CHICAGO — Trump on Monday night nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge in Washington, to the U.S. Supreme Court. National and state LGBTQ organizations were quick to respond. Equality Illinois sent out a statement almost immediately after the announcement. We at Equality Illinois will work with our state and national partners to analyze Judge Kavanaugh’s record and call our community to action in the coming days. We will fight and resist an anti-LGBTQ nominee who would try to turn back the clock on our civil rights.
SAN FRANCISCO — Lambda Legal said in a press release on Tuesday that retired military officers were joining state attorneys general and others in friend of the court briefs to the Ninth Circuit to maintain a block on Trump’s ban on transgender military members. From the press release:
Dozens of retired U.S. military officers and former national security officials have joined states attorneys general, the country’s leading medical associations and leading civil rights organizations – including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund – in nine friend-of-the-court briefs urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the lower court ruling in Karnoski v. Trump and maintain the ban on implementation of the Trump administration’s discriminatory ban on transgender military service. “Each of these briefs, and the impressive roster of signatories, underscores the myriad ways in which the proposed ban on transgender military service not only harms unit cohesion and morale, but also upends months of extensive research and study that supported ending the ban in the first place,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Sasha Buchert. “This unconstitutional and discriminatory ban has already lost multiple times in multiple courts, and these briefs demonstrate why such a fate is well deserved. It is well past time to put this ill-conceived “plan” out of its – and our – misery.”
The nine friend-of-the-court briefs filed today include:
Retired Military Officers and Former National Security Officials Brief: A total of 33 former military and national security officers joined this brief, which situates the lifting of the ban on transgender military service to similar points in the history of the armed services regarding integrated units, the ban on women and, more recently, open service by gay men and lesbians. The brief notes that, in each instance, fears concerning unit cohesion and morale were unfounded.
CHICAGO — Yesterday Alex Jones, host of InfoWars and general national embarrassment, tweeted that Democrats would launch a civil war on July 4th. Needless to say, this was a surprised to most Democrats. However, what makes this good is the reaction. Jones, of course, got dragged for filth with his initial tweet. But now #SecondCivilWarLetters sent from the frontlines of this fictional war is trending.
NEW YORK — A recent poll done by Buzzfeed and Whitman Insight Strategies found that gay men and older members of the community were the most resistant to adding stripes to the Pride flag. From Buzzfeed:
The poll, taken by 880 LGBT adults from around the United States, found that 58% oppose the new stripes, while 42% support the change. The largest blocs of opposition were found among gay men and those over 50, with both groups opposing the additional colors 70% to 30%. White LGBT people oppose the change 62% to 38%. The research was conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies and BuzzFeed News as part of a larger LGBTQ survey on life, politics, and identity.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate GOP and conservative groups have already started working on getting a new conservative justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Politico reported late Wednesday afternoon that Judicial Crisis Network was beginning a seven-figure campaign on national cable and digital platforms intended to boost Trump’s. The effort will launch on Thursday and is aimed at putting moderate Senate Democrats in a tough spot before the election, less than a day after Kennedy’s announcement. “President Trump has proven that he wants the best of the best on the Supreme Court. He appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, a fair and independent justice, committed to the Constitution,” a narrator says in the ad.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced early Wednesday afternoon that he would retire, effective July 31. “It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court,” Kennedy, who is stepping down July 31, said in a statement received by the Washington Post. Kennedy was the swing vote in many cases including many LGBTQ rights decisions. From Vox:
In 1996’s Romer v. Evans, he authored the Court’s first major pro-gay rights decision, invoking the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause in striking down a Colorado state constitutional amendment that prevented cities and towns from adopting their own bans on discrimination against gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. Seven years later, in 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas, Kennedy wrote for a 6-3 court invalidating Texas’s ban on oral and anal sex between two men or two women.
WASHINGTON — NBC OUT reported on Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court has the appeal of a florist who was fined after refusing to sell flowers to a gay couple for a wedding. From NBC OUT:
Monday’s action sends the florist’s case back to the Washington state courts “for further consideration in light” of the decision in the baker case, which offered little guidance on how to balance gay rights and religious freedom. “The Washington State Supreme Court now has the job of determining whether the U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects this case. I am confident they will come to the same conclusion they did in their previous, unanimous ruling upholding the civil rights of same-sex couples in our state,” Robert Ferguson, Washington’s attorney general, said Monday. Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington, refused to provide flowers in 2013 for the wedding of two longtime customers, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, explaining that as a Southern Baptist, it would violate her religious beliefs and her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”
SAN ANTONIO — The Texas GOP approved an anti-LGBTQ platform at their state convention this past weekend in San Antonio. From Houston’s OutSmart Magazine:
Texas Republicans once again officially endorsed the dangerous, discredited practice of “ex-gay” therapy, including for “self-motivated” youth. They called on state officials to reject the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, and repeal Texas’ hate crimes law. The 2018 platform also calls for the repeal of local nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ people, and states that businesses and their employees should have a license to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. The document opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity,” and calls for banning trans military service, and requiring trans people to use restrooms in government buildings, including schools, based on the sex they were assigned at birth.
NEW YORK — On Friday, June 22, Lambda Legal and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) seeking all documents and communications connected to its decision to alter the Transgender Offender Manual, including communications with outside advocacy groups. The organizations said in a press release that the changes weaken protections for transgender people who are incarcerated – who are already 10 times more likely to be targeted for violence – and undercut compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). “There is no reasonable justification for the changes the BOP made to the Transgender Offender Manual, especially as correctional facilities across the country have successfully housed transgender people consistent with their gender identity,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney and Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Strategist Richard Saenz in the release. “Local, state, and federal facilities, including jails, prisons, re-entry programs, and juvenile systems, have a constitutional obligation to protect all people in custody. Yet again, the Trump-Pence Administration is turning its back on those most vulnerable, exposing transgender people in prison to harassment, abuse, and violence, as they have done in schools, workplaces, health care systems, and the military.”
“The rollback of protections for transgender people in the federal prison system has no penological basis,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Instead, it appears that the BOP may have acted at the behest of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an SPLC-designated anti-LGBT hate group that has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of transgender people abroad and has recommended use of the terms ‘cross-dressing’ and ‘sexually confused’ in place of the term transgender.”
The Transgender Offender Manual was issued in January 2017 after the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2014 that more than one in three transgender people in prison report experiencing sexual abuse by either staff or other inmates in the previous year – a rate nearly 10 times that of the general prison population.