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Texas Official Compares LGBT Workers to Purple-And-White Zebras as Nondiscrimination Protections Removed

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Commissioners In Waco Allegedly Threatened HR Director With Negative Performance Review Over Change

McLennan County, Texas, has rescinded nondiscrimination language that was added to its job applications last year, with one commissioner comparing LGBT people to purple-and-white zebras.

The McLennan County seat is Waco, which is home to Baylor University, one of the nation’s most anti-LGBT schools. Recently, three billboard ads promoting the dangerous, discredited practice of “ex-gay” therapy went up in Waco, but LGBT activists reportedly have convinced the owner of the billboards to take down the ads. 

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that last year, the Commissioners Court hired a progressive new human resources manager, Amanda Talbert, with the stated goal of bringing the county into the future. Shortly after being hired, Talbert added sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination statement on county employment applications, under the description of “sex.”  

“I take discrimination very seriously and I want to do everything we can to show that we don’t discriminate,” Talbert said.

Commissioners were initially supportive of the change. 

“I wouldn’t think anybody on the court would hesitate to bring all this up to date,” County Judge Scott Felton, who chairs the Commissioners Court, said at the time. 

However, after the Tribune-Herald published its story about the change, commissioners began approaching Talbert and demanding that she remove the new language, even allegedly threatening her with a negative performance review. 

Now, a majority of commissioners say they oppose adding LGBT nondiscrimination protections to the county’s employee handbook, which Talbert has also been working to update. 

“Commissioner Kelly Snell (pictured) asked if the county starts adding protection clauses to the nondiscrimination policy, when would they draw the line and stop?” the Tribune-Herald reports. “Snell said someone could then want to include purple and white zebras in the county’s nondiscrimination policy.” 

Felton now says Talbert should have gotten the court’s approval before updating the job applications. 

“I don’t believe that the commissioners court discriminates. I’m not saying discrimination doesn’t happen,” Felton said. “The basic thing we want to know is, ‘What does the law say we need to be doing?'” 

The short answer to Felton’s question is, the law says the county can’t discriminate against LGBT employees.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken the position that LGBT people are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. And in recent years, federal courts have agreed.

In addition, federal courts have held that LGBT public sector employees are covered under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. 

So, while the county isn’t legally required to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its written nondiscrimination policy, it would behoove commissioners to do so if they want to reduce potential liability — not to mention the talent recruitment and economic development benefits. 

Sadly, though — and despite their lip service — commissioners don’t really appear ready to bring McLennan County into the future, or even the 21st century. 

Image from Duke Machado via YouTube

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Virginia School Districts Furious After Youngkin Flip Flops on Promise to Allow Local Boards to Decide Mask Mandates

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For months Virginia’s incoming Republican governor has been promising he would neither mandate masks in schools nor ban school districts from requiring them.

“Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) will not outlaw local COVID-19 mandates when he takes office in January,” reported the far right wing website Daily Wire back in November.

Local ABC affiliate 8 News, also in November reported, “Youngkin won’t try to block local mask, vaccine mandates like other Republican governors.”

Glenn Youngkin was sworn into office on Saturday, January 15, 2022.

Business Insider reports that on Saturday, after Youngkin was sworn into office, he “signed an executive action that banned schools from requiring that students wear masks to stem the spread of COVID-19, instead allowing parents to decide when their children wear masks during the school day.”

Youngkin’s first act as governor was to sign eleven executive orders. Among them: effectively banning any mask mandates in schools across the state, by allowing parents to opt-out for any reason or no reason.

In other words: flip-flopping on his promise.

Youngkin is using his Lt. Governor to threaten angry school districts. Fox News’ John Roberts:

Pundit and political analyst Bill Scher:

Youngkin made a big deal over the weekend claiming schools have to “listen to parents” and if they oppose his mask ban they aren’t listening to parents.

Gov. Youngkin is the one not listening.

