Beyond Barney Frank
September 6th, 2012
Last night, while Barney Frank was resting up in preparation for trashing Log Cabin Republicans before the DNC’s LGBT Caucus, the Los Angeles chapters of Log Cabin Republicans and Stonewall Democrats were co-hosting a fund raiser for Minnesotans United for All Families. And this, I think, illustrates a real difference between the old school power-broking party boss mentality and today’s pragmatic goal-focused community. And I, for one, am happy to be beyond Barney Frank.
Barney Frank Calls LCR “Uncle Toms”; LGBT Groups Disavow Charge
September 6th, 2012
Several leaders of LGBT organizations are distancing themselves from comments by Rep. Barny Frank (D-MA) that the Log Cabin Republicans have taken “Uncle Tom” as their role model. Frank first made those comments yesterday during an interview with Sirious/XM OutQ’s Michelangelo Signorile:
Frankly I’ve been appalled to see the Log Cabin club, in the face of this worse and worse record on public policy by Republicans on our issues,” Frank said. “Mr. Cooper said, ‘Well at least they’re not saying bad things about us.’ That’s just extraordinary. Again, 30 years ago when we were emerging from the vice of prejudice, I understood that. But no, we shouldn’t be accepting a kind of second class citizenship, [and saying], ‘You can treat us badly as long you don’t yell at us.’”
“They’re accepted on [the GOP's] terms,” he continued. “They’re willing to be accepted with no rights — no right to marry, no right to serve in the military, no right to be protected against hate crimes, no right to be protected in employment. I’ll be honest: For 20 years now I’ve heard how the Log Cabins are going to make Republicans better, but they’ve only gotten worse. I now understand why they call themselves Log Cabin: their role model is Uncle Tom.”
Buzfeed’s Chris Geidner reports that Frank repeated that comparison to the Democratic National Convention’s LGBT Caucus toda, where he reportedly received a mixed reaction from the crowd. Geidner quotes HRC’s Chad Griffin: “That’s certainly not my perspective. The Log Cabin Republicans are good people doing good work.” He added: “We need all fair-minded Americans to rally to the side of equality, and that most definitely includes Republicans. They provide a voice within the Republican Party that’s important.”
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Rea Carey and Stonewall Democrats’ Jerame Davis also backed away from Franks comments, saying that they don’t reflect the positions of their organizations. But Davis added, “The truth is that they do play a certain role of kowtowing to the Republican Party in a way that borders on inappropriate itself.”
LCR responded via a press release:
“As far as Log Cabin Republicans are concerned, it’s a badge of honor to be attacked by a partisan hack like Barney Frank,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper. “We understand that Barney has earned his protected place within the Democrat Party by being their attack dog on gay rights issues, demonizing Republicans and undermining efforts at bipartisanship that would actually improve LGBT Americans lives. We expect this kind of bile from Barney, especially when it plays into the Obama campaign’s efforts to divide, distract and deceive the American people.”
Cooper continues, “Frank calls us ‘Uncle Toms’ and pretends that Log Cabin hasn’t been on the front lines of the fight for equality. The truth is, by speaking conservative to conservative about gay rights, Log Cabin Republicans are doing some of the hardest work in the movement, work that liberals like Barney are unwilling to do and couldn’t do if they tried.”
About that throw away line…
August 23rd, 2012
Log Cabin Republicans presents the Republican Party’s platform as outdated, desperate and abysmal. I think that all those who favor freedom and equality would have to agree.
But they also present the rather lukewarm assurance that “in certain places the 2012 Republican platform is an improvement compared to the 2008 document”. Weak praise indeed. It would be difficult to get worse.
And one of the comparitive improvements they list is “we appreciate the inclusion of language recognizing that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect”.
I agree that such language is always welcome. And I’m certain that virtually all readers – if this were in any context outside a national election – would agree that such language is better present than absent.
But as this is an election year, this sentence has been received with – shall we say – less than trumpet flair and confetti. In some instances it has been met with derision and contempt.
Perhaps the best example of this comes from Stonewall Democrats who not only mocked Log Cabin for their pleasure in the inclusion of the line, but claim that it is nothing new. In a press release titled “Gay Republicans Mislead LGBT Americans on GOP Platform” they assert the following:
“What’s even more ridiculous is the idea that this language is something new. The Republican Party platform has included similar language since at least 1996. This is just a rewording of a generic principle that few Republicans would construe to include LGBT equality.”
They go on to list what they insist are examples of statements that are substantively the same.
But is that true? Is the sentence that Stonewall says Log Cabin “touted” (but which Log Cabin says was “an improvement”) nothing more than a recitation of a meaningless phrase that has been around since 1996?
The answer is, as it so often is in politics, both yes and no.
Can Stonewall claim that those words – or similar ones – were used in the past? Yes. Similar words have been used. But not in the context in which they are presented in the 2012 platform.
The words that Stonewall quotes – in each of 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 – are in the preamble and speak to a generic sense of equality of all and are not intended to apply to any particular policy. However, in 2012, the words that complete the section titled Marriage are: “We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.” This is a non-generic and policy-associated statement.
In other words, for the first time the Republican platform has stated that within the context of the marriage fight, all Americans (and by implication, specifically those who seek same-sex marriage) should be treated with respect and dignity.
It is not the same as previuos years. Yes the words may be similar, but as we so often tell our opponents, context matters.
Now this may mean little to many who see it as a pittance. And, indeed, it is a pittance. And if we are seeking to measure whether this redeems the platform, no it most decidedly does not. It’s still atrocious.
So is that throw away line really all that unimportant? That depends on what you’re looking for.
