Targeting Women.

Joseph-Backholm-1024x592

I first read about this several days ago, when it wasn’t well known, and people weren’t terribly sure if this was a real deal or not. Unfortunately, it’s a real deal.

Conservatives in Washington are currently collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn the state’s transgender protections. It is a measure that rivals North Carolina’s HB2 in the way it targets transgender people for discrimination. And now its proponents are encouraging men to follow women into their bathrooms to get their signatures.

Joseph Backholm, director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW), is leading the signature collection process for what has been labeled “Initiative 1515.” In recordings anonymously delivered to the Gender Justice League of Seattle, Backholm can be heard encouraging male petitioners to camp out near women’s restrooms, ask women for their signatures, then follow them into the restroom if they don’t agree to sign.

At one meeting on April 27, Backholm can be heard giving various tips to petitioners, such as going to places like retirement communities, where the residents are all registered voters who are excited to have visitors. “For gentlemen,” he then suggested, “what I would encourage you to do, if you are so bold and you want to make the point, take your petitions and stand outside the women’s restroom at the mall, and if any of the women don’t want to sign it, just go ahead and follow ’em on in [laughter from crowd]. ‘Maybe this will be a better time to sign our little petition’, and we can make the point that way.”

[…]

At a May 10 event, Backholm made the suggestion one more time, claiming that he and another petitioner were going to enter a women’s spa together — naked — and, “We’re gonna tell the ladies, ‘If you don’t think we should be here, you need to sign our petition.’ And we think that would be wildly successful.”

Confronted with the recordings by KIRO 7, Backholm refused to comment. King County Sheriff John Urquhart, on the other hand, had no problem confirming that anybody who follows Backholm’s suggestion will be arrested.

And rightfully so. Backholm’s contention, as he makes constantly evident in his public remarks — including the above podcast — is that Washington state’s gender identity protections allow this kind of bathroom intrusion by anybody. That conclusion is based solely on rejecting that transgender women are women and that transgender men are men.

[…]

The notion that transgender protections allow men to enter women’s restrooms has — to this point — been an invented hypothetical that has never actually happened. Backholm and the I-1515 campaign are now trying to actually create that problem in real life for the sole purpose of scaring people into voting against transgender equality.

The campaign opposing I-1515, Washington Won’t Discriminate, is now calling for Backholm to lose his job for “inciting others to commit crimes and putting voters in danger.”

Now is the time for people to be very good citizens. If you see one of these asshats hanging around a public lav, call the cops. Report them every single time. Multiple reports would be even better. Anywhere you see these bigots, report them. Use the current law against them, and it will be an excellent demonstration that existing laws are more than sufficient, there’s no need for their added on hate against transgender people.

Via ThinkProgress.

Jackson, Mississippi Stands Up.

tyrone-hendrix-750x563

LGBT residents of Jackson, Miss., now have citywide protection from discrimination in housing, employment, and public services.

Jackson’s new ant-discrimination ordinance was passed by a unanimous vote of the City Council Tuesday evening, The Clarion-Ledger reports. Mississippi’s capital and largest city made a loud statement to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other state leaders who in April passed one of the nation’s most egregious anti-LGBT laws.

[…]

Regardless, Jackson’s new ordidance is a huge step forward for one of the most conservative states in the nation. Whether there will be a statewide backlash — like what occurred when Charlotte, N.C., passed a now-defunct nondiscrimination ordinance — should be known soon.

“I think that this City Council along with the mayor have said repeatedly that Jackson is not a place that will tolerate discrimination of any kind,” Councilman Tyrone Hendrix (pictured, above) told The Clarion Ledger. “Tonight’s vote was just more evidence of our sentiments.”

Full Story at the Advocate.

Congress Will Not Allow the CDC to Study Gun Violence.

AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

On June 2, Obama gave a provactive argument for common sense gun laws. He compared the issue of gun violence to auto fatality rates. Though direct action was taken to lower car-related deaths, such as seatbelt laws and required air bags, no studies are even allowed to be conducted on gun violence.

