Roberta Kaplan, Who Won Marriage and Recently Adoption for Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi Now Is Going After a Portion of HB 1523
Roberta Kaplan is the attorney who won Edie Windsor’s U.S. Supreme Court DOMA case in 2013. She also won marriage for same-sex couples in Mississippi, and veryÂ recently, won equal adoption rights for same-sex couples in the Magnolia State as well. Now, she’s turning her attention to Gov. Phil Bryant’s anti-gay “religious freedom” law, HB 1523, that outraged many across the nation.
The sweeping law allows anyone to claim aÂ sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse service to same-sex couples, LGBT people, unwed mothersÂ â€“ literally anyone who has ever had sex outside of a monogamous one-man, one-woman “traditional” marriage.
Kaplan today filed a federal lawsuit against HB 1523 challenging the recusal provision of the law, which allows state officials to refuse to perform weddings for or even issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
â€œWhile HB 1523 states that â€˜the authorization and licensing of any legally valid marriage [shall] not [be] impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal,â€™â€ the motion states, according to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner, â€œit leaves the manner of doing so completely up to the person who â€˜recusedâ€™ him or herself, and provides no enforcement mechanism for making sure that there is no delay or impediment.â€Â
The legal motion is here.
“The statute that the State of Mississippi just enacted â€“ HB 1523 â€“ clearly violates the fundamental principle of equality before the law,” Kaplan says in a statement from the Campaign for Southern Equality, which is officially suing the State of Mississippi. “It authorizes, even encourages, discrimination against LGBT people in Mississippi re-creating, only months after the Supreme Court clearly held it unconstitutional, another form of second-class citizenship for LGBT Mississippians. State officials cannot Â circumvent federal court injunctions and evade the Constitution by passing laws that seek to stigmatize LGBT people and segregate them from everyone else.”
Kaplan is again representing the same couples who challenged Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban, and won. She is also co-author of Then Comes Marriage: United States V. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA.
Yesterday, the ACLU filed a separate federal lawsuit against HB 1523, challenging the entire law.
Image: Screenshot via The New School/YouTube
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‘Were They Hacked?’: NBC Mocked for Saying Experts Are ‘Puzzling’ Over Why COVID Death Rates Higher for Republicans
“Covid deaths are unevenly distributed among Republicans and Democrats, but experts are still puzzling over why these differences exist,” tweeted NBC Politics, part of NBC News, on Thursday, with their article claiming the “reason is up for debate.”
Covid deaths are unevenly distributed among Republicans and Democrats, but experts are still puzzling over why these differences exist. https://t.co/9y7tnT294C
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) October 6, 2022
“Lower vaccination rates among Republicans could explain the partisan gap, but some researchers say mask use and social distancing were bigger factors,” the article states.
The NBC News report adds that once vaccines were widely available in the U.S. (thanks to President Biden, although it does not make that claim,) “the partisan gap in the deaths widened between April and December 2021, after all adults became eligible for Covid vaccines.”
“Excess death rates in Florida and Ohio were 153% higher among Republicans than Democrats during that time,” the report reveals.
“Average excess death rates in Florida and Ohio were 76% higher among Republicans than Democrats between March 2020 and December 2021, according to a working paper released last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research,” the article notes, adding: “A study in June published in Health Affairs similarly found that counties with a Republican majority had a greater share of Covid deaths through October 2021, relative to majority-Democratic counties.”
The easy answer is getting vaccinated and boosted is critical to reducing COVID deaths, as is social distancing.
It’s so easy that NBC is being mocked for appearing to try to create some clickable mystery around the reports.
Healthcare policy data analyst Charles Gaba offered some insight, and commentary.
— Charles Ghoul-ba 🎃 (@charles_gaba) October 6, 2022
“Why yes this is totally puzzling if you ignore every single thing we know about infectious disease prevention,” tweeted public relations and political strategist Cliff Schecter.
