In the latest sign that it considers transgender youth acceptable targets for ridicule, The Daily Caller mocked a California law guaranteeing transgender students access to proper facilities and programs as a "choose-your-own bathroom law" designed to placate confused students.
On November 12, The Daily Caller published an article by education editor Eric Owens, who noted that the right-wing coalition fighting to repeal the law recently announced that it had gathered enough signatures to put the law up to a vote in November 2014. Owens made clear where he stood on the law (emphasis added):
If the state deems that at least 505,000 of the 620,000 submitted signatures are valid, the law -- commonly known as Assembly Bill 1266 -- will no longer be implemented on Jan. 1. Instead, the issue will appear on a November 2014 ballot.
California voters would then decide if students with penises should use bathrooms and locker rooms designated for males and students with vaginas should use restrooms designated for females, or if those places should be free-for-alls based on how students say they feel.
Supporters of the choose-your-own bathroom law insist that allowing students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that don't match their genitalia is a vital civil rights issue. They also say it's necessary to prevent bullying.
Owens appears to have something of an obsession with transgender students' genitalia. In a September article making fun of bullied transgender homecoming queen Cassidy Lynn Campbell, Owens couldn't resist noting Campbell's "various male appendages." Earlier in September, he reported that a Pennsylvania high school had disqualified transgender student Kasey Caron as a homecoming king candidate "because [Caron] apparently still has a vagina."
At any rate, Owens' description of the California law is characteristically off-base. School districts that have implemented similar policies state that they've seen no instances of misconduct and experienced "nothing but positive results." The only reported instance of bathroom harassment was actually fabricated by the anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute. Claims that boys will be sneaking into girls' locker rooms are based on nothing more than statements from right-wing talking heads like Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Greg Gutfeld that they themselves would do so.
Meanwhile, Owens' insinuation that you never know how students will "feel" from one day to the next shows that he simply doesn't understand gender identity, which the American Academy of Pediatrics says is typically established by about the age of four. But who needs expert opinion when it's so much easier to make transphobic remarks?
Continuing its misinformation campaign against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, The Washington Times published a column falsely asserting that the legislation would trigger a wave of lawsuits, impose quotas, and lead to the criminalization of conservative religious denominations.
In a November 10 column for the Times, American Civil Rights Union senior fellow Robert Knight blasted ENDA as a bill that would "expand government and repeal the Bible":
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act doesn't say that directly, but its core meaning is that employers -- and their employees -- must accommodate every sexual expression under the sun or face federal prosecution and nuisance lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union.
House Speaker John A. Boehner said the bill would not reach the House floor. People who believe in the freedoms of speech, religion and assembly, not to mention what's left of property rights, had better hope he keeps his promise. This is about so much more than the threat of "frivolous lawsuits."
Even if you're not persuaded by moral arguments, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a massive expansion of federal power and a gift to trial attorneys, who are among the largest donors to the Democratic Party.
In reality, no serious observer expects ENDA to spur a rash of lawsuits. A study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examining states with LGBT workplace protections demonstrated that only a tiny fraction of states' employment discrimination complaints were based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Over a five-year period, less than five percent of California's discrimination complaints were from LGBT workers. In Colorado - which tracked sexual orientation- and gender identity-based complaints separately -- only 5.5 percent of employment discrimination complaints were based on sexual orientation, and a mere 0.29 percent were based on gender identity. In Iowa, the respective figures were 3.6 percent and 0.6 percent. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expects ENDA to increase complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by a modest five percent.
Knight proceeded to distinguish other protected categories, like race and sex, from sexual orientation and gender identity, which "no one would know" about if not for employees' "behavior":
Far from ensuring equality, the bill is a radical departure from civil rights laws, whose protected classes stem from immutable characteristics with no moral content, such as skin color, place of birth or sex. The exception is religion, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
What makes "sexual orientation" or "gender identity" different is that these categories are vague, not immutable, and the associated behaviors have moral implications. In fact, behavior defines the groups. Otherwise, unlike race or sex, no one would know.
