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Dark Cloud Of Trump Victory Had Rainbow-Colored Linings

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LGBT Candidates Made History Nov. 8

There is no sugarcoating the fact that the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States on Nov. 8 was a disaster, both for the LGBT movement and for the country as a whole.

The potential danger of a Trump presidency is augmented by the fact that Republicans maintained control of both houses of Congress, though Democrats did cut slightly the majorities held by the GOP in each.

Yet in many ways, the election was less a “change election,” as Trump partisans claim, than it was a status quo election. After all, the large majority of incumbents running for House and Senate were re-elected.

Trump not only did not receive a mandate to erode LGBT rights (or for any other policy position), but he also failed to receive even a plurality of the popular vote, much less a majority. When all the votes are counted, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is expected to have received more than 2,000,000 votes than Trump.

The new Republican mantra echoed this week by Sen. Ted Cruz, among others, that Trump won “overwhelmingly” is a lie that must be denounced every time it is uttered.

Moreover, it is useful to remember that this election brought, in addition to heartbreaking losses, some significant successes as well.

Not only were the anti-gay North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (apparently) and the seven-term anti-gay New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett (definitely) defeated by LGBT allies, but a number of the newly elected senators, such as Kamala Harris of California, Chris van Hollen of Maryland, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire are strong allies who put LGBT rights at the very center of their campaigns.

In addition, although we did not add any new members to the openly LGBT Congressional caucus, many LGBT candidates for other offices won. The Victory Fund, an organization devoted to electing openly LGBT candidates at local, state, and federal levels, reports that 87 of the 135 candidates the organization endorsed won their races.

Victory Fund President Aisha C. Moodie-Mills expressed her disappointment with the presidential election, remarking that “The devastating results hit the LGBT community particularly hard because we are unique in spanning all the demographic groups targeted by the president-elect throughout the campaign.” Still, she observed, the election also provided some “rays of light.”

For example, the 2016 election saw the first openly LGBT person elected governor and all six openly LGBT members of the House handily re-elected.

Kate Brown, who had previously served as Majority Leader of the Oregon State Senate and as Secretary of State, became governor of Oregon in February 2015, when she succeeded John Kitzhaber, who resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal. On Nov. 8, she was elected governor in her own right. Her victory makes her the first openly LGBT person elected governor of a U.S. state.

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado crushed his Republican opponent to win re-election to the seat he won in 2008, when he became the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a freshman. (When he and his partner Marlon Reis announced the birth of their son in 2011, Polis became the first openly gay father to serve in Congress.)

Amassing 64% of the vote, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island easily won re-election to the seat he first won in 2010.

Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin coasted to victory with almost 70 percent of the vote to retain the seat he won in 2012, when he succeeded Tammy Baldwin in the seat she vacated to run for the U.S. Senate.

Upstate New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, running in a competitive district, defeated his Republican challenger 51 percent to 41 percent to retain the seat he won in 2012.

Rep. Mark Takano, who became the first openly LGBT person of color to serve in Congress when he won California’s newly created 41st Congressional District in 2012, easily retained his seat.

In Arizona, bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who won her seat in 2012 in a bitter, nail-biter of a race, coasted to re-election in 2016.

Among other highlights of the 2016 election include some notable triumphs by newly elected LGBT candidates.

In Gwinnett County, Georgia, a 31-year-old political newcomer, Sam Park, upset a well-funded three-term Republican state representative to become the first openly gay man elected to the state Legislature. He will join three lesbian lawmakers in the Legislature.

In Denver, Leslie Herod won her race for the Colorado House of Representatives to become Colorado’s first African-American LGBT elected official. She explained her victory as a result of having built “a coalition of folks of all races, class, gender and sexual orientation.”

“They all came together to support me,” she said.

In Arizona, Daniel Hernandez won a seat in the state House of Representatives. Hernandez, who serves on the Sunnyside Unified District School Board, is credited with helping save the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords during the Jan. 8, 2011 shootings in Tucson. At the time he was a congressional intern accompanying Giffords at a constituent event when a gunman shot her and 18 other people. His medical training, quick thinking, and bravery on that day has earned him plaudits as an American hero.

In Florida, Carlos Guillermo Smith was elected to the state House, becoming the state’s first openly gay Latino legislator. He will represent the district that includes the University of Central Florida and the Pulse nightclub. Smith, a former legislative aide and a lobbyist for Equality Florida, defeated his opponent by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent.

