The barricades are empty now.
Lee stands alone again.
Glaring North at his foes,
Heedless to the truth beneath his feet:
That the monsters are already here;
We have met the enemy;
It is us.
©Mary Griggs 2017
David Cox, the rector of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Church in Lexington, Virginia, wrote a column about Lee and reconciliation in 2014. In it, he recounted a story about a woman asking him what to do with an old Confederate battle flag. Lee responded by saying, “Fold it up and put it away.”
Statues, monuments and/or naming streets or parks for someone is a way to honor them as well as to glorify their time period. By the same token, we also have a right to change the values expressed in our public spaces by our forebearers. History is replete with names changed to reflect changing times – in 2001, the New Orleans International Airport was renamed the Louis Armstrong Airport. This is after it was originally named for aviator John Bevins Moisant and the Moisant Stock Yards it was built upon (hence the MSY aircode designation).
The first monument to come down is the one memorializing the Battle of Liberty Place. It was erected in 1891 to commemorate the Crescent City White League attempt to overthrow the city’s Reconstructionist government after the Civil War.
Such a monument is an affront in our minority-majority city. As we approach the anniversary of the city’s surrender to the Union (April 29, 1862), the fully half of the citizenry who find the statues offensive have the right and the duty to remake New Orleans in a way which is uplifting and inclusive instead of reactionary and divisive.
Do we really need such painful public reminders that a war was fought to keep the ancestors of our African American brothers and sisters enslaved? No! It is past time to honor other people and ideals.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said:
Relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly– choose a better future. We can remember these divisive chapters in our history in a museum or other facility where they can be put in context – and that’s where these statues belong.
Exactly – the emblems of the Old South including Confederate flags, would be better displayed in Civil War parks or cemeteries where people who want to see them can do so.
Another of the statues to come down is that of Robert E. Lee, who never even visited New Orleans. His Confederate-uniformed image glaring northward in what once was Tivoli Circle is not a that of the principled, honorable man who worked to reconcile the nation and later became a university president. It is of a soldier who commanded the losing side during a war in which nearly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty. Hundreds of thousands more died of disease and this doesn’t even begin to discuss the civilian impact. Read this letter if you want to know which side his descendants come down on – A Letter from Robert E. Lee IV Regarding the Lee Chapel Flags.
I am all for remembering history because those who don’t are condemned to repeat it. But it needs to be actual history we remember, not the alternative one that is so often mythologized by apologists for the Confederacy.
It’s 2017. It is past time to take them down and put them away.
It is all around the web today, how Mitch McConnell, using a Senate rule (the 1836-44 gag rule) designed to forbid any consideration of abolition to silence Elizabeth Warren during her testimony against the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States.
Here is Coretta Scott King’s 1986 statement and testimony on Jeff Sessions’s U.S. District Court nomination in Alabama. As she wrote then:
Based on his record, I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream that he envisioned over twenty years ago.
Contact your elected representatives to OPPOSE Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General of the United States.
Find them HERE
Be like Liz – Persist!
I’ve been asked by family and others just what the fuss was all about on January 21st when the Women’s March was held. The election is over, they said. Why are you still making a fuss?
It is more than the election debacle that we were marching about, although the actions in the first week of the new presidency show that our fears were prescient.
We marched on Saturday because that is how change comes. Throughout history, protests, social activism and resistance are how gains were made. As Frederick Douglass said in a speech at Canandaigua, New York on August 3, 1857:
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
That is so true. For example:
I went to Washington, DC and took part in the marches in 1989, 1993 and 2004. On Saturday, January 21, 2017 I was in New Orleans and I marched with 3 million others across the world for equal rights, reproductive choice and an end to violence against women.
If you weren’t able to march, we marched for you. If you’re actively anti-feminist, we marched for you. Even if you don’t think that any of the issues I’ve listed apply to you, we still marched for your privileged self.
We live in a world created by the actions of activists who fought for generations for your right to piss on our parade. And you can piss and moan all you want but know that millions across the nation are engaged and mobilized. We intend to actively resist the encroachment of fascism and the erosion of our hard earned rights.