The Weekly Standard touted Stephen Jimenez's book arguing that Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder wasn't an anti-gay hate crime but the result of a meth deal gone awry -- ignoring overwhelming evidence of his killer's homophobic motives and denunciations of the book from investigators and lawyers involved in the case.
In the November 18 edition of The Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson lauded Jimenez's The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Shepard. Playing into Jimenez's inflated self-image as a fearless reporter whose commitment to revealing the truth proved consistently "dangerous," Ferguson began the review by marveling that it's a wonder Jimenez "hasn't been burned in effigy, yet, or heckled mercilessly, yet, or denounced, at least by anybody that really matters, as a traitor to the cause. Yet." This sets the stage for a review devoted more to singing Jimenez's praises than to critically evaluating the arguments put forth in The Book of Matt.
Take Ferguson's handling of the book's most shocking claim (emphasis added):
More surprisingly, Jimenez concludes that Shepard's death had nothing to do with homophobia. It was instead the horrific result of a drug deal gone wrong. Indeed, in The Book of Matt, Jimenez offers lots of circumstantial evidence that Shepard and one of his murderers, a violent and drug-addled bit of tumbleweed called Aaron McKinney, were rival dealers in crystal meth. Several named witnesses told Jimenez that the two even had a sexual relationship.
For the most part the conservative press was undeterred by the fact that The Book of Matt, as impressive as it is for the author's tirelessness and courage, is something of a mess. When it comes to gay true-crime investigator-writers, Jimenez is no Truman Capote. He has chosen to tell the story of Shepard's life and death through a first-person account of his own investigations. It is thus not so much a book that tells a story as a book that tells a story about telling a story, a bit like the famous totalitarian mural titled "The Struggle of the Little People to Finish the Mural." This technique plays hell with the chronology, and it's often difficult for the reader to tell which character said what when. The reader's unease is compounded knowing that many of Jimenez's sources are the kind of witnesses usually considered unreliable: meth heads, hustlers, hookers, drunks, various species of trailer trash.
In his defense Jimenez says that if his witnesses seem unreliable, it is only because this is the sort of people Shepard and his murderers associated with. They knew the participants firsthand -- and these are the same witnesses that authorities relied on to get a conviction. For each of his more striking claims Jimenez has been careful to gather multiple sources, usually named. No alert reader can come away from the book still believing the approved story of a shy young man robbed of his life because of his assailants' "fear of the other." The myth that thrilled the progressive heart for 15 years cannot survive Jimenez's accumulation of evidence.
Fox News attempted to paint Gov. Chris Christie as a moderate on social issues, falsely claiming that he had refused to veto legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
On the November 10 edition of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Fox News reporter Carl Cameron discussed Gov. Christie's political reputation among conservatives, citing his decision not to veto marriage equality legislation in 2013 as evidence that Christie might not appeal to social conservatives:
The reason Christie didn't veto a marriage equality bill in 2013 is because he had already vetoed it in 2012 despite widespread public support for the measure. Christie cited his personal opposition to marriage equality and was widely criticized for the suggestion that the issue should be put up for a public vote.
Faced with intense criticism for writing a column suggesting that gays have become "totally boring" since winning some basic legal protections, Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley defended his promotion of old stereotypes about gay culture, stating that such stereotypes "make people feel comfortable."
On November 6, Howley highlighted Senate action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to lament that gay people are no longer the "daring, transgressive" people they were back when gay sex was illegal and homosexuality was considered a mental illness.
Howley waxed nostalgic for the "outlaw" gays of yore who "pranced their corseted, high-heeled bodies around to midnight screenings of great American movies like 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' 'Pink Flamingoes,' and 'Mommy Dearest.'" Howley's use of such tropes prompted this Twitter exchange with Atlantic reporter Jordan Weissmann:
In its latest effort to downplay the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), Fox News spent a mere 19 seconds covering its historic passage by the Senate on November 7.
