Anti-LGBT roundup of events and activities 6/11/2018

The following is a list of activities and events of anti-LGBT organizations. Organizations listed as anti-LGBT hate groups are designated with an asterisk.

 

Alliance Defending Freedom*

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled May 24 against Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in the case Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, an effort on the part of ADF to prohibit a transgender student from using the bathroom that matched his gender identity at school.

In an unusual move, the court announced its decision from the bench less than an hour after oral arguments, which Slate.com noted is the judicial equivalent of saying “hard pass.” The judges explained that the unexpectedly rapid decision was at least partly practical. They wanted to rule before Boyertown students graduated later in May. The judges will issue a written opinion later this summer elaborating on their reasoning.

The case stems from a 2016 trans-inclusive policy implemented by the Boyertown, Pennsylvania, school district  that allowed students to use restroom facilities in accordance with their gender identities. The policy was an effort to accommodate a trans student and to comply with the Obama administration’s guidance regarding trans-inclusive school policies (which the Trump administration later revoked).

ADF sued the school district on behalf of several students who claimed they felt uncomfortable sharing facilities with a transgender classmate. ADF argued that the school’s new policy violated the students’ constitutional right to privacy and Title IX, the federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education.

Multiple federal courts have ruled that transgender students have the right under both Title IX and the 14thAmendment to use bathrooms that align with their gender identities.

Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW)

Seattle’s The Stranger reported June 7 that Joseph Backholm, the anti-LGBT and anti-choice executive director of FPIW, is leaving to take a job with the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, which is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Backholm, who was with FPIW since 2008, is a longtime anti-LGBT and anti-choice activist who has attempted to derail domestic partnerships and marriage for same-sex couples and roll back rights for transgender people in Washington State through ballot initiatives and campaigns like “Just Want Privacy” in 2016 (it failed).


Joseph Backholm speaking at the 2018 FPIW annual dinner (YouTube screenshot).

Designed to repeal the state’s Human Rights Commission rule that allowed trangender people to use public restrooms in accordance with their gender identities, the campaign used the false claimthat allowing trans women to use women’s public restrooms and facilities would expose ciswomen and girls to sexual predators.

Backholm also allegedly told his male supporters during the campaign that if women were reluctant to sign the petition to get the anti-trans measure on the ballot, to then follow women into women’s restrooms to “make the point.”

Backholm is a 2003 graduate of the ADF* Blackstone Legal Fellowship and, according to ADF, he drew on “all of his Alliance Defending Freedom resources and contacts to generate a strong response” to the Washington state legislature’s same-sex marriage law, which passed in 2012. During the “Preserve Marriage Washington” campaign, Backholm served as the volunteer chair for the committee behind it, which was ultimately fined $5,000 for failing to report nearly $300,000 of its expenditures.

The Colson Center was founded by the late Chuck Colson, perhaps best-known for serving as special counsel to former President Richard Nixon. He was named as one of the Watergate seven, and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg. Colson was the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for a Watergate-related charges. He served seven months in federal prison.

Family Research Council*

Family Research Council Action is a partner of cellphone company Patriot Mobile, whose tagline is, “Finally, a cellphone as patriotic as you are!” The company claims that up to five percent of every dollar goes to support any one of a number of organizations listed on their website, which includes FRC Action (the lobbying arm of FRC), American Family Association*, the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, Prager University, the Heritage Foundation and the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.

On June 1 Patriot Mobile sent an email encouraging people to switch to their company using the code FRCA (FRC Action) to get an account credit on a 24-month plan.

According to Patriot Mobile’s Facebook page, the company launched January 1, 2013, and its primary mission is to “Become a leading conservative voice in America by funding an mobilizing conservative activism.”

Plans include “Freedom of Speech” for $20 a month, the “Republic” ($40), “Constitution” ($60) and “Independence” ($90).

FRC president Tony Perkins hosts a daily radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from May 28 through June 8 included Lt. Col. (ret.) Oliver North (incoming president, NRA); Maj. Gen. Gary Harrell (ret.); former PA senator Rick Santorum (chair, Patriot Voices); Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL); Mathew “Mat” Staver (president, Liberty Counsel*); Christopher Chin (president, Homeschool Louisiana); Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC); Ken Ham (president, Answers in Genesis, Creation Museum, Ark Encounter); Jeremy Tedesco (senior legal counsel, ADF*); Rep. Diane Black (R-TN); Kim Davis (Kentucky county court clerk); Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX); Conor Maguire (senior strategist, WPA Intelligence); Nicole Theis (president, Delaware Family Policy Council); Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK); Rep. Steve King (R-IA); Roscoe Stovall (ADF*); Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS); Gina Goh (regional manager for SE Asia, International Christian Concern); Russell Berger (former CrossFit chief knowledge officer)

MassResistance*

The Texas chapter of MassResistance (MR) has composed a resolution to take to the annual gathering of Southern Baptists, scheduled for June 12 and 13 in Dallas.

