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House GOP Attempts To Strip LGBT Workforce Protections

Over and over again, we have heard about the supposed demise of the Religious Right and how the Republican Party will stop focusing on issues like LGBT equality and abortion rights, especially in the age of Donald Trump.

As Ari noted last week, these claims come at a time when women’s “access to birth control is still a matter of public debate and gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals can still face discrimination across wide swaths of our country in the workplace, in housing, and even when attempting to access basic services.”

Trump, the candidate hailed by some pundits for minimizing such social issues, just put out a list of anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, ultraconservative jurists he would pick from when choosing his Supreme Court nominees.

The release of the list comes after Trump has made repeated vows to use the judicial nomination process to challenge the Roe v. Wade and Obergefell rulings, the landmark decisions on abortion and marriage equality, respectively.

Indeed, anyone paying attention to the actions of House Republicans over the last few days can see that the party is still committed to undermining LGBT rights.

“During debate on a military spending bill, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) offered an amendment to nullify a provision in a separate bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, that the House passed late Wednesday,” Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post writes today. “The provision opens the door to government contractors citing religious liberty as grounds for firing or harassing employees who are LGBT.”

When the amendment was on the verge of passing, GOP leaders convinced seven Republicans to switch their votes, successfully defeating the amendment by one vote. The Associated Press reports:

The vote was 213-212. President Barack Obama has issued an executive order that bars discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., had offered an amendment to a spending bill that would have prohibited using taxpayer dollars to violate the order.

The vote for Maloney’s amendment peaked at 217, one short of the majority needed for passage, before it began a slow, sporadic decline. Members of the Republican whip team, whose job is to round up needed votes, were stalking the House chamber’s aisles where GOP lawmakers seat, openly pleading for support.

“Need two more votes,” Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., one of the GOP whips, said loudly as he prowled among Republicans.

Russell was the same congressman who introduced the anti-LGBT amendment that, according to the Advocate, allows groups “doing business with the U.S. government to fire or punish any employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity” under the guise of religious freedom.

Also this week, Oklahoma Republican lawmakers passed “a bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions” and Texas Republicans expanded their already firm opposition to LGBT rights.

But remember, the culture wars are dead!

Phyllis Schlafly: Call My Daughter And Ask Her To Stop 'Going After Me'

The family feud over who is in charge of Eagle Forum, the conservative “pro-family” group, got even nastier yesterday when the organization’s founder, Phyllis Schlafly, sent out a robocall to members giving them the phone number of her daughter, Anne Cori, and urging them to call her and “ask her to stop all of this.”

“Would you please help me stop these people from going after me and the organization that I have devoted my life to building?” she asked.

You can listen to the audio here, via Breitbart:

Schlafly has accused Cori and five other board members of the group’s political arm of trying to oust her.

Cori and her allies, however, claim that they only want to oust Ed Martin, Schlafly’s handpicked successor, whom they say is manipulating Schlafly and mismanaging the organization.

Martin, for his part, says that the dissident board members are just upset that Schlafly endorsed Donald Trump rather than their preferred presidential candidate, Ted Cruz.

Pointing her finger at the Cruz campaign, Schlafly has alleged that the Texas senator’s aides tried to make it appear that her group endorsed had Cruz and that the campaign underhandedly gotten its hands on Eagle Forum membership lists.

Schlafly has said that her two sons — Cori’s brothers — are also in the crosshairs of the rebellious board members.

“The only thing they’ve done is divide my family,” she said last month. “My daughter is with the group that is leading the assault on my leadership and they want to get rid of my son,” John Schlafly, the treasurer named, along with Martin, in the lawsuit brought by Cori and the other board members. She said that the dissident group also wants to get rid of her son Andy Schlafly, who does legal work for Eagle Forum.

Schlafly also claimed last month that Cori “is trying to tell me that she’s just doing this for my benefit, but I don’t need somebody to do something for my benefit, I’ve gotten along quite well all these years,” alleging that her daughter “lined up with some of the people who thought they could get good jobs at Eagle Forum if they got rid of me.”

The two parties are now in court after the Eagle Forum board voted to remove Martin from his position and install Cori as executive director, a vote that Schlafly said was invalid.

The robocall is just another sign that the fight over Eagle Forum hasn’t hit rock bottom just yet.

Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee And The GOP's Phony Populism

Although former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has built a career on a folksy brand of Christian conservatism, it wasn’t all that surprising that he was quick to get behind the presidential candidacy of thrice-married New York billionaire Donald Trump.

While many Religious Right leaders have expressed concerns about Trump’s rise to the top of the Republican Party, Huckabee was quick to embrace his former presidential rival, particularly after Trump vanquished Ted Cruz, whom Huckabee had repeatedly attacked as a phony Christian.

Despite appearances, Huckabee and Trump have plenty in common.

Like Trump, Huckabee is a huckster. And it couldn’t have hurt that the presumptive GOP nominee hired Huckabee’s daughter on his campaign staff.

The two also have a similar pitch to voters. While both claim that they are standing up for the working man against a corporate, ultra-wealthy elite, both of their main economic proposals include deep tax cuts for the super-rich.

Huckabee told the Guardian today that before Trump’s rise, the GOP was on the verge of becoming “a wholly owned subsidiary of the financial community and globalists/neocons,” when the party really needed “to refocus on the American worker, the American infrastructure and rebuilding America.”

“They have created favors for the donor class at the expense of the working class,” he said.

Huckabee, however, has for years promoted an extremely regressive “Fair Tax” proposal to replace the progressive income tax with a national sales tax.

Former Reagan administration adviser Bruce Bartlett has said that under Huckabee’s proposal, “there would be an enormous shift in the tax burden from the wealthy to those with lower and middle incomes.”

