Now that the LGBT community has equal marriage rights, whatâ€™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 â€“ 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 donâ€™t have employment protection laws based on sexual orientation, and itâ€™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 ActÂ (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. Itâ€™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 â€“ 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 Americaâ€™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,Â HRC Government Affairs Director, says the policy, â€œprevents 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.â€ 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 â€“ There are still places that try to change peopleâ€™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“Â 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.Â
â€œThe 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,â€ the statement said. â€œAs part of our dedication to protecting Americaâ€™s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.â€
Banning conversion therapy to minors is a great start, but itâ€™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.Â
Transgender Individuals Serving in the Military â€“ 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 â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell,â€ 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.Â
Anti bullying â€“ 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 â€œgayâ€ used in a negative way (e.g., â€œthatâ€™s so gayâ€) 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., â€œdykeâ€ or â€œfaggotâ€) 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.Â
LGBT Youth Homelessness â€“ 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.Â
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.Â
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Christian Nationalist, GOP Nominee for Governor Doug Mastriano to Testify Before J6 Committee
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack will receive sworn testimony from Doug Mastriano, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania’s nominee to be governor. Mastriano, who has strong ties to far right wing extremists, is a current state senator, and an anti-democracy Christian nationalist who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. He attended Donald Trump’s January 6 rally and reportedly was seen at the Capitol that day.
The New York Times has described Mastriano as a “prominent figure in former President Donald J. Trump’s futile efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results,”
Mastriano was subpoenaed to testify before the Committee in June, and is expected to testify on Tuesday.
He reportedly paid Gab, a far right wing social media platform headed by Andrew Torba, a white Christian nationalist with antisemitic views, $5000. Mastriano has praised Torba, saying, “Thank god for what you have done.”
Late last week Mastriano was reportedly trying to renege on his commitment too testify, Politico reported. His attorney wanted to record the deposition, which the January 6 Committee likely refused to allow.
But now he is scheduled for Tuesday.
Mastriano, “who was on the restricted grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6, is set to appear for a virtual deposition with the Jan. 6 Committee on Tuesday, his attorney confirms,” tweets NBC News Justice reporter Ryan Reilly, citing reporting from NBC’s Julia Jester.
The New Yorker in May called Mastriano “a leader of the Stop the Steal campaign, and claims that he spoke to Donald Trump at least fifteen times between the 2020 election and the insurrection at the Capitol, on January 6th.”
“He urged his followers to attend the rally at the Capitol that led to the riots, saying, ‘I’m really praying that God will pour His Spirit upon Washington, D.C., like we’ve never seen before.’ Throughout this time, he has cast the fight against both lockdowns and Trump’s electoral loss as a religious battle against the forces of evil. He has come to embody a set of beliefs characterized as Christian nationalism, which center on the idea that God intended America to be a Christian nation, and which, when mingled with conspiracy theory and white nationalism, helped to fuel the insurrection.”
The Times last month reported Mastriano was “addressing a far-right conference that mixed Christian beliefs with conspiracy theories, called Patriots Arise. Instead of focusing on issues like taxes, gas prices or abortion policy, he wove a story about what he saw as the true Christian identity of the nation, and how it was time, together, for Christians to reclaim political power.”
“The separation of church and state was a ‘myth,’ he said. ‘In November we are going to take our state back, my God will make it so.'”
‘It’s So Gross’: NY Times Blasted for Negative Reporting on Biden by ‘Blindered Horse-Race Analysts’
After President Joe Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate were closing an exceptional week of success after success on Saturday, pulling into a Senate vote that would transform the U.S. response to climate change, combat inflation, lower Medicare prescription drug prices and the federal deficit, and increase the energy supply, The New York Times published an article attacking the American president, depicting him as weak and ineffective, while speaking primarily, almost entirely, only to Republican pollsters, strategists, and politicians.
Critics, journalists, and even some New York Times readers are calling out the paper of record, and its top reporters.
“In Senate Battle, Democrats Defy Biden’s Low Standing (for Now)” was the title of the Saturday article that essentially was a megaphone for the MAGA crowd, published in the Times’ politics section.
The article’s subhead made clear what readers could expect: “’The billion-dollar question,’ as one Republican pollster put it, is whether Democratic candidates in crucial Senate races can continue to outpace the president’s unpopularity.”
“In a Senate split 50-50,” wrote the Times’ Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, “Democrats on the campaign trail and in Congress have zero margin for error as the party tries to navigate a hostile political environment defined chiefly by President Biden’s albatross-like approval ratings,”
Rather than describe historic legislation as productive for the American people, and literally, a massive undertaking that will have positive global effects, the Times reporters opted to frame the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a partisan, political scheme.
“In Washington, Senate Democrats are racing to bolster their position, pressing for a vote as soon as Sunday on a sweeping legislative package that represents their last, best sales pitch before the midterms to stay in power.”
Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, latched onto to Times article and reporters.
“The only context that matters to these blindered horse-race analysts is Biden’s approval rating. The lies, the conspiracy theories, the threat to democracy,” he noted, presumably referring to Trump, “are irrelevant.”
