Nel's New Day

July 28, 2017

Fiat by Tweet Fails

Filed under: LGBTQ Issues — trp2011 @ 11:58 PM
Tags: , , ,

Following a horrendous speech to Boy Scouts last Tuesday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attempted to distract people from his earlier egregious behavior by tweeting that transgender people would not be permitted to serve in the military in any capacity. There was no study for this decision, and the Pentagon seemed to be taken unawares. Fiat by tweet? No one really knows. It’s possible that DDT is trying to make nice with evangelicals after being offensive to their beloved Jeff Sessions for days in a row.

The tweets began at 5:55 am on July 26. The first one read:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……”

During the eight-minute pause before a continuation of DDT’s message, the Department of Defense HQ panicked. Al Gore said that they thought DDT had declared war. The second part of the tweet showed that the war was on the the 15,000 transgender soldiers in active or reserve duty and the almost 150,000 transgender people who serve in the military in some capacity. The second tweet told them that they had lost their jobs:

“….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..”

DDT completed the three tweets by a reference to the costs and disruption from transgender people in the military:

“….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”

Both DDT’s “reasons” are bogus.

The military spends $84.4 million on medication for erectile dysfunction but only $5.6 million for health care for transgender employees. That $84.4 million is our taxes at work—15 times more than the $5.6 million cost of hormone treatment and surgery for transgender people in the military and 0.07 percent of the $49.3 billion in health care expenditures for military and former military members, 586,804 percent more than that for transgender employees in the military. The Pentagon pays $91.1 million for one F-35s fighter plane and $478 million for a single Littoral combat ship that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said has “practically no proven combat capability.”

Two DDT weekends would pay for a year of health care for transgender people in the military. A single trip to Mar-a-Lago, his private clubs, costs taxpayers about $3.6 million, and he spent seven weekends there in just two and a half months before he moved on to his personal resort at Bedminster (NJ). Congress also allocated $41 million to provide security costs to his resorts for his time there. Travel and protection costs for the DDT family ran a least $30 million for his first 100 days, compared to $12 million for an entire year for President Obama and his family. The costs continue for security for Trump Tower where DDT never goes and other personal costs for him.

The disruption claim was refuted by Defense Department officials who reported on a seamless process of transgender service members coming out after the Obama administration repealed the ban on their serving. The Pentagon completed a comprehensive review of the situation before it lifted the ban on transgender service members in 2016. Radha Iyengar, author of the RAND study that investigated transgender people in the military, said:

“We’ve had commanders report that having a more improved attitude toward inclusiveness and diversity was beneficial to their unit overall. And that really speaks to the benefits, but there was really no effect, in any of the cases, of operational effectiveness. They saw these positives, but we really didn’t see any of the negatives.”

In a third “misrepresentation,” DDT claimed that his decision came after consultation with “my Generals and military experts, but the tweets came as a surprise to the Pentagon. Defense Secretary James Mattis was on vacation and reportedly appalled and infuriated by the tweets. The Pentagon referred all questions about DDT’s order to the White House. The day after DDT’s tweets, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a memo to service chiefs, commanders, and senior enlisted leaders.

“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance. In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”

A theory behind DDT’s tweets is that he reacted to the radical right threatening to blow up the $790 billion defense and security spending package in the House if it included health care for transgender service members. (Keep in mind that they are quibbling about $5.4 million for health care.) Mattis was working with them, but DDT may have taken over the issue and decided to eliminate more President Obama’s work. An amendment to ban funding for gender reassignment surgeries and treatments for transgender active-duty personnel failed 209-214 with 24 Republicans voting with the Democrats. Amendment supporters then tried to push the GOP leadership to circumvent the House rules to pass the amendment, but the leadership refused, saying it would make them look hypocritical. That’s’ when Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) went to the White House and complained to DDT. White supremacist Steve Bannon told DDT that he should deal with the situation.

A senior House GOP aide emailed about DDT’s tweets, “This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire.”

