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  • A Media Guide To The Hyde Amendment And Its Anti-Choice Legacy

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    September 25 marked the start of a week of action by reproductive rights advocates to raise awareness about the Hyde amendment, its anti-choice legacy, and recent efforts to catalyze support for its repeal.

    The United for Abortion Coverage Week of Action, led by All* Above All’s coalition of reproductive rights activists, not only demarcates the 40th anniversary of the oppressive anti-choice measure’s adoption, but also comes at a significant time politically. Despite the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt -- which struck down medically unnecessary anti-choice restrictions on abortion access in Texas -- right-wing media and anti-choice politicians have continued to push misinformation about abortion and have doubled down on their support for the Hyde amendment.

    During this week of action -- and beyond -- here’s what the media needs to know about the Hyde amendment, its legacy, and the efforts of reproductive rights activists to eliminate the anti-choice funding restriction once and for all.

    What Is The Hyde Amendment?

    If It’s Been Around For 40 Years, Why Is It Just Now Becoming A Campaign Issue?

    What Are Right-Wing Media Saying About Funding For Abortion And Reproductive Health Services?

    Who Does The Hyde Amendment Most Impact?

    What Can Be Done About The Hyde Amendment?

    What Is The Hyde Amendment?

    The Hyde amendment is a restriction on federal funding for abortion services. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), this restriction -- commonly called the Hyde amendment after its first sponsor, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) -- was first passed as a budgetary rider “to the fiscal 1977 Medicaid appropriation.” Every year since, “the Hyde Amendment has been reenacted” to prevent the use of federal Medicaid funds from covering abortion services, except in case of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.

    Because of its restrictions, the Hyde amendment has created a significant barrier for low-income patients attempting to access safe and legal abortion care. Considering the number of financial and logistical barriers women already face in trying to access abortion, the Hyde amendment adds an additional and unnecessary complication.

    If It’s Been Around For 40 Years, Why Is It Just Now Becoming A Campaign Issue?

    In January, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton decided to “publicly do battle against Hyde,” by making the repeal of the anti-choice restriction a top priority, Rebecca Traister wrote in New York magazine. Beyond being the first presidential nominee to publicly speak against the Hyde amendment, Clinton “dropped a bomb on the political conversation about abortion” by drawing attention to “the relationship between reproductive-health-care access and economic inequality,” Traister argued. 

    The Democratic Party also formally adopted repealing the Hyde amendment as a priority in its platform -- marking the first time a major political party has targeted the anti-choice restriction on this scale.

    Although Clinton and the Democratic Party are drawing much-needed attention to the problematic Hyde amendment, the renewed focus on its impact did not originate with them. Instead, as All* Above All co-chair Jessica González-Rojas explained to The Guardian, the credit belongs with “Women of color leaders” who “have been calling for the repeal of Hyde for decades when most mainstream reproductive rights groups did not prioritize this issue.”

    Similarly, ThinkProgress reported in early September, although Hillary Clinton’s commitment to repealing the Hyde amendment “ quickly shot the controversial idea into mainstream political conversations,” it has been the “end goal of dozens of resilient reproductive justice organizations that have been pushing to repeal the Hyde Amendment for decades.”

    Now, during this week of action, All* Above All has mobilized a grass-roots coalition involving “68 organizations in 38 states" working "to show support for lifting bans on abortion coverage for low-income women.” Reproductive rights advocates are not the only ones drawing attention to the Hyde amendment during the election, however.

    More recently, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a letter announcing that he has a new “pro-life coalition,” led by known anti-choice extremist Marjorie Dannenfelser. As part of the announcement, Trump committed himself to making the Hyde amendment “permanent law” in order to prevent “taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.” Trump also promised to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortion after 20 weeks on the faulty premise that a fetus can feel pain by that point in gestation.

    What Are Right-Wing Media Saying About Funding For Abortion And Reproductive Health Services?

    Right-wing media have a history of not only attacking Planned Parenthood, but also spreading misinformation about the Hyde amendment and federal funding for other reproductive health care services.

    For example, during the December 22 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Eric Bolling reacted to co-host Dana Perino’s statement that “defunding Planned Parenthood” is problematic politically by arguing that funding for abortion services should be “separate” from funding for “women’s services.” Although Bolling did not explicitly name the Hyde amendment, he pushed for Republicans to "defund the abortion part of Planned Parenthood” and set up a “Chinese wall” between abortions and Planned Parenthood’s other services.

    Right-wing media have also misled the public about how much of Planned Parenthood’s resources are strictly devoted to abortion, dismissing the many other types of health care the organization provides to both women and men. In July 2015, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros advocated for defunding Planned Parenthood because, as O’Reilly argued, he did not want “tax dollars going” to abortion providers. Tantaros supported this statement and repeated the myth that because Americans have ample alternatives to Planned Parenthood, “taxpayer dollars should not have to go” to abortion providers.

    Beyond the Hyde amendment, right-wing media have also spread misinformation about the nature of Title X family planning funds that are used by providers like Planned Parenthood to supply necessary reproductive health care such as contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screenings. Right-wing media have argued that Planned Parenthood is an inappropriate recipient of Title X funds, because the organization is incapable of providing wider reproductive health care. In reality, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are an essential resource for reproductive health care in many communities.

