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Anti-Gay Lawmakers Revive ‘Witch Hunt’ Against LGBTQ Youth Conference

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Allegations From Bob Vander Plaats’ Anti-Gay Group, The Family Leader, Sparked Legislative Inquiry

Iowa lawmakers are moving forward with 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. 

GOP Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the House Government Oversight Committee, last week appointed two members of the panel, one Republican and one Democrat, to investigate the annual Governor’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 crusade against the conference in recent years. 

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. 

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. 

RELATED: Top Anti-Gay Activist Demands Schools Teach Gays They Can Never Have Sex

“There were only two sessions [among more than 20] that had anything to do with bullying,” the Family Leader’s anonymous spy later alleged in a rather salacious report. “It’s a conference teaching kids how to be confidently homosexual, how to pleasure their gay partners — one session even taught transsexual girls how to sew fake testicles into their underwear in order to pass themselves off as boys.”

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.” 

“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. “My 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 other’s behinds and how to use different flavors of [oils] to make it taste better.” 

Conference participants flatly denied the undercover operative’s allegations. Kerri Barnhouse, adviser for the Gay Straight Alliance at West High School in Iowa City, said the Family Leader “twisted and manipulated” the conference, while students who attended launched a letter-writing campaign to Vander Plaats.

RELATED: 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 “a witch hunt” aimed at shutting down the event. 

“I have no words to describe the violation of civil liberties – and common human decency — 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.  

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 letter to school superintendents — which Monson described as “creepy” — asking how many people from their districts attended the conference and whether they covered any of the costs, including transportation. Then, Kauffman scheduled a legislative hearing on the conference for October, but later postponed it before reviving the investigation last week. 

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 acknowledged 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. 

“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.” 

This year’s conference is set for April 29 in Des Moines. To support the conference, which is funded entirely by donations, go here. 

 

Images via Iowa Safe Schools/Facebook

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‘Segregated?’: Republican Ridiculed for Call to Return to ‘Where America Was in the 1960s’

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A Republican U.S. Congressman is being criticized for his remarks calling for a return to the 1960’s, a direct attack on federal government social safety programs like welfare and food stamps.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who has spent a decade in the House often fighting against those programs, lamented that “every year of course, I am lobbied by people who want the government … to take up an even greater role in their children’s life, be it daycare, be it preschool, be it after school programs, whatever. They clearly want the children raised by the government. So I hope the press corps picks up on this, and I hope Republican and Democratic leadership put together some sort of plan for January in which we work our way back to where America was in the 1960s.”

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“We now have the TANF program which gives cash benefits to people,” Grothman continued. “Indeed there are over 70 government programs in which your benefits are based on percent of poverty, which is to say, you get benefits if either you if you are not working hard or and if you are not married to a spouse who is working hard because as soon as you have one person who’s working kind of hard, they’re going to make enough money. They’re not eligible for all these programs. So, when you consider the powerful forces who wanted to get rid of the family, perhaps this is not a coincidence.”

This is not the first time Rep. Grothman has attacked critical social safety net programs.

Last month, in an interview littered with racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic remarks, claiming progressives, social justice movements, and the government for decades have wanted to destroy the family unit, he blamed the federal government for “bribing” low-income women with welfare to prevent them from marrying.

The 1960’s were plagued by racial segregation, discrimination, inequality, police brutality, the Vietnam War, anti-war protests, resistance to the draft, pollution, civil unrest, and political assassinations.

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

Critics slammed Grothman Thursday. One, national security attorney Brad Moss, responding to the Republican’s desire to return to the 1960s, asking: “Segregated? Watching presidents and major political figures be assassinated?”

Others mentioned Project 2025, suggesting it is the vehicle Republicans plan on using to reach Grothman’s desired goal.

Watch the clips below or at this link.

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‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

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President Joe Biden this week has been hosting the leaders of the 32 nations that form the 75-year old alliance known as NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and at 6:30 PM ET the leader of the free world will hold an unscripted, “high stakes” press conference with reporters to detail their progress (video below). Also Thursday evening, ex-president Donald Trump, the convicted felon who remains out on bail and is still facing 54 criminal counts, will reportedly host the authoritarian Christian nationalist prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, at Mar-a-Lago.

President Biden’s remarks will be televised nationwide. Donald Trump’s meeting will not.

Trump’s meeting with Orbán comes just one week after the far-right autocrat, branded a “neo-fascist dictator” back in 2014 by the late Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and just days after Orbán met with China’s President Xi Jinping, reportedly on a “peace mission” for the Russian war against Ukraine.

Thursday will be Trump’s second meeting this year with Orbán.

Critics have been sound alarms.

“Fresh from visiting Xi in China and Putin in Moscow, Viktor Orban will apparently complete his pilgrimage by showing up at Mar-a-Lago today,” observed The Bulwark’s Bill Kristol.

“Trump meeting Orban opposite NATO Summit immediately following Orban mtg w Putin and Xi is the sort of betrayal of the US that would’ve led to Congressional investigations or worse in the past,” observed noted foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and author David Rothkopf.

Russian propagandists have been claiming Orban is acting as an intermediary, delivering messages from Putin to Trump and vice versa,” wrote Daily Beast columnist Julia Davis, creator of the Russian Media Monitor.

