Tag: discrimination

Hillary Clinton’s claim on the rationale behind Bill Clinton’s support for DoMA is total bull

In case you missed it, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was caught red-handed trying to rewrite history. Specifically, Hillary tried to claim that the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, was a defensive measure designed to appease religious conservatives, who were pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have banned same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the country.

A 1996 memo, written by Clinton Administration officials Jack Quinn, George Stephanopoulos, and Marsha Scott, gives some insight as to the rationale behind what prompted Bill Clinton to sign DoMA, which was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress with all but one Republican and many Democrats voting for it, into law. While the memo mentioned efforts to enact marriage equality at the state level in Hawaii in the mid-1990’s, nowhere in the memo does it reference any kind of movement to enact a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In fact, the memo clearly referenced the fact that Bill opposed marriage equality in 1996.

Chris Geidner has done a ton of research on Bill Clinton’s role in regards to DoMA, and he has found zero evidence to back up Hillary’s claim that Bill supported DoMA as any kind of defensive measure to prevent religious conservatives from enacting a federal constitutional amendment enshrining anti-LGBT bigotry in the U.S. Constitution. To put that another way, Hillary’s claim on Bill’s rationale for supporting discriminatory legislation that was struck down by a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court long after Bill was out of office is a bunch of bull.

I’m from an area of Illinois that is full of Religious Right extremists, and I’m very familiar with the Religious Right’s political modus operandi. If they had enough support to amend the U.S. Constitution to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution at any point in modern American history, they would have done so as quickly as possible. Their whole political modus operandi is to do everything possible to shove their religious beliefs down everybody else’s throats. For the Clintons to try to rewrite history by claiming that DoMA was some kind of defensive measure designed to ward off the Religious Right’s attempt to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution is flatly absurd.

Alabama Republicans deliberately trying to keep black people from voting

In 2011, Alabama Republicans used their complete control of the state government to enact a voter ID law, which required Alabama voters to present a driver’s license or some other form of photo identification to election officials in order to be able to vote.

Yesterday, Alabama closed 31 driver’s license offices in 30 different Alabama counties, and many of the offices that were closed were in predominantly-black counties. Here are the facts about how the closures disproportionately affect black Alabamans:

  • The ten Alabama counties with the highest percentage of registered non-white voters are Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery. Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in eight, or 80%, of those ten counties, with only Dallas and Montgomery counties not affected by the closures. In the other 57 Alabama counties, Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in 24, or 42%, of those counties.
  • All Alabama counties where more than 75% of registered voters are black have seen driver’s license offices in those counties closed.
  • In the 2012 presidential election, 15 of Alabama’s 67 counties voted for the Democratic ticket of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in eight of those counties, or 53% of the counties that voted for Obama. Conversely, 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties voted for the Republican ticket of presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. In those 52 counties, Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in 22, or 42%, of those counties.
  • In the five Alabama counties that gave Obama/Biden the highest percentages of the vote (Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, and Bullock), Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in all five of those counties. In the five counties that gave Romney/Ryan the highest percentages of the vote (Blount, Winston, Cullman, Cleburne, and St. Clair), Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in only three of those counties (Winston, Cleburne, and St. Clair).

(sources here and here)

In case you’re wondering which Alabama county had two driver’s license offices closed, that would be Tallapoosa County, which gave Romney/Ryan nearly 66% of the vote in the 2012 presidential election.

It’s 100% clear to me that the driver’s license office closures in Alabama disproportionately affect black Alabamans, and that the Republicans who run Alabama’s state government are deliberately trying to prevent black people from voting. Jim Crow is, sadly, alive and well in Alabama.

Carly wins second Republican presidential debate

Ladies and gentlemen, Carly won last night’s Republican presidential debate…Minnesota State Representative Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), that is.

The best part of Carly Melin winning last night’s Republican presidential debate is that she didn’t have to run for president herself (she’s too young to legally do so in 2016), and she didn’t have to travel all the way from Hibbing, Minnesota, her hometown on Minnesota’s Iron Range, to the site of the debate in Simi Valley, California. All she had to do was use her Twitter page to deliver a couple of memorable tweets about the debate:

In case you’re wondering, “K Davis” refers to Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite being legally obligated to do so, and “SNL” refers to the NBC comedy series Saturday Night Live.

