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The Gay Agenda: What’s Next After Marriage Equality?

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Now that the LGBT community has equal marriage rights, what’s next?

On June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are now legally able to marry in all 50 states. With that ruling, people in the LGBT community gained hundreds of rights previously only afforded to heterosexual couples, but despite so many rights gained with one ruling, equality is still elusive. Where should the community focus their efforts next? We offer a few ideas below.

Employment – Believe it or not, it is still legal to fire someone for being lesbian, gay, or bisexual in over half the country. There are 29 states that don’t have employment protection laws based on sexual orientation, and it’s legal to fire someone based on gender identity in 30 states. According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT people still face serious discrimination in employment, including being fired, being denied a promotion and experiencing harassment on the job.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination; however, in 2014, after the Hobby Lobby ruling, major LGBT rights organizations withdrew their support of ENDA as it stood due to vague religious exemptions. The fear was that the exemptions could make things worse for the LGBT community. ENDA now remains in limbo with no clear path forward. It’s time to pass an inclusive ENDA without giving people the right to discriminate while hiding behind religious exemptions. All people should have the right to work regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Blood Ban – Even though all donated blood is fully tested, any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is banned for life from giving blood. All blood is vigorously tested, and the American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers have publicly spoken out against the gay blood ban. Earlier this year, the FDA announced they would be removing the lifetime ban, and would be replacing it with one that would ban any male from donating blood if they had had sex with another man within the past year. David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director, says the policy, “prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply. It simply cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood screening technology.” According to the Huffington Post, the new recommendations are still open to public comment, and the FDA will issue final rules soon. To learn more about how you can do more to end the gay blood ban, visit www.gayblooddrive.com.

Conversion Therapy – There are still places that try to change people’s sexual orientation and gender identity by using inhumane techniques such as electroshock therapy, induced nausea, paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images, and much more. A documentary titled “Kidnapped for Christ“ exposes some of the harsh treatments undergone through conversion therapy. In May of this year, Oregon became the third state to ban conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, to minors. California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. also have bans. Organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all come out against conversion therapy. In response to a petition that gathered more than 120,000 signatures, the White House made a public statement in support of banning all conversion practices directed towards minors. 

“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” the statement said. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Banning conversion therapy to minors is a great start, but it’s not enough. Last May, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced federal legislation that would ban the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy throughout the country, and would classify the practice as fraud under the Federal Trade Commission Act. We need to make it a priority to pass this legislation in order to protect the mental health of our community and save lives. 

Transgender Individuals Serving in the Military – Even though the ban on gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the military was struck down, people in the transgender community are still prohibited from serving. According to the HRC, there are approximately 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, and unlike “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on transgender military service is regulatory and only requires action by the Department of Defense to update. At least 18 countries, including Australia, Canada, and Israel allow, military service by transgender personnel. 

Anti bullying – Bullying is a major issue for LGBT youth. GLSEN reported the following statistics in their 2013 National School Climate Survey by GLSEN:

  • 74.1% of LGBT students were verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55.2% because of their gender expression.
  • 36.2% were physically harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 22.7% because of their gender expression.
  • 71.4% of LGBT students heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) frequently or often at school, and 90.8% reported that they felt distressed because of this language.
  • 64.5% heard other homophobic remarks (e.g., “dyke” or “faggot”) frequently or often.
  • 55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 37.8% because of their gender expression.
  • 30.3% of LGBT students missed at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and over a tenth (10.6%) missed four or more days in the past month.

We need better protections for LGBT youth in schools, similar to what New York did with the Dignity for All Students Act. 

LGBT Youth Homelessness – Each year, between 500,000 and 1.6 million youth in the US are homeless or runaways and LGBT youth make up 20-40% of those numbers. This is a huge percentage! Unfortunately, some people are even turned away from shelters because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. There are things we can do, though. Check out the Forty to None Project for more information. 

There are, of course, many other concerns that need to be addressed as well, but these are a few key ones. Which ones do you think we should focus on? Is there an issue we missed that you think deserves more attention and focus? Let us know in the comments section below. 

 

Image by JoshuaMHoover via Flickr and a CC license

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News

Santos Campaign Can No Longer Raise or Spend Money After Treasurer Officially Calls It Quits: NYT

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Enmeshed in a web of deceit and possibly under federal criminal investigation, U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is now apparently unable to lawfully spend money or accept donations via his political campaign, which reportedly now may also be in violation of FEC rules.

On Tuesday the embattled freshman Republican announced he was temporarily stepping down from his committee assignments, reportedly after a conversation with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Before the end of the day his campaign treasurer filed official paperwork notifying the Federal Election Commission she had resigned.