Soledad O’Brien, the well-known former CNN anchor who now is chair of the Starfish Media Group, which she founded, and host of “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” and is a frequent critic of the media offered her thoughts:
“It’s so gross,” she responded.
“And it gets worse,” Froomkin added. “Look who they quote: Republican pollster, anonymous Republican strategists, dude who runs Republican Super PAC, Mitch McConnell, one Dem pollster, Republican strategist, Republican Senate candidate, Republican Senate candidate, Republican strategist…”
Indeed, Haberman and Goldmacher quote “Robert Blizzard, a Republican pollster,” “Republican strategists involved in Senate races, granted anonymity to speak candidly,” “Steven Law, who leads the main Senate Republican super PAC,” “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader,” “Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster,” “Corry Bliss, a veteran Republican strategist,” Joe O’Dea, a GOP candidate, GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters, “Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist advising a super PAC supporting Mr. Masters,” and “Christina Freundlich, a Democratic consultant.”
That’s seven Republicans, an unknown number of unnamed anonymous GOP strategists, and two Democrats.
In a negative article about President Joe Biden, The New York Times didn’t include any quotes from President Joe Biden or the White House. Not even anonymous ones.
The Times almost entirely ignored Biden’s accomplishments from the past week chocked full of wins.
Here’s how Haberman and Goldmacher served up those facts:
“With a strong job report on Friday, long-stalled legislation moving and gas prices on the decline — albeit from record highs — it is possible that Mr. Biden’s support could tick upward.”
By contrast, on Sunday the Associated Press reported on Biden’s “legacy-defining wins,” including noting that a “summer lawmaking blitz has sent bipartisan bills addressing gun violence and boosting the nation’s high-tech manufacturing sector to Biden’s desk, and the president is now on the cusp of securing what he called the ‘final piece’ of his economic agenda with Senate passage of a Democrats-only climate and prescription drug deal once thought dead.”
That economic agenda is what the Times called “a sweeping legislative package that represents their last, best sales pitch before the midterms to stay in power.”
A CNN opinion piece Friday noted “Joe Biden sure is suddenly notching up an impressive string of victories. And they’re not minor. In fact, Biden is on a roll when it comes to both domestic and foreign policy.”
Over a week ago, NBC News’ senior national political reporter Sahil Kapur noted, “If this deal passes,” referring to the Inflation Reduction Act, which did pass on Sunday, “Biden will have inked wins on: Drug pricing, Climate/ACA $$, Higher taxes on corporations, $1.9T Covid rescue plan, $1.2T infrastructure law, New gun law, Chips/China bill, KBJ on SCOTUS, 73+ lower court judges, VAWA re-up, Postal reform.”
He adds: “This is not a trivial agenda.”
That list did not include all the wins Biden had last week before the IRA passed, including: 528,000 jobs added in July, unemployment at a 50-year low (3.5%), the killing of terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, CHIPS Act passage, PACT Act passage to help veterans affected by toxic burn pits, and gas prices dropping daily.
Meanwhile, others continued to blast the Times’ reporting.
“Hard to believe this kind of bad, ‘conventional wisdom’ reporting is still happening, where they’re saying Biden is ‘albatross’ around Dem candidates’ necks and it’s all…a mystery….” tweeted Michelangelo Signorile, a veteran journalist, SiriusXM Progress host, and writer of books and a Substack newsletter.
Some New York Times readers in the paper’s own comments section were equally critical.
“Times pundits fail to distinguish between ‘job approval’ polls versus the relative popularity of the two parties’ agendas,” wrote Baxter Jones. “Republican candidates have no agenda beyond tax cuts for their big contributors, banning all abortions, voter suppression, and abolishing Obamacare with no clue of how to replace it. Oh, and climate change denial.”
Another reader wrote: “Nothing about abortion or extremism? No Democrats to quote? I hope there will be a follow up from a Democratic perspective.”
“Wow!” wrote yet another reader. “I can’t believe the premise of this article is so simplistic. Nothing is happening in this election other than how popular Joe Biden is. No mention of the anti-choice crowd and the shellacking they took in Kansas. Or how voter registration has vastly increased across the country since the Dobbs decision. (And one of the authors is a woman, presumably of liberal bent.)”
“No mention of the fact that the recent legislation passed (and passing, as I write this on Saturday night) by the Democrats is wildly popular with wide swaths of the populace, and even more popular with narrow swaths such as veterans,” they continued.
“If all you have to do to control the congress is lambast the incumbent president, then we should start doing that the moment another Republican gets into the White House. Whence all this ‘hate Joe Biden,’ stuff. Populism, or right-wing radio with nothing else to sell? I hope most Americans are smarter than that.”
Travis McMichael Gets Life Prison Sentence for Killing of Ahmaud Arbery
Travis McMichael, the 36-year-old man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery in 2020, has been sentenced to life in prison.
NBC News reports that McMichael will have to serve a life sentence plus 10 years for the murder of Arbery, an unarmed Black man who was running in McMichael’s neighborhood before McMichael chased him down with his father, Greg McMichael, and his neighbor, William Bryan.
Additionally, reports Law and Crime News, U.S. District Judge Lisa G. Wood denied McMichael’s request to be transferred to a federal prison, meaning he will have to serve out his sentence in state prison.
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