The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: lgbtq rights

Blinken Scraps Trump Administration’s Global Attack On Gay Human Rights

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The Biden administration has thrown out a report from the Trump administration that human rights groups criticized for devaluing LGBTQ rights across the globe.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the announcement during a press conference on Tuesday to discuss a 2020 report on the status of human rights that includes some 200 countries and territories.

"There is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others," Blinken said. "Past unbalanced statements that suggest such a hierarchy, including those by the recently disbanded State Department advisory committee do not represent a guiding document for this administration."

In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, created the "Commission on Unalienable Rights," which was chaired by Mary Ann Glendon, an opponent of abortion rights and LGBTQ equality, and supported by Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. Last year, Pompeo announced the release of a report from the commission.

During that press conference, Pompeo said, "Americans do not only have unalienable rights but also positive rights: rights granted by governments, courts, multilateral bodies. Many are worth defending in light of our founding. Others aren't ... More rights doesn't necessarily mean more justice."

Amnesty International, Equity Forward, Human Rights First, and Human Rights Watch, among other advocacy groups, contacted foreign diplomats last fall to oppose that message. Human rights experts saidthat Pompeo's efforts could result in uncertainty among LGBTQ people that might affect whether they felt safe turning to U.S. embassies for support.

Ryan Thoreson, a researcher for Human Rights Watch's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program, wrote at the time, "The report focuses at length on the US Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The report pays little attention to what followed these, including advancements in the rights of racial minorities, women, children, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as the growing realization of economic and social rights."

Blinken said on Tuesday, "One of the core principles of human rights is that they are universal. All people are entitled to these rights no matter where they were born, what they believe, who they love, or any other characteristic. Human rights are also co-equal."

During the press conference, the new secretary of state mentioned LGBTQI people multiple times.

"Human rights are also interdependent," he said. "If you're denied equal access to a job or an education because of the color of your skin or your gender identity, how can you obtain health and well being for yourself or your family?"

He said that an important part of monitoring human rights issues includes awareness of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected marginalized groups, including LGBTQI people. Blinken added that the Trump administration's reports on the status of human rights abroad had also removed a section about reproductive health and that the Biden administration plans to release an addendum later in 2021 covering those issues and including them in future reports.

The announcement is part of a broader promise by President Joe Biden, who gave a speech at the. State Department in February saying he would "reinvigorate our leadership on LGBTQ issues."

Biden issued a memorandum later that day which required executive agencies to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance officials both protect LGBTQ rights and promoted them whenever possible.

The memorandum also urged agencies engaged abroad to fight against the criminalization of LGBTQ people and give equal access to assistance and protection for LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.

"Around the globe, including here at home, brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights," the memorandum read. "The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Praise Jesus, But Not Really

After I first started writing a column, in the fall of 2002, it wasn't long before I heard regularly from those who brandished God as a weapon in opposing LGBTQ rights.

This was not surprising. Back then, I was on staff at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, and I was long familiar with the bigotry in my home state. Most of the hate mail came from strangers, but I got my share of lectures from blood relatives, too. Few things anger right-wing Christians more than a family member insisting she's acquainted with a different version of God.

Goodness, the hate. That stuff stays with you. Just last week, I was reminiscing with a friend about a 2004 speech I gave at a women's event. More than 500 women in the audience, but when it was time to take questions, the first came from one of the handful of men in attendance.

Why, he demanded to know, did I have to "go on and on about the homosexuals?" Grasping the microphone with both hands, he yelled, "I don't want to think about those people having sex."

I assured him that nobody I knew in the LGBTQ community wanted to imagine him and his wife having sex, either, so it looked like he had more in common with them than he was willing to acknowledge. When he refused to stop shouting, the floor manager cut off his mic, and many of the women cheered. Of course they did.

That same year the Rev. William Sloane Coffin published his book Credo. It was a collection of excerpts from his sermons and writings, and it was a lifeline for me. Worn down by the rage of right-wing believers, I was becoming a too-quiet Christian out of fear of being associated with them. Coffin helped me find the words for my heartache and the map to higher ground.

"The problem," Coffin wrote, "is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but rather how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ. It can't be done."

If Coffin were alive today, I'm certain he would include all of the LGBTQ community. That's what a Christian should do.

Yesterday morning, one of the first things I heard was an NPR report about conservative faith leaders' opposition to the Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It has passed the House twice and is headed to the Senate, where there is no longer a Republican majority to block it.

A partial list of those who oppose it: the National Association of Evangelicals, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Orthodox rabbis' Coalition for Jewish Values.

As NPR reported, their concern is that, if the Equality Act passes, their institutions will no longer receive federal funds if they discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community.

"Many faith-affiliated schools, however, require that students abide by strict moral codes related to sexual conduct, or they have gender-segregated housing that does not accommodate transgender people. Critics of the Equality Act say such policies would mean that students attending those schools could lose access to government aid programs."

In 2021, this is their grievance.

I'm back to 2004, when Ohio voters, egged on by too many pastors and priests, passed an amendment that was the harshest such legislation of its kind in the country. It banned same-sex marriage and all civil unions, and stripped health benefits to unmarried couples — gay or straight — at public colleges.

This, because of who they loved.

