A federal judge with a lengthy history of deciding against LGBTQ people and in favor of the far Christian right has ruled the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services cannot require companies to cover the cost of an HIV prevention drug referred to as PrEP.
The plaintiffs sued the federal government claiming their business is a “Christian for-profit corporation” that “objects” to “coverage of preventive care such as contraceptives and PrEP drugs” on “religious grounds.” The plaintiffs, the lawsuit also says, “claim that compulsory coverage for those services violates their religious beliefs by making them complicit in facilitating homosexual behavior, drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman.”
HIV is not exclusive to people who engage in same-sex intimate relations, drug use, or sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor (photo) of Texas, who ruled in 2018 that ObamaCare is unconstitutional, on Wednesday declared the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services “did not provide any ‘compelling’ evidence to argue that ‘private, religious corporations’ should be required to cover HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly known as PrEP, ‘with no cost-sharing and no religious exemptions,'” as Axios reports.
“O’Connor said HHS was unable to show that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for HIV PrEP to be fully covered by insurance ‘furthers a compelling governmental interest.'”
Judge O’Connor in 2019 also overturned protections written into ObamaCare for transgender people, ruling they violate the religious rights of healthcare providers who hold religious beliefs that oppose the existence of transgender people.
Three years earlier, in 2016 O’Connor who at that point already had a record of opposing LGBT rights, handed down a 38-page order in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of 13 states, blocking the Obama administration from enforcing its guidance that said public schools should allow transgender students to use restroom and locker rooms based on their gender identity.
On the very last day of 2016 Judge O’Connor ruled that physicians could refuse to treat transgender people based on their own religious beliefs. That injunction also came in response to a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Paxton.
Last year Judge O’Connor ruled that for-profit businesses and religious entities like churches can discriminate against LGBTQ people in employment.
Wednesday’s ruling was a win for Braidwood Management, a Katy, Texas company “which operates Christian health-care businesses controlled by Dr. Stephen Hotze,” Bloomberg Law has reported (incorrectly spelling Hotze’s first name.). Steven Hotze is a far-right Christian extremist, anti-LGBTQ activist, and GOP mega-donor. The Texas Tribune in April reported Hotze “was indicted on two felony charges related to his alleged involvement in an air conditioning repairman being held at gunpoint in 2020 during a bizarre search for fraudulent mail ballots that did not exist, according to his attorney, Gary Polland.”
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Watch: Torba Warns GOP to Not ‘Disavow or Condemn Us’ Because ‘Christian Nationalists Are the Republican Party’
Far right wing extremist, Christian nationalist, antisemite Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab, the social media platform that is popular with white supremacists, is telling the Republican Party that “80 percent” of its base is Christian nationalists, and warns them to not “condemn” or “disavow” them.
Torba has ties to far right Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, the Republican party’s nominee for governor of Pennsylvania. Torba has also “endorsed” Arizona GOP secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem, an election-denier and member of the far-right antigovernment group Oath Keepers, and election-denying Arizona GOP state Senator Wendy Rogers.
“We have the numbers, we are the majority. And we are done being the footstool. We are going to wake up the body of Christ in this country. And we’re going to do something about you castrating our children, about you sexually indoctrinating them in the schools, about, you know, taking over our culture and taking over our government and sending all of our money to foreign countries and allowing our border to be invaded,” he says in video published by Right Wing Watch.
Gab is home to QAnon and “great replacement” conspiracy theorists, Trump supporters, MAGA and ultra MAGA extremists, white Christian nationalists, white supremacists, antisemites, and anti-LGBTQ extremists.
“We’re done,” Torba continues in his rant.
“We’re done with it, and we’re going to step up and we’re going to rebuild this fallen and corrupt society from scratch, just as Christians have done many times before. And yes, we absolutely are going to get involved in public discourse and in politics, and you’re not going to shut us up,” Torba declared.
“And it’s a message to the Republican party too that they are not to disavow us,” he warned. “They are not to condemn us, because we are 80% of the Republican Party. Christian nationalists are the Republican Party, and they’re going to start doing the will of God,” he says, appearing to order the Republican Party to meet his demands.
“And they’re going to start, you know, supporting biblical policies, and they’re going to start, you know, fighting back against this and not being complacent or they’re going to get out of the way and we’re going to go in there and we’re going to do it ourselves. Those are their two choices.”
Torba has appeared on Tony Perkins’ Washington Watch show. Perkins is the longtime head of the Family Research Council, which appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
Last week Jewish Insider reported on an “obscure new book calling for the construction of ‘a parallel Christian society’ to replace ‘the failed secular state'” that seemed to be “performing surprisingly well on Amazon.”
That book, Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations, was written by Torba.
Last month the House Committee on Oversight sent Torba a letter “regarding your company’s response to the surge of online threats against law enforcement following the execution of a court-authorized search warrant by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.”