    As a result, in September 2016, the Obama administration proposed a rule that would stop anti-choice lawmakers from diverting federal family planning money -- distributed to states through Title X of the Public Health Service Act -- away from Planned Parenthood. As The New York Times explained, “The rule would make clear that state governments must apportion Title X funds based on a provider’s ability to perform family planning services effectively -- not on other factors like whether a provider also offers abortions.” In April, the Obama administration had “warned officials in all 50 states” that blocking Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding is likely “out of compliance with federal law,” according to The Washington Post.

    Nevertheless, right-wing media alleged that the proposed rule would ensure that there are “millions more in taxpayer dollars for the nation’s abortion market leader at the expense of women’s health.”

    Even when not discussing the Hyde amendment or abortion funding, right-wing media have frequently misrepresented the severity of anti-choice restrictions and downplayed the ways these requirements have made abortion and other reproductive health services less accessible.

    This is an issue that has spread beyond just right-wing media. In a recent study, Media Matters analyzed 14 months of evening cable news discussion about reproductive rights and found that media frequently ignore or underestimate the impact of economic barriers when talking about abortion access. In this study we found that only eight news segments even briefly mentioned the economic barriers women face to accessing abortion.

    Who Does The Hyde Amendment Most Impact?

    1. Low-Income Patients

    Low-income patients and their families are one of the primary groups affected by the Hyde amendment’s restriction on funding for abortion services.

    The Guttmacher Institute found in a July 2016 study that the “number of women potentially affected by the Hyde Amendment is substantial” given the significant number of women dependent on federally subsidized medical services. According to Guttmacher’s director of public policy, Heather Boonstra, for women between 15 and 33 who depend on Medicaid, 60 percent live in places (35 states and D.C.) “that do not cover abortion, except in limited circumstances.” As a result, approximately 7 million women are potentially impacted by Hyde’s restrictions on federal funding for abortion care.

    In January, Slate’s Christina Cauterucci highlighted Clinton’s focus on repealing the Hyde amendment because of its disproportionate impact on low-income patients. According to Clinton, abortion is not accessible enough “'as long as we have laws on the book like the Hyde Amendment making it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.'” Cauterucci concluded that if Clinton succeeded in making the repeal of Hyde a central issue in the campaign, it would be “a long-overdue step toward addressing the intersection between economic insecurity and reproductive health.”

    The National Women’s Law Center explained in 2015 that “because of the high cost of the procedure, low-income women are often forced to delay obtaining an abortion,” which increases the out-of-pocket costs. Thus the Hyde amendment exacerbates the substantial financial disadvantage low-income persons already face in obtaining abortion care.

    2. Women Of Color

    Women of color -- especially black women, Latinas, and Native Americans -- suffer a particularly disparate impact from the Hyde amendment’s ban on federal abortion coverage.

    According to a September 2016 research brief from Ibis Reproductive Health and All* Above All on the impact of out-of-pocket costs on abortion access, “Because low-income women and women of color are disproportionately covered by public health insurance programs, restrictions in coverage increase their socioeconomic disadvantage.”

    This assessment matched the findings of the National Women’s Law Center’s study, which noted that women of color were not only “more likely than White women to face financial barriers when seeking abortions” but also “more likely to experience unintended pregnancy, due to racial, ethnic, gender, and economic healthcare inequalities.”

    Black Women

    In 2015 the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda reported that “black women have more than double the unintended pregnancy rate of white women,” which is particularly concerning given that “the risk of death from pregnancy complications was nearly three and a half times higher for Black women than for white women.”

    According to a recent Guttmacher Institute fact sheet, black women do experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy and more frequently elect to abort. Think Progress’ Kira Lerner explained these numbers simply reflect “the difficulties that many women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services and in using their chosen method of birth control consistently and effectively.” Lerner noted black women also experience a “racial disparity … for other health measures including rates of diabetes, breast and cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections.”

    Latinas

    Latinas’ access to reproductive care is significantly impacted not just by the Hyde amendment but also by the financial and logistical barriers created by anti-choice restrictions in states, like Texas, that have a high percentage of Latinos.

    According to a joint op-ed from the executive directors of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, and Voto Latino, “The first woman known to die of an unsafe illegal abortion after the Hyde Amendment was a Latina” named Rosie Jimenez, who “died from septic shock in October 1977” months after the Hyde amendment first went into effect. Since then, the op-ed explained, the Hyde amendment has continued to have “an especially devastating effect” on Latina communities, due to their high national rates of Medicaid enrollment.

    In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health, NLIRH explained the material consequences of barriers created by state anti-choice restrictions, like Texas’ HB 2. NLIRH argued that due to the "significant geographic, transportation, infrastructure, and cost challenges" Latinas already face when seeking medical care, clinic closures caused by Texas’ anti-choice law would create "severe burdens in accessing reproductive healthcare."

    Native Americans

    Native Americans are disparately impacted not only by restrictions on federal funding for abortion, but also by a lack of public awareness about the unique barriers to reproductive health care faced by their communities.

    As Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center executive director Charon Asetoyer explained to Salon, despite the disparate impact anti-choice restrictions have on Native American communities, Native people are often a “silent population” in national conversations about reproductive rights. For example, she noted that although Native Americans are entitled to receive care through the federally funded Indian Health Service (IHS), “We are still struggling to aspire to the Hyde Amendment while others work to get rid of it.”

    Indeed, as a 2002 survey of Native American women’s reproductive health care access found, 85 percent of IHS offices “often refuse to provide Native American women even the limited access to abortion services to which they are legally entitled under the Hyde Amendment.”

