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Posts for October, 2012

Log Cabin met with Mitt about ENDA

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

October 24th, 2012

In the ping-pong story about Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement of Mitt Romney, the Washington Blade is now reporting the following:

A meeting that took place at a Virginia farmhouse between officials from Log Cabin Republicans and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney included a discussion about workplace non-discrimination, but attendees who spoke to the Washington Blade wouldn’t enumerate any commitments made by Romney.

R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s executive director, said workplace non-discrimination protections were the focus of the meeting, which took place Oct. 17 at Greenwood Farm in Leesburg, Va., which was a precursor the organization’s endorsement of the candidate announced on Tuesday.

In addition to Clark Cooper and Mitt Romney, the meeting included gay former U.S. House Rep. Jim Kolbe and Log Cabin staffer Casey Pick and a Romney staffer. As to the specific of agreement on non-discrimination, the LCR head was close lipped.

“I can say with confidence that the Romney administration would work on desirable outcomes for workplace non-discrimination,” Cooper said. “I’m going to leave it broad like that because I think there’s room for administrative action as well as legislative. I also think it’s probably fair to say that legislation in a form of an ENDA or an ENDA-like legislation is certainly realistic.”

While that is quite vague, it does appear that on some issues certain commitments were made.

While shying away from making any firm commitments on workplace protections, Cooper said Romney was firm deciding not to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal or hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples, which the Obama administration already mandated for hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds.

So it would appear that, as has been their pattern, LCR brokered their endorsement for concessions and agreement on specific issues. I simply don’t know enough detail to determine whether I consider the results of the meeting to be adequate or that an endorsement was the appropriate response. But, I think that it is now clear that they did not blindly endorse out of pure partisan loyalty.

As this election is but a week away, and as there is no certainty that President Obama will be reelected, I am glad that Log Cabin has established and maintained a relationship with the Republican nominee. Should Romney win, we will need them.

The Meeting That Led to LCR’s Endorsement

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2012

It’s beginning to sound more like a spy thriller. Picture this: a furtive fifteen-minute meeting last week at a park in Loudoun County, Virginia between a presidential candidate and a member of the Republican National Committee’s finance committee to talk about how to make the presidential candidate more likable among gay voters. One way to do that, of course, is if a certain gay Republican group, which that finance committee member just happens to helm, were to endorse that presidential candidate, even though that candidate’s positions are the same positions which prevented a previous sitting president from earning that same endorsement. This meeting went like this:

During the meeting, Cooper said Romney was “very interested” in talking about different state laws on workplace discrimination for LGBT people. A total of 21 states have laws barring job discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people; 16 states and D.C. protect all LGBT people from job bias.

“He is aware that there is a kind of patchwork or quilt of states that don’t, and that inequity was something of discussion,” Cooper said. “Some states have it, and some states don’t and this is where it gets confusing and problematic from an administrative standpoint as well.”

Cooper said he impressed upon Romney that ENDA would be consistent with his goals for economic stimulus and job growth because many major businesses have non-discrimination policies in place and discrimination may be preventing LGBT Americans from entering the workforce.

Asked if there was any portion of the current version of the legislation to which Romney objected, Cooper said Romney didn’t express concern about any particular language and did not object to protecting people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Former Rep. Jim Kolbe, who was also present, talked about Romney’s “personal view of opposing workplace discrimination.” And when Kolbe  talked about his inability to sponsor his foreign national partner for residency, Romney nodded  “but offered no further response.” So on substance, all we have are a lot of descriptions of what Romney did not say, which is pretty remarkable from a man who is known to say a lot of things which have the effect of changing his positions more often than I change my socks. (I can usually go a full day in the same pair.) And get this: Cooper then told The Blade, “That was the most substantive meeting that we had with them.”

So what have we learned? We learned that a fifteen-minute nonsubstantive meeting between an RNC finance committee member and his presidential candidate, complete with head-nods and knowing glances, is the basis for LCR’s endorsement. That pretty much sums up the whole sorry episode. All that’s missing are secret handshakes.

