Wednesday Morning Open Thread: It’s Never A Sprint, It’s Always A Marathon

A nonbinding referendum conducted by mail found 61.6 percent of Australians in favor of allowing gay couples to wed. Even though the measure was expected to be approved, the size of the win and the unusually large participation of 12.7 million Australians out of the 16 million eligible voters added to its political legitimacy.

Though the vote isn’t binding, all major political party leaders have promised to implement the decision, which would make Australia one of approximately 26 countries that allow gay couples to wed.

“The people of Australia have spoken, and I intend to make their wish the law of the land by Christmas,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. “This is an overwhelming call for marriage equality.”

In a wealthy, urbanized country where 52 percent of the population regards themselves as Christian, according to a census last year, the vote marks a defeat for Australia’s two big churches, the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, whose leaders were behind a well-organized campaign to defeat the referendum…


Apart from sneaking a slab of rainbow cake, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Possible candidate:


You’re Wrong and They’re Also Sending a Message, You Clueless Numpty

Being a libertarian at Reason means never knowing anything other than whatever the left is doing, they are wrong. Here is the latest:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is angrily condemning a memo released today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that it describes as “an all-out assault on LGBTQ people” creating “a sweeping ‘license to discriminate'” in furtherance of President Donald Trump’s “cynical and hateful agenda.” The memo does this via provocative language such as “freedom of religion is a fundamental right of paramount importance” and “government may not interfere with the autonomy of a religious organization” by, for example, forcing an Orthodox yeshiva to accept female rabbinical students.

Don’t get me wrong—we’re not exactly fans of Sessions here at Reason. But today’s memo shouldn’t make your list of reasons to dislike the man, who is much more fittingly criticized for being a lover of asset forfeiture and a drug warrior extraordinaire.

Haters of the religious liberty memo seem to believe (or, perhaps more accurately, want you to believe) that it establishes a new right for businesses and government agencies to turn people away on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. They should be comforted, then, by the revelation that virtually everything in the document is merely a restating of existing law and Supreme Court precedent.

Ok (hold on to your hats folks, but a glibertarian is wrong), this is not true:

Today, HRC responded to the Trump-Pence Administration’s latest attack against the transgender community. At the direction of Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice (DOJ) rescinded a memo issued by the Obama Administration. Sessions replaced the important instructions with a discriminatory memo, arguing that anti-discrimination protections under Title VII do not apply to transgender people. DOJ instructed all U.S. attorneys to adopt this dangerous position in all pending and future matters.

But let’s pretend this idiot is correct, and nothing has changed. Then why did they release a memo that, in her words “does little more than reiterate what federal law has been for years.” And let’s note that the weaselly “little more” nonsense, which is an admission that her entire premise that nothing has changed is, umm, a fucking lie.

The answer is because after consulting with Christianist extremists to help craft this memo (which, again, does more than just restate federal law), is that they are sending a message that the Justice Department and the weight of the government is open for business for bullshit religious grievances and eager to advance case law trashing minority parties for the benefit of religious lunatics. It’s “hey guys, we’re stacking the courts, you have a Justice Department that isn’t going to do shit to defend the rights of all Americans, and we’ll have the Supreme Court soon, so start getting these cases into the pipeline. It’s go time for religious bigotry.”

Because that’s how this shit works in America. No one is going to successfully introduce and pass a bill that says all gay people need to be stoned in the public square (well, at least not yet). So what they do is slowly chip away at constitutional protections afforded all individuals, eroding their rights, and creating a separate second class of American citizens which has the added benefit of making the lives of LGBT people miserable. On top of the overt actions in the memo, that’s what is really happening.

And the assorted douchebags at Reason either know this but their kneejerk hatred of “teh left” trumps that knowledge, or they don’t understand what the fuck is going on out side their myopic Randian universe. Either way, they should probably shut the fuck up until they know something.

Friday Night Party Open Thread

And while you’re at it, thank all the gods and your parents that you’re smart enough to understand towels:

…DudeRobe isn’t just a robe, though there is one of those. It’s an entire lineup of towel-lined loungewear—from robes and hoodies to shorts and pants—designed for bros. Because apparently normal robes are just too ladylike for true dudes. No, seriously: The brand’s Kickstarter ad actually says, point blank, “Bathrobes are too girly.” Wow….

