Mississippi Gets Federal Lawsuit, Too.

Nykolas Alford and Stephen Thomas.

Nykolas Alford and Stephen Thomas.

An engaged same-sex couple in Mississippi today filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the implementation of the state’s sweeping anti-LGBT “religious freedom” law before it takes effect July 1.

The federal complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, contends that Mississippi’s Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act, also known as House Bill 1523, violates the promises of equal protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The named plaintiffs are Nykola Alford and Stephen Thomas (pictured above), who have been engaged for nearly two years, according to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union and its Mississippi chapter, which is representing the couple.

“When HB 1523 passed, it was heartbreaking because it takes away our chance to finally be treated equally,” the couple said in the ACLU’s statement. “At a time when we’re supposed to be excited as a couple engaged to be married, this law permits discrimination against us simply because of who we are. This is not the Mississippi we’re proud to call home. We’re hopeful others will come to realize this and not allow this harmful measure to become law.”

Full Story Here.

McCrory: We’ll Sue the Feds

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Facing a federal government about to crack down, Gov. Pat McCrory is suing to stop them, arguing there’s no such thing as federal protections for transgender people.

At a press conference at the state capitol in Raleigh today, McCrory repeated his earlier claims that he and his conservative colleagues in the legislature did not “seek out” this issue, placing the blame squarely on members of the Charlotte City Council, which approved a trans-inclusive public accommodations ordinance in February. The statewide law was drafted explicitly as a response to these protections, which McCrory has consistently called “government overreach.”

[…]

North Carolina’s chief legal counsel, Bob Stephens, confirmed during today’s press conference that the state’s lawsuit, seeking declaratory judgment, “is our response to that deadline” set by the DOJ. “So we’ve met the deadline and now we’ll go forward,” he added.

The lawsuit blasts the United States, in particular the federal Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, “for their radical reinterpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which would prevent plaintiffs from protecting the bodily privacy rights of state employees while accommodating the needs of transgendered state employees.”

Mischaracterizing the law as a “common sense privacy policy,” the complaint admits that House Bill 2 does not grant citizens access to public restrooms based on their gender identity. The suit continues:

“The Department [of Justice] contends that North Carolina’s common sense privacy policy constitutes a pattern or practice of discriminating against transgender employees in the terms and conditions of their employment because it does not give employees an unfettered right to use the bathroom or changing facility of their choice based on gender identity. The Department’s position is a baseless and blatant overreach.”

North Carolina’s complaint contends that there is no legal precedent affirming that transgender individuals are protected by federal employment law, but relies upon cases decided up to 16 years ago, notably failing to mention the numerous pro-trans equality rulings handed down in federal courts under the Obama administration.

At today’s press conference, Stephens told reporters that the DOJ is misunderstanding federal civil rights law, and argued that transgender people are not protected under Title VII. “The class of people that the Justice Department are referring to, are not a protected class,” Stephens told reporters, speaking about transgender employees who are now barred from using public restrooms that match their gender identity.

The Advocate has the full story. This just keeps plumbing brand new depths of stupidity and bigotry. How is it possible that holding on to bigotry is worth so much?

McCrory: no clear definition of gender identity.

With a Monday deadline looming and federal funds on the line, Gov. McCrory said he needs more time to consider how he addresses his state's anti-LGBT legislation.

With a Monday deadline looming and federal funds on the line, Gov. McCrory said he needs more time to consider how he addresses his state’s anti-LGBT legislation.

In a Sunday interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace, he revealed that he had requested an extension from the federal government. In response, officials offered a week-long deadline “if the governor admits publicly that their language regarding bathrooms does in fact discriminate.”

“I’m not going to publicly announce that something discriminates,” McCrory said, continuing, “there is no clear definition of gender identity. It is the federal government being a bully.”

Everyone’s a bully except for you, right, Pat?

[…]

Wallace questioned McCrory’s classification of the federal government’s response to HB 2 as “overreach,” comparing the debate to bathrooms segregated by race.

“We can definitely define the race of people. It’s very hard to define transgender or gender identity,” McCrory responded.

It is? How about a person’s gender being what they say it is? Problem solved. I’m getting flashbacks to when people used to grouse and complain that you couldn’t tell men and women apart because of those damn dirty hippies and that long hair, oh my.

