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Trump Isn’t The LGBTQ Ally He Claimed To Be After Orlando Shooting

While Donald Trump framed himself as a supporter of the LGBTQ community following the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub, his record on key gay rights issues tells a much different story.

“I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people… are the targets of persecution and intimidation,” he said in his speech on Monday. “Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words?”

Trump’s actions, though, show that the Republican nominee is lukewarm at best — and hostile at worst — on marriage equality and anti-discrimination policies.

Earlier this year, Trump expressed conditional support for the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that justifies anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious liberty.

“If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment,” Trump wrote in a letter to the American Principles Project, a socially conservative group, according to The Washington Blade.

The bill would allow federal employees to refuse to perform their responsibilities if they conflict with their opposition to same-sex marriage, and prevent the government from taking any action in response. Some say FADA would effectively enable government workers to refuse service to same-sex couples, following the infamous (and illegal) actions of county clerk Kim Davis — who Trump has refused to denounce or publicly oppose.  

When it comes to marriage equality itself, Trump’s public comments aren’t any better. Although he often says gay marriage should be left up to individual states, he has expressed an overall opposition to marriage equality on more than one recent occasion.

Earlier this year, he called Ted Cruz crazy and “the worst liar” on Twitter when the former presidential candidate said Trump supported Obama’s views on the issue.

And when the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling on same-sex marriage in June 2015, he wrote on Twitter that the court “had let us down.”

His most unambiguous comments on the issue came weeks earlier, when, he said on Fox’s Hannity, “I am traditional. I am for traditional, and it’s a changing format, but I am very much for traditional marriage.”

These views may seem innocuous, if unsupportive, given the Supreme Court ruling, but Trump also expressed an interest in appointing judges who could overturn the gay marriage decision.

“If I’m elected I would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that maybe could change things, but they have a long way to go,” he said on Fox News Sunday in January.

When host Chris Wallace clarified, “are you saying that if you become President you might try to appoint justices to overrule the decision on same-sex marriage?” Trump said he “would strongly consider” such an approach.

The New York Times has gone so far as to say that Trump’s views are more accepting than his former opponents in the Republican primary contest. While that may be true, his expressed policy views make it difficult to see him becoming “a friend” to the LGBTQ community — regardless of his political pandering after a mass shooting.

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech about national security in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. June 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Nondiscrimination Ordinance Puts Houston At The Center Of Latest LGBT Rights Battle

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker won re-election here — twice — by taking on some of the city’s most basic municipal problems: the water system, street repairs, homelessness.

But when Parker pushed aggressively for Houston to adopt nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people, the mayor’s support was tested and the fourth-largest city in the country found itself at the center of a national debate over LGBT rights.

Parker, the first openly lesbian mayor of a major U.S. city and a moderate, admittedly wonkish, politician, has made Tuesday’s citywide vote on the nondiscrimination ordinance a deeply personal battle.

“It is my life that is being discussed,” Parker said before the City Council approved the nondiscrimination law last year by an 11-6 vote.”… The debate is about me.”

Parker’s position emboldened critics, including conservative pastors and pro athletes, who successfully pushed to have the law put to a vote. The outcome could send a signal to other cities and states considering similar protections — which in the wake of this year’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage have replaced that issue as a priority with LGBT activists.

A loss could derail Parker’s political career.

“It’s unfortunate that we have a mayor who’s willing to put her personal agenda above the law,” said Jared Woodfill, a former Republican county chairman who was among those who sued and petitioned to get the measure on the ballot.

Proposition 1, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, would consolidate existing bans on discrimination based on race, sex, religion and other categories in employment, housing and public accommodations, extending protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Texas is one of 28 states without statewide nondiscrimination protections, although major cities have adopted policies, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. Of the 22 other states, 17 bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations, and soon New York will too.

“If we win here,” Woodfill said, “I think it will be an opportunity to defeat these types of ordinances when they pop up.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have endorsed the ordinance. A White House spokesman said in a statement that the president and vice president were “confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality.”

Parker remains resolute.

“It is personal, and it’s not only personal because of sexual orientation,” she said, noting that the ordinance also would affect her adopted son and daughters, who are African-American and mixed race.

Parker, 59, began her political career as a gay activist, but in city government she’s known largely for her ability to harness Houston’s bureaucracy. She has led a relatively conventional life with her wife and children in a historic house in the gentrified Montrose neighborhood, working for 20 years in the oil and gas business, then a dozen years for the city as comptroller and on the council.