And yet, almost five hundred aspiring idiots signed up for this on Kickstarter. What percentage do you wanna bet have used the phrase ‘No homo’ un-ironically?

Happy Pride Month

When I am most displeased with my country’s current trajectory, when I feel inclined to toss in the towel and move to a mythical Scandinavian country with a moderate climate that is willing to take in old crabby Americans with few marketable skills, when I despair of moving forward and feel ready to surrender to the forces of darkness, I remind myself of the remarkable progress we’ve made on gay rights, just during my lifetime.

We’ve still got a long way to go. The legal progress we’ve made is under attack, and prominent recipient of stolen goods (in)Justice Gorsuch shows eagerness to once again give force of law to the bigotry and intolerance that reigned for centuries.

But we’ve come a long way, baby. We’ve seen the White House lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate marriage equality as the law of the land. (Thank you, President Obama!) A new generation of young adults rightly believes that love is love.

It wasn’t that way when I came of age in the 80s, during the plague years. The president at that time wouldn’t speak the name of the disease that was killing my friends in their youth. Degenerate, money-grubbing preachers gained political ascendency by telling us AIDS was God’s judgment.

Closer to home during those dark times, I tried to be wing-woman to a beloved gay sister and had a ring-side seat to witness her struggles for acceptance within the family, and in the world. Through her bravery, and the bravery of millions of people who refused to accept second-class citizenship, refused to pretend to be someone other than who they are, the world changed.

A couple for nearly as long as myself and the mister, my sister and her spouse are now legally married, as of a few years back (I was allowed to marry when the Macarena was the hot new dance craze hereabouts). It’s a recurring joke between my sister and me: how easy it is for kids today, especially my gay kid, who never felt pressure — from her family, anyway — to hide her own beautiful self nor conform to someone else’s definition of “normal.”

I could write a “War and Peace”-length account of her struggles, a shame-filled treatise on my fuck-ups as a parent, an angry tirade on how schools and laws and institutions and society failed and still fail LGBTQ kids and adults. I in no way want to minimize the obstacles and injustices they face.

But yes, progress has been made, and Pride celebrations throughout the land have marked the occasion, even if the current clown in the White House and his beady-eyed, homophobic VP fail to do so. I recall the chant repeated in an ACT UP demonstration I attended so many years ago: “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous! Get used to it!”

And for the most part, America, to its credit, did get used to it. Not everyone. It’ll never be everyone. But enough of us to form a critical mass, I think. We’ll guard our progress and push it forward every day. But there’s plenty to be proud of, even in this shitty epoch. So, Happy Pride!

Good News — If We Can Keep It

According to the Washington Post:

The White House said late Monday night that it will keep the Obama administration protections extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, responding to reports that the orders would be reversed.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the White House said in a statement. “The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”…

The executive order Obama signed in 2014 had two parts. It expanded protections in federal hiring, which already barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, to also include gender identity. And it required all companies doing business with the federal government to have explicit policies barring discrimination against gay and transgender workers.

The move was significant because it applied to 24,000 companies that collectively employed about 28 million workers — representing about a fifth of the U.S. workforce…

Status will probably change — possibly more than once! — before most of you get to read this, but I’m kinda hoping Trump’s angry enough at his Talibangelical allies-of-convenience for falsely assuring him that everybody would lurve his #MuslimBan that he’ll refuse to grant them their dearest domestic-sadism wish out of pure spite. Trump seems to have no more animus towards LGBTQ people than he does the rest of us humans; as long as they’ve got something he wants (like Peter Thiel’s money) he’s a universalist. And with the ongoing normalisation of “unChristian” gender values — the Boy Scouts now allow transgender children to join their local troops! — there’s just not sufficient positive publicity for the President-Asterisk to risk any more popularity points just to make Mike Pence shut up for a few days.

And Now for the Gay Bashing

We’ll see. Part of me is wondering if this is a mole hunt inside the WH and this leak is just a chance for Bannon to find the source of leaks, because this would be so unpopular and cause such a shitstorm that it would be mind blowing. Not to mention, Trump was not openly an anti-gay bigot, not that his word amounts to anything.

Then again, another theory is that Trump really does have Alzheimers or mental issues and the Pence/Sessions bible thumper section is just pushing as much through as they can while Trump is still in office.

Fuck these motherfuckers either way.