“We are concerned that reckless statements by the former President and Republican Members of Congress have unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media that have already led to at least one death and pose a danger to law enforcement officers across the United States. We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms,” the letter reads.
But that letter also said, “On August 15, a Pennsylvania man was arrested and charged with making threats of violence against FBI personnel. He wrote on the social media platform Gab, ‘If You Work For The FBI Then You Deserve To Die.’ He also wrote, ‘Every single piece of shit who works for the FBI in any capacity, from the director down to the janitor who cleans their fucking toilets deserves to die. You’ve declared war on us and now it’s open season on YOU.'”
Watch below or at this link:
Christian nationalist Andrew Torba has a warning to the GOP: “[You] are not to disavow us, [you] are not to condemn us, because we are 80 percent of the Republican Party. Christians nationalists *are* the Republican Party, and they’re going to start doing the will of God.” pic.twitter.com/XBW7AHapxB
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) September 23, 2022
Watch: ‘Mama Bear’ at McCarthy’s ‘Commitment to America’ Rollout Says Teaching Kids to Respect Others Is ‘Marxist’
A woman picked to sit in on Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy‘s staged town-hall styled rollout of the House GOP’s latest “Commitment to America,” complained to the California lawmaker that a “new” program, “social emotional learning,” which teaches children to have greater self esteem, and be aware of their emotions and those of others, is “Marxist.”
Social Emotional Learning, or “SEL,” is not new, it was developed starting in the 1960s at the Yale University School of Medicine.
But according to the woman chosen to help McCarthy introduce what he admits is the GOP’s “plan” to win back the House, SEL is just the next big “concern,” after “CRT.” Critical Race Theory has been used by far-right wing extremists to delegitimize that systemic racism exists in America.
“There are many other public education issues, concerning parents like myself,” the woman, reading from a script, tells McCarthy, who is seated among an almost entirely white audience in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.
The woman identified herself as Lori McRoberts “a mama bear,” who says she has three children, ages 19, 17, and 14.
In her remarks she also complained about “abusive COVID protocols, or mandates,” in schools, “or what they called the ‘health and safety plan,'” she said, reading from her typewritten remarks. She described lunchtime for students as sitting like “prisoners,” while mocking the fact that COVID is airborne, can be spread via talking, and those infected can be asymptomatic. She also described signs in schools urging children and teachers to “mask up for safety,” as “propaganda,” while lamenting that parents were not given decision-making abilities for COVID policies, neglecting to note they should be science-based, while expressing anger the protocols came from guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
After several minutes she got to the part where she blasted social learning programs.
“The slow creep of critical race theory,” she said, reading off her list of concerns, as her voice became angered, “diversity, equity, and inclusion, gender identity, and allowing biological boys to enter girls spaces in sports.”
“Now we have SEL,” she lamented, “which is ‘social-emotional learning,'” she said with disdain. “It’s indoctrination disguised as programs, like ‘kindness initiatives,’ or anti-bullying programs, or diversity projects.”
“These are all Marxist-style programs, targeting our children,” she claimed.
The Pittsburg, Pennsylvania public schools’ website says: “We all know that it is essential for children to master important academic skills, such as reading and mathematics. That’s why they go to school. But it is equally important for students to develop the ‘soft skills’ that we all need to navigate the world successfully. These include things like how to manage their own feelings and emotions, how to respect others and how to build strong, positive relationships. This is called Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).”
McRoberts continued her pre-written rant.
“Then, to make it all better, the current administration weaponized the Dept. of Justice,” she claimed, “and all the parents speaking up at school board meetings or challenging any of these programs, like I was, was now labeled a ‘domestic terrorist,'” she said, which is false.
“Our Dept. of Justice is calling me, a mom, a domestic terrorist,” she claimed, again, falsely.
After her lengthy and angry remarks, she asked how the Republican Party will “protect our children from the radical agenda of the left?”
After she spoke, to applause from the audience, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, seated directly behind Congressman McCarthy, looked at McRoberts knowingly, repeatedly mouthing, “good job, good job.”
McCarthy responded to McRoberts, agreeing that DOJ had called parents “domestic terrorists,” which he knows is false, after The Washington Post and others have called him out on it for months.
Watch McRobert’s remarks on SEL, and the full town hall staged presentation, below or at this link.
“Critical race theory; diversity, equity, and inclusion; gender identity … anti-bullying programs … These are all Marxist-style programs targeting our children.”
— A mom at the House GOP’s “Commitment to America” agenda rollout, as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nods along pic.twitter.com/AiLhVvX07f
— The Recount (@therecount) September 23, 2022
‘Depraved’: Rick Scott’s NRSC Slammed Over Fundraiser Asking GOP Voters ‘Where Do You Want to Send Illegal Immigrants Next?’