DDT’s unified many of the Republicans, even representatives who voted in favor of the amendment, with the Democrats’ outrage regarding the tweets. Although some GOP legislators stayed quiet, several of GOP legislators agreed with Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, who said, “Removing thousands of men and women from admirably and honorably serving is counterintuitive to strengthening our military. I have serious concerns about what this new directive means.” LoBiondo called on Mattis to “provide clarity on this issue and determine what is in the best interest of military readiness to protect our nation.” Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), John McCain (R-AZ), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)—all veterans—came out in strong support for allowing qualified people into the military no matter their gender identity. McCain chairs of the Armed Services Committee.  This is the first issue, other than the possibility of DDT firing Jeff Sessions as attorney general, in which Republicans have been vocal in opposing DDT’s views.

Other countries were flabbergasted with DDT’s declaration. In Israel, Retired Gen. Elazar Stern was shocked by DDT’s position. “It makes us strong that we don’t waste time on questions like this,” said Stern, the former commander of the Israel Defense Forces Manpower Command. “It’s something to be proud of.” The Guardian wrote about how DDT’s tweets send “the depressing message … in normalising and legitimising prejudice and discrimination” and “significant in itself for its cruelty and foolishness.” Eighteen countries other than the United States permit transgender people to serve in the military. Nine other countries are moving in that direction.

After DDT became the GOP candidate at the RNC a year ago, he said, “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” On the campaign trail, he tweeted, “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

In Gallup Daily’s tracking of DDT’s approval rating, his disapproval rating is up 13 percent since his inauguration, up to 58 percent. He has lost support among his entire base: drops of 12 points with evangelicals, 20 points with the working class, and eight points each with rural United States and Mormons. Fifty-eight percent of adults agree with the statement, “Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.” Only 27 percent said they should not while the rest answered “don’t know.”

DDT made his announcement on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman integrating the armed services and during a week with DDT’s theme “American Heroes.”  He used transgender people as scapegoats to distract from his involvement with Russian influence in the election, the health care fiasco, and all his other mistakes. Now he’s moved on to sabotage health care and continue with hiring and firing.  John Kelly has been moved from Homeland Security Secretary to DDT’s chief of staff. A question across the media is whether he will control DDT’s tweets. If he tries ….

Help continue the fight against DDT’s ruling on transgender military employees by signing a petition on the internet.

Correction: “An entire year for President Obama and his family,” not “day.”

May 14, 2016

How Far Will the GOP Go?

Republicans are going crazy after “the people” spoke and chose a candidate that they—and the majority of people in the United States—consider unsuitable. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) met with other GOP legislators and presumptive GOP heir Donald Trump to lay down the law. Trump appeared to back down on all the backing down that he had done during the past week, and Ryan, who foolishly believes that he can control a loose cannon, found him “warm and generous”—although not enough to endorse him. Other Republicans are going off on their own crazy ways.

Ryan’s governor, Scott Walker, blames the state’s deferment of $101 million in debt on President Obama, costing taxpayers at least $2.3 million in just interest plus tens of millions more. Wisconsin has the money, but Walker put it into the general fund for any shortfalls. The president’s economy has added jobs every month for six years, but Walker’s failed policies badly hurt Wisconsin. Yet Walker’s rainy day fund has $280 million thanks to the president’s gains in the stock and job market. His reason for looking poor is to make future budget cuts to use the Koch brothers’ “starve the beast” government strategy.

Some of the GOP craziness is ongoing. The Platform Committee of the Texas GOP is voting next Wednesday on an “independence” resolution. Then Gov. Rick Perry hinted that Texas might separate itself from the “United States,” but this vote will be the first action in its 171-year history about a decision to make the “state” an independent nation. With ten county chapters supporting the resolution, the Texas Nationalist Movement seems to be moving toward the political main stream from a fringe group.

In the GOP’s effort to “Benghazi” Hillary Clinton, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is working with Fox host Adam Housley to find the fake witnesses swearing that military assets could have saved the lives of four people at the diplomatic compound almost four years ago. Fox has no evidence, but Gowdy wants these non-existent people for his committee. Housley is known for finding Dylan Davies who claimed that he scaled the wall on the night of the attack and engaged combat with the terrorists—before Davies admitted he lied.

Randy BarnettRandy Barnett is blaming John Robert for Donald Trump’s popularity because of Robert’s vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act. He claims:

“Roberts increased cynicism and anger at play-by-the-rules conservatives and decreased respect for institutions across the board.”

