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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

Chief Justice Refuses to Meet With Senate Judiciary Chairman Over Alito Scandal

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Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over a court Democrats and government watchdogs say is riddled with corruption and ethics scandals, on Thursday once again refused to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and a Democratic Senator who for more than a decade has been working to reform the nation’s highest court.

Last week, after bombshell reports revealed Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush-43 appointee, had two insurrection-linked flags flying at two of his homes, Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent the chief justice a letter requesting a meeting to discuss their call for Justice Alito to recuse from cases involving the January 6, 2021 insurrection, the 2020 election, and any cases involving Donald Trump. They also asked to meet to discuss the ongoing ethics scandals plaguing the Roberts Court, and the need for congressionally-mandated reforms.

“By displaying the upside-down and ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flags outside his homes, Justice Alito actively engaged in political activity, failed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,” the two Senate Democrats wrote. “He also created reasonable doubt about his impartiality and his ability to fairly discharge his duties in cases related to the 2020 presidential election and January 6th attack on the Capitol. His recusal in these matters is both necessary and required.”

“Until the Court and the Judicial Conference take meaningful action to address this ongoing ethical crisis,” they warned, “we will continue our efforts to enact legislation to resolve this crisis.”

READ MORE: ‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

The Chief Justice cited the Court’s recently adopted code of ethics which some say merely codified existing behaviors without doing much to hold the Justices to the same standard every other judge who sits on the federal bench is required to observe.

“Members of the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the practice we have followed for 235 years pursuant to which individual Justices decide recusal issues,” Chief Justice Roberts said in his letter to Durbin and Whitehouse.

Roberts insisted he was obligated to refuse to meet.

“I must respectfully decline your request for a meeting. As noted in my letter to Chairman Durbin last April, apart from ceremonial events, only on rare occasions in our Nation’s history has a sitting Chief Justice met with legislators, even in a public setting (such as a Committee hearing) with members of both major political parties present. Separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence counsel against such appearances.”

“Moreover,” he added, “the format proposed – a meeting with leaders of only one party who have expressed an interest in matters currently pending before the Court – simply underscores that participating in such a meeting would be inadvisable.”

The Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal, pointing to the Roberts letter, remarked: “John Roberts, again, has already spoken about Alito’s ethical failures. And Roberts is IN FAVOR of the corruption, not against it.”

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

Image via Shutterstock

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News

‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s latest move in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Espionage Act prosecution of Donald Trump appears to have at least one legal expert throwing up his hands in disbelief.

Back in February, Trump’s legal team claimed Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment was unlawful, as is the method of funding his office and his investigations.

“Neither the Constitution nor Congress have created the office of the ‘Special Counsel,'” Trump’s attorneys wrote, CBS News had reported, “arguing the attorney general did not have the proper authority to name Smith to the job.”

“The authority he attempts to employ as Special Counsel far exceeds the power exercisable by a non-superior officer, the authority that Congress has not cloaked him with,” they claimed. There are decades of precedence of Attorneys General appointing special counsels, special prosecutors, or independent counsels – possibly the most well-known being Ken Starr who investigated then-President Bill Clinton.

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

CBS News also noted that “Garland cited numerous laws and regulations that he and other attorneys general have said confer necessary authority onto the selected prosecutors.”

Issuing her latest edict, Judge Cannon, who likely has already delayed the trial until after the 2024 election, responded to the Trump legal team’s challenge of Smith’s appointment on Thursday.

“Judge Cannon is giving Trump’s legal team and the government 12 days to tell her how the SCOTUS decision upholding the CFPB’s funding/appointment impacts Trump’s claim that Jack Smith was unlawfully appointed and funded…,” reports Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch, who covers the Justice Dept.

The CFPB is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled the methods by which it is funded are constitutional, overturning a lower court’s ruling.

READ MORE: ‘Doesn’t Know Most Basic Rule’: Conway Blasts Cannon Over ‘Perplexed’ Reaction

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, mocking Judge Cannon’s order, wrote:

“Jack Smith,

You have 12 days to tell me how what Martha-Ann Alito ate for lunch on May 30, 2024 affects your appointment as special counsel.

