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The Future Of LGBT Rights Under Donald Trump And Mike Pence

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Here’s How The Incoming Administration Could Erode Our Gains

On Wednesday, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown issued a money-beg exulting in the election of Donald Trump. NOM is a moribund, money-grubbing organization well beyond its sell date, but with Trump’s election, bigots have claimed a new relevance.Â

As Brown told his supporters: “This is a bright and exciting time for NOM, and we are committed to taking full advantage of the opportunity we have. Our voice and our views matter to the incoming administration, and that means your voice and views matter.”

Brown has even outlined “The Plan” by which he hopes Trump will erode LGBT rights in the United States.

First, he says, Trump will nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court, who “will inevitably reverse the anti-constitutional ruling of the Supreme Court imposing same-sex ‘marriage’ on the nation in the Obergefell decision.”

Then, Brown says, Trump will “rescind the illegal, over-reaching executive orders and directives issued by President Obama, including his dangerous ‘gender identity’ directives, attempting to redefine gender just as he sought to redefine marriage.”

He also claims that Trump will “reverse policies of the Obama administration that seek to coerce other countries into accepting same-sex ‘marriage’ as a condition of receiving U.S. assistance and aid.”

Finally, Brown says: “We will work with President Trump and Congress to pass the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which Mr. Trump supports. FADA is critical legislation to protect people who believe in marriage from being targeted by the government for persecution.”

How likely is it that NOM’s plan for the Trump administration will be implemented?

Alas, there is every reason to think that Trump, and the basket of deplorables he is sure to name to his government, will indeed attempt to erode the advances LGBT people have made under President Barack Obama, and they are likely to succeed in a number of initiatives.

The Supreme Court and Marriage Equality

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly said that he would choose his Supreme Court nominees from a list submitted to him by the hate group Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. He also said that his ideal nominee would be someone similar to the late anti-gay Justice Antonin Scalia.

Luckily, a Supreme Court nominee must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Even with Republicans in control of the Senate, it is unlikely that the most extreme nominees favored by the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation would be confirmed. Democrats are likely to filibuster a nominee who is clearly unfit or far out of the mainstream of contemporary jurisprudence.

Nevertheless, it is likely that Trump will be able to tilt the Supreme Court rightward.

But even if Trump is able to fill more than one vacancy on the Supreme Court — the Scalia vacancy, plus others that may arise — it is unlikely that the high court would be willing to revisit the marriage issue. Once a constitutional right has been declared, it is difficult to rescind.

Not only would the doctrine of stare decisis (or precedent) discourage the reconsideration of Obergefell, but the fact that the court’s ruling in Obergefell is popular with the American people would also militate against its summary reversal.

However, a more conservative Supreme Court could well issue rulings that limit the breadth of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “jurisprudence of dignity,” so beautifully articulated in Obergefell. Our marriage rights may well be trimmed by a Supreme Court that grants more deference to states’ rights or religious exemptions.

And one consequence of that trimming would be a continued and prolonged fight over an issue that should be settled law.

But as Evan Wolfson, the founder of Freedom to Marry and the father of the marriage equality movement, has stated: “The freedom to marry is the law of the land — and no one will take that away from us.”

He added: “Those who have gotten married, and those who get married, will remain married, and no one will set them asunder. … There is no action the incoming administration could take, even if they wanted to, that would undo the thousands of marriages lawfully celebrated in all 50 states.”Â

Justice Department

As far as the courts are concerned, the great danger posed by the new administration is, in addition to the slew of conservative district and appellate appointments to the bench that Trump will make, the role that will be played by his Justice Department.

During his first two years in office, Obama allowed his Justice Department to defend the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court. However, on Feb. 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a reversal of the department’s position, one that had major consequences for LGBT rights.

Holder said that on instructions from the president, the Justice Department would no longer assert the constitutionality of DOMA in court. He said that, while the feds would continue to enforce DOMA until it was repealed by Congress or invalidated by the Supreme Court, the department would not defend it as constitutional.

Holder declared that “the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” and that under that level of scrutiny the DOMA statute is unconstitutional. The president, Holder said, “has instructed the Department not to defend the [DOMA] statute.”