“If those people are still ‘puzzling,’ they’re probably not actually experts,” snaked Miranda Yaver, PhD, a political science professor at Wheaton whose work includes public policy and health policy.
David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, screenwriter, and producer offered this colorful response: “Masks, social distancing, vaccinations: Debate how much of each factors into the carnage, but know that in all respects, the Republic National Committee deserves the Darwin Award for a pile of unnecessary dead. You shitbirds politicized a public health crisis and killed your own.”
“i’m just spitballing here but it might be because one of the parties has become an anti-science conspiracy theory cult perpetually undermining public health messaging,” responded freelance reporter Karl Bode.
“Good grief,” snarked Jim Wright, a retired US military intelligence officer and freelance writer. “Did NBC actually write that tweet or were they hacked?”
Mathematician Keith Devlin offered his scientific analysis: “Experts are NOT puzzling over this. I’m a Ph.D. credentialed expert in logical thought. The @GOP leadership TOLD their voters not to protect themselves, and Republican voters tend heavily towards the gullible end of the spectrum (because you have to be gullible to vote GOP).”
Author Patrick S. Tomlinson served up this descriptive response: “Are they? Are they ‘puzzling’ over the differences between people who believed in science, wore masks, got vaccinated, and those who had sweaty ‘Owning the Libs’ orgies in every suburban Red Lobster and Texas Roadhouse during a global pandemic?”
‘Reefer Madness’: Fox News Freakout as Biden Announces Pardons for Thousands in Move Toward Decriminalizing Marijuana
President Joe Biden in a major action on Thursday announced he is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession of marijuana, which is being seen as a major move toward federal decriminalization. Fox News is calling it a “blunt move” and “REEFER MADNESS,” and it is currently the right wing website‘s top story:
“As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” President Biden announced, as Axios reported. “Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach.”
“I’m pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My pardon will remove this burden,” the President declared in an unexpected move.
He added he is also “calling on governors to pardon simple state marijuana possession offenses. Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely for possessing marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.”
That move is expected to receive pushback from many GOP governors and lawmakers, despite support by a majority of Republican voters for cannabis legalization. In April the House of Representatives passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana. It passed 220-204, with just three Republicans voting for it and two Democrats voting against.
“We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl,” Biden continued. “It makes no sense. I’m asking @SecBecerra and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”
“Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives – for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs,” Biden said.
Democratic nominee for governor of Texas, Beto O’Rourke, since at least 2019 has supported marijuana legalization. He has repeatedly stated this position as he did here in February.
When I’m governor, we will legalize marijuana. pic.twitter.com/yFTHNPNCMw
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) February 12, 2022
Immediately after Biden’s announcement O’Rourke once again reiterated his support for legalization..
“When I’m governor, we will finally legalize marijuana in Texas and expunge the records of those arrested for marijuana possession,” said the Democrat running against Republican Greg Abbott.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 6, 2022
A Justice Department spokesperson said the DOJ “will expeditiously administer the President’s proclamation, which pardons individuals who engaged in simple possession of marijuana, restoring political, civil, and other rights to those convicted of that offense.”
Unlike his predecessor’s pardons, President Biden will arrange the pardons through the Office of the Pardon Attorney.
hell of an announcement: “I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., do hereby grant a full, complete, and unconditional pardon to (1) all current United States citizens and lawful permanent residents who committed the offense of simple possession of marijuana..” pic.twitter.com/uvLUDvvurX
— Michael McAuliff (@mmcauliff) October 6, 2022
Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern called the President’s announcement “the first step to rescheduling or descheduling marijuana on the federal level. HUGE deal. It’s a tectonic shift in federal drug policy.”
President Biden announces he intends to pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession.
The White House also noted the administration plans to review marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug. pic.twitter.com/9cIvp6jN3F
— The Recount (@therecount) October 6, 2022
Arizona GOP Nominee Caught Red-Handed Using Footage of Russian Troops Marching in a Victory Parade in Her Campaign Ad
The ad opens showing Lake and says she will “stand with Arizona’s border sheriffs,” a plea to anti-immigration voters. It immediately cuts to footage of marching troops. Those troops are Russian soldiers, not Arizona National Guardsmen.