Barnett’s article in highly conservative The Federalist is based on the premises that John Roberts knows that the health care law violates the constitution but he pretends that it doesn’t because of his belief that courts should not overturn law passed by majorities. The argument overlooks Roberts’ deciding votes that gutted the Voting Rights Act, campaign finance law, and gun control legislation—and other decisions. Somehow, however, Barnett has convinced himself that the Trump supporters vote for the businessman because of a judicial review. This man who teaches lawyers at Georgetown University has even crazier ideas—so far right that the John Birch society doesn’t agree with them.

A recent GOP fit (they have so many!) comes from a report claiming that Facebook suppresses conservative articles in its Trending Topics feed. There is no support for the allegations from former Facebook workers, and Republicans have never expressed any concern that “fair and unbalanced” Fox is anything but. The RN accuses Facebook of “censoring” the right and using its power “to silence view points and stories that don’t fit someone else’s agenda.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has declared that he “wants to haul Facebook employees before Congress.” He wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the demand that Trending Topics employees brief the Commerce Committee by May 24.

Despite all the vacation days and the health crisis of the Zika virus moving through the southern states, GOP finds that “Facebook hearings are a matter of urgent national interest.” Even if someone could find support for allegations, the question begs congressional oversight for a private social-media company. Thune now worries about Facebook’s integrity whereas his opposition to net neutrality declaimed that any political interference in Internet operation is unacceptable. In 2007, during a fight against the “Fairness Doctrine,” Thune argued:

“I know the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear government officials offering to regulate the news media and talk radio to ensure fairness. I think most Americans have the same reaction. Giving power to a few to regulate fairness in the media is a recipe for disaster on the scale that George Orwell so aptly envisioned.”

In avoiding a consideration of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Republican congressional members decided that the last elected year of the president’s four terms is a “lame-duck session,” but they are considering a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the real “lame-duck session” between the general election and the changing of the guard at the end of December. Only three trade-related bills have been voted on in a lame duck: 1974, 1994, and 2006.

TPP is a really bad idea: extending drug company monopolies over their products, undermining environmental and labor regulations, allowing corporations to send more jobs oversea, voiding U.S. consumer laws with unelected international tribunals, etc.  Republican legislators who lose in November can vote for the TPP before they leave Congress and then take jobs for giant corporations grateful for their vote.

Publicity about the North Carolina “bathroom law” keeping trans people out of the appropriate facilities just hasn’t stopped. The Department of Justice has ordered the state to rescind the law to keep its federal funding, and North Carolina is suing the DOJ for its order. At the same time, all 10 GOP House members gave the Department of Education until yesterday to promise—provide the state with “immediate assurances”—that the North Carolina won’t suffer monetary penalty for violating federal civil rights. GOP state leaders, who complain about being “bullied” by the federal government are telling lobbyists that their employing corporations that they can expect retribution for speaking out against HB2, the potty law.

Gov. Pat McCrory wants to overturn the Civil Right Act of 1964 to make segregation legal again so that the state can “make special circumstances for those individuals [transgender students].” He also claimed that the “far left … brought this [agenda] up.”

Middle Age RiotThe latest lawsuit against the federal government, filed by “North Carolinians for Privacy,” is identical to a suit in Illinois from the Alliance Defending Freedom. It begins with the falsehood that DOE’s guidance “forbids educational institutions from maintaining sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms” and moves on to the argument that gender identity is not a component of sex. The lawsuit’s main claim is that the DOJ “unmistakable ultimatum” to either prohibit sex-specific restrooms or lose federal funding endangers all the students’ access to education. Another premise in the lawsuit is accusing the DOJ of violating the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) because the agency discriminates on the basis of gender identity against non-transgender people because it allows “some, but not all, biological males the right of entry and use of female restrooms and locker rooms.” The suit claims that North Carolina’s HB2 “treats all persons the same, regardless of their gender identity.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has dived into the bathroom controversy by describing it as the “biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools.” About potentially losing $5 billion of federal funding for Texas education, he added, “Well, in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver.” The analogy indicates that either he or Texas—or both—should be compared to Jesus who was betrayed by Judas for “30 pieces of silver.” Answering Patrick’s comments, including the one about no longer giving poor students free lunches, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “I think this does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to elected statewide office. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are.” Texas cut school funding 25 percent in the ten years following 2002 and ranks 38th in the nation in per K-12 student funding.

