a monogamous relationship still cannot.

Calling the new guidelines “imperfect,” GLAAD, which has been working on eliminating the gay blood ban since 2015 issued a statement from its President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis saying, “LGBTQ Americans can hold their heads up today and know that our voices will always triumph over discrimination.”

“This is a victory for all of us who raised our collective voices against the discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. The FDA’s decision to lower the deferral period on men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months is a step towards being more in line with science, but remains imperfect. We will keep fighting until the deferral period is lifted and gay and bi men, and all LGBTQ people, are treated equal to others.“

Anthony Michael Kreis, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law tells NCRM, “I’m glad that the FDA has liberalized their policy, but it does not really address the concerns about the stigma of blood donations and sexual orientation. Is there a good public health justification for excluding HIV-negative men in monogamous same-sex relationships? Is there a science-based rationale for excluding gay and bisexual men who are HIV-negative and using PrEP? These are important questions that need to be answered in the coming weeks because each raise significant questions about what’s driving this policy— the fit seems to be overbroad and, as a consequence, needlessly stigma-perpetuating.”

 

Image by Peltier Chevrolet via Flickr and a CC license

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