Proposals would ban local LGBT protections, safeguard ‘ex-gay’ therapy
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton have launched a fresh assault on LGBT rights, calling on state legislators to revive Indiana-style religious freedom legislation that was defeated in this year’s session.Â
The proposals from Patrick (photo, left) and Paxton, both Tea Partiers, would nullify local nondiscrimination ordinances protecting LGBT people, give state-funded adoption agencies a license to discriminate against same-sex couples, ensure that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges doesn’t “needlessly trample the religious liberties of State and local government employees,” and preserve the right of mental health professionals to provide so-called “ex-gay” therapy. Â
More than 20 similar anti-LGBT proposals died in this year’s session, largely due to opposition from the state’s chamber of commerce. But Patrick and Paxton are calling on legislative committees to study the proposals in the interim before the next Legislature convenes in January 2017.
“Examine measures to affirm 1st Amendment religious liberty protections inÂ Texas, along with the relationship between local ordinances and state and federal law,” Patrick wrote atop a to-do list of 21 items for the Senate. “Make recommendations to ensure that the government does not force individuals, organizations or businesses to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.”Â
Meanwhile, Paxton penned a letter to Patrick in which the attorney general went into more detail about anti-LGBT legislation, laying out goals including: Â
â€¢ Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies should be free from discrimination based on their religious beliefs, as has occurred in other jurisdictions.Â
â€¢ Religious beliefs when requiring counseling should be protected.Â
â€¢ Small businesses and closely held corporations should not be required to provide goods or services for weddings that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Patrick’s to-do list prompted Equality Texas to issue an action alert, noting that the lieutenant governor is from Houston, where an Equal Rights Ordinance will appear on the ballot Nov. 3. A recent poll showed a majority of Houstonians back the ordinance, which is similar to laws protecting LGBT people against discrimination that are already on the books in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and San Antonio. Â
“Equality for gay and transgender Texans is under attack!” Executive Director Chuck Smith wrote. “Notwithstanding the defeat of more than 20 anti-LGBT bills in the last legislative session and Juneâ€™s historic Supreme Court ruling affirming the freedom to marry, Lt. Gov. Patrick is still instructing lawmakers to look for ways to allow discrimination against gay and transgender Texas.”Â
Kathy Miller, president of the pro-LGBT Texas Freedom Network, also responded to the proposals.Â
â€œFreedom of religion does not give people a license to discriminate or to exempt themselves from laws that protect everyone,â€ Miller told The Austin Statesman.Â Â
Image via Facebook
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Raphael Warnock Beats Trump-Backed Herschel Walker – Democrats Increase Senate Majority
Millions of Americans in Georgia voted to re-elect Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock and send him back to Washington D.C., NBC News projects. It is a clear mandate for the policies enacted by the Biden administration and a strong rebuke for the flailing former president, Donald Trump.
Senator Warnock faced a challenge from a Texas Republican who claimed to live in the Peach State, Trump-backed former NFL star Herschel Walker.
The New York Times, confirming Warnock is the projected winner, reports a huge number of Georgians, more than 3.3 million, voted in the runoff election.
An admitted Texas resident, Walker’s long list of hypocritical claims and actions, falsehoods, lies, and troubling business and tax dealings were only outweighed by the women who accused him of violent behavior, pressuring them and paying for them to get abortions, and revelations he had not one child but four, including a son he almost never sees.
Warnock, who is also the Senior Pastor at the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church, Ebenezer Baptist, out-raised and out-campaigned Walker, especially in the last week.
Herschel Walker appeared at only two events this weekend, Politico reported, “a tailgate in Atlanta before a University of Georgia football game on Saturday, where he did not speak, and a Sunday rally in Loganville, where his stump speech touched on everything from complaints about pronouns and critical race theory to funding law enforcement.”
With 51 votes in the Senate, Democrats will not be forced into a power-sharing agreement with Republicans as they were two years ago. President Biden will be able to nominate and have confirmed even more judges, an area he has excelled. And Democrats will have full committee majorities, giving them power to issue subpoenas in investigations.
The Washington Post on Tuesday noted that Democrats having 51 votes is “an insurance policy against the unthinkable — the possibility that vacancies or party switches could flip the majority. That has happened before, most recently in 2001. The reason that it hasn’t happened more often is mostly because the Senate isn’t usually this closely divided. But vacancies and seat flips do happen — a lot. In fact, since World War II, about 70 percent of Congresses have featured some kind of shift in partisan balance of the Senate between elections.”