The U.S. disdain for the Republican party is at its highest level since 1992; 62 percent look at it unfavorably whereas only 33 percent view it with favor. The positive perception fell four points in the past six months. Only 68 percent of self-identified Republicans approve of their party, an 11-point drop from October. Independents prefer the Democrats to Republicans, 37 to 28 percent. The majorities of minorities oppose the GOP: women, 62 percent; blacks, 79 percent; and Hispanics, 61 percent. Among whites, 37 percent view both parties favorably while 59 percent have an unfavorable view of Democrats and 58 percent—only one percent less—have the same view of Republicans.

Update: Wisconsin’s debt deferment was erroneously listed as $101. It is $101 million.

 

April 30, 2016

Bathroom Laws Endanger Transgender People – Take Action

 

Fear is a driving force for conservatives, according to studies using brain scans. The amygdala, an area related to fear, is larger in conservatives, causing them to be reactionary rather than thoughtful. Other studies examining skin conductance and eye tracking show that conservatives focus on negativity when they walk into a room, searching for anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Imaging that tracks oxygen in the blood can identify racial bias. Identifying these physical differences explains the deep divides among people on hot-button issues such as war, abortion, immigration, and same-gender marriage. And transgender people.

transgender girlChristian Extremist and president of a theocratic law group named Anita Staver, president of the Christian extremist Liberty Council, claims that she will be carrying a firearm with her every time she uses a public bathroom. Texas police officer Tracy Murphree, sheriff candidate in Denton County, said he would beat any transgender woman in a public restroom with his daughter until she lost consciousness. Corey Maison (left) is one of the transgender women Murphree threatens.

Conservatives can get over their fears, but unfortunately, they must overcome their initial reactions, hard to do because of the bombardment of conservative media. Fox network continually stokes fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms, including a fake story about a transgender student harassing females in her school’s restroom. Other media outlets including The Daily Caller, WMD, and the Media Research Center, promote the myth that sexual predators will use gender-neutral bathrooms to prey on women. Yet the 17 states and 225 cities with nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people have not experienced one situation that the conservative media describes.

As Chad Butler, the District Attorney of Nashville (TN) who has prosecuted hundreds of sex crimes, explained, sexual predators are overwhelmingly “heterosexual men.” Butler added that the bathroom debates distract people from real dangers. “A majority of my cases are fathers, stepfathers, uncles, Boy Scout leaders, coaches, youth ministers, preachers. People that are already close to the family that the family trusts,” Butler said. (Think Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the U.S. House.)

North Carolina’s law further legitimizes harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Since the law passed, transgender suicide hotlines have gotten twice as many calls as usual. When young people are denied access to a restroom that aligns with their gender identity, their rates of suicide go up because these laws perpetuate feelings of isolation and depression. Trans students run a high risk of verbal harassment and physical assault or violence in gender-segregated restrooms. Trying to avoid these problems, about half of them experience a health problem such as a urinary tract or kidney infection. These students also tend to drop out of school because of harassment or become homeless because their parents reject them.

People say that they don’t know any transgender people, but more than two-thirds of all transgender people in the U.S. hide their gender or gender transition to avoid discrimination. The vast majority of transgender people are harassed at work; nearly half say they were not hired because of their gender identity; and one-quarter say they were fired because of who they were.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 02: Actress Nicole Maines (R) and Wayne Maines attend the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for GLAAD)

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 02: Actress Nicole Maines (R) and Wayne Maines attend the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for GLAAD)

An excellent book about the trauma of being transgender and conservative parents growing to understand this complex issue is Amy Ellis Nutt’s Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family. A conservative couple discover that one of the identical twin boys they adopt is trangender, and they grow to accept Nicole’s transition, to the point of supporting her through a lawsuit against Maine for equal rights at her school.

Nicole’s father, Wayne Maines, wrote the following in response to a vicious attack ad about transgender people from the Ted Cruz campaign after Donald said that transgender Caitlyn Jenner could use any of his buildings’ restrooms that she wants. Cruz spreads the myth that predatory men pretending to be women will be allowed to assault “your daughter” and “your wife” in women’s restrooms.

“Like many people, I have stayed out politics for the most part, being focused on raising my family, working hard, saving for retirement, and helping our country grow. But it is impossible to sit back and watch people not only make mistakes based on their unfounded fears, but use other groups as fodder for political gain at the expense of real peoples’ lives, in this case transgender people. My daughter is one of those people, and Mr. Cruz, you have put her in harm’s way with this ad, just like those in Houston last year and in North Carolina and other states this year. It has to stop.