Along the way, she championed a frontier meritocracy mentality that, in a city as diverse as Houston, anyone can succeed. Losing now would turn her narrative of triumph “into a sob story,” said Sean Theriault, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

“If this loses, it’s got to be the end of her political life,” he said.

And it may fail.

Early voting ended Friday, and polls by Houston TV stations found the ordinance’s supporters have a slight lead, but about a fifth of voters remain undecided.

Robert Stein, a political scientist at Parker’s alma mater, Rice University, said turnout has been particularly high in African-American and white conservative precincts inclined to oppose the ordinance, targeted by an opposition campaign that includes powerful conservative pastors.

The ballot measure could be in trouble, he said.

Paul Simpson, chairman of the surrounding county’s Republican Party, which has rallied to block the ordinance, called it “unnecessary, discriminatory and intrusive.”

“There’s not this vast problem of discrimination in Houston,” he said, and Parker “is one of the main proofs. No one worried about her orientation when she was first elected…. This is hardly a legacy for her last term.”

Opponents contend the “bathroom ordinance” poses a public safety threat because it would allow transgender women into women’s restrooms, infringe on religious liberty and prompt a slew of lawsuits against small businesses and the city.

“Do you know what lurks behind this door?” asked fliers distributed by an opponent in front of City Hall last week. “If Houston Mayor Annise Parker has her way and her controversial Proposition 1 passes, it could be a man dressed as a woman or worse.”

The mayor was prepared.

“I knew it was going to be an ugly, divisive campaign,” said Parker, who faced death threats and had her tires slashed as an activist in the 1980s. “It’s the same people who have been organizing against the LGBT community for decades.”

But Parker antagonized many when city attorneys tried to subpoena sermons by five pastors who sued to block the ordinance, sparking a national outcry over religious liberties. The lawsuit eventually reached the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled in July that the city had to repeal the ordinance or let voters decide.

The Rev. Ed Young at Houston’s Second Baptist, one of the nation’s largest churches, recently urged his congregation to vote against the ordinance because “it will carry our city… further down the road of being totally, in my opinion, secular and godless.”

Even former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman has jumped into the fray, appearing in ads against the ordinance, saying he wanted to protect his wife and four daughters from threats, including being forced to share bathrooms with “troubled men.”

Parker, an Astros fan since childhood, responded forcefully.

“Lance Berkman played in St. Louis. Guess his girls didn’t go to his games! SL has a non-discrimination ordinance,” Parker tweeted. “Then Lance Berkman went to Dallas. Oops. Dallas amended its Charter to clarify gender identity protections. Can you spell hypocrite?”

Last week, Parker pledged $50,000 in matching donations in addition to $50,000 she already gave the HERO campaign, and remained hopeful that voters would back the ordinance. Blocked from seeking re-election because of term limits, Parker has not ruled out running for statewide office in 2018.

“In a city as diverse as Houston, a city that has elected me nine times as an out lesbian…. I just can’t fathom that this would not pass,” she said.

(c)2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Ed Schipul via Flickr

Obama Signs Order Banning LGBT Discrimination By Federal Contractors

By Marianne LeVine, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees and prohibiting discrimination against federal workers who identify as transgender.

“In too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender can still be a fireable offense,” Obama said. “I firmly believe it’s time to address this injustice for every American.”

Obama’s two-part directive will amend an existing executive order that was issued by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 preventing federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The new order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to this list.

The directive also amends another existing executive order, issued by President Nixon in 1969, by adding gender identity to a list of categories protected against federal workplace discrimination. President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation to this list in 1998.

Last Friday, senior administration officials said that the executive order would affect 24,000 companies.

Obama also called for pressure on members of Congress to implement federal legislation barring workplace discrimination against all gay and transgender employees.

“Congress has spent four decades, 40 years, considering legislation that would help solve the problem,” he said. “And yet they still haven’t gotten it done.”

The president received praise from members of Congress and human rights groups for the new orders.

“Today’s executive order signing is another big step toward equality for the LGBT community,” said Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), a supporter of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would bar all workplace discrimination against LGBT employees.

“Now, all federal workers will be judged on whether or not they do their job and not on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said in a statement.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT civil rights group, described the orders as “unprecedented and historic” and asked that the House vote on ENDA, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support last November.

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

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