Anti-Gay Lawmakers Revive ‘Witch Hunt’ Against LGBTQ Youth Conference
Allegations From Bob Vander Plaats’ Anti-Gay Group, The Family Leader, Sparked Legislative Inquiry
Iowa lawmakers are moving forward withÂ an investigation into a statewide LGBTQ youth conference, in response to allegations from an anti-gay group that last year’s event included sexually explicit content.Â
GOP Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the House Government Oversight Committee, last week appointedÂ two members of the panel, one Republican and one Democrat, to investigate the annual Governorâ€™s Conference on LGBTQ Youth, now in its 11th year. The Republican appointed by Kaufmann to investigate the conference is Rep. Greg Heartsill, who serves as vice chair of the oversight committee and has led a hateful legislative crusadeÂ against the conference in recent years.Â
Organized by the nonprofit advocacy group Iowa Safe Schools, the educational conference is the largest of its kind in the nation, drawing more than 1,000 students, parents and teachers from across the Midwest to address issues like bullying, homelessness, suicide and sexual health among LGBT youth and teens.Â
Posted by Iowa Safe Schools on Monday, April 20, 2015
Although the conference doesn’t directly receive any taxpayer funds, it has come under fire from some GOP lawmakers as well as the The Family Leader, the Iowa anti-LGBT group led by Bob Vander Plaats, which sent an undercover operative to the event last year.Â
RELATED:Â Top Anti-Gay Activist Demands Schools Teach Gays They Can Never Have Sex
â€œThere were only two sessions [among more than 20] that had anything to do with bullying,” the Family Leader’s anonymous spy later allegedÂ in a rather salacious report. “Itâ€™s a conference teaching kids how to be confidently homosexual, how to pleasure their gay partners â€” one session even taught transsexual girls how to sew fake testicles into their underwear in order to pass themselves off as boys.â€
The operative’s report went on to quote a father, also anonymous, who said his daughter left the conference early because she was “absolutely distraught.”Â
“It was crude. One presenter told students who asked whether anal sex hurt that, as a lesbian, it really depended on how big the device is that their partner straps on,” the father said. â€œMy daughter went to listen to the comedian, Sam Killermann, thinking it would at least be funny. But instead, Killermann explained how pleasurable it is for gay couples to eat each otherâ€™s behinds and how to use different flavors of [oils] to make it taste better.”Â
Conference participants flatly denied the undercover operative’s allegations.Â Kerri Barnhouse, adviser for the Gay Straight Alliance at West High School in Iowa City, said the Family Leader “twisted and manipulated”Â the conference, while students who attended launched a letter-writingÂ campaign to Vander Plaats.
RELATED:Â Anti-Gay Iowa Republican Partners With Anti-Gay Christian Group To Bully Anti-Bullying LGBTQ Group
Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, suggested that people like Vander Plaats, Kauffman and Heartsill are waging “aÂ witch hunt” aimed at shutting down the event.Â
“I have no words to describe the violation of civil liberties â€“ and common human decency â€” it is to listen into the conversations of young people in settings where parents and youth are encouraged to have an open dialogue about tough issues,” Monson wrote, adding that the “campaign of pure hate” has led to Iowa Safe Schools representatives being called “child-molesting enablers, fags, dykes, queers, and homos.”
“If a supposedly responsible adult can unleash untruths and distort an event like our conference in such a way as to garner such hateful reaction directed at the LGBTQ community, can you imagine what our youth face when bullies hear those same messages?” Monson added. Â
Posted by Iowa Safe Schools on Friday, March 20, 2015
Despite his fringe views, Vander Plaats enjoys considerable influence among the state’s Republicans, marked by his power player status in Iowa’s GOP presidential caucus, in which he’s endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz this year.
In response to the undercover operative’s report, Heartsill sent a letterÂ to school superintendents â€” which Monson described as “creepy”Â â€” askingÂ how many people from their districts attended the conference and whether they covered any of the costs, including transportation. Then, Kauffman scheduled a legislative hearingÂ on the conference for October, but later postponed it before reviving the investigation last week.Â
Heartsill also introduced an unsuccessful amendment last year that would have required students to obtain parental consent before attending the conference. During debate on the amendment on the House floor, Heartsill infamously acknowledgedÂ that he didn’t even know what “LGBTQ” stood for.
Monson told The New Civil Rights Movement that the other lawmaker appointed by Kaufmann to investigate the conference, Democratic Rep. Phyllis Thede, has been a strong advocate for safe schools. However, Monson said he believes Heartsill will attempt to use the investigation to leverage support for a similar amendment this year.Â
“He’s going to use this spot to bully and harass Iowa Safe Schools to try and get that passed in addition to stopping kids from coming this year by distorting the event,” Monson said. “Most of our attendees are rural kids who come with teachers and their parents. Every year these youth get to meet a major figure in our community. … Homeless youth from one of our shelters come annually and for those kids rejected by their families to know everything is OK, that’s why we do this. Heartsill has no shame in wanting to hurt our most vulnerable youth.”Â
This year’s conference is set for April 29 in Des Moines. To support the conference, which is funded entirely by donations, go here.Â
Images via IowaÂ SafeÂ Schools/Facebook
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'GOOD LUCK WITH THAT'
‘Trying to Have It Both Ways’: Ivanka ‘Flailing’ as Trump Indictment Slams Family
While Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have taken to their social media platforms to viciously lash out at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for indicting their father on a reported 30 charges, Ivanka Trump posted a rather muted statement on her Instagram account which simply said, “I love my father, and I love my country. Today, I am pained for both. I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern.”