Does it suggest that Romney/Ryan is an acceptable choice? No, not at all. Even Log Cabin makes no pretense that their efforts were effective in swaying the “base” of the party. It’s a nasty platform reflecting the nasty policies of a collection of people who – or at least a majority of whom – really don’t like us and want to do us harm.
But those who watch trends and measure social progress may find it quite interesting. Tony Perkins may brag about “writing it”, but I very much believe that this is a concession he would not include if he could have avoided it. And, as Log Cabin notes, the future of the Republican Party trends towards inclusion. Even as a trailing indicator, it’s worth attention.
Log Cabin’s realistic (and non-touting) response to the Republican platform
August 22nd, 2012
As predicted, the Republican party platform is wretched.
Stonewall Democrats decided to use the platform as a contrived excuse to attack gay Republicans, asserting that Log Cabin was “touting” their role in the document. Unfortunately Stonewall’s claim was repeated all over the place as though it were accurate.
Here is what Log Cabin actually had to say:
(Tampa, FL) – While Log Cabin Republicans commend the delegates who proposed inclusion of pro-equality language in the 2012 Republican Party platform, the final document is marred by outdated social conservative ideology.
“Tony Perkins may be boasting today about having written an antigay marriage plank into the Republican Party platform, but it will be a hollow and short-lived victory,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper. “The obsessive exclusion of gay couples, including military families, from the rights and responsibilities of marriage, combined with bizarre rhetoric about ‘hate campaigns’ and ‘the homosexual rights agenda’ are clear signs of desperation among social conservatives who know that public opinion is rapidly turning in favor of equality. Unfortunately, what voters can’t see in this document is the significant debate within the Committee. We were pleased to see vigorous debate on amendments in support of civil unions and to delete language regarding DOMA. While these measures failed, the future direction of our party clearly trends toward inclusion. This may well be the last time a platform will cater to the likes of the Family Research Council on marriage, and the fact is, platforms rarely influence policy. Tony will never see his discrimination written into the United States Constitution.”
Cooper continued, “Together with Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, Log Cabin Republicans are proud to have encouraged this important debate at the Republican National Convention. Only by being in the room and speaking conservative to conservative will we succeed in building a stronger and more inclusive Republican party.
Despite abysmal marriage rhetoric, in certain places the 2012 Republican platform is an improvement compared to the 2008 document for LGBT Americans. Log Cabin Republicans advocated for the exclusion of any language calling for the return of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – there is no longer any reference to the supposed ‘incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.’ We are pleased that the 2012 platform’s language on refugees no longer presents a barrier for asylum of LGBT people who are persecuted and threatened with execution in places like Iran. Finally, we appreciate the inclusion of language recognizing that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. While there is clearly a long way to go and the language regarding marriage will be harmful to Republicans in November, these changes should not be overlooked.”
Tony Perkins: “I Wrote” GOP Platform
August 21st, 2012
The Log Cabin Republicans yesterday were all kinds of proud over the impact they had in helping to shape the Republican platform this week. LCR chief R. Clarke Cooper told BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner that the draft platform’s preamble approved yesterday morning includes the statement, “We embrace the principle that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect,” which they took as some kind of an olive branch to the gay community. Bless their little hearts. And they also sold themselves a little short. I managed to find another reference to dignity and respect in the main body of the draft platform. Maybe you can find it too.
The Institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, and are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, are less like to to engage in crime, and are less likely to get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic wellbeing of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also more government control over the lives of its citizens in all facets. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting along, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as a national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.
Marriage and the Judiciary
A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundation of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.
Defense of Marriage
That is why congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. An activist judiciary usurps the powers reserved to other branches of government and endangers the foundation of our society. We oppose the Administration’s open defiance of this constitutional principle — in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts — makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath. We commend the United States House of Representatives and those State Attorneys Generals who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so.
That doesn’t sound like a platform influenced by the Log Cabin Republicans. It sound much more like — actually, virtually identical to — something that would have come out of an email blast from the Family “Research” Council:
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins told BuzzFeed: “You should read the entire plank on marriage, which I wrote. I feel very happy about it. I feel pretty optimistic about the outcome here.” [Emphasis added]
Ordinarily, whenever you read someone claiming sole credit for something, you can usually be safe in ignoring the boast. But when you go back and read these sections again, especially the first one, Perkins’s boast appears to be well-founded. Just try to find one iota of difference between these platform statements and the daily blasts from the Family “Research” Council. I mean, hell, even the FRC can include a throw-away line about dignity and respect for all Americans.
The Party Platforms
August 13th, 2012
The most exciting and best known change comes in the Democratic Party platform which will, for the first time, endorse marriage equality. Although many party members and elected officials have been supportive, it was not until this election cycle that there is sufficient consolidation of position (about two thirds) to make this an agreed upon issue.
While this is a bit of a gamble (we could get blamed if the Democrats do less well than expected), it is, I think both the right thing to do and a smart political choice. The movement is towards equality and even those who do not support us won’t be surprised by the move.
But another smaller change also has happened this year, one that mostly flew under the radar. But this change is probably far more important than it might appear at first glance: Log Cabin, the organization for gay and lesbian Republicans, is for the first time sending a delegation to the Republican platform committee.
Now I don’t anticipate that there will be anything remotely resempling a positive plank come out of that committee. It will oppose equality and probably call for an anti-gay constitutional amendment. But it is possible that by simply being in the room, they will be able to influence the language adopted. It’s harder to be dispicably vile when your victim is sitting there looking at you.