LCR: No Deal On ENDA (Updated)

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2012

Ben Adler at The Nation wrote earlier today that the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Gov. Mitt Romney for President in exchange for a Romney’s support for ENDA — or at least a nod that Romney would support ENDA without saying publicly that he would support ENDA so that he doesn’t piss off his ultra-conservative supporters. Now Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed has the insta-flop to the mini-flip:

The head of Log Cabin Republicans Tuesday night denied reports that his organization’s late endorsement of Mitt Romney came as part of a secret deal in which the Republican presidential candidate agreed to sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Cooper acknowledged that he “discussed legislative vehicles and executive actions with Romney regarding workplace non-discrimination, including ENDA.” But he insisted the endorsement did not come in response to a Romney campaign pledge to sign ENDA — noting, “I did not say Romney would sign the current form of ENDA.”

I gotta say, the more I learn about this, the angrier I get. We’re supposed to believe that there was some kind of vague understanding aof a hint of a promise — or no, maybe not a promise; maybe just an understanding — from a candidate who has had absolutely no compunction about changing his stand depending on who happens to be standing in front of him at the time. And that, as flimsy as it is, is enough for Log Cabin Republicans to endorse a candidate whose policies for the LGBT community are no better than a previous sitting president who they declined to support in 2004?

Look, I get that Log Cabin Republicans are, well, Republicans, and I absolutely appreciate the difficult role that they play in advocating on behalf of gay Republicans in a party that, broadly speaking, would rather not have them around. But when they withheld their support for Bush in 2004, LCR demonstrated that there were limits to how far they would be pushed around. And when they endorsed McCain in 2008, they explicitly referred to their principled stand in 2004 to applaud McCain for opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment. In 2012, LCR abandoned those principles when they endorsed Romney with nothing in return. Nothing, except some gossamer-thin suggestion that somebody on his staff might have said something kinda positive, depending on you you look at it, and depending on what time of the day it is. So what LCR ends up doing is they are rewarding a candidate whose policies will directly and adversely effect the very constituency that LCR claims to represent. And pretend that this is some kind of victory. That’s not advocacy. That’s a sell-out.

Update: By the way, from a year ago:

The Republican National Committee has named a prominent gay Republican to its finance committee, marking an important fundraising outreach effort to a constituency long ceded by the party.

R. Clarke Cooper, who is executive director of the gay group Log Cabin Republicans, will help the RNC’s fundraising efforts for the 2012 cycle. Cooper is one of the first openly gay members of the party to serve in such a prominent role, and his appointment is a signal that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is willing to reach out to communities that have traditionally been neglected by the party.

“I am honored to be a part of the Republican National Committee’s effort to advance a pro-growth, pro-free enterprise agenda, especially while working to elect and reelect pro-equality Republicans to office all across the country,” Cooper said in a statement. “Chairman Priebus has demonstrated that he believes inclusion wins and that our party is strongest when we reach every community. I look forward to working within the party to help ensure we are victorious next [sic] November.”

Stroke a few egos, invite someone on a prestegious board, and suddenly the LCR is endorsing someone they never would have endorsed eight years ago. The LCR now has its constituencies crossed. It is not an advocacy group on behalf of LGBT Republicans. It is an advocacy group on behalf of the Republican Party to LGBT Republicans.

Did Romey Promise to Pass ENDA to Secure LCR Support?

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2012

Ben Adler at The Nation went digging:

I called LCR’s executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, to find out.

Romney’s greatest asset as a politician is his total lack of integrity, honesty or consistency. He is perfectly willing to go before the religious right one day and pledge fealty to them, and the Log Cabin Republicans the next day to do the same. And, apparently, that is what he has done, in private. Cooper asserted repeatedly that, “with a President Romney we’re confident we can work with him [on ENDA].” But when asked why, Cooper offered only reasons that Romney should work with them: that discrimination is a form of economic inefficiency and impediment to job growth. But you could make the same argument to any president. The question is what Romney has said that gives them such confidence. Cooper says, “Romney been clear in his opposition to workplace discrimination.” As I’ve written before, Romney has spoken of his personal preference not to practice discrimination, but he has not actually publicly called for outlawing workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Cooper said he would e-mail me Romney quotes I may have missed that do call for such legislation, but as of this writing he had not done so.

