Service members discharged solely due to their sexual orientation may soon see their military records corrected to reflect their honorable service.Â
It is estimated that more than 100,000 Americans were discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation since World War II. Even though the ban on gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members was essentially lifted with the repeal of â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ back in 2011, numerous veterans are still negatively impacted by their dishonorable discharge. For example, many are disqualified from accessing certain benefits that they are entitled to. Others may not be able to claim veteran status or could find it more difficult to acquire civilian employment. Some could even be prevented from voting.
Thatâ€™s why, on July 15, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) along with U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced the Restore Honor to Service Members Act. The proposed legislation, firstÂ introduced into the House inÂ 2013Â and the Senate inÂ 2014,Â would help service members discharged solely due to their sexual orientation correct their military records to reflect their honorable service and reinstate the benefits they earned. Â
â€œAs our nation continues to make great strides toward full equality, we must also do everything possible to rectify the effects of past discriminatory policies,â€Â said Representative Pocan.Â â€œOur veterans risked their lives for our country, and it is crucialÂ that those discharged from the armed forces due to their sexual orientation receive the recognition and benefits they deserve. The Restore Honor to Service Members Act streamlines this process, ensuring their service is respected and valued in the eyes of our country.â€
â€œI am proud to re-introduce the Restore Honor to Service Members Act together with Senator Schatz and Congressman Pocan,â€Â said Representative Rangel. â€œAs a Korean War veteran, I understand how much this recognition means for our Service Members who faced discrimination. It is about time we pay proper tribute to the veterans who deserve to be honored for their valiant service to our country. Seeking redress for them is not only the right thing to do but also will correct historical injustice.”
â€œFrom the repeal of â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ to the Supreme Courtâ€™s historic ruling on marriage equality, we have made great strides in the fight to end discrimination.Â But there is still more work to be done to protect and promote full equality and ensure we help right our past wrongs,â€Â said Senator Schatz. â€œToday, thousands of brave men and women who served our country are still denied the benefits and honorable service record they deserve. Itâ€™s long past time we honor our commitment to all our service members and finally restore the dignity of gay and lesbian veterans who were unjustly discharged from our military.â€
â€œThe Restore Honor to Service Members Act will help streamline the process for veterans to clear their records of discriminatory discharges,â€Â said Senator Gillibrand.Â â€œVeterans who honorably serve our nation should not be defending themselves against unwarranted punishment based solely on sexual orientation. Our service members deserve to receive the recognition they earned for their sacrifice and courage.â€
Believing there is strong bipartisan support for the measure, Matt Thorn, Interim Executive Director for OutServe-SLDN, said,Â â€œI urge the leadership in both chambers, Speaker of the House of Representative John Boehner and United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the respective committees chairs, Representative Mac Thornberry and Senator John McCain, to allow this legislation its day in committee and for a vote on the floor.â€Â
The legislation is supported by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, VoteVets.org, OutServe-SLDN, the Human Rights Campaign, American Veterans for Equal Rights, Lambda Legal, Swords to Plowshares, the American Bar Association, Universal Unitarian Association, and the American Humanist Association.
The Restore Honor to Service Members Act has 97 cosponsors and has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The bill is also cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaiâ€™i), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).Â
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Trump An ‘Enemy of the Constitution’ Declares Nicolle Wallace, Blasting Call to ‘Terminate’ Nation’s Founding Document
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace slammed Donald Trump as an “enemy of the Constitution” on Monday after the ex-president, over the weekend, called for the U.S. Constitution to be terminated.
Trump demanded “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” in light of his most recent – and false – claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
That was Saturday, on his Truth Social account.
On Monday, Trump denied having ever said it, despite the post still being up.
Wallace characterized Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution “an extraordinary statement even by the standards of a failed wannabe autocrat who plotted a coup against his own government and recently dined with white supremacists.”
“The disgraced ex-president made his contempt for our democracy as clear as ever, when he called for the United States Constitution to be ‘terminated.'”
Quoting The Washington Post, Wallace said: “Trump’s message on his Truth Social platform reiterated the baseless claims he has made since 2020, that the election was stolen, but he went further by suggesting that the country abandon one of its founding documents.”
She also played a clip of Republican Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio from Sunday’s ABC News.
Rep. Joyce in the clip twists and turns but ultimately admits that if Trump is the GOP nominee for president in 2024 he will vote for him.
“Well, again, it’s early I think there’s gonna be a lot of people in the primary I think at the end of the day, you will have — wherever the Republicans tend to pick up I will fall in behind because that’s –”
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos interjected, asking,”Even if it’s Donald Trump, as he’s called for suspending the Constitution?”
“Again, I think it’s gonna be a big field. I don’t think Donald Trump’s gonna clear out the field like he did in 2016.”
“I will support whoever the Republican nominee is,” Joyce added.
“And I don’t don’t think that at this point he will be able to get there because I think there’s a lot of other good quality candidates out there.”
“He says a lot of things,” Joyce continued, refusing to denounce Trump.
“Let’s not speed past that moment,” Wallace urged. “This is exactly how Trump happened. All the Republicans in Washington and around the country said, [Trump] ‘says all sorts of stupid you know what. Dorsn’t mean he’s going to do it.'”
“He did all of it, all of it. And then some,” she chastised.
Watch below or at this link.
“It’s an extraordinary statement, even by the standards of a failed wannabe autocrat who plotted a coup… the disgraced ex-president made his contempt for our democracy as clear as possible when he called for the U.S. Constitution to be terminated” – @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/WWrt1wdSZ0
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) December 5, 2022
‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared angry and even hostile at several points throughout Monday’s oral arguments in a case brought by a Colorado right-wing evangelical Christian website designer who is suing the state because she wants to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples who are getting married.
