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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

South Dakota Lawmaker Pushing Bills to Ban Same-Sex Marriage and Make Getting Divorced More Difficult

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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.'”:

Transgender advocate and triathlete Chris Mosier weighs in:

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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

18 Months in the Making: Trump Admin Launches Extremist Manifesto With Coalition of Anti-Choice, Anti-LGBTQ Regimes

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar joined representatives from Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda Thursday in a virtual ceremony to launch the “Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family.”

During the Obama administration, U.S. foreign policy supported reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality, while resistance and backlash to those principles were being led by religious-right advocacy groups, often in partnership with the world’s most repressive regimes.  But during the Trump administration, the U.S. government has been mobilizing the reactionary forces. Pompeo and Azar have been working for at least a year and a half to mobilize Thursday’s signing of the Geneva Consensus.

The anti-abortion and anti-choice language of the declaration is explicit while wrapped in broad language about supporting women’s health. It draws language from other international agreements about the need to provide children with “special measures of protection” and “safeguards … before as well as after birth.” Speakers from the sponsoring nations all insisted that they would oppose any effort by any United Nations body to assert that access to abortion is recognized in international human rights law. Pompeo praised the Trump administration’s “unprecedented defense of the unborn abroad” and said he hoped that the declaration’s “moral clarity” will embolden others.

The anti-LGBTQ agenda of the coalition is less explicit in the language of the declaration itself—which draws on language from the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights to reaffirm that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.” But Hungary’s Minister of State for Family, Youth and International Affairs Katalin Novák was more explicit, denouncing international forces that she charged were trying to “weaken the traditional family” through a “culture of indoctrination and preaching” at the U.N. and the promotion of “gender ideology,” “ideological neocolonialism,” and sex education.

Novák said that the right-wing anti-LGBTQ governments of Hungary and Poland are playing a leading role in promoting and strengthening the “traditional family.” Uganda’s health minister, Jane Aceng, criticized international pressure to support policies that “may be contrary to our values” and called for “due respect for our values and sovereignty.”

Notably, the document affirms that “universal health coverage is fundamental” in achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals while recognizing that governments will “determine their own path towards achieving universal health coverage”—in the U.S., that path seems headed in the opposite direction as the Trump administration urges the Supreme Court to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and strip health care coverage from millions of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

18 Months in the Making: Pompeo and Azar Organizing at the United Nations  

The Geneva Consensus Declaration event was a culmination of the Trump administration’s intensive efforts to build opposition to any international recognition of a right to abortion—and Pompeo and Azar’s zeal to undermine international recognition of the rights of LGBTQ people while celebrating governmental enforcement of “traditional” religious values on gender, sexuality, and family. They’ve been working on developing this new coalition for about a year and a half.

Last July, Pompeo and Azar sent a letter to foreign governments asking them to “join the United States in ensuring that every sovereign state has the ability to determine the best way to protect the unborn and defend the family as the foundational unit of society vital to children thriving and leading healthy lives.” The letter warned that “ambiguous” terms like “sexual and reproductive health and rights” are associated with “anti-family and pro-abortion policies.” The July letter built on a statement distributed in May by the governments of the U.S., Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Haiti, Ghana, Nigeria, and Iraq making the same argument. Since then, the U.S. has been working to expand this coalition.

In September 2019, on the eve of Trump’s address to the U.N. General Assembly, Azar released a similar statement, this one endorsed by a larger number of nations: United States of America, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Poland, Republic of the Congo, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Just a month later, the U.S. issued a statement arguing that governments could better worktogether to improve access to health care if they avoided “divisive” topics. “The United States firmly believes that we can do more for people by coming together on those broad areas of agreement on which we can achieve genuine progress, rather than pursuing divisive policies that promote abortion, diminish the role of the family, and compromise the sovereignty of nations by focusing on sensitive issues where we know consensus is not possible,” the U.S. statement said in part.

Comprehensive sex education, a target of the World Congress of Families and right-wing culture warriors around the globe, was also singled out by the U.S. government. “We remain deeply concerned that comprehensive sexuality education programs undermine the protective role of the family in such education and condone harmful sexual risks for young people,” the U.S. statement said. “We continue to be a stalwart defender of all women, men, children, and families and support programs to improve their health, life, dignity, and well-being.”

The Trump team’s organizing continued with a November session and statement released during the Nairobi Summit on the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, which was first held in Cairo in 1994. And in December, the Department of Health and Human Services and the governments of Hungary and Brazil sponsored an “International Conference on Family Policy” that was attended by White House domestic policy director Joe Grogan. The event also featured anti-choice and anti-marriage-equality activists from the U.S. religious right.