“I will be honest. It was not long ago I had a hard time saying the word transgender, but watching my child suffer, watching grown men and women lose their perspective because they feared my child, forced me to dig deep into my core and address my fears, educate myself, and get to know more about the transgender community.

“Mr. Cruz, I would be happy to sit down with you and have a ‘non-politically correct’ conversation. Man to man, father to father and if you have the courage to do so, I may help you conquer this fear. I have witnessed young people and adults demonstrate more courage than you and I can fathom, courage that inflicted scars that can be avoided if we have the courage to change. As someone who wants to  lead of our nation, I imagine that is your goal, but for moment forget about politics and think closer to home. This is no game and you are playing with people’s lives.

“I hope that you never have to lay awake at night wondering if your child will be alive in the morning.  Not just one night, many nights.  I am worried about this election and the path you are taking. If anyone should be worried about his or her child in the bathroom it should me. I am worried about my daughter’s safety and her self esteem. I am worried that all of my family’s hard work raising strong and proud young Americans will be destroyed this fall.

“On a larger level, I am worried about a nation that could lose its way as it struggles to make progress for all. I am worried about leaders using fear and misinformation for political gain.  It is ok to ask questions, not understand something you have no experience with, or even be afraid, but keep an open mind. Let’s conquer this fear and get back to fixing our economy, strengthening our military, and helping our children obtain the tools they need to live full and happy lives.

“I left the Air Force in 1981 proud of my service because I believed in our President. President Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.’ I still believe what he said. But it is tempered by life experience. I have learned more about freedom watching people attack a community of Americans that just want live their lives in peace, work, and be with their loved ones.  They are not attempting to break down the American family; they are not trying to pretend to be someone they are not; they are not “confused.” They know who they are and what they stand for. I hope everyone running for President has the courage to dig deep and realize that our family values must continue to adapt to an ever-changing world.”

Maines said, “It is natural to fear things we do not understand. But how we react to those fears is critical.” You can take part in the movement to stop laws that put everyone at risk–both transgender people and everyone else perceived to be of the “wrong” gender that a bathroom.

 

Tell North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to overturn the law.

McCrory’s office phone number: (919) 814-2000

McCrory’s 24-hour “comment line’: (919) 814-2050

Write Gov. Pat McCrory and tell him that his new law is not “common sense.”

Tennessee’s new law allows counselors to deny services based on their “strongly held beliefs.” It is the only state in the country to invalidate the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics.  Tell Gov. Bill Haslam that he was wrong to sign this bill.

Across the nation, over 100 anti-LGBT bills are pending in 22 states. There is a way to stop this discrimination: adding federal nondiscrimination protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the Equality Act. Democratic House members are calling on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to schedule a hearing on the bill that was introduced last July. When Paul Ryan (R-WI) took over as Speaker of the House, he called on committees to “retake the lead in drafting all major legislation. If you know the issue, you should write the bill. Open up the process. Let people participate.” The Equality Act has over 210 co-sponsors in the House and Senate, including two Republicans. Three years ago, the Senate passed a bill that would have barred discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, but the House never took it up. Tell your representative that you want this bill to go to the floor.

April 29, 2016

Thanks to the Bathroom Police, No One Is Safe

Thank you, religious conservatives. You have now given police the right to drag women out of a woman’s bathroom. Here’s a video showing this happening. Oxford (AL) has passed a law allowing transgender people who use the “wrong” bathroom—in the city’s eyes—to be jailed. That was after North Carolina passed draconian laws, including the one keeping transgender people out of facilities that match their gender identities, and then got it signed in less than 12 hours in a special session. That may be fastest that legislators have ever moved.

When North Carolina lawmakers came back into session last Monday, police arrested 54 protesters. People should use the ballot box for their protests, common wisdom has sometimes decreed, but that’s close to impossible in North Carolina because the GOP passed laws to keep progressives from voting. Judge Thomas Schroeder supported the conservatives, eviscerating voting rights for the state’s residents. In his ruling, George W. Bush’s appointee found “little official discrimination to consider” and left in place one of the most regressive and restrictive voting laws in the country that disenfranchised 218,000 North Carolinians, about five percent of registered voters, in the recent primary.