The case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, promises to be one of the most important of the term, and arguments extended more than two hours.
During one of the more heated moments, conservative Justice Gorsuch attacked Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson, claiming the state forced an infamous anti-LGBTQ baker who also went before the Supreme Court, winning his 2018 case in a very narrow ruling, into a “re-education program.”
Jack Phillips, a business owner who refused to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, citing his religious beliefs, was required to attend a class so he could become familiar with Colorado anti-discrimination law.
The Supreme Court’s ruling at the time called it, “additional remedial measures, including ‘comprehensive staff training on the Public Accommodations section'” of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.
Justice Gorsuch instead called it a “re-education program,” and slammed the state’s Solicitor General, Eric Olson, with it on Monday.
“Mr. Phillips did go through a re-education training program, pursuant to Colorado law, did he not, Mr. Olson?” Gorsuch asked the solicitor general.
“He went through a process that ensured he was familiar –” Olson responded, before Gorsuch cut him off.
“It was a re-education program, right?” the justice blared.
“It was not a ‘re-education program,'” Olson replied, holding his ground.
“What do you call it?” Gorsuch, dissatisfied, pressed.
“It was a process to make sure he was familiar with Colorado law,” Olson explained.
“Some might be excused for calling that a ‘re-education program,’” Gorsuch snapped.
“I strongly disagree, Justice Gorsuch,” Olson said, defending the law.
Gorsuch presses Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson to say that Colorado forced Jack Phillips, the anti-gay baker in Masterpiece Cakeshop, to undergo a “reeducation training program.” Olson resists. pic.twitter.com/AIQQA6B1Ia
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 5, 2022
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who provided the clip above, warns: “It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes ‘reeducation training’ on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules.”
“Astounding that Gorsuch, A Supreme Court Justice,” tweeted Adam Cohen of Attorneys for Good Government, “Refers to Colorado giving courses on following civil rights law, As ‘reeducation training.'”
“Like being taught not to discriminate against LGBTQ is the same as being sent to a gulag for protesting communism in the Soviet Union,” he added.
Professor Elizabeth Sepper of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law says, “Justice Gorsuch describes education about antidiscrimination law and compliance as a REEDUCATION PROGRAM. This is beyond offensive. It was a central and SOFT tool of many civil rights movements and was essential to targeting market discrimination.”
Columbia Law School’s Elizabeth Reiner Platt, the Director of The Law, Rights, and Religion Project responded, “OMG Gorsuch repeatedly insists that a training on civil rights law is a ‘reeducation program.’ Good grief.”
Attorney Andrew L. Seidel, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State tweeted, “WHOA. Gorsuch asks a very hostile question about sending the bakery to ‘a re-education program.’ He spits the phrase with venom and repeats it several times. He’s regurgitating right wing talking points.”
‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in one of the most important cases of the term, a case that will determine if the nation’s highest court will or will not allow a person citing their personal religious beliefs to openly discriminate in the marketplace against same-sex couples.
In likely the most salient and important hypothetical example, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson described in great detail a photographer wanting to re-create scenes from 1940’s Christmases with Santa Clauses and children, in sepia tones, and making them historically accurate.
She asked the attorney representing the right-wing Christian website designer who does not want to have to provide her product to same-sex couples, if under her legal theory the hypothetical photographer would have to create photos of a white Santa with Black children.
Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom‘s attorney arguing in favor of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, was forced to admit that the photographer would be able to say they would not take photos of Black children with a white Santa.
Later, Justice Samuel Alito, one of the Court’s most far-right jurists, decided to use Justice Jackson’s hypothetical analogy to make a point, and he did so by mockingly joking about Black children wearing KKK costumes.
“Justice Jackson’s example of that, the Santa in the mall who doesn’t want his picture taken with Black children,” Justice Alito began, getting the basics of the analogy incorrect.
“So if there’s a Black Santa at the other end of the mall, and he doesn’t want to have his picture taken with a child who is dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, now does that Black Santa have to do that?”
Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson replied, “No, because Klu Klux Klan outfits are not protected characteristics under public accommodation laws.”
“And presumably,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor interjected, “that would be the same Ku Klux Klan outfit regardless whether if the child was Black or white or any other characteristic.”
That’s when Alito decided to make a “joke,” while thousands of Americans were listening to the Court’s live proceedings.
“You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits all the time,” he said, presumably sarcastically.
He then laughed, and some viewers in the gallery joined with him.
Justice Alito jokes with Justice Kagan that, “You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits all the time,” during oral arguments in a free speech case. pic.twitter.com/QoCfDVhuEQ
— The Recount (@therecount) December 5, 2022
Many on social media were outraged and offended.
“He is so inappropriate today. And offensive,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “The Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits? Not funny. Is this the highest Court of the most powerful country in the world? Good grief.”
Minutes later, NYU School of Law Professor of Law Melissa Murray weighed in, saying, “I’m going to need Justice Alito to stop joking about seeing ‘Black children in Ku Klux Klan costumes.'”
“Seriously, what am I listening to?” she asked, to which Ifill replied, “Just awful.”
“The joke about Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits?” Ifill also lamented. “No Justice Alito, these ‘jokes’ are so inappropriate, no matter how many in the courtroom chuckle mindlessly.”
Columbia University Professor of Law Katherine Franke tweeted, “Justice Alito is resorting to KKK jokes. Ha ha ha. As if what’s at stake here is funny, and isn’t taking place in a context in which LGBTQ people feel like we have a target on our backs. And, ahem – Klan jokes aren’t funny under any context.”
The Rewire News Group tweeted, in all caps, “I knew Alito wouldn’t be able to resist bringing up the Ku Klux Klan,” and then: “What the hell, Sam.”
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