But it is not the anticipated content of the platform that is worth note. As a symbolic move, allowing Log Cabin to participate is of tremendous importance. For decades the GOP has been openly hostile to its gay members – when it even bothered to notice their existence. For the first time, the party has – by this move – indicated that gay Republicans are “real” Republicans and have a legitimate place in the Party.
It will be some time before the Republican Party follows the lead of Europe’s conservatives and decides that “marriage is a conservative value”. And the voices of discrimination and animus will only get shriller before they are drowned out by the inevitable change in public position.
But these small steps are exciting to see. They demonstrate a change in the Nation that promises our eventual success. And they send a signal to the raging anti-gays that their days are numbered, that no matter how much chikin they binge in their battle for superiority, the end of the war is in sight.
Are gay issues today “fundamentally conservative”?
February 22nd, 2012
Writing an op-ed in the Washington Times, a newspaper that presents its stories with a decidedly conservative perspective, Log Cabin Executive Director Clarke Cooper presents a notion that may not sit comfortably with many in our community:
Our community’s goals today are fundamentally conservative, and it will take conservative voices, like Paul Babeu’s, to achieve them.
About “conservative voices”, there is no question. Clarke is absolutely correct in noting that Conservatives – such as the readership of Washington Times – are not open to listening to organizations that are in alliance with immigrant rights advocates or labor unions or whose executive directors co-chair Democratic election campaigns.
If such people are to be reached, it will be through those who are not perceived as part of “The Establishment Left” and therefor the enemy, but by those with whom they find agreement on other issues.
But what about the idea that community’s goals today being fundamentally conservative?
I believe that Cooper’s assertion has some merit. While marriage and family and tradition and social assimilation and military service are not the property of any party or ideology, ideas that relate to more structure and increased formality are understood to be conservative in both a general and a political sense. It seems to me that “I should be free to sleep with whomever I want” and “I should be free to marry whomever I want” are in very different places and speak to people in very different ways.
Of course both are aspects of the bigger issue that gay people should be equal, whether that equality applies to sexual freedom or marriage freedom. But most political activists who have been engaging in the battle for equality will acknowledge that there is a marked difference in our community’s immediate goals and objectives.
Of course, Conservatives such as the leaders (though not the attendees) at CPAC, reject the idea that anything gay could possibly have any conservative elements. Which leads to fascinating assertions such as “I don’t really believe homosexuals want to get married, they just want to destroy marriage”.
And of course, some in our community have been subjected to abuse from Conservatives for so long that they will find it challenging to apply the word “conservative” to anything they favor.
But, nevertheless, Cooper’s point is worth considering. What do you think?
If you hate your community, you’ll love Ann Coulter
August 10th, 2011
Politics is in many ways a game of association. Who is elected, what bills are supported or opposed, which allocation is prioritized are based on group affiliation and political identity. And political identity is created in two ways: primarily who we are, but sometimes who we are not.
Who we are is based on shared experiences and often guides positions that impact members of a group. Who we are not, however, can have murky motivations and can run the risk of becoming bigotry. And, of course, each of our identities have elements of both.
But, in our community the contrast in ways of defining oneself is dramatically illustrated by looking at Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud. Both organizations identify as gay Republicans, but the way in which they view that identity and on what it is based are worlds apart.
Log Cabin Republicans see themselves as full members of the gay community and as lobbyists on the community’s behalf to the Party. This is no small job, and consequently legislation and issues of inclusion that directly impact LGBT people are their primary focus (along with being ambassadors of sorts, building bridges, nurturing relationships, and being the face of the community in Republican circles.)
So it was natural for Log Cabin (being on the pro-military end of the community) to step up and craft a multi-year three pronged attack on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that ultimately led to the reversal of that policy and (depending on the eventual outcome of the case) may establish precedent for finding anti-gay policies as unconstitutional.
Log Cabin sees their Republicanism primarily through the lens of fiscal policy, defense, and localized government. This isn’t to suggest that they pay no attention to social issues – they do – but rather that such issues are based on their analysis rather than handed down from the Party. And, as such, they work to support Republicans who share their fiscal conservatism but are not anti-gay and to serve as a source for the roughly one third of the community that votes Republican, providing analysis on candidates and issues.
Although Log Cabin has been attacked by social conservatives and anti-gay activists and the far right, they are not defined by their opponents. Knowing that in many many situations every possible vote counts, Log Cabin strives for communication, relationship, and access wherever they see an opportunity – even when those opportunities might raise eyebrows from others in our community. And they are careful not to make opposition to a candidate a part of their strategy, utilizing instead a “refusal to endorse” which has, in a number of presidential campaigns, made front page news and forced candidate concessions.
On the other hand, GOProud – who broke from Log Cabin in April 2009 – is primarily focused on who they are not: the Gay Left. And their fierce opposition to the Gay Left appears to drive all of their actions and statements.
The so-called “gay agenda” is defined by the left through a narrow prism of legislative goals. In contrast to the approach of the left, GOProud’s agenda emphasizes conservative and libertarian principles that will improve the daily lives of all Americans, but especially gay and lesbian Americans.
GOProud ostensibly is a gay organization, in that their tiny membership is comprised of people who are homosexual. But while the language of their positions pays token homage to the existence of gay people, most have no specific bearing on the issues of importance to actual living breathing gay folk.
And the gay and lesbian Americans for whom they are supposedly advocating seem to either be theoretical or limited to their own membership. Although Log Cabin agrees with the fiscal position stated in most of GOProud’s 10 legislative priorities, they too are “absolutely, unquestionably, too far to the left” because LCR’s legislative agenda is comprised of pro-gay advocacy. And by looking at the totality of GOProud’s statements, actions, programs and advertising, it soon becomes evident that by the Gay Left, they mean anyone who views gay people as entitled to equality and inclusion.