As I continued to press this point, Cooper blurted out, “Have you met with Romney’s domestic policy team?” And therein lies the answer to how Romney secured LCR’s endorsement. His advisers have privately assured LCR that Romney supports ENDA, even though he so fears the wrath of the religious right that he will not adopt this position in public.

Log Cabin’s disappointing endorsement

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

October 23rd, 2012

Log Cabin Republicans has endorsed Mitt Romney for president. While it is a “qualified endorsement”, I’m not certain that it is either deserved or wise.

I share the organization’s frustrations with President Obama. The economic condition of our nation is lamentable and the president’s policies do not align with what I believe to be sound economic theory or principled fiscal responsibility. I do not share his views about the international role of our nation and his priorities are not my own. The three debates have left me convinced that he has no solution and will, at best, be a placeholder until someone better and wiser can be elected.

But LCR did not issue a “not Obama” endorsement. They have endorsed Mitt Romney. And while he is no Rick Santorum, he has not impressed me as a man of vision and firm principles.

LCR rightly notes that Romney’s pledge and pander to the National Organization for Marriage is no indication that if elected Romney would push for a federal marriage amendment. Nor would he seek to reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

But Mitt Romney likely would instruct the Justice Department to defend DOMA (should it still be in the courts) and would reverse a number of policy positions that impact gay federal employees. And these decisions would not only be harmful to LGBT Americans, they would harm the nation. They would continue the divisive and destructive culture war and diminish our standing in the world.

There is within Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement statement one sentence that gives me hope; they state that the endorsement is not free.

While “not free” can mean most anything, within this organization’s history it has been a literal term. LCR has negotiated with campaign’s in previous years to move the Republican Party outside its comfort zone: policy positions, speakers at the national convention, campaign language. These have been trades that have been of substantial substance and required clearance at the highest level.

So it is possible that LCR has negotiated with the candidate for something beneficial to our community. It’s late in the game, so I can’t imagine what could be the issue – and I may never know. So this is for me little more than a vague hope to give small comfort to a disappointment.

The text of the endorsement:

Log Cabin Republicans Endorse Mitt Romney for President


We Are Americans First

Presidential endorsements are serious business. The decision to say, “we stake our name and our reputation” on a candidate’s worthiness for the nation’s highest office says as much about an organization’s principles as it does the candidate.

As the only Republican organization dedicated to representing the interests of LGBT Americans and their allies, Log Cabin Republicans work within the GOP to make the conservative case for pro-equality policies and legislation. Since Log Cabin’s founding in the late 1970s, we have believed in a simple idea: building a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party requires Republicans reaching out to Republicans.

The freedom to work without fear of discrimination, the freedom to serve in our nation’s military, and the freedom to marry are all issues of vital importance. As we considered our endorsement decision, we did not degrade these issues as irrelevant, nor did we overlook the harm that is done to the Republican brand when our standard-bearers appear to be caught up in an outdated culture war.

But as we condemn the aspects of the GOP platform which work to exclude our families, we are still able to cheer the vision for America which was presented in Tampa, where success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity.
We believe that President Obama has broken his promises to our country. Rather than focusing on job creation, he pushed through an extremely partisan, expensive and intrusive healthcare bill, presided over a United States credit downgrade, and has made no credible attempt to cut spending as our national debt has topped $16 trillion. Our nation is in a financial crisis, and we are in desperate need of a change in course.

If LGBT issues are a voter’s highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter’s choice. However, Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing multifaceted individuals with diverse priorities. Having closely reviewed the candidate’s history and observed the campaign, we believe Governor Romney will make cutting spending and job creation his priorities, and, as his record as Governor of Massachusetts suggests, will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans.

