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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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‘The American People Are on Our Side’: Democrat Offers Idea to Save Women’s Freedoms

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Speaking to MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan on Sunday, Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), a Harvard Law School graduate, explained that Congress could protect the freedoms of women and his plan doesn’t have anything to do with an attempt to overthrow the government.

“I knew that we would arrive at this point,” Jones explained. “My colleague scoffed at me at the time that I introduced the bill, in April of 2021. Of course, the American people are on our side, when you look at poll after poll. And thankfully, we do have about 58 House members who are supportive of adding four seats to the Supreme Court, but that is not nearly enough. We can’t pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, after getting rid of the filibuster, which we obviously need to do. But this Supreme Court has shown a willingness to strike down newly enacted laws by Congress. They did so with the decision after decision of the Voting Rights Act, which has been reauthorized nearly unanimously. I’m under no illusions anything short of court reform, specifically adding seats to the Supreme Court, is going to preserve fundamental rights permanently.”

He disputed President Joe Biden’s statement that adding seats to the court would be “polarizing.” Already, the American people have the lowest opinion level of the Supreme Court in history. Jones said that the more polarizing thing is the degradation of the most fundamental rights in America: personal freedoms.

“Whether it is the right to abortion, which is a 50-year-old Constitutional right, or of course, imminently, the right to contraception, and the right to marriage equality, and the right to same-sex intimacy,” Jones continued, citing key court decisions cited by Justice Clarence Thomas that he wants to see fall next.

Jones went on to say that one of his ideas with the new voting rights bill was to add a provision that would deprive the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to review the constitutionality and legality of the statute.

“We have seen that this supreme court majority, this far-right majority is hostile to democracy itself,” said Jones. “If we are to vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act for the second time this term, I am pushing to include a provision to deprive the Supreme Court of review of that statute. There is precedent for this, it has been done before, and it is a practice that has been upheld before. We know that most of the cases the Supreme Court decides, it is only able to decide because of the jurisdiction that Congress has explicitly legislated it to have. The Constitution is very narrow in terms of the scope of jurisdiction that it grants to the Supreme Court. We have tools at our disposal here.”

See the full conversation below:

 

Image by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Wikimedia

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves Dismisses ‘Real Small, Minor Number’ of Rapes Requiring Abortions

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) declined to say on Sunday if he would sign a bill removing abortion exceptions for rape because they only represent a “real small, minor number” of cases.

During an interview on Fox News, host Mike Emmanuel asked Reeves if he would remove the abortion exceptions for rape in Mississippi.

Reeves sidestepped the question by insisting that the bill would never make it through the legislature.

“There’s a lot of effort, particularly in Washington and other places mainly by the Democrats, to try to talk only about the real small, minor number of exceptions that may exist,” he complained. “Over 90% of all abortions that are done in America, some 63 million babies aborted since Roe was wrongly decided in 1973, over 90% of those are elective abortions.”

Reeves argued that the “far-left” should not be talking about “all these exceptions and minor numbers.”

Watch the video below from Fox News.

 

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Trump Hinted Jan. 6 Would Be His ‘Last-Ditch’ Attempt to Overturn the Election Results: Filmmaker Alex Holder

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In an interview with the Guardian’s Hugo Lowell, a British documentary maker who was filming behind-the-scenes footage in Donald Trump’s White House on Jan 6th claimed he knew something bad was about to happen before supporters of the former president stormed the Capitol and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives.

Alex Holder, whose film crew was on hand and filming Trump and his children Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka on Jan 6th, stated there was a feeling among his people that something momentous was about to happen.

According to Lowell, “Holder was there for it all: three sit-down interviews with Trump, including one at the White House, numerous other interviews with Trump’s adult children, private conversations among top aides and advisers before the election, and around the Capitol itself as it got stormed.” adding, “The access to Trump, and listening to him and his inner circle, led him to suspect that the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election would somehow culminate in some event at the Capitol on 6 January.”

Asked about what his feeling was prior to the riot that engulfed the Capitol building, Holder explained, “I wasn’t 100% sure, but it was sort of a feeling, so we prepared for that thing to happen. The reason we thought January 6 was because, in Trump’s mind, the last-ditch effort was to stop the process” of the vote certification by Congress.

RELATED: Man behind J6 documentary needs ‘two armed guards’ due to Trump supporters’ threats: BBC

He elaborated, “That ceremonial process that takes place in Congress on January 6, he felt, was the last time where he could, in his mind, stop the election going to the wrong person, as it were. The rhetoric that was coming out was that the election was rigged, [that] we need to fight.”

According to the Guardian report, Holder has, “testified for about four hours behind closed doors last week about his roughly 100 hours of footage, used for an upcoming documentary titled Unprecedented, and turned over to House investigators the parts demanded in a subpoena compelling his cooperation.”

Lowell added, “Holder said he additionally did a one-to-one interview with then-vice president Mike Pence, including a scene where Pence briefly reviews an email about the 25th amendment – which concerns the removal of a US president – which was privately discussed among senior White House officials in the wake of the Capitol attack.”

You can read more here.

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