U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and his NRSC are once again under fire, this time for sending fundraising emails to GOP voters asking, “where do you want Republicans to send illegal immigrants next?” The multiple-choice answers include “Barack Obama’s House,” “The White House,” and “San Francisco.”
Sen. Scott is the embattled head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the official fundraising arm of the Senate GOP caucus. Recently he has been highly criticized by Republicans wondering why the NRSC’s funding of critical Republican senate campaigns has been so poor. Earlier this month a New York Times headline read: “How a Record Cash Haul Vanished for Senate Republicans.”
The NRSC email, posted to social media by The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, falsely claim the 50 Venezuelan immigrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, possibly unlawfully according to at least one lawsuit, are “illegal.” They had applied for asylum and were in the country legally.
“Democrats and their corrupt partners in the mainstream media just don’t get it,” the defensive email, titled, “OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE,” begins. “Republican Governors like Greg Abbott from Texas and Ron DeSantis from Florida showed coastal elite millionaires in Martha’s Vineyard what life is like on our country’s southern border – and they WERE NOT HAPPY.”
That too is false — there are few “coastal elite millionaires in Martha’s Vineyard” in late September, and most of the area’s residents were angered by what some legal experts are accusing DeSantis of: possible kidnapping.
“Biden’s BORDER CRISIS is only getting worse – and he REFUSES to do anything about it,” Scott’s email continues. DEADLY drugs, like fentanyl, are flowing into our country UNCHECKED – and Americans are dying at UNPRECEDENTED rates from overdoses. It’s sad – and PREVENTABLE.”
The email does not mention the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized 10,071 pounds of fentanyl this year already, according to The Arizona Republic. Nor does it explain how flying 50 asylum-seeking immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard would stop fentanyl from entering the U.S.
The Cato Institute, a right wing think tank, just last week reported “fentanyl is overwhelmingly smuggled by U.S. citizens almost entirely for U.S. citizen consumers.” But it also revealed that “60 percent of Republicans believe, ‘Most of the fentanyl entering the U.S. is smuggled in by unauthorized migrants crossing the border illegally.'”
New email from the National Republican Senatorial Committee asks supporters where they want Republican governors to “ship” migrants next. pic.twitter.com/E0Ly5Rubl1
— Roger Sollenberger (@SollenbergerRC) September 23, 2022
Governor DeSantis is being investigated by a Texas sheriff and sued by a Boston-based legal firm representing some of the Venezuelan immigrants. There are calls for the DOJ to open an investigation as well.
NBC News on Thursday reported the “air charter company Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration hired for his migrant-moving program has contributed big money to some top allies of the governor and was once legally represented by Rep. Matt Gaetz and his former partner, who is now Florida’s ‘public safety czar’ in charge of immigration policy.”
Reports say DeSantis has already paid more than $1.5 million in taxpayer funds on the possibly unlawful “stunt” to that “air charter company.”
Anger over Senator Scott’s NRSC fundraising email was strong on social media.
“Fascists,” tweeted Justin Hendrix, cofounder and CEO of the nonprofit Tech Policy Press.
“The Senate Republicans, whom respectable donors and conservative elites still consider it just fine to support, are raising money by embracing the exploitation of ‘illegal immigrants’ (who in fact aren’t illegal). Team Normal is now simply the wingman for Team Demagogue,” wrote veteran journalist and former Republican turned Never-Trumper and Democrat Bill Kristol.
“How is this legal? This can not possibly be legal,” said former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega.
“They are inciting hatred, xenophobia and violence. They are morally bankrupt, and are not fit to hold power,” warned U.S. Rep Sean Casten (D-IL).
“Andrew Jackson wants his bullshit back,” tweeted law professor and political scientist Anthony Michael Kreis, referring to the late American President responsible for the forced, brutal, violent, and deadly “removal” of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands.
“They’ve made human trafficking a central policy plank,” noted Media Matters for America senior researcher Jason Campbell.
“Liberal anger at the Martha’s Vineyard stunt wasn’t because the people were MIGRANTS, it was because they were PEOPLE—and jerking people around for a political stunt is despicable,” explained attorney Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the policy director at the American Immigration Council. “That the right can’t understand this is a sign of how dehumanization has become a norm for some.”
“Online fundraising off human trafficking of people seeking asylum. Quite a party they’ve got there,” noted Democratic strategist and former Clinton campaign official Jesse Ferguson.
“Dehumanization and elimination as a fundraising tactic. Another reminder that this horror is what the MAGA base wants from their leaders,” warned Melissa Ryan, a consultant on combatting disinformation and extremism.
Jim Swift, senior editor at The Bulwark tweeted, “the cruelty is the point.”
Public affairs strategist Murshed Zaheed warns, “Republicans in the Trump era are going to operate like monstrous, inhumane ghouls. They are not going to stop until the national Democrats effectively counterattack them over it (ie go after DeSantis for potential criminal liabilities) instead of cowering in silence.”
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