Richard Phillips, senior policy analyst at Citizens for Tax Justice, wrote last year:

A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that under the 'Fair Tax,' the top 1 percent of taxpayers would receive an average annual tax cut of $225,000. Meanwhile, the plan would increase taxes by about $3,200 on average on the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers. In other words, Huckabee’s tax plan would significantly increase taxes on the overwhelming majority of Americans to pay for huge tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans.

Since “very high-income households spend only a fraction of their income, while low- and middle-income people spend all or most of what they make,” wrote Leonard E. Burman of the Tax Policy Center, under Huckabee’s plan, “tax burdens on middle-income households would surely rise while high-income families would get a big tax cut.”

Despite such a radical proposal, Huckabee still markets himself as the defender of the working class against the wealthy elite, even as he promises to raise taxes on the working class and deliver a massive tax cut the rich.

Trump is no different.

Trump claims that he wants to raise taxes on the rich, when in fact his tax plan does the exact opposite.

Under Trump’s massive $12 trillion tax plan, “the top 1 percent of Americans will receive an average tax break of $227,000 per year while the bottom 20 percent will receive an average tax cut of only $250,” according to Citizens for Tax Justice, which found that “the majority of Trump’s tax cut would go to the top five percent of taxpayers.”

But the biggest winners of Trump’s tax cut won’t be the top five percent. They won’t even be the top one percent.

“[T]he benefits would be overwhelmingly skewed to the highest-income taxpayers, with those in the top 0.1 percent (who make $3.7 million or more) getting an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million,” says Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center.



The supposedly populist candidate also promises to pay off the entire $19 trillion national debt in just eight years — “very easy” — but one estimate found that his huge tax cut for the rich alone will grow the debt by almost 80 percent.

Just fulfilling his pledge to balance the budget would be mathematically impossible under the proposal he has laid out to do so.

Trump also boasts that he is boycotting Apple, Ford and Nabisco for building factories outside of the U.S., often bragging that he will never eat an Oreo ever again. And yet Trump has personally invested in all of those companies.

Huckabee and Trump, nonetheless, continue to claim the “populist” mantle. 

It may be their greatest swindle yet.

David Barton: With Ted Cruz Out, Conservative Christians Must Become More Engaged In Electing God-Fearing Candidates To Office

David Barton, the Religious Right psuedo-historian and activist who ran a major super PAC supporting Ted Cruz’s presidential candidacy, released a video today laying out the path for conservative Christian activists to take now that Cruz, the candidate they had long prayed for, has dropped out of the presidential race. 

The results of the GOP presidential primary, he said, drive home three life lessons: 1) Nothing catches God by surprise; 2) God cares how you respond to adversity; 3) All things work together for good according to God's plan.

As such, Barton said that conservative activists cannot now abandon all that they have fought for and must, instead, "become more engaged" and get to work electing people who will operate according to "the timeless principles given to us by God" to local, state and federal offices.

"We become more engaged and we get our neighbors engaged," Barton said. "We need to make sure our neighbors are registered to vote and that they choose God-fearing leaders and that, above all, we teach ourselves and others to think and act biblically."

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Pat Robertson Says Drug Addicts Who Won't Work Or Get Treatment Should Be Left To 'Starve To Death'

On "The 700 Club" today, Pat Robertson responded to a question from a viewer who wanted to know what the proper Christian response is to drug addicts in her town who are, she complained, using up government and hospital resources that she has to pay for with her tax dollars. Robertson responded that it was time for some tough love and that drug addicts who refuse to work or seek treatment should simply be allowed to starve to death.

A viewer from Massachusetts cited a Boston Herald article about the strain that addicted and mentally ill "super-utilizers" are putting on Boston's hospitals and Medicaid system and complained that she's finding it hard to be charitable toward drug addicts who are intentionally overdosing and wasting resources that she is paying for with her taxes.

Robertson responded by citing 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which says that "if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat," as justification for allowing addicts to starve to death.

"There are a bunch of people who are just bums and they're trying to ride in on the charity of others," Robertson said. "Tough love will say, 'I'm not going to give you something.' ... If these people are out drugging themselves, let 'em starve to death. I know that sounds hard, but that's the way it's got to be."

Shaming Women Is Now A Donald Trump Policy Position

In an interview with the New York Times Magazine published today, Donald Trump continued to revise his comment to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions.

Robert Draper writes:

Now he argued to me, rather unconvincingly, that he had been misinterpreted: “I didn’t mean punishment for women like prison. I’m saying women punish themselves. I didn’t want people to think in terms of ‘prison’ punishment. And because of that I walked it back.

Trump’s so-called “walk-back” is actually a stroll through the rhetoric and actions of the far Right. If women are “punishing themselves,” it is only because anti-abortion activists and Donald Trump want to stigmatize them for receiving a legal medical procedure.

One of the principal tactics of the anti-abortion movement is shaming women who are seeking out a safe and legal medical procedure. They stand at clinic doors harassing patients and set up “crisis pregnancy centers” to mislead women about abortion. States have passed laws forcing doctors to lie to patients, telling them abortion is linked to mental illness, despite research saying the opposite.  

Perhaps Trump is just borrowing from the playbook of Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, who recently endorsed his candidacy. In a 2003 book, the radical anti-abortion activist with ties to terrorists, claimed women who receive abortions, their families and their doctors have “personal bloodguilt” for their actions, which in turn makes the entire United States “bloodguilty.”

Trump's remarks also echoed those of Priests for Life's National Director Frank Pavone, who remarked in early April that the anti abortion movement does not aim to "imprison [women], we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings." 