If you’re with us in the fight, some of the ways you can join the effort include:
Check out the Indivisible Guide. Written by former Congressional legislative aides, it is a distillation of what they learned from being on the receiving end of right-wing extremist activism. The guide is free, easy to read, and extremely practical about ways to effectively influence your elected representatives.
The organizers of the Women’s March have come up with 10 Actions 100 Days. Their website has simple but effective actions to constructively engage with your elected officials.
There are many organizations working to counter anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-POC, anti-Muslim, anti-woman and other regressive political efforts. Two I’m personally active with are the Independent Women’s Organization (a New Orleans based Democratic women’s organization) and the Forum for Equality (a statewide LGBTQ organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination here in Louisiana). Please support them, if you can.
Hopefully, I’ll see you in the hall of government or in the streets.
I spent yesterday afternoon at the Women’s March-New Orleans. It was one of over 600 sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington, DC that followed the inauguration of Donald Trump as 45 President of the United States.
The news reports pegged the numbers in DC at half a million and over 10,000 here in New Orleans! About 3 million all told around the country and world.
It was marvelous being surrounded by so many who are passionate about their resistance. I had to wonder, though, where was all this passion in November?
Did you know 110,450,842 members of the eligible voting population did not vote?
The crowd in New Orleans was pretty diverse but there were more white women than any other demographic. It made me reflect on those in the state of Louisiana and across the nation who voted for Trump.
Did you know that 62,979,636 total votes for Trump were cast, of which 53% were from white women?
People joked prior to the election about writing in Mickey Mouse on their ballots. I wonder how many of the people didn’t even vote for the top of the ticket.
Did you know that 2,395,271 people voted but didn’t vote for president?
Sexism was a strong theme to the season with Trump being openly misogynistic and many others mansplaining away their issues with Clinton. While I adore the feminist men who are marching in solidarity today, I can’t help considering the bros who trolled me on Twitter in support of third party candidates.
I had so many negative discussions about the election and I believe that, more than the bad media coverage, those conversations might have convinced many in crucial swing states to stay away from their polling place on election day.
Did you know that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.86 million votes, which is unfortunately irrelevant as only the Electoral College matters?
Of course, many of those who didn’t vote did so because they had been disenfranchised by Republican led attacks on voting rights.
Did you know that fourteen critical states enacted laws restricting voter access including cutting back early voting, restricting voter registration, and imposing strict voter ID requirements? Such laws disproportionately harm students, the poor and people of color. A report from the Williams Institute found that around 34,000 transgender voters may be effectively blocked from voting in states that require photo IDs because the IDs may not accurately reflect their gender. In 2014, the Government Accounting Office attributed a 2 to 3% drop in voter participation that was attributable to changes in voter ID requirements. (GAO-14-634).
I am very concerned that many of the people who seem so energized this weekend won’t vote in the next election. Here in Louisiana, we have a municipal election on March 25 in addition to the fall election.
Did you know that voter turnout in mid-term elections drops significantly and is getting worse? In 2014, just under 37% of eligible voters turned out to vote, the lowest level seen in a midterm since World War II.
I cling to the hope that our anger from the presidential election lasts beyond the time it takes us to disperse to our individual homes. Echoing the speakers, I implore all who were inspired by the sheer number of people in the streets to step up now. Trust me, the real work of resistance hasn’t yet begun.
The Women’s March page has ways to get folks started with their 10 actions in 100 Days.
We must build on our numbers in order to stop harmful legislation as well as to get beneficial legislation passed. If you can’t make it to Baton Rouge (or your state capital) or Washington, DC, during the legislative session to have your voice heard, please support the organizations on the front lines doing so with financial contributions and/or volunteer time. A number of these organizations are members of Louisiana Legislative Agenda for Women (Greater New Orleans NOW, NCJW New Orleans, ACLU-LA, IWO, WWAV-NO, Louisiana Progress, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Greater New Orleans AAUW, etc, etc) and could use your support.
We must engage with our elected officials! Here in Louisiana, the Secretary of State has lists of all elected representatives – go to the Find Elected Officials page and search the database or download the excel file. If those in Congress or in State legislatures or on City councils or serving on school boards prove unresponsive to We the People, gird your loins to work on electing someone else who will be. I also hope that some of those in the crowd considering running for office themselves.