The unthinkable includes the possibility that a Democratic Senator in a state headed by a Republican governor could resign or die, allowing a Republican to be installed in their place. As The Post notes, there are 11 cases currently where that could happen.
Warnock unseated a GOP Senator in a 2020 special election, making this his first full elected six-year term.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain notes President Biden “becomes the first President since FDR 1934 to see every Senator in his party re-elected (who was seeking re-election.)”
Guilty on All Counts: Trump Organization Loses Big in Criminal Fraud Case
A jury has found thew crown jewel of Donald Trump’s real estate empire, The Trump Organization, guilty on all counts in a state criminal tax fraud case.
Calling it “a remarkable rebuke of the former president’s company and what prosecutors described as its ‘culture of fraud and deception,'” The New York Times reports the details include “conviction on all 17 counts.”
Charges include tax fraud, a scheme to defraud, and conspiracy and falsifying business records, but The Times says it is “hardly a death sentence for the Trump Organization.”
The Times adds the conviction comes “after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan,” which “resulted from a long-running scheme in which the Trump Organization doled out off-the-books luxury perks to some executives: They received fancy apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, even private school tuition for relatives, none of which they paid taxes on.”
Donald Trump was not a defendant in the case, but the case will be front and center during his presidential run.
According to a press release from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, The Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. were convicted of the following charges:
- Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count
- Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
- Criminal Tax Fraud in Third Degree, a class D felony, two counts
- Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
- Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, three counts
The Trump Corporation was also convicted of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony.
MSNBC reported the verdict on-air:
BREAKING: Trump Org. found guilty on all counts in a 15-year tax fraud scheme that prosecutors said was orchestrated by top executives at the company. https://t.co/MPjgQRmzjX pic.twitter.com/356LrhuK6u
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 6, 2022
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
Image via Shutterstock
Watch: McConnell Refuses to Say He Will Not Support Trump for President Even After ‘Terminate the Constitution’ Demand
Even after Donald Trump called for the “termination” of the U.S. Constitution this weekend and demanded he be put back into office or be given a do-over national presidential election, Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to say he will not support the ex-president’s current run for the White House.
McConnell kicked off his weekly press conference Tuesday by mildly criticizing Trump, although not mentioning him by name.
“First, let me just say that anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the Constitution could somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me would have a very hard time being sworn in as president of United States,” McConnell told reporters.
But when asked if he “categorically” would refuse to support Trump – personally or in his role as Senate Republican Minority Leader – McConnell refused to go that far.
“This is the second week in a row you’ve come out to begin your press conference criticizing Donald Trump,” a reporter off-camera said. “Can you say categorically that you do not support him if he were the Republican nominee?”
McConnell could not.
“What I’m saying is it would be pretty hard to be sworn in, to the presidency, if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution. That’s what I said, and I just said it again,” McConnell stated.
“How about your personal support?” the reporter shot back.
McConnell ignored the question.
During the 2016 campaign Trump also made clear he did not feel beholden to upholding the Constitution, so it’s unclear why McConnell would suggest he could not be sworn in again should he be elected in 2024.
In fact, Trump’s concerning remarks surrounding the Constitution in 2016 led Brown University political science professor Corey Brettschneider to pen a piece for Politico: “Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide.”
“It may be true that Donald Trump has read the Constitution. But it’s unclear if he understands it,” it begins.
McConnell is not only the second longest serving leader of a party’s caucus in the Senate, nor his he just the Senate Republican Minority Leader.
He wields massive power and influence via his ties to a Super PAC.
According to CNN, the Senate Leadership Fund is “a super PAC affiliated with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”
This year alone, the Senate Leadership Fund has spent nearly $300 million to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate. In 2020 it spent over $475 million.
Many have seen their ads, which are almost entirely, according to Open Secrets, against Democrats, not for Republicans.
Watch McConnell below or at this link.
Question: Can you say categorically that you will not support Trump if he were the Republican nominee?
McConnell: What I’m saying is it would be pretty hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the constitution pic.twitter.com/KOcHOUtpnc
— Acyn (@Acyn) December 6, 2022
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