Trump’s penchant of shaming women in public forums is no secret, and his personal treatment of women in professional and personal settings has been the subject of dozens of column inches and countless cable news segments. His most recent statement should be cause for even greater concern. Trump now wants to take his Twitter rants and make them a matter of national policy.

Draper’s article points out that according to a senior campaign adviser, “Trump, a serial non-apologizer, initially saw nothing wrong with his remark and refused to walk it back.” It was “only when every network chief executive and over 100 media outlets besieged the Trump campaign with requests for additional comment on how women should be punished for abortions did the Trump campaign turn to an ally: Chris Christie, whose tenure as the Republican governor of the blue state of New Jersey had given him experience placating both social conservatives and the moderate voters Trump hoped to attract in the general election.” It turns out, according to Draper, “A member of Christie’s political team helped draft a statement that essentially repudiated Trump’s earlier one.”

What we’ve learned about Donald Trump’s beliefs is that before the media’s outcry he saw nothing wrong with women being jailed for having an abortion. Now, weeks after his campaign confronted a tsunami of pushback, his default position is to effectively shame women.

Ted Cruz Fundraises Off Of Jerry Boykin Getting Fired For Threatening Violence

Earlier this year, the Family Research Council's Jerry Boykin spoke at Liberty Counsel's "The Awakening" conference in Florida where he railed against efforts to protect transgender individuals by allowing them to use the facilities that match the gender with which they identify. 

"I’ve already said, and somebody’ll be recording this and this’ll be on YouTube before it’s all over with, "Boykin said. "But I will tell you what, the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t going to have to worry about surgery. That’s not right. That is not right. It’s not right. It’s ungodly. But it’s also just unnatural. This is crazy. Where are the Christians that are standing up?"

We posted audio of his remarks back in March and yesterday Boykin posted a message on his Facebook page announcing that he had been terminated from a teaching position he held at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia because of the remarks.

Boykin insists that he was not threatening violence against transgender people, despite his clear reference to sex reassignment surgery, and that his comments were "understood as humor":

Because some of you already know and are contacting me about it, let me make it official and let you all know that I have been terminated from teaching at Hampden-Sydney College after nine years there. Hampden Sydney is the 10th oldest college in America and is one of the two Men's colleges left in ‪#‎America‬. Let me begin by saying that it is a fine school with some very good young men who give me hope for the future. There are also a few very good faculty members who I consider to be good friends and true patriots. They stood with me through this whole situation as the school made the decision to terminate me and I appreciate everything that these friends at the school did to try and help.

The bottom line is that I oppose these so called "‪#‎Bathroom‬" bills that let men go into women's locker rooms, showers, and toilets and I have been very public about it. When I said in Orlando that "...the first man who goes in the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery", the LGBT community once again came after me, claiming that I was calling for violence against ‪#‎transgender‬ people.

Well, that is simply not the case and I have never called for violence against anyone. I was referring to perverts who will use these policies to get into locker rooms with girls and women, and I object to that. My statement was meant to be humor and not a call for violence, which everyone in my audience understood as humor.

Nonetheless, I gave the LGBT community just what they needed to pressure the college leadership to terminate me and they did.

Predictably, Ted Cruz, who made attacking transgender protections a part of his failed presidential campaign, has come rushing to Boykin's defense and is using this incident as an opportunity to raise funds for his own Senate re-election campaign.

Boykin was a prominent endorser of Cruz's campaign and served as a national security adviser.

Cruz dismissed Boykin’s comment’s as "levity," while lamenting that it has now become "a firing offense."

General Jerry Boykin is an American hero. He was one of the original members of the U.S. Army's Delta Force. A decorated warrior, he commanded Delta Force and he commanded all the Army's Green Berets as well as the Special Warfare Center and School.

Hampden-Sydney College has fired General Boykin. At a time where young people are desperately seeking hope and inspiration, you would think General Boykin (who had taught there nine years) would be one of their most valued faculty. But instead, he fell victim to the PC police.

Referring to President Obama's push to allow grown men into girls' bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms, General Boykin joked, "...the first man who goes in the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery." That levity, in today's precious academic world, was a firing offense.

Three observations: first, our universities are losing their souls. College should be about learning, and that requires a diversity of views. When I was a student in the 1980s and 90s, surrounded by college and law school faculty members who were militant leftists and even Marxists, I didn't curl up in a ball and plead for a "safe place." Confronting opposing views helped me learn what I myself believe, and helped me understand better how to persuade others. That's the essence of education. Raising coddled, solipsistic children who cannot handle dissent represents a complete failure and abdication of the university mission.

Second, free speech matters. If you disagree with someone, disagree with them. Don't silence or punish them. Censorship is the refuge of the weak-minded (those who cannot defend their views) or the tyrannical (those who simply want to force submission and compliance). If you think it's a good idea for men and boys to be taking showers with little girls -- whether you're the President, a presidential candidate, or a university apparatchik -- tell us why. Make the case, with reason and logic, don't just respond as jack-booted thugs.

Third, young people need heroes like General Boykin. Ironically, Hampden-Sydney's motto is Huc venite iuvenes ut exeatis viri, which translates to: Come here as boys so you may leave as men. This storied institution, founded the year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, has decided that warriors and heroes are no longer welcome on its faculty. If you love our country, this should bother you greatly.

Update 5/20: Today, Boykin announced that he has been re-hired by Hampden-Sydney College:

I am deeply grateful for all the support - through social media, calls and emails - that I have received over the past few days. This situation has been a great reminder of how our ‪#‎FirstAmendment‬ principles are worth standing up for and defending.

I am pleased to announce that I have been rehired as the Wheat Professor at Hampden-Sydney College. I look forward to returning to Hampden-Sydney in the fall to continue my work equipping the next generation of young men to lead this nation. Hampden-Sydney College is a fine school with a proud history of young men who have led our country, and I am honored to be a part of shaping the next generation of leaders.