“Why don’t we treat this like everything else we use? We used to have really bad auto fatality rates. The auto fatality rates have actually dropped, precipitously, drastically, since I was a kid. Why is that? We decided to have seatbelt laws. We decided to have manufacturers put air bags in place. We decided to crack down on drunk driving and texting. We decided to redesign roads so that they were less likely to have a car bank. We studied what is causing these fatalities using science and data and evidence, and then we slowly treated it like the public health problem that it was.

We are not allowed to use any of that when it comes to guns because when you propose anything it is suggested that we are trying to wipe away gun rights and promote tyranny and martial law. Do you know that Congress will not allow the Center of Disease Control to study gun violence? They are not allowed to study it because the notion is that by studying it, the same way we do with traffic accidents, somehow that is going to lead to everyone’s guns being confiscated. If you buy a car and want to get a license—first of all you have to get a license, people have to know you know how to drive—you don’t have to do any of that in respect to buying a gun.”

[…]

Obama also notes that those put on airplane watch-lists are still free to purchase weapons. “Because of the National Rifle Association, I can not prohibit those people from buying a gun.”

Full Story and video at Out.

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When Grover Cleveland, an assimilation supporter, started his first term, an estimated 260,000 American Indians lived on 171 reservations comprising 134 million acres of land in 21 states. Whitehouse.gov

When Grover Cleveland, an assimilation supporter, started his first term, an estimated 260,000 American Indians lived on 171 reservations comprising 134 million acres of land in 21 states. Whitehouse.gov

Grover Cleveland opened his second term as president of the United States with a call for “humanity and consistency” toward Indians as efforts continued to assimilate them into mainstream American culture.

“Our relations with the Indians located within our border impose upon us responsibilities we cannot escape,” he said in his second inaugural address, in March 1893. “Every effort should be made to lead them, through the paths of civilization and education, to self-supporting and independent citizenship. In the meantime, as the nation’s wards, they should be promptly defended against the cupidity of designing men and shielded from every influence or temptation that retards their advancement.”

[…]

The day before Cleveland took office a second time, in March 1893, Congress authorized the Dawes Commission, which extended the allotment policy to the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole). The commission, headed by Henry Dawes, also introduced citizenship records called the Dawes Rolls, which required individuals to enroll by claiming only one line of ancestry—even if they had mixed heritage from several different tribes.

[…]

The Dawes Rolls, which ultimately stripped some individuals of their ancestry, are still used to determine citizenship or as a requirement for tribal membership. The federal government uses the Dawes Rolls to determine blood-quantum status when issuing Certificates of Indian Blood.

Cleveland’s second term, which came on the heels of the Wounded Knee Massacre and was the first administration free of Indian wars, was marked by a distinct change in federal relationships with Indians. Four months after Cleveland took office, Frederick Jackson Turner delivered his “Frontier Thesis” to a gathering of historians at the World’s Fair in Chicago, an enormous event celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage.

Turner, a professional historian, declared that the American frontier was gone, a statement that came three years after the U.S. Census Bureau announced the disappearance of a contiguous frontier line.

Calling the frontier “the meeting point between savagery and civilization,” Turner argued that America’s unique character was defined by “the influence of the frontier.” He pointed to “the disintegration of savagery” as one of several developmental stages America endured on its path to industrialization.

[…]

The end of the frontier also marked a new era for Indians. In his first message to Congress, in December 1893, Cleveland said the government had a “sacred duty” to improve the condition of the Indians.

“I am sure that secular education and moral and religious teaching must be important factors in any effort to save the Indian and lead him to civilization,” Cleveland said. “I believe, too, that the relinquishment of tribal relations and the holding of land in severalty may in favorable conditions aid this consummation.”

During his second term, Cleveland opened to white settlers “surplus” lands purchased from the Yankton Sioux in South Dakota, the Alsea in Oregon, the Kickapoo in Oklahoma and the Nez Perce in Idaho. The allotment program, which opened surplus land to settlers, diminished Indian land holdings from more than 155 million acres in 1881 to about 78 million in 1900.