As I wrote at the time, in word and deed, Ohio told thousands of gay and lesbian couples that they, and their kind of love, aren't welcome here.

An elderly man left a long phone message for me. He felt bad for having voted for the amendment. He was raised to be conservative, he said, attended conservative schools and belonged to a conservative church. He was trying, he said, to get where I was on LGBTQ rights.

"Please be patient with me," he said.

For years after that, I tried to be. I found one way after another to nudge people like him to open their hearts — to catch them off guard, which is how love seeps in. Throughout that time, though, I was mindful of what one of my dearest friends had said to me over dinner one evening: "I don't want to be tolerated. I want to be accepted."

We've seen progress, but it's not enough, which is why the Equality Act is headed to the Senate. And once again, here they are, those self-declared Christians claiming they can love Jesus while, in his name, conspiring to inflict further harm.

It can't be done.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University's school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including "...and His Lovely Wife," which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, "The Daughters of Erietown." To find out more about Connie Schultz (schultz.connie@gmail.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

Rep Greene Reinvents Herself As Raving Anti-LGBT Zealot

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Monday used her time to address the House of Representatives by lying to her colleagues and attacking the LGBTQ Equality Act.

The legislation, which passed the House but has not been debated in the Senate or even voted on, much less signed into law, "has completely destroyed women's rights," and "has completely canceled women," the QAnon Congresswoman lied.

The Equality Act, she continued, "has taken away women's rights in sports," which is also false.

"It has completely canceled women and I think it's a terrible thing that's happened to the women in America who have come so far, our grandmothers and mothers worked so hard to achieve our rights. And now with the passage of the Equality Act they have put men in our little girls bathrooms, sports, locker rooms, playing fields, and seem to care less about women's rights whatsoever."

Again the Equality Act has only passed the House, not the Senate, nor has it been signed into law, so it has not been enacted.

"They've also completely destroyed religious freedoms and and violated our freedoms and rights in every single way," she insisted, not naming who "they" are.

"The Equality Act is atrocious and evil," she said, repeating the false claim she has made several times. "It completely erases gender, that God created us 'male and female in his image.' He created us. Women deserve their rights, we deserve our sports, we deserve our privacy, and should not have the invasion of biological men in any of these areas."

Green has been trying to remake herself from a conspiracy theorist and QAnon promoter to a far right religious extremist anti-choice activist. Her diatribe on International Women's Day did little to advance that goal, or any other cause.

Watch:

Rep. Greene Mocks Trans Pride Flag Outside Of Her Office

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) has amped up transphobic attacks in multiple Twitter attacks, culminating in the Qanon congresswoman hanging a sign mocking a transgender pride flag Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL) put across from her office.

"Our neighbor, (Rep. Greene), tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is "'disgusting, immoral, and evil,'" Rep. Newman tweeted. "Thought we'd put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door."

Then, Rep. Greene retaliated with a similar Twitter post mocking Rep. Newman's original, boasting about displaying a transphobic sign that read, "There are two genders: Male & female. Trust the science!"

Twitter users rushed to defend Rep. Newman, who mothers a transgender girl, and blast Rep. Greene for her blatant, ignorant transphobia.

"Sickening, pathetic, unimaginably cruel," tweeted a fellow Illinois Congressperson Rep. Sean Casten, responding directly to Rep. Greene's tweet. "This hate is exactly why the #EqualityAct is necessary and what we must protect (Rep. Marie Newman)'s daughter and all our LGBTQ+ loved ones against."

Adding to the cruelty, Facebook took down Rep. Newman's post of her setting the transgender pride flag outside of Rep. Greene's office for "hate speech," while leaving up the QAnon congresswoman's.

"Facebook took down our video of me putting up the Transgender flag outside my office and labeled it as 'hate speech,'" Rep. Newman tweeted. "Meanwhile, they're still allowing Marjorie Taylor Greene's transphobic video to be posted. Supporting transgender Americans is NOT hate speech."

Rep. Greene's latest deplorable actions come as she has repeatedly attacked LGBTQ+ rights this week when discussing The Equality Act, which will be voted on Thursday by the House.

"The so called #EqualityAct is evil," she tweeted, while also making false assertions that the bill "destroys women's rights, religious rights, and rights of the unborn."

Then Rep. Greene made multiple transphobic statements, including: "(God) created us male and female." Adding that, "Men who dress and think they are women will have rights over all real girls and women."

Her disgusting, transphobic statements were just the beginning of her attacks on the bill, as she also introduced a hand full of amendments to the bill. One asked that the "entire text" of The Equality Act be removed and replaced with Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act-- an anti-transgender attack that would strip basic human rights from trans women and girls.


Chris Johnson on Twittertwitter.com

All of the claims made by Rep. Greene-- including saying The Equality Act "has nothing to do with stopping discrimination against the LGBT community"-- are entirely false and rooted in nothing but hatred, homophobia and transphobia.

The Equality passed the House in 2019 but never made it to a vote in the Republican Senate controlled by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The bill is a top priority for President Joe Biden and is likely to pass the House again, but will be a "slog" in the Senate again, according to Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)-- who reintroduced it last week.

Rep. Cicilline went on the SiriusXM radio show Julie Mason Mornings saying, "(The Equality Act has) bipartisan support by the American people" and "the only place that seems to be controversial is within the Republican caucus."