We Never Could Get the Hang of Thursdays
by Jay Wu
This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
— Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This particular Thursday has been particularly difficult, as the Trump administration came at the trans community and other marginalized communities from all directions. We join our colleagues at Advocates for Youth in simply condemning the entire day.
That said, regardless of what the Trump administration and congressional leadership throw at us, NCTE is prepared to fight back and get stronger at every turn. Here’s how we resisted today.
Department of Health and Human Discrimination opens a new division
It was cold in Washington, D.C. this morning, but advocates from NCTE and partner organizations nonetheless turned out at Department of Health and Human Services headquarters to protest the announcement of a new division in the department’s Office of Civil Rights.
Despite its misleading name, the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” — and a pending regulation that it will likely implement and enforce — will empower health care providers, like doctors, paramedics, and nurses, to discriminate against LGBTQ people and anyone else they don’t like.
Extremist nominees sail through Senate committee vote
As some NCTE staff rallied outside the Department of Health and Human Services, others attended this morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, where committee members were due to vote on a whopping 25 nominees for federal judgeships and positions in the Department of Justice.
If that seems like a lot, that’s because it is. Voting on this many nominees at once is unusual. Instead of taking a reasoned approach towards these votes, Senate leadership is instead rushing these nominees through the procedures in place to ensure that only qualified candidates are confirmed to these positions.
And they have reason to do so. Many of these nominees have demonstrated extreme, anti-LGBTQ views and clearly do not have the objectivity necessary to sit on a court.
The nominees NCTE opposed today included:
- Kyle Duncan and Matthew Kacsmaryk, who believe being trans is a delusion. A few weeks ago, over 300 parents of transgender kids sent a letter to Senators asking them not to confirm these nominees.
300+ Parents of Trans Kids to Senate: Don’t Let These Extremists Become Judges
An open letter opposing nominees Kyle Duncan and Matthew Kacsmaryk
- Mark Norris, who backed the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which banned mentioning LGBTQ people in schools, while he was a Tennessee state senate leader. He was also a proponent of the state’s anti-transgender bathroom ban.
- Eric Dreiband, who defended the state of North Carolina when it faced lawsuits for the blatantly discriminatory law HB 2. Ironically, he is up for the position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice.
- Thomas Farr, who engaged in the intimidation of black voters while he worked for Jesse Helms in the 1980s and then misled the committee about his involvement in voter intimidation during his hearing.
All of these nominees passed through the committee along party lines with 11–10 votes. They will now be voted on by the full Senate. There is still time to call your Senators and tell them not to confirm any of these biased, unqualified nominees. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224–3121 now.
Still no resolution on the Dream Act
While you’re on the phone with your Senators, dial your Representative as well and push them to support a clean Dream Act. Congress continues to grapple with passing a budget to fund the government as some members refuse to include protections for Dreamers — young people who are undocumented, but have only ever called the United States home.
The Senate is currently considering a short-term spending bill that the House of Representatives passed earlier today. If passed, it would keep the government open until February 16, pushing back the deadline yet again for Congress to pass a full budget that includes protections for Dreamers.
If the Senate does not pass the short-term spending bill, the government will shut down tomorrow night. (Read about what that would mean here.)
Here’s to Friday being better.
Jay Wu is the Communications Manager at NCTE.