Perhaps GOProud did not set out to be the organization they have become. Perhaps they wanted to focus on, say, supporting the Second Amendment, but discovered that no one really cared about their perspective on that subject. Nor did the press come calling for their views on health care reform.
But as a group of gay people willing and ready to demean other gay people and to attack their priorities, that made for good television. And whether it was their original intention, opposition to pro-gay advocates rather than support for conservative principles appears to now be the motivation for every action.
And while GOProud has not yet actively opposed specific goals towards equality, they have sought to punish those within the Republican Party who support those goals.
In the last election, they got involved in the California senate primary. They did not support anyone, but they ran an add in opposition to Tom Campbell, a Log Cabin ally. They compared him to Didi Scozzafava and declared him to be too far to the Left. As best I can tell, the issue which unites the two is that they both are pro-gay Republicans.
I’m not a psychologist, but there appears to be a couple things going on here. Part of GOProud’s antics can be seen as antagonism towards Log Cabin for not turning the organization over to them. And no doubt part is anger at a community which has not adopted the values that GOProud endorses.
But by focusing entirely on their opposition to the Gay Left, and defining Gay Left in such a way as to include every gay person who supports the community’s legislative goals, GOProud ceased being pro-Republican and now are best described as an anti-gay organization. Not anti-gay in the sense that they campaign against legislation that we support or in the sense that they seek laws to harm gay people, but anti-gay in the sense that they oppose gay people.
We are discussing a group who, while homosexual, have nothing but contempt for other homosexuals who see seek equality. GOProud members see themselves as different from such “Left” gays. And it soon becomes evident that it is not some leftist agenda that offends GOProud, but rather self-pride and an unwillingness to accept an inferior role. It is the gayness of the gay community that so offends them.
And the “why” is just sitting there waiting to be said. For decades, those who seemed to believe that orientation dictated fiscal policy would shrilly declare, “Log Cabin members are just a bunch of self-loathing Auntie Toms.” (Log Cabin members just role their eyes at that original bon mot)
But I am becoming more and more convinced that GOProud could be the real thing.
Oh they don’t loath themselves entirely, they are far to arrogant for that. But they do seem to loath that part which they share with you and I. Otherwise it is difficult to understand a strategy that recognizes that gay people are targeted for discrimination, but which consistently attacks any effort to correct it. And other than some desire to compensate for their feeling of inadequacy, it is difficult to understand the motivation behind consistently demeaning gay allies and praising those who treat us with contempt.
And it was an obvious attempt to spite the gay community – and to attract attention to their organization – that inspired GOProud to hire Ann Coulter to come deliver a speech in opposition to gay rights. And it did get them some attention.
But it also demonstrated their priorities. Even assuming that supporting conservatives was a higher priority for the group than advocating for equality, when they accepted Coulter’s criticism of Ted Olson, whose conservative credentials far outweigh Coulter’s, based solely on his support for marriage equality, then any question about GOProud’s nature evaporated. GOProud is comprised of people who see homosexuals as intrinsically inferior to heterosexuals and who accept slurs and inequality as their due.
And we cannot discount the confirmation that GOProud feels from people like Coulter. Sharing her opposition to self-accepting gay people, they get to be “good gays” and “Real Republicans” by contrast.
And as Coulter went on with her usual anti-gay snark as part of her increasingly predictable and boring shtick, it provided further opportunity for GOProud to set themselves apart from those who have self-respect. Unlike “leftists” like NGLTF or HRC or “leftists” like you and me or even “leftists” like Log Cabin, the “non-leftist” GOProud members will reward those who see them they are inferior.
When Ann Coulter went on Joy Behar’s show and tried to shock Joy by saying that the military should be limited to heterosexual men (the same with firemen), that she wishes that everyone would shut up about gays, and that “there are some people” for whom reparative therapy works, most people saw this as offensive towards gay people. And it was to that attitude that Log Cabin responded:
“Ann Coulter is not a serious part of the conservative movement – her positions are a throwback and do more harm than anything else,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. “Her remarks endorsing the widely outdated and profoundly harmful idea of ‘reparative therapy,’ alleging that one can ‘pray the gay away,’ are not only demeaning to gays and lesbians, but are offensive to all people of faith. God in his infinite wisdom created us the way we are and pundits and politicians cannot change that. While her position on this matter is off base, it is exacerbated by her claim that the armed forces should bring back ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ a failed policy which impedes military readiness. Servicemembers who put their lives on the line deserve respect, not such clownish behavior. Ann Coulter may be tired of gay and lesbian Americans speaking out, but Americans, gay and straight, are tired of her overwrought and offensive behavior. Frankly, Coulter’s act has gotten stale. It’s time to change the channel.”
GOProud, on the other hand, rewarded Coulter. Evidently she had said what they wanted to have said. In fact, she delighted the tiny group so much that they invited her to join their “advisory board”.
Today, GOProud, the only national organization of gay conservatives and their allies, announced that Ann Coulter was joining the organization’s Advisory Council as Honorary Chair. Coulter’s official title will be “Gay Icon.” “Ann Coulter is a brilliant and fearless leader of the conservative movement, we are honored to have her as part of GOProud’s leadership,” said Christopher Barron, Chairman of GOProud’s Board. “Ann helped put our organization on the map. Politics is full of the meek, the compromising and the apologists – Ann, like GOProud, is the exact opposite of all of those things. We need more Ann Coulters.”
And in this, they may have gone too far. Their silly slap at gay people – calling Coulter a “Gay Icon” – comes off less as clever and in-your-face and instead feels desperate and pathetic. Even anti-gay social conservatives know when self-deprecation crosses over into self-loathing.
