It’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and for several hours now countless mostly white, mostly male pro-gun, anti-gun control activists have been marching throughout the streets of Richmond, Virginia, claiming to merely be exercising their Second Amendment rights. Many appear to be dressed in military garb, including camouflage, masks, and donning various types of firearms over their shoulders or at their side.
Some Virginians have been so concerned about the possibility of violence that Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and banned guns from the capitol. His ban survived a state supreme court challenge. Some say the ban does not appear to have been enforced.
Thousands are marching, including some white nationalists, far-right militia members, anti-government extremists, and neo-Nazis. As NBC News reports, members of some of those groups from across the country have been planning on attending.
To get a sense of scale here’s a photo from an ABC reporter:
Crowd from above at the Richmond 2A protest @ABC7News
— Caroline Patrickis (@Cpatrickis) January 20, 2020
Many online noted the reception from pro-gun advocates might be far different if the activists were Black instead of white, given the nation’s history – and that of Virginia.
The Virginia Mercury’s Ned Oliver posted this video at 7:35 AM:
Here’s a line of heavily armed rally attendees outside the VA Capitol pic.twitter.com/ze2ZUYf0SR
— Ned Oliver (@nedoliver) January 20, 2020
One social media user asked, “Can you imagine a group of black men walking around with masks and guns?”
Can you imagine a group of black men walking around with masks and guns? https://t.co/aI9fwe6nTi
— Pariah Carey (@weekend3warrior) January 20, 2020
Government ethics expert Walter Shaub offers this insight.
Imagine how Fox News would cover this if these guys weren’t white. Imagine what Trump would tweet. Imagine how much danger they’d be in. But these guys are allowed to silence counter protesters by showing up armed to the teeth after some of their allies have threatened violence. https://t.co/scmDaodgku
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) January 20, 2020
Days ago President Trump essentially endorsed the rally in a tweet and then did so again minutes ago.
The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020
Some are asking questions like, “Imagine if Black folks just decided to have a ‘gun rally’ like this.”
Take a look at these responses from social media users.
There's a mob of white folks walking around the streets of Virginia with assault rifles, MAGA hats and trump flags and nobody seems to care, nor think anything bad can possibly come from this.
Imagine if Black folks just decided to have a "gun rally" like this.
— Skoob 🇵🇦🇯🇲 (@TheKidSkoob) January 20, 2020
Imagine if a large group of black men with assault weapons and ski masks were marching in the VA capital.
The privilege on display here is really something.
— Kathmandu🦅💚 (@Kathmandu513) January 20, 2020
— CrazyLikeATiger (@groundedsince87) January 20, 2020
I’m only leaving my apartment for the gym today and already the amount of confederate flag shit I’m seeing for these guns rights people is ridiculous. I’m only commenting so gun nuts will stop the dishonest framing of this issue as an act to protect Black people.
— AdenWare (@AdenWare) January 20, 2020
Imagine if a group of black people lined up outside the capitol with guns 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/EGzgwj2deH
— Terrence Everett (@IB_terrence) January 20, 2020
Don’t use MLK or any minority groups to promote your fear message. You all know damn well if those were majority black men with their military-grade guns protesting out there, it would be a different story. #VirginiaRally
— mariah loves wonho 🇭🇰 (@ohnoitsmariah__) January 20, 2020
In the 1960s, when the Black Panthers were the ones carrying guns, Republicans were much more sympathetic to gun control. A total coincidence I’m sure. https://t.co/7ELwGC6hmD
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) January 20, 2020
that history here https://t.co/uuJFOkmUjN
— David Dayen (@ddayen) January 20, 2020
What’s happening in Richmond today is not only scary but also underscores that the cruelty is the point. If they just wanted to advance an argument on gun rights, they wouldn’t do it on #MLKDay. The miss being able to openly terrify people, especially black people. #richmondrally https://t.co/Koc8EYoRit
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) January 20, 2020
Image: Screenshot via Twitter
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Iowa Anti-LGBTQ Bill Is So Extreme It Would Require Teachers to Notify Parents if They Are Going to Talk About Pete Buttigieg
Republicans on an Iowa House panel Monday advanced an anti-LGBTQ bill that is so extreme it would require teachers to notify parents if they plan on even mentioning Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, because he is gay. The bill, sponsored by 13 Republican lawmakers, would force educators to allow parents to opt-out of any instruction that relates to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Opponents note that heterosexuality is also a sexual orientation and the legislation would require teachers to notify parents about any person their lessons might include, the Des Moines Register reports.
The bill’s anti-LGBTQ intention is clear.
“Not all parents want others to teach their children about sexual orientation and gender identity because it, too, involves family religious beliefs about sexuality and sexual ethics,” Rep. Sandy Salmon, a Republican, said Monday, as Southernminn.com reports. “Not all families agree with the viewpoint held by many schools regarding sexual identity issues and they should be allowed to opt out of instruction that contains that.”
The Iowa Association of School Boards opposes the bill, HF 2201.
“What if we’re having a discussion on current events and there’s a presidential candidate — somebody who’s running for the nomination — who’s gay?” Emily Piper, a lobbyist for the association, asked, referring to Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. “Can we not have that conversation in a government class, then, without first notifying the parents and allowing them to withdraw their child from the class?”
One pastor attacked opponents of the bill as not supporting transparency.
“The LGBTQ lifestyle is controversial,” pastor Brad Cranston said. “Not everyone in the state believes there is nothing wrong with these lifestyles. My biblical worldview tells me there is something very definitely wrong. There are many in this state, with no hatred in their heart, who have those sincere beliefs.”
Cranston said parents have the right “to know exactly what the public school, which they are paying with their tax dollars, is teaching their kids.”