    As a result, Asetoyer continued, many Native Americans who wish to access abortion services are forced to incur higher out-of-pocket costs in order to travel to the nearest abortion provider when “A lot of the time women in these situations don’t even have an automobile to drive to the nearest Planned Parenthood, let alone the money to pay for the procedure.”

    3. LGBT Persons

    In an op-ed for Advocate, National LGBTQ Task Force representative Candace Bond-Theriault affirmed that the LGBTQ and reproductive justice movements are “inseparable” because “many of the same people who propose policies that discriminate against LGBTQ people also [are] actively working to deny access to reproductive health care.”

    While the Hyde amendment makes abortion care inaccessible for many, Bond-Theriault highlighted how anti-choice restrictions additionally perpetuate structural inequalities wherein individuals are “stigmatized because of the personal bodily choices that [they] make.”

    Lambda Legal’s Camilla Taylor, Caroline Sacerdote, and Kara Ingelhart previously explained the pervasive and negative forms of stigma that both movements address, noting that, “People who have an abortion -- whether members of the LGBT community or not -- experience something familiar to all LGBT people: stigma.” They emphasized the importance of combating abortion stigma because, “As the LGBT community knows all too well, it is hard to fight against efforts to roll back your civil rights when you have to remain in the closet.”

    In an op-ed titled “Abortion Access and Trans Health Care Are Bound Together in Texas,” Texas Equal Access Fund president Nan Little Kirkpatrick wrote that “the Hyde amendment is discrimination in health care” faced by those attempting to “exercise their reproductive rights as granted by the Supreme Court.” She argued that the effort to take down structurally oppressive measures like the Hyde amendment “expressly highlights the ways that the movements for trans and reproductive justice intersect” because both involve “bodily autonomy.”

    4. Service Members And Veterans

    Because the Hyde amendment is a restriction on federal abortion funding, its impact is felt by anyone dependent on federally subsidized medical care, including service members or veterans.

    After the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision against Texas’ anti-choice law HB 2, Salon’s Amanda Marcotte named the repeal of the Hyde amendment one of the next major goals for pro-choice advocates. According to Marcotte, “The effects of the Hyde Amendment have been devastating” for both low-income families and service members because it means “no federal employees, service women, veterans or women on Medicaid have access to coverage for abortion.”

    What Can Be Done About The Hyde Amendment?

    As Steph Herold, managing director of the Sea Change Program, wrote in an op-ed for Rewire, All* Above All “is playing a pivotal role by introducing pro-active abortion access legislation and encouraging elected officials to come out against the Hyde Amendment.”

    The organization represents a coalition of reproductive justice advocates and women of color whose goals are to catalyze action to “restore public insurance coverage so that every woman, however much she makes, can get affordable, safe abortion care when she needs it.”

    From September 25 to October 1, All* Above All is leading a week of action, which includes “130 activities hosted by 68 organizations in 38 states to show support for lifting bans on abortion coverage for low-income women.” The United for Abortion Coverage Week of Action also includes “a multi-city ad campaign amplifying the voices of Catholics [for choice] across the county” as well as a “celebration of local victories” to earn recognition for the need to repeal oppressive anti-choice restrictions like the Hyde amendment.

    In addition, All* Above All has mobilized support for the EACH Woman Act, proposed legislation that would repeal the Hyde amendment and guarantee “coverage for abortion for every woman, however much she earns or however she is insured.” According to All* Above All, the bill now has over 120 co-sponsors who have committed themselves to affirming that people have the right to make the best reproductive health care decision for themselves and their families.

    To mark 40 years of the Hyde amendment’s dangerous anti-choice legacy, NARAL Pro-Choice America shared the stories of several individuals “from diverse backgrounds and experiences [who] came together to support repeal of Hyde.” Although their stories represent a variety of experiences in trying to gain access to necessary abortion care, the common refrain and message to the media was clear. As one of the individuals, Mary Tobin, wrote: “If equality is truly a pillar that our country represents and embraces, then the repeal of the Hyde Amendment is crucial to upholding our country’s identity.”

  • NY Times Editorial Board Calls For Repeal Of North Carolina’s Discriminatory HB 2

    Editorial Board: HB 2 Is “Based On The Specious Notion That Transgender People Are Sexual Predators”

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The New York Times' editorial board slammed North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for his “desperate” offer to repeal the state’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 (HB 2) on the condition that Charlotte, NC, drop its LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. The board called for McCrory to “come to his senses” and “admit ignorance and error and repeal the law.”

    In the immediate aftermath of the NCAA and ACC pulling events out of North Carolina because of HB 2, McCrory proposed a widely condemned “compromise” to repeal the discriminatory law. McCrory called for the Charlotte City Council to first drop the city’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. If Charlotte were to comply, he indicated, the General Assembly might call a special session to repeal HB 2 -- which, among other measures, requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate.

    On September 21, the New York Times editorial board lambasted McCrory for having “some nerve” in his “desperate” move to propose a compromise on HB 2. The Times called out the “specious notion that transgender people are sexual predators” and debunked the talking point that’s been used by McCrory and the North Carolina GOP to justify HB 2. The board noted that HB 2 was never even enforceable, as police can’t “reasonably be required to inspect people’s genitals” outside of all public restrooms, highlighting that the “point of the law was to harm and humiliate L.G.B.T. citizens.” The board called for McCrory to repeal the harmful law, writing that it’s “not too late for Mr. McCrory to come to his senses” and admit his “ignorance and error.”

