Ensures the Rights of People of Faith Supersede the Rights of LGBT People
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday issued a 25-page memo that establishes the Trump administration’s interpretation of federal law and regulations in an attempt to deliver to religious conservatives the widest possible license to discriminate, especially against the LGBT community.Â The AP calls it “an order that undercuts protections for LGBT people.”
Sessions quoted President Trump saying his administration “will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”
The new DOJ memo is “an attempt to deliver on President Donald Trump’s pledge to his evangelical and other religious supporters,” the AP reports, saying it “effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove that their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held.”
It makes clear the Trump administration across all executive branch agenciesÂ and departments will ensure the rights of people of faith supersedeÂ the rights of LGBT people.
“Under the new policy, a claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to override concerns for the civil rights of LGBT people and anti-discrimination protections for women and others,” the AP explains. “The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty are calling them a legal powder-keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government.”
“This is putting the world on notice: You better take these claims seriously,” said Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “This is a signal to the rest of these agencies to rethink the protections they have put in place on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The Attorney General’s memorandum includes 20 “Principles of Religious Liberty.”Â
The anti-gay hate groupÂ Alliance Defending Freedom “called it ‘a great day for religious freedom.’ The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group, called the guidelines an ‘all-out assault’ on civil rights and a ‘sweeping license to discriminate.'”
Politico adds that this new legal guidance “could affect health care, gay rights, political action by churches,” and says it takes a “muscular view of religious freedom rights.”
Naturally, a top Trump support, Tony Perkins of the anti-gay hate groupÂ Family Research Council, praised the administration’s new interpretations of law.
“President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom,” said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.Â
“President Trump and the Department of Justice are putting federal government agencies on notice: you will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe but live according to those beliefs,” Perkins added. “As President Trump continues to follow through on his promises on these core issues, he will continue to have the support of social conservatives on his policy initiatives.”
Based on the Session memo earlier Friday the Trump administration issued a sweeping rollback of the ObamaCare contraception mandate, that requires nearly all employers to ensure health insurance plans provide contraception at no out-of-pocket cost to employees or those on their plans. Now, any employer can claim a religious or moral objection and opt out of covering contraception.Â
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Newsmax Host Says Pride Month Makes Heterosexuals ‘Feel Marginalized,’ LGBTQ People Are No Longer ‘Persecuted’
A Newsmax host on Thursday celebrated the end of Pride Month, declaring anti-LGBTQ attacks, marginalization, discrimination, and bullying in the past, claiming Americans were required to display the LGBTQ Pride flag or risk getting “in trouble,” while lamenting the concept of “pride” as exclusionary and “a negative thing.”
“It’s June 30. I gotta say, I’m glad that June is over. The flag, pride, whatever. What was it, Gay Pride Month, right? I mean, it was, it was too much,” said Greg Kelly, a host on the far-right-wing network.
“It was just too much, everywhere. If you had a business, if you had a building, if you had a house, if you had a dog house, you had to put a flag, a gay pride flag up, or else you could be in trouble,” he said falsely.
Kelly then denounced the “relentless programming,” and the “celebration.”
“You see, this has gotten so big, that those of us who happen to be heterosexual feel excluded, feel marginalized,” Kelly insisted.
“Now, I don’t want anybody to feel that way. And I do know that gay people were persecuted unfairly, they could be targeted and canceled. But that’s not America anymore. That’s long ago,” he claimed, literally days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a civil right to privacy, with one Justice warning specifically that the constitutional right of same-sex couples to engage in intimate contact and to marry should be reviewed and the “error” corrected.
In mid-June Kelly claimed, “this Pride month is borderline out-of-control.”
On Thursday Kelly closed his commentary by saying, “when it comes to gay pride, it’s not the gay part. But frankly, it’s the pride part. Pride is actually a negative thing, isn’t it?”
Watch video below or at this link:
Newsmax host complains about Pride Month: “This has gotten so big that those of us who happen to be heterosexual feel excluded, feel marginalized” pic.twitter.com/3w3gVpH85v
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) July 1, 2022
Ron DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law Goes Into Effect Today as Schools Scramble to Avoid Parental Lawsuits
Even before Republicans in Florida passed Governor Ron DeSantis‘ “Don’t Say Gay” bill some defenders of the anti-LGBTQ legislation insisted it applied only to kindergarten through third grade, and that anyone who opposed the bill – as the governor’s official spokesperson charged – was “probably a groomer.”
But LGBTQ advocates, activists, and supporters made clear the purposefully broad and vague language in the bill and the threat inserted into the legislation allowing parents to sue for perceived violations would have a chilling effect.
They were right.
The “Don’t Say Gay” law, officially the “Parental Rights in Education” law, goes into effect today, July 1, after DeSantis, at an event held at a charter school exempt from the legislation in March, surrounded by young children, talked about the bill and signed it into law.