They might have once earned the respect of other Republicans, even socially conservative Republicans, by just not talking about “that gay stuff” and supporting the Party on other issue. But no one loves the guy who hates himself and if you declare your inferiority, no one is going to disagree.
Once the community shrugs and feels more pity than anger towards GOProud, they will no longer be interesting to Coulter. Their far-right friends have no use for a homosexual who is just ignored by the ‘homosexual activist elite’, and Fox News isn’t going to have them on when the novelty wares off.
But, hey, at least unlike every other gay person of any political persuasion that doesn’t harbor internal shame over being gay, they can hold up their head and say that they are not the Gay Left. And that’s something.
DADT receives death certificate
July 22nd, 2011
In accordance with the terms set out in the legislation terminating the Military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have now certified that the Department of Defense has now prepared the necessary policies and regulations and that such policies and regulations are consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.
It’s official. While the change will not go into effect for another 60 days, the policy restricting the open service of gays and lesbians in the military has been certified dead.
Many people and organizations played an role in this change. And many deserve credit. And you will receive emails from several today claiming that credit and asking you for money.
But one organization which has, in my opinion, contributed far beyond most will probably get scant recognition elsewhere in our community, so I’ll give them the opportunity to brag a bit.
Today, on July 22, 2011, the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs took the next step, certifying that the military is ready to end the ban on open service. It is a proud day to be an American, and a proud day to be a Log Cabin Republican.
Log Cabin Republicans fought this archaic policy on many fronts, from working with the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group which showed servicemembers were unopposed to the change, to securing the needed Republican votes in Congress for repeal, to bringing the federal lawsuit Log Cabin Republicans v. United States which declared ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ unconstitutional. It has been a long campaign, and the fight is not yet over, but victory is in sight at last.
Thanks guys. Considering the vote count and the pressure that the lawsuit applied, I honestly don’t think we could have accomplished this at this time without you.
Ninth Circuit lifts stay on Log Cabin’s DADT victory. Policy unenforceable immediately
July 7th, 2011
[Sorry folks, I thought I had posted this yesterday but I guess I forgot to hit "publish"]
From the LA Times
A federal appeals court in San Francisco issued a ruling Wednesday that ends enforcement of the law banning openly gay people from serving in the military, citing the Obama administration’s recent determination that gays and lesbians have suffered a history of discrimination.
The statute known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in September, and a ban on its enforcement was imposed a month later. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Phillips’ ruling, though, while it was being appealed and to allow the Defense Department time to prepare for integrating gays into the armed services.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court lifted that stay in a two-page order Wednesday, granting a motion brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay-rights advocacy group that sued the federal government over “don’t ask, don’t tell” seven years ago.
There are several reasons why this case is important.
First, should the Ninth Circuit uphold the victory as seems likely, it takes the matter out of the hands of any future hostile administration or Congress. While it’s unlikely that Congress would reinstate the ban, it removes the possibility.
As importantly, it alleviates the possibilities of delaying tactics or conditional reversal or partial retainment of discrimination. Matters of housing or full inclusion cannot be accepted as “policy” but would be held to the scrutiny of constitutional challenge and those establishing or administering such policy would keep that in mind.
But most importantly of all, I believe that this is the first time that a Federal Circuit Appellate Court has taken the position that a stay on the reversal of a discriminatory policy was more harmful to gay people than to those seeking to uphold the discrimination. THAT’S A BIGGIE, FOLKS. And it establishes a precedent that reflects an entire shift in perspective. The presumption no longer is in favor of the status quo.
Further, this is fascinating in that the Ninth Circuit cited the Administration’s new views about anti-gay discrimination requiring heightened scrutiny. Remember, the Ninth Circuit has yet to rule on the Perry v. Schwarzenegger appeal and (should the Proponents be deemed to have standing), if the same consideration is given then it seems likely that the ruling will stand.
And I would not be surprised it Olson and Boies immediately filed a motion to have the stay lifted on Perry.
UPDATE: The original title of this posting was inaccurate. The Ninth Circuit did not uphold Log Cabin’s victory over DADT but rather lifted the stay during appeal.
Bob Barr on conservatism
May 2nd, 2011
During his eight years (1995 – 2003) in the House of Representatives, Bob Barr (R-GA) was best know for his partisanship and conservative advocacy. Long an advocate of Second Amendment rights and suspicious of governmental spending – which he saw in terms of governmental encroachment on a free people – Barr seemingly found no inconsistency in toeing Republican Party positions which supported governmental encroachment on a number of social issues.
In addition to being a strong advocate for the Federal Government’s “war on drugs”, Barr took a leading role in opposing rights for gay people. In 1996, he was the author and chief supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act.
But the bombing of the World Trade center in 2001, coupled with the federal government’s crack down on civil freedoms, woke Barr up. His libertarianism ceased to be (as it is for many Republicans) a platitude around which exceptions are the norm and he began to question whether many of the positions he had one time championed were not actually in direct violation to the principles which he espoused.
Barr’s turn around has been dramatic. In 2006 he left the Republican Party and registered as Libertarian, serving as that party’s presidential candidate two years later. And he has also advocated for the legalization of marijuana.
But perhaps the most unexpected of Barr’s reversals has been his public repudiation of his most notable action in Congress, DOMA. Interestingly, this is not, I suspect, based out of some newfound appreciation for gay people; rather, it seems to flow from a newfound respect for freedom, individual autonomy, and constitutional equality.