In his final message to Congress, in December 1896, Cleveland announced the discovery of “a very valuable deposit of gilsonite or asphaltum” on the Uncompahgre Ute reservation in Utah. Calling the find an “important source of public revenue,” Cleveland assured Congress that the government would secure a “fair share” of its value, while a “nominal sum” would be extended to “interested individuals.”

[…]

In the same speech, Cleveland called himself a “sincere friend of the Indian,” and reported that the Indian population topped 177,000. More than 110,000 individuals had accepted allotments, and 23,000 of the 38,000 total school-age children were enrolled in nearly 200 government-operated Indian schools.

“It may be said in general terms that in every particular the improvement of the Indians under Government care has been most marked and encouraging,” he said.

Alysa Landry’s full article here.

LGBT Movement Is Like Taliban, ‘Jeopardizes Freedom’

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop.

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop.

The Charlotte Business Journal received 152 emails of Rep. Dan Bishop, the architect of North Carolina’s HB 2.

The architect of the state’s controversial law to stop cities from extending non-discrimination protection to gay and transgender people insists no amount of protests and pressure could convince him to back down or soften his stance. And, when that architect — Rep. Dan Bishopisn’t debating the merits of the law known as House Bill 2 with constituents and critics, he is championing and celebrating those who support the measure.

“I don’t fear man. I fear God. So I won’t be backing down,” Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) stated in a message he sent to a Charlotte man who implored the lawmaker not to allow persistent opposition to the law to lead to concessions.

[…]

In the same email, Bishop described the pressure from critics as “brutal” and added, “I stepped in front of the train quite deliberately, but the beating is every bit as bad as I expected, and then some. I need the Lord’s help and your prayers.”

[…]

Bishop and fellow Republican lawmaker Rucho took umbrage when Charlotte real estate broker Rob Cochran criticized them as well as McCrory, Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore for passing HB 2.

[…]

Bishop and Rucho, in separate emails, rejected Cochran’s concerns.

“It is time for the business community to stand up and grow a back bone for what is a common sense bill,” Rucho responded.

“Stop being intimidated and extorted by the political correct police because there is no telling where this ends and the damage to our state and country. The large corporations are more concerned about offending the left wing extremists, their reputation and profits then (sic) they are about the rights of millions of woman (sic) and children. I have spent my entire elected career being a strong business advocate but after hearing the weak kneed moaning of business community, I think Bernie Sanders’s anti business philosophy has merit and your greed is despicable.”

Added Bishop: “Business skittishness is entirely the result of false media reports and activist grip on big corporations.”

[…]

A thank-you from a constituent instructed Bishop and his allies not to “cave in to the Politically Correct Taliban! Y’all should have all of the sane states to coordinate and pass these bills on the same day so one state does not have to stand up to these pompous asses alone.”

In reply, Bishop wrote, “I LOVE that idea. Taliban. Love that too. Not giving up. Ever.” A separate exchange with another supporter included a declaration by the lawmaker that “the LGBT movement jeopardizes freedom.”

Charlotte Business Journal has the full story.

Charles Barkley: Move the NBA All-Star Game If HB 2 Isn’t Repealed.

Charles Barkley. Credit: Shutterstock.

Charles Barkley. Credit: Shutterstock.

Charles Barkley believes the NBA needs to help put a end to North Carolina’s House Bill 2 — even if it means taking the All-Star Game with it.

The former basketball player and current analyst for Inside the NBA appeared on The Dan Patrick Show Wednesday, where Barkley reiterated his belief that the game should be moved from Charlotte, where it is set to be held next at the city’s Allstate Arena next February.

“I told my boss, I don’t want to act like I’m jumping on a sword,” Barkley said, “but I’ve talked to Adam Silver, we need to move the All-Star Game.”

“I hope they don’t put me in a situation where I have to boycott the All-Star Game,” he added.

