Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Betsy DeVos Is A Dangerous Threat to LGBTQ Equality

The 2016 presidential election was one of the most decisive in history.  Perhaps only the election of 1860 caused as many breaks in friendships and family ties.  What is frightening to me is the manner in which Donald Trump - always Der Fuhrer in my mind - sold his soul (assuming he even has one) to a who's who of Christofascist leaders s in order to cause them to turn out the evangelical vote on November 8, 2016.  Now, the Christofascists are calling in the chips in the form of Trump's cabinet nominees, many of whom are the most extreme imaginable.  A case in point is billionaire homophobe and anti-public school zealot Betsy DeVos whom Der Fuhrer has nominated to be Secretary of Education.  Blogger friend and and radio personality Michelangelo Signorile lays out in the Huffington Post the threat that Devos poses to LGBT students and public education in general.  here are excerpts:
“It is unfathomable that the next Secretary of Education would oppose basic protections for LGBT students and roll back the progress we have made to ensure all students feel safe and supported in our schools,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), an openly gay House member, said in a statement last week about Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, the Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos. “Ms. DeVos’ history of opposing equality for LGBT individuals is deeply troubling, and the public deserves to know whether she will work with us to improve lives or continue to advocate an extremist agenda that bullies our students.”
DeVos is not just someone who has opposed marriage equality in the past, like many people, Democrat and Republican, or who differs on particular policies or laws. She is a hardened anti-LGBTQ crusader, a member of a family that has devoted itself ― by donating tens of millions of dollars ― to fighting the rights of queer people. DeVos is a religious zealot who spoke about using public education to “advance God’s Kingdom.” She doesn’t belong in a government job in which separation of church and state is crucial, and one which over the past eight years has been critical to the safety and educational experience of LGBTQ students.
Amid reports in recent years of what seemed like an epidemic of suicides of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, the Obama administration worked with advocates for queer youth to fight the bullying in schools that often leads to students taking their own lives.
And last year, the administration issued guidance on the treatment of transgender students with regard to public facilities, something which conservatives challenged in court ― a challenge that is still pending, with the Obama administration fighting it during the last days of the administration and which is uncertain under a Trump administration.
Will DeVos continue these programs and advance further desperately needed policies toward LGBTQ equality? Both her record and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence’s own words in a radio interview with evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson during the election campaign would suggest not. Pence said he and Trump plan to withdraw federal guidance to the states issued by the Obama administration protecting transgender students.
And since 1998, DeVos and her family’s foundations have donated at least $6.1 million to Focus on the Family, which has fought rights for LGBTQ people, promotes “conversion therapy,” and deems transgender people as “mentally ill.” Focus on the Family also opposes the very anti-bullying programs that the Education Department has developed, and opposes workplace protections for LGBTQ people (like those included in an executive order President Obama signed banning discrimination among federal contractors).
The DeVos family also contributed $500,000 to the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. And DeVos and her husband Richard personally contributed to a successful effort to ban marriage equality in Michigan’s constitution.
[U]nless she disavows them and claims to have had a miraculous transformation, it’s impossible to imagine how this individual who has championed school vouchers and private, Christian schools could fairly guide the nation’s public education system, where LGBTQ students are often under attack and need the protections of the federal government.
As I wrote at the very beginning of the Trump transition, with evangelical, anti-LGBTQ Pence in charge of the transition, the Trump cabinet picks are a who’s who of homophobia and transphobia, as evangelical groups like the Family Research Council are getting paid off for their support. It looks like a pack wolves ready to rip apart rights for LGBTQ people. And Besty DeVos is among the leaders of the pack.
In some ways, Betsy DeVos is just as extreme as Islamic fundamentalist who seek to force their religious beliefs on all of society.  Indeed, in DeVos' mind freedom of religion translates to her right to inflict her ignorance embracing, and homophobic believes on all without opposition or criticism. 

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