In poll after poll after poll after poll Virginia parents make clear they support mask mandates in schools, and Virginians overall support mask mandates, period.

 

 

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Top Democrats Renew Call to End Anti-Gay Blood Ban as Red Cross Announces First-Ever National Shortage Crisis

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Last week the Red Cross issued its first-ever warning of a blood shortage so dire it is calling it a “national crisis.” In response 22 top Democratic Senators signed a letter urging the FDA to once and for all end the ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.

The nearly four-decade old ban was instituted during the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis. In 2015 the FDA reduced the complete and total ban to one where gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men could donate blood if they had abstained from sexual activity for one year. In 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic raged, threatening blood shortages, the FDA moved to a three-month prohibition.

“If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed,” warns the Red Cross, citing a 34 percent drop in supply, CBS News reports.

“Any policy that continues to categorically single out the LGBTQ+ community is discriminatory and wrong,” the group of 22 top Democrats, led by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), say in their letter. “Given advances in blood screening and safety technology, a time-based policy for gay and bisexual men is not scientifically sound, continues to effectively exclude an entire group of people, and does not meet the urgent demands of the moment.”

Blood Shortage MSM Donor Deferral Letter FDA HHS Jan 2022 Final by David Badash on Scribd

 

Image by ec-jpr via Flickr and a CC license

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PARTNERING WITH HATE AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT GROUPS

‘Unprecedented’: Trump Tried to ‘Exert Extreme Partisan Influence Over the Census Bureau’ Docs Reveal

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The Trump administration tried to exert tremendous influence over the 2020 Census, which is now being used in a nationwide redistricting program, often handing Republicans even stronger gerrymandered congressional districts and in some cases attempting to dissolve districts of Democratic members of Congress, while eliminating some majority-Black districts.

Then-President Donald Trump was directly and possibly “illegally” involved, as The Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School’s nonprofit public policy institute, reports. The Trump administration also worked directly with an anti-immigrant group that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of nativist hate groups, a “think tank” devoted to anti-immigration efforts, and with an individual known for “promoting voter suppression efforts.”

“The Trump administration attempted to exert extreme partisan influence over the Census Bureau,” The Brennan Center reveals . It filed multiple Freedom of Information requests with at least ten federal agencies and was forced to sue the Trump administration when it unlawfully refused to produce the requested documents.

The Brennan Center adds that “career Bureau officials pushed back at those attempts. An email among senior officials at the Census Bureau from September 14, 2020, discusses the Commerce Department’s ‘unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented.'”

“Other records suggest that the Commerce Department planned to have Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross [photo, above] make personal calls to Republican state governors to urge them to provide state administrative records to the Census Bureau to ‘enhance the frame from which citizenship status is determined.’ (The Brennan Center did not uncover evidence that Commerce planned to make similar calls to Democratic governors.)”

Citing a “a complete lack of public transparency,” The Brennan Center reports “President Trump issued a memo in July 2020 stating that he would illegally attempt to remove undocumented populations from the apportionment count due at the end of December 2020.”

The Trump administration collected or attempted to collect an unprecedented amount of personal data targeting usesrs of welfare programs from dozens of states: “28 states had entered into agreements to share Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) records with the Bureau, 21 to share Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) records, 30 to share Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) records, and three to share driver’s license data.”

Our FOIA records show Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, emailing directly with Secretary Ross in December 2019. The Center for Immigration Studies is an organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigrant hate group that “has a decades-long history of circulating racist writers, while also associating with white nationalists.” The email also refers to a call from Secretary Ross.

The Center for Immigration Studies was founded by eugenicist and white nationalist John Tanton.

“Commerce Department employees were also engaging with the anti-immigrant Heritage Foundation,” The Brennan Center adds. “An email chain shows a Commerce Department official putting political appointee Nathaniel Cogley into direct contact with Heritage’s Hans Von Spakovsky, an individual the Brennan Center has previously flagged for his extensive background promoting voter suppression efforts.”

 

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