Consequently, Barr speaks very differently from other advocates for the reversal of anti-gay governmental discrimination. His is not an advocacy that rails as “the bigots” but rather speaks to the ideals that permeate the writing, if not the thinking, of the Republican Party and it’s leaders.
Speaking over the weekend at the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention, Barr spoke specifically of marriage and the government’s role.
A federal law that burdens a fundamental right is – should – be deemed in violation of the principle of equal protection. When viewed as a fundamental personal decision on the right to associate, it clearly falls within the ambit of the XIV Amendment’s notion of “privileges or immunities.” Prohibitions against same-sex marriage violate the equal protection clause by placing more than a burden on this right – an outright prohibition for one group of individuals to exercise that right legally and to have their contracts enforced by the courts.
This is interesting language in that it brings up a point that our community can sometimes overlook. We tend to talk in terms of what marriage means to us: rights, responsibilities, community, recognition, and equality. Yes, marriage restriction does infringe on hospital visitation and inheritance tax. But those are not particularly strong arguments to those who may see changing visitation rules and tax codes as a solution.
Barr focuses instead on what we, as a people, have the right to expect and demand from our government.
As Linda Harvey flippantly says (and entirely misunderstands) we already can marry, and – contrary to Harvey’s assumptions – we can marry the person we love. And we may marry in every state, in every nation, anywhere we may find ourselves.
Marriage is a contract, a social, emotional, and financial agreement based on terms, conditions, and promises. These vows we may pledge, be it in front of an alter with family, friends and God as witness, or privately and quietly.
We can marry; that isn’t really our issue. Our issue is whether the state will recognize and enforce this contract.
And we have the right to demand that it do so. And opponents who argue that we can have wills, and powers of attorney, and ‘designated funeral-planning agent’ forms to provide “many of the same benefits” should be made to explain why it is that the state may enforce those contracts, but not the one we have already made.
But it is not specific issues, such as gay marriage or gay military service, that should be the focus for conservatives. Such thinking puts the emphasis on the who, not the what.
Barr believes, as do I, that in our approach to policy, we ought not start with the impact some law may have on gay people, but rather on whether any people should be subjected to some arbitrary control over their lives, regardless of their demographic. And it is that argument that can appeal to the principles of some who may never come to see us as morally equal but who can, nevertheless, see us as civilly and legally equal.
What many so-called conservatives fail to realize also is that defending traditional notions of morality (if consistency is to be a component also of our political philosophy) ought to include keeping the government as much out of our personal lives as possible and limiting its power as much as possible. And, speaking of morality, using the collective power of the state to do what individuals cannot do – impose the will of one group of people on another set of people – is truly immoral. We each were endowed by our Creator with one life and we should be free to live it as we see fit, so long as we do not harm another.
GOP State Sen.: Why Not Civil Liberties For Everyone?
April 30th, 2011
The Log Cabin Republican’s national convention got underway in Dallas Thursday evening, with the Friday sessions featuring several GOP politicos challenging the Republican Party to change its stance toward LGBT people or face the prospect of “los(ing) every Republican young person … if we don’t get on board.”
Maryland state Senator Allan Kittleman, a straight ally and the lone Republican to vote in favor of an unsuccessful marriage equality bill during this year’s session, issued that warning to the Republican Party. His support for marriage equality came at a great political cost, when he voluntarily stepped down as Senate minority leader. His position also led colleagues to ask whether he was himself secretly gay or had a gay family member. Kittleman’s response:
I said, ‘Well, why can’t it just be that he’s for civil liberties for everyone?’” Kittleman recalled. “For someone to say you can’t be a real Republican if you support gay rights, that’s just a bunch of bull.”
…Kittleman choked back tears as he recalled his response to a reporter who asked why he voted for marriage equality considering the potential political consequences. “What I told them was that 20 years from now, when my grandchildren want to ask me what I did to support civil rights, that was more important to me than the next election.”
Also speaking at the convention was Fred Karger, who is running for the GOP nomination as the nation’s first openly gay presidential candidate. Karger announced to the group that he has qualified for a GOP presidential debate to be held next week in South Carolina. However, Fox News, which is organizing the debate, has not yet confirmed that Karger will be allowed to join Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Herman Cain for the face-off — even though not all of them met all of Fox News’ entry criteria either.
Log Cabin Head Backs Boehner’s Steps Toward Defending DOMA
March 5th, 2011
LCR issued a press release calling on House Speaker John Boehner not to “take the bait” on DOMA. Now that Boehner is taking initial steps to do precisely that, LCR’s R. Clarke Cooper is covering his back, although he says that his support is limited to the current exploratory steps.
Log Cabin Republicans are still battling to have “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell declared unconstitutional. While the Congress and Administration have already taken steps to have the law fully repealed sometime this year, the issue remains that repeal will not include an anti-discrimination clause. And with out that, future presidents will be free to impose a ban on gays serving in the military unilaterally via executive order. LCR has denounced the Justice Department for continuing to defend DADT.
Administration continues to defend DADT in court, but with concessions
February 26th, 2011
Although President Obama has announced that discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans should be held to a stricter scrutiny than rational basis, the Obama Administration continues to defend Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in its appeal to the court challenge by Log Cabin Republicans. But the President’s position has impacted how the Department of Justice is arguing their case. (LCR Press Release)
“The government’s brief is stunning for what it does not say. As expected, it argues that Log Cabin Republicans lacked standing to bring the case and that Judge Phillips lacked authority to issue a world-wide injunction. Judge Phillips’s 85-page decision from October 2010 covered these points in great detail, and we are confident that the government’s arguments on these points will be rejected. The government’s only other argument is that the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was constitutional but that was not an issue tried before Judge Phillips and was never part of the government’s case before. The government’s brief does not address the due process or first amendment issues on which Judge Phillips based her decision nor the standard of review applicable to our challenge to the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. By not arguing merits of the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the government’s brief, by its silence on these issues, is effectively conceding that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was and is unconstitutional. While it may be implicit, it is the first time in the six-plus-year history of the case that the government has not argued that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is constitutional. This is a major change in the government’s position.”