Xoxo,

Judge Cannon”

He added, “We’re approaching this level of stupid,” and concluded, “Judge Cannon is incompetently bad.”

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OPINION

Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

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Even before his insurrectionist flags scandal, Justice Samuel Alito was already facing ethics questions over his refusal to recuse in other cases, his association with a billionaire businessman, and his non-disclosure of luxury travel gifts. After weeks of damning reports about flags associated with the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy flying over not one but two of his homes, the Bush 43-appointed jurist in an indignant letter to Senate Democrats on Wednesday again refused to recuse, this time from any cases involving the attack on the nation’s capitol, or from cases involving the instigator of those assaults on the seat of government and American democracy itself, Donald Trump.

Justice Alito’s defense in his letter boils down to this sentence: “My wife is fond of flying flags.”

In his letter, Alito wrote for the first insurrectionist flag, an inverted American flag carried by some of the criminals who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, flown over the Alito’s Virginia home just days later, he was not just unaware, he suggested he was legally unable to take it down because he co-owns the house with his wife, and she flew the flag.

RELATED: ‘Liar’: Critics Question Alito’s Integrity After His Insurrection Flag Story Disintegrates

On the second insurrectionist flag, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, associated not only with the insurrection but with Christian nationalists and dominionists, the Supreme Court justice also defers to his spouse, because the New Jersey house it was flying over, he wrote, was purchased with his wife’s inheritance.

Alito does not end his defense there.

After explaining some of the reasons his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, chose to fly the flags, he continues his defense, writing: “I am confident that a reasonable person who is not motivated by political or ideological considerations or a desire to affect the outcome of Supreme Court cases would conclude that the events recounted above do not meet the applicable standard for recusal.”

On Thursday, journalist Chris Geidner, who writes about legal issues, declared, “Sam Alito believes you — and, perhaps, his colleagues — are stupid.”

“Alito lashed out in defiance,” Geidner wrote, detailing nine “demeaning quotes” from Alito’s letter.

But there’s another issue at play.

Justice Alito’s own opinion from a 2022 Supreme Court case, resurfaced Wednesday night by a social media user (below).

READ MORE: ‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

In 2019, as NCRM reported, Liberty Counsel, which appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, sued the City of Boston on behalf of its client to allow a different Christian flag to be flown at City Hall. Its client was Hal Shurtleff, the director and co-founder of Camp Constitution, a group that claims its mission is to “enhance understanding of our Judeo-Christian moral heritage,” and “the genius of our United States Constitution.”

It also says its mission is to “expose some of the abuses and perversions that have brought our nation and economy so far down.”

The case made it to the Supreme Court, and in 2022, Shurtleff won. In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito had a different take on what a reasonable person would think when seeing a flag being flown.

“As the Court rightly notes, ‘[a] passerby on Cambridge Street’ confronted with a flag flanked by government flags standing just outside the entrance of Boston’s seat of government would likely conclude that all of those flags ‘conve[y] some message on the government’s behalf.’ ”

He also noted, “The government can always disavow any messages that might be mistakenly attributed to it.”

According to Alito’s letter, no “reasonable person” who saw those two flags flying at his two homes would associate them, and the Alitos, with the insurrection, or Christian dominionism, and thus here is no need for his recusal.

In his 2022 opinion, a “passerby” would conclude the owner of the flagpole was conveying a message, but the flagpole owner could “disavow” those messages.

As Geidner notes, “Alito believes you — and, perhaps, his colleagues — are stupid.”

Clearly, many Americans, and certainly top Democrats including the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a top advocate of court reform, have equated the flying of those flags to indicate Alito’s support for the insurrection, or at least the appearance of it.

“By displaying the upside-down and ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flags outside his homes, Justice Alito actively engaged in political activity, failed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,” Durbin and Whitehouse wrote. “He also created reasonable doubt about his impartiality and his ability to fairly discharge his duties in cases related to the 2020 presidential election and January 6th attack on the Capitol. His recusal in these matters is both necessary and required.”

A social media user dug up and posted the Alito opinion in the 2022 Christian flag case, eliciting this comment from professor of law and former U.S. Attorney, MSNBC’s Joyce Vance:

See the social media post above or at this link.

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

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