“Nancy Marks’s resignation effectively leaves the Santos campaign unable to raise or spend money and in seeming violation of federal rules,” The New York Times reports, calling her his “longtime campaign treasurer and trusted aide.”

“Mr. Santos’s financial operations, which are the subject of several complaints filed with the F.E.C. and are being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement,” The Times adds. “It also leaves the Santos campaign in disarray, effectively rendering it unable to raise or spend money and placing it in seeming violation of F.E.C. rules.”

READ MORE: Another SCOTUS Scandal: Chief Justice’s Spouse Makes Millions Placing Attorneys at Top Law Firms That Argue Before the Court

In fact, FEC rules state: “If a committee’s treasurer is absent, the committee cannot make expenditures or accept contributions unless it has designated an assistant treasurer or designated agent on the committee’s Statement of Organization.”

The resignation comes after last week’s stunning report revealing that Santos, or his campaign, amended FEC filings to indicate the $700,000 he had claimed to have personally loaned his campaign had not actually come from his personal funds.

Unlike political candidates, campaign treasurers are held to an actual standard of truth, and can be personally – and legally – liable if they report false information.

FEC rules also state, “the treasurer can be named and found liable in his or her personal capacity if he or she knowingly and willfully violates the Act, recklessly fails to fulfill duties imposed by the law, or intentionally deprives himself or herself of the operative facts giving rise to the violation.”

READ MORE: Stefanik Was Once ‘Laser Focused on Electing Santos’ – Now She Blames Voters for Electing Him as She Backs Away

Santos may find it difficult to hire a new treasurer: “Even when an enforcement action alleges violations that occurred during the term of a previous treasurer, the Commission usually names the current treasurer as a respondent in the action.”

The Times adds, “The lack of clarity over who, if anyone, is operating as Mr. Santos’s treasurer has already caused confusion. On Tuesday, a joint fund-raising committee associated with Mr. Santos filed paperwork to end its operations. Ms. Marks’s signature was on the paperwork, even though she had resigned as the committee’s treasurer the week before.”

Marks’ resignation also comes after someone affiliated with the Santos campaign falsely listed a well-known Republican treasurer on the official FEC forms as the treasurer for his campaign. As one expert put it, that’s a “big no-no,” and “completely illegal.”

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COMMENTARY

Another SCOTUS Scandal: Chief Justice’s Spouse Makes Millions Placing Attorneys at Top Law Firms That Argue Before the Court

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The highly controversial and highly unpopular U.S. Supreme Court isn’t just facing a historic loss of confidence, it’s now facing yet another ethics scandal that is likely to lower even further public opinion of the far-right institution that in under two decades has seen its approval rating slashed.

Although it will not hear arguments, the issue before the Supreme Court and the American people’s view of it, is, should a Justice’s spouse – in this case the spouse of Chief Justice John Roberts – be able to make millions of dollars recruiting attorneys who are placed into top law firms that argue cases before it?

That’s the latest allegation, and already a spokesperson for the Court has issued a statement denying any ethical violations.

The New York Times reports that “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firms — some of which have business before the Supreme Court, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.”

Jane Sullivan Roberts left a law firm where she was a partner after her spouse was confirmed as Chief Justice.

READ MORE: Failed Leak Probe Will ‘Add to Public Distrust’ and ‘Accelerate Partisan Rancor’ Surrounding Supreme Court: Analyst

“Mrs. Roberts, according to a 2015 deposition,” The Times reports, “said that a significant portion of her practice was devoted to helping senior government lawyers land jobs at law firms and that the candidates’ names were almost never disclosed.”

Documents in that case “list six-figure fees credited to Mrs. Roberts for placing partners at law firms — including $690,000 in 2012 for one such match. The documents do not name clients, but Mr. Price recalled her recruitment of one prominent candidate, Ken Salazar, then interior secretary under President Barack Obama, to WilmerHale, a global firm that boasts of arguing more than 125 times before the Supreme Court.”

That case involves “a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts,” Kendal Price, a 66-year-old Boston lawyer, who “has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice.”

“According to the letter,” sent by Price to DOJ and Congress, which the Times reports it obtained, “Mr. Price was fired in 2013 and sued the firm, as well as Mrs. Roberts and another executive, over his dismissal.”

The Times cites two legal experts, one who sees no ethical concerns with the situation, and one who does.

But critics are expressing great concern over this latest ethics issue, as they have been for years.