Most crucially, I implore each and everyone of you to vote in the next election. And the one after that.
Please? For the sake of all of us, we must vote.
The title of this post comes from the Sweet Honey in the Rock song “Ella’s Song: We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes”
There are lots of events happening nationally, around the state and in New Orleans over inauguration weekend of January 20-21 for folks to demonstrate and protest.
Yes, the election is over. While my candidate didn’t win, my greater concern is that the country lost. We saw during the campaign clear racism, outright advocacy for nuclear proliferation and environmental degredation, full throated support for discrimination against Muslims and the LGBTQ community and an erasure of women’s worth outside of her appearance. A bully won where it mattered and that is why I won’t be getting over it anytime soon. I stand firmly against those who equate cruelty with strength and who would undercut basic American values to burnish their bottom line.
Resistance is more than a single demonstration, though. It is doing the hard work to advocate for the issues which are important to us and the future of this nation. We must monitor the goings on in the White House, in Congress and in our Statehouses. We must become participants in the political process and engage with our allies to defend one another from attack and disenfranchisement.
We need more than armchair activists. We need those who will build community coalitions toward a better, more just society. A good way to start is by getting out next weekend and seeing the people and organizations who are out there, voicing their opposition. Please support them and help further the work.
There is the National Women’s Strike happening by those who can abstain from all labor for two full days beginning on January 20th. Instead of laboring, women are encouraged to demonstrate full access to birth control and abortion, a $15 minimum wage, universal childcare, and paid parental leave as well as talk to families, friends, and coworkers about what is needed to make women’s lives fairer, happier, less hectic and more secure.
J20Nola: Anti Trump Inauguration Rally & March event on Friday, January 20th at Duncan Plaza is a counter-inaguration and the first day of united mobilizations to resist and stop the war on the people.
The Women’s March will be the day after the inauguration in Washington, DC. The march invites people to “come together in solidarity to express to the new administration & Congress that women’s rights are human rights and our power cannot be ignored.”
The official Women’s March New Orleans event page says it is a combined event with Millennials March, March for Louisiana and the March for Revolution NOLA. It will be held on Saturday, January 21st. Folks will meet up at Washington Square Park (700 Elysian Fields Ave). At 2pm, the march will begin down Elysian Fields Avenue, turn right on Decatur Street, cross Canal and continue on Tchoupitoulas St., then turning right up Poydras Street, a right on Loyola Avenue and continue left onto Perdido Street to congregate in front of City Hall. This will be happening at the same time as the Women’s March in DC.
Also on January 21, 2017 at 1:00pm EST, will be one minute of silence for equality. At 1:00pm, all who believe in equality beyond all ages, races, abilities, genders, orientations, economic status, man-made boundaries or cultural borders will stand together in unity. All women, especially those who can not attend a march due to responsibilities, health concerns, lack of liberty or other reasons are expressly invited to join, exactly where they are, through one all-inclusive act: 1@1.
Oh, and don’t forget about the BLUSH BALL 2017 – Party with a Purpose happening on Friday, January 20th at Generations Hall. Tickets available at their website: www.blushball.org Proceeds go to benefit Metropolitan Center for Women and Children.
We can make change happen. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
From the late Middle Ages comes a great word – dastard. Probably a combination of dazed, dotard and bastard; it means a dishonorable or despicable man.
There is a reason Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s picture appears next to the definition.
First, let me give a little background.
I worked for the election of John Bel Edwards to be governor of Louisiana. There were many reasons for my support of his candidacy but most notably, it was his commitment to issuing an executive order to protect LGBTQ state employees from discrimination and harassment that compelled me to canvass and make calls.
After he won the election, I was part of the coalition that came together to craft the language of the order. The Forum for Equality, along with Equality Louisiana and the Louisiana Trans Advocates helped negotiate an inclusive executive order.
We succeeded and on April 13, Governor John Bel Edwards signed the order ( JBE 2016-11) with most of the advocates there in his office.
While Louisiana has twice before had executive orders (the first signed by Gov Edwards in February 17, 1992 – EWE 92-7 and, the second by Gov Blanco on December 4 2004 – KBB 04-54) which added sexual orientation protection, this is the first one to include gender identity. It was a first for Louisiana and first in the South!