With this reversal, the President placed the Justice Department in the service of equal rights, including equal marriage rights. The Department’s intervention on behalf of equal rights was a significant factor in winning both Windsor (which invalidated DOMA) and Obergefell (which mandated marriage equality).

In the Trump administration, however, the Justice Department will be employed not to advance equal rights, but to defend “religious liberty,” the code name for a license to discriminate against LGBT people in the name of religion.

The Justice Department is currently a party to several cases involving discrimination against transgender students and LGBT employees, arguing on behalf of LGBT plaintiffs. One can expect the Trump administration’s Justice Department to change sides in the pending cases.

In future cases involving LGBT rights, Trump’s Justice Department is likely to intervene not on the side of plaintiffs seeking justice, but on the side of those who believe they have a constitutional right to discriminate.

Executive Orders and Regulations

Obama has issued a number of executive orders that further LGBT rights, including one that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors.

In addition, a number of federal departments, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, have issued similar nondiscrimination regulations covering the provision of services.

The Department of Education has issued anti-bullying regulations and also guidance concerning the treatment of transgender students.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against employees and job applicants, has determined that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This interpretation is currently binding on all federal agencies and departments and governs EEOC enforcement and litigation activities throughout the country. Although courts are not bound by the EEOC’s interpretations, they often give deference to them.

The EEOC has recently announced that sexual orientation and gender identity is a strategic enforcement priority for the agency. It has mounted an aggressive program of litigation on behalf of LGBT people who have experienced employment discrimination.

Executive orders and regulations can easily be reversed, and it is likely that the Trump administration will reverse at least some of the current protections LGBT citizens enjoy. Depending upon the zealotry of particular appointees, many pro-LGBT regulations may be revised at the agency or departmental level.

Most vulnerable are the executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors, the Department of Education’s guidance concerning the treatment of transgender students, and the EEOC’s contention that sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In May, the House of Representatives passed a Defense Appropriation bill that if ratified by the Senate and signed by the President would allow government contractors to discriminate against LGBT workers on religious grounds, thereby overturning Obama’s executive order. Obama has vowed to veto the bill should it reach his desk.

If the Senate or Obama rebuffs the initiative by the House of Representatives, Trump may simply rescind the executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors.

During the campaign, Vice President-elect Mike Pence stated repeatedly that Trump would replace the education department’s guidance concerning the rights of transgender students with “common sense” regulations that would allow local school districts to set their own policies.

The current guidance, however, is the subject of several pending court battles. In October, the Supreme Court agreed to accept one of these cases, Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, and may issue a definitive ruling on the issue in June 2017. That ruling may turn out to be a broad one that upholds the rights of transgender students or it could be a more limited one based on deference to the guidance offered by federal agencies.Â

The EEOC’s interpretation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is also before several courts.

Most of the courts that have ruled on the issue have agreed that “gender identity” is covered by the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of “sex” in the Civil Rights Act. But they have split on whether “sexual orientation” is covered, though that interpretation has gained traction recently.

Trump is likely to appoint EEOC commissioners who will reverse the current interpretation, but if the courts adopt it, the EEOC will be bound by it.

State Department Activism

A hallmark of the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been support for LGBT rights. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared at the United Nations in 2011, under Obama official U.S. policy is that, “Gay rights are human rights.”

Obama’s ambassadors, including but not limited to his seven openly gay appointees, have participated in Pride parades, promoted equal rights and denounced bigotry.

In 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of Randy Berry as the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, a position created in order “to move towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.”

Kerry remarked that: “Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally — the heart and conscience of our diplomacy. That’s why we’re working to overturn laws that criminalize consensual same-sex conduct in countries around the world. It’s why we’re building our capacity to respond rapidly to violence against LGBT persons, and it’s why we’re working with governments, civil society, and the private sector through the Global Equality Fund to support programs advancing the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide.”

On Sept. 20, 2016, in his final address to the United Nations, Obama called for a world-wide end to anti-LGBT discrimination.

It is unlikely that Trump’s State Department will defend LGBT rights so passionately, particularly considering Trump’s admiration for President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Passage of FADA

During the campaign, Trump unequivocally endorsed FADA, a bill that would license discrimination against LGBT individuals in the name of religion.

