One of Trump’s appointments to the Department of Agriculture has a history of making false and inflammatory comments about LGBTQ people, the Sioux City Journal reports:
A comment by Sam Clovis, a former talk show host for KSCJ-AM radio and Morningside College professor in Sioux City, has been aired from a few years ago, when he said, “as far as we know, LGBT behavior is a choice.”
CNN undertook a substantial task to work back through statements by Clovis when he was on the radio and as a candidate in 2013-2014 for a U.S. Senate seat and the Iowa treasurer position. CNN published the piece Monday morning, as Clovis awaits confirmation to a post in the U.S Department of Agriculture.
The YouTube video of a campaign stop shows Clovis at a table with a mug of Casey’s Bakery, a Sioux Center, Iowa, business, but it is not clear if it is in Sioux Center. However, conservative Jacob Hall, who lives in Sioux Center, is sitting next to Clovis, who responded to Hall’s question.
Clovis was addressing the topic of groups of people who have constitutional protections, and he discussed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Said Clovis, “Someone who engages in LGBT behavior, sometimes — you know, and I don’t know what the science is on this, I think it’s still out — but as far as I, that we know, that is a choice they make, right. So we’re being asked to provide constitutional protections for behavior, a choice in behavior as opposed to a primary characteristic.”
Democrats are calling on Trump to withdraw the nomination, the Journal notes:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is leading a chorus of Democrats calling on President Donald Trump to withdraw the nomination of Siouxlander Sam Clovis to a key post in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, saying failure to do so would send a “message to the world that this administration continues to tolerate hate.”
Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said Democrats will actively work to block the nomination of Clovis as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics. Trump made that nomination in July and it must be approved by Senate confirmation.
Clovis has come under fire from some past columns and writings. For example, in a now-defunct blog for his former talk radio show on KSCJ, Clovis labeled progressives “liars, race traders and race traitors,” and referred to former President Barack Obama as a “socialist” who “hates the greatness of this nation.”
More recently, Democrats and progressive groups attacked Clovis for saying a few years ago, “as far as we know, LGBT behavior is a choice.”
Think Progress reports that Clovis isn’t the only Trump pick who has used false and misleading words to target the LGBTQ community:
Sam Clovis, President Trump’s pick to head science research within the Department of Agriculture, has a record of virulently anti-LGBTQ comments, CNN reported on Monday.
In 2014, Clovis commented on LGBTQ rights at a campaign stop in his bid for the Republican Party nomination for an Iowa Senate seat. Echoing many anti-LGBTQ conservatives, Clovis compared belonging to the LGBTQ community to pedophilia:
“If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? Are we going to protect polyamorous marriage relationships? Are we going to protect people who have fetishes?
But it would have been far more surprising if Clovis had a record of being supportive of LGBTQ people. Most of Trump’s picks for cabinet positions have poor records on LGBTQ rights, if they didn’t outright oppose them. And it isn’t rare for Republicans considered for positions within the administration to compare being queer or trans to being a pedophile or an alcoholic. Here are some of the other anti-LGBTQ people Trump tapped for major positions within his administration:
One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBTQ group, condemned Trumps renewed ban on transgender folks enlisting, KCRG reports:
One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel issued a statement condemning the White House’s upcoming guidance.
“Transgender service members are just as ‘deployable’ as their cisgender colleagues, and any attempts to remove them based on this criteria is blatant discrimination. There have already been multiple lawsuits filed to stop this unlawful ban from going into effect, and we applaud those who are actively fighting against it in court.
“After President Trump announced the initial ban, we pointed out that according to studies by the Williams Institute and the Veterans Health Administration, transgender people are more likely to serve in the military than the general population. This is despite being disrespected at nearly every turn by President Trump, Rep. Steve King, our nation’s policies, and the harmful stereotypes to which they are subjected.
“The courageous and resilient transgender people who serve and have served our nation deserve to be honored, not denigrated, called a ‘disruption’, and subjected to discriminatory reviews of their ‘deployability’. We call on those who spoke out against this ban when President Trump originally announced it, including Sen. Joni Ernst, to push back against this guidance and ensure our transgender service people and veterans receive the respect they deserve.”
Cedar Valley Pridefest was held over the weekend. The Courier has the details:
Cedar Valley Pridefest is a community event that attracted up to 4,000 people downtown for a colorful party atmosphere including music, food and entertainment from noon to midnight.
“Our goal is to showcase and celebrate the diversity in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls community already and let people experience some of that together,” said Mike Tyer, a member of the festival board. “There’s a lot of colors in all of us, a lot of colors of the rainbow.”
Chris Schwartz, another board member, said Schuler and others talking at the “Speakers’ Alley” tent are “an important part of the festival that helps us reach our mission of promoting understanding both outside of and within the LGBTQ community.”
The season for Eastern Iowa’s LGBT chorus is getting underway, the Press Citizen reports:
The Quire — Eastern Iowa’s LGBT Chorus — begins rehearsals for our upcoming season at 6 p.m. Sept.10.
