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For LGBT Voters, Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher In 2016 Presidential Race

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Trump Victory Would Threaten Movement’s Progress Under Obama

The 2016 presidential election is a high-stakes affair. Much of the progress made by the equal rights movement over the last eight years will likely be reversed if Donald Trump is elected president of the United States. Anyone who cares about the rights of LGBT people must vote for Hillary Clinton.

The difference between the candidates for president could not be more stark. Clinton has been an outspoken advocate for equal rights. She has pledged to protect and extend the gains we have made. She knows that LGBT rights are human rights.

Trump, on the other hand, has secured the support of Christian evangelicals and other homophobes by pledging to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will reverse marriage equality and the other gains we have made through the federal courts. In addition, he has chosen as his running mate one of the most virulently anti-gay politicians in the country, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.Â

The Historic Election of 2012

To understand the context of the 2016 presidential election, and its crucial significance for the equal rights movement, we need to remember the historic election of 2012. The 2012 election was a significant turning point for the equal rights movement. Not only did the country re-elect as president of the United States an outspoken and unapologetic supporter of LGBT rights, including marriage equality, but also openly gay and lesbian candidates were elected to Congress and to state legislatures across the country, including the first out lesbian U.S. senator.

Writing in Out, Richard Socarides described the 2012 general election  as “The Gay-Rights Election.” He pointed out that “President Obama’s support for marriage equality helped him win the election and helped us win the ballot initiatives. During this latest campaign, President Obama’s support for gay-rights … worked to his advantage to energize progressives and young people.”

Socarides observed that as long as he has been in politics, it had been received wisdom that “gay issues are dangerous and only mean trouble for elected officials, even ones who are sympathetic to our cause. It is now a new day — one that has been a long time in coming. Politicians need to recognize that their embrace of us is not only the right thing to do, but leads to success at the ballot box.”

In 2012, Obama won a narrow but decisive victory, sweeping the battleground states and winning in excess of 300 electoral college votes. Facing the prospect of being vastly outspent by Republican superpacs, the Obama campaign made an early decision to concentrate on a handful of battleground states that could lead to the magic number of 270 votes in the electoral college.

In effect, the 2012 presidential campaign was a competition for the electoral college votes of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado and, above all, Ohio. The president won all of them except North Carolina and Florida.

In winning his victory, the President crafted a coalition of key constituencies: African-American, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian, LGBT, women and younger voters. All groups in the President’s coalition were necessary. For example, had the African-American vote or the women’s vote or even the smaller Asian-American demographic been depressed, he likely could not have won.

Although mainstream journalists did not emphasize the fact, the LGBT support was also crucial. It is important to stress this point because many pundits thought that when the president “evolved” to support same-sex marriage, he endangered his prospects for re-election. They thought his support for same-sex marriage would alienate potential supporters who were opposed to marriage equality. But the President did not shy away from his support for equal rights. He constantly reminded the nation of the promises he had made and kept to his LGBT constituency.

His campaign also showcased LGBT supporters of the president and what his support meant to them.

As it turned out, rather than hurting his prospects, the president’s steadfast support of LGBT rights helped him to victory. Not only did he receive considerable financial support from LGBT donors, but exit polling suggested that record numbers of gay men and lesbians showed up at the polls and that we represented 5 percent of the total electorate, with 77 percent of us supporting President Obama.

Strong support from LGBT voters put the president over the top in the popular vote and probably made the difference between victory and defeat in several swing states. President Obama’s support for gay rights may well have assured his re-election.

His re-election, and the triumphs of openly gay candidates, coupled with the ratification of marriage equality in four states, gave hope that the nation had taken a step toward accepting the proposition that LGBT people deserve equal rights under the law.

The re-election of President Obama meant that, for at least four years, there would be no return of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no repeal of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, no intervention by a right-wing Justice Department to defend the Defense of Marriage Act at the U.S. Supreme Court, no revocation of executive orders requiring that same-sex partners be allowed hospital visitation rights, no relaxation of the Department of Education’s anti-bullying guidelines, no end to the State Department’s important support for LGBT rights abroad, and no retreat from the goal of equal protection.