I found watching Democrats and progressives livetweeting the second Republican presidential debate to be far more enjoyable than watching the Republican candidates debate on CNN.

Westville, Illinois Lions Club condemns anti-LGBT postcards sent out by local Catholic parish

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: The following blog post is an update to an earlier blog post, which I’ve linked to below.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: The blog post has been corrected to include information provided by Westville, Illinois Village Board member Darren VanDunyn, who also is the head of the local Lions Club chapter here in Westville.


Here in my hometown of Westville, Illinois, it’s rare for major controversies to occur in local politics. However, a recent political controversy involves St. Mary’s Church, the local Catholic parish here in Westville, sending out “public notice” postcards spewing anti-LGBT bigotry and railing against homosexuality.

The parish’s decision to send out these postcards to area residents has now cost the parish a major partnership. The Westville (IL) Lions Club chapter, which is led by Westville Village Board member Darren VanDunyn, is no longer partnering with, or promoting events held by, St. Mary’s Church here in Westville because of the anti-LGBT postcards sent out by the parish not reflecting the local Lions Club chapter’s values:

The Lions Club wants to make sure a controversial mailer doesn’t affect a big event this weekend. Now, they’re distancing themselves from St. Mary’s Church.

The church sent out an anti-gay mailer last month. On the other side was information about the upcoming Labor Day celebration and parade. The event is partially sponsored by the church.

Members of the Lions Club decided to drop that partnership. They say the message does not reflect their club in any way.

While I’m not Catholic, it is an indisputable fact that, in his tenure at the helm of St. Mary’s Church, Father Sauppé (I’m not sure what his first name is), the current head of the local parish, has repeatedly embarrassed Westville and has alienated a ton of people. Now, the local Lions Club here in Westville is distancing themselves from St. Mary’s due to Father Sauppé’s actions.

Scott Walker is on the wrong side of history when it comes to gay adults in the Boy Scouts

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker has frequently mentioned the fact that he was an Eagle Scout when he was younger on the campaign trail, largely due to having been a politician virtually his entire adult life and having very few accomplishments outside of politics to cite on the campaign trail.

However, what Walker recently said about the Boy Scouts of America is absolutely disgusting. After the Boy Scouts’ National Executive Committee recommended a resolution to the Boy Scouts’ National Executive Board that, if adopted by the executive board, would end the ban on gay adults serving as Boy Scout volunteers and employees, Walker publicly defended the ban on gay adults in the Boy Scouts. Even worse, Walker compared LGBT people to pedophiles, which is a total characterization of the vast majority of LGBT people in this country. Here’s what Walker said:

I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.

I’m not a fan of the Boy Scouts, since they’re a quasi-religious organization that openly discriminates against atheists and others who are not of a religious faith of any kind. However, for Walker to claim that discriminatory policies against LGBT people “protected children” amounts to blatantly stirring up homophobia, since Walker is implying that LGBT people are pedophiles, which is not true for the vast majority of LGBT people. This kind of attack from Walker is straight out of the same playbook that the bible-thumping religious right in this country has used for decades in opposition to LGBT rights and in support of discrimination against LGBT people.

Furthermore, the President of the United States is traditionally the honorary president of the Boy Scouts, so, if the Boy Scouts continue with that tradition after the 2016 elections, Scott Walker is effectively running for honorary president of the Boy Scouts by running for President of the United States. For an overt bigot like Walker to be the chief executive of the United States and the honorary leader of the Boy Scouts would be a national travesty.

Ending workplace discrimination against LGBT people should be the next fight in the LGBT rights movement

Thanks to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision issued earlier today, same-sex couples across the entire United States of America can now enjoy the same legal right to marry that heterosexual couples have long enjoyed. To put it mildly, this is a huge victory for love and equality in America.

However, in 32 states, some, if not all, LGBT workers, can legally be fired simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity:

  • In 21 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming), all workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 3 states (Arizona, Missouri, and Montana), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but state employees can be fired on the basis of gender identity, and private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 5 states (Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 2 states (New Hampshire and Wisconsin), all workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but all workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.
  • In 1 state (New York), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and private-sector workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.

If the source I linked to above has inaccurate and/or outdated information, please leave a comment on this blog post with accurate information for a particular state.