    From the September 21 edition of the New York Times:

    Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina has some nerve. Alarmed by the rising financial fallout from the discriminatory law he and Republican lawmakers hastily passed in March to bar transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity, the governor seemed desperate for an off-ramp last week.

    [...]

    It was a desperate move by Mr. McCrory, who appears likely to lose his re-election bid in November, in large part for championing a measure based on the specious notion that transgender people are sexual predators.

    Mayor Jennifer Roberts of Charlotte sensibly refused. Although she was under pressure from some in the business community, including the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, it would have been wrong to cave in to Mr. McCrory’s demand.

    [...]

    It’s not too late for Mr. McCrory to come to his senses and take the only way out — admit ignorance and error and repeal the law. While he and lawmakers are at it, they can acknowledge that no one has been made safer by preventing transgender people from using appropriate public restrooms, the ostensible reason for passing the law. The rule was never enforceable, since police officers can’t reasonably be required to inspect people’s genitals outside bathroom stalls. The point of the law was to harm and humiliate L.G.B.T. citizens, and for that all North Carolinians are having to pay an ever growing price.

  • Report: North Carolina Gov. Held Fake Q & A, Ducked Questions About Discriminatory HB 2
     

    Charlotte Observer Reports That Staff Of Gov. Pat McCrory “Planted Questions,” Blocked Inquiries About Anti-LGBT Law

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    Gov. Pat McCrory held a “business-group” lunch on September 15 that was supposed to include questions and answers from the media or audience. Instead, McCrory’s campaign staff were reportedly responsible for three “softball” questions that were falsely attributed to the Charlotte Observer, and then refused to allow the Observer’s real questions about HB 2.

    In the immediate aftermath of the NCAA and ACC pulling events out of North Carolina because of HB 2, Gov. McCrory held a business lunch on September 15 where he purportedly answered questions submitted from media outlets attending the event. But according to a Charlotte Observer editorial page editor who attended the lunch, questions at the event actually came "from the governor's own staff," though the event moderator "portrayed [them] as coming from the audience and the Observer." The crowd at the event "was never told that many of them actually came from McCrory’s campaign.”

    From the September 17 column:

    With Hurricane HB2 blowing North Carolina’s doors off, Gov. Pat McCrory took questions in Charlotte last week – from himself.

    McCrory’s staff planted questions at a lunch event in South Park on Thursday with the crowd under the impression that they were coming from the media or the audience. The moderator, a volunteer from the lunch audience, introduced three questions by saying they were from the Charlotte Observer.

    He apologized to me afterward, saying it was his understanding all the questions on one of his sheets were from the Observer. In fact, they were from the governor’s own staff, an event organizer said.

    Speakers at Hood Hargett Breakfast Club events routinely take questions from the floor. McCrory required that all questions be submitted in advance in writing.

    When the moderator asked how to get started, McCrory said, “Anything you like. No filter here.” Sure, who needs a filter when you posed the questions yourself?

    When I tried to ask McCrory a question, the filter went up. “We’ve got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough.”

    Of course, those weren’t Observer questions. They were softballs from his staff about what he wanted to do with his next term; how he wanted to reduce the state’s rape kit backlog; and how the state crime lab performed under McCrory’s opponent, Roy Cooper.

    When the event was over, McCrory did not meet with the throng of reporters who were there. He ducked out a side door and down a hall that led to a back exit. I followed him to try to ask him about HB2, but his staff blocked me.

  • Charlotte Observer: So-Called HB 2 "Compromise" Is A "Bad Deal" For City And LGBT People

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The Charlotte Observer editorial board blasted the so-called “compromise” proposed by North Carolina Republicans, which would repeal the state’s discriminatory House Bill 2 (HB 2) in return for the city of Charlotte dropping its LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. The board slammed the supposed “reset” as a “dismissive” and “condescending” proposal that is a “bad deal” for both the city of Charlotte and LGBT people.

    On September 16, the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) issued a statement indicating that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory had assured NCRLA that if the Charlotte City Council were to repeal the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, the general assembly would call a special session to repeal HB 2 -- which, among other measures, requires transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate. McCrory’s proposal comes in the wake of the NBA, NCAA, and ACC pulling championship games out of the state in response to the anti-LGBT bathroom bill. Experts have estimated that the economic cost from the loss of sports-related business alone could range from $100 million to $200 million.

    On September 18, the Charlotte Observer editorial board slammed McCrory’s proposed “compromise” as a “bad deal for the city, and more importantly, for members of the LGBT community.” The board criticized the “dismissive tone” Republicans took, noting that they overlooked the “at least 200 U.S. cities and counties” that preceded Charlotte in adopting similar ordinances. They also called out the “false notion” that HB 2 “provides for safer bathrooms.” Asking if the possibility of getting back the NCAA and ACC tournaments would be worth “selling out the LGBT community,” the board wrote, “We believe the answer is no.”

    From the September 18 edition of the Charlotte Observer

    Gov. Pat McCrory and some N.C. lawmakers are encouraging the Charlotte City Council to make a compromise that might result in the repeal of HB2. It’s a bad deal for the city, and more importantly, for members of the LGBT community who would lose their best chance at protections from discrimination. Council members should not turn their backs on those residents now.

    [...]