Police Lives Matter, So Screw You

Protestors outside Beyoncé concert in Houston -- (KHOU screen grab)

Protestors outside Beyoncé concert in Houston — (KHOU screen grab)

Beyoncé got a rude hometown welcome on her return to Houston, when local law enforcement officers and supporters protested outside her concert on Saturday.

As fans lined up to see Beyoncé’s sold-out concert at NRG Stadium they were treated to cops, sheriff’s deputies and supporters — some wearing “Police Lives Matter” T-shirts — railing against her appearance, reports KHOU.

“Some of her performances we believe to be anti-police,” explained Tony Ragsdale, from the Pasadena Police Department and a member of the Coalition for Police and Sheriffs (C.O.P.S.).

To make their point, the members of C.O.P.S. shined a large blue light on the outside of the concert venue.

[…]

Besides references to Black Lives Matter — which many law enforcement officials see as a slam at their profession following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson — Beyoncé‘s video also featured a police cruiser sinking in the flood waters of New Orleans.

Previously, the Tampa Police Department encountered difficulties getting cops to volunteer to work security at her sold-out show in April.

Cops – don’t criticize us! Don’t make references to us! Don’t ever mention the numerous times we fuck up! Don’t say a word about all the murders we commit and get away with! Don’t suggest we police ourselves! Don’t suggest we’re scarily power mad! Don’t suggest we’re bigoted! And on and on it goes.

Article at Raw Story, along with a video.

Free to Pee at…

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After big-box retailer Target made headlines by reaffirming its long-standing trans-inclusive restroom policy last month, several other national chains are promising that customers and employees can use the restroom that best matches their gender identity at stores nationwide.

Representatives with Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Hudson’s Bay Co. — which operates high-end department stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor — all confirmed to USA Today “that employees and customers in their stores are welcome to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.”

[…]

Bookseller Barnes & Noble told the national paper that as a company, it strives to treat “all employees with dignity and respect.” “For our transgender employees and customers, that means they are allowed to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with,” spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating told USA Today.

I am so relieved. B&N is the only large bookseller in Bismarck, and I love going to the bookstore. All this actually means is that these companies aren’t interested in instituting Pee Police™. (I keep thinking about Psi Corps in B5. It’s the evil Pee Corps!) That’s a good thing, but a lot of national chains aren’t responding in the same way. They aren’t responding at all.  Full Story Here.

White power meets business casual

Photo: Andrew Mears/ AFP

Photo: Andrew Mears/ AFP

Thank God for Donald J. Trump,” cried National Policy Institute director Richard Spencer into the microphone.

Spencer, 37, has a boyish, straitlaced look about him. With his well-tailored suit and a nicely kempt undercut, he’d meld perfectly into the swarms of youthful think tank employees trotting down Massachusetts Avenue. But NPI is no ordinary Washington think tank. Founded by an heir to a conservative publishing fortune, it drew white nationalists and sympathizers from around the country—and at least one from Canada—to its innocuously named “Identity Politics” conference a couple of days after Donald Trump dominated the field on Super Tuesday. For $45, I snagged the last ticket designated for millennials.

It is the rise of the bombastic Republican frontrunner that brought this amalgam of aggrieved crusaders together for an evening of cocktails, appetizers, and songs of praise to the candidate who’s inspired them to dip a toe into the stream of establishment politics.

Full Story Here.

There’s another hate group tackling Target for daring to be inclusive, the AFA (American Family Association):

The American Family Association, which is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has been sending cisgender men into women’s restrooms at the retail chain.

Previously, the AFA had organized a boycott of Target, which allows customers and employees to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. The policy is a slap back at North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law prohibiting transgender people from using the appropriate facilities for their identity, although the law applies only to government buildings, not private-sector companies.

The group, which contends Target’s policy opens the bathroom floodgates to sexual predators, claims to have enlisted over 1 million people to join its boycott.

Sandy Rios, AFA’s director of governmental affairs, revealed its new anti-LGBT tactic in a Monday radio interview with Breitbart News.

“We’ve already had people testing this, going into Targets and men trying to go into bathrooms. There is absolutely no barrier,” she told host Stephen Bannon, who said “decent, hard-working people who don’t want their 4-year-old daughter to have to go into a bathroom with a guy with a beard in a dress.”