While it is a huge victory for the LGBT movement to secure marriage equality in all 50 states, the fight for full equality for gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people is far from over. The next big fight in the LGBT rights movement should be to push for laws prohibiting public and private employers from firing people based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Scott Walker compares women working and earning a salary to welfare

AUTHOR’S NOTE: While the blog post references the Republicans’ misleading attacks against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over the salaries that her U.S. Senate staffers made, the author of the blog post is a Bernie Sanders supporter, and both Hillary and Bernie support equal pay for equal work.

Republican Wisconsin Governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker has, once again, made downright offensive remarks about women. This time, he went onto a right-wing talk radio show hosted by Adriana Cohen and effectively claimed that giving women equal pay takes away from men and compared women working and earning a salary to collecting welfare benefits:

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has gone on the offensive against women again, despite the backlash against his previous ugly remarks about rape victims seeking abortion. As reported by Right Wing Watch, Boston Herald Radio host Adriana Cohen asked him about the issue of equal pay for women, using largely discredited numbers to accuse Hillary Clinton as a hypocrite who pays her staff unequally. Walker could have scored the easy point on hypocrisy and left it at that. Instead he doubled down on why he finds it so offensive to be for equal pay in the first place.

“But I think even a bigger issue than that,” he said, “and this is sadly something that would make her consistent with the president, and that is I believe that the president and now Hillary Clinton tend to think that politically they do better if they pit one group of Americans versus another.”

Walker added that Democrats’ “measure of success in government is how many people are dependent on the government, how many people are dependent, on whether it’s Medicaid or food stamps or health care or other things out there.”

If you’re willing to listen to Scott Walker, you can listen to Walker’s remarks here. You can also view the Right Wing Watch piece that Slate columnist Amanda Marcotte referenced here.

Women earning a salary equal to their male co-workers for the same type of work is not a form of welfare or being dependent on the government; it’s being treated fairly. Full-time working women earn 77 cents for every dollar that a full-time working man makes in this country. Furthermore, working women earning the same amount of pay as working men helps men, especially married men in households where their wives work at a job that pays a salary or wage, because equal pay for women means a higher household income, and, therefore, more money for entire families to spend on goods and services.

To me, it sounds like Scott Walker apparently believes that women shouldn’t earn a salary for their participation in the workforce, and he also apparently believes that women earning more pay somehow threatens men. The former is absolutely absurd, and the latter is absolutely false.

Refusing to provide a certain type of product is not the same thing as refusing to serve customers because of who they are

In the wake of Republican-controlled state governments in Indiana and Arkansas passing religious discrimination laws, right-wing bible-thumpers have tried to frame small businesses who refuse to bake cakes containing messaging that LGBT people would find highly offensive. The bible-thumpers are doing this by trying to order a cake containing anti-LGBT messaging and, when the business refuses to make such a cake for them, claiming that the business is discriminating against them.

Azucar Bakery, a Denver, Colorado small business that makes cakes and Peruvian-style desserts, was the target of a bogus legal complaint for refusing to make a cake that contained offensive anti-LGBT messaging. Bill Jack, an anti-LGBT bigot from Castle Rock, Colorado, tried to order a cake from Azucar Bakery that featured icing depicting two groomsmen with a red “X” over them and messages claiming that homosexuality is a sin. Marjorie Silva, the owner of Azucar Bakery, refused to write the messages that Jack wanted on his cake, and Silva offered to bake a cake that contained no messages whatsoever and give Jack a pastry bag and icing so that he could decorate the cake with bigotry himself. Jack filed a state civil rights complaint against Silva and Azucar Bakery, and the Colorado Civil Rights Division rejected Jack’s complaint, ruling that Silva and Azucar Bakery did not discriminate against Jack. Azucar Bakery is selling t-shirts with anti-hate messages printed on them; you can buy the t-shirts here.

Cut the Cake Bakery, a Longwood, Florida small business that also makes cakes, has been subjected to threats and negative online reviews for refusing to provide bigoted televangelist Joshua Feuerstein with a cake decorated with anti-LGBT messaging. After Feuerstein uploaded a video of his phone call with Cut the Cake Bakery to YouTube, Feuerstein’s bigoted followers posted negative reviews of Cut the Cake Bakery online and left phone messages threatening the owner of the business, Sharon Haller. Cyndol Knarr, Haller’s daughter, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support Cut the Cake Bakery; you can donate to that campaign here.