[…]

“As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination,” Barkley told CNN in April. “Against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it. … We can figure out [where to play instead]. I know Atlanta wants to host it.”

Doing so would have a huge economic impact on North Carolina. The NBA All-Star Weekend is projected to bring in $100 million in revenue at a time when the Tar Heel State remains plagued by boycotts. Since the bill’s passage, over 160 companies have condemned HB 2, while PayPal and Deutsche Bank cancelled planned expansions in the state.

North Carolina could lose up to $5 billion in revenue every year the bill isn’t repealed, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute.

That’s why Adam Silver, the commissioner for the National Basketball Association, believes that the league can work with North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory to put an end to the discriminatory legislation. In an April interview, Silver stated his belief that “the best role for the league to play here is through constructive engagement towards change … behind closed doors.”

I’m getting tired of this “behind closed doors” business. It’s a big thing with Trump, and here it is again. “Oh, we’re going to do things, we’ll announce that all over, but it’s none of your business, it will be behind closed doors. I am not okay with this. The way I see it, this is simply allowing open bigots a way to keep on applying their bigotry on the QT, or allowing open bigots a graceful way out of now embarrassing and costly bigotry. I am not at all okay with allowing McCrory a face-saving exit on HB 2, and I don’t think he’d take it anyway.

Silver, who has said that he will wait until the end of summer to make a decision on whether to move the All-Star Game, stated that he believes change will come.

I don’t. Perhaps Silver has the clout to force a change. I suppose we’ll see.

Via The Advocate.

NYC Cops Get A YAY!

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I posted earlier about the great campaign taking place in New York. NYC keeps forging ahead, and when there’s basically nothing except bad news about police and police departments across uStates, it’s really nice to read something positive for a change:

The NYPD recently made its own statement in support of transgender rights with a post at their headquarters noting that bathrooms in all police stations are now gender-neutral, according to the New York Daily News.

Way to go, NYPD! I know not all individual cops are going to be on board with this, but they will have to deal, just as they did when queer cops stopped staying in the closet. The campaign also has a couple of new videos.

Via City Lab.

NC’s Latest Play.

Louis Round Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Photo: Ildar Sagdejev, via Wikimedia).

Louis Round Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Photo: Ildar Sagdejev, via Wikimedia).

RALEIGH, N.C. – In court documents filed yesterday, North Carolina and the University of North Carolina system argued that the state’s law banning transgender people from public restrooms matching their gender identity should remain in effect while a legal challenge proceeds in federal court. The law, House Bill 2, also removes legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and others.

[…]

The individuals and ACLU members are represented by the ACLU of North Carolina, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of Jenner and Block.

The groups released the following statement today in response to yesterday’s motions:

“After rushing to enact HB2 in a span of hours, the government is now asking the court for six months to study its own law, so it can figure out what to say in its defense, all while transgender people suffer. By arguing that HB2 should remain in effect, Gov. McCrory, legislative leadership, and UNC are continuing to defend a law that specifically targets transgender people who just want to be able to use public facilities safely and securely like everyone else. Every defendant opposes efforts to block HB2’s discriminatory provisions from remaining in effect while this case moves forward. In so doing, all of the defendants are continuing to inflict daily harm on the transgender North Carolinians we represent and to defy federal court rulings that conclude that federal law forbids discrimination against transgender people.”

Via Common Dreams and Metro Weekly.

A Win for Transgender Prisoners.

Shiloh Quine. CREDIT: Kristin Schreier Lyseggen

Shiloh Quine. CREDIT: Kristin Schreier Lyseggen.

A federal judge in California ruled on Thursday that state prisons must allow transgender inmates greater access to commissary items that are consistent with their gender identity. The ruling stems from a settlement reached in August 2015 that mandates the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) to pay for a transgender inmate’s sex reassignment surgery.

[…]

The case was first brought forward by 56-year-old Shiloh Quine, a transgender woman currently being held at Mule Creek State Prison, a men’s prison southeast of Sacramento. Represented by the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, CA, her case was first brought forward after she was denied sex reassignment surgery in addition to clothing and other items that were only available to inmates in women’s prisons due to California state prison policy.

