Ex-FAA Worker Seeks Court Ruling Saying Anti-Gay Job Bias Prohibited Under Existing Civil Rights Laws
The U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality was among the most significant legal victories in the history of the LGBT civil rights movement.Â
But another lawsuit filed last week has the potential to eclipse Obergefell v. Hodges in terms of overall impact because it would affect more people, according to an attorney for the plaintiff.Â
In the face of Congress’ longtime failure to pass explicit LGBT job protections, former Federal Aviation Administration employee David Baldwin’s lawsuit is aimed at obtaining a federal decision â€” Â and eventually from the high court itself â€” saying anti-gay job bias is already illegal under existing civil rights laws.Â
â€œMr. Baldwinâ€™s case has the ability to affect more people than the [Supreme] Courtâ€™sÂ ObergefellÂ [marriage] case because there are more gay men and women who have jobs than same sex couples who want to get married,â€ Baldwinâ€™s lawyer, Lowell Kuvin, told BuzzFeed News.
In 2012, Baldwin filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging he was denied a promotion and suffered harassment based on his sexual orientation while working as a temporary frontline manager at Miami International Airport. This July, the EEOC ruled in Baldwin’s favor, saying anti-gay bias qualifies as sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The EEOC’s decision came two years after it ruled that transgender people are protected against job discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. And although both decisions were historic, they are binding only on federal agencies and don’t necessarily protect non-governmental employees.Â Since the EEOC’s decision in his case, Baldwin has sought to resolve the case with the FAA, but the agency never responded, prompting his lawsuit.
Baldwin’s lawsuit, which names transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta as defendants, alleges he was passed over for a promotion to permanent front line manager in favor of less qualified people on three separate occasions. In addition, Baldwin’s supervisors repeatedly made disparaging remarks about his sexual orientation, the suit states.Â
For example, when Baldwin mentioned that he and his partner had attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans, one of his supervisors, Mark Scott, responded that “we don’t need to hear about all that gay stuff.” Baldwin was also repeatedly told he was “a distraction in the radar room” when he discussed his partner. When Baldwin mentioned that his partner prepared him lunch each day, he was told the “comment was inappropriate” and to “get out of the radar room with that kind of talk.”Â
“The fact that Plaintiff is male and gay was a motivating factor in the decision to not promote Plaintiff,â€ the complaint states.Â â€œPlaintiff was singled out due to his sexual orientation and treated differently than heterosexual co-workers.â€
Baldwinâ€™s suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, reinstatement of front pay, injunctive relief and attorneyâ€™s fees. But above all, Baldwin hopes his case will help lead to employment protections for gay workers throughout the U.S. Currently, only 22 states ban anti-gay job discrimination, and the Equality Act, which would establish comprehensive federal civil rights protections, remains stalled in Congress. Â
“I am confident that this decision will be the deciding factor in saving countless jobs,” Baldwin told The Washington Blade following the EEOC’s decision in July. “That anyone would lose their job simply because of whom they are is a travesty. The LGBT community was never looking for ANY special consideration. We simply want the exact same protections as every other American citizen under already existing laws. Nothing more, nothing less.”Â
Since the EEOC’s decision, LGBT advocatesÂ haveÂ strongly encouraged peopleÂ who suffer anti-gay job discrimination to file complaints with the commission alleging sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.Â
According to the Blade, Baldwin is a 57-year-old Navy veteran who met his partner, Keith George, seven years ago at a Metropolitan Community Church. They’ve sinceÂ relocated to New Orleans, where they’re renovating a health club that had recently closed.Â
Read Baldwin’s full complaint here.Â
Image by David Baldwin, used with permission
Hat tip: BuzzFeed News
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McCarthy Mocked for Claim GOP Is Not Party of ‘Nativist Dog Whistles’ After Greene’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus
“The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin”
After four years of a Republican President who worked almost daily to spread or lend support to racism, white nationalism, or white supremacism – including having top advisors inside the White House who embraced those ideologies – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is having a hard time tamping down the Pandora’s Box of hate Donald Trump unleashed.
McCarthy has refused to take a strong stand against the most dangerous members of his caucus, trying to allow the extremist Congressmen and Congresswomen to actively lie, disrupt House business, and spread hate on a daily basis. Because they are raising millions.