Lest future Congresses or Presidents seek to reinstate discrimination in the Military, it is important to our community that LCR’s victory be confirmed.
Log Cabin takes up mantle of liaison to House
November 3rd, 2010
As the control of the House of Representatives shifts to Republicans, so too does the primary responsibility for lobbying the House leadership on matters of importance to the LGBT community shift to gay Republicans. And Log Cabin is cautiously optimistic that they have built bridges towards the leadership which could result in more movement on our issues than might otherwise be expected. (Washington Blade)
Although Democrats retained their control of the Senate, most political observers — including LGBT advocates — agree that major LGBT-related bills would have no chance of passing in Congress next year without the consent of Republican leaders like Boehner. And most observers believe House Republicans won’t allow gay bills to come to the House floor for a vote.
Cooper, however, said he and his Log Cabin team have a plan for persuading congressional Republican leaders to consider and agree to a vote on at least two gay bills. According to Cooper, one is an as yet to be unveiled tax reform bill that would address “tax inequities that affect the gay community.” The other is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which Democratic leaders declined to bring up for a vote during the past two years. The measure calls for banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Cooper said the tax bill would appeal to “the broader conservative community” while addressing inequities in the gay community.
Although I am not privy to information about the tax bill, I speculate that it would eliminate the tax on insurance premiums paid by companies to dependents of gay employees. This could be packaged as an undue burden on businesses as well as an unnecessary and punitive special tax.
Another area which Cooper may consider approaching the leadership could be on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This policy is universally unpopular with virtually every demographic in the country and would cost individual congressmen very little to support the repeal. Leadership could play both sides by allowing a free vote while opposing the change “during wartime” thus avoiding offending their “base” but allowing for future credit for the change.
I don’t know whether Cooper is basing this on realistic expectations or just blowing smoke. But the truth is (and I think we all know it) that the relationship between the gay community and the Democratic Party is at an all-time low. Exit polls show that not only did fewer gay people show up yesterday than two years ago, but they had much less party loyalty. (AmericaBlog)
Percent of gay voters who voted Democratic in House races:
2006 House races: 75%
2008 House races: 80%
2010 House races: 68%
And ironically, the Republican Party really has to do very little to do if it wants to further disillusion gay voters and add to the decay of this dependable Democratic voting bloc. President Obama’s lack of adequate communication with the community accompanied by what is perceived as either stalling or even tactical hostility on issue of DADT, DOMA and other legal battles has gays and lesbians doubtful about the Democratic Party depth of commitment to civil equality.
It is possible – though I think unlikely – that political calculations could lead Republican leadership to strategically concede on some issues of importance to our community based on the recognition that social change will force their hand eventually anyway Even backing off and not aggressively “fighting against the homosexual agenda” could leave some gay voters without any loyalty to Democrats or fear of Republicans and that could plausibly shift the vote by as much as 1% in some crucial races in 2012. (I am aware that this may be more wishful thinking than reality)
In any case, I wish Log Cabin well. They have a thankless job, and will receive from our community leaders all of the blame for anything harmful that the Republican Party does and no credit whatsoever for any success that they are able to achieve. But if they are able to bring about a vote on ENDA, they will indeed have my respect.
Justice Dept Expected To Appeal DADT Ruling, Defense Dept Still Enforcing Military Ban
October 14th, 2010
The Washington Post says that the Justice Department is expected to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips declaring “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military ban on gays serving openly, unconstitutional. The administration is expected to seek a stay in the broad injunction issued Tuesday which bars enforcement of DADT immediately and everywhere. I think the Post sums up the situation very well:
The effort to repeal the law barring gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military is nearing a chaotic endgame involving fast-moving courts, a slow-moving military, a lame-duck Congress and an administration increasingly caught in the middle. When the dust settles by the end of the year, the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy could be history – or it could remain on the books, with a new right-leaning Congress disinclined to do anything about it.
If true, then it will make Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s obstinance and cynicism behind his maneuvers before bringing DADT’s repeal up for a vote last month even more unforgivable. Reid, of course, doesn’t shoulder the blame alone. Certainly the Obama Administration’s lack of leadership and, specifically, absence of any lobbying efforts to pass the repeal can’t be ignored.
And, of course, there are the forty Republicans and two Democrats who voted against a measure that more than three-fourths of the American public agree should be passed.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has forgotten once again that under the U.S. Constitution, the military is under civilian control and is not a law unto themselves. Gates claims that following the court order will have “enormous consequences” for the military. Among the “consequences”:
Gates said the Pentagon needs until Dec. 1 to resolve questions such as whether heterosexual troops would be required to share housing with gays and whether the military would be required to provide benefits for same-sex partners of service members.
No other nation that allows gays to serve openly in the military has seen a need to provide segregated housing, an odious suggestion if there ever was one. As for providing benefits for same-sex partners, unfortunately it looks like existing marriage law and military regulations already takes care of it. Same-sex partners would get all the benefits of any other unmarried partner.
t LGBT people are already serving in the military, with many servicemembers aware of LGBT people serving in their ranks. There is no evidence to suggest that their presence has had any sort of impact on unit cohesion.
Twenty one Senate Democrats have written to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., urging that he not appeal the court ruling. Despite the injunction, the Defense Department is still enforcing DADT:
With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.