With that said, I would like to share some thoughts on this experience.

First, there is strength in unified numbers. The radical Left and LGBT activists completely underestimate the impact of ‪#‎freedom‬-loving ‪#‎Americans‬ banding together to protect our First Amendment freedoms. Many people spoke out on my behalf and I am eternally grateful that they stood with me. Their unified voices allowed me to return to Hampden-Sydney.

Second, never cave in when you know that you are standing for what is right and true, for these are the principles that made this nation great. STAND, even if it means you lose your job. STAND, even if it means you lose your life. The founding principles of this nation are worth defending, even if it costs you.

Third, my reinstatement is a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus. The free exchange of conflicting ideas must be the bedrock of every college campus in America. This essential exchange has been greatly wounded by the PC police, but it can be restored to college campuses around the country if, in unity, freedom-loving Americans speak out. Bottom line: when you stand, freedom prevails.

Finally, I would like to thank the leadership of Hampden-Sydney College for the courage they have demonstrated in reversing their decision and allowing me to remain a part of the Hampden-Sydney community. 

Donald Trump Wants Justice Who Repeatedly Mocked Him On The Supreme Court

In an apparent attempt to stave off conservative fears that he may not appoint an ultraconservative jurist to the Supreme Court, Donald Trump released a list today of 11 people he said he would consider naming to the court.

But Trump may have wanted to vet the list before releasing it.

One of the potential Supreme Court nominees Trump mentions, Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court, has relentlessly taunted Trump on his Twitter page, where he has said he cried at the prospect of Trump picking Supreme Court justices, mocked the candidate’s policies and statements and even joked that the GOP presidential candidate may be Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in disguise.

Trump Releases Supreme Court List, Including Conservative Dream Justices

Donald Trump, faced with conservative jitters over whom he would name to the Supreme Court if he were elected president, has promised to release a list of names from which he would promise to pick nominees. Today, according to the Associated Press, he released that list.

According to the Daily Beast, all of Trump’s 11 picks are white. Just three are women.

Trump’s list includes two possible picks whom he has frequently mentioned on the campaign trail: federal appeals court judges William Pryor and Diane Sykes. It also includes three additional people whom the Heritage Foundation recommended for Supreme Court posts after Trump said he would consult with the conservative group on his list: Raymond Gruender and Steven Colloton, both federal appeals court judges, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willet.

Also on Trump’s list are Thomas Lee, a Utah Supreme Court justice and brother of Republican Sen. Mike Lee; Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia; David Stras, who serves on the Minnesota Supreme Court; and federal appeals court judges Thomas Hardman and Raymond Kethledge.

It looks like Trump has, true to his promise, picked potential justices who would advance the conservative efforts to skew the federal courts far to the right. The libertarian publication Reason, for instance, has gushed over Willett for his willingness to overthrow government regulations.  (Willett, for what it’s worth, does not seem to return Trump’s admiration.)

We profiled Pryor, Sykes and Colloton last month:

William H. Pryor

One possible Supreme Court nominee whom Trump has specifically praised is William H. Pryor, selected by President George W. Bush to be on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Formerly Alabama’s attorney general, Pryor has a history of extreme right-wing activism, severely criticizing not just women’s right to choose under Roe v. Wade but even the constitutionality of the New Deal.

Pryor has called Roe the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” He has claimed that with the New Deal and other measures, the U.S. has “strayed too far in the expansion of the federal government,” and asserted that it “should not be in the business of public education nor the control of street crime.” As a judge, he has helped uphold a restrictive Georgia voter ID law and joined just one other judge on the 11th Circuit in claiming that “racially disparate effects” should not be enough to prove a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, even though the Supreme Court has ruled precisely the opposite.

Pryor came first on a wish list of Supreme Court picks that the Heritage Foundation published shortly after Trump promised to consult them before naming justices.

Diane Sykes

Trump has also repeatedly named Diane Sykes, a Seventh Circuit federal appeals court judge appointed by President George W. Bush, as a potential Supreme Court nominee. Sykes, who previously served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and a trial court, has also won high praise from the Heritage Foundation and from right-wing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

In a series of dissents, Sykes has argued in favor of big business and against consumers and discrimination victims, including cases where she tried to limit corporate liability for product defects and overturn a $1 million damages award, to protect a corporation from having to defend against an employee’s claim of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to reverse a $3.5 million bad faith judgment in favor of a Lutheran church against its insurance company.

She showed her anti-reproductive-choice views in providing a lenient sentence to two anti-abortion protesters who had to be forcibly removed from blocking the entrance to a Milwaukee abortion clinic and had previously been arrested 100 times for such offenses; Sykes nevertheless praised them for their “fine character” and expressed “respect” for the “ultimate goals” the blockade “sought to achieve.”

She asserted in dissent that a jury verdict against a criminal defendant should have been upheld even though there was extensive evidence that one of the jurors did not understand English (including a statement from the juror himself), which disqualified him from serving on a jury under Wisconsin law; that a prosecutor should be immune from a claim that he fabricated false evidence that wrongly convicted a man for 17 years; and that a conviction under federal law against someone convicted of domestic violence for possessing firearms should be reversed and that the law itself could well be unconstitutional, in disagreement with all 10 other judges on the court of appeals. She voted in favor of a Wisconsin voter ID law and of a claim by a student group that it should receive state funding and recognition despite its violation of a university rule prohibiting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, an issue on which the Supreme Court reached exactly the opposite conclusion several years later.

