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Pence urges voters to back Trump over anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ acts

VP cites administrative acts seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination

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Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the 2018 Values Voter Summit. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Vice President Mike Pence counted on Saturday President Trump’s actions in favor of “religious freedom” — considered by LGBT rights supporters as means to enable anti-LGBT discrimination — as reasons for why conservative voters should turn out in the congressional mid-term elections to back Republican candidates and the Trump administration.Pence made the remarks before attendees at the Values Voter Summit, an annual D.C. confab for social conservatives hosted by the anti-LGBT Family Research Council.

The vice president counted Trump’s actions in favor of “religious freedom” as reasons why voters should support Republicans in the mid-terms as well as with other factors, including a booming economy, lower taxes, support for immigration enforcement and a tougher stance on America’s adversaries across the globe.

“Our administration has also taken action to protect and promote our first freedom, the freedom of religion and religious liberty for every American,” Pence said. “Last year President Trump chose the National Day of Prayer to announce new policies to protect the religious liberty of every American regardless of their creed. We’ve taken action to protect the conscience rights of doctors and nurses.”

Although the Trump policies Pence referenced on the National Day of Prayer didn’t explicitly contain any language seen to hamper LGBT rights, it directed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to draft further to ensure “religious freedom” is protected.

Sessions ended up issuing guidance that allows individuals and businesses to act in the name of religious freedom — often used as an exercise for anti-LGBT discrimination — without fear of government reprisal. Nowhere in the guidance is there a limiting principle assuring the right to free exercise of religion should be an excuse to engage in anti-LGBT discrimination.

The second policy Pence referenced is the establishment of the Conscience & Religious Freedom Division at the Department of Health & Human Services, which critics say allows medical practitioners to deny abortion-related services and treatment to LGBT people on religious grounds.

HHS followed up with a proposed rule change that allow medical practitioners to invoke a religious exemption to get out of offering abortion-related services and transition-related care for transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery. Other provisions condoning religious counseling were construed as allowing federal payments for widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

Pence himself is known for taking action in the name of “religious freedom” to enable anti-LGBT discrimination. As Indiana governor, Pence signed into law a “religious freedom” measure widely criticized for allowing individuals and businesses to refuse service to LGBT people. After an outcry from LGBT rights supporters and the business community, Pence was forced to sign a “fix” limiting the ability to discriminate under the law.

The vice president alluded to further actions in favor of “religious freedom,” predicting Brett Kavanaugh will soon “will soon be Justice Brett Kavanaugh” upon confirmation by the U.S. Senate and issue rulings in line with social conservative thought.

“Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a man of integrity with impeccable credentials and a proven judicial philosophy,” Pence said. “On the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, he wrote more than 300 opinions that reflect a strong record of support for limited government, religious liberty and our Second Amendment. He’s a conservative who will interpret the Constitution as written, and his record and career deserves the respect of every member of the United States Senate.”

The confirmation of Kavanaugh, which is opposed by progressive and LGBT rights groups, is being held up in the U.S. Senate after the emergence of allegations from Christine Blasey Ford he attempted to sexually assault her in 1982.

Alluding to the allegations without enumerating them, Pence said he and Trump are “confident that Senate Republicans will manage this confirmation properly with the utmost respect for all concerned.”

For these “religious freedom” actions and other efforts, Pence urged attendees at the Values Voter Summit to come out in support of Trump during the upcoming congressional mid-terms and to tell others “we’ve been fighting for the values that make this nation great.”

“With 45 days to go, my fellow conservatives, as you’d heard at this summit, now is the time for the sake of America to pray, to vote, to stand,” Pence said. “And I know you will. The other side is mobilized, and some say they’re motivated as never before. But I say we must match – in fact, I say we must surpass – the energy of the American left and their enthusiasm and passion. And if we do, we will win.”

Pence faced criticism from LGBT rights supporters by agreeing to attend the Values Voter Summit based on the anti-LGBT policy objectives the Family Research Council and the speakers that appeared on stage before and after him.

David Stacy, government affairs director of the Human Rights Campaign, said speakers at the Values Voter Summit are known for expressing support for conversion therapy and condemned Pence for appearing with them.

“The practice of ‘conversion therapy’ is abuse and can be life-threatening, which is why a growing number of states are banning it,” Stacy said. “And the denigrating language they direct at LGBTQ people send a dangerous message — particularly to LGBTQ kids — about their equal dignity and worth. Once again, Mike Pence is making clear that he stands with many organizations and leaders who promote hate and fear. We know those are not true American values.”

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Head of Anti-LGBTQ group worked with Trump to overturn election

Eastman and the former president had a secret scheme to try to get former Vice-President Mike Pence to overturn election

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NOM Head John Eastman with Rudy Giuliani on January 6, 2021 (Screenshot via YouTube)

By David Badash | PROVINCETOWN, Ma. – The head of a once well-known anti-LGBTQ organization that spent countless millions in dark money to try to block the advancement of same-sex marriage worked with then-President Donald Trump and his legal team on a secret scheme to try to get Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

John Eastman, who until January 13 was a tenured professor of law and dean at the Chapman University School of Law in California, advanced a six-point plan detailing the steps he wanted Pence to take on January 6.

Eastman, who is the chairman of NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, “tried to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could overturn the election results on January 6 when Congress counted the Electoral College votes by throwing out electors from seven states, according to the new book ‘Peril’ from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa,” CNN reports.

“You really need to listen to John. He’s a respected constitutional scholar. Hear him out,” Trump told Pence during a January 4 meeting with Eastman in the Oval Office, according to “Peril.”