    As with a similar compromise offer back in May, council members are being asked to trust the legislature to follow through on its end of the deal. Here’s a hint about how that might go: In a condescending statement Saturday, House Speaker Tim Moore said that if Charlotte “fully and unconditionally” repealed its ordinance, “then I believe we have something to discuss.”

    It’s a dismissive tone that overlooks an important bit of history:

    In passing its non-discrimination ordinance in February, Charlotte followed the lead of at least 200 U.S. cities and counties. Charlotte’s ordinance, which included a provision addressing gender identity and bathrooms in public accommodations, was not groundbreaking. It’s what progressive cities do to protect their residents.

    [...]

    What would Charlotte get from the “reset”? It might get the ACC Football Championship game back, for starters. The NBA also might bring its All-Star weekend back to the city in 2019 if HB2 were out of the way. Both possibilities, however, are far from certain.

    But Charlotte also would be left without an ordinance that council members believed was important for the safety and dignity of the LGBT community. That ordinance was more than symbolic. It was designed to protect residents from very real discrimination.

    Let’s be clear: House and Senate leaders have given zero indication they want Charlotte to have those LGBT protections, now or at any point. It’s worth noting that in his Saturday statement, House Speaker Moore again celebrated the false notion that HB2 provides for safer bathrooms and showers.

    [...]

    Yes, a “reset” has an appealing ring to it. But it would be a step backward, both symbolically and practically. Would Charlotte be any closer to the protections it wants to offer? No. Would it get a football and basketball event back? Maybe.

    Are those events worth selling out the LGBT community?

    We believe the answer is no.

  • Fox’s Sean Hannity Pretends He Doesn’t Care “What Anybody Does In Their Bedroom,” Forgetting His Own Years Of Anti-LGBT Extremism

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox host Sean Hannity purported that he “doesn’t give a flyin rip what anybody does in their bedroom” while attacking Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on his radio show today, ignoring his own years of anti-LGBT extremism. That extremism included getting fired from a local radio show for making disparaging smears about gay people and spreading fabricated smears against a gay government official.

    After criticizing Clinton because the Clinton Foundation previously accepted donations from countries like Saudi Arabia that have a history of discriminating against LGBT people and women, Hannity described himself as a “libertarian” who doesn’t “give a flyin rip what anybody does in their bedroom.” Hannity’s description of himself as accepting of LGBT people ignores his decades-long history of opposing LGBT equality and attacking LGBT people with extreme myths and harmful rhetoric. Hannity also failed to note that many of the same countries he criticized the foundation for associating with have financial ties to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    In 1989, Hannity was fired from a short-lived local radio show in Santa Barbara, CA, after making a number of extreme anti-gay remarks, including accusing gay people of “brainwashing” the public about the spread of HIV/AIDS, spreading the myth that gay men are prone to disease because they consume each other's feces during sex, and saying that gay men get sick because they engage in the myth of “gerbil stuffing.” In 2009, Hannity hyped anti-gay smears against openly gay former Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, including pushing a fabricated link between Jennings and NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association. More recently, Hannity agreed with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that the 2015 Supreme Court marriage equality decision marked “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

    From the September 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:

     

    SEAN HANNITY: Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, blah blah blah. But let’s not analyze on CNN Hillary taking money from countries like Saudi Arabia and Omam (sic) and Kuwait and the UAE and all these other counties. Tens of millions in the case of the Saudis for the library in the Clinton Foundation. Let’s not analyze their horrible treatment of women. Hillary claims to be their champion, but women can’t drive. Women can’t go on vacation unless they get permission from a man. Women can’t go out in public. They’re told how to dress. They must go with a male relative. And of course, women are treated horribly. They need four male eyewitnesses in many Muslim countries to prove rape. Then in Saudi Arabia, gays and lesbians are killed. Wait a minute, Hannity, you’re against gay marriage! OK, I don’t want to change the definition of marriage, but I think it is evil and atrocious and an abomination to kill people. Innocent people, gays and lesbians slaughtered just because they’re gay and  lesbian. Sean Hannity, libertarian, don’t give a flyin rip what anybody does in their bedroom. Oh Hannity, that breaks stereotype.

    Previously:

    Hannity Proposes "Liberal Bathroom Areas" Where "You Can Have All The Transgendered Back-And-Forth That You Want"

    Hannity Agrees With Cruz: "Today Is Some Of The Darkest 24 Hours In Our Nation's History"

    Hannity Worries Charging NFL's Peterson With Child Abuse Could Impinge Right To Teach Kids "Being Gay Is Not Normal"

     FLASHBACK: The Repulsive Anti-Gay Comments That Once Got Sean Hannity Fired

    Why Is Fox's Hannity Promoting A Group That Got Caught Lying About Transgender Kids?

    Hannity Calls Duck Dynasty Star's Anti-Gay Comments "Old Fashion Traditional Christian Sentiment And Values"

    Hannity Downplays Carson's Offensive Anti-Gay Comments As Simply "Not Politically Correct"

    Hannity Claims Obama's Drug Use As A Youth "Is All Relevant" Because He "Came Out This Week In Favor Of Gay Marriage"

    Hannity Dredges Up Fabricated Link Between Former Education Department Official Kevin Jennings And NAMBLA

    Latest Fox LGBT Attack: Hannity Panel Argues Sesame Street Creates Male Prom Queens, Assaults U.S. Moral Foundation

  • After NCAA, ACC Pull-Out Of North Carolina, Editorials Slam Gov. McCrory For Continued Support Of HB 2

    ››› ››› LUKE BATEMAN

    North Carolina editorial boards are slamming Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to stand by his state’s discriminatory House Bill 2 (HB 2) following the NCAA and ACC’s recent plan to remove championship games from North Carolina. Newspaper editorial boards are highlighting the “casualty count” caused by backlash the “hateful” and “disastrous” law has caused and saying it needs to be repealed. 

