Breaking – Lawsuit filed for LGBTQ+ Student Rights @ Religious Colleges

For the past two months I’ve been working for a legal team preparing a class-action lawsuit filed last night to challenge the exemptions granted routinely by the Department of Education to religious colleges across the country that deny Title IX civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and other sexual and gender minority students attending or applying to those schools.  

We are fighting to end taxpayer-funded bigotry at religious colleges and universities! LGBTQ students, who are as religious as anyone else, have the right to be who they are and attend taxpayer funded schools of their choice without threats and harm being inflicted by their own colleges. I’m very proud and grateful to be a part of the legal team filing this case.

Read the breaking news coverage in the Washington Post here. Below is a quote from the complaint that my boss and friend, attorney Paul Southwick of Portland, Oregon, just filed on behalf of 33 students from around the country and his organization The Religious Exemption Accountability Project.  I was a party and witness to history last night as he submitted the complaint online just before midnight Mountain Time. I’m also especially grateful that my friend, attorney Rachel Livingston, who is also working on the case, helped me find and secure my admin/paralegal job working for Paul. 

Dozens of LGBTQ students at Christian colleges sue the U.S. Education De…Students from across the country allege being ejected, punished and harmed by policies barring LGBTQ relationshi…
““The Plaintiffs seek safety and justice for themselves and for the countless sexual and gender minority students whose oppression, fueled by government funding, and unrestrained by government intervention, persists with injurious consequences to mind, body and soul,” reads the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon. “The Department’s inaction leaves students unprotected from the harms of conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, sexual and physical abuse and harassment, as well as the less visible, but no less damaging, consequences of institutionalized shame, fear, anxiety and loneliness.””

-Lauren Swain

Support Jay Tutchton for CPW Commissioner

To: senatorsonnenberg@gmail.com, rhonda.fields.senate@state.co.us, kerry.donovan.senate@state.co.us, jessie.danielson.senate@state.co.us, don.coram.senate@state.co.us

Cc: dan.prenzlow@state.co.us, dan.gibbs@state.co.us, serena.gonzales-gutierrez.house@state.co.us, senatorjuliegonzales@gmail.com

Dear Senators,


As a Denver resident with a passion for frequent statewide hiking and camping trips that also include dining, shopping and sightseeing at destinations on the West Slope as well as the Front Range, I urge you to confirm Jay Tutchton for CPW Commissioner. Given the large and growing ratio of Coloradans who share an interest in quiet recreation, environmental preservation and wildlife ecology, it’s important to diversify the commission to include their voices by providing a more representative balance with hunting, business, and agricultural interests.  


Tutchton has a great deal of experience and a firm commitment to sound wildlife management.  As the Preserve Manager for the Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) in Bent County, CO he manages SPLT’s reintroduced bison herd and works to improve their 32,000-acre network of protected lands for the benefit of all native wildlife species. As a lawyer Tutchton, spent 27 years litigating in the Federal Court system throughout the United States, typically representing environmental organizations and individuals seeking to protect the environment. Tutchton also helped to start the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law and has taught a variety of courses on Wildlife, Animal, and Environmental Law. 


Given Tutchton’s solid qualifications and commitment to managing wildlife for the health of the ecosystem and benefit of nature-oriented tourism, quiet recreationists, birders, photographers, campers, and naturalists, I ask you to confirm his nomination on behalf of your constituents and for the greater good of our state.


Lauren Swain

Supporting Biden’s Public Lands Drilling Ban

Ending Public Lands Drilling – Supporting the Biden Climate Plan

  • In one of his debates with Trump, and in his climate plan, Biden’s “Day One Unprecedented Executive Actions to Drive Historic Progress” includes “Protecting America’s natural treasures by permanently protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas impacted by President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters, establishing national parks and monuments that reflect America’s natural heritage, banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, modifying royalties to account for climate costs, and establishing targeted programs to enhance reforestation and develop renewables on federal lands and waters with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030.”