We are confident that there will be no retreat from the significant gains we’ve made in recent years, most importantly on repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” With regard to the LGBT issue most likely to reach the president’s desk and most vital to many in our community today – workplace nondiscrimination – we are persuaded that we can work with a Romney administration to achieve a desirable outcome. And for those people who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann. Otherwise, our decision would have been different.
After long consideration, weighing input from our members and chapters, and dialogue with the Mitt Romney campaign and the candidate, the National Board of Directors of the Log Cabin Republicans have elected to issue a qualified endorsement for Governor Romney for president.

Significance of a Qualified Endorsement

The qualified nature of this endorsement means that Log Cabin Republicans will be most active in our support for House and Senate candidates. Our membership base and network of chapters nationwide will be actively supporting our allies in Congress as part of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Operation Rolling Surge” deployment program.

Our greatest efforts will be directed at electing pro-equality leaders like Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the first Republican to cosponsor the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act; members of the House LGBT Equality Caucus like Representatives Nan Hayworth and Richard Hanna of New York; and staunchly pro-equality challengers like Linda McMahon of Connecticut and our very own Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, who will become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. While many of our members will also be working hard on behalf of Governor Romney, growing the pro-equality Republican presence in the House and Senate is our highest electoral priority this year.

Regarding the governor’s signature on the National Organization for Marriage pledge during the Republican primaries
From the day Governor Romney signed this pledge, Log Cabin has been outspoken in our opposition to this exercise in an outdated politics of division. Even with this endorsement, we will continue to voice our disagreement with any call for a constitutional amendment federalizing a definition of marriage that excludes LGBT families.

However, 2012 is not 2004. The Federal Marriage Amendment has been voted on twice, and each time has failed with bipartisan opposition. Marriage equality is now the law in six states and the District of Columbia, and polls consistently show a slim but growing majority of Americans supporting the freedom to marry. Even among Republicans, support for the freedom to marry is growing. Particularly in today’s economic climate, there is simply no appetite to pass or even seriously consider any such amendment.

While even the suggestion of enshrining discrimination in our nation’s most precious document is deeply offensive, there is a significant difference between a valid threat and an empty promise made to a vocal but shrinking constituency. In our judgment, the NOM pledge is ultimately merely symbolic and thus should not be the basis of a decision to withhold an endorsement from an otherwise qualified candidate, particularly given the gravity of the economic and national security issues currently at stake.

Conclusion

There has been discussion about whether we, as members of Log Cabin Republicans, are LGBT first or Republican first. Ultimately, we believe the answer is neither. We are Americans first, and as such, must stand for what we believe is right for our country.

Our endorsement of Mitt Romney is not free. We commit, here and now, that we will work with the party as we are able, and challenge the party as it is necessary, to ensure that it lives up to its highest ideals of limited government and individual freedom.The Log Cabin Republicans motto is “inclusion wins.” If LGBT Americans are serious about winning equality for all, rather than merely playing politics, Republicans must be part of the team.

“Uncle Toms” Endorses Romney

A Commentary

Jim Burroway

October 23rd, 2012

Over the weekend, it looked like Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign might have cracked the door open a tiny bit on marriage equality when senior campaign advisor Pat Buchanan said that Romney “very much supports traditional marriage, but he’s also a very strong advocate for the Tenth Amendment. It’s a state issue.” That seemed to signal a move toward a more moderate position, one in conflict with Romney’s previously stated support for the Federal Marriage Amendment which would have the effect of overriding the Tenth Amendment when it comes to marriage equality. Chris Geidner noticed that late Saturday afternoon and wondered if this signaled a change in Romney’s position on the FMA. His post was up at Buzzfeed for all of an hour before he updated it to reflect a clarification by campaign advisor Bay Buchanan:

“Governor Romney supports a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children. I referred to the Tenth Amendment only when speaking about these kinds of benefits – not marriage.”