Educators across the state’s 67 school districts are seeing just how extensive it is being interpreted and implemented, given the near-total lack of guidance from the DeSantis administration.
In March, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a warning to Florida, saying “The Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“We stand with our LGBTQ+ students in Florida and across the country, and urge Florida leaders to make sure all their students are protected and supported,” he said.
But aside from that broadside, the federal government appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach.
Meanwhile, reports from across Florida say districts’ legal counsel have warned that teachers should remove LGBTQ supportive materials, including rainbow and pride stickers, and even stickers denoting a particular classroom is a “safe space,” They have warned teachers should not wear anything with a rainbow and should remove any family photos if they include a same-sex spouse or partner. That same warning did not go to teachers with different-sex spouses or partners, leading some legal experts to warn of constitutional violations.
LGBTQ teachers, especially those who teach students in grades K-3, have also been warned to not discuss their family lives or even mention same-sex spouses or partners. And teachers and other school officials have been directed to look for anything LGBTQ-related, including books in school libraries.
But it hasn’t stopped there. Teachers have been told they are required to report – “out” – any student who comes out as LGBTQ.
Spectrum News reports Florida’s Orange County Public Schools “held a legal camp for 600 principals, vice-principals, and junior administrators,” specifically telling them, “Teachers must notify parents if a student comes out as gay to them.” Not an administrator, but a teacher.
ABC affiliate WFTV reports that Orange County Teachers’ Association (CTA) says “teachers will have to report to parents if a student ‘comes out’ to them and they must use pronouns assigned at birth, regardless of what the parents allow.”
Elsewhere in Florida, if there are questions about a student’s gender identity before or during overnight school trips that student will be outed not only to their own parents but to the parents of all the students in their class.
NBC News reports on Tuesday “the Leon County School Board unanimously approved its “LGBTQ Inclusive School Guide,” which includes a provision to alert parents if a student who is ‘open about their gender identity’ is in their child’s physical education class or with them on an overnight school trip.”
“Upon notification or determination of a student who is open about their gender identity, parents of the affected students will be notified of reasonable accommodation options available,” NBC reports the guidelines read. “Parents or students who have concerns about rooming assignments for their student’s upcoming overnight event based on religious or privacy concerns may request an accommodation.”
NBC also reports that in late May, “the School District of Palm Beach County sent out a questionnaire asking its teachers to review all course material and flag any books with references to sexual orientation, gender identity or race, said a Palm Beach County high school special education teacher, Michael Woods. Several weeks previously, the district removed two books — ‘I Am Jazz’ and ‘Call Me Max’ — that touch upon gender identity, he said.”
‘Committee’s Definitely Got Something’: Legal Experts Claim Threat of Wire Fraud Charges Loom Over Trump and Aides
In conversations with the Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, two former officials in the Department of Justice suggested that specific evidence revealed in the Jan. 6th committee’s investigation of Donald Trump provides a roadmap that could lead to wire fraud charges against members of Donald Trump’s campaign officials and possibly the former president too.
At issue is the preponderance of evidence that Trump and his aides were well aware that he had lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden on election night and yet sent out a flood of requests for donations maintaining the election results were fraudulent.
As the report notes, “That same day, the Trump campaign sent a fundraising email claiming that ‘President Trump will easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with only legal votes cast.’ The solicitation called on supporters to donate any dollar amount and join something called the ‘Election Defense Task Force.’ The campaign, it said, was ‘counting on members to help [Trump] fight back and secure FOUR MORE YEARS.'”
Pointing out that legal experts believe that evidence contains the “ingredients for possible federal charges against officials with the campaign and the Republican National Committee—as well as Trump himself,” Sollenberger first spoke with former U.S. attorney Barb McQuade, who said wire fraud cases are a specialty of U.S. attorney’s offices.
“If it can be shown that Trump or others sent an email asking for money for one purpose, and then used it for another, that could constitute fraud, regardless of whether it can be proved that they knew the election had not been stolen,” she explained.
Her view was bolstered by Natalie Adams, who previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, who bluntly stated, “the committee’s definitely got something.”
Speaking with the Beast, she elaborated, “It’s not whether you know something absolutely for sure. It’s if it’s ‘reasonably foreseeable’ to you that people will believe promises and statements that you either know aren’t true, or are reckless or deceptive, which you are trying to use to get something of value.”
According to Adams, there is a wire fraud conspiracy case to be made — which could sweep up the former president as a co-conspirator.
“With conspiracy, you don’t necessarily have to commit an overt act. And jury instructions don’t require proof of a formal agreement, because criminal actors avoid doing that,” she explained. “But if people work together and profit from it, it’s helpful to show who had the access and opportunity to review those communications, and who would be likely to know by virtue of their job what is ‘reasonably foreseeable’ to occur, who are charged with vetting the truth of statements, and so on.”
You can read more here.
Image: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour
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