Voter ID laws were enforced differently across the state, polling workers were untrained or overworked, and some voters weren’t allowed to cast provisional ballots. In Durham, the county board of elections had failed to record the correct location of precincts.    Schroeder’s ruling will certainly be appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, but a solution may be too late for the 2016 general election. Another problem for overturning the North Carolina bathroom law is the GOP gerrymandering of election districts after the Tea Party took over in the Democratic rout of 2010.

The new law eliminates a Charlotte ordinance that expanded protections for LGBT people, but it goes far beyond just “bathrooms.” No city or county can extend state laws in eradicating discrimination in the workplace and public accommodations. In addition, the minimum wage of $7.25, required by the federal government, cannot be increased anywhere in the state.

North Carolina lawmakers filed legislation Monday to repeal the state’s law, which, since its passage last month, but GOP legislators, in the majority, oppose this attempt. Lawsuits such as the ones filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal may have a better result as might written requests for the law’s repeal. Thus far, 180 businesses have joined to pressure Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature, and a coalition of civil rights, faith and business leaders delivered more than 150,000 signatures to the governor’s office, urging a repeal of the law.

The danger of going to North Carolina and Mississippi which has passed a similar anti-LGBT law under the guise of “religious liberty” has traveled far and wide. The British Foreign Office has updated its travel advisories to caution LGBT travelers about travel in these two states because businesses may refuse service to anyone based on personal beliefs. Small businesses in North Carolina have already started losing business. Outfitter Bicycle Tours reports that inquiries about Asheville area bicycle tours are down by one third. The owner has changed his advertising on social media to tours in California, France, and Italy.

Four conferences in Raleigh which would have brought in $3.5 million have been canceled or scaled back. Cancellation of these conventions and concerts, started by Bruce Springsteen, hurt restaurants, hotels, and small businesses. Twelve groups have canceled events in Wake County, and another 31 are reconsidering their plans, costing the area $36 million. The travel industry brings the state about $21 billion each year.

Recruiting employees is now another problem for North Carolina companies. A big industry in the state is craft beer brewing, but owners fear that people experienced in beer making will be more attracted to California and Colorado after the new law was passed.

The economy several years ago boosted North Carolina, the first Southern state to invest heavily in public and secondary education. By the election of the Tea Party in 2010 and McCrory in 2012, the legislature had raised its Moody’s rating to a triple-A bond because it balanced the state’s books and filled up the rainy day fund. The new GOP regime wiped out services for the poor, hacking away at unemployment benefits and reducing per-pupil-spending by $500 while refusing to expand Medicaid.

toilet paperIn a move reminiscent of the “Flush Rush [Limbaugh]” boycott five years ago, a North Carolina-based advertising agency wants to send the new law down the toilet. Durham-based agency McKinney explained that they are making this action “safer for city plumbing” by printing the law “on rolls of toilet paper.”

After one month of the law, $500 million in corporate investment and tourism dollars are at risk, and as many as 1,000 high-paying jobs, including 400 from a PayPal expansion, have been lost. The National Basketball Association announced that the 2017 All-Star Game won’t be played in Charlotte unless the law is overturned. Google refuses more venture capital in the state, movie-making will be moved out of the state, and the furniture market, an economic cornerstone, will lose thousands of buyers.

Tracking these laws shows that influence from a well-funded network of lawyers called Alliance Defending Freedom is coordinating the cross-country discrimination. Based in Arizona, the group has more than 3,000 allied attorneys and offices around the world headed by Alan Sears, a former Justice Department official under President Ronald Reagan. ADF claims involvement in 47 Supreme Court victories, including the Boy Scouts win in banning LGBT people as troop leaders. It describes gay sex as “a distinct public health problem” and defended business owners who deny services to same-gender couples.

Over a year ago, ADF sent letters to school districts recommending a policy that requires transgender students to use private bathrooms or those that correspond with their birth sex. Many lawmakers mirror or copy ADF’s draft in their own bills. North Carolina is one of those states. So are Nevada and Minnesota. Kansas state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook said that they used the ADF model legislation. ADF also offers free legal representation to any district sued for blocking trans students from bathrooms of their choice. The group also sent letters to school administrators in five states, pushing them to overturn policies that would permit trans students to use facilities corresponding with their gender identities.