The Washington Times marked the U.S. Senate's historic vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by publishing a column from an anti-LGBT hate group leader who baselessly asserted that the legislation permits "reverse discrimination" and doesn't truly exempt religious employers.
On November 8 - one day after the Senate voted 64 to 32 to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity - the Times granted Tony Perkins, president of the hate group Family Research Council, a platform to smear ENDA as "a major threat to liberty." Perkins attacked the bill's religious exemption as inadequate and claimed that the legislation promotes "reverse discrimination" against social conservatives:
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act contains a very narrow "religious exemption," but previous experience with similar laws and similar "exemptions" at the state and local level give little confidence that they will fully protect conscience when the law is applied. Sometimes, the enforcers will seek to limit the exemption to actual clergy but insist that church employees who do not proclaim the faith are not exempt. Some will exempt all employees of actual churches, but leave nonprofits and parachurch ministries unprotected. Sometimes, religious nonprofits are protected, but not if a significant part of their work is "secular" in nature (such as feeding the poor or educating children). In any case, any exemption is unlikely to apply to any profit-making entity -- even a religious publishing house or radio station.
Unfortunately, the mere language of a legislative "exemption" is inadequate to predict how liberal activists on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or in the courts will interpret it.
Even more alarming than the lack of a strong religious exemption, however, is the prospect that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would lead to a form of reverse discrimination, whereby anyone who expresses or promotes a view of family or morality that can be interpreted to be a disapproval of homosexual conduct or disagreement with elements of the homosexual political agenda (such as the redefinition of marriage) will be subject to retaliation and discrimination.
Despite Perkins' eagerness to frame ENDA as an unprecedented assault on religious freedom, Section 6 of ENDA explicitly exempts religious organizations, affirming that the same religious organizations exempt under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are also exempt under ENDA. Since Senate debate began on the bill, the right of religious organizations to discriminate against LGBT individuals has only been reaffirmed. On November 6, the Senate adopted by voice vote an amendment from ENDA supporter Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) prohibiting retaliation against religious organizations.
Moreover, businesses required to comply with ENDA's non-discrimination requirements won't see any loss of religious liberty. There's a stark difference between personal religious views against homosexuality and discriminatory public business practices against LGBT people. Just as civil rights protections for racial minorities don't punish private racist thoughts, ENDA won't deploy the thought police to go after religious conservatives.
From the November 7 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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The Daily Caller lamented that gay people have become "totally boring" now that they've secured some basic legal rights and no longer have to live in fear of being outed or ostracized in their everyday lives.
In a November 6 op-ed, reporter Patrick Howley cited the Senate's advancement of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as evidence that gay people had lost their "daring, transgressive" edge and had instead become a "bland, tedious, grievance group eagerly seeking government approval":
Back in the day, gays were subversive adventurers, trolling the city streets at night on a lustful quest for experience and with an outlaw mentality not seen since the days of the Wild West. They were decadently-dressed sexual superheroes, daring Middle America to condemn them as they pranced their corseted, high-heeled bodies around to midnightscreenings of great American movies like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Pink Flamingoes," and "Mommy Dearest." They had an ingrained creativity, a patented sense of irony. They had a brand. They had an identity.
The progressives hosed all of that activity down. The progressives have filled the back-alley glory holes with MoveOn.org petitions. They have condemned clubs named "The Toilet" and erected phone-banking operations for Media Matters. They have taken away your leather costumes and dressed you in Obama-Biden T-shirts. They have taken away your poppers and your molly and handed you $14 apple martinis.
What Howley fails to mention, of course, is that much of the gay community's "outlaw mentality" probably had a lot to do with the fact that gay people were frequent targets of harassment and legal discrimination.
Fox News largely ignored a historic vote on November 4 when the U.S. Senate voted to take up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While CNN and MSNBC covered the vote, Fox devoted half of its already-scant coverage to dismissing ENDA as a "distraction."
