Sarah Sanders: Trump OK With Businesses Hanging Antigay Signs

President Trump’s press secretary said her boss would have no problem with businesses hanging antigay signs that explicitly state they don’t serve LGBT customers.

Hours after oral arguments concluded in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case — where a Colorado baker argued to the Supreme Court that his religion allows him to refuse service to gay people — Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was confronted on legalized discrmination during today’s White House press briefing.

“The lawyer for the solicitor general’s office for the administration said today in the Supreme Court if it would be legal, possible for a baker to put a sign in his window saying we don’t bake cakes for gay weddings,” The New York Times‘s Michael Shear asked. “Does the president agree that that would be ok?”

“The president certainly supports religious liberty and that’s something he talked about during the campaign and has upheld since taking office,” Sanders replied.

When pressed on whether that included support for signs that deny service to gay people, Sanders responded: “I believe that would include that.”

[Advocate]

Media

Trump calls on NFL to suspend Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch early Monday morning.

After photographs surfaced showing Lynch standing during the Mexican national anthem and sitting during the US national anthem at a game against the New England Patriots in Mexico City on Sunday, Trump called for his suspension.

“Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down,” he tweeted.

The President and the NFL have butted heads over athletes’ decisions to kneel during the national anthem at games, with Trump calling on the league to fire players who protest during the anthem earlier this year.

This marks the second day Trump has taken to social media to criticize African-American athletes.

Trump helped negotiate the release of three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, accused of shoplifting in China. On Sunday, the President tweeted that he should have left the basketball players in jail, suggesting that Ball’s father was “unaccepting” of Trump’s efforts to negotiate the players out of China.

“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar,” Trump said later on Sunday. “Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”

[CNN]

Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly Says ‘Lack of Compromise’ Led to Civil War

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waded into the long-simmering dispute over the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders saying in a televised interview on Monday night that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”

In the interview on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” host Laura Ingraham asked Kelly about the decision by Christ Church, an Episcopal congregation in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, to remove plaques honoring President George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the commander of Confederate forces during the Civil War.

“Well, history’s history,” said Kelly, whom President Donald Trump moved from secretary of homeland security to be his chief of staff in July. “You know, 500 years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I think it’s just very, very dangerous. I think it shows you just how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.”

Confrontations over removal of Confederate monuments have exposed deep rifts in American society between advocates who argue that the Civil War is a foundation stone of American history whose combatants acted out of conscience and those who contend that the memorials honor Southern defenders of slavery who betrayed their country by launching an armed rebellion.

A subset of pro-memorial advocates includes so-called alt-right political activists and white nationalists, who were blamed for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August when a car drove into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 other people.

Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville drew condemnation after he said “both sides” were to blame for the violence and that there are “two sides to a story.”

Kelly on Monday night explained the Civil War’s genesis by saying “men and women of good faith on both sides” took a stand based on their conscience.

“Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly said, adding: “The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”

Kelly during the interview was also asked about whether he would apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., for making inaccurate statements about her after she criticized Trump’s condolence call this month with a fallen soldier’s wife.

Kelly accused her of grandstanding during a 2015 ceremony to dedicate a new FBI field office in Miami and said she wrongly took credit for securing federal funding for the building. She did not take credit for it.

Still, Kelly held his ground Monday.

“Oh, no,” Kelly said. “No. Never. Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”

The following is the full transcript of Kelly’s remarks on the removal of Confederate statues:

Well, history’s history. And there are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good.

I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society, and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say, ‘What Christopher Columbus did was wrong.

You know, 500 years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I think it’s just very, very dangerous. I think it shows you just how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.

I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.

Media

Trump calls for tax law changes for NFL over protests

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for changes to U.S. tax law affecting the National Football League, fueling a feud with the league and its players over protests that he says disrespect the nation.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

The world’s top-grossing sports league gave up its tax-free status two years ago. Its owners are preparing to address the anthem issue at their fall meeting in New York Oct. 17-18, NFL chief spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

“Everyone at this point is frustrated by the situation,” Lockhart said. “The commissioner and the owners do want the players to stand. We think it is an important part of the game.”

The protests, in a league where African Americans make up the majority of players, have continued through the season, with some players taking a knee when the anthem is played and others standing arm-in-arm in solidarity.

Current policy calls for players to stand for the anthem and face the flag, but no player has been disciplined for a protest, Lockhart said.

“We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to team owners.

The White House supported the idea of asking players to stand, said spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

“We are glad to see the NFL taking positive steps in that direction,” she said at a news briefing.

Asked to explain Trump’s comment on the NFL and taxes, Sanders said, “The federal tax law doesn’t apply here, but certainly we know that they receive tax subsidies on a variety of different levels.”

Trump last month called on NFL team owners to fire players who kneel during the anthem to protest police violence against black Americans.