Attorney General Jeff Landry immediately began to undermine the order. In May, he issued an opinion that the order could not be enforced legally. All of the organizations involved in getting the original executive order plus several more responded quickly with a statement: “Landry’s Opinion is based on obsolete caselaw and outdated scientific information, and demonstrates that he is out of touch with current interpretations and understanding. Landry’s political posturing cannot be allowed to harm victims of discrimination merely to advance his own mean-spirited political agenda.”
Also in May, he issued an opinion against the Department of Education and Department of Justice’s Title IX Guidance on Transgender Students, declaring the “Obama transgender mandate is unlawful federal overreach.”
In mid-August (not so coincidently right in the middle of a massive natural disaster and truly terrible flooding, when everyone else in the state was focused on recovery), he began refusing to approve contracts that contain the language of the executive order. There are at least 37 state government contracts for legal work which have been blocked.
It should be noted that the Louisiana Bar Association, an organization for attorneys, encourages the adoption of non-discrimination policies in law firms protecting both sexual orientation and gender identity. On the issue of the AG’s role, it has stated that the attorney general is only supposed to review state legal contracts with private attorneys to make sure the lawyers are qualified to do the work. Further, they say the law doesn’t give his office oversight over language such as the LGBT nondiscrimination clause.
This week, AG Landry filed a lawsuit against the executive order. He claims “Executive Overreach” and is asking a judge to prohibit enforcement of the order. One of his claims is that “enforcement of the order, affording protection from ‘discrimination’ based upon ‘gender identity,’ undermines this State’s anti-discrimination laws and hundreds of other laws in that it creates a protected class which is premised solely upon subjective and arbitrary factors unlike other recognized and legislatively established protected classes.”
Seriously? An order protecting people from discrimination undermines other people from protection of anti-discrimination laws? I call bullshit.
Instead of doing the job he was elected to do, Landry is dastardly carrying the banner for the extremists in their opposition to equal rights for LGBTQ people.
The office of the Attorney General is supposed to protect the people and resources of the state of Louisiana. Instead, it has become a partisan hack’s playground where he picks and chooses who he will protect.
Landry does not believe that gender identity should be a legally protected class. This despite the fact that the EEOC has held that discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender (also known as gender identity discrimination) is discrimination because of sex and therefore is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He fears what he doesn’t understand and is attempting legal maneuvers to classify transgender people as second class citizens. He can’t be allowed to negate the right to equal treatment under the law for all Louisianians, including transgender people.
Transgender Americans deserve equal dignity and respect at work, in receiving an education, or when seeking respectful and appropriate healthcare. Transgender people make valuable contributions to society and, like everyone else, they should be treated fairly in all areas of life.
This lawsuit illustrates how vital it is to ensure that transgender protections are permanently codified into state law. Protection from discrimination is too foundational and important a value to leave to the discretion of the Attorney General.
Governor Edwards released a statement and said, “Discrimination, of any kind, is not a Louisiana value, and I will do everything in my power, including enforcing this order, to foster a productive and welcoming work environment in Louisiana’s state government.”
Thank you, Governor!
You can join the fight to protect LGBTQ people in Louisiana from discrimination by becoming a member of the Forum for Equality at this link here. I’m proud to be a member as they continue the fight for fairness, equality and equal treatment under the law. I encourage you to get involved, too.
I wish I could say I’m surprised at the number of people who have a hate on for Hillary Clinton but, after an an almost thirty year, very well-funded campaign against her, I can’t. While the crowd’s heckling during the Republican National Convention was (unfortunately) what passes as partisan politics these days, Chris Christie’s mock witch trial was pretty low even for the new normal.
I admit I do find it surprising when the same sort of vitriol is repeated by those on the progressive side of the political spectrum. Especially by folks like Jill Stein, who has actually argued Trump and Clinton would be equally harmful to the causes she as a Green holds dear.
Frankly, I just can’t understand those who claim there is no difference between the two presidential candidates; who assert that choosing between them is like deciding between cholera and gonorrhea.
There are miles and miles of differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Those who say otherwise are exhibiting a very selfish kind of privilege, the kind which lets them overlook mountains of evidence to the contrary because they think they would be safe from the negative repercussions of their support for Trump or a third party candidate.