Jeff Sessions: Not A Good Man, or An Honest Legislator

Nor are his fellow Republicans, no matter how “nice” they may appear to the Media Village Idiots. Per the Washington Post:

Sen. Cory Booker testified Wednesday that Sen. Jeff Sessions is the wrong man to lead the Justice Department, saying the Alabama Republican’s lengthy record in Congress exposed views that are inconsistent with the venerated job he is seeking.

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t,” Booker said. “He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

The remarks marked the first time a sitting senator has testified against a colleague’s nomination for a Cabinet post, and they were among the most notable in Sessions’s two-day confirmation hearing.

In total, legislators heard testimony from 15 supporters and detractors, and Sessions answered questions over more than 101/2 hours. Nothing that was said was likely to stop the Republican-controlled Senate from confirming him, with Democrats failing to land anything close to a fatal blow during the hearing…

Sessions is generally well liked in the Senate, despite views that draw polarized responses. To those in law enforcement and conservative legal circles, he is an honorable man, dedicated to enforcing the law no matter his personal feelings. To civil rights advocates, immigrant advocates and others, his record makes him a troubling selection to lead the Justice Department…

Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire:

As far as a political tactic for attaining a government job that makes sensible people blanch at the very thought of your assuming it, unremitting banality in the face of questioning, harsh or otherwise, has served people very, very well. This was why, on the first day of the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee as to his nomination to be Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wielded unremitting banality so masterfully that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth and, even if it did, he would be polite and not mention in polite society that he had a mouthful of melted butter, nor spit it into the ashtrays, either. I’m not kidding. If you bought what he was selling, Sessions made Atticus Finch sound like James K. Vardaman.

You know all that really bad stuff he said when he was a senator, and when he was out on the stump pitching for El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago? Forget about all of that, because he’s going to be the Attorney General now, so none of that counts, no backsies. When he called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” organizations back during the 1980s, he only meant in the context of their opposition to the various excellent Reagan Administration adventures in Central America, and then only because he thought their opposition to our proxy death squads would damage the “historic” record of achievement enjoyed by both organizations…

The “good” news, FWIW, is that Sessions and his defenders at least feel themselves compelled to lie about his history and his beliefs. Dave Weigel got assigned to look for the pony in the pile:

Noteworthy, too, is the way Sessions and the Trump transition team decided to handle his confirmation hearing. Sessions didn’t mention Trump in his opening statement other than to thank him for the nomination. And even before senators questioned him about the allegations of racism that led the GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination to the federal bench in 1986, Sessions preemptively defended himself against “damnably false charges.”

The guest seats were filled by the likes of Al Sharpton, Khizr Khan, members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), now the top Democrat on the panel, noted that “there is so much fear in this country . . . particularly in the African American community.”

Sessions said the “caricature of me in 1986” was wrong. “I did not harbor the kind of animosities and race-based discrimination ideas that I was accused of. I did not.”…

Sessions said it was “very painful” to be identified as a racist. He said he saw “systematic and powerful” racism in the South. “I know we need to do better,” Sessions said. “We can never go back.”

Does he believe that? We’ll see…

Much more below the fold — including a few quotes from Sessions’ defenders, at the very end.

From Politico, “Sessions faces decision on politicizing Justice Department“:

Donald Trump suggested on the campaign trail that he could use the Justice Department to fulfill his political agenda, taunting Hillary Clinton by threatening to throw her in jail over her email scandal.

Now, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, will have to decide whether to follow his predecessors by vowing to not let politics drive the DOJ’s decision-making.

The idea that the Justice Department should be free from political interference is not rooted in any statute or explicit constitutional provision. Instead, it evolved through a series of internal policy memos and letters issued by past Justice Department officials from both parties, according to a POLITICO review of historical records.

Sessions, as attorney general, could decide to abandon or overhaul those policies, a concern heightened by Trump’s suggestions during the campaign that he could pursue politically motivated prosecutions.

Notably, Sessions’ nomination is now in the hands of some of the same Republicans who pushed for tougher firewalls between the White House and the Justice Department during the Clinton administration. Those senators, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah, have not raised the issue in throwing their support behind Sessions, who faces his first day of confirmation hearings on Tuesday.

“This is the biggest question Jeff Sessions has to answer,” said Matt Miller, a former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, who left office in 2015. “Attorneys general have always established it’s not appropriate for the White House to influence prosecutorial or investigative decisions. But there’s no law or regulation. If they want to change it, they can change it.”…