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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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‘Monster’: Internet Makes #AbbottHatesDogs Trend After Texas Governor Vetos Bipartisan Anti-Cruelty Bill

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#BetoLovesDogs Rises

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott is under fire for vetoing the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, bipartisan legislation to protect dogs by making it illegal to tie them up with heavy chains outdoors, or leave them without water or shade. He criticized the bill as “micro-managing and over-criminalization.”

The legislation “would have expanded and clarified the state’s animal cruelty laws,” and “had the support of animal control officers, law enforcement agencies and organizations, county prosecutors, and advocates for animals, and it passed 28-3 in the Senate and 83-32 in the House,” as The Week reports.

Abbott increasingly has been in the national news, amid speculation he might run for the White House in 2024. He is also facing a possible primary from the right. As #AbbottHatesDogs trended on social media the Texas Republican governor posted a clip of his two dogs. It did not seem to help.

Vetoing legislation to protect dogs does not seem to have helped his future prospects, as many social media users appear to think, but it did help former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s fortunes as people started to post #BetoLovesDogs tweets.

 

 

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OPINION

Signorile: The Trumpian Attacks on Pride Flags

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Anti-LGBTQ haters, mounting a resistance in Biden’s America, are targeting the rainbow symbol

This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.

I wrote a few weeks ago about several jarring incidents in which rainbow flags symbolizing queer Pride were vandalized or had triggered acts of violence against people, in addition to demands of removal from property.

Now comes this story this week out of Eastland Cove, a condo development just north of gay-friendly Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County, Florida. A gay couple, Mike Ferrari and Bob Plominski, have lived there for over 10 years, and have hung Pride flags in the past. But this year they received a letter from the Eastland Cove Homeowners Association that they must remove their flag from their mailbox or be fined $50 and $10 additionally for each day they refuse to remove it. They’re standing firm, and have taken their story nationally.

Sure, homeowners associations have wide discretion on decorations, including flags, and some are quite strict. But the key issue here is that Ferrari and Plominki have flown a rainbow flag for years. The association’s rules state that only American flags, state flags or military flags may be flown, but no one complained in the past. Now, however, one or more people lodged a complaint and the board says it was compelled to demand the couple remove the flag.

Why didn’t anyone care enough in the past to file a complaint, but now they have? It could be any of a number of reasons — including someone new moving in — but I’m betting, looking at what’s happening all over the country, that it’s more of an assertion of backlash by people who were emboldened by Donald Trump’s expressions of hate. That included his administration’s stripping LGBTQ rights and removing rainbow decorations and Pride flags from embassies around the world. The Trump White House had reversed course from the Obama White House, not marking Pride month with a proclamation, nor flying a rainbow flag or lighting the White House in rainbow colors.

But President Joe Biden, in rapid pace, reversed Trump’s horrific executive orders that harmed LGBTQ people. And now the embrace of Pride by the White House is back — and the flags are flying at embassies around the world, including at the Vatican — while the haters are lashing out now in an act of resistance in Biden’s America.

Certainly there have been hateful attacks on Pride flags since the time it was created by activist Gilbert Baker in 1978, through some of the most overtly homophobic times this country has seen, including during the escalation of the AIDS crisis. But in 2021 the attacks seem to have escalated in a way that shouldn’t be happening at this point in time. It’s like we’re gong backwards — or there is a backlash by people who feel very threatened by the current reality, in which Trump lost the election but they believe it was stolen and their rightful place was taken away. As I wrote a few weeks ago:

Sacramento church had its Pride flag burned last week. A student in Florida was brutally stomped on for bringing a Pride flag to a picnic. Boaters terrorized people in another boat on a lake in Washington state two weeks ago because they flew Pride flags on their boat (Ironically, the only harm came to the harassers, whose boat exploded, ignited by an engine fire during the altercation). Wisconsin homeowners were told by their association to remove Pride flags; they got creative and doused their home in rainbow floodlights.

Since then, a Pride flag was vandalized at a vintage shop in a town in Maine. A church outside of Cleveland reported its Pride flags were stolen two dozen times. Pride flags were stolen from the streets of Boise, Idaho. A teen at a Washington state university allegedly burned a Pride flag. A California city even refused to fly the flag at the request of residents.

 

Read the entire article and subscribe at The Signorile Report.

 

Image by Gallant’s Photography via Flickr and a CC license

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Neo-Nazi Shared Plot With Followers to Use Snipers to Bring America ‘To Its Knees’: Report

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A former Marine who encouraged fellow neo-Nazi’s to move to Maine and make a “white future” for themselves by creating a white ethnostate, also shared a video with his followers with a proposal to use snipers to bring America “to its knees,” Vice News is reporting.

According to the Vice report, the plan by Chris Pohlhaus, 34, involved shooters targeting the nation’s truck drivers in the hope that it would create economic chaos.

According to Vice’s Ben Makuch, the ex-military man sat before a Confederate flag in his video and detailed his plan.

Writing that Pohlhaus described his proposal as one that could “easily disrupt the United States’ supply chain,” Makuch quoted the self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi telling his fans, “It’s easy to stop trucks. You don’t need anybody; you barely need anyone. Twenty five dudes. Twenty five dudes trained with a (rifle),” before adding, “Each one of those guys shoots and moves and hides, shoots two truckers a day. That’s 50 truckers (shot) every day.”

According to the report, “Pohlhaus denied telling followers to shoot truckers and said the full context of the video was discussing historical hypotheticals involving whether or not epic figures like Ghengis Khan or Alexander the Great could conquer the modern world. He said the trucker analogy was meant to show that it’s easy to attack a society he considers on the brink of demise.”

In a text message to Vice, Pohlhaus wrote, “This system is incredibly fragile and what I did was show a way 25 men could bring it completely to its knees. And I am right, as always. They could,” before warning, “It is only a matter of time before something happens and this fragile little world falls apart. You need to come to terms with this reality and prepare for the absolute hell that is coming for us.”

You can read more here.

 

Image: Chris Pohlhuas/Twitter

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