The 2016 Election

But all of those gains, and the others added by President Obama and the United States Supreme Court in the last four years — including marriage equality (thanks to a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling), the executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors, the regulations issued by the Department of Defense incorporating sexual orientation and gender identity into the military’s nondiscrimination policy, the guidance promulgated by the Department of Education protecting transgender students, the recent rulings of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finding that sexual orientation and gender identity are prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and others — are imperiled by the possibility of a Trump presidency.

Unlike in 2012, LGBT issues have not been at the forefront of the presidential campaign in 2016. Notwithstanding the GOP’s horrific anti-LGBT platform, written with Trump’s acquiescence by Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council, adopted overwhelmingly by the Republicans at their convention, LGBT people have not been demonized by mainstream Republicans to the same extent that we have been in past campaigns.

Indeed, in a campaign in which Trump and his supporters have so often made ethnic and racial slurs, denigrated women and mocked the disabled, it is remarkable that there have been relatively few slurs directed at the LGBT communities. However, that does not mean that the anti-LGBT supporters of Trump have not demanded (and received) a promise to roll back the gains we have made as the price of their support.

In fact, opponents of equal rights realize that their antipathy for LGBT people is now a decidedly minority position, at least in the country at large. They know that they can no longer expect to succeed through a national campaign that becomes a referendum on LGBT rights or in which they attack us directly.

Consequently, they now attack our rights more covertly. They use code words such as “religious liberty” and strategic endorsements to advance their agenda of discrimination and hatred, an agenda that Trump has implicitly endorsed in his promise to allow anti-gay hate groups to dictate his Supreme Court appointments and his frequent references to “religious liberty” when campaigning in the South.

Moreover, in his choice of his running mate, Trump strongly affirmed his commitment to the religious right.

Pence is a fervent cultural warrior, whose anti-gay positions have included opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, and both civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples. He continues to support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

In 2015, Pence created a national furor when he signed into law a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that licensed discrimination against LGBT people. Only after protests and threats from businesses to relocate from Indiana did he sign an amendment that diluted the bill’s power to discriminate.

Contrasting Candidates

Clinton is undoubtedly the most qualified and best prepared candidate for president of the United States in living memory. She has a distinguished record of public service. Not only does she understand issues and is committed to equal rights, but she also possesses the temperament to provide the kind of steady leadership necessary in a tumultuous and dangerous world.

In a recent interview with the Washington Blade‘s Chris Johnson, Clinton pledged to build a “hopeful, inclusive America where everyone counts.”

“We have so much more work to do, and I want LGBT people in every corner of this country to know that as president, I will always have your back,” Clinton said.

“As president, I’ll make fighting discrimination against the LGBT community a top priority — including by working with Congress to pass the Equality Act,” Clinton added. “And we won’t stop there. We’ll also take on harassment, bullying, and violence — and youth homelessness, which disproportionately hurts LGBT kids.”

She also committed to veto the “First Amendment Defense Act,” a pernicious “religious freedom” bill pushed by Christian conservatives that would permit discrimination against LGBT citizens, should it pass Congress.

In contrast to the thoughtful and fair-minded Clinton, Donald Trump is an unstable narcissist who has appealed to the very worst instincts of the American people. He has demeaned the office he seeks by his incivility and insults. He has surrounded himself with fascists and racists. He is a bully, a sexual predator and a habitual liar.

A promoter of birtherism and a host of other crackpot conspiracy theories, he has mainstreamed the hatred and misinformation perpetuated by right-wing radio.

Giving us a glimpse of the tin-pot dictator he would like to be, he has threatened the press and promised to jail his political opponents. He has no appreciation of the bedrock principles of our democracy.

His domestic and foreign policies are incoherent and dangerous. His election would likely precipitate a financial collapse and would undermine the stability of American alliances around the world. No wonder his campaign has received so much aid from Russia.

As President Obama has remarked, everything we stand for is at stake. Tolerance is on the ballot.

As Hillary Clinton’s openly gay campaign manager, Robby Mook, has recently observed, every vote matters.

Hillary Clinton knows that the fight for equal rights is not over.

Clinton ends her campaign on a positive note with an appeal to young voters, one of whom says he is voting against hate.

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Bombshell Report on Matt Gaetz Is Just the Beginning: ‘This Is the Start of a Long Road’

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One of the reporters who broke the bombshell Daily Beast report on Matt Gaetz doing cocaine with an escort who had a no-show state job said the story is just the first in many to come.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes interviewed Jose Pagliery on Friday about the report.