Rehearsals are held every Sunday night from 6-8:30 p.m. in the second-floor choir room at Zion Lutheran Church, 310 N. Johnson St. in Iowa City. Membership is open to anyone in the corridor LGBT community, along with community allies who love to sing. We ask that singers attend at least one of the first three rehearsals (Sept. 10, 17 and 24) of the fall semester.
The Quire is fortunate this fall to welcome back Gayle Hartwig for her second season as artistic director. I asked Gayle to reflect on her first season and look ahead to her second season with rehearsals beginning soon. Here are some thoughts she shared with me.
From Gayle: “As I reflect back on my first year as artistic director of the Quire, I am filled with gratitude. Quire members were very patient with me as I learned to get to know each of them while working through new literature, as well as performing pieces they were familiar with, but I was not. It was my privilege to be a part of the 2016 GALA Symposium, where I was able to meet and dialog with other artistic directors from GLBT choruses around the country and participate in hands-on workshops.”
A Wisconsin school district is appealing a decision that found the school discriminated against a transgender student, and asking the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the case, the Washington Blade reports:
The Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin filed on Friday a petition before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to reverse a decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals granting Ash Whitaker, a transgender boy, access to the school restroom consistent with his gender identity.
“By deeming transgender status as a sex-based classification, the Seventh Circuit has failed to heed this Court’s admonishment that lower courts should not create new suspect classifications,” the petition says.
The questions presented before the court are 1) whether school policies requiring boys and girls to use separate restrooms according to the biological sex is a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; and 2) whether such policies are a sex-based classification triggering heightened scrutiny under an equal protection analysis, as determined by the Seventh Circuit.
Should the Supreme Court grant a writ of certiorari — or agree to take up the case — and rule in favor of Ash, it could mean a nationwide ruling guaranteeing transgender students have access to the school restroom consistent with their gender identity.
“This is a matter of national importance,” the petition says. “The number of students in America’s public schools who label themselves as transgender is growing, and advocacy groups are pushing to create rights for these students. School districts, students, and parents across the country need guidance on this issue given the conflicting decisions by various courts, guidance which has been issued and withdrawn by the Department of Education, and the lack of any other definitive answers.”
A Dane County court has ruled in favor of a photographer that wants to discriminate against LGBTQ people, the Christian Post reports:
A Wisconsin court has ruled that evangelical Christian photographer Amy Lawson is exempt from a local ordinance in Madison that would have forced her to work gay weddings, because she does not have a physical storefront.
Alliance Defending Freedom, which earlier in August said that it was expecting the court to issue such a preliminary injunction in the case, revealed that Dane County Circuit Court issued the order on Wednesday, confirming that Lawson is not subject to a city and state “sexual orientation” and “political affiliation” ordinance.
ADF Digital Content Specialist Sarah Kramer noted that Lawson’s lack of a physical storefront has made her exempt from the ordinance.
“That means she has the freedom to use her talents to promote and celebrate events that are consistent with her beliefs and to decline to use her talents to promote and celebrate events that are not,” Kramer stated.
“This is an important victory for anyone who values artistic freedom! And creative professionals without a storefront in Madison and all throughout Wisconsin can breathe a sigh of relief. They still have the freedom to make decisions about which ideas they will use their artistic expression to promote.”
The controversy surrounding conservative Republicans push to have a West Fargo library remove a Pride Month display continues. The Forum has more:
Intolerance is alive and well in North Dakota. Events of last week — namely Melvin Schramm’s opinion piece condemning Fargo’s pride parade and two North Dakota legislators’ response to the West Fargo Library’s LGBTQ book display — affirm this. In his letter published Aug. 13, Schramm reminds us that some people still vehemently believe those in the LGBTQ community — and those of faith who support them — are sinful abominations.
A few days later, Reps. Chris Olson and Kim Koppelman suggest local libraries cannot promote LGBTQ books without equal promotion of books that question the scientific validity of LGBTQ identities. The books on display showcased struggles and triumphs specific to the LGBTQ community, yet Olson claims they will promote “an ideology of sexual fluidity, promiscuity, experimentation and deviation.”
These world views have real life implications for the LGBTQ community.
Let us not forget that these people, who share the views of Olson and Koppelman and Schramm, exist in the real world. They do not simply write about their beliefs and submit them to local newspapers. Their beliefs do not stop at pen and paper.
These people are hiring managers, they are loan officers, they are landlords. They are people in places of power who determine whether you can get hired or fired based on your sexual orientation or gender identity — irrespective of qualifications — with complete impunity. More importantly, though, they are our legislators. The very same legislators who refuse to legislate equality. The North Dakota Legislature has tried, but failed, to pass workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity four times in the last five sessions.
While many heralded marriage equality as the panacea of LGBTQ equality, the fact remains you can get married on Saturday and fired on Monday.
Grand Forks Pride was held over the weekend. The Grand Forks Herald has more:
Grand Forks Pride, a celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, held its annual celebration Saturday at the American Legion in East Grand Forks.
The day of celebration, which 27 vendors and groups participated in this year, was moved indoors due to forecasted thunderstorms.
“I view it as the community coming together for something we believe in and want everyone else to believe in, too,” said Sarah Poe, a UND senior who works with the 10 Percent Society, the oldest LGBTQ organization in North Dakota.