Tag Archives: LGBT Rights

LGBT Advocates Fear Kavanaugh’s Votes On Gay Rights Issues

(CBS) — Gay-rights supporters who thronged the Supreme Court plaza after justices declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right expect to have little to celebrate if Brett Kavanaugh replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of all the court’s major gay-rights rulings. None of Kavanaugh’s roughly 300 opinions as an appellate judge deals directly with LGBT issues, but his approach to judging leads some scholars and activists to believe he is unlikely to echo Kennedy’s votes. Still, they said Kavanaugh might be reluctant to overrule the landmark 2015 same-sex marriage decision, even if he might have voted against it in the first instance. While LGBT advocates sound alarms about Kavanaugh, opponents of same-sex marriage are applauding his nomination, though not necessarily focusing on its potential impact on gay rights.  
The Family Research Council, a major Christian conservative advocacy group, lauded Kavanaugh’s rulings on religious freedom and “long and praiseworthy history of judging as an originalist,” a term that means interpreting the Constitution as it was understood when written. The council describes homosexuality as “unnatural” and “harmful.” The high court is likely to confront a range of LGBT issues, perhaps as early as the coming term. These could include President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military and whether federal civil rights laws banning discrimination in the workplace and education cover sexual orientation and gender identity. The justices also might be asked to decide an issue they passed over last term: whether businesses can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay people. At Kavanaugh’s 2006 confirmation hearing for his current post as an appellate judge — before the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide — he was asked whether he had a view on the definition of marriage and whether courts or legislatures should establish it. Kavanaugh didn’t say, instead responding to a part of the question about judicial restraint. “Throughout our history, we’ve seen that some of the worst moments in the Supreme Court history have been moments of judicial activism, where courts have imposed their own policy preferences” instead of interpreting the law, he said. With sparse evidence about Kavanaugh’s views on LGBT matters, observers are parsing his record for clues to how he might vote. “I think there’s very little mystery here about how he is likely to view those issues,” said Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “He has an extremely conservative judicial record, and it’s highly likely he would be a consistently negative vote on any issue affecting LGBT people.” Dale Carpenter, an expert on LGBT issues at Southern Methodist University, said he considers Kavanaugh a careful and thoughtful judge. “I don’t think he is going to be a knee-jerk judge in any direction, and I don’t think he is anti-LGBT,” Carpenter said. Carpenter said Kavanaugh also is “a judicial conservative and he’s a textualist” who probably would be hesitant to expand the reach of civil rights laws, including protections barring workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, that do not specifically mention sexual orientation or gender identity. Federal appeals courts in Chicago and New York have recently ruled that bias against gay people is sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “He might see it as a very aggressive judicial decision to expand what have been seen to be the limits of Title VII protection, absent congressional action. But it’s not unthinkable,” Carpenter said. Similarly, Kavanaugh’s opinions and writings in favor of presidential authority suggest he could uphold Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military, which has been blocked by lower courts, Carpenter said. LGBT advocates point to two recent opinions Kavanaugh wrote on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to highlight other concerns. Last year, Kavanaugh dissented from a ruling that ultimately allowed a 17-year-old immigrant in federal custody to obtain an abortion. If Kavanaugh were to form a court majority for overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion and the right to privacy, “that would have implications including on LGBTQ cases that were built upon that legal theory,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. Sharon McGowan, legal director of Lambda Legal, noted that Kavanaugh’s dissent said his colleagues were creating “a new right” for the teen. “That is a move that has historically been used whenever LGBT people are trying to access a right that has been accessed for other people,” McGowan said. Gay-rights advocates believe another Kavanaugh dissent, from a 2015 ruling against a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for contraceptive coverage, could signal how he might view arguments for religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws. He said that requiring religious organizations to submit a form objecting to paying for the coverage “substantially burdened” the free exercise of religion. “One of the primary battlegrounds for both LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights will be around religious exemptions, an area where we have already seen Judge Kavanaugh favor those seeking exceptions over those who are being denied services,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis wrote in an email. Kavanaugh subscribes to the view that courts should find in the Constitution rights that are not expressly mentioned only if they are rooted in history and tradition. This helps explain why Carpenter and other legal scholars believe Kavanaugh probably would not have been a vote for same-sex marriage on the Supreme Court. But now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, it probably is safe, said Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University professor of constitutional law, who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. “It would be extremely surprising if Judge Kavanaugh were to see the judiciary as capable of disavowing” Kennedy’s opinion that is anchored in human dignity, Kmiec said. Carpenter held out the prospect that Kavanaugh could surprise LGBT advocates. “Judges are capable of surprising us. There was nothing in Kennedy’s history to suggest he’d be anything like he was,” he said.
 
