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Ted Cruz Introduces Bill To Strip Federal Benefits From Married Same-Sex Couples

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Ted Cruz has reintroduced legislation which, among other actions, would strip federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and thus, federal benefits.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is pushing the State Marriage Defense Act, legislation that if signed into law could accomplish two objectives. First, redefine marriage at the federal level to remove from hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples the federal government’s recognition of their marriages, and thus, any corresponding federal benefits they are afforded, now or in the future. And second, should the U.S. Supreme Court not find a right to marriage for same-sex couples, encourage states that do not wish to recognize those marriages to potentially nullify them.

While being framed as states’ rights legislation, the bill’s language makes clear Cruz’s actual intent, and the bill’s ramifications.

“Congress recognizes that current actions by the Federal Government to afford benefits to certain relationships not recognized as marriages by a person’s State of residence go beyond the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor,” the bill reads.

Currently, the federal government has been recognizing all same-sex marriages legally performed in states, even after the state has refused to do so. 

Cruz’s bill also changes the federal definition of marriage, by stating “the term ‘marriage’ shall not include any relationship which that State, territory, or possession does not recognize as a marriage, and the term ‘spouse’ shall not include an individual who is a party to a relationship that is not recognized as a marriage by that State, territory, or possession.’’

In a separate statement, the Texas Senator, a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, attacks President Barack Obama and indirectly, Attorney General Holder. Cruz says “the Obama Administration has disregarded state marriage laws enacted by democratically-elected legislatures to uphold traditional marriage…I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama Administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states. The State Marriage Defense Act helps safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for their citizens.”

Cruz also warns that later this year he “will be introducing a constitutional amendment to further protect marriage and to prevent judicial activism. The amendment will make explicit that marriage is a policy question for the democratically-elected legislatures in each of the 50 states.”

A decade ago, in 2004, the United States’ General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report that “identified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.” Cruz’s legislation could strip these from legally married same-sex couples in any state that chooses to not honor their marriages.

Initial sponsors of Cruz’s bill are eleven Republican Senators: John Boozman, R-AR, Mike Crapo, R-ID, Steve Daines, R-MT, James Inhofe, R-OK, James Lankford, R-OK, Mike Lee, R-UT, Pat Roberts, R-KS, Tim Scott, R-SC, Jeff Sessions, R-AL, Richard Shelby, R-AL, and David Vitter, R-LA.

In the House, U.S. Congressman Randy Weber of Texas is sponsoring the bill, and has 23 original co-sponsors, all Republican. 

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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News

‘Fear-Driven Alliance’: Conservative Explains Why Far-Right CPAC ‘Opportunists’ and ‘Paranoids’ Are Meeting in Hungary

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The rise of authoritarianism and fascism growing within the Republican Party was discussed by the opening panel on MSNBC’s “The Reidout” on Friday.

Host Joy Reid noted how the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is being held in Hungary this year, which is ruled by strongman Viktor Orbán.

“They have elections, of a sort, but also hamper voters’ abilities to make informed choices and heavily control the outcome that the elections are essentially a show,” she explained. “These are the autocratic dreams of a far-right leader obsessed with solidifying a Christian monoculture and who, in 2014, declared his intention to build an illiberal new state citing China, Russia and Turkey as role models. Flash forward to today where CPAC, the once conservative gathering that is now simply a cesspool of the far-right running amok, is holding its conference in Budapest.”

For analysis, Reid interviewed conservative writer Tom Nichols.

Nichols warned “there is a nihilistic, fear-driven alliance here with a group of opportunists, and I want to get back to this issue of about Hungary, the really dangerous thing here is that some of these people believe very deeply in — in some of this stuff and yet others, and I would say people like [Tucker] Carlson and Matt Schlapp and some of the other people capering about in Budapest, don’t believe in any of this and don’t believe in anything of this other than the extension of their own personal power and wealth.

“And when you have this coalition of shallow, empty opportunists along with with a group of paranoids, basically, then you have a really dangerous movement because each side has to keep upping the ante to kind of justify why they are doing the things they are doing,” he explained.

“A lot of this is an act, but the problem is you then paint yourself into a corner… You have to start actually trying to put forward policies and carry things out that, that make you look as if you believe the things that you’re doing. And then after a while, whether it’s an act or its opportunism is no longer relevant: You have become the thing you’ve been prancing about and pretending to be,” he explained.