“Absolutely no barrier”. I think that one gets filed under “no shit, Sherlock.” There’s never been anything stopping anyone from going into any public lav. You don’t even need to play dress up, just walk right in. You’d think that might have occurred to the genius watchdogs of uStates morality, but apparently it just slid right by them.

Full Story Here.

Antigay Crusade Going to Congress

A House committee is using the defense bill to pass "religious exemptions" for federal contractors.

A House committee is using the defense bill to pass “religious exemptions” for federal contractors.

Republicans in Congress are using defense funding to help pass a “religious freedom” law through Congress.

The House Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a “religious freedom” amendment to the defense authorization bill. It would undo an executive order from President Obama that prohibits government contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination against their employees.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell, could be compared to the “religious freedom” laws that caused outrage in Indiana, Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere. In this case, it would limit the federal government to protecting only those groups now named in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the American with Disabilities act, reports the Washington Blade. Neither of those laws protect LGBT people from discrimination, therefore Russell’s amendment would allow religious organizations doing business with the U.S. government to fire or punish any employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Advocate has the story.

Nashville D.A.: Bathroom Bills Are Wrong

Nashville, TN Assistant DA Chad Butler (screen capture)

Nashville, TN Assistant DA Chad Butler (screen capture)

Finally, someone talks sense.

The District Attorney of Nashville, Tennessee said Thursday that anti-trans “bathroom laws” like North Carolina’s are aimed at the wrong people. Sexual predators as a group, he said, are overwhelmingly “heterosexual men.”

WSMV Channel 4 reported on statements by assistant DA Chad Butler, who said that in his long career of prosecuting sex crimes, he has never prosecuted a single case against a transgender person.

“As long as I’ve been doing this job and the hundreds of cases I’ve reviewed, I’ve never once had a transgender person come across my desk as an offender,” he said.

Butler specializes in crimes against children, who are ostensibly the people the discriminatory laws are meant to protect. He told Channel 4 that the people parents need to be on guard against are the people they see every day.

“A majority of my cases are fathers, stepfathers, uncles, Boy Scout leaders, coaches, youth ministers, preachers,” Butler said. “People that are already close to the family that the family trusts.”

The idea that trans people are more likely to victimize children, he said, is “statistically unfounded and off base.”

Story and video here.

Atheists, Homosexuals, and Transgender Individuals, oh my!

Alabama’s anti-gay state Supreme Court judge blamed “atheists, homosexuals and transgender individuals” for his legal troubles during a Wednesday press conference, AL.com reports.

“We’re in a serious time in our country. We are at a time in our country when people who just a few years ago would have been ascribed a mental illness, a mental disorder,” he said. “When I started in 2013, if that would have happened then, this person and the people around her… would have been said to have a mental disorder… Today that person is violating and has violated a court order and is now bringing complaints against the chief justice.

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s June ruling, Moore declared the high court doesn’t have the authority to define marriage because of beliefs that God created marriage. He said in July that he believed same-sex marriage was legalized by people being influenced by Satan.

Moore is being represented by Mat Staver, a religious activist attorney from the Liberty Council, which also represented the anti-gay Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis.

For every person who is found to be saying “why, back in my time” or “call me old-fashioned” or similar – do the world a favour, retire. Go someplace quiet, and leave the rest of us to move on.

Raw Story has this here.

Unconscious? Passed Out? It’s not rape.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

At a time when many states are busily showing how backwards, stupid, and hateful they can be, in steps Oklahoma for a bit of the idiot stakes limelight: Oklahoma court rules it’s not rape if you’re unconscious and being sodomized. From Fusion:

In a court ruling one prosecutor is calling “insane,” Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled late last month that state forcible sodomy laws do not apply if the victim is intoxicated or unconscious.

On March 24, the Oklahoma Watch (OW) reports, the court found that because the state’s sodomy law does not explicitly contain language about victims being intoxicated or unconscious, “forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation.”

“We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language,” the appeals court wrote.

Raw Story has also covered this story:

An Oklahoma court has stunned local prosecutors with a declaration that state law doesn’t criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious.

The ruling, a unanimous decision by the state’s criminal appeals court, is sparking outrage among critics who say the judicial system was engaged in victim-blaming and buying outdated notions about rape.

