Lambda Legal Calls out Sessions' Hypocrisy as He Touts DOJ Assistance in Iowa Hate Crimes Case
"For Sessions to seek credit for helping prosecute hate crimes against transgender people is akin to him handing out gasoline and matches and then looking for a pat on the back when he prosecutes someone for committing arson."
NEW YORK (October 15, 2017) The New York Times today reported that the Department of Justice has assigned a federal prosecutor to assist in the hate crime prosecution of Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson's murderer. The African-American Iowa teen identified as both transgender and gender-fluid. Lambda Legal Director of Strategy Sharon McGowan issued the following statement in response:
Of course it is important and right that the Department of Justice assist in bringing to justice the murderer of Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, one of the far too many transgender people, and especially transgender people of color, targeted in the ongoing lethal epidemic of hate violence. But it is the height of cynicism for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to use this - frankly rare - instance of civil rights enforcement under his tenure to deflect from the current department's sustained opposition to its historic mission.
No one in the Trump administration has done more to harm LGBT people, and especially transgender people, than Jeff Sessions and in a government chock full of anti-LGBT appointees, that is saying a lot. From revoking the guidance that assured trans kids they were welcome in school to asserting that transgender workers do not deserve protection against employment discrimination to defending Trump's unconstitutional ban of transgender troops, Sessions has again and again defined transgender Americans as second-class citizens and has created an environment that encourages and enables violence against trans people.
He has similarly undermined the civil rights and safety of people of color, through such actions as his order to review all consent decrees designed to address systemic police violence.
For Sessions now to seek credit for helping prosecute hate crimes against transgender people is akin to him handing out gasoline and matches and then looking for a pat on the back when he prosecutes someone for committing arson.
We hope that the Senators questioning Sessions at Wednesday's oversight hearing of the Judiciary Committee are not distracted by this publicity stunt designed for their benefit and instead hold him accountable for the Department of Justice's appalling failure to do its job under his direction.
HRC Statement on Jeff Sessions' Credit-Seeking One Week After Launching a License to Discriminate and Removing Title VII Protections for Transgender People
WASHINGTON, DC Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) issued a statement in response to reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking credit for directing a Department of Justice lawyer to help prosecute a hate crime case in Iowa.
Sarah Warbelow, HRC Legal Director said:
"One week after Jeff Sessions changed DOJ policy by refusing to protect transgender people under Title VII and launched a sweeping license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, he's seeking credit for prosecuting a hate crime? We believe Americans deserve an Attorney General willing to address systemic discrimination and enforce policies and laws that prevent hate violence in the first place."
One week ago, at the direction of Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice ( DOJ ) rescinded a memo issued by the Obama Administration and replaced it with a discriminatory memo arguing that anti-discrimination protections under Title VII do not apply to transgender people. DOJ instructed all U.S. attorneys to adopt this dangerous position in all pending and future matters. The very next day, Sessions launched a sweeping "license to discriminate" that puts millions of LGBTQ Americans at risk of discrimination.
A preliminary analysis of the Trump-Pence administration's license to discriminate indicates that LGBTQ people and women will be at risk in some of the following ways:
A Social Security Administration employee could refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse.
A federal contractor could refuse to provide services to LGBTQ people, including in emergencies, without risk of losing federal contracts.
Organizations that had previously been prohibited from requiring all of their employees from following the tenets of the organization's faith could now possibly discriminate against LGBTQ people in the provision of benefits and overall employment status.
Agencies receiving federal funding, and even their individual staff members, could refuse to provide services to LGBTQ children in crisis, or to place adoptive or foster children with a same-sex couple or transgender couple simply because of who they are.