Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Via ThinkProgress: Trump revokes executive order, weakens protections for LGBT workers

LET ME BE CLEAR: if you voted for Donald Trump, you voted to attack me and people like me. 

You voted to roll back our civil and human rights, allow discrimination against us, and relegate us once again to second-class status. You voted to allow this evil man and his monstrous administration to come after LGBT people, our families, our lives, our jobs, and our love. We warned you, we tried to reason with you, some of us even pleaded with you... but you did it anyway, and then you had the gall to gaslight us, telling us we were wrong to worry about Trump because he managed to spit out the letters "LGBTQ" at his convention and grabbed a rainbow flag onstage once. But whaddya know -- we were right after all, and the destruction of our basic civil liberties that your vote has enabled is unfolding now before our very eyes.

We will defeat this evil because we will outlive and outlast and outfight it, but we will *never* forget the way you voted to oppress and degrade and dehumanize us. 

SHAME on you.


An executive order President Trump signed Monday rescinded an executive order President Obama implemented that would have required companies that contract with the federal government to provide documentation about their compliance with various federal laws. Some have argued that this will make it harder to enforce the LGBT protections President Obama implemented for employees of federal contractors — as well as many other protections those workers enjoyed.

Trump rescinded the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, also known as Executive Order 13673, that President Obama issued in 2014. That order required companies wishing to contract with the federal government to show that they’ve complied with various federal laws and other executive orders. 

Notably, Obama issued that order in tandem with Executive Order 13672, which prohibited contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Executive Order 13673 was enjoined by a federal judge in Texas back in October, but had it been implemented, it would have improved accountability for businesses that contract with the federal government. Enforcement of 13672, the LGBT protections, does not require this order, but would have been stronger with it. Whatever its fate in court may have been, it’s now gone forever.

LGBT people are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, even with 13672 still in place. Obama’s LGBT executive order amended previous presidential orders that also protected the employees of contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age, but all of those other categories are also afforded protection under various federal laws (the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act). Sexual orientation and gender identity are the only identity categories without explicit nondiscrimination protections under federal law, and fewer than half the states offer LGBT protections at the state level. 

That means Obama’s executive order is the only legal force protecting over a million workers.

Camilla Taylor, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, was the first to raise concerns that this change would impact the LGBT community. As she explained to Keen News Service, “It’s sending a message to these companies…that the federal government simply doesn’t care whether or not they violate the law.”
National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell also said in a statement, “President Trump’s quiet take-down yesterday of federal safeguards against employment discrimination for millions of LGBT Americans is yet another example of why our elected officials, advocates, and our community must remain vigilant and continue working together to stop this administration’s regressive and harmful policies.”

When a draft of a “religious freedom” executive order that would have licensed discrimination against LGBT people was circulating, the White House tried to stir up some positive press by promising that it would “leave in place” Obama’s 2014 order protecting LGBT workers.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights,” the statement read. 

The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters fell over himself to praise the statement for using “stronger language than any Republican president has before in favor of equal legal protections for gay lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.”

It’s not a surprise, however, that Trump is walking back other executive orders that weaken the LGBT protections. Trump promised to undo all of Obama’s executive orders.

That “religious freedom” executive order hasn’t gone away either. 

A month after the draft leaked and the White House assured LGBT people it wasn’t signing it at that time, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal that it was still coming. “I think we’ve discussed executive orders in the past, and for the most part we’re not going to get into discussing what may or may not come until we’re ready to announce it,” he said at the time. “So I’m sure as we move forward we’ll have something.”

Via Towleroad: Trump Administration Erases LGBT People from Key 2020 Census Survey

An announcement of Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey put out by the Census Bureau which included Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity on its list was scrubbed and revised on Tuesday, reappearing without LGBT people as a designated group.

RELATED: Trump Administration Erases LGBT People from Key Annual HHS Survey of Older and Disabled Americans

The Washington Blade reports:

With days before its deadline, the U.S. Census delivered to Congress its report on planned subjects for the survey, including gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and homeownership status. Under law, the report is due three years before Census Day, with the next one is set to occur April 1, 2020….

…The report outlines the importance of including these questions in either the decennial U.S. Census or the newer and more detailed annual American Community Survey, which was established in 1985 and seeks to ascertain socio-economic and housing statistics.

But apparently an initial version of this report went too far. The U.S. Census issued a notice shortly afterward indicating the report was corrected because the initial appendix “inadvertently” included LGBT categories.

“The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix,” the statement says. “The report has been corrected.”

The National LGBTQ Task Force posted an image (above) of the erasure on its website.
Said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force, in a statement:

“Today, the Trump Administration has taken yet another step to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity, by choosing to exclude us from the 2020 Census and American Community Survey. LGBTQ people are not counted on the Census—no data is collected on sexual orientation or gender identity. Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps. If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?”