  • Fox News Is In Its Third Year Of Misgendering And Mocking Chelsea Manning 

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    In its reporting on the U.S. Army’s announcement that it will provide Chelsea Manning with medically necessary care to end her gender dysphoria, Fox News continued its third straight year of misgendering and mocking the imprisoned soldier.

    BuzzFeed News reported September 13 that U.S. Army officials have told Chelsea Manning -- the soldier and transgender woman imprisoned for sending classified information to WikiLeaks -- that they will provide her with gender transition surgery to treat her gender dysphoria. Manning began a hunger strike on September 9 to protest the lack of medical care she was receiving. The Army’s decision to provide her with medically necessary transition-related care will bring an end to the hunger strike. 

    While reporting the Army’s decision, Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt repeatedly misgendered Manning, calling her “he” and saying that Manning “refers to himself as Chelsea.” The on-screen text for the segment also put scare quotes around her first name. Fox News, particularly Fox & Friends, has been misgendering Manning for over three years now. Beginning in 2013, the cast of Fox & Friends attacked other news outlets, including The New York Times, for heeding Manning’s explicit request to be identified as a woman. Since then, Fox personalities have referred to Manning as “Bradleen,” mocked her by playing Aerosmith’s "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" during news segments, and called her a “gender bender.” 

    From the September 14 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (HOST): The United States Military just caved, agreeing to grant the Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning a taxpayer-funded sex change. Manning, who now refers to himself as Chelsea, started a hunger strike on Friday, claiming that he was being bullied by the U.S. government and wanted surgery free. Manning is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for releasing 750,000 pages of sensitive government documents to the website Wikileaks. 

  • Two New Reports On LGBT Poverty Shatter Media Myth Of LGBT Affluence

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Contrary to media misperceptions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) affluence, two new reports by the Williams Institute and Center for American Progress show the LGBT community continues to face higher rates of poverty, low wages, and economic insecurity than non-LGBT people.

    The Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), released its findings “that poverty remains a significant problem for LGBT people” in a report on September 13. The study found that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would dramatically cut the poverty rate for same-sex couples -- a 46 percent drop for lesbian couples and a 35 percent decline for gay male couples. The author, economist M.V. Lee Badgett, noted that the study showed that the notion that the entire LGBT community is wealthy is nothing more than “a misleading stereotype” and that “raising the minimum wage would help everybody.” From the Williams Institute:

    The Williams study follows a September 8 report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) that focused on the significant barriers that LGBT people face in accessing middle-class economic security. The study analyzes how anti-LGBT discrimination in employment and housing creates major hurdles for economic security, contributing to wage gaps faced by the LGBT community. CAP reported that up to 28 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans have been fired, not hired, or passed over for a promotion as a result of their orientation. As many as 47 percent of transgender Americans have experienced an adverse job outcome, such as “being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion” because of their gender identity, according to the report. CAP also noted that “LGBT people often struggle to find stable, affordable housing” and experience disparately higher out-of-pocket health care costs, which compounds the impact of economic insecurity experienced by LGBT people and their families.

    Media frequently focus on the buying power and affluence of the LGBT community, and on companies that eagerly court the “pink dollar.” On July 20, when one marking firm -- Witeck Communications -- published its findings that LGBT American buying power reached $917 billion in 2015, it was picked up by Bloomberg, The Huffington Post, CNBC, and USA Today. While another study quoted by Business Insider claimed LGBT Americans take “16% more shopping trips” and have more disposable income than their straight counterparts -- claims echoed by a Nielsen study published in the National Journal in 2015.

    Gary Gates of the Williams Institute told The Atlantic in 2014 that the downside of this media-created perception “is that those marketing studies looked at the LGBT community as a consumer market” and may only be seeing LGBT Americans who are in an economically secure enough situation to come out. Marketing studies don’t show that LGBT individuals face higher rates of poverty than their non-LGBT counterparts, or that 29 percent of LGBT Americans have experienced food insecurity in the last year. Right-wing media use the myth of LGBT affluence to dismiss LGBT discrimination and claim laws protecting the LGBT community are not needed. Currently, there is no federal law that protects people from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. CAP concluded its reporting by noting that the best way to address LGBT economic insecurity would be the passage of a broad-based federal nondiscrimination law called The Equality Act -- which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, employment, and housing.

  • Fox News’ Coded Language About School Safety 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    It’s been one year since news figures seized on the story of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim American child in Texas who was taken from his school in handcuffs for bringing a “suspicious” homemade alarm clock to class. Last September, Fox News’ coverage of Mohamed’s arrest revealed a long-held tendency to selectively invoke the language of “school safety” to conveniently push conservative stances on immigration, national security, LGBT rights, and guns, while ignoring threats to the safety of the most vulnerable populations in our schools.

    When Fox News talks about “school safety,”  the ensuing conversation is exactly what you’d expect from a network with a median viewer age of 68 and a prime-time viewership that’s only 1.1 percent black. For Fox and its viewers, a predictable line exists between those individuals worthy of protection and those who represent perceived threats. Here’s what we’ve seen on Fox since Ahmed’s arrest made headlines last fall.