Fox News continues to falsely accuse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of threatening religious liberty, asserting that the bill's broad religious exemptions simply won't be enforced by the Obama administration.
During the November 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brett Baier, correspondent and pro-discrimination champion Shannon Bream discussed concerns about ENDA - which would bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity - suggesting that the law might be used to punish religious employers:
BREAM: The stated goal of this legislation is to make sure that there's no discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Now, both people who oppose and support the bill say they support that, that everybody should be treated with dignity in the workplace. Their fear is that this is going to get tricky for religious employers. Drafters of the bill say, 'Well, there are religious exemptions built in.' But as you can imagine, there are plenty of skeptics who say, 'Well, look how it's working out with the [Health and Human Services] HHS contraception mandate.' So they have worries.
From the November 4 edition of Fox News' The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson:
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A new report from the Heritage Foundation attacks the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), mounting a perverse and fallacious defense of allowing businesses to discriminate against workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In advance of the Senate's expected historic vote on ENDA, Heritage Foundation fellow and "ex-gay" therapy-advocate Ryan T. Anderson published a report titled "ENDA Threatens Fundamental Civil Liberties." The report, which is the culmination of Heritage's recent attacks on ENDA in conservative media, rehashes some of the worst conservative arguments against the law, which would merely prohibit employers from harassing or discriminating against LGBT employees. Here are the seven worst arguments he uses to attack ENDA:
A central conservative argument against ENDA is that the law would create "special" rights and privileges for LGBT people. According to Anderson:
ENDA creates special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Specifically, it would make it illegal for organizations with 15 or more employees to "fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."
In reality, ENDA would merely extend the same employment protections that already exist under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - for race, sex, religion, age, and disability status - to include sexual orientation and gender identity. ENDA's text explicitly prohibits special privileges for LGBT employees, including "preferential treatment or quotas."
As the Senate prepares to take its first vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in over a decade, prominent social conservatives and right-wing media outlets have begun peddling long-debunked myths about the measure, which would protect employees from mistreatment on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is a California-based anti-gay group that was recently caught fabricating a story about a transgender student harassing other students in a female restroom. The revelation is just the latest in PJI's history of manufacturing horror stories about efforts to protect LGBT youth in California schools - stories that are regularly touted on Fox News.
PJI was established in 1997 by the organization's current president, Brad W. Dacus. According to the organization's website, PJI specializes in "the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties."
While PJI bills itself as a generalist religious liberty advocacy group, the organization specializes in combating efforts to protect LGBT youth, especially in California's public schools. Since its inception, PJI has worked to stifle even the most modest efforts to make schools more welcoming environments for LGBT students, including:
PJI's focus on LGBT youth is likely a product of Dacus's leadership. According to a 2009 profile on the group in the East Bay Express:
Such issues are of special interest to the institute and Dacus, who with his wife Susanne is the author of a book informing public-school teachers, students, and parents of "strategies to practically and legally evangelize your school." Titled Reclaim Your School, the book calls separation of church and state "the big lie" and covers everything from pastor visitations to special school-hours Bible study through which, Dacus writes, "a large number of students ... make commitments to receive Christ by the end of the year." [emphasis added]
Dacus gained notoriety during the 2008 battle over California's Proposition 8. While acting as an official spokesman at a "Yes on 8" rally, Dacus was filmed comparing the defeat of marriage equality to the defeat of Nazi Germany:
Since then, Dacus has become a mainstream voice of anti-LGBT fear mongering, peddling his beliefs to whatever major news outlet will have him. His commentary ranges from mere conservative misinformation - like claiming that overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) might legalize incest - to outright homophobia and transphobia. He's called homosexuality "dangerous" and "destructive," claimed that "ex-gay" therapy is necessary to save youth from a "path of death and destruction," and asserted that LGBT History Month is a "serious propaganda month" to "market homosexuality" to young children.