Last week, the Trump administration erased LGBT people from a key annual Health and Human Services survey of older and disabled Americans.

Via Ram Dass

and I have become
like two giant fat people living
in a tiny

keep bumping into
each other
and laughing.

- Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 03/29/17

“Our purpose is the program that leads to our soul’s fulfillment. It is the meaning of existence. The soul is fulfilled when it can manifest its essence which is love. The soul’s program is simply the manner in which love will express through it. Therefore, it is love that actually fulfills our purpose. The form through which the soul fulfills its purpose has to do with the gifts and talents of each one of us. When love is put in action through gifts and talents, our soul feels fulfilled. It feels like it fits in and belongs to something greater, connected to the source of life. Our soul feels enthusiastic and motivated to wake up in the morning to do what needs to be done. It feels there is meaning to life.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Nature's Perspective

Animals are people, too. As are plants. And water. And soil. This is the fundamental insight at the heart of all eco-spiritual work. But to get that insight, we have to get with the big picture. To get that insight, we have to climb a tree.

—Clark Strand, "Trees, Butterflies, and the Buddhist Moral Life"

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 03/28/17

“We are progressing on our evolutionary journey when we can honestly recognize our mistakes and evils. Recognizing insanity is the first step towards sanity. How can we turn on a light if we don't realize its dark? On the path of sell-knowledge, the greatest measure of success is the capacity to recognize one’s destructive impulses. Once we recognize them, we have the chance to transform them.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Understanding Across Difference

Understanding across difference, whatever the difference, lies at the center of spiritual life and aspiration.

—Henry Shukman, "The Meeting"

Monday, March 27, 2017

Freedom to Marry

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 03/27/17

“The lack of love has always played a part of our past through acts of cruelty and revenge. Consequently, the majority of human beings have been conditioned to feel pleasure in suffering. For many, this is very difficult to recognize because it is so subtle. Many times, we are able to see the pleasure we feel when we see the other suffering, but we are unable to perceive the pleasure we derive from making ourselves suffer. This is the most subtle aspect of negatively oriented pleasure. Due to this kind of pleasure, suffering perpetuates here on planet Earth.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Free Time vs. Freedom

Free time is of a different order than free-dom. Freedom, at least in the dharmic sense, depends on the quality of attention that we bring to our interactions. Only to the extent that we can be fully present in our relationships with ourselves, with our children, and with each other, are we free.

—Soren Gordhamer, "Finding What’s Right in Front of Us"

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - March 26, 2017

You learn not to act out your emotions, but just to appreciate and acknowledge them. That’s part of the way you can use them spiritually. You don’t deny them, you don’t push them down. You acknowledge that, “I’m angry,” but you don’t have to say, “Hey, I’m angry!” You acknowledge it; you don’t deny it. That’s the key.

So, the way you would use emotions in devotional practices is aiming them towards God. For the other kinds of emotional realms, you witness them and you sit with them, and you watch them change and come and go, and you don’t deny them, you allow them; because that’s part of your human condition.

When you talk about service, you’ll see that it awakens intense emotions, and you have to let your heart break. But you’ve cultivated another plane of reality, which is the one that notices and allows it. A quality of equanimity that lies with it.

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 03/26/17

“Revenge is a classic example of negatively oriented pleasure. It is perhaps the easiest way to identify the connection between pleasure and suffering. Unconsciously, you feel pleasure in hurting others and being hurt. This keeps you locked in destructive patterns that make negative situations repeat throughout your life. You can't hurt another without hurting yourself because there is a correlation between everything that manifests on this plane of existence. Suffering generates more suffering, and only forgiveness can break this circle void of love.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / The Importance of You

Dharma is what the Buddha taught. It is the way of understanding and love—how to understand, how to love, how to make understanding and love into real things.

—Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Three Gems"


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Home(less) [Short Film] - Full Movie

FiveFilms4freedom 2017: In conversation with Jonny Ruff

Via Tiny Buddha / FB:

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 03/25/17

“In order to fulfill the greater goal of existence, which is to become spiritually enlightened, it is necessary to love. This includes stopping to hurt both ourselves and the other. But we don’t love and we go against the flow of life, moving towards darkness. Instead of using our greatest power, which is to love, we end up trying to kill ourselves and the other.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Facing Pain

You don’t have to be afraid of pain. If it’s going to be there, you can let it be there—but don’t let the mind be in pain with it.

—Upasika Kee Nanayon, "Tough Teachings to Ease the Mind"

Friday, March 24, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 03/24/17

“What keeps us caught in the past? Unfinished actions, which is another way to define karma. For example, you want to ask your father for forgiveness, but you don’t. Then your father dies and you keep this locked up inside of you. You feel love for someone, but you don’t live this love. Then a time comes when this person dies or leaves your life for good and you remain carrying the feeling that you could have lived something that you didn’t. You are left with open accounts, leaving behind a trail of unfinished business.”
Sri Prem Baba