She asserted in dissent that a jury verdict against a criminal defendant should have been upheld even though one of the jurors did not understand English, that a prosecutor should be immune from a claim that he fabricated false evidence that wrongly convicted a man for 17 years, and that a conviction under federal law against someone convicted of domestic violence for possessing firearms should be reversed and that the law itself could well be unconstitutional, in disagreement with all 10 other judges on the court of appeals. She voted in favor of a Wisconsin voter ID law and of a claim by a student group that it should receive state funding and recognition despite its violation of a university rule prohibiting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, an issue on which the Supreme Court reached exactly the opposite conclusion several years later.

Steven Colloton

The third name on Heritage’s list of possible Supreme Court nominees is Judge Steven Colloton, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, after previous service for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and as a U.S. attorney.

Colloton has been at the forefront of a number of troubling Eighth Circuit rulings, including writing decisions that reversed an $8.1 million award to whistleblowers who helped bring a defective pricing and kickback claim against a large corporation and a nearly $19 million class action judgment against Tyson Foods for violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. He also joined a ruling making the Eighth Circuit the only appellate court in the country that found that the Obama administration’s efforts to accommodate religious universities and other religious nonprofit objectors to the provision of contraceptive coverage under the ACA was insufficient, an issue n ow being considered by the Supreme Court.

Even more troubling, Colloton has dissented from a number of Eighth Circuit rulings that have upheld the rights of employees, consumers and others against big business and government agencies. He dissented from a decision giving African-American shoppers the opportunity to prove discrimination claims against a large department store, and then saw his view prevail by one vote when the full Eighth Circuit reheard the case. In another case, he dissented from a decision finding that a city had violated the Voting Rights Act by improperly diluting the voting strength of Native Americans.

Colloton dissented from rulings that gave individuals a chance to prove claims of use of excessive force and, in one case, that a city’s policy to use police dogs to bite and hold suspects without any warning was unconstitutional. In three separate cases, he dissented from decisions that employees should at least get the chance to prove in court that their employers retaliated against them for filing sex harassment, age discrimination, or other discrimination claims. In two more decisions, he argued in dissent that public employees should not have the opportunity to prove that they were retaliated against for speaking out in violation of their First Amendment rights. Yet he also claimed in a dissent that the First Amendment rights of a candidate for state supreme court justice were violated by a state judicial code of conduct restricting solicitation and other campaign activity in order to promote judicial impartiality and ethical conduct by judges. Even the conservative Roberts Court that decided the Citizens United case has agreed that these concerns justify solicitation restrictions in state supreme court elections.

This post has been updated to clarify the circumstances of a case in which Sykes asserted in a dissent that a jury verdict should have been upheld despite evidence that one juror was disqualified from serving.

Sandy Rios: Possible Lesbian Hillary Clinton 'Embraces Every Sexual Deviancy You Can Imagine'

After spending months promoting the presidential candidacy of Ted Cruz, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios appears to be finally ready to get behind Donald Trump, telling listeners on her radio program today that they must unite to defeat Hillary Clinton in November.

“Hillary Clinton embraces every sexual deviancy you can imagine,” she said, before once again suggesting that the former secretary of state is a lesbian because “there have been more than rumors swirling about her own sexual proclivities since before she became first lady.”

“She’s an advocate of gay marriage, and I mean a strong advocate,” she said. “She’s been endorsed by every radical homosexual activist group in the country, all the major ones, Human Rights Campaign and others, especially in New York. She gets that endorsement for a reason, you know, she gets it for a reason.”

Rios went on to praise Trump for coming out against marriage equality, claiming that it was a “gutsy” thing to do for someone who lives in New York.

John Hagee: God Will Hold You Accountable For Not Voting For Donald Trump

On yesterday's "Hagee Hotline," Pastor John Hagee urged Christians to get out and vote and made it abundantly clear that he'll be casting his vote for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November.

After mangling Dietrich Bonhoeffer's famous "not to speak is to speak" quote and falsely attributing it to Martin Niemöller, Hagee informed his viewing audience that "God will not hold us harmless" and so they have an obligation to vote.

"I'm going to vote for the candidate that's going to make the U.S. military great again," he said. "I'm going to vote for the party that is going to solve the immigration problem, not the one that has created the immigration problem. I'm going to support the party that brings jobs back from China ... I'm not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years."

"If you can read a newspaper, you know who I'm talking about," Hagee said. "No candidate is perfect, but I want you to go vote and may God give us a leader who has the courage to put America first and stand up for we the people."

Why Has The Religious Right Embraced Neo-Confederate Michael Peroutka?

Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center have obtained a copy of the 2014 membership list of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins that includes a who’s who of leaders of the Religious Right and the wider conservative movement who work together to influence national politics. (In 2014, Perkins was the group’s vice president.) We’ve known from news reports that CNP’s membership includes a wide range of Religious Right leaders, but one name on the list obtained by SPLC stood out: Michael Peroutka.

Peroutka, who made his fortune with a family debt-collection business, has become a minor benefactor to the Religious Right, including funding anti-choice groups, bankrolling some of the campaigns and advocacy work of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (who is currently suspended for attempting to defy the federal courts on marriage equality), and, maybe most notably, donating a million-dollar dinosaur skeleton to a creationist group.

Peroutka runs the Institute on the Constitution, a Christian Reconstructionist group that argues for the enforcement of a particular interpretation of biblical law. For instance, Peroutka has suggested that all laws passed by the Maryland legislature are invalid because the legislature became an invalid body when it violated “God’s law” and passed marriage equality legislation.