There has been discussion in the media of the various ways his pledge would manifest itself on the ground.*

We support and will fight for the strongest possible implementation of his promise including

1) A ban on new drilling permits on federal lands and waters, even for land/waters that are already leased

2) A ban on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters

3) A ban on fracking on federal lands and waters, even for lands/waters that already have drilling permits

How do we ensure that Biden comes through with the strongest possible implementation of his promise?

  • Organize supporters
  • Organize coalitions
  • Get buy-in from local and state-level officials nationwide – beginning with Democratic governors and congressional delegates. Congress has already proposed the “Keep it in the Ground Act“, so all supporters of that act should be “naturals” for leading and advocating with other MOCs and Dem. governors from their state to support this move. In Colorado, that means Congressman Joe Neguse, who expresses his support for the act in this interview.
  • Communicate with the campaign
  • Communicate with the transition team
  • Publicize our support on our own platforms
  • Publicize our support to the media

*https://www.crainscleveland.com/energy-and-environment/analysis-heres-why-biden-couldnt-ban-fracking-could-restrict-it

“There are several ways Biden could halt fracking on federal lands using executive power. He could ban new oil and gas leases, halt new permits, or seek a specific regulatory ban on fracking, all of which Biden has telegraphed at one point or another on the campaign trail.”

Biden’s oil plan: The good, the bad and the illegal

“The campaign’s proposal includes a first-day promise to ban new permitting, which approves specific drilling plans, and bar new leasing, which gives prospectors a 10-year property right to develop federal minerals.”

Discussion and debate coverage here:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/06/19/fact-check-joe-biden-doesnt-want-ban-all-fracking-only-new-permits/3215253001/

Quick Response to Planet of the Humans

5/1/20

Planet of the Humans makes often-ignored points that need to be made about corruption in the environmental movement and lack of accountability in the renewable energy industry, as well as the need to curb consumption and population growth.  I am glad they outed Sierra Club as a highly-compromised Bloomberg tool, but I know personally that Sierra Club has ardently opposed biomass for the past decade.  So much of their info is dated, and it’s unacceptable that they don’t even mention the Green New Deal or the Solutions Project.

Essentially, the terrible inaccuracies, mischaraterizations, and distortions in this film destroy its potential as a tool to raise awareness about the good points it makes.  It’s a waste.

However, you can listen to Moore and filmmakers make the same arguments in a coherent way by watching this interview. Too bad they weren’t able to do the same in the film itself.:

Michael Moore, filmmakers respond to criticism of new bombshell environmental film

Don’t Listen to Privileged Pussy Philosophers

November, 15, 2020
(Letter to Editor, submitted to the Wall Street Journal this morning)

Don’t Listen to Privileged Pussy Philosophers

As joint owner of a sweet red tabby named Vinnie, and lifelong cat worshipper, I take serious umbrage at John Gray’s lazy daydream of an essay, Cats are the Best Philosophers, (Review, Nov. 14, 2020), which promotes cats as models for a life philosophy delivering contentment through a “what, me worry?” point of view.

In Gray’s bubble world, the cats he’s familiar with spend all their time sleeping, eating, playing, and repeating, while humans do all the worrying, for no good reason. Must be nice.

Although Gray’s musing is largely tongue-in-cheek, I think it’s important to recognize that even the ability to access and take time to read his feel-good patter constitutes a privilege denied to most, just as the comfort experienced by his pampered kitties is a privilege denied to most felines worldwide, where far too many are homeless, hungry, abused, and forsaken.

For those of us with the means to sit at our breakfast tables with the Journal and “unwind”, it’s frighteningly easy to forget how privileged we are, and too tempting to legitimize Gray’s puffery as reasonable coaching for living a “good life”.