In response to Republican white supremacist members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona announcing they are forming the “America First Caucus,” McCarthy tried to stand up to those radicals, as Forbes notes, via tweet.
It did not go well.
The America First Caucus’s “platform” says “a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”
It’s focus? All the current GOP buzzwords, like “Election Fraud,” “Sovereignty,” “Big Tech,” “Immigration,” “America First Education,” and “The Chinese Communist Party,” among others.
One portion that is raising a lot of eyebrows talks not about America’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, which the far right often uses to single out some immigrants, but another term that narrows that opening even further: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”
Late Friday afternoon McCarthy tried to push back.
“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” he tweeted. “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles.”
The Republican Party, even decades before Donald Trump, has been the party of nativist dog whistles, as many reminded him.
Here’s what some are saying.
Imma let you finish, but…
No, actually, I’m not.
The seditious flotsam dragging behind the sewage barge of national populism is a nativist dog whistle set to ear-splitting volume. https://t.co/OAxVXzFstg
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) April 16, 2021
“Dog whistle”? That suggests subtlety, and Marjorie Taylor Greene wasn’t that subtle. https://t.co/JlXNIyP25m
— Jan Wolfe (@JanNWolfe) April 16, 2021
LITERALLY LAUGHING OUT LOUD AT THIS UTTER BULLSHIT.. LOUD, SO LOUD IT SCARED THE DOGS
WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THAT PAST HALF CENTURY??? https://t.co/LfbECHGvP4
— Shannon in Ohio 4 (@ShannonFreshour) April 16, 2021
Wait, is this dipshit dog whistling a dog whistle? https://t.co/A8L6EXHBwI
— Ollie McClellan (@OllieMcClellan) April 16, 2021
Gosh, might want to send a memo to your caucus on that https://t.co/SDR8oe2gso
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) April 16, 2021
Is this a parody account? – the modern GOP protects statues of confederate traitors who would have killed lincoln and GOP supporters run around with confederate flags https://t.co/uNrgVybsiw
— Steven Strauss (@Steven_Strauss) April 16, 2021
Did you hit your head?!
— Rachel Bitecofer 📈🔭🍌 (@RachelBitecofer) April 16, 2021
If America was built on the idea that we were all created equal, why did we have to add amendments for black people and women to make it law for them to be treated equally?
— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) April 16, 2021
Then why did you fight so hard to keep the person whose nativist dog whistles inspired this window-dressing tweet on the House Education and Labor Committee? https://t.co/blvG04w7Qo
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) April 16, 2021
Are you sure you understand what a nativist dog whistle is? Because your whole party blows that whistle.
— susanelizabeth (@Imfrommichigan) April 16, 2021
this my friends is some extremely weak sauce https://t.co/xtyqJDbWLW
— Aaron Fritschner (@Fritschner) April 16, 2021
The nativist call is coming from inside your own caucus, Kevin. https://t.co/l5FqUPg53E
— Lisa Senecal (@lcsenecal) April 16, 2021
Man leading the White Party suddenly realizes he’s in the White Party. Well good luck with that, Sparky 👍 https://t.co/Fmzfxgt9Rr
— Joe Remi (@JoeOfTheNorth) April 16, 2021
@ them, Leader McCarthy. Show some courage.
— Brandon Wolf (@bjoewolf) April 16, 2021
Lincoln would have nothing to do with you jackasses. https://t.co/bNPWU16sSY
— Robert Ellingsworth (@BY1959) April 16, 2021
They aren’t whistling it anymore. They are shouting it. https://t.co/CaHhUj91oH
— Simon Lester (@snlester) April 16, 2021
‘Nightmare Scenario’ for Democracy: ‘Desperate’ GOP May Sink to New Depths to Fight Election Reform – With SCOTUS’s Help
While Republicans in state legislatures are proposing voter suppression bills all around the U.S., Democrats are pushing the For the People Act at the federal level — a comprehensive voting rights bill that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces a steep uphill climb in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a narrow majority and must contend with the filibuster for most legislation. Far-right pundits have been railing against the act, known as HR1, on conservative media outlets like Fox News, Fox Business and Newsmax, and observers warn Republicans will take extreme efforts to fight any such reforms.