In addition to directing that Pence would falsely claim that the seven states had competing electors, Eastman suggested Pence make all these moves without warning.

“The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court,” Eastman wrote. “The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind.”

Pence disagreed with Eastman’s legal claims and did not enact the secret scheme.

Eastman spoke at the January 6 “Save America” rally that many claim Trump used to incite the insurrection.

One week later he “abruptly” resigned from Chapman University “amid criticism of his role in stoking the violent attack,” and “calls for his firing,” Law.com reported at the time.

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David Badash (@davidbadash) is the founder and editor of The New Civil Rights Movement, an award-winning news & opinion site.

The preceding article was first published by The New Civil Rights Movement and is republished by permission.

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Politics

The White House marks the 10th anniversary of the repeal of DADT

“A great injustice was remedied & a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of American service members”

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President Obama signs the certification stating the statutory requirements for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have been met 9-20-2011 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON – President Biden recognized in a statement on Monday the tenth anniversary of the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that once discharged service members from the military for being openly gay or bisexual.

“Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members,” Biden said. “The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.”

Biden recognized high-profile openly gay appointees in his administrations who are also veterans, naming Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Biden also names Shawn Skelly, assistant secretary of defense for readiness, who would have been discharged from the military under President Trump’s transgender military ban.

“On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation,” Biden said. “We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.”

Technically speaking, the anniversary of Obama signing repeal legislation was in December. Today is the anniversary of defense officials certifying the military is ready, which put an end to the policy.

Statement by President Joe Biden on the Tenth Anniversary of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. It was the right thing to do. And, it showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
 
Despite serving with extraordinary honor and courage throughout our history, more than 100,000 American service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity—including some 14,000 under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Many of these veterans received what are known as “other than honorable” discharges, excluding them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn.
 
As a U.S. Senator, I supported allowing service members to serve openly, and as Vice President, I was proud to champion the repeal of this policy and to stand beside President Obama as he signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act into law. As President, I am honored to be Commander-in-Chief of the strongest and most inclusive military in our nation’s history. Today, our military doesn’t just welcome LGBTQ+ service members—it is led at the highest levels by brave LGBTQ+ veterans, including Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was gratified to appoint the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and Afghanistan veteran who joined the military under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. And during my first week in office, I proudly delivered on my pledge to repeal the discriminatory ban on open service by patriotic transgender service members.
 
On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation. We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.

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California Politics

NBC News exit survey: 83% of LGBTQ Californian voters said no to recall

As Governor, Newsom has signed a litany of pro-LGBTQ legislation expanding the civil/equality rights of the Golden State’s LGBTQ+ community

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Graphic courtesy of NBC News

NEW YORK – In an exit poll conducted by NBC News on Tuesday, voters who identified as LGBTQ+ by a majority of 83 percent voted “no’ in the gubernatorial recall, versus 17 percent who voted “yes.”

Newsom has had a long track record as an LGBTQ+ ally, while mayor of the City of San Francisco in 2004 he sparked a political firestorm when he defied state law and issued approximately 4,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Many people in the California Democratic Party were certain Newsom had effectively ended any chance to advance his political career with his actions, ironically though he instead garnered wide-spread support, especially from a statewide LGBTQ+ constituency which landed him in the Lieutenant Governor’s chair.

In 2015, then Lt. Governor Newsom saw vindication as the U. S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, ruling that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Since taking office in 2019 as Governor of California, Newsom has signed a litany of pro-LGBTQ legislation which has expanded the civil and equality rights of the Golden State’s LGBTQ+ community.

In a statement emailed Thursday morning, California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, reflecting on the results of the NBC News poll, told the Blade; “It’s no secret that Governor Newsom has been an ally to the LGBTQ community for decades. From signing countless bills enacting new protections, to his leadership through the COVID crisis that centered the needs of the most vulnerable, he has shown up for California’s LGBTQ community.”

Had Newsom been removed as governor, 77 percent of LGBTQ recall voters said they would be concerned or scared, compared to 57 percent of all recall voters. Twenty-one percent of LGBTQ voters said they would be excited or optimistic if he were removed, compared to 38 percent of all recall voters, according to NBC News’ Exit Poll.

“The numbers are clear on just how overwhelmingly opposed the LGBTQ+ community was to this Republican power grab,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), who serves as Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus in an email to the Blade. “Governor Gavin Newsom has been a steadfast ally of ours for decades, and I’m proud to see our community make its voice clearly heard as we build on the progress California has made regarding equality and inclusion.”

Rick Zbur, the Executive Director of Equality California noted: “We stood with Governor Newsom because he has always stood with us — no matter the personal or political consequences. He has signed groundbreaking legislation to support the health and well-being of transgender Californians; expanded access to life-saving HIV prevention medications; enacted new gun safety measures and police reforms; created more housing for people experiencing homelessness than any governor in history — and put a stop to California’s racist, anti-LGBTQ+ death penalty. He is working every day against difficult odds to keep our families safe, protect families from eviction and provide billions of dollars in relief to working families and small businesses.”

NBC News’ Exit Poll revealed that a significant percentage of LGBTQ recall voters think getting the coronavirus vaccine is a public health responsibility, at 82 percent, compared to 65 percent of all recall voters. Of LGBTQ voters, 17 percent believe getting the vaccine is a personal choice, compared to 32 percent of all recall voters.

The poll also found that 48 percent of LGBTQ voters, (roughly half) think the policies Newsom put in place to deal with the pandemic have been about right, 35 percent don’t think they’ve been strict enough, and 17 percent think they’ve been too strict. On the governor’s statewide in-person school masking mandate, 86 percent, are in support while 13 percent oppose it.

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