Critics contend Trump is fanning the controversy to distract from issues including devastation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, tensions with North Korea and difficulties in pushing healthcare and tax overhauls through the U.S. Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a NFL game on Sunday after some players knelt, an action some critics called a publicity stunt.

Trump won the presidency with less support from black voters than any other president in at least four decades.

Trump has squared off against the NFL before, having owned a team in the upstart United States Football League in the 1980s. That league folded in 1985 after an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL failed.

Trump has refused to disclose his own tax history, departing from a practice of U.S. presidents going back more than 40 years. Trump has said nobody cares about his tax returns, but critics say they could show conflicts of interest.

[Reuters]

Sessions’ DOJ reverses transgender workplace protections

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed an Obama-era policy explicitly defining transgender workers as protected under employment discrimination laws, CBS News’ Paula Reid reports.

The Wednesday policy reversal of what qualifies as employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act comes down to an idealogical disagreement over whether “sex” is decided by a person’s birth certificate, or whether sexual discrimination includes broader gender identity. Title VII prohibits any employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Former Attorney General Eric Holder in 2014 interpreted “sex” discrimination to apply to discrimination based on gender identity, while Sessions’ DOJ interprets that it only applies to discrimination between men and women.

Sessions’ DOJ argues Holder went beyond the definition of the 1964 law by including transgender discrimination.

“The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided,” DOJ spokesperson Devin O’Malley said. Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The move comes after President Trump has announced he will prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the military, a decision that shocked his own party and caused backlash from Democrats and civil liberties groups.

Sessions’ latest policy shift could very well could end up in court, Reid reports. Already, it’s under fire from civil liberties groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice, which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement.

“This Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions has time and time again made it clear that its explicit agenda is to attack and undermine the civil rights of our most vulnerable communities, rather than standing up for them as they should be doing,” Esseks continued. “Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago. We are confident that the courts will continue to agree and will reject the politically driven decision by Attorney General Sessions.”

[CBS News]

U.S. votes against U.N. resolution condemning death penalty for LGBT people

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory manner such as consensual same-sex relations. Along with 13 other nations, the United States voted against it. Instead, the U.S. sided with allies such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Bangladesh, China and India also voted against the measure, which still passed along a 27-13 margin.

“The resolution asked countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not ‘applied arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner’ and that it is not applied against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities and persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, as well as pregnant women,” according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA).

The resolution does not outlaw the use of the death penalty. Instead, it merely condemns its use in cases of “apostasy, blasphemy and adultery” an other similar instances.

“It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in States where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love” Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director of ILGA said. “This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”

LGBT rights activists criticized President Donald Trump’s administration and U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, for not supporting the resolution. Yet, don’t go thinking this stance is anything new or localized to the 45th president’s administration. The U.S. has never voted to support any U.N. measure that condemns the death penalty in any way. The Obama administration did abstain from a similar vote in 2014, according to BuzzFeed News, though that one did not contain provisions for LGBT individuals.

[Salon]

Update

The Trump State Department said they voted against the resolution “because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances, and it called for the abolition of the death penalty altogether. ”

Watch here: https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/915291301540593664

However if you look at the text of the resolution on page 3 bullet point 2, it very clearly says it calls upon all states that have not already abolished the death penalty to consider doing so.

Read the resolution text here: http://undocs.org/A/HRC/36/L.6

That isn’t even close to the State Department’s description. She is lying through her teeth.

Trump Lawyers Urge Supreme Court to Rule For Colorado Cake Maker Who Turned Away Gay Couple

Trump administration lawyers joined sides with a Colorado baker Thursday and urged the Supreme Court to rule that he has the right to refuse to provide a wedding cake to celebrate the marriage of two men.

Acting Solicitor Gen. Jeffrey B. Wall filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the cake maker’s rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion should prevail over a Colorado civil rights law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“A custom wedding cake is a form of expression,” he said. “It is an artistic creation that is both subjectively intended and objectively perceived as a celebratory symbol of a marriage.” And as such, the baker has a free-speech right under the 1st Amendment to refuse to “express” his support for a same-sex marriage, Wall argued.

The case of the Colorado cake maker has emerged as the latest battle in the culture wars. It is a clash between the religious rights of a conservative Christian against gay rights and equal treatment for same-sex couples.

The brief filed Thursday is likely to bolster the cake maker’s case, and is in line President Trump’s repeated promises to protect “religious liberty.”

But Wall asked the high court to carve out “only a narrow” exception to the state civil rights laws forbidding businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation. It should extend only to people like painters, photographers and others whose “product or service [is] inherently communicative.” Most businesses would not qualify, he said. “A commercial banquet hall may not refuse to rent its facilities, nor may a car service refuse to provide limousines” because its owners do not approve of a same-sex marriage, he said.

He also said an exemption for “expressive conduct” would not extend to cases of racial discrimination. The Supreme Court has said racial bias always violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws, he said, but has not yet adopted the same strict standard for judging bias based on sexual orientation.

Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the administration was trying to create a “constitutional right to discriminate.”

“This Justice Department has already made its hostility to the rights of LGBT people and so many others crystal clear. But this brief was shocking, even for this administration,” she said. “We are confident that the Supreme Court will rule on the side of equal rights just as the lower courts have.”

The case began five years ago when two men who were planning to marry went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in a Denver suburb to ask about a wedding cake for their reception. They were surprised and angered when Jack Phillips, the shop owner, said he would not make a cake for a same-sex marriage. Doing so would violate his Christian faith, he said.

The two men filed a complaint with the state Civil Rights Commission in Colorado, which like 20 other states has a law that requires businesses serving the public to provide “full and equal” service to customers without regard to their sexual orientation. An administrative judge, a seven-member state commission and a Colorado appeals court all agreed Phillips had violated the law.

Phillips has continued to operate his bakery, but he no longer designs custom wedding cakes.

Backed by the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, he appealed to the Supreme Court late last year for the right under the 1st Amendment to be exempted from the state law.

Shortly after Trump’s first appointee, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, was confirmed and took his seat, the justices announced they would hear the baker’s appeal. The case of Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado is due to be argued in late November or early December.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump Signs Order For Military to Discriminate Against Transgender Recruits

President Donald Trump on Friday signed a directive reinstating a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military, although it defers to the Pentagon on whether to remove those now in uniform and leaves open the door for it to seek changes.

Trump’s directive, issued to the Defense and Homeland Security Departments, reinstates a prohibition of transgender service members lifted last year, putting a formal stamp on a politically divisive change in military personnel policy that Trump first announced last month.

It also bars funding to pay for gender-reassignment surgeries except when “necessary to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her sex.”

The guidance gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis until Feb. 21, 2018, to submit a plan for implementing the new policy. It also leaves decision of whether to remove current troops to Mattis.

The White House memo also leaves the door open for further changes in the transgender policy, stating that Mattis may advise him on changes.

“The Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may advise me at any time, in writing, that a change to this policy is warranted,” the memo states.

Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in June 2016 the ban on transgender troops would be lifted. Mattis, however, delayed implementation of the policy for new recruits by six months to allow for further study.

Trump first revealed he would reverse the policy in a series of tweets on July 26, announcing transgender individuals would not be allowed “to serve in any capacity” in the military.

Trump’s announcement last month on Twitter that he planned to reverse the Obama policy was hailed by some conservatives who argue that the military has become a social experiment.

But it also drew widespread condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans, who argue the policy shift is discriminatory and would disrupt military readiness.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White Friday confirmed in a statement that the department had received the guidance but provided no further details.

“The Department of Defense has received formal guidance from the White House in reference to transgender personnel serving in the military,” White said. “More information will be forth coming.”

Experts predict that implementation of the ban will prove a lethal thicket and predict a series of court challenges that will likely delay the policy.

[Politico]

Trump Pardons His Friend Sheriff Joe Arpaio

President Donald Trump has pardoned controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio of his conviction for criminal contempt, the White House said Friday night.

Arpaio, who was a sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, was found guilty of criminal contempt last month for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. Arpaio’s sentencing had been scheduled for October 5.

“Not only did (Arpaio) abdicate responsibility, he announced to the world and to his subordinates that he was going to continue business as usual no matter who said otherwise,” wrote US District Judge Susan Bolton in the July 31 order.

Trump indicated he would pardon Arpaio at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday: “I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy.”

“I’ll make a prediction,” Trump said, adding, “I think he’s going to be just fine.”

However, civil rights groups have pushed back against the possibility of Arpaio’s pardon.

After Trump’s comments at the Phoenix rally, the ACLU tweeted: “President Trump should not pardon Joe Arpaio. #PhoenixRally #noarpaiopardon,” accompanied with a graphic that reads, “No, President Trump. Arpaio was not ‘just doing his job.’ He was violating the Constitution and discriminating against Latinos.”

Arpaio, who has called himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” was an early Trump supporter, but his stance on illegal immigration was what had earned him national recognition.

[CNN]

Trump: ‘Doing the Military a Great Favor’ with Transgender Troop Ban

President Trump said Thursday he is “doing the military a great favor” by banning transgender people from serving in the armed forces.

“I have great respect for the community,” Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “I think I’ve had great support, or I’ve had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes. It’s been a very complicated issue for the military, it’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”

Trump announced the sudden shift in military policy last month in a series of tweets.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted at the time.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”

The announcement sparked immediate criticism, including from top Republican senators and dozens of retired generals and admirals.

Two LGBTQ rights groups announced Wednesday that they would sue Trump over the ban, claiming claim the president’s July tweets announcing plans to reverse the Department of Defense’s policy on transgender service members violates the equal protection component of the due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment.

[The Hill]

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