According to Daily Beast conservative columnist Matt Lewis, the so-called “First Daughter,” who served in the White House with her father, is trying to stay true to her former president dad, while distancing herself from his legal problems — and it is not going to work for her.
As Lewis put it, Ivanka is “flailing” in her attempts to shed the memory of her participation in the Trump administration that reached its lowest point on Jan. 6 when supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives.
“It’s hard to argue with anything Ivanka says here, but it is not a statement of moral clarity. Nor is it (conversely) a statement of strong support for her father. She’s flailing and trying to have it both ways,” Lewis wrote before adding, “Now, it’s understandable that a daughter might not want to utterly condemn her father. Further, children are not responsible for their parents’ sins. Except, of course, if you consider the fact that Ivanka served as the primary weapon in the ‘Trump’s not such a belligerent pig as his four decades as a public figure would make you think’ propaganda push.”
RELATED: Trump is so ‘unmoored from reality’ he can’t act as a defense witness: ‘Art of the Deal’ ghostwriter
Noting that Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner — who has baggage of his own — both stuck with Trump in the White House for all four years, Lewis added, “As far as the former first daughter goes, she and her husband might be done with politics, but once you’ve been a party to an administration like Trump’s, it’s going to be a long time before politics is done with them.”
“So, Ivanka, you want to have a seat at the cool apolitical kids’ table? You want to be once again accepted by the socially liberal billionaires’ children you used to go to the Hamptons with and now have Miami Beach playdates with? You want to enjoy the privileges of being a Trump with none of the shame? Good luck with that,” he concluded.
You can read more here.
Dominion Wins ‘Blockbuster Victories’ Against Fox News – Last Legal Issue Will Be Decided by a Jury: Report
Dominion Voting Systems won what are being called “blockbuster victories” Friday afternoon when a judge ruled the company suing Fox News for $1.6 billion in a major defamation lawsuit had met its burden of proof that Rupert Murdoch‘s far-right wing cable channel had repeatedly made false statements.
The final, and likely greatest legal issue Dominion will have to prove will be actual malice. That issue will be decided in a jury trial, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis ruled Friday, according to Law & Crime.
Unlike previous cases, Fox News will reportedly not be able to argue the on-air statements its personalities made were opinion.
CNN legal analyst and Brookings senior fellow Norm Eisen calls Friday’s decision a “huge win for Dominion on their summary judgment motion against Fox News.”
READ MORE: Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’
“Dominion won partial summary judgement that what Fox said about them was false! Now they just have to prove actual malice and damages,” Eisen says. “Meanwhile Fox’s motion was totally denied.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor adds: “Dominion’s evidence Fox made false statements with reckless disregard is as strong as any I’ve seen.”
The judge was very clear in his ruling.
“While the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to Fox, the record does not show a genuine issue of material fact as to falsity,” Judge Davis wrote. “Through its extensive proof, Dominion has met its burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to falsity. Fox therefore had the burden to show an issue of material fact existed in turn. Fox failed to meet its burden.”
READ MORE: ‘Propaganda Network’: Media Reporter Says Dominion Filing Exposes Fox News as ‘Void of the Most Basic Journalistic Ethics’
Attorney and MSNBC host and legal analyst Katie Phang points to this key passage in Judge Davis’ ruling.
Dominion has won the argument on the issue of falsity, meaning that as the Court funds below, “it is CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true.” pic.twitter.com/7lKEspN0WI
— Katie S. Phang (@KatiePhang) March 31, 2023
Court watchers and news junkies are familiar at this point with the massive legal filings Dominion has made in which it exposed how Fox News knowingly made false statements regarding the 2020 presidential election. Those filings, each hundreds of pages, also detail internal Fox News communications and bombshell conversations between the company’s top personalities, executives, and even Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Image of Rupert Murdoch via Shutterstock
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’
The U.S. Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms on Friday jointly issued a statement warning they “anticipate” Trump protests across the country. The statement is not time-specific, and it states it has no information on “credible threats,” but some Democratic offices are allowing staffers to work from home Friday and Tuesday.
“The Sergeant at Arms and United States Capitol Police (USCP) anticipate demonstration activity across the country related to the indictment of former President Trump. While law enforcement is not tracking any specific, credible threats against the Capitol or state offices, there is potential for demonstration activity. USCP is working with law enforcement partners, so you may observe a greater law enforcement presence on Capitol Hill,” the statement reads.
“The SAA and USCP are monitoring the potential nationwide impacts to Senate state offices,” it adds.
The House Sergeant at Arms was conspicuously absent from the statement. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has control over that office.
READ MORE: Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor
Additionally, Axios is reporting, “several House Democrats are allowing staffers to work from home as a safety precaution,” noting that “the memory of Trump supporters ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 is still fresh on the mind.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is allowing staff to work from home for safety reasons. She told Axios, “I don’t ever want to see a Jan. 6 again.”
“I’ve been in the Trump hate tunnel, Donald Trump has gone after me, and quite frankly I don’t have security. I don’t have entourages.”
She’s not the only Democrat to raise concerns.
“Much of the language from the former President and his devotees is similar to what inspired Jan. 6th,” U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips said. “I’m concerned about safety for my colleagues and my staff.”
READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump
Meanwhile, House Republicans are issuing full-throated support for Trump and calling for protests.
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was called out by name in a six-page letter Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent to Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan Friday morning, announced she will be in New York on Tuesday to support Trump when he is arraigned. She has posted several tweets since Trump was indicted.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Thursday seemingly designed to gin up rage and action in the MAGA base.
“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
Image by Elvert Barnes via Flickr and a CC license
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