Beutler contemplates various scenarios and how they could affect voting rights if they come to pass. Some scenarios to consider, Beutler writes, include 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court becoming available, Democrats losing their narrow Senate majority, and the court attacking voting reforms if Democrats somehow manage to get them passed in the Senate.
“Here’s a nightmare scenario I encourage everyone — but particularly, Breyer and Senate Democrats — to imagine having to endure,” Beutler writes. “Through illness or untimely death, Democrats’ 50-50 Senate ‘majority’ becomes a 49-50 Senate minority. They don’t retain the seat. Joe Biden loses reelection. We’re all left hoping Breyer can survive into his 90s so that the Supreme Court doesn’t swing from 6-3 to 7-2. Mitch McConnell gets Charlie Kirk fitted for a robe.”
He continues: “Now consider this less speculative nightmare scenario. Democrats let bygones be bygones, leave court reform out of their larger democracy-reform project, change the filibuster rules, pass both HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — and the existing Supreme Court takes a hatchet to it. We should know to expect this, because Republicans declared the For the People Act ‘unconstitutional’ sight unseen, as a kind of bat signal to their allies on the courts to make sure democracy reform can’t take effect.”
Beutler adds, “We can’t know in advance which provisions of these bills the Supreme Court would invalidate, but it’s trivially easy to step into the shoes of conservative justices and extend the same pseudo-constitutional arguments they’ve used to degrade American election law over the last decade to new reforms. Campaign-finance regulations? Well, those obviously violate the 1st Amendment. Non-partisan gerrymandering? The federal government can’t dictate that kind of thing to the states!”
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 16, 2021
But Democrats don’t just face dangers from the right-wing Supreme Court. Republicans controlling key state legislatures, oftened heavily gerrymandered to protect their majorities from swings in public opinion, are actively considering how to thwart efforts to make elections fairer.
Democracy Docket, in a “legislation alert” published this week, describes Texas House Bill 4507 — which has been proposed by Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives and would “essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year.”
Democracy Docket explains, “HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act — and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’ election code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.”
On Twitter, attorney Marc E. Elias, founder of Democracy Docket, described HB 4507 as an example of “how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections”:
As HR1/S1 moved closer to passage, this is a tactic to watch for in a number of red states. It shows how desperate Republicans are to prevent all voters from participating in elections.https://t.co/yTZ94oUuZH
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) April 15, 2021
After liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted Beutler’s Crooked Media column, law professor and election law expert Rick Hasan noted:
There's lots that can be done in the careful drafting of these election reform measures that can bolster their constitutionality. Hopefully when there is a proposal with a serious chance of passing, election law scholars will be consulted.
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) April 16, 2021
Image via Shutterstock
Scandalous Scion Jerry Falwell Jr. Sued for $10 Million by Liberty University
Jerry Falwell, Jr. is being sued by the school his father founded. Liberty University has filed a $10 million complaint against its former president.
“The new suit, which alleges breach of contract and fiduciary duty, claims that Mr. Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees, while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses. Mr. Falwell also failed to disclose and address ‘his personal impairment by alcohol,’ the suit alleges, according to The New York Times.
But according to Talking Points Memo, which published the entire complaint, the lawsuit is far more scandalous.
“The evangelical institution claims in the suit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia, that Falwell concealed his relationship with Giancarlo Granda from the university.”
“Had Liberty’s Executive Committee known in 2018 and 2019 that Granda was attempting to extort Falwell Jr. and thus planning to damage Liberty, and had it known the full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Executive Committee would have refrained from entering into the 2019 Employment Agreement,” the suit states.
“The actions of Falwell Jr. and Granda have injured Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty, enabled the 2019 Employment Agreement that proved detrimental to Liberty’s interests, and damaged Liberty’s reputation,” the suit reads.
The suit also adds that “Granda had plenty of information that could have been deeply damaging to Falwell Jr. in the eyes of the evangelical community.”
Falwell, Jr.’s social media posts are infamous, and some are included in the lawsuit.
In August of 2020 before leaving Liberty, Falwell said his wife had had a “fatal attraction” extramarital relationship with the man identified as Giancarlo Granda.
“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell claimed.
But Granda responded by accusing Falwell of being involved in that relationship.
“Jerry enjoyed watching,” Granda alleged.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
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