Heartland Signal reports, “this footage can be found in its original form on the stock footage website Shutterstock, which shows that the troops are, in fact, Russian soldiers marching in a victory parade.”
“Another website called Russian Army Shop sells the very same uniforms shown in the footage, which is the desert camouflage version of Russian Army fatigues. These are very different from the Arizona National Guard uniforms.”
NEW: Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake uses footage of Russian soldiers marching in her campaign ad, claiming (incorrectly) that they are the Arizona National Guard. https://t.co/EmaoWstXtG pic.twitter.com/txTb4K8zZb
— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) October 6, 2022
Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, blasted Lake.
“If Kari Lake can’t identify a uniformed member of the Arizona National Guard from a Russian soldier, she has no business leading our brave men and women as governor,” Hobbs told Heartland Signal.
Lake is considered by some to be a Christian nationalist. Her recent endorsement of Jarrin Jackson, an virulently antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist extremist who tells his supporters being LGBTQ is a “gateway to pedophilia,”and that “Jews will go to hell,” received wide condemnation. Lake, a former journalist, responded by stating it’s “impossible to dig into everything someone has said in their life. If his reported comments are true, I obviously rescind my endorsement.”
She did not condemn Jackson, but stated: “I respect Jarrin’s service to our Nation, but clearly denounce that kind of derogatory language. Let me be clear: Our great movement welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to fight for a better future,” as Axios Phoenix reported.
Lake is far from the only Republican who uses Russian video and photos in their work.
House Republicans led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy two weeks ago “unveiled their ‘Commitment to America’ agenda for 2023 ― and with it, an inspirational video chock full of scenes presented as exceptional imagery of America but that are actually stock footage from Russia and Ukraine,” HuffPost reported.
“Serg Grbanoff, a filmmaker based in Russia…told HuffPost that he filmed” a scene used in the GOP’s video “in Russia’s Volgograd region.”
“In another scene,” HuffPost reports, “a boy is seen smiling and running in a field with a toy airplane. The words ‘Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ appear on the screen, a reference to the Declaration of Independence.”
That “clip was also created by Grbanoff, and also filmed in the Volgograd region of Russia.”
That’s not the first time McCarthy has used Russian footage.
In 2019, as NCRM reported, McCarthy released an ad defending then-President Donald Trump which included footage from Russia.
The ad itself was widely mocked, but that CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski identified the stock footage was from Russia. Several years ago McCarthy was caught saying he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is paying Trump.
In 2020 Trump’s Make America Great Again Committee asked Americans to “support our troops” in an ad that ran on 9/11. It featured Russian fighter jets and a soldier carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
“According to a review by American Ledger,” that website, published by the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, reported in 2020, “a political advertisement featuring several Texas Republican congressional candidates used stock footage of a Russian warship and an Israeli military helicopter to promote their campaigns.”
“Cut by Representative Dan Crenshaw’s campaign, the ad is inspired by a range of action and spy films and features a slate of candidates running for the House of Representatives in Texas: Wesley Hunt (TX-7), August Pfluger (TX-11), Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Genevieve Collins (TX-32), and Crenshaw (TX-2) himself.”
It’s been going on for years.
In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump released an ad decrying the treatment of American vets.
“Our great veterans are being treated terribly,” Trump said in a video. “The corruption in the Veteran’s administration, the incompetence is beyond. We will stop that.”
Gawker at the time reported “it was pulled down before most anyone could see it after commenters pointed out that the footage clearly depicted Russian veterans wearing the distinctive St. George ribbon and pins with the Communist hammer and sickle.”
For reasons unknown the accidental usage of Russian imagery appears to have only occurred in ads by Republicans and only Russian footage. Footage from any other country, for instance, Canada, Australia, or Mexico, does not appear to have ever mistakenly been used.
See Lake’s ad above or at this link.
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