ADF’s website states that the group “refrains from participating in or promoting any type of legislation” and “does not lobby government officials.” Yet its lawyers have offered testimony and legal analysis to state legislatures in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Colorado in favor of restrictive bathroom bills and against legislation that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the first states to seriously consider a bathroom bill, back in 2013, was Arizona—where the ADF is headquartered.

A counter-backlash has evolved from individuals and organizations supporting the rights of transgender people. The Gill Foundation recently funded a study examining methods of changing voters’ minds about transgender people through door-to-door canvassing. Freedom for All Americans’ Transgender Freedom Project focuses on building support for transgender people and nondiscrimination laws that protect them. Organizations are collecting stories of transgender people and holding training sessions to use for media campaigns and rallying at statehouses. The Arcus Foundation and the NoVo Foundation have begun a multi-year $20 million project to increase visibility as well as the quality of life for transgender people globally.

Kendall BalentineKendall Balentine, resolved to live her retirement quietly in Deadwood (SD), spoke out after her state legislature passed a bill forcing transgender students into bathrooms wrong for their gender identities. The former Marine and deputy sheriff decided she would put herself into harm once again to fight for people without a voice. She has joined a movement to expand minority civil rights protections to transgender people.

Balentine met with Gov. Dennis Daugaard and told him that she compensated for her feminine feelings as a child by becoming an “uber male.” After her disciplinarian, Vietnam-veteran dad told her that her feelings about being a girl were unwelcome and unnatural, she dated many women, immersed herself in athletics, and volunteered for the riskiest assignments in the military and law enforcement. Her “wall of lies” made her “want to die.” She moved with her wife Pam to an isolated property near Mt. Rushmore and decided to transition. Her wife stayed with her, and her father accepted her. One week after Balentine talked with Daugaard, he vetoed the bill to discriminate against transgender people.

Tomorrow: How the new hate laws endanger the health and lives of transgender people.

January 19, 2014

Fight for Separation of Church, State Continues

Bryan Fischer (American Family Association) is always good for news although I wonder if he believes what he says. this year’s “novel” idea is to limit voting to property owners, just as the Founding Fathers planned. Renters, according to Fischer, aren’t vested in the community. To quote Fisher, “they’ve got no skin in the game.” (Skin is a very popular topic with conservatives these days.)

This week Fischer also declaimed that trans people are “anti-science” because gender identity is decided by a “creator God who doesn’t make … mistakes.” He was agreeing with Keith Albow, Fox network’s resident “doctor,” who is also “not convinced by any science I can find that people with definitively male DNA and definitively male anatomy can actually be locked in a cruel joke of nature because they are actually female.”

 Fellowship Baptist Church Pastor Mike Lewis may have found a use for Fischer’s unvested people. The Vacaville (CA) went to jail for getting three homeless people under his church’s care to firebomb his ex-girlfriend’s parents’ house with a Molotov cocktail. Sarah Nottingham has also accused Lewis of vandalizing her car and setting fire to her shrubbery. Lewis is claiming his innocence, but the police aren’t buying it. Maybe it was the illegal firearms, methamphetamine, and evidence implicating Lewis in the crime. The day after the police released Lewis, he was back in church, preaching the gospel.

Another preacher has popped up at the University of Connecticut. Recently hired Ernest T. Jones, a position coach for the football team, plans to put Jesus Christ “in the center of our huddle.” He continued:  

“If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships, then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior. That’s going to be something said by [Head Coach] Bob Diaco. That’s something that’s going to be said by Ernest Jones. That’s who we are.”

If Diaco doesn’t give Jones the bad news, the school administration will. Because the school is publicly funded, it has to abide by the First Amendment—separation of church and state. President Susan Herbst issued a statement that school employees are forbidden from endorsing religion and that all students should feel welcome at the school.

As head coach at his alma mater, Alcorn State University (MS), Jones was fired in 2008 for “malfeasance and contumacious conduct” after just one season. It seems that “contumacious” is a fancy word for stubbornly refusing to obey authority, in this case opening a bank account in which he deposited fund-raising money without any authority. And buying Russell Athletic shoes for the team that had an exclusive deal with Nike and then failed to clean up the $11,000 mess the way he was told. Even with Jesus, Alcorn finished his season 2-8.

