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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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Kyle Rittenhouse to Face Wrongful Death Lawsuit After 100-Hour Hunt to Find Him

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Kyle Rittenhouse, who skyrocketed to fame in right-wing circles after shooting and killing two protesters during a social rights march in 2020, is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victim’s father, according to PBS.

The lawsuit was filed by John Huber, the father of one of the two victims, and also includes city officials and police officers. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman dismissed motions from the city officials, police officers and Rittenhouse to dismiss the civil rights case in its entirety.

Huber’s lawsuit states that Rittenhouse conspired with police officers to intentionally cause harm to the protesters who were marching in reaction to the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was injured by a Wisconsin police officer.

Rittenhouse, an Illinois resident, drove to the demonstrations in Wisconsin and was a minor at age 17 at the time.

In the ruling Adelman said Huber’s death “could plausibly be regarded as having been proximately caused by the actions of the government defendants. Huber was killed after Rittenhouse was running after he shot and killed his first victim in the parking lot of a car dealership and Huber hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard to disarm him. After falling to the ground Rittenhouse fatally shot Huber and wounded another protester Gaige Grosskreutz, who also has filed a civil lawsuit against Rittenhouse.

Huber’s lawyers and private investigators needed over 100 hours to locate Rittenhouse to serve him with the civil lawsuit paperwork, eventually serving him at his sister’s house. Rittenhouse’s lawyers tried to argue the case should be dismissed because he was not properly served. The judge dismissed that claim.

Rittenhouse has become a popular Republican right-wing speaker at public events and has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Jacob Blake was shot and injured, but not killed, as originally reported.

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Hunter Biden Is Fighting Back

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After years of being the right wing’s punching bag, Hunter Biden is fighting back.

The 52-year old attorney, investor, lobbyist, father of five, and Navy veteran who just happens to be the son of the President of the United States, is calling for state and federal investigations into how his personal, private information from his now-infamous laptop was disseminated, according to CBS News.

Biden is also threatening a defamation lawsuit against Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

READ MORE: Watch: Angry, Santos Reacts to News DOJ is Investigating His Alleged ‘Ghosting’ With $3000 Raised for Veteran’s Dying Dog

The “flurry of letters to the Delaware attorney general, the Department of Justice, the I.R.S. and attorneys for Fox News and Carlson,” CBS reports, “represent an aggressive new strategy for the president’s son, who is facing long-running federal criminal investigations, as well as new probes promised by congressional Republicans, according to a source familiar with Biden’s approach.”

“This marks a new approach by Hunter Biden and his team,” the source told CBS News. “He is not going to sit quietly by as questionable characters continue to violate his rights and media organizations peddling in lies try to defame him.”

Biden lost his mother and sister in a car crash injuring him and his brother when he was just two years old, and later, that same brother, Beau Biden, the longtime Delaware Attorney General, died from an aggressive cancer of the brain.

CBS reports Biden’s “computer data that was turned over to the FBI showed no evidence of tampering or fabrication, according to an independent review commissioned by CBS News.”

READ MORE: ‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

But The Washington Post last year hired two forensic investigators, and they reached different conclusions.

“From a forensics standpoint, it’s a disaster,” said Jake Williams, who the Post describes as “a forensics expert and former National Security Agency operative who once hacked the computers of foreign adversaries.” The other investigator, Matt Green, the Post says is “a Johns Hopkins University security researcher who specializes in cryptography.”

“The drive is a mess,” Green told The Post.

The Post found that “the lack of what experts call a ‘clean chain of custody’ undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.” The “clean chain of custody” refers to the fact that countless individuals have had access to the hard drive.

“The vast majority of the data — and most of the nearly 129,000 emails it contained — could not be verified by either of the two security experts who reviewed the data for The Post,” the newspaper reported. “Neither found clear evidence of tampering in their examinations, but some of the records that might have helped verify contents were not available for analysis, they said. The Post was able in some instances to find documents from other sources that matched content on the laptop that the experts were not able to assess.”