Because the current version of the bill was amended to protect both those in favor of as well as those opposed to same-sex marriage, many of the bill’s anti-gay supporters have dropped their endorsements. It is not clear what version of the bill Trump supports.

It is probable that the House of Representatives could pass FADA or another “religious liberty” bill that would license discrimination in the name of religion, but it is less clear that the Senate would do so.

Anti-gay legislation is more difficult for the Senate to pass because Democrats hold enough seats to mount a successful filibuster. In addition, there are a handful of Republican senators who will oppose blatant bigotry.

Moreover, state “religious liberty” bills have either been declared invalid by courts or have provoked so great an outcry from businesses and citizens that they have been amended so as to lessen their potential to authorize discrimination.

In 2015, when he was governor of Indiana, 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.

Mississippi’s “religious liberty” bill was passed, but was declared unconstitutional before it went into effect. Mississippi has appealed the court ruling that declared the bill unconstitutional to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Conclusion

Trump secured the support of the religious right by agreeing to their demands for anti-gay Supreme Court nominees and anti-gay legislation. He has pandered to them on many occasions, and they expect to be rewarded for their support.

Most ominously, he has chosen a vice president with a long and ugly record of bigotry — a fervent cultural warrior whose anti-gay positions have included opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, 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.

Trump’s choice to lead his domestic policy transition team, Family Research Council senior fellow Ken Blackwell, has an equally long and ugly record of anti-gay activism. We can expect that Pence and Blackwell will prioritize anti-LGBT policies and legislation.

What we need to remember, however, is that the policies embraced by Pence and Blackwell are deeply unpopular with the American people. We must also remember that Trump has no mandate to erode LGBT rights.

Not only did he not receive a plurality of the popular vote in the election, but during the campaign he conspicuously refrained from demonizing LGBT people in a campaign characterized by ethnic and racial slurs, misogyny and the mocking of the disabled. He even waved a rainbow flag at one of his rallies to indicate (unconvincingly) his dubious support for us.

The four years of the Trump presidency is likely to be similar to the eight years of the President George W. Bush regime, which was in some ways a long nightmare in which LGBT people were attacked and scapegoated. The difference is that we are now much stronger as a movement than we were then.

Public opinion about LGBT rights has significantly changed, and we are now in a much better position to resist homophobic policies than we were during the Bush years.

Luckily, many of our most successful advocacy groups, including Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and the ACLU, have assured us that they are prepared to defend LGBT rights. As HRC president Chad Griffin has noted: “The defeats we have suffered tonight demonstrate that our future victories will require us to dig deeper and work harder to continue bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice and equality. We must fight to protect our progress, and to limit the damage that Donald Trump has promised.”

In an eloquent editorial, New Civil Rights Movement Publisher David Badash emphasized that Trump’s victory “was the result of a brilliant con man, a liar, a fraud, a misogynist, a fascistic bully, activating the remains of a changing society: people who see their last grasp — and gasp — of power that was handed to them as their birthright in a nation whose election of a Black president has not done enough to absolve its original sin, slavery, slipping away.”

He pledges that “in the wake of one of the most devastating elections in U.S. history, we here at NCRM rededicate ourselves to our mission of fighting for civil rights, for LGBT people, for women, for immigrants, for minorities. And for unmasking and exposing the hate and hypocrisy that always leads to harm for the most vulnerable in society.”

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RFK Jr. and Trump Explored Endorsement Deal in Exchange for Administration Post: Report

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Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., seen by some as a spoiler whose candidacy could help Donald Trump, held talks with the ex-president after the assassination attempt, reportedly discussing an endorsement in exchange for a position in a second Trump administration.

Late Saturday evening on July 13, hours after a 20-year old man shot at Trump, apparently causing a bloody ear while killing a Trump supporter and wounding two others at a Pennsylvania rally, Trump and Kennedy spoke by phone. During that call, The Washington Post reports, the two presidential candidates agreed to meet the following week in Milwaukee, on the first day of the Republican National Convention.

Audio and video of that Saturday night call was “leaked” by Kennedy’s own son, prompting the anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist to publicly apologize to Trump, as NCRM reported last week.

In that video, Donald Trump could be heard telling Kennedy, “I would love you to do stuff and I think it’d be so good for your and so big for you. And we’re gonna win. We’re way ahead of the guy.” It was not clear in what context Trump meant “do stuff,” although he could have possibly meant endorse Trump, or hand Kennedy a post in his administration.