Those of us lined up in the cross hairs, know we are targets. We know there are lives on the line this election.
I could go on but I’d rather have you seriously consider that even if you are personally protected from the consequences of a Trump presidency if you would be willing to risk the actual lives of your fellow Americans?
Hillary Clinton might not be the candidate you want, but she’s the most qualified candidate we have and is definitely the most prepared to work for best for the country.
As Senator Bernie Sanders said:
Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment.
If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.
Hillary Clinton has put forth achievable policy prescriptions for a lot of issues I care about. Check here for her statement of positions. Despite the accusations to the contrary, she has one of the most progressive voting records in her time in the Senate, putting her to the left of Obama and 93% in line with Sanders. As she said during one of the debates, “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive that likes to get things done.”
And we can get it done if we get out the vote.
As First Lady Michelle Obama said in her speech at the DNC:
In this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best, we cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical. Hear me: Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago. We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of passion into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America. Let’s get to work.
Agreed. Let’s get to work because Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th – just 100 days away!
The first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was a doozy. There was plenty of fodder for a myriad of blog posts, especially when they blasted “We are the Champions” by Queen as Donald Trump brought his plagiarizing wife to the stage.
On Monday, the Republican party adopted a platform which has been called one of the most extreme and anti-LGBT in recent history. It includes planks against marriage equality (three separate statements) and bathroom access and planks supporting businesses that seek to discriminate against LGBT customers and conversion therapy for LGBT kids. Later on the same day, they played an anthem that was written and performed by the proudly out musician Freddy Mercury, who died in 1991 of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.
What did we learn from this?
That the GOP will capitalize on the creations and efforts of LGBT people while they unequivocally stand against recognizing the humanity of their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters. To that end, they’ll wrap themselves in religion to justify ignoring the parts of the Constitution they disagree with and while supporting a candidate who makes a mockery of the Christian values they espouse. This same candidate who chose as his running mate a man whose signing of an extreme anti-LGBT law seriously damaged Indiana’s reputation and economy (in the aftermath, the state lost 12 large conventions and one study estimated that the total economic cost of Pence’s RFRA has been $250 million).
In this election, being a lesbian is going to make voting quite easy. There is a party actively trying to strip from me my dignity as a human being and there is another that isn’t. Even if I could have agreed with other parts of their platform, how can I possibly vote against my own status as an American citizen deserving of equal rights and equal protection under the law?
For most Republicans, I realize that it doesn’t matter what LGBT people think of the platform, their presumptive nominee or his running mate. They know we’re not going to vote for Trump anyway.
But anyone who understands how elections are won, knows it does matter what moderate Republicans and Independents think. For many of them, using religion as a pretext for discrimination is a bridge too far.
Just look at the response over the extremist RFRA’s (Georgia, Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana, etc) that were specifically designed to protect businesses which discriminate. Or the negative reaction against North Carolina’s HB2 or the backlash to Mississippi’s HB 1523. Residents and tourists alike realize being unwelcoming is a bad idea (check out Forum for Equality’s Louisiana’s Equality Means Business page for plenty of reasons why diversity and equality is good for businesses).
It is about more than just the presidency. There are a number of down ballot candidates who are seeking to win on a platform of “Take America Backward Again.” (ht to HRC)
That is all it took for the extremists in the North Carolina legislator to craft HB2 to overturn the city of Charlotte’s LGBT non-discrimination law and include an anti-trans bathroom measure to up the awful quotient.
Here is what the law does:
Despite businesses and corporations like Red Hat, Biogen, Dow Chemical, and others coming out in opposition, the bill passed the NC House by 83 to 25 (the yes votes include 11 Democrats) and 32-0 in the Senate after all the Democrats walked out. At around 10pm that same night, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed it into law.
The special session cost North Carolina around $42,000 and that is before costly legal challenges begin (it is likely the bill violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Sex Discrimination in Education).
I’ve already had someone respond to a post I made asking why don’t I just move. They wanted to know what’s keeping me from leaving the South to her backward thinking and hateful laws.
Not only is this my home but the ones who would gladly use their bible and their bigotry to discriminate need me here.
