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Sec of Defense Mattis’ memo: ‘Do the right thing’ after White House OKs trans military ban

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis tells senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee that President Donald (Photo by Defense Department)

The “Memorandum For All Department of Defense Employees” from Sec. of Defense James Mattis was released around the same time the news broke that the White House Counsel’s Office had cleared the new ban on open transgender military service, approved by President Donald Trump. The revised policy is expected to be sent to Mattis for his review and implementation.

Nowhere in the Aug. 4 memo is the word “transgender” mentioned. But since “A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out” contains no language protecting currently serving transgender servicemembers against harassment, including of those in combat and on foreign bases, it appears Mattis felt it necessary to remind the troops and other Defense Department employees of the high ethical standards expected of U.S. military personnel, setting “an honorable example in all we do.”

Using a baseball analogy, Mattis writes: “I expect every member of the Department to play the ethical midfield. I need you to be aggressive and show initiative without running the ethical sidelines, where even one misstep will have you out of bounds. I want our focus to be on the essence of ethical conduct: doing what is right at all times, regardless of the circumstances or whether anyone is watching.”

The ethical dilemma is a direct result of the insulting sudden reversal—apparently a political sop by Trump to the Religious Right—of the well-developed 2016 policy announcing the implementation of open service by trans individuals. The plan for trans inclusion included a timeline for rollout and review, as well as guidance on medical issues.

“This policy was crafted through a comprehensive and inclusive process that included the leadership of the Armed Services, medical and personnel experts across the Department, transgender Service members, outside medical experts, advocacy groups, and the RAND Corporation, “ says the “Transgender Service Member Policy Implementation Fact Sheet.”  “Starting today: Otherwise qualified Service members can no longer be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service solely for being transgender individuals.”

And, the 2016 fact sheet said: “Any discrimination against a Service member based on their gender identity is sex discrimination and may be addressed through the Department’s equal opportunity channels.”

An extrapolation of Mattis’ memo suggests that he is not uncomfortable with trans servicemembers getting a lawyer and preparing to fight the ban coming from Trump’s White House.

“To ensure each of us is ready to do what is right, without hesitation, when ethical dilemmas arise, we must train and prepare ourselves and our subordinates,” says Mattis. “Our prior reflection and our choice to live by an ethical code will reinforce what we stand for, so we remain morally strong especially in the face of adversity.”

Mattis’ memo in some ways reflects the ethical standards so well articulated by Adm. Mike Mullen, former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2010, when he argued that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in America’s Armed Forces.

“We have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Mullen said. “For me, personally, it comes down to integrity: Theirs as an individual, ours as an institution.”

In his Aug. 4 memo, Mattis says: “Through our example and through coaching of all hands, we will ensure ethical standards are maintained. Never forget, our willingness to take the Oath of Office and to accept the associated responsibilities means that even citizens who have never met us trust us to do the right thing, never abusing our position nor looking the other way when we see something wrong. I am proud to serve alongside you.”

Though Trump said he had discussed the ban with his generals,  Mattis had only been informed of Trump’s position just before the infamous tweets on July 26, which blindsided the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Republican Senators with reputations for caring about the military were shocked by the announcement of the ban.

“There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity,” war hero Sen. John McCain said in a statement.

“We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so.”

“People who are transgender, they don’t choose to be transgender — they’re born that way — and why should we hold that against them?” Republican Senator Orrin Hatch told MSNBC.

Iowa Senators Ernst and Grassley opposed the proposed ban, too. The Cedar Rapids area TV station KWWL News 7 posted this on their website.

—“Reaction to his tweet was unsurprisingly swift across the country.  In Iowa, Senator Joni Ernst, a 23-year military veteran, says she disagrees with President Trump.  The Des Moines Register reports that Ernst spokesperson, Brook Hougesen, wrote in an email that the senator “believes what is most important is making sure service members can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life.” He continued, “[w]hile she believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”

Senator Ernst is the first female combat veteran to serve in the United States Senate. She also served as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Grassley spoke with multiple Iowa reporters during his weekly phone call with them Wednesday afternoon.

“We have certain standards to get in the military: weight standards, education standards, the ability to do a job, those physical capabilities.  And if you’re a person – man or woman or any other category you want to name – then you meet those standards, you ought to be able to get in, ” Grassley said.” —

With Trump on a 17-day vacation and Congress out on their August recess, the fallout for this political maneuver that could dramatically harm the lives and careers of 15,000 transgender servicemembers has fallen to Sec. of Defense Mattis.