Most troubling, Peroutka has a history as a neo-Confederate activist, including spending time on the board of the secessionist League of the South. In a 2004 speech to the group, Peroutka said that he was “still angry” that Maryland failed to secede from the Union during the Civil War. At the group’s 2012 convention, Peroutka led attendees in a spirited rendition of “Dixie,” which he referred to as “the national anthem”:

Peroutka was appointed to the board of the League of the South in 2013, the year before the CNP membership list obtained by SPLC was published. He quit the group in late 2014 as he ran for a local government seat in his home state of Maryland, unconvincingly claiming that he hadn’t been aware of the group’s racism.

Peroutka ended up winning a seat on the county council of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, after his openly gay Democratic opponent was hit withnasty anti-LGBT robocalls that were later tied to Peroutka’s advisers.

CNP’s membership list is closely guarded and new members can join only by invitation. This means that Peroutka didn’t just show up unannounced: He was invited to join a group that includes Perkins, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Alan Sears and many other high-profile conservative activists.

We don’t know if Peroutka is still a member of the group. But even by the time CNP’s 2014 membership directory was published, there was already plenty of public information available about his troubling ideology. Why was the leadership of the Religious Right willing to invite Peroutka into their fold?

Rick Wiles: Obama And Satan Will 'Rape Your Children'

“Trunews” host Rick Wiles lit into the Obama administration (or, as he calls it, “the command center of the Obama homosexual revolution”) on Monday over its letter on facility access for transgender students in public schools.

Wiles predicted that most parents and school officials will “cave” and “sacrifice their children at the altar of sexual perversion,” while those who protest will be “beaten in the streets with batons” and “hosed down with firehoses.”

“I’m going to tell you where I think we’re going: civil war,” he said. “I believe this is the opening shot from Obama for civil war.”

He added: “I’m not calling for violence. I’m calling for massive civil disobedience. Shut down the system. My God, what do we have to do? They’re coming after your innocent children! Just when do you get off of your fat rear end and do something? I’m so sick and tired of these cowards in the churches. Lazy, worthless cowards! They’re coming for your children! They’re coming right into your schools to pervert your children!”

This led Wiles to go on a birther-tinged rant about how President Obama (and Satan) intend to “rape your children”:

We’re living in a funhouse. In a house of horrors. The president — the fake president, he’s a fake president, he’s not a legitimate American president, he’s a fake and he’s been allowed to do these wicked things for eight years because there’s been no resistance to him, and now he’s going for it, he’s got the pedal to the metal. He’s coming into the schools to rape your children. Let’s be honest about it. Satan wants to rape your children. I’m telling you, there’s going to be confrontation in the country. There will be a group of people who just say, 'This is it, I’m done, at this point, we resist and we’re pushing back.'

The End Times broadcaster said that Americans should take a page from our colonial ancestors and rise up and “abolish the federal government, completely abolish it and to start over.”

Wiles said that parents who don’t withdraw their children from public schools are jeopardizing their salvation and don’t truly love them: “You are abusing your child by forcing that little child to go to a school that is that perverse and wicked. That argument ended decades ago. There is no justification as of today to have a Christian child in a public school. Satan is in the school system now. The federal government took God out decades ago; Satan is now inside the school system.”

God, according to Wiles, is now preparing to judge America … possibly through nuclear destruction.

“An economic crash in America is the best thing that could happen in this country,” he said, “it is the best thing that could happen right now short of nuclear war. An economic crash would be God’s mercy to us, giving us a chance to throw off this wickedness because that would be the last stage before a nuclear war that burns this filth off the face of the earth.”

'Donald J. Trump Will Be Ushered Into The White House' By 'The Hand Of The Almighty'

Zack Drew, the co-host of “The Jim Bakker Show,” hosts his own program called “Revelation In The News,” where this week he read a prophecy from 2011 in which God told a man named Mark Taylor about His plans to bring Donald Trump into the White House.

Taylor has told far-right radio host Rick Wiles that God will sicken and even kill people who may get in the way of Trump’s presidential bid. Trump seriously considered running for president in the 2012 election cycle, when Taylor claims that God spoke to him about the prophecy.

While Drew and his co-hosts didn’t necessarily accept the prophecy, they found it quite compelling. But Taylor’s prophecy, as read by Drew, included a message that wasn’t, well, exactly accurate: “The spirit of God says that in this next election, they will spend billions to keep this president in. It will be like flushing their money down the toilet. Let them waste their money for it comes from and it is being used by evil forces at work, but they will not succeed, for this next election will be a clean sweep for the man I have chosen.”

Obviously, Trump did not run for president in 2012, and President Obama was re-elected.

Irony Alert: Glenn Beck Says Those Who Defame Others Should Be Destroyed Through Lawsuits

On his radio program yesterday, Glenn Beck spent a segment discussing the situation in which a Texas pastor who had threatened to sue Whole Foods, claiming that employees had written an anti-gay slur on a cake that he had ordered, admitted to making up the story. 

Whole Foods, which had initially responded by threatening to counter-sue the pastor, announced that it was dropping its lawsuit after receiving an apology and Beck was upset that this guy was going to get away with trying to smear Whole Foods and destroy its reputation.

"Again, we find over and over and over, the leftist activists that run false flags," Beck said. "They make this stuff up or set people up and then run with it and then it's found out and nobody does anything about it. There is never a consequence ... You were trying to destroy their business. You were calling them the worst names you could. You were going to make them into a sub-human in their own community, and an apology is okay? Is there no consequence any more?"

"Don't drop the lawsuit," Beck said, because baseless smears like this "destroy people."

"You have to now teach others: Don't you dare even try it," Beck stated, "because if you're lying about it, I will destroy you ... Don't bring a knife to a gun fight. That's what I'm saying. You pull a knife on me, I got a gun so I'm gonna defend myself. Keep your cute little knife, but if you're trying to smear me, you're trying to defame me and you're taking me to court, okay, you could win, that's fine. But should we, as companies, go after those people and say, 'No, that's not enough, that's not enough, I want to teach everybody else, I'm putting an end to this nonsense.' You don't do that. You don't do that. Where everybody else settles and walks away and is just like forget it, let's just get back to work. I'm not sure that's the right thing to do anymore."