The resolution calls for the full acceptance of discredited and harmful ex-gay therapy, stating that:

homosexual identity politics has prompted a dangerous movement to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘reparative therapy,’ banned in terms so broadly as to endanger the work of Christian ministries in aiding people with same-sex attraction to turn away from homosexuality toward heterosexuality.

It further calls for the Southern Baptist Convention to “offer loving assistance to people suffering from same-sex attraction, so that they may turn from homosexuality to heterosexuality;” to “reject as heresy any claims that God wills that people made in His image should embrace and encourage homosexual identity in their hearts;” to “resist all legislative, judicial, and executive efforts of any government” to restrict or prevent counseling that churches provide to turn people from homosexuality to heterosexuality; and falsely claims that there have been no ethical complaints about abuses in change therapies for the past 40 years (see herehere and  here).

The Texas chapter of MR is led by Robert Oscar López, whose anti-LGBT activism includes claims that the “gay lobby” (which he differentiates from LGBT individuals) is fascist, abuses women and children, is an engine of “world-historical evil” and that gay adoption means that “children become objects, and adults become slave-owners again.” He has also claimed that there is an international LGBT war against black people, and that same-sex couples “purchase” children, which is tantamount to slavery, that gay men sexually abuse their children and further claimed in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in 2015 that “gay marriage targets children of gay parents for discrimination” because it will “allow adults to acquire custody of other people’s children and deny those children connections to their original mother and father.”

World Congress of Families*/International Organization for the Family(WCF/IOF)*

Brian Brown, president of both World Congress of Families* and its parent organization International Organization for the Family, appeared at an anti-LGBT march in Belgrade, Serbia on May 19.

The march merged into a larger protest that not only opposed LGBT rights, but also defended Serbian nationalism. WCF/IOF has been increasingly involved in right-wing nationalism in Eastern Europe. Since 2016, it has held its large annual conferences in TbilisiBudapest, and this year, Moldova.

Brown has expressed great support for authoritarian strongman Victor Orbán while WCF has served as a soft-power platform for expansionist Russian oligarchs. WCF events in Eastern Europe often foment anti-LGBT sentiment and opposition to the European Union.

Judicial, legislative, federal

Supreme Court hands down a narrow ruling on Masterpiece Cake Case

In a closely watched case brought by Alliance Defending Freedom*, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 on June 4 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) treated Christian baker Jack Phillips with hostility during a discrimination complaint brought against him and his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop.

The narrow ruling sidestepped the larger issue about whether businesses can discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religion and instead focused on the facts of how Masterpiece Cakeshop was treated by the Colorado government and specifically CCRC following a 2012 complaint against Phillips.

The majority ruling stated that CCRC expressed hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs, and that kind of hostility from a government body was a violation of his constitutional rights.

The majority opinion also stated that:

Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. …Nevertheless, while those religious and philosophical objections are protected, it is a general rule that such objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.

The lawsuit originally stemmed from a 2012 complaint filed by a gay couple against Phillips when he refused to design a wedding cake for them, citing his Christian beliefs. Colorado state law includes sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination ordinance. At the time of the complaint, same-sex marriage was not legal in Colorado, but the couple was planning to marry in Massachusetts, where it was legal.

The CCRC investigated the complaint and determined that the shop’s actions violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and ruled in the couple’s favor and Colorado state courts affirmed CCRC’s ruling. Phillips, with help from ADF, continued to challenge the decisions until the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the case.

Phillips claimed that making a cake for the same-sex couple violated his First Amendment right to free speech by compelling him to use his artistic talents to convey a message with which he disagreed and he also contended that being required to create a cake for a same-sex wedding violated his right to the free exercise of religion.

Anti-LGBT groups are trumpeting the ruling as a victory for “religious freedom,” with ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner claiming, incorrectly, in a call with reporters on June 4 that the ruling was “broad.” She also said that the ruling “will affect a number of cases for years to come in free-exercise jurisprudence.”

Hawaii outlaws ex-gay therapy for minors

Hawaii governor David Ige signed a bill into law May 28 that prohibits licensed therapists and counselors from subjecting LGBTQ youth to conversion therapy in hopes of changing their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The new law calls for disciplining therapists or counselors who engage in conversion therapy with clients under 18 in a professional capacity. Disciplinary measures could include losing a license to practice. The bill does not apply to instances in which the therapist or counselor is acting as a religious advisor or mentor to youth.

Hawaii becomes the twelfth state to ban conversion therapy through a statewide statute. Others are New Mexico, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, California, Nevada, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington and Oregon.

The discredited and often harmful practice of ex-gay therapy posits that LGBTQ people can be turned heterosexual (and in the case of non-cisgender people, can be turned cisgender) through a variety of practices

Federal Judge rules that Virginia school board violated transgender student’s rights

On May 22 a federal judge in Virginia in favor of student Gavin Grimm, 19, whose efforts to use the boys’ bathrooms at his high school reached the Supreme Court. Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied a motion by the Gloucester Country, Virginia school board to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Grimm.