    Fox Pushes Islamophobic Rhetoric While Muslim Students Get Bullied

    Fox News Pushed Islamophobic Talking Points In Ahmed Mohamed Coverage

    In September 2015, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at his Irving, TX, middle school and brought to a local police station in handcuffs after he was reported for bringing a “suspicious” homemade alarm clock to his classroom. In the weeks of national media coverage of the incident that followed, Fox News figures dismissed Mohamed’s traumatic experience and used the incident to justify profiling.

    The network aired segments vilifying the child, claiming that progressives were hypocritical or willfully exploitative for suggesting Mohamed’s arrest was influenced by Islamophobia, and hyping so-called connections between Mohamed’s family members and terrorists. The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld summarized this convoluted position: “Try bringing a clock that looks like a bomb to the White House. Actually, no, don’t try it; you’ve seen what they do to people who jump fences. So why is this school’s safety a joke, but President Obama’s isn’t? Because for [Obama], and the media, the story fits the assumption of an America that hates Muslims. Yup, it’s our fault for reacting when a kid brings a wired-up box to a place filled with kids in a state where terror has occurred.”

    Muslim Students Are Experiencing More Bullying And Fear Because Of Their Faith

    According to a survey conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, classroom teachers are reporting more incidents of identity-based bullying and fear particularly among students from immigrant and Muslim families, a trend that appears to be connected to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric -- which Fox News has actively legitimized for years. A California study released just months after Mohamed’s arrest found that the majority of American Muslim students in the state reported experiencing physical and verbal bullying because of their faith in 2014. An in-depth report from The Guardian explained the trend:

    Words are the most common weapon of school bullies, but in the past month, anti-Muslim sentiment in schools is increasingly manifesting in physical attacks, particularly against girls who wear the hijab. On 19 November, three boys allegedly beat up a sixth-grade girl wearing a hijab, calling her “Isis”. A 2014 study by Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) study found 29% of students who wore hijab experienced offensive touching or pulling of their scarves.

    [...]

    Fifty-five percent of Muslim students surveyed by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) last year reported that they were bullied at school in some form because of their Islamic faith. That’s twice the national percentage of bullying reported by all students, regardless of their religion. According to the CAIR survey, verbal harassment is the most common, with non-Muslims calling Muslim students terrorists or referencing bombs. But physical assaults also occur.

    These incidents are taking a psychological toll on Muslim youth. “At a crucial time in their identity development, they’re suffering from chronic trauma,” says Dr Halim Naeem, a psychotherapist and president of The Institute of Muslim Mental Health. Dr Naeem says that in the past few months alone, he has seen increased cases of depression, anxiety, image issues, paranoia, and substance abuse among Muslim American youth. In the short term, the constant stress wreaks havoc on students’ immune systems and destroys their focus, disrupting learning ability.

    Fox Pushes Guns In Schools, But Experts Say That Doesn’t Help

    Fox News Believes Having More Guns In Schools Helps Create Safe Environments

    In the wake of recent mass shootings, Fox News figures voices have repeatedly pushed arming educators or allowing more guns in schools as a way to improve student and teacher safety, and irresponsibly spread dangerous misinformation about school safety best practices. Immediately following the 2012 mass shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Fox News began calling for teachers to be armed -- even as school security experts, educators, and others argue that bringing guns into schools would make classrooms more dangerous and worsen learning environments for students. When a Texas school district moved to arm some of its teachers in 2014, the network devoted at least two segments to celebrating the decision and pushing the long-debunked myth (peddled by the NRA) that “a good guy with a gun” would prevent mass shootings. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade praised the initiative: “If you want to drop your kid off and know that they are going to be protected, you know at least in that school they are going to be protected.” Last year, Fox & Friends co-hosts again demonstrated a misguided understanding of school safety when they encouraged young children to physically confront gunmen, rather than first try to escape, and then hide -- and only confront the guman as a last resort -- as experts advise in the event of an active shooter situation.

    Evidence Shows Guns In Schools Only Increase The Likelihood Of Violence, Especially For Students Of Color

    As the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, wrote back in 2014, educators have long expressed an overwhelming desire to keep firearms out of classrooms and to strengthen gun violence prevention measures. Research has shown that greater access to guns in general creates greater risk for accidents and misfires. Gun access corresponds with increased risk of homicide, and gun-related deaths in the home are now the second most likely cause of death for children and teens. There’s also little evidence the presence of armed security staff in schools makes them any safer. Advocates are pushing for better training and reformed responsibilities for these positions to emphasize restorative justice and de-escalation techniques, as well as student and community needs, in order to combat current racial disparities in schools’ use of armed security officers.

    Fox Pushes Debunked “Bathroom Laws” That Actually Threaten LGBT Safety In Schools

    Fox News Believes Bogus “Bathroom Laws” Keep Children Safe From So-Called “Predators”

    Fox News figures have been instrumental in pushing the right-wing myth that gender-inclusive bathrooms in schools allow adult men to prey on children. The network has routinely either fearmongered about schools’ efforts to make their bathrooms safe for all students to use or mocked inclusive bathroom policies altogether. More than two years after Media Matters first debunked the “bathroom predator” myth, Fox News continues to push dangerous rhetoric about nondiscrimination policies. In April, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt hyped the disingenuous claim that nondiscrimination laws could lead to “a grown adult man” with “bad intentions” sneaking into “the little girls’ bathroom.” In May, Sean Hannity mocked inclusive bathroom policies on his radio show, proposing “liberal bathroom areas” where “you can have all the transgendered back-and-forth that you want.” In June, Tucker Carlson called the Democratic National Convention’s gender-neutral bathrooms “disgusting.”