Fortunately, the courts are still not 100 percent behind the conservatives. U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton decided that the Oklahoma license plate with the famous artwork of a young Apache warrior shooting an arrow skyward is just fine for the state. Bethany pastor Keith Cressman had protested that the image was an affront to his Christian beliefs and his First Amendment rights against compelled speech were violated by being forced to display the (probably heathen) artwork on his vehicle. Heaton said he didn’t see anything religious about the artwork.

 Individuals are also fighting back at the religious bigotry of the far right. A member of the United Methodist Church in Alexandria (IN) for six years, Adam Fraley was also its choir director. He and his male partner were accepted by most of the church members. New minister David Mantor forced Fraley out of the church and then asked David Steele, intermediary between minister and church membership, to resign after Steele asked Mantor to reconsider. Steele refused, and the district superintendent forcefully removed him from is position. As a result, 80 percent of the congregation left the church.

The United Methodist Church still hasn’t learned its lesson that LGBT people deserve rights. After firing  Frank Schaefer for marrying his son in a same-sex wedding, the Methodists have formally charged another pastor, the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, for officiating at his son’s same-sex unions.  Ogletree, 80, is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference. His trial will be on March 10, 2014 at First United Methodist Church in Stamford (CN).

Ten sex/love/relationship/marriage/dating suggestions from the same religious people who bring us the egregiously gridlocked Congress:

1. Girls: shut up. Justin Lookadoo, faith-based dating coach, motivational speaker, former juvenile probation officer, and author of Dateable: Are You? Are They?, The Dateable Rules and The Dirt on Sex, says, “Dateable girls know how to shut up.”

2. Boys: be wild, but godly, and cover up your ladies. Lookadoo says “men of God are wild, not domesticated. Dateable guys aren’t tamed.” But he’s against porn so guys “keep women covered up.”

3. Share an eating disorder. The Christian Broadcast Network has 101 ideas for “creative dates,” including “Eat creatively one whole day for $1.18.”

4. Engage in strange, antisocial and alienating behavior. More of CBN’s coupling ideas are “kidnap a friend for breakfast … visit the library and ask the librarian a bizarre question … develop a new laugh together … survey the neighborhood with a self-made, bizarre questionnaire.”

5. Pretend to be senior citizens. Also CBN: “Date like you’re from the generation older or younger than you actually are. Eat ice cream cones and rollerblade in the park for a date fit for teenagers. If you prefer senior-style fun, eat applesauce, play bingo and watch a black-and-white movie.”

6. Transcribe the Bible together. Focus on the Family suggests: “Find a flat piece of scrap wood and use a permanent marker to write out your favorite Bible verses. Take it to a nearby beach, river or lake and toss it in the water. This may be of great encouragement to whoever finds it later on.”

7. Wives: keep the devil out by submitting. Karen Blake, the author of Do You Hear the Battle Cry? An Essential Handbook for the Wives of Christian Men, says, “Satan is out to kill your marriage and destroy your ministry.” You can defeat Satan through submission: “Wives, be subject—be submissive and adapt yourselves—to your own husbands” (Eph. 5:22, Amplified).”

8. Put out so your husband behaves. In her Christian.com-published book No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage, Julianna Slattery tells the story of Sheila and Mark and concludes: “You’re the only woman in the world whom your husband can look at sexually without compromising his integrity!”

9. Dump your Muslim girlfriend. Pat Robertson advised one of his viewers who asked if he should marry his Muslim girlfriend of three years: “No way…. She wants to do her Muslim thing….Walk away.” What’s the Christian thing to do? Robertson explains, Christ is “not gentle Jesus, meek and mild, he really isn’t.”

10. Stay married to your husband who sexually abuses your kids.In her book, Created To Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious, Debi Pearl literally tells women to stay with their abusive husbands:

“But if your husband has sexually molested the children, you should approach him with it. If he is truly repentant (not just exposed) and is willing to seek counseling, you may feel comfortable giving him an opportunity to prove himself…. Stick by him, but testify against him in court. Have him do about 10 to 20 years, and by the time he gets out, you will have raised the kids, and you can be waiting for him with open arms of forgiveness and restitution. Will this glorify God? Forever. You ask, ‘What if he doesn’t repent even then?’ Then you will be rewarded in heaven equal to the martyrs, and God will have something to rub in the Devil’s face. God hates divorce — always, forever, regardless, without exception.”

That’s life in the United States if the Tea Party fundamentalists take over.

 

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