In Minnesota, activist Erin Maye Quade upset a favored Republican to win a seat in the state House of Representatives. The race turned ugly when remarks by Maye Quade’s opponent that disparaged “identity politics” were perceived as homophobic.

In Washington, Nicole Macri easily won Seattle’s “legacy seat“ in the state House of Representatives. The seat, which includes Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, has been held by an openly LGBT person for the last 29 years.

In a surprise victory in Houston, Democrat Kim Ogg decisively ousted the incumbent district attorney of Harris County.

But perhaps the most reassuring news we have received is the pledge from Sen. Charles Schumer, who will become the Senate minority leader in the new Congress.

In a letter published in The Advocate, Schumer reassured the LGBT community. “I will do all in my power to prevent any backsliding on hard-won rights and to push back against a national discourse that allows for anything less than a full measure of respect for all Americans and would-be Americans.”

He said: “I will not forget what happened at Stonewall or what happened at Pulse — or any of the countless physical assaults, emotional taunts, and bullying endured by homosexual fellow citizens over the generations. I will not forget North Carolina’s passage of House Bill 2 or the trickle-down of hateful rhetoric inspired by these laws that causes children to take their own lives rather than continue to face the torment of bullies at school. I will not forget the 24 transgender Americans murdered this year alone.”Â

He added: “I also won’t forget when West Point opened the doors of its historic chapel for its first same-sex wedding after President Obama repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ I won’t forget Edie Windsor’s boundless joy when the Supreme Court handed down its decision to make marriage equality the law of the land. And I won’t forget my family, my friends, my colleagues, or the New Yorkers who depend on me to protect their constitutional rights.”

This resolve from the leader of a united Democratic caucus will make it far more difficult for those who would like to erode LGBT rights to succeed in the first two years of the Trump presidency.
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Rick Scott’s IVF Pledge Using His Own Grandkids Slammed as ‘Lie’ by Democrats

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U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), running for re-election and running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader, has put out a new seven-figure ad that uses his children and grandchildren as he pledges to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but Democrats in the Sunshine State are accusing him of lying.

“My wife Ann and I have two daughters and seven perfect grandkids. Each is a precious gift from God. But sometimes families need help. Millions of babies have come into this world from IVF, in-vitro fertilization. In fact, our youngest daughter’s receiving an IVF treatment right now, hoping to expand her family. She and I both agree IVF must be protected. For our family, for every family,” Senator Scott says in his latest ad he’s also posted to social media (below).

Democrats are calling Sen. Scott out for what they say is a lie.

On Thursday, Scott voted against the Right to IVF Act, Democratic legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who blasted him on Friday: “You literally voted against my bill to protect IVF yesterday.”

READ MORE: Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill in a 48-47 vote. Only two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats for the legislation.

“Rick Scott voted against protecting access to IVF — a miracle treatment that has allowed millions of Americans to start families,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement that also includes his voting record and statements on IVF and other issues including abortion. “Scott has made it crystal clear that he will stop at nothing to rip away personal decisions from women and their families — and it will cost him his Senate seat.”

“Scott previously blocked legislation to protect IVF treatment that was introduced in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that stored embryos have the same legal protections as children,” the Florida Democratic Party statement also reads. “Scott is now trying to cover up his anti-IVF record by touting an ’empty, symbolic’ resolution that would do nothing to actually protect IVF and spending millions to lie to Floridians about his phony support for IVF.”

The Florida Phoenix last week reported, “Scott, a Republican, will likely face former South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. Both candidates must get through their respective party primary elections in August.”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

“Mucarsel-Powell has been relentless in criticizing Scott’s record on abortion rights. Last week, her campaign issued a statement noting that the Scott had received an “A+” rating from Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion organization that opposes IVF.”

Political consultant Dana Houle observed, “If you’re running ads trying to convince people you’re not opposed to IVF (which in effect he is, since he voted against protecting it) you’re in pretty big trouble. It’s crazy to think that it’s likely that one of the decisive events of the 2024 campaign occurred in Alabama.”

That also appears to be the position of Florida Democratic Party executive director Phillip Jerez, who responded to Scott’s ad by asking, “Didn’t you vote AGAINST the IVF bill in the Senate yesterday?”