Are we ready to accept the harm that will befall humanity, planet Earth, and the cats of all stripes that call it home, if too many embrace this philosophy of disengagement, which is based on the behavior and attitude of only the most privileged pussies? I don’t think so.

Lauren Swain
Denver, CO

Summary of Colorado Common Cause Report – Drilling and Dollars: The Colorado Oil and Gas Industry’s Stream of Political Influence – Part 1: Lobbying

See full document, published June 18, 2020, here:
https://www.commoncause.org/colorado/clip/drilling-and-dollars-the-colorado-oil-and-gas-industrys-stream-of-political-influence/?fbclid=IwAR35g36eNlYQtKMRnpH09Pv7QpCgWnrSBZPnqmtpvjc4e940rGZ-W3D3p9k
Note: as of June 19, 2020, the full document cannot be downloaded from this page.

This lobbying report is the first of three reports on the influence of oil and gas money on Colorado politics. It seeks to connect the industry’s spending on lobbying with their political influence in an effort “to hold officials, lobbyists, and corporations accountable” and to inform lobbying policy reform efforts. It notes that a new law passed in 2020 requires that lobbyists disclose the clients, not just the firm, that they work for.

Highlights:

  • Lobbyists outnumbered legislators 5 to 1 in 2019, with oil and gas lobbyists being a major contingent. Lobbyists opposing SB 181 outnumbered committee members six to one, in one example given.
  • Oil and gas does not create as many jobs as it claims to, but it spends millions hiring lobbyists each year. A 2019 Colorado Fiscal Institute report found the industry responsible for about 29,000 or only about 1% of jobs in Colorado.
  • 2491 instances of lobbying action on specific legislation were reported by firms from 2015 to 2019, with 612 being directly related to oil and gas, and with roughly $4 million spent to influence officials during that time.
  • 160 lobbyists were assigned to influencing SB 181. A significant proportion of lobbying dollars are spent in advance of each session.
  • SB063 “Alternative Energy for Schools Grant program” was killed after significant industry spending on lobbyists.
  • HB 1215 of 2018 “Safe Disposal of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials” was killed in a Republican committee after significant lobbying spending.
  • The industry creates fake grassroots groups to influence legislators – examples given.
  • PDC, Nobel, Xcel, are among the largest, most influential, lobbying clients. Spending is still high in the 2020 session – around 500K total through April – despite the legislature being closed and the lack of bills related to oil and gas. “Colorado Legislative Strategies”, (formerly COGA) has received $90,000 in business in 2020 alone. Oil and gas is also funding a series of ballot initiatives this year.

The report recommends five new reforms:

1) Record the number of meetings legislators hold with lobbyists
2) Prohibit lobbying firms from representing conflicting interests
3) Require lobbyist registration and disclosure at the city and county level
4) Record and give public access to information about lobbying activity and spending on each bill.
5) Increase spending allocations to legislators for the purpose of research, so that legislators will not need to rely on lobbyists for information.

Contact Colorado Common Cause for the data used for the report, which is derived from publicly available sources. Footnotes included in document.

Stop Hick

Anti Hick graphic v7

US Senate candidate and former Gov. John Hickenlooper used taxpayer dollars to sue Colorado communities to overturn voter-approved fracking bans and moratoria, told Congress that he drank frack fluid with Halliburton executives, and opposes a Green New Deal and Medicare for All.  The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission has found Hickenlooper in violation of ethics rules.

Hickenlooper has told the media on more than one occasion that he is “not cut out to be a senator.” We can and should heed his self-assessment. Hickenlooper’s treatment of Coloradans and the climate have made him a weak candidate, unworthy of representing Democrats or Coloradans as US Senator.  In the 9News debate with progressive candidate Andrew Romanoff on June 10, John Hickenlooper refused to answer the question of whether or not he would vote with the GOP against Medicare for All. It’s chilling to know he does not have the party interest or public interest at heart. Please tell fellow voters to vote in the June 2020 Democratic primary for Andrew Romanoff, who has a clean ethics record, entered the race early, shows up to public forums, and supports Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. We must take action now to hold Hickenlooper accountable, protect our climate, and place our public interest above corporate interests, or we’ll all suffer the unacceptable, dire consequences. Thank you.