    But There Is No Evidence Of Predatory Incidents In School Bathrooms, And “Bathroom Bills” Threaten The Safety Of LGBT Students

    After speaking to officials at 23 school districts and four universities that allow transgender students to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity, Media Matters failed to find any evidence of incidents of inappropriate bathroom behavior. Law enforcement experts and people who work with survivors of sexual assault have referred to this persistent myth as “beyond specious” and “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

    In fact, school officials and educators’ groups continue to support efforts to boost nondiscriminatory bathroom policies and have pointed out the need for LGBT students to have these types of basic protections. Research shows LGBT students overwhelmingly report experiences of bullying in schools today, and efforts to distract from the needs of LGBT students with fearmongering and mockery certainly don’t help. In its guidelines for supporting transgender and gender diverse students, the American Psychological Association recommends that schools provide accessible facilities that match a student’s gender identity as one way to address the high rates of victimization and hostility transgender students report. In fact, opposition to nondiscrimination policies can further stigmatize and single out transgender students, leading to more reports of bullying and an increased risk of suicide. Advocates for survivors of sexual assault have also pointed out that perpetuating the “bathroom predator” myth can have dangerous consequences: Relying on stereotypical predator imagery to talk about sexual assault diverts attention and resources from finding solutions to keep women and girls safe.   

  • Media React To "Insane," "Atrocious," "Absolutely Off-The-Rails" Statement From North Carolina GOP

    Party Was Responding To NCAA’s Decision To Move Games Out Of North Carolina

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    A spokesperson for the North Carolina Republican Party responded to the NCAA’s decision to move this year’s championship tournament games out of the state because of HB 2 with a statement that media figures and outlets are calling “insane” and “absolutely off-the-rails.” Multiple reporters even fact-checked the statement to ensure its authenticity and confirm that it didn’t come from “a parody account.” 

  • Fox Business Invites On A Deplorable Hate Group Leader To Defend The "Basket Of Deplorables"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD

    Fox Business’ Stuart Varney hosted Tony Perkins, a leader of a hate group who tried to make homosexuality punishable by death, on the September 12 episode of his show, Varney & Co., to discuss Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s comment that half of her Republican counterpart’s supporters can be put “into what I call the basket of deplorables.”

    Perkins is the leader of the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated an anti-LGBT “hate group” due to its known propagation of extreme falsehoods about LGBT people. Over the last year, Perkins and Republican nominee Donald Trump have developed a cozy relationship, which ultimately led to Perkins’ official endorsement of Trump in June. Perkins has been outspoken about his belief that he can shape and mold Trump’s ideologies to become more in line with FRC’s extremism. FRC also plans and hosts the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of anti-LGBT, anti-choice evangelical extremists where Trump spoke over the weekend.

    Perkins used his platform on Varney’s show to try to flip the “deplorables” point -- in which Clinton was noting the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” views of many Trump supporters -- and attack the Clinton Foundation for receiving donations from countries where “those that are considered deplorable” can receive the death penalty. But Varney failed to note that Perkins is himself one of the driving forces behind such laws; he and his group have lobbied to criminalize homosexuality internationally, and they supported a bill in Uganda that would have made same-sex relations punishable by life in prison or death. The Fox Business interview also omits any mention of the millions Trump made from conducting business in Saudi Arabia -- one of the countries to which Perkins was alluding -- despite Trump’s attempts to smear the Clinton Foundation for accepting Saudi donations.

    From the September 12 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Tony Perkins is with us -- he's the Family Research Council president. You just heard Donald Trump say that that could have been a huge political mistake. What say you, Tony?

    TONY PERKINS: Well, I think he's right. I mean, I think this shows that the Hillary Clinton campaign is really kind of almost a political basket case. Look, look at the contrast here. Donald Trump has actually been appealing to Bernie Sanders' voters, inviting those who voted in the Democratic ticket to come over and support him. She's insulting those who were on the right by calling them "deplorables." Look, this is also, I think, very insightful, Stuart, cause I think when you look at the countries that have provided money to the Clinton Foundation, when you use the term "deplorable," I think that's an interesting term. When you look at deplorable, many of those countries actually imprison and execute those those that are considered deplorable. I mean, is this some kind of subtle message she's sending?

    VARNEY: Well, I have to admit, Tony, that earlier this morning I had a leading Democrat on the program, and I almost lost my temper -- frankly, I think I did. I made it almost personal, because in my family there are three races, five nationalities and two religions. That's all my family. And I don't like being called a xenophobe, a racist, whatever. I don't like that. I really object to that, and I think a lot of people feel the same way that I do. I don't like this, and I'm not going to have it.

    PERKINS: No, I think you're absolutely right. But I think it shows how narrow-minded, isolated the liberal-progressive wing of the Democratic Party has become where they feel like they can insult anyone, silence anyone who does not agree with their progressive agenda. But, again, I think people need to take note, and I think people are taking note that may not be a Donald Trump supporter, may not even be a typical Republican voter: But when she starts talking about people she disagrees with as a basket of deplorables, and considering, again, the people she's been associated with through the Clinton Foundation, how they treat people who are considered deplorables, this could speak volumes about what she has in mind for those she disagrees with.