The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights hosted a telephone press briefing with civil rights leaders and senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Wednesday to discuss what’s at stake for LGBTQ rights in the Supreme Court vacancy and nomination process.
Speakers on the call emphasized how nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s troubling record on health care, discrimination and religious exemption would disproportionately harm the LGBTQ community.
A recording of the press briefing can be found here.
“As the Trump administration continues its attacks against the LGBTQ community, more cases involving LGBTQ rights are expected to reach our nation’s highest court,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “With civil and human rights at stake, the Senate must demand the release and review of Kavanaugh’s full record. The American people deserve to know Kavanaugh’s involvement in the Bush administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
“We’ve made incredible strides on LGBTQ rights in recent years, and it’s easy now to take many of those rights for granted—but that would be a huge mistake,” said Merkley.
He added, “Brett Kavanaugh was handpicked off a list of far-right jurists who were vetted for their commitment to a very narrow view of justice, opportunity, and equality for all – a view that embraces a license to discriminate against our LGBTQ community members. Fundamental rights like marriage equality are hanging by a thread, and it’s up to the American people to push back and make their voices heard.”
“Brett Kavanaugh was handpicked by the anti-LGBTQ Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. A Justice Kavanaugh would be a threat to people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community,” said Warren. “It’s time we raise our voices like never before and say no to Kavanaugh.”
“When Lambda Legal persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down state laws criminalizing sodomy in 2003, it freed us – we were no longer criminals just for being ourselves,” said Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal. “But if the Trump-Pence administration succeeds in putting Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, the bedrock of LGBTQ rights will be under immediate siege.”
Tiven added, “The question is not whether marriage equality can be overturned – it is much more likely, and more insidious that it will be slowly undermined by religious exemptions. This nomination puts Trump within striking distance of his goal of overturning Roe v. Wade and of turning back the clock on LGBT rights.”
“For the LGBTQ community, the urgency of our fight against Kavanaugh’s nomination is not abstract,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “It is literally about millions of people having a right to live their lives free from discrimination and with access to affordable health care.”
Schumer: “The National Archives has confirmed that Senate Republicans are keeping a large majority of Judge Kavanaugh’s W.H. records hidden from the public. This unprecedented suppression … leads unavoidably to the question: What are Pres. Trump and Senate Republicans hiding?”
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 2, 2018
Democrats are making the exact same request for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination that was made for the Elena Kagan nomination. It was appropriate then and it is appropriate now. The American public shouldn’t be denied an opportunity to review his record. #ReleaseTheRecords
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) August 1, 2018
A couple hundred protesters have lined the hallway outside @SenJohnThune’s office where Judge Kavanaugh is expected to arrive for a meeting with the Senator. They’re being silent and many are holding up a fist—> pic.twitter.com/ev1GqxttGh
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) August 1, 2018
Griffin added, “For decades, anti-LGBTQ extremists have attempted to use our courts as an instrument of oppression against the LGBTQ community. Now, for the second time in two years, they have handpicked one of their own to sit on the nation’s highest court.”
“Before the ACA, merely being transgender was considering a pre-existing condition and cause for an insurer to turn you down for coverage,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
“Transgender people will never go back to being a pre-existing condition,” Keisling added. “We’re demanding the Senate refuse to confirm Judge Kavanaugh because no American should have to live in fear of having their coverage denied when they need it most.”
“Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would tilt an already conservative court to the far right,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “In the coming years, there are a number of new issues that will likely come before the court that could result in lasting harm for the LGBT community – including attempts to chip away at marriage equality or permit state agencies to discriminate against LGBT families in adoption and foster care. Our families and constitutional protections are at stake.”
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Trump to Sign Order Mandating Campus ‘Free Speech’ Pushed by Group Whose Director Was Accused of Defending Hitler
TPUSA Has Also Been Accused of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity
At 3:30 Thursday afternoon President Donald Trump is scheduled to sign the executive order he promised while speaking at the far right Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) several weeks ago. The order, framed as protecting “free speech” on college and university campuses, is actually a direct threat to defund them by rescinding a wide array of federal grants for research and other programs.
“I will be signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars” @realDonaldTrump #CPAC2019 #WhatMakesAmericaGreat pic.twitter.com/hyeNZ3jI6F
— CPAC 2020 (@CPAC) March 2, 2019
Trump isn’t actually advocating for “free speech,” he’s working to make it easier for far right extremist groups and their positions to enter the marketplace of ideas – unencumbered, and without context or warning, on the nation’s colleges and universities. It is a literal attempt to move the nation to the right – or alt-right – starting with college-aged Americans.
Leading up to the push for the executive order are several years of conservative outrage that came to national attention when far right wing or extremist pundits like Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, and Milo Yiannopoulos saw their speeches canceled at various colleges, mostly due to overwhelming outrage from students who pay thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to receive an education.
According to the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., today’s executive order is the result of a “push” from the far right wing group Turning Point USA (TPUSA), founded by conservative activist Charlie Kirk.
Super excited today that @realdonaldTrump is signing an executive order today to protect free speech rights for ALL students!
A big momentous day! #MAGA
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 21, 2019
Kirk, perhaps best known for being a close friend of Donald Trump Jr., is also known for the embarrassingly false tweets he produces on a regular basis. Trump Jr. and TPUSA are closely aligned, as are TPUSA and the Trump campaign. Politico calls Kirk “Trump’s man on campus,” and The Weekly Standard called him “Kid Trump.” Trump last year was interviewed by Kirk at a White House event for college students hosted by an anti-gay hate group.