READ MORE: Where Kamala Harris Stands on Securing Dem Endorsements and Cash After Biden Announcement

The two candidates’ discussions on Monday, “included possible jobs that Kennedy could be given in a second Trump administration, either at the Cabinet level or posts that do not require Senate confirmation. The discussion also included the prospect of Kennedy leaving the race and endorsing Trump, the people said,” The Post reported.

“The discussions surprised Trump and his aides. But there were concerns among some Trump advisers that Kennedy — a fervent critic of vaccines — would not be appropriate in such a job and that such an agreement could be problematic, the people said. Two of these people did not rule out the campaign eventually wanting Kennedy in the fold or potentially giving him a job in the administration if Trump wins.”

They also “did not result in an agreement amid concerns in Trump’s orbit about the complications of promising a job in exchange for a political endorsement, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.”

“Whoa,” remarked Democratic strategist Lis Smith, responding to The Post’s reporting. Kennedy “offered to endorse Trump in exchange for a job…the Trump people declined b/c RFK Jr was pushing too explicitly for a quid pro quo.”

Kennedy, who is an environmental law attorney, has focused on his anti-vaxx activism in recent years. The Post reports the discussion between Kennedy and Trump included him possibly “overseeing a portfolio of health and medical issues.”

“All I will say to you is I am willing to talk to anybody from either political party who wants to talk about children’s health and how to end the chronic disease epidemic,” Kennedy also told The Post in an interview. “I have a lot of respect for President Trump for reaching out to me. Nobody from the DNC, high or low, has ever reached out to me in 18 months. Instead they have allocated millions to try to disrupt my campaign.”

READ MORE: Anti-Harris Propaganda Begins, Expert Cites Kellyanne Conway as Example

 

 

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Where Kamala Harris Stands on Securing Dem Endorsements and Cash After Biden Announcement

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Vice President Kamala Harris, now the Democratic Party’s leading presidential candidate, said Sunday she will work to “earn and win” the nomination after President Joe Biden’s historic decision to pull out of his re-election race. In under twenty-four hours she has managed to secure the almost unanimous endorsement of House and Senate Democrats, Democratic governors, and a cash haul reportedly of over $75 million.

In the weeks after Biden’s damaging debate performance, critics demanded he prove he had the mental and physical capacity at 81 to continue the race and win the election. But even after numerous speeches and interviews, the goalposts changed, and critics pointed to his poll numbers. On Sunday afternoon in a letter he announced he would not continue his campaign. Shortly thereafter, he endorsed Vice President Harris.

Some Democrats had pushed for an open convention, with many rank and file members engaging in a kind of “fantasy football,” matchups promoting their favorite candidates for the top of the ticket and their running mates.

Fox News late Monday morning reported, “Democrats thrown into chaos as they face tight deadline to replace Biden,” but there has been little chaos.

READ MORE: Anti-Harris Propaganda Begins, Expert Cites Kellyanne Conway as Example

All of the major potential candidates who might have opposed Harris have now declared they would not run against her, making her path to the nomination, while not certain, extremely likely. Delegates will still have to choose.

Most of those major top-of-the-ticket potential candidates who have now endorsed Harris are believed to be under consideration to be her vice presidential running mate (links to endorsements): Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, U.S. Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Governor Wes Moore of Maryland, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Late Monday morning Gov. Whitmer declined to be considered for the vice presidential slot, according to Crain’s Detroit reporter David Eggert.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, considered one of the top potential contenders for the nomination but not a potential running mate, quickly announced he would not oppose Harris and endorsed her: “Tough. Fearless. Tenacious. With our democracy at stake and our future on the line, no one is better to prosecute the case against Donald Trump’s dark vision and guide our country in a healthier direction than America’s Vice President.”

Harris also earned the endorsement of Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois, also considered one of the top candidates who might want the nomination.

READ MORE: ‘Wake Up People’: Trump ‘Elevating Criminals’ as MAGA Wants to ‘Wreck America’ Says Expert

Colorado Governor Jared Polis appeared to endorse Harris in a self-deprecating social media post.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (I-WV), 76, endorsed Harris on Monday, after reports suggested he had called former acting DNC chair Donna Brazile to learn the process for entering the nomination race. ABC News reported Brazile told Manchin, “I had to remind him that to put his name in nomination he has to sign a form that he’s a Democrat.”