But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.
Sen. Cornyn finds “common ground” with Log Cabin Republicans
September 23rd, 2010
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a social conservative who does not support marriage equality or repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, headlined a cocktail fundraiser for gay group Log Cabin Republicans last night. (Standard Times)
Texas Sen. John Cornyn told a Republican gay and lesbian group that he was amazed at some of the controversy surrounding his appearance at the group’s fundraising event Wednesday evening.
“I guess perhaps it speaks to the times we find ourselves in where people are so unwilling to find grounds of commonality where we do agree despite some honest differences and firmly held differences of opinion,” Cornyn told about 60 guests at the Log Cabin Republicans Political Action Committee.
Cornyn spoke on the issues on which he agrees with the group.
And he said he knows they all agree, as loyal Republicans, on the importance of limited government, lower taxation, free trade and common-sense laws that facilitate economic development, economic growth and job creation.
Cornyn was not scheduled to stay for the subsequent dinner, which featured five Congresspersons who are allies of Log Cabin. Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. He sent an aide with a speech he recorded for the group, which was played at the dinner.
The funds raised at the reception featuring Cornyn will be used to further Log Cabin’s goal of advancing the message of gay equality within the Republican Party.
Cornyn and Sessions No-Shows at LCR Dinner, Receive Awards Anyway
September 22nd, 2010
A Republican gay-rights group presented Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) with a leadership award Wednesday night despite his vote against a repeal of the ban on allowing openly gay people to serve in the military nearly 24 hours before the event. …Neither Cornyn nor Sessions appeared in person to accept their awards.
Cornyn did appear and speak at a pre-dinner reception, which was attended by only 60 people and closed to the press. I don’t know whether he was given his trophy at that time when nobody from the press was there to see it, but we hear that all the gays sang a lovely round of “Happy Birthday” for Mrs Cornyn. That moment of festivity occurred just one day after Sen. Cornyn voted to continue to keep LGBT people from serving in the military. After about 45 minutes, he then ducked out without commenting to the press.
The leadership awards that LCR gave to Sessions and Cornyn are named for Barry Goldwater, who had no problem speaking his mind in support of gay rights. This action is a blight upon his good name, especially considering that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was sitting right there at that very dinner. She was a founding member and remains the only Republican member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, where she serves as a vice-chair. She cosponsored the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act; she was the lead cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; she is a sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act; she actively supports repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and she voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Plus, she didn’t use the Republican Caucus meeting as an excuse to skip the dinner despite being the senior Republican woman in the caucus. She was honored with the Spirit of Lincoln Award, but if anyone deserves a leadership award named for Barry Goldwater, it’s her. Not the cowards who couldn’t be seen accepting it six weeks before the election.
Update: Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade caught up with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen after the LCR dinner:
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told the Blade following her remarks at the National Log Cabin Republicans annual dinner in D.C. that she doesn’t know what will happen with pro-LGBT legislation as she took a dig at the current Democratic majority for not moving forward.
“I don’t know what will happen with Republicans,” she said. “I know what’s happening now. I don’t really get an opportunity to get to vote on those [bills] very often on the floor.”
Asked whether she thinks pro-LGBT legislation would advance in a Republican-controlled House, Ros-Lehtinen replied, “The Democrats are in control. I don’t know that they’ve gone forward. … I guess you should ask [U.S. House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi why they haven’t gone forward.”
Republicans are expected to gain control of the House in this year’s mid-term elections.
Pete Sessions To Duck LCR Dinner
September 22nd, 2010
Roll Call reports that Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) will not make it to tonight’s Log Cabin Republicans dinner after all, saying that he needs to attend a House Republican Caucus meeting instead. Sessions’ home town paper The Dallas Voice finds that explanation “convenient.” They also note that Sessions’ spokesperson, Emily Davis, “mysteriously became unavailable after we identified ourselves as being from the gay paper, and she hasn’t gotten back to us.”
Sessions was to be honored by the gay Republican group with the Barry Goldwater Award, despite holding positions on gay rights that were at odds with those of the late Senator who was popularly known as “Mister Conservative.” Since he will be a no-show, does he still get the award? Because if so, that would be a neat trick. He would get an award from a gay rights group without the embarrassment of having a photo taken of him shaking hands with a gay rights advocate six weeks before an election.
Log Cabin Republicans To Award Sen. Cornyn for Inspiring Pro-Gay Web Site
September 20th, 2010
The Log Cabin Republicans have announced a slate of awardsthat they plan on handing out at their National Dinner on Wednesday. Among those to be honored is Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), for providing inspiration for the name of Box Turtle Bulletin.
Okay, not quite. LCR will award him the Barry Goldwater Award “which recognizes leaders in the Republican Party who have served their nation with distinction in the model of the late Senator Barry Goldwater.” Sen. Goldwater, who was famoulsy supportive of his gay grandson, famously denounced the 1993 “Don’t ASk, Don’t Tell” policy, saying “You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.” Cornyn, on the other hand, is famously un-Goldwaterlike in his opposition to overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Sharing Goldwater Award with Cornin will be Representative Pete Sessions (R-Dallas), Chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee. He holds a similarly un-Goldwaterlike position on DADT. “I think it’s a slap in the face to the members of the military to be driven down a road that is driven by a political agenda from the left in this country rather than a wise policy,” he said on the House Floor last May.
The Senate will conduct an important cloture vote tomorrow on the Defense Appropriations Bill, which contains language which would begin the process of repealing DADT. Sen. Cornyn will almost certainly vote against cloture. He and Sessions will then receive their awards on Wednesday. Sen. Goldwater will roll over in his grave shortly afterwords.