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Supporters of Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Rally in Tennessee, Say ‘Cost of Tolerance is AIDS’

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Hate Group Rallies Outside Capitol Before Wednesday Hearing on ‘Natural Defense of Marriage Act’

Supporters of the anti-gay marriage bill set to be considered by a Tennessee House committee on Wednesday rallied outside the Capitol in Nashville this morning. They also reportedly circled the building in a pickup truck carrying a large sign reading, “The Cost of Tolerance: AIDS.” 

The extremist group behind Tuesday’s protest, DefyTyrants.com, hosted the event in December where GOP state Rep. Mark Pody stated that God told him to file House Bill 1412, known as the “Tennessee Defense of Natural Marriage Act,” because same-sex marriage is “wicked.” The bill would eliminate marriage equality in Tennessee by requiring officials to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, at a potential cost of $8.5 billion annually to the state.

Pody spoke with supporters Tuesday:

On the eve of Wednesday’s hearing on the bill before the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind, which first reported on the offensive sign, posted a photo of it to Twitter:

Nashville Scene adds that a handful of protesters from DefyTyrants.com held Bibles and anti-gay signs as they gathered on a sidewalk outside the Capitol. 

“I’m a United States veteran and a citizen of North Carolina, which is in the United States,” protester Alan Hoyle told Nashville Scene. “I swore an oath to defend the Constitution, and the Constitution says nothing about marriage, and a court can’t decide on marriage. No judge can make a law. A judge cannot rule against the people. We’re for natural marriage.”

DefyTyrants.com is the brainchild of Matt Trewhella, a radical Christian preacher from Wisconsin who once signed a statement in defense of the murder of abortion providers. 

Trewhella espouses a theory called “interposition of the lesser magistrate,” which is essentially the idea that elected officials have a Godly duty to “stand in the gap” by defying court rulings that go against so-called divine law. In fact, Trewhella has criticized the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel for using “religious liberty” as the basis for its defense of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, calling it “nonsense.” 

“She shouldn’t be just trying to keep little Kim Davis from having to have her hand in the process of this abomination, two men or two women marrying,” Trewhella has said of Davis. “Her duty is far bigger than that. She actually has the duty to defy the higher authority completely and interpose on behalf of righteousness and therefore abate the just judgment of God upon our nation. That’s what true interposition of the lesser magistrate entails.”  

Trewhella was the keynote speaker at a rally supporting Pody’s bill in December, where the lawmaker told the crowd that God spoke to him personally during prayer and said his role was to fight marriage equality. Before Trewhella spoke, an unidentified man introduced him by saying: “Listen folks, we will not win without casualties. People get hurt in war. It’s a consequence of it. But if we don’t go to war, untold millions following us will be destroyed.”

Nashville Scene notes that Trewhella has also called for churches to form militias, and told his followers to buy their children assault rifles. 

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign released a statement Tuesday slamming Pody’s bill. 

“The Supreme Court of the United States has unequivocally settled the issue once and for all by making clear that loving and committed same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry,” HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said. “This legislation is thoroughly unconstitutional, and it would no doubt cost taxpayers significantly in a vain, injudicious attempt to undermine marriage equality for LGBT Tennesseans.”

Also Tuesday, two more county commissions in Tennessee were set to vote on resolutions supporting the bill. Five county commissions in the state have already passed similar resolutions. 

The Tennessee Equality Project is encouraging LGBT advocates and allies to attend the county commission meetings, as well as the legislative hearing, wearing red. 

“Rep. Pody’s visions are dangerous because he claims a basis for making public policy available just for him and those like him —his belief that divine voices are calling him to thwart the rights of others,” TEN Executive Director Chris Sanders said recently. “Hearing divine voices as a basis for lawmaking may have worked for Moses, but Rep. Pody’s bill will not lead us to the Promised Land. It may actually lead to more violence against the LGBT community.” 

For people like Trewhella, that’s apparently the goal. Watch his speech at the rally in support of the bill below. 

 

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'DEEP STATE'

Federal Agencies Tapped Phones of Portland’s Racial Justice Protestors to Prove They’re Terrorists

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Two current officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have confirmed that the DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) during this summer’s racial justice protests in Portland, Oregon for a covert operation focused on “extracting information from protester’s phones.”

The officials told The Nation that a DHS colleague with expertise in electronic surveillance was sent to Portland as part of “an interagency task force” using a classified cell phone cloning attack to “intercept protesters’ phone communications.”

“Cell phone cloning involves stealing a phone’s unique identifiers and copying them to another device in order to intercept the communications received by the original device,” The Nation explains. It’s a tactic conducted to better understand your target, their network and their planning. The DEA is believed to have had a “special key” to help carry out the surveillance.

While it’s unclear who specifically was targeted by the surveillance, “They were abusing people’s rights,” one official said. The DHS hasn’t responded to congressional calls to explain the program either.

The officials quoted in The Nation’s article say that colleagues from the DHS were asked to “volunteer” to participate in the program, something departments do to conduct operations outside of the department’s official and legal capacity.

The overall goal, the officials state, was to substantiate thin claims by Attorney General William Barr that Antifa (anti-fascist) activists are receiving foreign sponsorship, something that is a necessary criterion to formally designate the group as a terrorist organization, something Trump vowed to do as recently as yesterday.

Considering that the U.S. has a long history of surveilling, harassing and possibly even killing racial justice activists since before the Civil Rights era, this newest program is hardly surprising, albeit still frightening.

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'CAN'T WE END THIS ALREADY?'

“Armed Militias to Intimidate Voters”: Donald Trump Jr.’s New Ad Recruits GOP “Army” to “Secure” Election

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Donald Trump Jr.

The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., appears in a social media video ad asking people to join an “army” to stop the “radical left” and their plan to “steal” the election. Nevermind, that Trump Sr. has already refused to ensure a peaceful transfer of power if he loses and has also said he can only lose if the vote is rigged.

Here’s the ad itself:

In the ad, Trump Jr. says:

“The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father, President Donald Trump. They are planting stories that President Trump will have a landslide lead on election night but will lose when they finish counting the mail-in ballots. Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election. We cannot let that happen.”

“We need every able-bodied man and woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation at defendyourballot.com. We need you to help us watch them, not just on Election Day but also during early voting and at the counting boards. President Trump is going to win. Don’t let them steal it. Go to defendyourballot.com and enlist today.”

While the actual website DefendYourBallot.com is just a Trump campaign get out the vote effort that doesn’t actually instruct supporters to monitor polling places or post offices, one tech culture website said the “ads incite armed militias to intimidate voters.” Keep in mind, Trump Sr. has already promised to deploy thousands of law enforcement officials to polling places on Election Day, a move that will discourage voting by people with a distrust of police.

Considering the numerous armed protesters at anti-lockdown rallies during the start of the COVID-19 epidemic and Trump Sr.’s repeated lie that Democrats want to abolish the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, it’s easy to see how Donald Jr.’s appeal could inspire right-wing gun nuts to “monitor” polling places and post offices by scaring voters, poll workers, and postal delivery people by challenging anything that looks even remotely suspicious to them.

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'AS AN AMERICAN WHO CARES DEEPLY ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION

“A Direct Attack on Millions of Americans”: Reactions to Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Nomination

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Amy Coney Barrett

Yesterday, The New York Times announced that President Donald Trump has chosen far right-wing religious extremist, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to be his third Supreme Court pick.

Although Trump won’t make his official announcement until 5 p.m. ET today, reactions against Barrett have already started rolling in. Here’s a growing sample voicing concern over her hypocritical and extremist positions:

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