Writer and former Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Charlotte Clymer has been tracking the Harris endorsements since Sunday. Late Monday morning she writes they include: President Joe Biden, Former Secretary of State and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and former U.S. Secretary of State and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, along with current Cabinet Secretaries Pete Buttigieg, Miguel Cardona, Jennifer Granholm, and Gina Raimondo.

And, “at least 33 of 47 Democratic senators,” “at least 159 of 212 House Democratic members,” “at least 18 of the 26 Democratic state and territorial governors,” “all 57 state and territory party chairs,” “all DNC delegates for Louisiana, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and South Carolina,” “SEIU, American Federation of Teachers, and too many other organizations to list here.”

“I don’t think folks appreciate what we’re seeing from the Ds right now,” observes political scientist and strategist Rachel Bitcofer. “Newsom, Whitmer, Shapiro- every top tier Democrat- has put personal ambitions aside to come out and help the party coalesce around Kamala Harris.”

Political commentator Bob Cesca adds, “And they’re putting their ambitions aside for what could end up being 8 more years.”

CNN’s Haley Talbot, known for her spreadsheets, early Monday afternoon reports former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama have yet to endorse Harris. She adds the “holdout” list includes seven Democratic and one independent U.S. Senators, just 18 Democratic U.S. Representatives, and four Democratic governors.

But key among the Democratic holdouts are Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Political commentator and writer Keith Boykin at 10:05 AM Monday, citing data from ActBlue says, “Democrats have now raised $75 million since Vice President Kamala Harris announced her campaign for president yesterday.” Clymer commented, “Vice President Kamala Harris may very well raise $100M in a 24-hour period. Flat-out bonkers sum.”

ActBlue declared Sunday, “the biggest fundraising day of the 2024 cycle.”

See the social media posts above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

 

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Anti-Harris Propaganda Begins, Expert Cites Kellyanne Conway as Example

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The attacks against Vice President Kamala Harris, now the leading candidate to become the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential nominee after President Joe Biden’s historic decision to exit his race for re-election, have begun, as one expert on authoritarianism and fascism points to former top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s remarks Sunday as an example of the racism and propaganda voters can expect to see.

“Pay attention to propaganda narratives that will consolidate in next days. Propagandists know you should build on existing prejudices when introducing a new hate object or theme,” writes Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and scholar on fascism and authoritarian leaders.

“Here Conway invokes racist stereotypes already familiar to many in MAGA,” she adds, pointing to remarks Conway made (video below) just hours after President Biden’s announcement Sunday afternoon.

READ MORE: ‘Wake Up People’: Trump ‘Elevating Criminals’ as MAGA Wants to ‘Wreck America’ Says Expert

“She had disastrous staff turnover as vice president,” Conway told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “I check it on the daily. Her public schedule, gentlemen, rarely has anything on it or one or two things on it. She does not speak well. She does not work hard, and she should not be the standard bearer for the party.”

Conway was the first woman campaign manager to land a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, in the White House, and later served as Senior Counselor to the President. Her record includes coining the terms “alternative facts,” and the nonexistent “Bowling Green massacre.” Statista looked at presidential turnover from President Ronald Reagan to Trump and found Trump’s record is higher than any president in modern history, including at the cabinet level.

“Kellyanne Conway is parroting the racist stereotypes,” responded Adam Cohen, Vice Chair, Lawyers for Good Government, “[that] Black people are stupid and lazy.”

READ MORE: ‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

“Of course, she will vociferously deny it,” he added. “But too late-we already know exactly who Conway is.”

“After all, she spent years promoting Trump.”

Ben-Ghiat on Sunday night also responded to a New York Times headline, “Some Black Voters Say They Wonder if a Black Woman Can Win.” She warned: “It’s starting.”

George Conway (Kellyanne’s ex-husband) last week created an anti-Trump political action committee, the Anti-Psychopath PAC. He commented on her Fox News remarks late Sunday night: “Not everyone can express themselves as eloquently and with such exquisite turns of phrase as Donald J. Trump.”

Watch Conway’s remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

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