“Rick Scott is now putting up this 7-figure ad because he needs to work OVERTIME to lie to Floridians,” Jerez added. “He’s never won an election by more than 1% and never in a presidential year. Rick Scott is in trouble.”

David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, and screenwriter known for his colorful language, also responded to Sen. Scott: “Shitheel, you voted against the bill to protect IVF and then ran out to tweet this horseshit the next day. Even by our American standards of grifting, empty political hacks, this is wondrous.”

See Sen. Scott’s ad above or at this link.

RELATED: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

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Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful

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In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, an accessory used in America’s most-deadly mass shooting, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

“The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns,” is the headline of Ian Millhiser’s report at Vox. He says Friday’s ruling “effectively legalizes civilian ownership of automatic weapons.”

“Bump stocks increase an AR-15’s rate of fire from 180 rounds per minute to 400-800 rounds per minute,” explained Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. “They inflict mass carnage by allowing the gunman to shoot automatically, without pulling the trigger. Yet the Supreme Court declares that they do not create a ‘machinegun.’ ”

READ MORE: ‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea

Legal and gun experts might delve in to the mechanics of what makes a gun a gun, what makes a machine gun a machine gun, add in the conservative justices’ “textualism” and “originalism” theories where words are supposed to only mean what they meant when the Constitution, or, in this case, a law was written, but as Stern and Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman discussed (social media post below), the Supreme Court appears, they say, to have interpreted the plain language of words differently than their plain meaning to reach the conclusion they did:

Indeed, as senior advisor to the nonprofit organization Court Accountability and self-described “lapsed lawyer” Mike Sacks noted, in her dissent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Sacks adds, “Sotomayor calls out *every* *single* *one* *of* *her* *Republican* *colleagues* for abandoning their textualist ‘principle,’ in a paragraph that concludes, “Today, the majority forgets that principle and substitutes its own view of what constitutes a “machinegun” for Congress’s.”

Berkeley professor of public policy and former Cabinet Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “Koch-backed groups called on SCOTUS to overturn the federal bump stock ban. Clarence Thomas secretly attended Koch fundraising events, but of course didn’t recuse from this case — he wrote the majority opinion. Our nation’s highest court is beyond compromised.”

NBC News reported in December of 2018 that Donald Trump “had urged the federal government to ban bump stocks this past spring following a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, the device gained notoriety when a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured at least 527 others attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, had 22 semi-automatic rifles and 14 of them were equipped with bump stocks. They allowed him to fire the rifles continuously with a single pull of the trigger, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

That shooting to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern day history.

See the social media posts above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

 

 

 

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Clarence Thomas Took Even More Billionaire-Paid Trips Than We Knew: Senate Report

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took even more billionaire-funded trips than he or investigative reporting have previously revealed, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democrat Dick Durbin, who says those trips were not disclosed via the Justice’s annual financial reporting forms.

Justice Thomas received an estimated $5.8 million in gifts over the past two decades, a large portion from billionaire Harlan Crow, the government watchdog Fix the Court revealed last week. It is not known if the additional trips Chairman Durbin’s investigation exposed are included in that calculation. The total of all gifts all justices accepted over 20 years, including “likely” gifts, Fix The Court reported, was $6,592,657.

“Thomas traveled on Crow’s private jet during trips in 2017, 2019 and 2021 between various US states, as well as on a previously known 2019 trip to Indonesia, during which Thomas also stayed on Crow’s mega-yacht,” CNN reports. “The newly revealed private plane trips add to the picture of luxury travel enjoyed by Thomas and bankrolled by friends of the justice who have ties to conservative politics.”

READ MORE: ‘We Do Not Remember When You Tried to Have Us Killed’: GOP Slammed for Trump Standing Ovation

Punchbowl News’ Andrew Desiderio adds the new information “was obtained via the [committee’s] subpoena authorization for Crow.”

“’Mr. Crow reached an agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee to provide information responsive to its requests going back seven years,’ Crow spokesperson Michael Zona said of the information revealed Thursday,” CNN also reported.

Zona claimed Crow has “serious and continued concerns about the legality and necessity of the inquiry,” but “Mr. Crow engaged in good faith negotiations with the Committee from the beginning to resolve the matter. As a condition of this agreement, the Committee agreed to end its probe with respect to Mr. Crow.”

Watch CNN’s report below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

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