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Biden DOJ Promises to ‘Vigorously’ Defend Religious Schools ‘Right’ to Discriminate in Lawsuit from LGBTQ Students

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40 LGBTQ students are suing the U.S. Dept. of Education for allowing the faith-based colleges they attend to discriminate against them while receiving taxpayer funds and federal support. The Dept. of Justice, which generally defends the federal government and the laws of the United States, has promised it will “vigorously” defend the several dozen schools against the lawsuit.

If this were the Trump Justice Dept., many Americans would not be surprised. And while there is a wall between the White House and the DOJ, President Joe Biden has said passing the LGBTQ Equality Act is among his top priorities. (Majority Leader Schumer has indicated he will bring it to the floor for a vote this month.)

Add to all this that the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming days is expected to hand down its decision in a case filed by a Christian adoption agency that lost its contract with the City of Philadelphia for refusing to work with LGBTQ and same-sex couples.

The Washington Post reports the DOJ’s promise “it can ‘vigorously’ defend a religious exemption from federal civil rights law that allows federally funded religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students,” is “a move that surprised some LGBTQ advocates who said the wording went further than just an obligation to defend an existing law.”

During the Obama years the Dept. of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder refused to defend in court a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, declaring he and President Obama had decided it was unconstitutional. (The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately agreed.)

“In the filing,” the Post adds, “the Biden administration said it ‘shares the same ultimate objective’ as the conservative Christian schools named in the case.”

LGBTQ activists are displeased.

“What this means is that the government is now aligning itself with anti-LGBTQ hate in order to vigorously defend an exemption that everyone knows causes severe harm to LGBTQ students using taxpayer money,” said Paul Carlos Southwick, director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project, which filed the case in March on behalf of dozens of current and past students at conservative religious colleges and universities. “It will make our case harder if the federal government plans to vigorously defend it like they have indicated.”

The lawsuit says the schools are “fueled by government funding,” and yet the Dept. of Education’s “inaction leaves students unprotected from the harms of conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, sexual and physical abuse and harassment, as well as the less visible, but no less damaging, consequences of institutionalized shame, fear, anxiety and loneliness.”

The Religious Exemption Accountability Project says its lawsuit “asserts the constitutional and basic human rights of LGBTQ+ students, seeking to end the sexual, physical and psychological abuses perpetrated under the religious exemption to Title IX at thousands of federally-funded schools, colleges and universities across America.”

The Constitution guarantees equal rights for all Americans, holding space for religious belief and practice, while ensuring that religion does not serve as a government-funded vehicle to harm racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, religious or other minorities. Government action that ignores this central principal, including the religious exemption to Title IX, is unconstitutional and must be remedied immediately. 

Several right wing groups are asking the courts to be included in the lawsuit to defend the religious exemption and their “right” to discriminate.

Among them, the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal firm that has won at the U.S. Supreme Court and appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

On its website ADF describes the lawsuit as a demand the schools “renounce core religious beliefs,” which apparently includes discriminating against LGBTQ students.

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‘Been Hitting the Pipe a Little Too Hard’: Pompeo Rebrands – Gets Mercilessly Mocked for Illegal Drug Pun

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2024 GOP likely presidential hopeful Mike Pompeo, the Trump-era Secretary of State, has resurrected his old leadership political action committee, CAVPAC, and drawn attention to himself with what many see as a bad illegal drug pun.

The unfortunate tweet includes the word “pipehitter,” and Pompeo’s made-up definition: “someone who is unapologetically American, someone who fights for our future, someone who never gives an inch, someone who is dedicated to stand against the radical Left’s agenda.”

The new “pipehitter” theme signals Pompeo distancing himself from his former boss. He had tried to position himself as the logical successor to the “America First” movement, but for reasons unspecified Pompeo is now hewing to a different brand, one that is decidedly more “Pompeo.”

While the new branding may have passed a Madison Avenue test, it did not pass the Twitter test.

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Bipartisan Moderate Senators Announce Agreement on Infrastructure Focused on No Tax Increases for the Wealthy

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A bipartisan group of moderate Senators, five Democrats and five Republicans, have just announced agreement on an infrastructure bill focused on not raising taxes on the wealthy. The outlines of the package would be $1.2 trillion, but only $579 billion in new spending.

President Joe Biden’s original proposal was for a $2.3 trillion package that including tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. After Republicans refused he dropped it to $1.7 trillion, but again Republicans refused. Biden again came down, offering a stripped down $1 trillion package that would be paid for, at least in part, by forcing companies that pay no federal income taxes, like Amazon, to have to pay taxes.

Republicans again refused and earlier this week President Biden ended negotiations with Republican Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, saying he would focus on moderate Senators instead. The White House was reportedly not consulted on this agreement.

The group of Senators includes:

Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA).

In a statement they say they have “worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies.”

“This investment would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” which appears to be the goal of the agreement.

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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MSNBC’s Morning Joe Rips Apart Report on Trump’s Infamous Lafayette Park Photo Op

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped apart the excuses offered by a Donald Trump appointee about his infamous June 1, 2020, photo op at Lafayette Square.

Federal agents fired chemical irritants at peaceful protesters ahead of the visit, where Trump held up a Bible in front of a historic church, but the Interior Department’s inspector general found the park was cleared so a contractor could install fencing, and the “Morning Joe” host was skeptical that then-attorney general William Barr would have been involved in mundane decisions about park maintenance.

“He could be the director for scaffolding of Lafayette Park, I apologize to William Barr,” Scarborough said. “I didn’t know he could try to undermine Jeffersonian democracy, undercut 220 years of checks and balances, and be responsible for scaffolding in Lafayette Park. If that’s the case, I apologize. But if not, then again, we look at the part where he comes out before Trump comes out, and he asks this question. ‘Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out?'” Scarborough said. “The operations commander replies to Mr. Barr, ‘Are you freaking kidding me?’ He then hung his head and walked away, the report said, and soon after the new director of scaffolding for Lafayette Park came out and in no uncertain terms told them to clear the park before Donald Trump came out, the violent confrontation began.”

“Children, take from that bedtime story or morning story, anything you want to take from it,” he continued. “But actually, if you use your mind — by the way, I apologize, that [Bible is] not upside down, that’s backwards. He’s [Trump] holding the bible backwards. As a certain Oklahoma senator said, I’ve been going to Sunday school for 50 years, and I’ve never seen anyone hold a Bible that way. But if it makes you feel better seizing on to a report that doesn’t cover the entire event and completely ignoring what the director of scaffolding for Lafayette Park said, you go with that.”

“But that’s awfully thin gruel,” Scarborough added, “if that’s what you’re relying on, awfully thin gruel. Good luck with that.”

 

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