One of Queer News Tonight’s favorite political reporters, The Washington Blade’s MK Lavers reported that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced the State Department has officially disbanded a controversial human rights advisory commission that LGBTQ+ activists sharply criticized. Blinken told reporters “One of the core principles of human rights is that they are universal. All people are entitled to these rights, no matter where they’re born, what they believe, whom they love, or any other characteristic. Human rights are also co-equal; there is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others. At my confirmation hearing, I promised that the Biden-Harris administration would repudiate those unbalanced views. We do so decisively today.” Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019 announced the commission — chaired by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law School professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican who is known for her opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples — would stress “natural laws and natural rights.” Blinken is among the administration officials who publicly acknowledged the Transgender Day of Visibility. Blinken told reporters after the State Department released its annual human rights report the pandemic “has disproportionately impacted the individuals and groups in our societies who were already subject to abuse, to discrimination, to marginalization before the pandemic, such as racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI persons.”
Gay marriage in the law of the United States of America. But Missouri lawmakers have refused to remove now-defunct language barring same-sex marriages from state law. Each year, state lawmakers pass legislation to remove language from outdated statutes, as part of cleaning up the state’s laws and ensuring they are still relevant and up-to-date. Again lawmakers in the Republican-run State House of Representatives balked at removing the state’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage. During debate in the House, Rep. Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis) proposed an amendment to repeal the statutory bans on same-sex marriage or out-of-state marriages to the House’s bill revising various statutes. But McCreery’s amendment was rejected on technical grounds. The sponsor of the revision bill, Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Imperial), said that revision bills cannot be amended on the floor, and that the Joint Committee on Legislative Research had already determined what statutes to repeal, revise or strike. McCreery points out that the Republicans have found effective ways to prevent the repeal of the law. A law that now is only a symbolic symbol of the past.
Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday, marking the first time in U.S. history that a transgender person has been confirmed to a Cabinet-level position by the Senate in a 52 to 48 vote. Liz Seaton, policy director of National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund said “Dr Levine’s confirmation by the Senate today sends a strong message, especially to the LGBTQ people of this country: please step forward to serve, your nation needs you and your expertise.” Levine, who departs her role as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, secured confirmations from a Republican-controlled Senate in her home state three times. In 2015, Pennsylvania lawmakers from both parties unanimously approved her appointment as Pennsylvania physician general. In a statement from President Joe Biden praised Levine as a “historic and deeply qualified choice” for the role.
As the Senate prepares to vote on the Equality Act, a new poll released yesterday indicates that an overwhelming majority of Americans across religious and political affiliations support anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. According to the 2020 American Values Atlas, a study by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI, conducted one of the largest survey studies ever on the subject.
The results were surprising. Seventy-six percent of adults favor laws that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations, Less than 1 in 5 (only 19 percent) opposed such protections. Support was strongest 85% among Democrats, 79% of independents but it also included a 62% majority of Republicans.
Even more surprising is that the “Religious Freedom” argument being pushed by the most radical of the Republicans appears to have little agreement among those that identify as religious. Broad majorities in nearly every religious group favor protections for LGBTQ people, 77% of white Catholics, 78% of Mormons, 79% of Jews, 81% of Hispanic Catholics, and 81% of white mainline Protestants. Even White evangelical Protestants, the group least likely to favor Equality Act nondiscrimination laws, endorsed them by nearly 2 to 1 (62 percent to 32 percent).
The study found no statistical difference in LGBTQ Equality support whether you lived in urban, suburban or rural areas. Since 2015, the largest increase in support has come among Black people, which grew from 65 percent to 75 percent approval. The survey also found that about three-fifths (61 percent) of respondents opposed allowing small businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers on religious grounds.
Since 2016, opposition to religious refusal laws declined 5 percent. According to the report The “slim minority” of people (just 7 percent) who consistently hold unfavorable views toward LGBTQ policies are older, more likely to be Republicans, feel more favorably toward former president Donald Trump, and are more likely to be white and white Christian than the American population and those who are in favor of these pro-LGBTQ policies.
Natalie Jackson the PRRI research director said “The data is clear: the vast majority of Americans support LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections no matter where they live, the party they belong to, or the church they belong to.” The stunning results suggest there is a dramatically loud but tiny minority yelling hate in Washington and at Fox News but it is not what the broad American public thinks about the LGBTQ community and the Equality Act.
We warn LGBTQ America, the language in this story is adult. Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was most likely speaking in Joe Biden’s earpiece during his speech from the White House on Thursday — if he’s not dead — because he and Biden both have a lisp, are supposedly “r**arded,” and are “idiots.” That’s the claim that “MAGA Life Coach” and former candidate for Congress Brenden Dilley made on the Friday stream of his YouTube show “The Dilley Show.” Dilley made the claim in response to a fan’s question, wondering “who’s the asshole speaking in Biden’s earpiece — is it [Barack] Obama or Susan Rice?” Dilley believes it’s not the former President or Ambassador to the UN, but rather someone else “equally as mildly retarded. Remember him? Remember Barney Frank… he was the gay, lispy fuck who left Congress.” Dilley is this special anti-LGBTQ breed and Queer News Tonight always enjoy bringing you the Einsteins of the MAGA movement.
In his new role, Reggie Greer will promote LGBTQ inclusion within Joe Biden’s administration and act as a “bridge” between the community and the White House. Greer joined Biden’s presidential campaign in March 2020, where his work was instrumental in building the organisation’s LGBTQ elected officials network and its candidate training, which encourages queer people to run for office. Before joining the campaign, Greer served three years at the LGBTQ Victory Institute as their Director of Constituent Engagement. As part of his duties, Greer worked to engage and inform the nation’s network of LGBTQ elected and appointed leaders. Greer is one of more than 50 LGBTQ representatives in the Biden administration (so far), which is on course to become one of the most inclusive and diverse administrations in history. His appointment was met with praise from LGBTQ activists, including Annise Parker – president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Victory Institute – who called Greer a ray of sunshine in the conflict-driven world of politics.