Hat tip: Towleroad
Christian Nationalist Wants $22 Million to Win Top 2020 Battleground States – and Eradicate Separation of Church and State
Christian nationalist political operative David Lane is seeking $22 million for a campaign to boost conservative Christian turnout in 10 battleground states—Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, and Iowa—this year. In a column published by Charisma, Lane claims that his American Renewal Project increased “Christian turnout” by 5 to 7 percent in half a dozen key states in 2016.
Lane has a much bigger vision than just helping put President Donald Trump back in the White House. Lane views politics as spiritual warfare necessary to defeat secularists and pagans and make America the Christian nation he says it was founded to be. He teaches that the U.S. has a national mandate to promote the Christian faith and calls the separation of church and state a lie.
In recent years, Lane has recruited conservative pastors to run for office and mobilize their congregations as election volunteers. In his new column in Charisma, he imagines hundreds of conservative evangelical pastors running for office in the next few election cycles, “triggering a third great awakening” and “bringing about a full-impact collision between the two rival religions in America of Christianity and secularism.”
“Since each worldview is expansive and evangelistic, there will be no reconciliation of opposites with God; one will ultimately end in the eradication of the other,” Lane adds.
As Right Wing Watch has noted repeatedly over the years, Lane’s divisive Christian nationalist extremism hasn’t prevented Republican officials at all levels from embracing him and supporting his work. They don’t seem to be bothered by his anti-LGBTQ extremism either; he once urged conservative Christians to prepare for martyrdom in their fight to “save the nation from the pagan onslaught” of marriage equality and legal abortion. As a presidential candidate in 2016, Donald Trump attended one of Lane’s organizing events in Florida.
Here’s some more background on Lane from Right Wing Watch reporting in 2018, when Lane teamed up with California-based dominionists to try to “turn California around”:
Lane, who declared in 2013 that “Christians must be retrained to war for the Soul of America,” has been organizing events since the mid-1990s to encourage conservative evangelical pastors to preach more about politics, to get their congregants more politically engaged, and to run for office. Lane’s “pastors and pews” events have functioned as matchmakers between right-wing politicians and tens of thousands of pastors; and his Issachar trainings have encouraged pastors to run for office themselves.
Lane preaches that the U.S. has a divine mission to glorify God and advance the Christian faith, and he has called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” designed to stop “Christian America—the moral majority—from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.” He has complained that there was “not a peep from the Christian Church” in response to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, when the church “should have initiated riots, revolution, and repentance.”
Among the Republican congressional candidates running with Lane’s support are Bethel worship leader Sean Feucht in Northern California and Young Kim, who is running again in California’s Orange County after narrowly losing in 2018.
This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
South Dakota Lawmaker Pushing Bills to Ban Same-Sex Marriage and Make Getting Divorced More Difficult
Attacking Entire LGBTQ Community
One South Dakota Republican state legislator is pushing several bills he has authored that would attack the entire LGBTQ community, and make it harder for anyone, regardless of who they married, to get divorced.
South Dakota state Rep. Tony Randolph‘s HB 1215 would make it illegal for two people of the same gender to marry. It would also ban benefits from being given to existing married same-sex couples, ban protections for LGBTQ people, ban any recognition of transgender people, ban conversion therapy, and even ban “drag queen storytime.”
One line in Rep. Randolph’s bill exposes what he thinks of LGBTQ people, looping them in with “zoophilia.”
The bill says: “The state may not enforce, endorse, or favor policies that” “Condone or affirm homosexual, transgender, zoophilia, objectophilia, polygamy, or sexual orientation doctrines.”
The policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota calls it “the legislative version of ‘saying the quiet part out loud.'”:
HB 1215 is the legislative version of “saying the quiet part out loud.” It lays bear what’s really happening in South Dakota. We are seeing an all out assault on the LGBTQ and two spirit communities. pic.twitter.com/p3evbiMO7d
— Libby Skarin (@LibbySkarin) January 31, 2020
Transgender advocate and triathlete Chris Mosier weighs in:
The #SDleg is out of control – lawmakers there have a clear agenda to attack, suppress, and remove LGBTQ+ people from South Dakota. HB1215 is the latest.
— The Chris Mosier (@TheChrisMosier) January 30, 2020
Rep. Randolph is not satisfied attacking just LGBTQ people. He’s also trying to make it harder for anyone in South Dakota to divorce.
HB 1158 would eliminate “irreconcilable differences” as a legal reason for filing for divorce. It would also swap “Conviction of felony” with a new reason: “Criminal conviction that resulted in incarceration.”
Last week a bill supported but not authored by Rep. Randolph easily passed through the South Dakota House.
HB 1057 would make it illegal for physicians to perform gender confirmation surgery on transgender youth or teens, and even make it illegal to prescribe hormones to them.
It would also legally define “sex” as “the biological state of being female or male, based on sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous hormone profiles.”
Randolph is also the author of legislation that would make sex education “opt-in,” requiring parental approval before students are allowed to attend. HB 1162 would also direct that South Dakota sex education classes “Stress the importance and benefits of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage,” “Stress the importance of fidelity after marriage for preventing certain communicable diseases and strengthen the bond between spouses,” and “Communicate that sexual abstinence is the only effective method of eliminating the risk of unplanned or out-of-wedlock pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.”
That bill would also make sex education classes extremely ineffective:
“Sexual abstinence programs may not include models of instruction, based on risk reduction, encouraging or promote or provide instruction on the use of contraceptives products or methods. Materials and instruction may not be excessively graphic or explicit and may not include explicit descriptions of sexual activity that encourage erotic, lewd, or obscene behavior.”
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