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Op-Ed: We Are Not Okay

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While the LGBT community is strong, we are not okay, but when you come for one minority, you come for us all.

My fiancé and I live in St. Petersburg, Florida, where it’s not uncommon to take an “Orlando weekend.” We’re about an hour and a half away from Pulse.

Last November, we took one of those weekends. We went to Pulse with many of our friends and celebrated a friend’s birthday. We all laughed there. Took pictures there. Sang there. Hugged there. Danced there. Felt safe there. (Why wouldn’t we?)

Last Saturday night, 320 other people did the same. They all laughed there. Took pictures there. Sang there. Hugged there. Danced there. Felt safe there.

53 of them were injured there. 49 more of them died there.

But you know that. You know that the LGBT community is now at the epicenter of the country’s deadliest mass shooting, and the worst domestic terror attack since 9/11. Still, let that sink in, because not everyone has. Please, read it again:

The LGBT community, targeted because of who they love, how they love, or whose love they support, is now at the epicenter of the country’s deadliest mass shooting, and the worst terror attack since 9/11.

Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters. Cousins. Best friends. Music lovers, pet owners, activists. Gone.

But the LGBT community is strong. We’re strong because we’ve always had to be. When our only way to find acceptance was at a seedy bar, and when even our right to do that was threatened, the patrons of Stonewall showed us what strength was in 1969. We carry that with us, all of us, inherently, because we’ve never had any other choice.

In 2016, we now have generations of us who have fought for our equality. We carry their strength within us, if only in the fact that perhaps for one moment, we didn’t second-guess ourselves before showing even the most minuscule display of public affection toward someone we love.

So perhaps now we’re stronger than ever. The outpouring of love and support after the massacre at Pulse, and the solidarity that so many communities have shown ours, is a stark difference from the political climate of 1969. Our rights have flourished.

The day following the massacre, I lasted half a day at work. I felt so disconnected from so many of those around me: those that acknowledged this as a sad story, sure, or perhaps that it was shocking that it was so close. (“Only over in Orlando!”)

I couldn’t fathom it. I couldn’t think about anything else. The country’s deadliest mass shooting, and the worst domestic terror attack since 9/11, was not just another sad story. It was the only story.

And that’s why, if you’re reading this—as a member of the LGBT community or not, please know that while we are strong:

We are not okay.

We are not okay when you criminalize the Muslim community because of the actions of one evil man. We have been the Muslim community: hated, feared, misunderstood. Questioned, berated, threatened, afraid to show our faces. Why would we condone treating an entire community as poorly as ours has been treated in the past, and in many scenarios, still is? When you come for one minority, you come for us all.

We are not okay when gay and bisexual men who have not been celibate for one year are unable to donate the much-needed blood to save the lives of our LGBT brothers and sisters. We do not forget that it took 30 years to even amend the Reagan-era rule which initially forbade us from giving blood at all.

We are not okay when a reality television star running for president panders to us in the wake of such an extensive loss of our lives to lie to the American people. To say that “the LBGT community is just, what’s happened to them it’s just so sad, and to be thinking about where their policies are currently with this administration is just a disgrace to that community, I will tell you right now.”

We are not okay when that Republican presumptive nominee determines for us what is a disgrace to our community. We have that covered, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s orange. He opposes same-sex marriage and supports the First Amendment Defense Act, allowing for the right to discriminate against us. He calls LGBT “LBGT” because he doesn’t know it’s LGBT. It certainly isn’t his administration’s era which repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or supports the civil rights of transgender students. (Oh, and there’s the bit about this administration’s fight to allow us to marry.)

We are not okay with the elected officials who pretend they haven’t cultivated an environment in which murderers could view us as second-class citizens, as they “defended the Constitution” hearing by hearing. By hearing.

We are not okay with the elected officials who ignore that it was our community who was targeted in this massacre. We know that we were targeted, and we will not allow you to erase our brothers and sisters in death the way that you erased them during their lives, vote by vote. By vote.

And finally, we are not okay that a man who had previously been questioned by the FBI could so readily, so easily, so legally, buy the AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle that he used to rob us of 49 lives. The same weapon which has no waiting period to obtain, in a state where no license is required to buy or carry it. In a country which the same weapon was used to murder 26 people and wound two more in Sandy Hook. To murder 12 and wound 70 in Aurora, Colorado. To murder 10 and wound 9 in Roseburg, Oregon. To murder 14 and wound 22 in San Bernardino.

Was Orlando different because my fiancé personally knew a victim? Was it different because nearly everyone from my immediate community on Facebook had to wonder if one of their friends were dead? Was it that Pulse was an hour and a half away? Sort of.

Every mass shooting has disgusted me. It’s filled me with rage, and with hurt, and made me question the greatness of this country as lawmakers do nothing. As more innocent people die. This didn’t disgust me more. It disgusted me differently. More intimately.

More intimately because if that shooter had opted to go to Pulse last November, instead of last weekend, most of of my immediate friends would be dead. Our Pomeranian and our Jack Russell would wonder why we still weren’t home. My family in Ohio wouldn’t be coming to my wedding at the end of this year, they’d have been coming to my funeral long before it could’ve ever taken place.

And I am urging you, all of you – if we truly are all Orlando – to make sure that the next mass shooting, and there will be another, isn’t the community you call home. That it doesn’t speak to you intimately.

Speak out. Be heard. Be seen.

Vote.

Silence is acceptance, and we owe it to those in Orlando, in Sandy Hook, in Aurora, in Roseburg, in San Bernardino, to become the voices that they lost.