[…]

Ilona Turner, legal director at the Transgender Law Center, said in a statement that transgender women should not be denied items that other women in CDCR facilities can access. “We are pleased that the court recognizes the importance of having access to clothing and personal items that reflect a person’s gender, and that denying items because someone is transgender is discrimination,” she said.

Kent Scheidegger said the ruling was ridiculous. He serves as the legal director at the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law organization that advocates for the “swift and certain punishment” of criminals on behalf of their victims rights of crime victims, in addition to promoting use of the death penalty.

Well, nice to know uStates will never be short of people happy to swing a bloodthirsty cudgel whenever the opportunity arises. Jesus Fucking Wept.

ThinkProgress has the full story.

Words For All: You Are A Warrior.

Image: Vice President Joe Biden speaks to '60 Minutes' (Screen capture)

Image: Vice President Joe Biden speaks to ’60 Minutes’ (Screen capture)

VP Joe Biden has written an open letter to the woman raped by Brock Turner. The only thing I have to say is that these words are for all victims of rape and sexual assault, not just women. Via Raw Story.

An Open Letter to a Courageous Young Woman

I do not know your name—but your words are forever seared on my soul. Words that should be required reading for men and women of all ages.

Words that I wish with all of my heart you never had to write.

I am in awe of your courage for speaking out—for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity.

And I am filled with furious anger—both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.

It must have been wrenching—to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.

You are a warrior—with a solid steel spine.

[Read more…]

The punishment for rape should be longer than a semester in college.

Ted Poe calls for Judge Aaron Persky to be removed (C-SPAN/screen grab)

Ted Poe calls for Judge Aaron Persky to be removed (C-SPAN/screen grab)

I never thought I’d be supportive of a conservative congressperson, but I am all the way with Ted Poe here.

Conservative Texas Congressman Ted Poe (R) on Thursday lashed out at Judge Aaron Persky after he sentenced former Stanford student Brock Turner to six months in jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman.

“The woman, just 22 years of age at the time, was being raped and the rapist was caught in the act,” Poe explained in a speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “Brock was found guilty of the sexual assault on three counts. His sentence, a mere six months in prison and three years probation.”

“Because the judge said a prison sentence would have a ‘severe impact’ on him,” the Texas Republican continued. “Well, isn’t that the point? Mr. Speaker, the punishment for rape should be longer than a semester in college.”

[…]

“This judge got it wrong,” he insisted. “There’s an archaic philosophy in some courts that sin ain’t sin as long as good folk do it. In this case, the court and defendant’s father wanted a pass for the rapist because he was a big shot swimmer.”

“The judge should be removed,” Poe remarked. “The rapist should do more time for the dastardly deed that he did that night.”

Poe added that he hope an appeals court would “overturn the pathetic sentence and give him the punishment he deserves.”

“The entitlement mentality of being a good college athlete and self-righteousness do not trump justice,” the lawmaker declared. “The criminal has given her a life sentence of mental pain, anguish and turmoil. When rape occurs the criminal is trying to steal the very soul of the victim.”

“Justice demands the judge be removed!” he exclaimed. “And we, the community, must assist the victim in all possible ways. Because rape is never the fault of the victim. And that’s just the way it is.”

Wow, sing it, Mr. Poe! Here’s hoping he is listened to, and yes, that travesty of so-called sentence needs to be overturned.

Via Raw Story.

Fighting for womens’ rights — the unborn womens’ rights.

Scottie Nell Hughes talks to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on June 8, 2016. (YouTube)

Scottie Nell Hughes talks to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on June 8, 2016. (YouTube)

Tea Party radio host and Donald Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes argued on Wednesday that the Republican candidate would make a better president for women who haven’t even been born yet.

“We actually are fighting for womens’ rights — the unborn womens’ rights,” she told former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D). “We are pro-life for a reason. We want all women to have the chance to live. And men as well. So yes, I consider him to be very feminist when it comes to the pro-life era.”