That is an interesting position for Beck to take, considering that he and his company are currently being sued for defamation and slander by Abdulrahman Alharbi, who was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and whom Beck spent weeks accusing of being an al Qaeda "control agent" and "money man" who had financed the bombing and recruited the Tsarnaev brothers to carry it out.

Anti-Gay Activism Trumps Religious Freedom At UN 'Family' Event

Religious Right activists say they’re fighting to save religious liberty in America from the gay rights movement, but many of the same leaders are happy to partner with the most religiously repressive regimes in order to resist advances toward LGBT equality around the world.

Consider Monday’s “Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World” event at the United Nations. It was sponsored by anti-gay and anti-choice groups like the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam, formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and Family Watch International, which work to keep LGBT-friendly language out of international documents and agreements. Their cosponsors included the 25 countries that make up the Group of Friends of the Family (GoFF), a coalition of UN member states created last year to “reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Among the freedom-loving members of GoFF whose representatives spoke at Monday’s “high-level event” was Iran, which the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has just accused of seeking to “eradicate” the country’s Baha’is.

In fact, there’s a lot of overlap between GoFF members and countries identified by the Commission, currently chaired* by social conservative strategist Robert George, as the worst in the world for religious freedom: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and Iraq. Also included in GoFF are countries where anti-LGBT religious and political leaders have been generating hostility and threatening the lives and freedoms of LGBT people, including Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

But there was no talk of that unpleasantness at Monday’s three-hour event, which featured GoFF delegates pushing to have the U.N. emphasize “pro-family” policies in the implementation of sustainable development goals. The GoFF “Statement in Support of the Family” was presented by Valentin Rybakov, deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Belarus, where, according to Human Rights Watch, authorities “pressure and arrest human rights activists and critics on spurious charges” and “regularly harass independent and opposition journalists.” Of course, there’s a similar situation in Russia, which doesn’t keep American Religious Right groups from swooning over Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies.

One of Putin’s defenders is C-Fam’s Austin Ruse. In a Monday email to his supporters, Ruse bragged that C-Fam “was asked by a number of Member States to organize this conference,” adding that “the family is under extreme pressure at the UN from those who want to redefine the family and to accept the notion that two people of the same sex can create a family and adopt children.”

At the UN, Ruse singled out Sudan and Saudi Arabia for praise, citing situations in which their representatives had “saved” UN documents from unwanted language on the family. For the record, the USCIRF calls Saudi Arabia “uniquely repressive” when it comes to religious freedom and says Sudan’s government “represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.”

During his remarks at the event, Ruse said the powerful force that “family” advocates are up against is the sexual revolution, which portrays family as a “patriarchal prison where pleasure and freedom go to die.” Without any apparent sense of irony, he declared that “tyrants have always known” that the family is “the real enemy to what they want” and its destruction is “how they get to the individual.”

Ruse announced the creation of a new coalition, Civil Society for the Family, which he said would be active in supporting GoFF’s work in defense of “traditional morality.”

The event also featured remarks from C-FAM’s Susan Yoshihara, Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater, the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, Human Life International’s Shenan Boquet, CitizenGo and HazteOir’s Gregory Mertz, the Institute for Family Policy’s Lola Volarde, and anti-marriage-equality activists Sherif Girgis and Helen Alvaré. Religious leaders who spoke included California pastor and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens and Catholic Bishop John O’Hara of the Archdiocese of New York, who assured the group that they have Cardinal Dolan’s “enthusiastic support.”

A few highlights from other speakers:

  • Sharon Slater, representing Family Watch International and the UN Family Rights Caucus, said she is deeply concerned about the “global assault” on the “health and innocence of children” from comprehensive sexuality education, which she called a “war on children and our families.”
  • FRC’s Peter Sprigg said that attempts to create a new definition of marriage that distances it from its roots in the “order of nature itself” are inconsistent with countries’ responsibility to protect and support the institution. Marriage, he said, “predates all other forms of government” and “it is not the place of government to redefine or interfere with the natural family.”
  • Gregory Mertz, representing what he said are the 4.3 million members of CitizenGo and HazteOir, online organizing platforms for social conservatives, said the definition of family is “routinely under attack” and that the U.N. ignores its obligation to protect it. Last year when GoFF’s creation was announced, CitizenGo asked people to sign a petition praising these “brave governments” in order to “show these courageous countries” that “we stand behind them 100 percent.”
  • Sherif Girgis, co-author with Robert George and Ryan Anderson of a book on marriage, said that undermining the “stabilizing norms of marriage” will hurt “every aspect of the common good that a stable marriage serves.”
  • Susan Yoshihara told a story about being shut down by school officials when she wanted to opt her young daughter out of a reading of a book that talked about families with two dads or two moms. She said there would have been more of a conversation before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, but that officials’ attitude now is “we won, you lose” — which she said was an example of why the law matters, and why it is important to resist changes in international law.
  • Helen Alvaré described defense of the family as both a rational and noble calling and said one can simultaneously affirm the “radical equality” of men and women while also recognizing their intrinsic complementarity, the topic of a 2014 Vatican conference for which Alvaré served as spokesperson. 

