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Sorry, Justice Roberts – Majority Of Americans Now Want You To Rule For Marriage Equality

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Chief Justice John Roberts last week worried if the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, the “debate” would be over. Pity he doesn’t read the polls, because a new one says it already is.

Last week during oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts made what some believe to be an “absurd” argument for delaying or even denying same-sex couples the right to marry.

Speaking to Mary Bonauto, the attorney for the same-sex couples, the Chief Justice suggested there were no consequences of waiting longer for marriage equality. 

“On the other hand, one of the things that’s truly extraordinary about this whole issue is how quickly has been the acceptance of your position across broad elements of society. I don’t know what the latest opinion polls show,” Justice Roberts admitted.

Pointing to Maine, where lawmakers extended marriage to same-sex couples, only to have voters repeal that law, and then later vote for same-sex marriage, Roberts said “that sort of quick change has been a characteristic of this debate, but if you prevail here, there will be no more debate.”

Of course, Justice Roberts’ suggestion that same-sex couples don’t immediately need or deserve the rights and responsibilities marriage brings is ignorant and offensive on its face. So is his suggestion that rights are up for debate. It’s stunningly disappointing and of great concern that he believes that, but given how his Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act, it’s not surprising.

Fortunately, today we can safely say that the debate has been had in this country, and it is over – at least in the minds of the majority of Americans.

Last month a large majority – 61 percent – of Americans said they support the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Today, a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll finds that nearly as many – 58 percent – want the Supreme Court to strike down all same-sex marriage bans and make marriage equality the law of the land. 44 percent said they strongly favor such a decision by the nation’s highest court.

What’s more, barely over a third of Americans, – just 37 percent – said they oppose the Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

So, Justice Roberts, while your suggestion that rights should be up for debate is ludicrous, and that perhaps America should wait is washed up, we’ve waited, we’ve debated – and we’ve won.

The ball’s in your court.

 

Image by JoshuaMHoover via Flickr and a CC license

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Radical Right-Wing Paramilitary Group Recruiting Texas Cops for ‘Bloody Civil War’: Report

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According to a report from the Star-Telegram, a senior member of the rightwing paramilitary group Oath Keepers who moved to Texas in 2015 is actively recruiting local law enforcement employees while telling them a “bloody civil war” against the U.S. government is on the horizon.

The report states that John D. Shirley, the national director of the Las Vegas-based Oath Keepers finagled himself a job as a county constable in Hood County which provided him with access to other police officers and now he is using his position to recruit.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Oath Keepers organization is “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today” with, reportedly, thousands of members made up of former law enforcement officials and military veterans.

The Star-Telegram reports that Shirley’s “Oath Keepers of Hood County” drive was scheduled at a local golf course earlier in the week before being canceled by the management because they felt the group had misrepresented itself when they booked the meeting place.

The report notes that Shirley has attempted to allay fears about the group’s intentions despite claims on their own website about a coming “New World order” and antisemitic rhetoric, that goes hand-in-hand with their unyielding  defense of gun ownership.

According to Shirley, in column for the online publication Hood County Today, the Oath Keepers are not “anti-government” because, as he wrote, “I am a public servant OF the government,” before adding, “The U.S. Constitution, the document this organization holds as sacrosanct, is the foundational document of our GOVERNMENT.”

The report notes that local law officials say there is no policy that bans police from joining the group which has one local running for sheriff extremely concerned.

According to Vance Keyes of Fort Worth, “I am absolutely concerned about militia groups infiltrating law enforcement. Their presence in policing undermines our obligation and ability to provide impartial justice … free from the thinly veiled, and often outright, racial bias that exist in such organizations.”

He added, “They destroy sincere efforts to strengthen police/community relations in minority communities. Their anti-government rhetoric is also an affront to police professionals that take seriously their obligation to public service and the rule of law.”

You can read more here.

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AMERICA IN CRISIS

Intelligence Agencies Saw Growing Risk From Coronavirus-Like Outbreak — but Stayed Quiet for Fear of Trump’s Wrath

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U.S. intelligence agencies have been warning against the likelihood of a global pandemic — just as coronavirus seems poised to become — but have recently backed down for fear of angering President Donald Trump.

Intelligence analysts assessed in 2017 and 2018 that a pandemic could strain resources and harm the global economy, but they agreed not to release a public warning so far this year because they’re reluctant to discuss intelligence that might displease the president, officials told NBC News.

“We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support,” said the most recent worldwide threat assessment, issued in January 2019 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

But so far this year the leaders of intelligence agencies have agreed not to release their threat assessments publicly, which has prevented Congress from getting public testimony about the implications of the outbreak’s impact on the economy and national security.

The intelligence analysis found that outbreaks are being spread from animals to humans, just as COVID-19 is believed to have originated — and analysts even mentioned a close cousin to the coronavirus strain in one report.

Related: Watch: Trump Jr. Falsely Accuses Democrats of Hoping Coronavirus ‘Kills Millions’ to End President’s ‘Streak of Winning’

 

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DISCRIMINATION

Bill Barr’s DOJ Intervenes to Support Lawsuit Filed by Christian Photographer Refusing to Photograph Same-Sex Weddings

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The U.S. Dept. of Justice under Attorney General Bill Barr has intervened in a pre-emptive lawsuit filed by a Kentucky wedding photographer who claims her interpretation of her Christian religion bars her from taking photos of weddings of same-sex couples.

No same-sex couple has ever tried to hire Chelsey Nelson to photograph their nuptials, but her attorneys, the far right wing Alliance Defending Freedom, filed the lawsuit against Louisville city officials anyway, according to the AP. The ADF appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

And now the Justice Dept. in a 23-page “statement of interest” says the “Court should find that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.”

In other words, the DOJ has told the court hearing her case directly that it agrees with the ADF.

The Louisville law bans businesses from discriminating against LGBTQ people. Many legal experts agree that refusing to provide a service to an entire class of people is discrimination, hence the countless laws across the country that protect LGBTQ people and other minorities from being refused services their non-LGBTQ peers regularly pay for and receive without question.

The DOJ, however, in a press release claims the legal statement it filed explains that Nelson “is likely to succeed on her claim that requiring her to photograph weddings against her conscience constitutes government-compelled speech that violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

“The First Amendment forbids the government from forcing someone to speak in a manner that violates individual conscience,” said Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The U.S. Department of Justice will continue to protect the right of all persons to exercise their constitutional right to speech and expression.”

The ACLU disagrees, and “filed a brief defending the city, arguing that the Nelson’s intent to offer wedding photography only to heterosexual couples violates the city law.”

The renowned  civil rights group calls Nelson’s position “identity-based discrimination.”

The SPLC says the Alliance Defending Freedom “has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society.”

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