As a mature Caucasian woman of progressive beliefs, living in an island of blue in the sea of red which is the great state of Louisiana, it is vital that my voice be raised to say #NoHateInMyState
Those who care about the future we’re creating need to stay and work on making things better. Get involved if you don’t like what you are seeing/hearing. Fight for what we know is right.
And, even more importantly, we must vote! Our vote is our voice. Vote in all elections and not just in Presidential ones.
Because in the final analysis, the only questions that matter are the ones asked by John Lewis:
If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?
Clarence Darrow famously said, “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”
This is one of those times.
I won’t pretend to be saddened by the news that Antonin Scalia has died. I will not mourn someone who actively used the power of his position to deprive me of my civil rights, who equated me to a murderer and animal abuser and who reduced my loving relationships to nothing but sex.
I am sorry for those who will mourn him and feel for his family in their time of loss. However, I believe our highest court and our nation is better off without him.
I could fill this blog with nasty quotes (or these) from him on all manner of issues beyond those of homosexuality and marriage equality. Remember, this is the justice who wanted to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on women’s rights to privacy and he dissented on the decision that it was unconstitutional to execute mentally disabled or teenage prisoners, among many others.
Instead, I want to remind folks that Justice Scalia’s approach to reaching his decisions was an originalist. This is the view that says there is an identifiable original intent or original meaning, commonly known at the time of passage or ratification, which governs all subsequent interpretation of the law.
However, before even 24 hours had passed after the news broke of his death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
This, of course, the same guy in 2005 who defended the absolute right of Presidents to nominate judges and even went so far as to say, “For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ responsibilities to ‘advise and obstruct.'”
From the New York Times:
“The question now is whether the Senate will honor Justice Scalia’s originalist view of the Constitution by allowing President Obama to appoint a successor, and providing its advice and consent in good faith. Or will the Republicans be willing to create a constitutional crisis and usurp the authority of the president to ensure that the Supreme Court functions as one branch of this government?”
As Hilliary Clinton said, “The Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail who are calling for Justice Scalia’s seat to remain vacant dishonor our Constitution. The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons.”
I think that Scalia would be forced to agree.
David Vitter’s new campaign video is all about how he failed his family but found forgiveness. In it, he and his family are sitting around a table as he talks of accepting responsibility and earning redemption. Not only is this video getting quite a bit of air time but at a recent Women’s Roundtable, his wife Wendy presented the video.
Let that sink for a moment – Wendy Vitter is traveling around the state to show a campaign commercial of her husband acknowledging that he cheated on her.
I won’t speculate on the dynamics of their marriage. But seeing naked political ambition eclipsing personal humiliation just boggles the mind.
I don’t really care that David Vitter had affairs, although I’m bothered by the fact he paid for sex. Soliciting is a crime in Louisiana which carries a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. We should definitely expect our elected representatives not to break the laws they swear to uphold.
He positions himself as a great protector of marriage (and as a gatekeeper to exclude lesbians and gays from the institution) by being a chief sponsor on several efforts to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. “I don’t believe there’s any issue that’s more important than this one,” he said once the amendment was brought to the floor. He has also compared marriage equality to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Seriously? There is not a single issue more important than amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Not a single one?
Not Louisiana’s unbalanced budget? Not the catastrophic loss of wetlands or the need for coastal restoration? Not the the dismal state of education? Not our crumbling infrastructure? Not the fact that Louisiana ranks last on nearly every quality of life survey until you get to the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and we take the lead?
Even if you are able to set aside for a moment legitimate differences on substantial policy matters, it behooves us all to be concerned that David Vitter has spent his entire career voting against the rights and liberties of the very same women he’s been screwing.
Furthermore, Vitter has proven, time and again, that he is corrupt to the core. I sincerely hope the voters of this state realize that if his marriage vows mean nothing to him, his oath of office will mean even less.
The choice is clear – vote for John Bel Edwards for Louisiana!
Here are the endorsements for governor and others in the November 21st runoff:
Please Geaux Vote!
Through his constituent letters and public comments, time and again, David Vitter shows he is a hypocrite who doesn’t support many issues of importance to the people of this state.