Early Saturday morning, Defense Department spokesperson Paul R. Haverstick Jr., LTC USARMY OSD PA (US) told the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson: There is no new information to report. We will send out an updated statement when we receive guidance.”

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN are gearing up for a fight.

“The move to purge transgender military personnel is dishonorable to the thousands of transgender men and women who are serving our country with courage and who are integral parts of our armed services. The safety of all service members – transgender or not – is undermined by a policy like this that distracts from the important missions they have for no valid reason. It is also a slap in the face of the leadership who have worked diligently to develop and implement the current policy which has been in place for more than a year without incident,” says transgender military veteran Sasha Buchert, a Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal.

“The tweeted military trans ban has already been condemned by more than 56 retired generals and admirals and a large percentage of Republican and Democratic senators and representatives.  A majority of Americans support allowing transgender troops to serve openly,” the statement continues. “This mean-spirited and discriminatory attack on our community is capricious, irrational, and clearly driven by anti-LGBT forces in the administration who care more about harming transgender people than keeping our nation safe. It is clearly unconstitutional. Lambda Legal has a long history of fighting for LGBT service members, and, teaming up with OutServe-SLDN, we’re more than ready to fight like hell again. See you in court, President Trump.”

 

 

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Kansas

Anti-LGBTQ Kansas lawmaker who assaulted student given probation

In the classroom incident last Spring students recorded videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible

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Kansas State House Representative Mark Samsel (R- House District 5/Wellsville) (Photo Credit: Kansas House)

OTTAWA, Ks. – Fourth Judicial Circuit Magistrate Judge Kevin Kimball sentenced Kansas House Representative Mark Samsel, (R- House District 5/Wellsville) to 90 days in jail (suspended) and probation for a year on Monday. Samsel was convicted of assaulting a male student after a physical altercation while he was substitute teaching at the Wellsville High School last April.

Samsel originally faced three misdemeanor battery charges following his arrest in April that involved two male victims, both approximately 16 years old.

The Kansas City reported that during a short hearing conducted over Zoom, Kimball in his ruling ordered that Samsel must apologize to his teenage victims. Samsel is also prohibited from using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms for personal use. An exception is included to allow social media for political and legislative purposes.

In the classroom incident last Spring that sparked four months of court proceedings according to the Kansas City Star, high school students began recording videos of the lawmaker talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible.

In one video shared with The Star, Samsel tells students about “a sophomore who’s tried killing himself three times,” adding that it was because “he has two parents and they’re both females.”

“He’s a foster kid. His alternatives in life were having no parents or foster care parents who are gay,” Samsel said.

The student videos additionally showed the lawmaker verbally targeting one student and encouraging other students to bully him.

The Star also reported: At one point, Samsel tells the student, “You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God. Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me?” He then pushes him, and the student runs to the other side of the classroom.

“You should run and scream.” In another video, he tells students, “Class, you have permission to kick him in the balls.”

Parents told The Star that Samsel “put hands on the student” and allegedly kneed him in the crotch. In a video apparently taken immediately after the incident, the student is shown on the ground. Samsel is standing over him and says, “did it hurt?”

He then asks him why he is about to start crying, pats him on the shoulder and apologizes, and then says he can “go to the nurse, she can check it for you.” Samsel addresses another student and says, “do you want to check his nuts for him, please?”

In another video, Samsel is shown telling the student about “distractions from the devil,” and then grabs him from behind and lifts him off his feet. In a different clip, he tells the student to go to the office. “You were not following — not my rules — God’s rules right now,” he tells the student. “You better take a Bible.”

“Keep denying God, keep denying God, see how it’s going to turn out,” he told the student.

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U.S. Federal Courts

Federal appeals court orders Trans professor fired in 2011 reinstated

The Tenth Circuit also rejected Southeastern’s cross-appeal in its entirety, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County

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U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Byron White Courthouse Denver Colorado (Photo Credit - Library of Congress Collections)

DENVER – The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 55-page ruling issued Monday, ordered Southeastern Oklahoma State University located in Durant, Oklahoma to reinstate a Trans professor who was fired over a decade ago.

Douglas N. McMillan, then interim vice president for academic affairs at the university reportedly said that the professor’s “lifestyle” offended his Baptist beliefs.

Dr. Rachel Tudor, a 54-year-old Native American member of the Chickasaw Nation, in a statement released after the appellate court’s ruling said that [she is] “looking forward to being the first tenured Native American professor in her department in the 100-plus year history of the Native American-serving institution that is Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”

The 10th Circuit in its ruling overturned a lower District Court in Oklahoma City that had ruled “reinstatement would not be possible due to alleged hostility between Dr. Tudor and Southeastern.”