“When Rep. Matt Gaetz attended a 2019 GOP fundraiser in Orlando, his date that night was someone he knew well: a paid escort and amateur Instagram model who led a cocaine-fueled party after the event, according to two witnesses. The Florida congressman’s one-time wingman, Joel Greenberg, will identify that escort to investigators as one of more than 15 young women Gaetz paid for sex, according to a source familiar with the investigation,” The Beast reported.

“But what distinguishes this woman, Megan Zalonka, is that she turned her relationship with Greenberg into a taxpayer-funded no-show job that earned her an estimated $7,000 to $17,500, according to three sources and corresponding government records obtained by The Daily Beast. On Oct. 26, 2019, Gaetz attended the “Trump Defender Gala” fundraiser as the featured speaker at the Westgate Lake Resort in Orlando. Two witnesses present recalled friends reconvening at Gaetz’s hotel room for an after-party, where Zalonka prepared lines of cocaine on the bathroom counter. One of those witnesses distinctly remembers Zalonka pulling the drugs out of her makeup bag, rolling a bill of cash, and joining Gaetz in snorting the cocaine,” The Beast reported.

“It seems to me, should this all be true, I just feel like there’s not going to be real shortage of witnesses here,” Hayes said. “Has a real open secret vibe to me right now.”

“This was an afterparty, we have identified at least half a dozen people who were there and saw this take place,” Pagliery said. “The reason that we decided to break this news and start with this one is that there are lots of other parties like this. There are more young women, more locations and more actions and bad behavior on the part of Gaetz and Greenberg that we’re going to be exposing.”

“This is the start of a long road,” he added.

Watch:

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House Announces Bipartisan Agreement on January 6 Commission – Until Kevin McCarthy Says He Hasn’t Read It Yet

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House Democrats and Republicans Friday morning announced an agreement has been reached “to introduce legislation to form a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the January 6 domestic terrorism attack on the United States Capitol.” Many have doubted the commission would be formed after Republicans worked to derail progress. Now, House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy may do just that.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the Committee on Homeland Security’s agreement, saying, “It is imperative that we seek the truth of what happened on January 6 with an independent, bipartisan 9/11-type Commission to examine and report upon the terrorist mob attack.”

But as CNN’s Annie Grayer reports, “Kevin McCarthy tells reporters he has not read through the deal that John Katko made with Dems on 1/6 commission and said that the scope should not just be focused on 1/6 even though that’s what the deal says.”

Republicans have been trying to include the Black Lives Matter protests in the investigation, even though they have nothing to do with the attempted coup and attack on the Capitol.

When asked about McCarthy’s roadblocking, Speaker Pelosi told Grayer, “You know what, why don’t you ask him?”

“His ranking member is a cosponsor of the legislation,” Pelosi noted. “We’re very pleased that it is bipartisan, and the scope was very important in the legislation.”

Bloomberg adds that McCarthy “was noncommittal when asked if he supports the commission legislation.”

“I have to go through it,” he said, pointing to “rhetoric” in the bill about the scope of the investigation “that I want to look through.”

Some claim McCarthy’s attempts to block the Commission stem from what GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger revealed earleir this week, that on Jan. 3 he warned McCarthy Republicans’ rhetoric and actions were going to lead to violence, but McCarthy dismissed him.

 

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Unearthed Video Shows Marjorie Taylor Greene Harassing Ocasio-Cortez’s Office More Than Two Years Ago

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QAnon-loving Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has a long history of stalking and harassing her political foes, including this week when she followed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) around the United States Capitol and accused her of supporting “terrorists.”

CNN has now uncovered a video that Greene herself posted in 2019, which has since been deleted from her social media accounts, in which she harassed Ocasio-Cortez’s office while visiting the Capitol.

“During a February 2019 visit to congressional offices at the US Capitol with associates who include a man who would later enter the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection, Greene… can be seen taunting Ocasio-Cortez’s staff outside the congresswoman’s locked office by talking through a mailbox slot,” reports CNN. “In the video… Greene tells Ocasio-Cortez to ‘get rid of your diaper,’ referring to the congresswoman’s office as a ‘day care.'”

Greene in the past has also been caught on camera stalking and harassing school shooting survivor David Hogg, as well as Muslim Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), whom she targeted for taking the oaths of office on the Koran instead of the Bible.

Watch the video below.

 

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