In December, Hungary and Brazil cosponsored a public gathering at which HHS Special Representative for Global Women’s Health Valerie Huber—an abstinence education advocate—thanked countries that have demonstrated “political will” and “moral courage” and acted to “preserve our countries and this civilization as it should be.” Azar singled out Huber for praise at Thursday’s ceremony.

This year, on Jan. 16, Azar addressed a closed-door meeting of 35 nations at Blair House, on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. “Together, we built a pro-life, pro-family, pro-sovereignty coalition that is a force to be reckoned with,” Azar declared of the 2019 organizing efforts. But, he added, “our informal coalition needs to grow and be more active.”

Joining Azar in January were Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and representatives of two authoritarian leaders compared to and praised by President Donald Trump: Hungary’s Novák and Brazil’s deputy chief of mission] in Washington, Minister-Counselor Fernando Pimentel. Azar also read a letter from Uganda’s Aceng, whom Azar called “one of our strongest and most reliable partners.”

At that event, Azar encouraged countries to continue to build momentum by attending “an upcoming global women’s health conference” in Geneva, Switzerland, in May, just before the start of the World Health Assembly. That is where the consensus declaration was to be finalized, but COVID-19 derailed that gathering. Presumably with an eye on the U.S. elections, sponsors decided to push forward with the release of the statement before the group meets next year.

All this official business builds on the work being done by an extensive network of religious-right legal and political groups. Hungary’s Novák has met with representatives of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious-right legal giant that opposes LGBTQ equality in the U.S. and has defended criminalization of homosexuality in other countries. “We agree that there is a great need for closer cooperation among international pro-family stakeholders in defending #family values,” Novák tweeted last November.

C-FAM, which works relentlessly to promote anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ policies at the U.N., cheered Azar’s January remarks. And C-FAM’s Austin Ruse, was quick to put out a statement Thursday “heartily” congratulating the Trump administration and the 32 nations that have signed the new declaration.

 

This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission

Image: Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar participate in signing ceremony of the Geneva Consensus Declaration. State Department photo by Ron Przysucha via Flickr

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Watch: Top Democrat Exposes Amy Coney Barrett as a Tool of Shadowy Far Right Dark Money Groups Right to Her Face

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U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) shined a huge spotlight on Judge Amy Coney Barrett Tuesday afternoon, exposing her, during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, as a tool of the far right and its shadowy dark money groups. The goal of these groups, which are funded by millionaires and billionaires who hide their identities behind non-profits: kill abortion, same-sex marriage, and ObamaCare, Whitehouse proved.

Judge Coney Barrett looked shocked, and swallowed hard several times.

“Don’t act surprised,” Sen. Whitehouse scolded his Republican colleagues. “Why is it surprising for us to be concerned that you want this nominee to do what you want nominees to do?”

Whitehouse reveals in the video below the tens of millions of dollars from the right, being injected into groups including the Judicial Crisis Network and the Federalist Society, to ensure their hand-picked extremist judicial nominees get chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate. In one case an unnamed donor, he says, donated $17 million to get one Supreme Court nominee confirmed. Another $17 million was also donated by one person, possibly the same, to get another Supreme Court nominee confirmed.

He also notes how the Judicial Crisis Network and the Federalist Society are housed in the same building, and appear to be assisting each other.

CNN’s Keith Boykin adds that “right-wing groups have spent $250 million in dark money to reshape the courts and turn back the clock on fundamental rights for vulnerable Americans.”

Here’s video of Sen. Whitehouse exposing the far right’s attack on democracy.

Watch:

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

DOJ Unveils Proposal That Would Make It Harder for Twitter and Facebook to Block Trump’s Dangerous Posts

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The U.S. Dept. of Justice has released a draft of its proposal to change federal law, making it harder – and possibly illegal – for tech companies and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to remove, delete, or otherwise block or interfere with content it deems dangerous or objectionable.

President Donald Trump for years has falsely claimed tech giants are censoring conservatives and giving preferential treatment to liberals. Recently, Twitter and even Facebook have appended warning or information labels to some of his more dangerous posts, and in rare cases removed them – as they have done for years to other users.

Attorney General Barr has been working to alter Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites and their owners from liability over content they host – such as readers’ comments – and allows them to make decisions as to what they remove or block based on what those sites and platforms consider objectionable.

Calling Barr’s draft “a rare, legislative proposal,” The Washington Post reports were it to become law, it would allow the federal government to “police” website owners and tech companies’ actions.

“For years, President Trump and other top Republicans have attacked tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter for censoring conservatives online, something the U.S. government now may have the ability to police if the Justice Department’s proposal were to become law.”

For example, yesterday nine of the top 10 posts on Facebook were from Republicans or far right conservatives.

“The White House,” the Washington Post continues, “has offered little proof for its claims, and tech companies strongly deny them — while Democratic lawmakers contend the administration should focus instead on hate speech, extremism and election disinformation that spreads virally on the Internet.”

 

 

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