 

More LGBT Issues Loom As Justices Near Wedding Cake Decision

WASHINGTON (AP) — A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision in the case of a Colorado baker who would not create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Courts are engaged in two broad types of cases on this issue, weighing whether sex discrimination laws apply to LGBT people and also whether businesses can assert religious objections to avoid complying with anti-discrimination measures in serving customers, hiring and firing employees, providing health care and placing children with foster or adoptive parents. The outcome of baker Jack Phillips’ fight at the Supreme Court could indicate how willing the justices are to carve out exceptions to anti-discrimination laws; that’s something the court has refused to do in the areas of race and sex. The result was hard to predict based on arguments in December. But however the justices rule, it won’t be their last word on the topic. Religious conservatives have gotten a big boost from the Trump administration, which has taken a more restrictive view of LGBT rights and intervened on their side in several cases, including Phillips’. “There is a constellation of hugely significant cases that are likely to be heard by the court in the near future and those are going to significantly shape the legal landscape going forward,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Several legal disputes are pending over wedding services, similar to the Phillips case. Video producers, graphic artists and florists are among business owners who say they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds and don’t want to participate in same-sex weddings. They live in the 21 states that have anti-discrimination laws that specifically include gay and lesbian people. In California and Texas, courts are dealing with lawsuits over the refusal of hospitals, citing religious beliefs, to perform hysterectomies on people transitioning from female to male. In Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the state’s practice of allowing faith-based child placement agencies to reject same-sex couples. Advocates of both sides see the essence of these cases in starkly different terms. “What the religious right is asking for is a new rule specific to same-sex couples that would not only affect same-sex couples but also carve a hole in nondiscrimination laws that could affect all communities,” said Camilla Taylor, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, which supports civil rights for LGBT people. Jim Campbell of the Christian public interest law firm Alliance Defending Freedom said the cases will determine whether “people like Jack Phillips who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman, that they too have a legitimate place in public life. Or does he have to hide or ignore those beliefs when he’s participating in the public square?” ADF represents Phillips at the Supreme Court. The other category of cases concerns protections for LGBT people under civil rights law. One case expected to reach the court this summer involves a Michigan funeral home that fired an employee who disclosed that she was transitioning from male to female and dressed as a woman. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the firing constituted sex discrimination under federal civil rights law. That court is one of several that have applied anti-sex discrimination provisions to transgender people, but the Supreme Court has yet to take up a case. The funeral home argues in part that Congress was not thinking about transgender people when it included sex discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A trial judge had ruled for the funeral home, saying it was entitled to a religious exemption from the civil rights law. “Congress has not weighed in to say sex includes gender identity. We should certainly make sure that’s a conscious choice of Congress and not just the overexpansion of the law by courts,” Campbell said. ADF also represents the funeral home. In just the past week, two federal courts ruled in favor of transgender students who want to use school facilities that correspond to their sexual identity. Those cases turn on whether the prohibition on sex discrimination in education applies to transgender people. Appeals in both cases are possible. In the past 13 months, federal appeals courts in Chicago and New York also have ruled that gay and lesbian employees are entitled to protection from discrimination under Title VII. Those courts overruled earlier decisions. Title VII does not specifically mention sexual orientation, but the courts said it was covered under the ban on sex bias. The Obama administration had supported treating LGBT discrimination claims as sex discrimination, but the Trump administration has changed course. In the New York case, for instance, the Trump administration filed a legal brief arguing that Title VII was not intended to provide protections to gay workers. It also withdrew Obama-era guidance to educators to treat claims of transgender students as sex discrimination. There is no appeal pending or expected on the sexual orientation issue, and there is no guarantee that the court will take up the funeral home’s appeal over transgender discrimination. The trend in the lower courts has been in favor of extending civil rights protections to LGBT employees and students. Their prospects at the Supreme Court may be harder to discern, not least because it’s unclear whether the court’s composition will change soon. Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, has been the subject of retirement speculation, though he has not indicated he is planning to retire. When Justice Stephen Breyer turns 80 in August, he will join Kennedy and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, as octogenarians on the bench. If President Donald Trump were to replace any of those justices, the court probably would be much less receptive to LGBT rights. Even the landmark gay marriage ruling in 2015 that Kennedy wrote was a 5-4 decision. “We’re very concerned about the composition of the federal bench. Under the Trump administration, we’ve seen a number of federal nominees who have been ideologues, who have taken positions about the very right to exist of LGBT people that is simply inconsistent with fitness to serve as a federal judge,” Taylor of Lambda Legal said. The ADF’s Campbell said even with the current justices, he holds out some hope that the court would not extend anti-discrimination protections. “Justice Kennedy has undoubtedly been the person who has decided the major LGBT cases, but to my knowledge he hasn’t weighed in some of these other issues,” he said.

‘Make America Gay Again’ Sign Greets Pence In Colorado

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Neighbors of the home where Vice President Mike Pence has been staying in Colorado this week have a message. They’ve placed a rainbow-colored banner on a stone pillar at the end of the driveways to both homes near the posh ski resort of Aspen. The banner reads “Make America Gay Again” — a play on President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy Michael Buglione tells the Aspen Times that Secret Service agents weren’t bothered by the sign. Pence has described himself as a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He has opposed legislation prohibiting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the workplace. Pence and his family arrived in the Aspen area Tuesday and plan to leave Monday.
Information from: The Aspen Times, http://www.aspentimes.com/

12. Vegan Bubble and Squeak (GF/DF)

12. Vegan Bubble and Squeak (GF/DF)

Ingredients Required (1)This is a quick piece that can be used as part of a meal or as a meal. Here are the ingredients (list to the left).

Method:

  1. Peel and dice your potatoes before adding them to a pan of water and boiling until soft. Once soft, drain and mash. While mashing, add the soya butter to give the mash a creamy texture.
  2. Heat up each portion of vegetables in a microwavable bowl, in the microwave, for 5-7…

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