fresh voices from the front lines of change








Theo Wuest

Don’t Leave Equality To The Supreme Court

Are you a woman? Imagine if you were fired for wearing a skirt to work. Are you a man? Imagine getting fired for not wearing a skirt to work. This sounds ridiculous, right? It sounds unfair. But for many Americans, it’s a reality we must face every day. In 29 states, there are no protections against workplace discrimination of this sort for transgender people like me. If I lived in Michigan like Aimee, my employer could fire me at will, just because I’m transgender. I could also be denied housing, credit, or public accommodations. The court will soon decide whether firing someone because they’re transgender constitutes discrimination “on the basis of sex,” which would be illegal under the Civil Rights Act. The Trump administration has argued that the Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But advocates have countered that it does apply, since discrimination along these lines punishes people who defy stereotypes attached to their assigned sex. It’s no exaggeration to say the Supreme Court’s ruling will have a drastic material impact on the millions of transgender people living in the United States. Allowing this discrimination to continue will threaten many more with unemployment and economic hardship. With the court’s current right-wing majority, that’s a real danger. But Congress could address it by explicitly legislating anti-discrimination protections — for the workplace, housing, credit, and everything else — for this vulnerable group. In fact, the House of Representatives has already passed the Equality Act, which would clearly codify the inclusion of gay, lesbian, transgender, and non-binary people in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, the GOP-controlled Senate has refused to consider it. Without this legislation, the rights of millions of Americans like me are at the mercy of this Supreme Court. No matter how the court rules, it’s the responsibility of Congress to ensure that “freedom and justice for all” includes transgender Americans, too.

Montgomery, AL Elects First Black Mayor

Montgomery, a cradle of civil rights, elects its first black mayor. NYT: "Steven Reed, a probate judge and the son of a prominent political family, who emerged from a runoff race on Tuesday as the first African-American elected to lead Alabama’s capital city. His campaign, and its success, has sent a jolt of excitement and validation through the black community, which makes up 60 percent of the city’s population. Mr. Reed entered the nonpartisan runoff with Mr. Woods, a white television station owner, after advancing from what had been a 12-person race. In the election on Tuesday, Mr. Reed captured 67 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results released by the city. Now, Montgomery joins Birmingham and Selma, two other monumental battlegrounds in Alabama’s civil rights fight, in selecting young, African-American men as mayors. 'You believed that we didn’t have to be defined by our past,' Mr. Reed told the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd that had jammed into a hall for his election-night gathering and chanted his name and 'One Montgomery' as he ascended the stage. 'It’s not going to be about the first. It’s not even going to be about the best. It’s going to be about the impact we make on the lives of others.'"

WH Cuts Legal Immigration By Two Thirds

Trump just quietly cut legal immigration by up to 65%. Vox "With one proclamation signed late Friday evening last week, President Donald Trump made his adviser Stephen Miller’s dreams of restricting legal immigration a reality. When it goes into effect November 3, the proclamation will make getting into the US much harder for immigrants sponsored by family members, the phenomenon Trump has excoriated as 'chain migration.' It will throw up a barrier to those coming through the diversity visa lottery — the subject of Trump’s 'shithole countries' rant — which allows the US to accept 55,000 immigrants annually from countries with historically low levels of immigration. Researchers estimate it could keep up to two-thirds of future immigrants out who would be admitted under current law. Under the proclamation, immigrants who do not have health insurance and cannot afford to pay medical care costs will not be able to move to the US permanently. The move could bar roughly 375,000 immigrants annually, based on projections of data from fiscal year 2017, according to Julia Gelatt, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. Those 375,000 immigrants won’t be affected at random. The proclamation targets immigrants who have come to the US legally under policies Trump and his advisers often attack."

Trump Intervened With DOJ To Free Guiliani Client

Trump urged top aide to help Giuliani client facing DOJ charges. Bloomberg: "President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office. Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request. Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations. The president’s request to Tillerson -- which included asking him to speak with Giuliani -- bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style, defined by his willingness to sweep aside the customary procedures and constraints of government to pursue matters outside normal channels. Tillerson’s objection came to light as Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders face intense scrutiny following the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House. Tillerson has said publicly that the president frequently asked him to do things that were illegal. 'So often, the president would say 'Here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it,' and I would have to say to him, 'Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way,' Tillerson said in an on-stage interview with Bob Schieffer in Texas last year. 'It violates the law, it violates treaty you know and he just, he got really frustrated when we’d have those conversations.'"

Pressure On Ukraine, China Openly Criminal

Laws broken by Trump's Ukraine, China pressure merit at least 10 years in prison. The Intercept: "In the face of overwhelming evidence suggesting that President Donald Trump pressured a foreign country to damage a political rival, most Republicans have chosen either to remain silent or to deny outright that anything out of the ordinary occurred. Others have taken a more sophisticated route: Concede his wrongdoing, but argue that it’s not impeachable. They are, however, indictable. A variety of felony criminal statutes plainly implicate Trump’s behavior, and come with lengthy prison sentences — the types of sentences doled out for high crimes, to say nothing of misdemeanors. Indeed, many of them are straightforward. Altogether, if the impeachment inquiry is limited simply to Trump’s pressure on Ukraine, the charges could amount to more than 10 years in prison. Take 18 U.S. Code § 872: 'Extortion by officers or employees of the United States.' It’s not hard to grasp: 'Whoever, being an officer, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or representing himself to be or assuming to act as such, under color or pretense of office or employment commits or attempts an act of extortion, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.' Attorney General William Barr’s Department of Justice has declined to press charges against Trump, though the House of Representatives is pushing forward with its impeachment inquiry. In the meantime, Trump has said that he will refuse to cooperate with lawful subpoenas — itself a prima facie violation of 2 U.S. Code § 192, 'Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers,' punishable by a year in prison."

Trump Mounts Impeachment Defense In MN

Trump to host first post-impeachment inquiry rally in Democratic stronghold. Reuters: "U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday will hold his first campaign rally since Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against him, choosing a large arena in a Democratic stronghold in Minnesota to mount his latest public defense. Supporters of the Republican president will gather inside the 20,000-seat Target Center in Minneapolis for the 7 p.m. CDT rally, while protesters promise to voice their opposition outside. Trump’s path to re-election in November 2020 depends on clinching a cluster of farm and Rust Belt states decided by slim margins in 2016. Minnesota, which Trump lost by 1.5 percentage points to Democrat Hillary Clinton, is a key target, his campaign said. Unlike 2016, when it spent little money and time in the Midwestern state, the campaign has already hired staff and organized voters there. Thursday’s visit marks the president’s fourth trip to the state in the past 16 months."

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