The Gloucester County, Virginia, school board had maintained that Grimm’s “biological gender” was female, and prohibited school administrators from allowing him to use the boys’ restrooms. Grimm sued the school board in 2015, when he was 15, alleging that the policy violated Title IX and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

The school board argued that its policy was valid because, according toThe  New York Times, Title IX allows for claims only on the basis of sex, and not gender identity. Judge Wright Allen disagreed, and wrote that Grimm’s transgender status constituted a claim of sex discrimination and that the bathroom policy had subjected him to sex stereotyping, violations of the law.

The judge directed attorneys for both parties to schedule a settlement conference within 30 days. It’s not clear if the board plans to appeal.

LGBT rights clears historic hurdle in Missouri

For the first time since its introduction in 1998, a bill providing discrimination protections for LGBT people in Missouri a Missouri House committee, according to TheKansas City Star.

The House General Laws Committee voted 6-0 on May 16 to approve legislation sponsored by the only two openly gay members of the Missouri legislature — Greg Razer (D-Kansas City) and Tom Hannegan (R-St. Charles).

Some called its passage an act of political chicanery, as the vote was taken before all Republican committee members had arrived at the meeting, which was scheduled for immediately upon adjournment of the day’s House proceedings. Razer denied the claims, and told The Starthat, “We do these meetings all the time. Everybody knew that this was going on. Everybody in this building knows, immediately upon adjournment means immediately upon adjournment.”

The bill did not become law, as the legislative session ended May 18, but proponents celebrated the first-ever committee vote on the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act as historic. “It’s been a long hard fight,” Razer said after the vote. “But this is one step to get it through a long hard process” and “we’ve set the precedent that this is a bill that gets through committee.”

Although same-sex marriage is legal in Missouri in accordance with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, LGBT Missourians can still be legally fired from their jobs, and denied housing and service in restaurants for being LGBT or perceived as being LGBT. Razer and Hannegan’s bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

Trump nominations for EEOC stalled by Senate Republicans

Four Senate Republicans are blocking their own party from taking majority control of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with combating workplace discrimination and harassment, according to Bloomberg.

A divide between faith-based social conservatives and traditional business-minded Republicans threatens to preserve a stalemate on Trump’s EEOC selections for at least the rest of the year. The religious right is seeking to replace the EEOC’s Chai Feldblum, but according to Bloombergsources, employer representatives have built a rapport with her and appreciate her willingness to listen to their positions.

The small contingent of GOP senators blocking the nominations are suspending the chamber’s consideration of Trump’s re-nomination of Feldblum for another five-year term on the commission, expressing concerns over her history of supporting LGBT rights (Feldblum, who has served as EEOC commissioner since 2010, also identifies as lesbian). The Senate’s Democratic minority won’t agree to a rapid vote on the other two EEOC nominees — both Republican — unless Feldblum is included in the deal. Republican nominees to the commission include Janet Dhillon, Daniel Gade and Sharon Fast Gustafson.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is unwilling to devote 30 hours of floor time to debate each nominee, but an agreement to advance Feldblum would give Republicans their first EEOC majority in nine years. If not derailed, Dhillon and Gade could be confirmed if the vote for them was merged with that for Feldblum, a packaged vote under unanimous consent, a bipartisan Senate procedure.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) put a hold on Feldblum’s confirmation. He has called her a “radical” and claimed that she desires to “use the might of the federal government to stamp out traditional marriage supporters.” GOP senators Steve Daines (MT), Marco Rubio (FL) and James Lankford (OK) have joined Lee against Feldblum’s advancement, according to Bloomberg sources.

The delay hamstrings the EEOC’s abilities to address harassment guidelines and equal pay reporting.

New Hampshire governor signs anti-discrimination bill and anti-conversion therapy bill

Republican governor Chris Sununu signed bills into law on Friday June 8 that protect transgender people from discrimination (HB 1319) and that ban conversion therapies (HB 587) for minors. The anti-discrimination law takes effect July 8 and bans discrimination in housing, public accommodation and employment on the basis of gender identity.

New Hampshire was the only New England state without protections for transgender people. With Sununu’s signing of the bill, the state joins 19 others with those protections.

Iowa Judge rules Medicaid must cover sex reassignment surgery

Transgender Iowans will be able to have sex reassignment surgery covered by Medicaid after a Polk County judge overturned a policy June 7 that is over two decades old. The ruling stated that denying coverage to two transgender Iowans seeking sex reassignment surgery is unconstitutional.

“The regulation clearly discriminates against transgender Medicaid recipients on the basis of gender identity,” the judge wrote in the ruling, which is a violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

The state has 30 days to file an appeal.