But legal experts and victims’ advocates said they viewed the ruling as a sign of something larger: the troubling gaps that still exist between the nation’s patchwork of laws and evolving ideas about rape and consent.

To say I am speechless (or textless) would be an understatement.

Evolution: not a religion

SAB

So sayeth the court.

A federal court rejected the argument from a Christian group in Kansas which said that evolution was religious “indoctrination” and should not be taught in schools.

[…]

In a statement, Americans United for Separation of Church and State said that COPE feared that scientific facts would cause “Kansas schoolchildren will be subtly manipulated into rejecting their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

“It’s a nonsensical argument, which is why courts have unanimously rejected it,” Americans United said. “COPE, it seems, isn’t interested in promoting facts; it’s interested in forcing public schools to conduct far-right religious and political indoctrination.”

Full Story Here.

#Boycott Target

Boycott

…As a result of Target’s transgender bathroom policy, the retail chain has now become the target of a boycott. Though not as substantial as the boycott which has sighted North Carolina in its crosshairs (costing the state PayPal, a plethora of performing artists, and even the business of multiple municipalities), the newly implemented Target boycott could end up costing the company’s bottom line.

Apparently, to some, it’s legitimate for states to try to promote “bathroom bills” and other anti-LGBT legislation, but it’s crossing a line for a corporation to take as stand against discrimination. Target, as the first national retailer to publicly weigh in on the LGBT subject publicly, is bearing the brunt of conservative anti-LGBT activism.

[…]

Now, The American Family Association is calling for a boycott of Target, and has gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures of those who intend to boycott the retail giant. Target is also dealing with backlash pertaining to its transgender bathroom policy on social media.

[…]

On Saturday, April 22, Breitbart reported that over 250,000 people had already signed the boycott petition circulated by the American Family Association. According to the American Family Association’s Director of Government Affairs, Sandy Rios, Target “jumped into” the transgender bathroom debate, effectively saying that “men who claim to be women may use whatever bathroom or changing room they choose.”

According to Rios, a “gender neutral” bathroom would be enough to satisfy herself and her organization, although she doubts that such a compromise would “satisfy the left.”

The AFA would be satisfied with a “gender neutral” lav? Somehow I don’t think so. I think they want nothing to do with unisex lavs. What I think they do want is for Target to install a brand new lav labeled “freaks”.

The American Family Association president had some words to share about the Target transgender bathroom policy himself. As Yahoo! News reports, Tim Wildmon posted an open letter to the public regarding his thoughts on the Target bathroom policy. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t impressed.

“Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. This means a man can simply say he ‘feels like a woman today’ and enter the women’s restroom… even if young girls or women are already in there.”

Wildmon must be absolutely thrilled that’s he found a way back into the limelight. Please, Tim, do us a favour and crawl back into your cave.

Full article here.

Sunday Facepalm

220px-Representative_David_Brumbaugh

Rep. David Brumbaugh. Wikimedia.

Oh hey, God will pick up the tab, no worry.

I guess ‘God’ only cares about economy of Oklahoma, and will only care if good ol’ Dave there legislates all those potential sluts into order. Perhaps the pile drive of the patriarchal thumb is what will fix economies all over. That’s a theory of economics, ennit?

Abortion rights groups warned that the legislation is unconstitutional and that it could invite a legal challenge if signed into law. A 2011 Oklahoma law that essentially banned drug-induced abortion was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court.

“I’ve heard almost every argument today about judicial challenge to this legislation and after much prayer and study, I ask myself this question,” Brumbaugh said. “Do we make laws because they’re moral and right, or do we make them based on what an unelected judicial occupant might question or overturn?”

Supposedly, laws are made to ensure freedoms, rights, justice, (yeah, I know) and to protect people. Those pesky freedoms and rights have been dismissed, there’s no concern for justice, certainly no empathy or mercy to be found, so who is it you’re trying to protect? Oh, clumps of cells. Forgot about those blobs for a moment, what with them not being people or anything.

He compared passing the abortion legislation in the face of a possible legal challenge to the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights Act and the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

“Don’t let people tell you, ‘Unconstitutional arguments, Roe v. Wade,’ all this,” Brumbaugh said, referencing the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

I swear, one of these days I will actually drop dead from irony poisoning. Oh well, Dave’s bottom line message? Ignore the law until I make up one I like!