“U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman lashed out at Orbán recently, saying that no other U.S. ally has so ‘overtly and tirelessly’ campaigned for the Republican candidate,” Politico reports. “This week, Orbán praised Trump in an interview with Axel Springer media outlets, which owns POLITICO, as ‘the man of peace,’ and he predicted there is a ‘very, very high chance’ Biden will not win the U.S. election.”

READ MORE: ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Unfit’: NY Times Calls on Republicans to Reject Trump Ahead of Convention

Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe expert Olga Lautman, a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) also issued a warning:

“As NATO holds its summit Russian media reports that Russian puppet Orban may share info he collected from Russia & China of terrorist Russia’s nonstarter plan for Ukraine w Trump. Pay attention to Orban’s moves while he is in U.S. especially with Heritage Foundation and Trump’s people.”

The Heritage Foundation is the major entity behind the multi-million dollar Project 2025.

Lautman also pointed to a March post she wrote: “Newly emerged evidence shows how Hungary and Russia worked together during the 2020 Slovak elections to help the Slovak government stay in power, Orban acted as a middleman. Take note America,” she warned.

Also issuing warnings is former CIA analyst Gail Helt.

Responding to another Politico report that “Donald Trump is considering a reduction in intelligence sharing with members of NATO, which depends on the U.S. for the type of information that has helped Ukraine fend off Russia,” Helt wrote: “Oh dear God.”

READ MORE: ‘Dead Heat’: Biden Ahead or Tied With Trump in Two New Post-Debate Polls

“I walk my students through some ‘what if’ exercises in my intro to Intel analysis class,” she wrote Wednesday night, “this will make a great case study: what if an American president wanted to ally with Russia without the American people knowing? What would that look like? What would we see? What could he do?”

“This,” she continued. “He could do this. Curtailing Intel sharing with NATO hands the continent to Russia. He’s not trying to make America great. He’s will make Russia great and erode US standing in the world. We have to ask why. Don’t let him do it.”

You can watch Biden’s 6:30 PM ET press conference live below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘No Change’: Biden Debate Performance Has Had ‘Almost No Impact’ on 2024 Race Report Finds

 

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‘Dangerous’ and ‘Unfit’: NY Times Calls on Republicans to Reject Trump Ahead of Convention

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In a massive 4300 word editorial The New York Times Editorial Board calls Donald Trump “dangerous” and “unfit to lead,” just days ahead of the Republican National Committee’s convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the convicted ex-president is slated to officially become the GOP nominee for president.

“A once great political party now serves the interests of one man, a man as demonstrably unsuited for the office of president as any to run in the long history of the Republic, a man whose values, temperament, ideas and language are directly opposed to so much of what has made this country great,” the Editorial Board writes.

Editorial Board member Mara Gay told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday (video below) that this extensive project had been in the works for “months,” and said it had nothing to do with the Editorial Board twice declaring President Joe Biden should exit the race after his debate performance two weeks ago.

“This election is not a policy disagreement,” Gay explained. “This is about two vastly different visions for America, one that is committed to multiracial democracy, and to pluralism, to human rights, to well-being and reproductive freedom and things that most Americans say consistently that they want and are committed to, and the other vision for America, which is about retribution, and about authoritarianism, and is hateful, racist, and extremely close-minded.”

READ MORE: ‘Dead Heat’: Biden Ahead or Tied With Trump in Two New Post-Debate Polls

“We don’t believe that that’s the direction that most Americans want to go in. And so we are really urging American voters to listen to Donald Trump’s words, and to take him seriously. And to understand that this second presidency could be even more dangerous than the last. Of course, we lost a million Americans to the COVID virus, and a lot of other horrific events took place under Donald Trump’s presidency. His calling folks at Charlottesville who were Nazis, ‘fine people.’ The list goes on. We make the case. I would urge people to read the editorial. This is this is a moment of alarm not just for people who are progressives or Democrats, but for anyone who still wants to see this country remain a democracy.”

The multi-media interactive editorial begins in all-caps:

“HE IS DANGEROUS IN WORD, DEED AND ACTION”
“HE PUTS SELF OVER COUNTRY”
“HE LOATHES THE LAWS WE LIVE BY”

“Mr. Trump has shown a character unworthy of the responsibilities of the presidency,” the editorial states. “He has demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people. Instead of a cogent vision for the country’s future, Mr. Trump is animated by a thirst for political power: to use the levers of government to advance his interests, satisfy his impulses and exact retribution against those who he thinks have wronged him.”

“He is, quite simply, unfit to lead.”

READ MORE: ‘No Change’: Biden Debate Performance Has Had ‘Almost No Impact’ on 2024 Race Report Finds

It also warns: “The Supreme Court, with its ruling on July 1 granting presidents ‘absolute immunity’ for official acts, has removed an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s worst impulses: the threat of legal consequences. What remains is his own sense of right and wrong. Our country’s future is too precious to rely on such a broken moral compass.”

The Editorial Board adds, “with his nomination by his party all but assured, Mr. Trump has become even more reckless in employing extreme and violent speech, such as his references to executing generals who raise questions about his actions. He has argued, before the Supreme Court, that he should have the right to assassinate a political rival and face no consequences.”

What the Editorial Board does not do is call for Donald Trump to exit the race, as it has done for President Biden, twice, over one debate performance.

Read the entire New York Times editorial here, and watch the video below or at this link:

READ MORE: Josh Hawley: ‘I’m Advocating Christian Nationalism’

 

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