I guess all you men should be happy you made afterthought status. Well, the unborn men at any rate. I don’t think living, breathing people are counting for much here.

The discussion then circled back to womens’ health care, with Hughes saying that that Trump would improve health care choices for women by replacing the Affordable Care Act — a.k.a “Obamacare” — with a more “competitive” system that would allow states to create their own system.

Oh, that will work well. uStates has such a great track record of coordinated, cohesive social programs and safety nets across all states. How deluded do you have to be to say such utter shite with a straight face? I suppose having a blank brain helps.

“You need to separate womens’ health care from abortion,” Hughes responded. “If they are sitting there doing tax-funded abortions, those should be shut down.”

Oh, when is this going to stop? Federal funding is not used to perform abortions. How many times has this been said now? Emphasized over and over and over.

Via Raw Story.

Religious Freedom Flood

AP Photo.

AP Photo.

The current backlash of religious liberty legislation won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but it looks like we will be in for a long courthouse ride on the current wave. The Advocate has an excellent article providing a good summation of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, and their various permutations now piling up on courthouse steps. As noted, attempts at circumventing civil rights rulings aren’t new at all, but some groups are getting more savvy about language use, which can allow some discrimination to be passed, where the ones with blatant discriminatory language won’t.

Religious freedom is all the rage these days. To hear it told by conservative activists, the constitutional promise of each citizen’s free exercise of religion is under attack like no other time in U.S. history. Surely, such an urgent question is headed for the Supreme Court, right?

Maybe not so fast. Several out attorneys who have spent decades fighting for LGBT civil rights tell The Advocate that we may be settling in for another long, drawn-out battle that challenges discriminatory laws state by state, clause by clause.

[…]

Perhaps proving they’ve learned from Romer, though, anti-LGBT lawmakers these days are less explicit about which groups they’re targeting. The trend in RFRA legislation is to never include any mention of the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender,” or even “sexual orientation or gender identity.”

[…]

Some of the modern iterations of these religious freedom laws hew closely to the federal RFRA, which is comparatively narrow in scope, and therefore generally considered constitutional. But the new wave of bills claiming to protect religious freedom have a broader and, advocates say, more sinister motive.

“It’s not just about LGBT people,” Warbelow explain. “It’s about so much more. That’s an element of why these states are trying to pass [religious freedom laws], but it’s also very much about birth control. It’s very much about restrictions around abortion or even having to talk about abortion. It’s about creating a system in which the religious majority gets to live out their faith regardless of whom it hurts.”

The challenge, these attorneys agreed, is that litigation is designed to address one particular issue or constitutional question at a time. With laws that enable such widespread, multifaceted discrimination, each of those discriminatory provisions will have to be struck down individually, in every state where such a law exists. And even if this Herculean effort is successful, there’s nothing stopping determined anti-LGBT lawmakers from reintroducing slightly amended versions of bills that may have already been struck down in court.

“I actually think the American people are fundamentally with us, on understanding how the effort to use religion as a sword needs to be rejected in this [election] cycle,” says Wolfson. “It’s a multiple set of engagements we need to do, but the big lesson of the marriage work is: Get ahead of it. Have an affirmative strategy. Don’t just be reacting.”

Warbelow agrees and stresses that the problem isn’t with the concept of religious liberty.

“There’s still a real need for protections for religious minorities,” says Warbelow. “It’s just that the [federal RFRA] law has been misused by the courts.”

She points to the Do No Harm Act, a piece of legislation introduced by two Democrats last month in the U.S. House of Representatives that looks to revise the federal RFRA to clarify that it cannot be used to discriminate against members of any minority class, be they religious minorities, LGBT people, and/or women. The bill, Warbelow says, seeks to “restore RFRA to its original intent.”

“We need to reenvision what it means to protect religious liberties,” Warbelow says, “without creating a system in which it’s a free-for-all for discrimination.”

Full Story Here.