Here are a few examples:
In 1998, David Vitter was a state representative, a practicing attorney and adjunct professor. He weighed in on the President Bill Clinton impeachment issue in a point of view letter to the Times-Picayune newspaper. “One would hope that these two factors would coincide — that when an officeholder commits serious offenses, the negative reaction of the citizenry would make it impossible for him to govern effectively.” (This is around the same time he was soliciting prostitutes in Louisiana. See American Zombie for more on that story).
David Vitter got his start in Congress after replacing Rep. Robert Livingston, who resigned after his numerous affairs were disclosed. At the time, Vitter argued that an extramarital affair was grounds for resignation: “I think Livingston’s stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess.”
When David Vitter ran for a seat in the Senate in 2004, he made passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment a centerpiece of his campaign: “We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts’s values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage.”
On June 6, 2006 and less than a year after Katrina and Rita made landfall, he says, “I don’t believe there’s any issue that’s more important than this one.” Was he talking about rebuilding Louisiana? NO! He was defending the decision by Republican leaders to bring a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to the Senate floor.
In 2007 (the same year he confessed to his “serious sin” after his phone number appeared on the list of a Washington escort service), he inserted an earmark into the federal budget to provide $100,000 to the Louisiana Family Forum for the purpose of combating the teaching of evolution and global warming in public schools. “This program helps supplement and support educators and school systems that would like to offer all of the explanations in the study of controversial science topics such as global warming and the life sciences,” he said.
2008 Vitter was one of the ten sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, which would have banned same-sex marriage. Vitter co-sponsored State Marriage Defense Act in 2014 which would reverse the gains same-sex couples made after the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned by the Supreme Court in June 2013.
He was also a cosponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act in 2015, which would stop the federal government from denying a tax benefit, contract, or license based on views of the individual or organization that marriage is limited to a union between a man and a woman. Vitter said, “I’m committed to fully protecting religious liberty.” The legislation was introduced June 17, nine days before the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Vitter voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 because he thought it was a sop to plaintiff’s lawyers. “Quite frankly it’s a trial lawyer bonanza,” Vitter said.
In 2010, Senator David Vitter appeared on a right wing radio station and mocked MSNBC host Rachel Maddow:
MALE HOST: That’d be cool. Well you know, with Rachel Maddow they had that picture of her…
FEMALE HOST: Looking like a woman.
MALE HOST: Yeah it was really bizarre.
VITTER: [LAUGHS]: Must have been a long time ago.
ALL THREE: [HEAVY LAUGHTER]
When talking about his continuing the employment of a man convicted of DUI’s and pleading guilty after battering his girlfriend, David Vitter said Brent Furer was actually assigned to “abortion” issues, not “women’s issues.”
In 2013, I received a letter from him after I contacted him about supporting ENDA. The letter said, “While I strictly oppose discrimination in all forms, I do not believe that expanding federal civil rights protections to include lifestyle-based conduct is a prudent course of action.”
There are many, many more examples out there. Check out On The Issues or even do a simple Google search to find many, many more statements he made which are out of touch with the majority of Louisianians. See for yourself when you watch the next debate between John Bel Edwards and David Vitter from Louisiana Public Broadcasting on Tuesday, November 10 from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
It is vital that you vote to ensure that he does not become the next governor of Louisiana. Early voting runs through Saturday, November 14 from 8:30am to 6pm. There is no early voting on Veterans Day, November 11. Election Day is November 21st. More election info can be found here.
Here are endorsements from groups I support:
But, whatever you decide, please do not vote for David Vitter.
Back in May 2014, the Houston City Council passed an anti-discrimination measure. Before it could go into effect, opponents succeeded in getting a court order to put the fair treatment of all people to a popular vote.
The measure failed Tuesday by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent.
The opposition message was a simplistic one: “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms.” They plastered it on signs and repeated it in television and radio ads, turning the debate from one about equal rights to one about protecting women and girls from sexual predators (with no sense of irony that those were the same arguments used by proponents of school segregation).
The Governor of Texas even got on board with it:
Trouble is, that isn’t what the ordinance was about.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was similar to measures that have been approved in more than 200 other cities and 17 states. It would prohibit bias in housing, employment, city contracting and business services for 15 protected classes, including race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity.