Doug Lindner, Advocacy Director for Judiciary & Democracy for the League of Conservation Voters, pointing to the Times’ report,  remarked: “Another day, another ethics concern about another life-tenured conservative justice on the most powerful court in the world, which has no binding ethics rules.”

READ MORE: Marshal ‘Spoke With’ Supreme Court Justices, Excluded Them From Signing Sworn Affidavits in Leak Probe

Indeed, the lack of a Supreme Court code of ethics has been repeatedly condemned for years, including by some of the nation’s top critics.

On Sept. 1, 2022, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin tweeted out her opinion piece: “Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory .. just another insurrectionist.”

Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for the Atlantic, responded:

“Another reminder of how unethical is Justice Clarence Thomas, while Chief Justice Roberts turns a blind eye and continues to resist a code of ethics for a Supreme Court now distrusted by a majority of Americans. This defines the Roberts Court.”

The following month Ornstein slammed the Roberts Court once again.

“It is a stain on the Supreme Court that Chief Justice Roberts refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics, and stands by silently while Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” Ornstein charged.

Less than one month later he again unleashed on Roberts.

“Roberts is culpable,” he tweeted. “He has resisted over and over applying the Judicial Code of Ethics to the Supreme Court. This is Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”

Ornstein is far from the Court’s only critic.

“If Chief Justice Roberts really wanted to address Supreme Court ethics, he would have immediately worked to implement a Code of Conduct after Clarence Thomas failed to recuse from cases involving January 6th despite having a clear conflict of interest,” the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted a year ago in May. The following month CREW published an analysis titled: “Chief Justice John Roberts is wrong: the American judicial system is facing a major ethics crisis.”

Meanwhile, in late November Politico reported that Democrats in Congress were outraged at the Roberts Court.

“Two senior Democrats in Congress are demanding that Chief Justice John Roberts detail what, if anything, the Supreme Court has done to respond to recent allegations of a leak of the outcome of a major case the high court considered several years ago,” PoliticoJosh Bernstein reported, referring to the leak of the Dobbs decision that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision – itself a massive ethics crisis for the Court.

READ MORE: Revealed: Four Supreme Court Justices Attended Right-Wing Gala — Further Endangering SCOTUS Credibility

“Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) are also interested in examining claims about a concerted effort by religious conservatives to woo the justices through meals and social engagements. They wrote to Roberts on Sunday, making clear that if the court won’t investigate the alleged ethical breaches, lawmakers are likely to launch their own probe.”

Whitehouse and Johnson “also criticized the high court’s response to a letter they sent Roberts in September, seeking information about the court’s reaction to reports in POLITICO and Rolling Stone about a yearslong campaign to encourage favorable decisions from the justices by bolstering their religiosity.”

Nothing has changed.

When the Roberts Court earlier this month announced its lengthy investigation did not find the draft Dobbs decision leaker but also did not include the Justices themselves, Stokes Prof. of Law at NYU Law School Melissa Murray, an MSNBC host, tweeted, “This is a Roberts Court leitmotif–The Chief loves to handle things–even big things–in-house. Ethics issues? No need to get involved, Congress. We’ll sort it out ourselves. Leak needs investigating? No need to call in an actual investigative body, the Marshal will handle it.”

Pulitzer prize winning New York Times  investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, pointing to how the Justices were not thoroughly investigated during the leak probe, in earlier this month said: “Last week the court released statements that confirmed the gap between how the justices and everyone else were treated.”

“The whole situation amplifies a major question about the court: are these nine people, making decisions that affect all of us, accountable to anyone?”

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News

‘Can Be Used Against You’: Trump Took Big Risk Pleading the Fifth 400 Times in Deposition Says Legal Expert

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A newly released video shows Donald Trump pleading the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times in a deposition, and a legal expert explained how that could be used against him in court.

The former president was finally hauled in to testify last year in the $25 million fraud lawsuit filed against the Trump Organization by New York attorney Letitia James, and he exercised his constitutional right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times — but MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said the move carried potential risk in a civil case.

“I agree with him on the point of taking the Fifth,” Weissmann said. “It’s important to remember everyone has a right to the Fifth if a truthful answer would tend to incriminate you. In a civil case, it can be used against you, unlike in a criminal case.”

“One other thing I would disagree is when he is saying there’s this witch hunt, he left out jurors,” Weissmann added. “The Trump Organizations went to trial, they had their day in court. They could present all of their evidence, [and] 12 jurors, that’s everyday citizens, found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a multi-year tax conspiracy that his organizations were involved in, and there was evidence he knew about it as would make sense. That’s one more reason for him to be asserting the Fifth Amendment.”

Watch video below or at this link.

Image via Shutterstock

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