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Catholic Archbishop Defies Vatican by Banning Speaker Nancy Pelosi From Holy Communion – via Twitter

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Calling her stance on abortion a “most serious scandal,” and a “grave evil” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone publicly announced Friday that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose district encompasses his diocese, is now banned from taking Holy Communion.

Archbishop Cordileone, a far right activist who repeatedly has challenged Pope Francis, is now in violation of directions from the Vatican to not politicize the Sacraments. Cordileone’s very public decree – made via Twitter – comes just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on a case that is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“After numerous attempts to speak with Speaker Pelosi to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, an the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” Cordileone tweeted, an apparent attempt to embarrass to the greatest degree possible the Democrat who is second in line to the Presidency,

“I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publically [sic] repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote in that letter to the Speaker.

Fox News calls it “an escalation in a decades-long tension between the Roman Catholic Church and liberal Democratic politicians on abortion,” but in fact other extremist archbishops have taken the same stance against other notable Democrats.

Catholics believe the Pope is God’s infallible representative on earth. Last fall Pope Francis chastised far right Catholic bishops in America who were gearing up to ban President Joe Biden from receiving Holy Communion. In June the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overwhelmingly voted to move toward chastising Biden for his abortion stance, despite the Vatican issuing a clear warning they were not to do so.

President Biden is a devout Catholic who personally opposes abortion but knows as President it is his role to uphold a woman’s right to choose, something has has worked strongly to support and strongly believes in.

“What must the pastor do?” Pope Francis said, The New York Times reported last September when a reporter asked him about President Biden and abortion. “Be a pastor, don’t go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated.”

“I have never refused the eucharist to anyone,” Pope Francis told reporters. The Times aded Francis said bishops should be pastors not politicians.

The Pope also told reporters, “communion is not a prize for the perfect,” and “the eucharist is not the reward of saints but the bread of sinners.”

The San Francisco Chronicle adds that Pope Francis “welcomed Biden for a private meeting at the Vatican last fall and Biden said the Pope told him he was a ‘good Catholic.’ Biden received Communion at St. Peter’s during that trip.”

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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COMMENTARY

‘Sordid, Corrupt, Lawless’: Experts Call New Ginni Thomas Revelations ‘Breathtaking’ and Ask ‘What Did Her Husband Know?’

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The latest revelations about the actions of Ginni Thomas, the far right wing activist, lobbyist, and spouse of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House are leading experts to demand Clarence Thomas’ recusal while calling the combination of their actions “breathtaking corruption,” and noting the Justice’s extraordinary hypocrisy.

Later Friday morning The Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas pressed two Arizona lawmakers to overturn the will of Arizona’s voters in the 2020 presidential election by choosing a “clean” slate of electors, representing Donald Trump and not Joe Biden. The Post notes Thomas did not mention any candidate by name but reports “the context was clear.”

“Before you choose your state’s Electors … consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead,” an email bearing Ginni Thomas’ name, sent to the Arizona lawmakers, reads.

It included a link to a video of a man delivering a message meant for swing-state lawmakers, urging them to “put things right” and “not give in to cowardice.”

“You have only hours to act,” said the speaker, who is not identified in the video.

Thomas also pressed Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to work to overturn the election, as has been widely reported.

Her efforts, combined with Justice Thomas’ actions on the Supreme Court, amount to “breathtaking corruption,” writes Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern.

“The conflict of interest between Ginni and Clarence Thomas has never been greater. While Clarence was applying the ‘independent state legislature doctrine’ from the bench, Ginni was using the exact same theory to try to overturn the 2020 election. Just breathtaking corruption,” Stern says.

He adds:

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now an NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst and law professor, issued a strong warning:

“Either Justice Thomas recuses in every case that comes to the Court where his wife is heavily involved in the action or the public’s confidence in the Court will be damaged beyond repair.”

Reuters reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court, Lawrence Hurley:

Former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says it is “outrageous” Justice Thomas has refused to recuse:

“New evidence that Ginni Thomas’s participation in efforts to overturn the 2020 election was even greater than we knew; in this case pressure on AZ legislators to overturn that state’s vote. Makes it even more outrageous that Justice Thomas did not recuse.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona legislators to overturn Biden’s win and choose a ‘clean slate of electors.’ In other words, she supported a coup to overthrow an elected president. What did her husband know?”

Economist and frequent political commentator David Rothschild observes, “Ginni Thomas was conspiring with high ranking Republicans to overturn [the] republic, and her husband was either privy to or actively involved in this conspiracy before using his position to coverup his wife’s role.”

Former SDNY Asst. U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli sums up:

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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