This law would not require that people who identify as men be let into women’s restrooms (or, conversely, that women be allowed into men’s). Instead, it would ban discrimination against those whose gender identity does not perfectly match societal expectations or is different from what was assigned to them at birth as well as discrimination based on based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, and pregnancy. Sexual orientation protection extends to both real and perceived sexual orientation.
Neither HERO nor any of those other non-discrimination ordinances would lead to assault on women. There is no evidence that allowing transgender people to have safe access to facilities in accordance with their gender identities will increase the incidence of sexual assault.
In reality, 70% of transgender people have faced physical harm, harassment and humiliation when they try to use the restroom. They are frequently unwelcome or uncomfortable in either the restroom of the sex assigned to them at birth or the restroom appropriate to their gender identity.
We can’t let the anti-LGBTQ activists derail efforts for equality with their campaigns of fear and distraction. Of course, it doesn’t help that they were aided and abetted by lazy journalism which gave airtime to the worst of the arguments of the measure’s opponents. As Houston Mayor Annise Parker said:
This was a campaign of fear mongering and deliberate lies. Deliberate lies. This isn’t misinformation, this is a calculated campaign of lies designed to demonize a little-understood minority, and to use that to take down an ordinance that 200 other cities across America, and 17 states have successfully passed, and operated under.
Anti-discrimination laws are commonplace and have been implemented successfully all over the United States. These laws and ordinances provide critical protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing and public accommodations and to others who face discrimination based on who they are.
Strong majorities of Americans believe that when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations, everyone should be treated fairly and equally.
Unfortunately, strong majorities are also swayed by fear mongering from those who oppose expanding non-discrimination protections. We can’t ignore their smear tactics and hope their listeners will know better than believe them. The anti-LGBTQ activists know only too well that their misinformation campaigns have a history of success and they are not likely to abandon them unless they are directly confronted by the truth.
The truth is too many people in this country are denied their rights to self-determination, dignity and freedom from violence.
The truth is equal access to public accommodations, housing and employment doesn’t take away anyone else’s rights.
The truth is that non-discrimination measures protect more than gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
The truth is that equal bathroom access is vital to a trans person’s ability to live with dignity.
Consider for a moment:
It is only too common. In the Williams-Institute study, 68% trans people were told they were in the wrong facility, told to leave the facility, questioned about their gender, ridiculed or made fun of, verbally threatened, or stared at and given strange looks. For 9 percent of respondents, actual physical assault occurred, including being forcibly removed from the restroom, hit, kicked, slapped, intimidated or cornered. Additionally, 18% of respondents reported they were denied access to a restroom altogether.
Everyone is allowed to have their personal beliefs, but our society is a nation of laws. It is a sad fact that legal protections for LGBTQ Americans facing discrimination are lacking and leave them with virtually no legal recourse.
Non-discrimination measures enjoy broad support across the ideological spectrum because they’re fundamentally about codifying our most important values and ensuring others are treated the way we’d like to be treated.
And that includes in the restroom.
I don’t like David Vitter. It is a dislike borne from seeing how he conducts himself and what his politics have resulted in for our state and nation, time and time again. That said: I won’t be voting against him on November 21st.
Instead, I will be voting FOR John Bel Edwards.
I won’t have to hold my nose to vote for him, either. Representative Edwards has integrity. Something few politicians have and even fewer are willing to put out a video on:
Not only that – he can win this thing. Look at this graphic from the LA Secretary of State/Advocate newspaper:
He received the most votes in nearly every region of the state and he can win on November 21st.
John Bel Edwards is squarely in the mainstream of Louisiana and he could use our help to fight against the lies and fear mongering of his opponent.
Here is what we can do:
Volunteer for his campaign. We must have better turnout and we need to get some of those voters who supported the other candidates to cross party lines, as well as improve the turnout here in New Orleans.
Donate to his campaign. The other guy has a very deep war chest and a SuperPAC airing terrible, horrible no good commercials across the state. John Bel Edwards needs funds to keep his positive message for Louisiana out there.
Finally, commit to vote yourself. Early voting is November 7-14 and the general election is Saturday, November 21st.