Read and share the Rolling Stone article denouncing Hickenlooper as the anti-climate candidate, here.

Amalthea Aelwyn: My Response to Planet of the Humans, presented by Michael Moore.

by Amalthea Aelwyn
4/28/20

A few of you have asked me for my perception of the new Michael Moore film.

Here is my perception.

There is so very much wrong with the climate movement. It is steeped in abelism it has mostly not even begun to address, still deeply struggling and largely failing to deal with its racism problem, and it is rife with the failure to be sustainable or regenerative itself in terms of how it handles the people and technologies and needs, focusing too much on begging politicians for change, having cute break out groups and hand wringing, and not enough on being change on the ground in ways that are possible now. One example is how hard I have to work to get people engaged with permaculture models of food growing.

There are many problems, but this movie basically ends up carrying water for climate denialism more than helping to improve the climate movement. It’s unfortunate that while it has some important points, many of them miss the real problems with the climate movement or address problems it had between 10 and 20 years ago. Yes, the movement is broken in places. Yes, we definitely have a capitalism problem. But one of the ways it is broken is the expectation of perfectionism, but without the real big picture integrated systems thinkers or the most harmed being centered. And this movie does neither.

I feel like if you’re going to make a movie like this, you have a responsibility to make an accurate and current movie like this, and that you do not just drop everything on the floor as soon as you bring it up.

It doesn’t actually help us to change as people to just know everything has problems. I mean that’s sort of endemic of our larger culture overall. Can you name anything about which that isn’t true? And yes, I am utterly down for the indictment of capitalism, overall, but let’s indict it with its actual current facts, not with its historic failings almost entirely. And let’s talk about some beginnings to solutions.

Why does this film not talk about the need to educate girls and women about climate change, family planning and contraception at mass scale? Why does it allow itself to be more of the idiotic “well, but you’re not pure, so you’re not making progress” mess that is part of denialism, rather than talking about the difficult tension of literally every civil rights movement, wherein we must use the tools of a currently broken model to somehow manifest a less broken model, and that is just painfully hard to do.

No, I don’t believe technology will be the lion’s share of saving us. But this movie isn’t really part of it either. There is not really a point to butchering sacred cows to just leave them to rot on the ground. Do something with whatever you sacrifice on the altar to change, or you’re just as wasteful as what got us into this mess.

It’s not news that there is hypocrisy in everything. Why can’t we talk about, as a culture, how to deal with that conflict, and how to talk about it intelligently, rather than as more meaningless indictment. That really is our cultural disease. We have normalized sociopathy and narcissism to such an extent that finding our way back from that is really damn hard. All the money we need is in the hands of the people using it for harm. All of it is tied up in money when it needs not to be, in order to make progress. Progress is measured in dollars, not in success, but rather than really having that conversation about our cultural underpinnings, proposing any path forward, or even helping us learn to face and deal with grief, this film ends up carrying water for the climate change denialists who would rather we just drop the whole thing.

And it does that job badly, and with 20 year old information, all too often. I want this to be the movie we need. But instead, it is part of our call-out-but-don’t-fix-shit culture of centering not solutions, but just ourselves and our complaining.

So how many of you are going to join me in a growing project? How many of you are working to teach girls family planning? How many of you are working on solving that women are being sacrificed to energy efficiency in building projects that encourage mold-harboring materials and VOCs that are endocrine disruptors? Yes, let’s do something. Let’s stop begging politicians and working on election cycles so extensively, and start creating change on the ground. But maybe without calling each other hypocrites for our imperfections, and maybe with more honest self reflection. And certainly, with more intersectionality and less cute break out groups.

That’s where I am, personally.