And so it is against that backdrop that this email landed in my inbox this morning:

LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper

After careful consideration and consultation with our members and chapters, as well as communication with Mitt Romney and his campaign team, the National Board of Directors of the Log Cabin Republicans has elected to endorse Governor Romney for president.

The decision to endorse is the right one for our members, our community, and for the nation as a whole,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, R. Clarke Cooper. “Despite our disagreement with Governor Romney on the issue of marriage, on balance it is clear that in today’s economic climate, concern for the future of our country must be the highest priority. We are Republicans, and we agree with Governor Romney’s vision for America in which success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity. On issues of particular concern to the LGBT community, we believe Governor Romney will move the ball forward compared to past Republican presidents. No matter who is in the White House, it is crucial our community always has a credible voice speaking out on behalf of LGBT Americans. Log Cabin Republicans will be that voice to President Mitt Romney.”

A bit of history is instructive. In 2000, members of the gay community met with then-Gov. George W. Bush, who didn’t make any specific promises but pledged to listen to our concerns. As governor of Texas, he had built a reputation for working across party lines (it would only be as President that he would take the “my way or the highway” approach to governing) and so those gay Republican leaders came away from that meeting taking Bush at his word. The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed him in 2000.

But in 2004, when Bush was campaigning in support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Log Cabin Republicans stood on principle and refused to endorse him, specifically calling out Bush’s support for FMA in their announcement. Instead of an endorsement, they left it to individual members to decide on their own how and whether they wanted to support Bush’s re-election. That stand was not without cost; a small Republican-above-all-else faction within LCR broke away to form GOPRound, and that group has been hobnobbing with the likes of Ann Coulter ever since.

In 2008, LCR pointed to Sen. John McCain’s vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment as part of their justification for endorsing him against then-Sen. Barack Obama. LCR ignored McCain’s support for California’s Prop 8 and Arizona’s Prop 102, but with his opposition to the FMA, it appeared that LCR’s principled stand in 2004 was intact.

But with this endorsement, whatever principles that LCR might have had have now been shattered into a million little pieces. “We Are Americans First,” proclaims the LCR email this morning in an insulting headline that tells us that gay couples who want to marry and build a family are lesser Americans than others.

NOM’s pledge (Click to enlarge)

While it is unlikely that a Federal Marriage Amendment will make it out of Congress anytime soon, it is a certainty that a Romney Justice Department will relieve the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Committee of its $1.5 million-and-rising chore of defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. Romney signed the National Organization for Marriage’s five-point pledge, point three of which was to “defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court” and the fifth point was to work to roll back the District of Columbia’s marriage equality law. Romney is also running on what is arguably the most overtly homophobic Republican Party platform in history, a platform that LCR had already embarrassed themselves when they tried to whitewash it in their press release.

What makes the LCR’s move so craven is that there is a very good possibility that Section 3 of DOMA might be declared unconstitutional within the next year, and a similarly good possibility that almost a third of Americans will live in a state that grants marriage equality. This year might effectively be the FMA’s last gasp as a rallying cry, just as the repeal of DADT is now largely conceded to be a done deal.  There is a possibility that 2012 might be the last year in which they would have had to take what would have been seen by future Republicans as both a principled and prescient stand for the American families that they claim to represent. Instead, LCR sold those families out for a pat on the head and little else, revealing them as the partisan hacks they truly are.

Nearly two months ago, Rep. Barney Frank stirred a hornet’s nest when he called LCR “Uncle Toms.” That’s a serious charge, one that caused a lot of consternation within the gay community. We can still argue over whether that is a fair characterization, but that argument now is overshadowed by this endorsement which will go down as a shameful moment for LCR. Truly shameful. But hey, maybe Ann Coulter can now be their new bestest friend forever.

Beyond Barney Frank

Timothy Kincaid

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

Jim Burroway

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…

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Jim Burroway

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.

Marriage

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.

There’s more:

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

Timothy Kincaid

August 13th, 2012

This is a rather exciting year for firsts, when it comes to party platforms.

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”?

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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.

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