The statements from GoFF representatives were short and often repetitive statements about the centrality of the family to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Russian delegate discussed Putin’s promotion of “traditional family values” and noted that the Commonwealth of Independent States, a confederation of former Soviet republics, has named 2017 the Year of the Family. The Russian representative also said it is important to UN organizations to stay within their mandates and for countries that support traditional families to speak up so that silence isn’t considered an acceptance of “dangerous trends.” He made a reference to pro-LGBT stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration in February, which infuriated some “traditional family” supporters. He said supporters of the traditional values need to be more active at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The representative of Sudan also talked about the divinely created complementarity inherent in “the nature of each sex.” He complained that many international documents on women do not recognize the natural family but “deliberately seek to weaken and erode it.” Efforts to promote alternative forms of the family are incompatible with universal principles in human culture “which distinguish us humans from the rest of God’s creation.”

The event had a bit of theater as well. A short video from Family Watch International showed a succession of people saying nice things about families, including Janice Shaw Crouse and Alexey Komov — who are currently attending another global social conservative event, the World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia — among others. In addition, half a dozen children took turns reading “A Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families: A Call from the Children of the World,” a document promoted by the UN Family Rights Caucus that they say has been signed “by thousands of children from every continent of the world.” Among its claims: Every child has a right to a married mother and father and the “right to innocence and childhood”— which is cited to attack sex ed programs and could be used to defend the kind of anti-gay “propaganda” laws that Russia and other countries are using to squelch advocacy for equality in the name of protecting children.

* UpdateHouse Speaker Paul Ryan announced on May 18 that Robert George has completed his second term and has been replaced on the Commission by the executive director of the Becket Fund, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz.

Trey Gowdy Concedes: The Military Could Not Have Gotten To Benghazi In Time To Save Lives

A central element of conservative conspiracy theories spread in the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 attack on our diplomatic facility and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, has been the myth that the military could have responded to the attack more quickly and therefore saved lives.

In the most outlandish version of this story, President Obama or Hillary Clinton ordered the military to “stand down” rather than come to the aid of the Americans who were under attack.

Earlier this week, a letter from two House Democrats to Rep. Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who is chairing the select committee investigating the Benghazi attack, revealed that the GOP’s own chief investigator acknowledged during the investigation that nothing “could have been done differently to affect the outcome in Benghazi.”

In an interview on Fox News today, Gowdy responded to this newly released information by acknowledging, “Whether or not they could have gotten there in time, I don’t think there is any issue with respect to that — they couldn’t.”

This conclusion is in line with the findings of previous Benghazi investigations. For example, after the House Armed Services Committee completed its investigation of the attack, Buck McKeon, the California Republican who was then the committee’s chairman, told reporters, “I think I've pretty well been satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened and how quickly it dissipated, we probably couldn't have done more than we did.”

After spending more than two years and $6.9 million asking questions that have already been thoroughly answered, it is time for this investigation to conclude. At a minimum, those who propagated lies about the military’s ability to respond that night should now apologize.

Far-Right Pundit: 'God Is Using Donald Trump' To 'Show The Political Sins Of This Country'

Last week, televangelist Jim Bakker chatted with survivalist Steve Quayle as part of an End-Times-themed program called “The Days of Noah are Almost Upon Us,” and asked Quayle why he believes Donald Trump has been so successful in the GOP presidential contest.

Quayle declared that God is using Trump to reveal the sins of America, and that the Bible may even speak about the business mogul when it mentions the word “trumpet.”

“I believe God is using Donald Trump, whether you like him or hate him, I believe God is using him to trumpet the nature of what America believes and, in essence, we believe a lie,” he said. “Trump’ [sic] is in two times in the New Testament, ‘the last trump [sic] of God.’ The thing that’s fascinating for me is that God has used him as a prosecuting attorney to show the political sins of this country.”

Connecting The Dots With Frank Gaffney

For years, we have been covering the attacks that anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney has been leveling against Grover Norquist, a fellow conservative activist who has referred to Gaffney as his “stalker.”

Indeed, Gaffney has launched a very personal battle against Norquist, accusing the Americans for Tax Reform leader of helping the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist terrorist groups infiltrate the conservative movement. These attacks, which often invoke the fact that Norquist is married to a Muslim-American woman, have been demonstrated to be completely unfounded.

Gaffney has recruited other conservative leaders into his fight, including commentator Glenn Beck and Family Research Council official Jerry Boykin, and was involved in a campaign to get Norquist thrown off the board of the National Rifle Association.

Gaffney claims that he “saw terrorists in [Norquist’s] office space” and uses guilt-by-association logic to tie Norquist to all sorts of unsavory figures through the anti-tax activists outreach to Muslim voters on behalf of conservative causes. Recently, Beck tweeted a scandalous photo of Norquist and his wife “palling around with Keith Ellison,” a Muslim Democratic congressman from Minnesota who, according to the Beck’s tweet, is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and wants to “put thousands of prison converts to jihad on the streets.” Naturally, as one source of this “information,” Beck cited Gaffney’s group, the Center for Security Policy.

However, the recall vote against Norquist failed, representing a major rebuke to Gaffney’s efforts.

“The recall was simply the most recent nonsense from Frank Gaffney—my stalker of the last 17 years. The NRA membership defeated his effort last April and again this year,” Norquist said.

Now that the NRA members have kept Norquist on its board and rejected the message from Gaffney and others, it is clear that Gaffney, using his own connect-the-dots/guilt-by-association logic, is involved in the Muslim Brotherhood:

  • Frank Gaffney was a senior adviser to Ted Cruz
  • Ted Cruz has spoken several times at NRA events and praised the group.
  • The NRA board includes Grover Norquist.
  • Norquist is, according to Gaffney, a Muslim Brotherhood agent.
  • Therefore, Gaffney is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood!

While obviously it is patently absurd to suggest that Gaffney (or Norquist, for that matter) is a Muslim Brotherhood agent, his connect-the-dots logic works both ways, and can even be used against Gaffney himself.

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