Congressman Jim Jordan, known for his support for former President Donald Trump and opposition to LGBTQ rights, had help Thursday from an LGBTQ organization on the House floor in denouncing the Equality Act. Jordan, who led the Republicans in debate in against the bill to expand anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, entered into the record the statement against the legislation from Log Cabin Republicans, which had issued a e-blast moments before debate on the “frightening truth” about the Equality Act. Jordan said “I include in the record a statement from the Log Cabin Republicans opposing the legislation on the floor today.” The Log Cabin statement that ended up in the congressional record Friday is the same as the eblast that went out to supporters and was signed by Charles Moran, managing director for Log Cabin Republicans. LCR said “We opposed this legislation in the past, and we oppose it as it stands today. This is a partisan piece of legislation — it has no Republican cosponsors in the House. And the insidious nature of the extreme changes it will make would irreparably harm America and all of the accomplishments we’ve worked so hard for over the last few decades.” Moran hedges by stating Log Cabin “is not now, nor will it ever retreat on our commitment for equality for the LGBT community — the transgender community included,” but ultimately concludes the Equality Act “goes to an extreme level to eliminate the concept of gender, which is absurd, dangerous and way out of the mainstream.” Moran, asked by the Washington Blade to comment on Jordan entering the Log Cabin statement into the record, said via email he “knew in advance” that would happen is OK with it.
The Washington Blade ask Moran about Jordans actions and he said he knew in advance and was ok with it. He went farther to say “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene actually was the one who approached him about it, as she has a very solid relationship with our Atlanta Log Cabin chapter and GA Log Cabin leadership.”
Late this afternoon The House voted 224 to 206 on legislation to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, an expansive effort that has spurred fierce opposition among conservatives over religious freedom and set off a new round of partisan fighting in Congress. The measure, known as the Equality Act, marks a major plank of what Democrats term their equality agenda, following earlier laws treating attacks against gay people as hate crimes and allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. The Equality Act would amend the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination based on race, religion, sex and other characteristics, to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
At a press conference after the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “It is needed because there is discrimination against people in the LGBTQ community. It breaks my heart that it is necessary.” The White House supports the legislation but its fate in the Senate is uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Thursday declined to say when he would schedule the measure for a vote.
In a press conference with the Capitol as a backdrop and later on the House floor, Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus denounced the legislation, saying that it would discriminate against certain adoption agencies that don’t allow adoptions by same-sex parents, undermine women’s sports, and block healthcare providers from declining to perform abortions on the basis of their religious beliefs. Democrats say that arguments about protecting religious freedom are a fig leaf that provide cover to damaging practices.
Maryland’s Representative Jamie Raskin said on the floor “Every scoundrel in American history has tried to dress up his or her opposition to other people’s civil rights in religious garb.” New Yorks representative Sean Patrick Maloney added on the floor “Their real argument, the only honest argument, is that they believe LGBT people are morally inferior and that firing us should be permitted.” Republicans have criticized a provision of the act that would bar the use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 as a defense against discrimination claims. The Equality Act now faces a filibuster in the Senate. The historic fight continues.
Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The 2020 Out100 honoree made the announcement Thursday to Joy Reid on The ReidOut on MSNBC. Kenyatta said “There nothing is written on a tablet somewhere that says America has to succeed. You know, America succeeds because every generation steps up to protect and expand the promise of America.” The two-term state representative is running to fill the senate seat currently held by Republican Pat Toomey, who announced he won’t seek reelection when his term expires in 2022. Kenyatta will be running against John Fetterman, who is currently the state’s lieutenant governor and John McGuigan, both Democrats. Kenyatta is considered a rising star in the Democrat party. He was one of the history-making queer party members asked to speak at the virtual DNC last year, and he didn’t come alone. While he took that opportunity to honor the “doctors nurses and home health care aides in Philadelphia” on the front lines fighting the global pandemic, he also famously brought along his fiancé, University of Pennsylvania professor Matthew Miller.
At first, advocates wondered if it wasn’t a mistake. South Dakota’s Senate Bill 124 aimed to give churches leeway to operate during the pandemic, but it contained four lines that, in advocates’ generous reading, were vague, too broad, or perhaps just poorly written. In another interpretation, those same lines were a revival of language used to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
If passed, SB 124 would allow churches to hold indoor services despite COVID-19 restrictions. The bill states that the government would not be able to “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” without “compelling government interest.” That language echoed the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, also known as RFRA, a federal law passed 27 years ago. The law, once intended to protect minority religions and Indigenous people, has since been copied by state legislatures and used to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and people trying to access reproductive health care, advocates said. Vivian Topping, Director of Advocacy and Civic Engagement at the Equality Federation, a coalition of state level LGBTQ rights organizations said “I don’t believe in accidents during legislative session. There’s always someone behind something somewhere.” There are at least 36 RFRA-type bills that have been filed in state legislatures since January, 25 of them tucked into bills intended to allow churches to operate during the pandemic. The spate of RFRA bills seems to underscore a larger trend: Topping has counted at least 184 anti-LGBTQ+ measures filed in state legislatures this year. That tally, however, does not entirely reflect all of the RFRAs woven into COVID church bills. Topping said “This session is one of the worst that I’ve seen. We’re seeing [anti-LGBTQ+] bills moving faster than we expected them to, we’re seeing them pop-up more.” This will be a key focus of this week’s Equality Act. The fight of Anti-descrimination vs religious freedom.