What the bible-thumping bigots in this country don’t understand is that refusing to provide a certain type of product, in this case, cakes decorated with hateful messages that gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people would find highly offensive, is not discrimination, so as long as their policy to not provide certain types of products is applied equally to all customers. What is discrimination is when a business refuses to serve customers because of who they are, such as the Walkerton, Indiana-based pizza parlor Memories Pizza publicly refusing to cater to the weddings of same-sex couples because the people who are getting married are of the same gender. Business owners have the right to refuse to manufacture and/or sell a product that they don’t want to provide to anybody, whether it be because the product in question conflicts with their values or otherwise.

I strongly oppose this effort by right-wing hate mongerers to frame small businesses who are unwilling to sell anything with bigotry and hate speech on it.

With a stroke of a pen, Mike Pence legally eliminates Hoosier Hospitality

Hoosier Hospitality has been legally eliminated in Indiana. I’m not kidding.

Mike Pence, the far-right Republican Indiana Governor, signed into law a religious discrimination bill that, among other things, will allow business owners to refuse service to gays, lesbians, and other groups of people because of the owners’ religious beliefs.

The effects of the religious discrimination bill on Indiana’s economy are already negative and far-reaching. Gen Con, the largest tabletop game convention in North America, stated its intention to move the convention from Indianapolis to an as-of-yet-unspecified location in another state or country prior to Pence signing the religious discrimination bill into law. Additionally, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is looking to move its scheduled 2017 General Assembly from Indianapolis to a location outside of Indiana. The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, has signaled that they’ll hold the 2015 Final Four in Indianapolis (presumably because moving the Final Four to another venue on nine days notice would be a logistical nightmare, if not virtually impossible, for the NCAA), although the NCAA has publicly condemned the religious discrimination legislation, and it’s possible that the NCAA may refuse to hold future NCAA championships in Indiana and move the NCAA headquarters to somewhere outside of Indiana.

Also, a special note to Democrats and progressives regarding religious discrimination legislation: Don’t use the Republican/conservative framing by referring to the legislation as “religious freedom” legislation, as all you’re doing by using their framing is reinforcing the right’s narrative. Refer to it as religious discrimination legislation, as that’s what it is: it allows business owners and other types of employers to discriminate against others based on religious beliefs of the business owners and employers.

Vladimir Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev signs discriminatory measure banning transgender people from driving in Russia

In cased you missed it, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, signed into law a legal amendment banning, among other groups of people, transgender Russians from driving in the country:

Transgender people have been banned from driving in Russia, according to a new legal amendment published this week.

The regulations, which affect people deemed to have “sexual disorders”, also affect fetishists, voyeurs, exhibitionists and transvestites, and were immediately condemned by human rights activists as discriminatory.

The amendment to the law listing medical impediments to driving was signed by prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at the end of last year, but only published this week.

(editing to correct a grammar error mine)

This act by the far-right government in Russia discriminates against transgender Russians and many other Russians based on their gender identity and sex life. There is no scientific basis whatsoever to ban people from driving based on their gender identity and sex life, yet the far-right Russia government is doubling down on their bigotry by trying to blame transgender people for the country’s high rate of automobile crashes:

The Russian government says the new rules are to help cut down on the number of car accidents. Although most of the provisions refer to physical impairments, such as blindness, “gender identity disorders” including transsexualism and dual-role transvestism are referenced in the revised provisions. Sadomasochism and exhibitionism are included as well, according to BuzzFeed’s J. Lester Feder and Susie Armitage.

(editing to correct a grammar error mine)

While I can understand banning blind people from driving, as that is a legitimate reason to ban someone from driving, banning transgender people and others based on their gender identity and sex life is absolutely absurd and blatantly discriminatory. Instead of enacting new regulations to make automobiles safer, making roads and highways safer, expanding public transit, and other measures to actually make Russian roadways safer, the far-right Russian government blames transgender people for the country’s high rate of automobile crashes. That logic is absurd and bigoted.

I thank Meg Gorski, a progressive political blogger here in the United States, for bringing this discriminatory measure by the Russian government to my attention.