 

Image by Maia Weinstock via Flickr and a CC license

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Catholic Archbishop Defies Vatican by Banning Speaker Nancy Pelosi From Holy Communion – via Twitter

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Calling her stance on abortion a “most serious scandal,” and a “grave evil” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone publicly announced Friday that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose district encompasses his diocese, is now banned from taking Holy Communion.

Archbishop Cordileone, a far right activist who repeatedly has challenged Pope Francis, is now in violation of directions from the Vatican to not politicize the Sacraments. Cordileone’s very public decree – made via Twitter – comes just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on a case that is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“After numerous attempts to speak with Speaker Pelosi to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, an the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” Cordileone tweeted, an apparent attempt to embarrass to the greatest degree possible the Democrat who is second in line to the Presidency,

“I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publically [sic] repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote in that letter to the Speaker.

Fox News calls it “an escalation in a decades-long tension between the Roman Catholic Church and liberal Democratic politicians on abortion,” but in fact other extremist archbishops have taken the same stance against other notable Democrats.

Catholics believe the Pope is God’s infallible representative on earth. Last fall Pope Francis chastised far right Catholic bishops in America who were gearing up to ban President Joe Biden from receiving Holy Communion. In June the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overwhelmingly voted to move toward chastising Biden for his abortion stance, despite the Vatican issuing a clear warning they were not to do so.

President Biden is a devout Catholic who personally opposes abortion but knows as President it is his role to uphold a woman’s right to choose, something has has worked strongly to support and strongly believes in.

“What must the pastor do?” Pope Francis said, The New York Times reported last September when a reporter asked him about President Biden and abortion. “Be a pastor, don’t go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated.”

“I have never refused the eucharist to anyone,” Pope Francis told reporters. The Times aded Francis said bishops should be pastors not politicians.

The Pope also told reporters, “communion is not a prize for the perfect,” and “the eucharist is not the reward of saints but the bread of sinners.”

The San Francisco Chronicle adds that Pope Francis “welcomed Biden for a private meeting at the Vatican last fall and Biden said the Pope told him he was a ‘good Catholic.’ Biden received Communion at St. Peter’s during that trip.”

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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COMMENTARY

‘Sordid, Corrupt, Lawless’: Experts Call New Ginni Thomas Revelations ‘Breathtaking’ and Ask ‘What Did Her Husband Know?’

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The latest revelations about the actions of Ginni Thomas, the far right wing activist, lobbyist, and spouse of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House are leading experts to demand Clarence Thomas’ recusal while calling the combination of their actions “breathtaking corruption,” and noting the Justice’s extraordinary hypocrisy.

Later Friday morning The Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas pressed two Arizona lawmakers to overturn the will of Arizona’s voters in the 2020 presidential election by choosing a “clean” slate of electors, representing Donald Trump and not Joe Biden. The Post notes Thomas did not mention any candidate by name but reports “the context was clear.”

“Before you choose your state’s Electors … consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead,” an email bearing Ginni Thomas’ name, sent to the Arizona lawmakers, reads.

It included a link to a video of a man delivering a message meant for swing-state lawmakers, urging them to “put things right” and “not give in to cowardice.”

“You have only hours to act,” said the speaker, who is not identified in the video.

Thomas also pressed Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to work to overturn the election, as has been widely reported.

Her efforts, combined with Justice Thomas’ actions on the Supreme Court, amount to “breathtaking corruption,” writes Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern.

“The conflict of interest between Ginni and Clarence Thomas has never been greater. While Clarence was applying the ‘independent state legislature doctrine’ from the bench, Ginni was using the exact same theory to try to overturn the 2020 election. Just breathtaking corruption,” Stern says.

He adds:

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now an NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst and law professor, issued a strong warning:

“Either Justice Thomas recuses in every case that comes to the Court where his wife is heavily involved in the action or the public’s confidence in the Court will be damaged beyond repair.”

Reuters reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court, Lawrence Hurley:

Former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says it is “outrageous” Justice Thomas has refused to recuse:

“New evidence that Ginni Thomas’s participation in efforts to overturn the 2020 election was even greater than we knew; in this case pressure on AZ legislators to overturn that state’s vote. Makes it even more outrageous that Justice Thomas did not recuse.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona legislators to overturn Biden’s win and choose a ‘clean slate of electors.’ In other words, she supported a coup to overthrow an elected president. What did her husband know?”

Economist and frequent political commentator David Rothschild observes, “Ginni Thomas was conspiring with high ranking Republicans to overturn [the] republic, and her husband was either privy to or actively involved in this conspiracy before using his position to coverup his wife’s role.”

Former SDNY Asst. U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli sums up:

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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BREAKING NEWS

Ginni Thomas Also Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Overturn 2020 Election: ‘Stand Strong’

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Far right wing activist, lobbyist, and spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Ginni Thomas pressed lawmakers in Arizona to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In emails she urged them to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure,” and send a “clean slate” of electors, falsely claiming the choice is “yours and yours alone.”

“The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. Though she did not mention either candidate by name, the context was clear,” reports The Washington Post, which broke the news Friday. “In sending the emails, Thomas played a role in the extraordinary scheme to keep Trump in office by substituting the will of legislatures for the will of voters.”

Thomas also pressed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election in an exchange of text messages that spanned several months.

Justice Clarence Thomas has also come under fire for not recusing himself in matters related to his wife’s actions.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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