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New Federal Lawsuit Is Potentially Bigger Than Obergefell For Gay Rights

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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. 

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. 

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 —  and eventually from the high court itself — saying anti-gay job bias is already illegal under existing civil rights laws. 

“Mr. Baldwin’s case has the ability to affect more people than the [Supreme] Court’s Obergefell [marriage] case because there are more gay men and women who have jobs than same sex couples who want to get married,” Baldwin’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. 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. 

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.” 

“The fact that Plaintiff is male and gay was a motivating factor in the decision to not promote Plaintiff,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff was singled out due to his sexual orientation and treated differently than heterosexual co-workers.”

Baldwin’s suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, reinstatement of front pay, injunctive relief and attorney’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.  

“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.” 

Since the EEOC’s decision, LGBT advocates have strongly encouraged people who suffer anti-gay job discrimination to file complaints with the commission alleging sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. 

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 since relocated to New Orleans, where they’re renovating a health club that had recently closed. 

Read Baldwin’s full complaint here. 

 

Image by David Baldwin, used with permission
Hat tip: BuzzFeed News

   

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DEEP STATE HYSTERIA

Undercover Operatives Waged Sting Operation to Discredit ‘Deep State’ Officials on Trump’s Enemies List: NYT

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Undercover operatives from right wing Project Veritas worked with a former British spy trained by Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince to wage a smear and sting operation to discredit “deep state” federal government officials on President Donald Trump’s enemies list while he was in office, including the National Security Advisor and FBI agents.

The New York Times broke the bombshell story, reporting that the “campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau’s ranks.”

“The campaign,” the Times reports, “shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump’s allies had about a shadowy ‘deep state’ trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president.”

“Central to the effort, according to interviews, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. He ran field operations for Project Veritas until mid-2018.”

Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group’s operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.

The Times’ extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.

The Times reports the operation was run out of a house that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.

“The operation against Mr. McMaster was hatched not long after an article appeared in BuzzFeed News about a private dinner in 2017. Exactly what happened during the dinner is in dispute, but the article said that Mr. McMaster had disparaged Mr. Trump by calling him an ‘idiot’ with the intelligence of a ‘kindergartner.'”

Those allegations were never proven, although they echo what some others inside the administration, like first Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had allegedly stated.

In the end, McMaster resigned amid far right-wing attacks, but no recordings of him calling Trump an “idiot.”

Read the entire New York Times investigation here.

Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr 
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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Newsmax Host Off Air After Online Outrage Over Antisemitic Remarks

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Newsmax TV host Grant Stinchfield will be off the air for the remainder of the week after massive outrage over his antisemitic remarks Wednesday night. Stinchfield claimed that American Jews’ “home country” is actually Israel, not the U.S., in a rant attacking President Joe Biden.

Eric Bolling, the former Fox News host who has seen his own share of controversy, in a tweet announced he will be covering for Stinchfield, which The Wrap reported.

“If you are Jewish and you are a Democrat and you are living in America today, how do you support an administration that turns its back on your home country?” Stinchfield had said, as Media Matters reported.

Outrage, especially from Americans who also identify as Jewish, was massive, as NCRM documented.

In March Stinchfield came under attack after claiming there was a “strong case” that President Joe Biden is “not really a Catholic.”

 

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CRIME

Active Duty US Marine Corps Officer Arrested for Alleged Role in January 6 Insurrection: DOJ

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The U.S. Dept. of Justice has announced the arrest of a 40-year old active duty U.S. Marine, a commissioned officer stationed at Quantico, for his alleged role in the January 6 insurrection.

Citing court documents and security camera footage, DOJ in a statement says Major Christopher Warnagiris “violently entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, after pushing through a line of police officers guarding the East Rotunda doors. Once inside, Warnagiris positioned himself in the corner of the doorway, using his body to keep the door open and pull others inside. When a U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officer tried to pull the doors shut, Warnagiris refused and continued pushing it open. Warnagiris can be seen pushing the officer in an effort to maintain his position in the open door in security camera footage and publicly available video footage captured shortly after 2:25 p.m.”

Warnagiris “is charged with federal offenses that include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; and obstruction of justice, among other charges. Warnagiris will make his initial court appearance today at 2:00 p.m. in the Eastern District of Virginia,” the DOJ said.

HuffPost senior justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly adds:

On Wednesday several Republican members of Congress stated: “There was no insurrection. To call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie,” the insurrectionists were merely “peaceful protestors,” and the attack on the U.S. Capitol looked like “a normal tourist visit.”

 

Image: DOJ

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