One year ago, almost as if publishing a prediction, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) warned of “Turning Point USA’s blooming romance with the alt-right.”
Fast forward to this past December.
Kirk and TPUSA’s Communications Director Candace Owens traveled to London to launch Turning Point in the UK, as Buzzfeed News reported last month.
Owens, in a discussion with potential recruits, brought up Hitler and, as many reports state, appeared to defend him, saying, “if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. The problem is that he wanted, he had dreams outside of Germany.”
Headlines encapsulated her remarks:
“Candace Owens: Hitler Was ‘OK’ Until He Tried to Go Global” (Daily Beast)
“One of Trump’s most vocal black supporters seemed to defend Hitler in a recent speech” (Washington Post)
“Candace Owens’ Bonkers Take On Nationalism Includes A Defense Of Hitler” (Huffpost)
“Candace Owens: If Hitler Was Just a Nationalist, He’d Be Fine” (Ebony)
One year earlier, in December of 2017, the award winning journalist Jane Mayer at The New Yorker published an article on TPUSA titled, “A Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Faces Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity.”
That lengthy and in-depth article includes this disturbing revelation:
As Turning Point’s profile has risen, so has scrutiny of its funding and tactics. Internal documents that I obtained, as well as interviews with former employees, suggest that the group may have skirted campaign-finance laws that bar charitable organizations from participating in political activity. Former employees say that they were directed to work with prominent conservatives, including the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in aid of Republican Presidential candidates in 2016. Perhaps most troubling for an organization that holds up conservatives as the real victims of discrimination in America, Turning Point USA is also alleged to have fostered an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities. Screenshots provided to me by a source show that Crystal Clanton, who served until last summer as the group’s national field director, sent a text message to another Turning Point employee saying, “i hate black people. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.”
This is the organization that President Trump, the Trump family, and the Trump campaign are not only intimately involved with, but now creating national policy with.
All Americans, but especially college students, educators, researchers, and actual civil rights supporters and advocates, should be extremely concerned.
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Has Just Lost Major Distribution Channels for His Hate Speech
Apple has removed all but one of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones‘ podcast libraries from its iTunes platform, dealing a significant blow to the fake news promoter. The company, which last week became the first to reach the one trillion dollar market valuation mark, cited hate speech as the reason, according to Buzzfeed News.
“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” a spokesperson for Apple told Buzzfeed. “Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
Following the move by Apple, Facebook announced it had “removed four Pages belonging to Alex Jones for repeatedly posting content over the past several days that breaks … Community Standards.”
Facebook, which has been under pressure to remove Jones, made clear that the hate speech content on Alex Jones’ pages, had “been reported” to it, and that Jones’ false news was not the reason for removal.
The company wrote that it had taken down the pages “for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”
Jones has called the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in which 20 first students, aged six and seven, and six school officials were massacred a hoax, claiming the victims were child actors, according to Media Matters.
Fred Gutenberg, the father of one of the teens killed at Florida’s Parkland High School shooting, which took 17 lives, hailed the move.
This is great news. This man has attacked the victims of gun violence and specifically gone after the families of Sandy Hook and claimed that was a big hoax. Good riddance Alex Jones. https://t.co/dCTdDdEBvO
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) August 6, 2018
Sleeping Giants, which calls itself a “campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable,” praised Apple’s decision:
Tomorrow, Alex Jones will scream about his ban from iTunes being political.
There are plenty of conservative & liberal podcasts that don’t harass the parents of children killed at Sandy Hook or Las Vegas shooting victims.
This was not about right or left, but right and wrong.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) August 6, 2018
Mike Pence Exposed as ‘One of the Greatest Threats to Equality’ in New Campaign by LGBT Rights Group
Mike Pence is “an extremist who is amassing power and exerting influence with less scrutiny than any vice president in U.S. history,” says the Human Rights Campaign, in a full-throated exposé on the Vice President.
“With Donald Trump mired in lurid scandals and investigations that threaten his presidency, Mike Pence has flown under the radar, amassing enormous power in an administration hobbled by clueless advisors, inexperienced staffers and a revolving cast of lawyers,” HRC says. “Pence is exploiting that alarming leadership void by quietly spearheading a charge to radically undermine the rights of LGBTQ people and women, attack voting rights, undercut sound science, and enable the greatest assault on American institutions in modern history.”
“Mike Pence has made a career out of attacking the rights and equal dignity of LGBTQ people, women and other marginalized communities. Now as vice president, he poses one of the greatest threats to equality in the history of our movement,” HRC President Chad Griffin adds. “With the world distracted by Donald Trump’s scandal-ridden White House, Mike Pence’s nefarious agenda has been allowed to fly under the radar for too long. He has become not only the most powerful vice president in American history, but also the least scrutinized. No more. With this comprehensive new report, HRC is exposing the extent of Pence’s extremism, the threat he poses to equality, and all that we’re doing to combat his hateful agenda.”
For example, HRC has released this two-and-a-half minute video exposing Pence’s virulently anti-LGBT past (below):
“The New York Times reported on Wednesday there has been some speculation about the possibility that Pence could run 2020 on a ticket with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, although Haley has denied such an alliance,” Newsweek notes.
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