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Reza Aslan urges Muslims to embrace LGBT rights: ‘Either we are all equal, or the whole thing is just a sham’

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In an open letter to fellow Muslims, religious scholar Reza Aslan defended the Supreme Court’s historic same-sex marriage ruling, saying that discrimination against gays is no different than bigotry expressed against their own faith.

Written with Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show, the two men pleaded for acceptance of the LGBT community, comparing bigotry faced by sexual minorities to looks given by average American citizens to Muslims on the street.

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“We’re writing to you about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in all fifty states. The good news is that a whopping 42% of you support marriage equality, as do both of our Muslim elected officials in the United States Congress,” their open letter began. “One even serves as vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus! There are many faithful gay and lesbian Muslims in the US and we love and support all of them.”

The two went on to point out that a Muslim saying same-sex marriage would bring about the destruction of the U.S. — the way that Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee did — would likely lead to them ending up in Guantanamo.

They then turned to what it is like to be a minority fighting for acceptance.

“When you are an underrepresented minority—whether Muslim, African American, female, etc.—democracy is an all or nothing business. You fight for everyone’s rights (and the operative word here is “fight”), or you get none for yourself. Democracy isn’t a buffet. You can’t pick and choose which civil liberties apply to which people. Either we are all equal, or the whole thing is just a sham.”

To make the point about bigotry against the LGBT community, the two men called on Muslims to think about their own experiences as a suspect minority.

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“Think about the way people look at your hijabi sister or your bearded brother when they walk through the mall. Think about the grumbles and stares you get at airports. Think about the vitriol that’s spewed on you by your own elected political leaders. That’s how your LGBT brothers and sisters feel every day of their lives. Are you okay with that?”

“If you can’t find it in your heart to accept gays on principle, think about the country you want to live in,” they wrote. “After all, the constitution that just ensured the rights of LGBT communities is the same constitution that protects our mosques and community centers, that keeps our Islamic schools open, that allows us equal rights and privileges in the face overwhelming hatred and bigotry from our fellow Americans. You can’t celebrate one without the other.”


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Trump administration quietly guts COVID-19 paid leave provision that already excluded 75 percent of workers

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The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report

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The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.

But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.

"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."

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Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report

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According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.

As it turned out, that test was flawed.

Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."

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