Meanwhile, CBS News also reports that in a ” letter sent Wednesday, Biden attorney Bryan Sullivan demanded that Fox News and Tucker Carlson devote airtime to retracting statements made about Biden paying ‘rent’ to his father, ‘in what Mr. Carlson implied was essentially a money laundering scheme to finance President Biden’s lifestyle prior to his election … and alluding to Mr. Biden having unauthorized access to classified documents because of his presence at President Biden’s house.’ Sullivan writes that the claims were false, and even after others acknowledged as much, Carlson continued to make them.”

“The letter, which cites California’s defamation statute, notes that the Daily Caller website retracted an article that made similar claims.”

Image via Wikimedia and a CC license

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Watch: Angry, Santos Reacts to News DOJ is Investigating His Alleged ‘Ghosting’ With $3000 Raised for Veteran’s Dying Dog

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Out of all the unethical actions reportedly taken by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) – lying about his education, work, ethnicity, and funding, while mysteriously becoming rich overnight – some feel one of the worst things he allegedly did was abscond with thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe charity drive raised to help a veteran’s dying service dog get the care they needed to live.

“Of all the Santos outrages, none has cut more deeply with the public than his (alleged) theft of money from a disabled Navy veteran & his dying dog,” tweeted Larry Sabato, the famed political scientist. “How low will Santos go? This low.”

Now, the Dept. of Justice is investigating the alleged charity fraud scheme.

The veteran, Richard Osthoff, says two FBI agents contacted him on Wednesday, “on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York,” Politico reports.

“Osthoff gave the agents text messages from 2016 with Santos, who he says used his plight to raise $3,000 for life-saving surgery for the pit bull mix, Sapphire — then ghosted with the funds, as first reported by Patch.”

READ MORE: ‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations

ABC News’ Will Steakin caught Congressman Santos in the halls of the Capitol and asked him if the FBI had contacted him.

Santos, appearing angry, said he had “no clue” about the issue, and said he had never met Osthoff – although Osthoff told Patch he only spoke to Santos, and only a few times.

“He talked to you more than he talked to me,” Santos said, although it was unclear if he was referring to the FBI or Osthoff, or someone else. “I haven’t been reached out by them.”

Attorney Joshua Schiller told Politico the reportedly missing charity funds could be a quick way to prosecute Santos.

“I think there is an urgency here because Santos is currently in a position to make laws,” Schiller said. “I can think of examples where the government used a lesser indictment to seize assets and try to cause the defendant to plea to a deal before bringing a second or third indictment on more serious charges, and I bet that is the case here.”

In January Patch reported on the heartbreaking story.

“Two New Jersey veterans say George Santos promised to raise funds for a lifesaving surgery for a service dog — then disappeared,” the report says.

“In May 2016, Richard Osthoff was living in a tent in an abandoned chicken coop on the side of Route 9 in Howell, New Jersey, with his beloved service dog Sapphire. A veteran’s charity gave the pit mix to Osthoff, a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2002, he told Patch.”

READ MORE: Watch: Kevin McCarthy Leads Over a Dozen Republicans in Prayer at Event Co-Sponsored by Five Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

“When Sapphire developed a life-threatening stomach tumor, Osthoff, now 47, learned the surgery would cost $3,000. A veterinary technician took Osthoff aside and told him, ‘I know a guy who runs a pet charity who can help you,’ Osthoff recounted.”

The GoFundMe drive was successful, raising over $3000, but the person running it, believed to be Santos, put Osthoff though several hoops, forcing him to travel from New Jersey to Queens to see a different vet, who then claimed he could not operate on the dog.

Sadly, without the surgery, there was no hope for the dog.

“Sapphire died Jan. 15, 2017. After being out of work with a broken leg for over a year, Osthoff couldn’t afford the dog’s euthanasia and cremation, he said.”

“I had to panhandle. It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do,” Osthoff told Patch.

Patch’s report includes screenshots of text messages and Facebook posts that include a photo of the ailing dog.

Watch the video of Rep. Santos above or at this link.

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