Tudor worked as a tenure-track professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University between 2004 and 2011. In 2007, she informed Southeastern that she would be transitioning and that her gender identity was female. Following this, she was denied tenure and terminated even though her own students and the English Department supported her tenure application.

In her appeal, Tudor was represented by the Washington D.C. based National Women’s Law Center and its private law firm counsel, Erica Lai, who argued for NWLC.

In a recap statement NWLC noted:

The Tenth Circuit also rejected Southeastern’s cross-appeal in its entirety, heavily citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which overruled previous 10th Circuit precedent and held that discrimination against transgender employees is sex discrimination under Title VII.  

 After fighting her case in the courts, she won her jury trial on November 20, 2017. Although the jury awarded her $1,165,000, the court both lowered this amount to $300,000 and then awarded her only front-pay wages in an amount of $60,040.77. This front-pay figure was calculated without the court undertaking any meaningful analysis as to her ability to return to a tenure job in English at Southeastern as she wanted, or what amount would make up for her lost future earnings.

[…] Also, courts have made clear that employers may not cite litigation-related hostility as a reason to refuse someone a job. Finally, as the jury found, Dr. Tudor was only denied tenure because of sex discrimination.

Tudor’s statement reflected her desire to return to the classroom and press on the Tulsa World reported:

As injurious as the sex discrimination and retaliation were to Dr. Tudor, she did not consider it merely personal. Rather, she was a symbol to those who discriminated against her. They wanted to create an environment where certain views and certain people are punished to create fear and shame instead of self-confidence and opportunity for all.

“They wanted people like Dr. Tudor to be afraid, and to go away. Instead of going away, instead of accepting a settlement — conditioned on never teaching in Oklahoma — she fought for the rights and dignity of her Native and LGBT communities.

“Dr. Tudor would like to thank her allies and colleagues for their support through 10 long years of fighting for justice. She is grateful and honored to be the recipient of their goodwill. She promises to repay their trust by being the best professor she can be.”

 

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Colorado

Anti-LGBTQ extremist Bob Enyart who spread COVID lies- dies from virus

Enyart proudly referred to himself as “America’s most popular right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host”

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Bob Enyart (Screenshot via KUSA9 NBC News Denver)

DENVER – The vehemently anti-LGBTQ preacher who made national headlines over his gleefully reading out the obituaries of AIDS victims on his cable television show, while cranking out the song “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen- whose lead singer, Freddie Mercury, died from that disease, has himself died from complications after contracting COVID-19.

Bob Enyart, 62, who had proudly referred to himself as “America’s most popular self-proclaimed right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host” and pastor of the Denver Bible Church, died Monday after a short battle with the coronavirus. The news was confirmed by his longtime radio and podcast show co-host Fred Williams in a Facebook post Monday.

Enyart and his second wife Cheryl, had both contracted COVID-19 after refusing to take the vaccine citing pro-life reasons; “Bob and Cheryl Enyart have sworn off taking the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson vaccines because, as those firms admit, they tested these three products on the cells of aborted babies,” according to a statement in August on Enyart’s webpage.

In addition to falsely claiming that the vaccines were developed using fetal tissue, Enyart urged his followers to boycott the vaccines to “further increase social tension and put pressure on the child killers. (Remember, many institutions and celebrities who have been “pro-choice” all along are now also calling to legalize infanticide, what they call after-birth abortion.

In October of 2020, Enyart filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver asking to overturn the Colorado State Public Health order on facial masks at religious services, as well as rules limiting gatherings to 175 people amid the pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico, who was appointed by President Trump, granted a temporary restraining order against the health order.

A long time radical anti-abortion activists and a spokesperson for the pro-life Colorado Right to Life, Enyart in 2009 along with other antiabortion protesters were jailed over protest at Focus on the Family after the group accused Focus founder James Dobson of not being antiabortion enough.

After attempting to deliver a letter to Focus president James Daly deploring Dobson’s endorsement of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, American Right to Life Action members staged an hour long standoff with ministry security, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

In addition to his open hostility towards the LGBTQ community on air, in 2016 protesting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling the previous year that granted same-sex couples the right to marry, the Huffington Post reported that he released a bizarre video as part of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) boycott of Starbucks, after the coffee-based chain announced its support of same-sex marriage.

As first reported by Good As You blogger Jeremy Hopper, Pastor Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church purchased a Starbucks coffee before proceeding to dump it down a sewer in protest.

“Jesus Christ said God made us male and female at the beginning of the creation,” Enyart proclaims. “Starbucks, in a move that’s not wise for eternity and not good for business here and now, has decided to promote homosexual marriage.”

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