Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for July, 2011

Ninth Circuit lifts stay on Log Cabin’s DADT victory. Policy unenforceable immediately

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Click here to read the red of Barr’s eloquent and thought provoking speech

GOP State Sen.: Why Not Civil Liberties For Everyone?

Jim Burroway

April 30th, 2011

Maryland State Sen. Allan H. Kittleman

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.”

Fred Karger

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

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2011

Fireworks ensued.

YouTube Preview Image

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Jim Burroway

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2010

How convenient:

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.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

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

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2010

Pete SessionsRoll 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

Jim Burroway

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.

LCR asks for immediate injunction on DADT

Timothy Kincaid

September 16th, 2010

From AP

Lawyers for the Log Cabin Republicans say their proposal filed Thursday in the Riverside, Calif., court asks Judge Virginia A. Phillips to impose a worldwide injunction on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The government has a week to respond.

This puts the Obama Administration in a very awkward position.

UPDATE: From the LA Times:

Log Cabin Republicans attorney Dan Woods, from the White & Case law firm in Los Angeles, said leaders of the organization have been invited to discuss the case with members of the Obama administration in the next few days.

New Times profiles Matt Salmon, the gay one

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2010

What happens when the sons of two prominent conservative Republican Mormon families meet? Why, they become a cute couple, of course.

The Phoenix New Times has an extensive profile on Matt R. Salmon, son of former Arizona state senator, gubernatorial candidate, and U.S. congressman Matt J. Salmon and his boyfriend Kent Flake.

They’ve been a couple for 10 months, and things haven’t gotten much easier with their families. Flake says he hasn’t had a real conversation with his father since March and hasn’t visited his family in Snowflake since a quick day trip in June. His family has no interest in meeting Salmon.

“I’ve asked them many times to meet him, and they don’t want to see him,” Flake says. “My dad’s last comment to me was that he didn’t want him around our family, his kids, or his grandkids.”

When Flake started dating Salmon, he says, his sister called Salmon a “fag” and a “pedophile.” Flake’s sister, Trisha Rogers, tells New Times, “A lot of things were said in the beginning that caused contention. It’s really important to me that people know there’s no hatred there. It was just such a shock, because Kent seemed to change so quickly. He was different from the brother I knew for 25 years. We felt like we’d lost our brother, in a sense, and Matt got some of the blame.”

A few thoughts on LCR v. US

Timothy Kincaid

September 10th, 2010

Ari Ezra Waldman, writing at Towelroad, has an excellent assessment of Log Cabin Republicans v. US, the court case in which the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was found unconstitutional. He answers some common questions and helps one understand the legal complexities of the law.

In addition, I have a few observations about the case and the decision.

1. Had this case been one brought by an individual, it might have become one of specific circumstances. In other words, a win in court might have been so narrow as to only apply to that one individual (as was the case in Witt v. the Air Force). But because this was an organization suing on behalf of members, the case became one of the constitutionality of the law, rather than the application for an individual.

Further, Log Cabin Republicans may be uniquely ideal for bringing the case.

Often gay organizations are perceived (often correctly) as being part of a progressive ideology which is generally hostile to military action, military service, and military life. However, as an organization that has long supported “a strong national defense”, the Justice Department could not suggest that the plaintiffs were disingenuous or hypocritical and there are no anti-military statements out there which could be brought up in court.

The two gay serviceperson’s organizations also could have sued and probably had less challenge to their standing. But in the court of public opinion, Log Cabin Republicans may have a greater ability to appear principled and less like an angry ex-employee. Further, LCR is more immune to accusations of being far-left anti-military activists due to their name alone.

2. The finding of violation of the 5th Amendment is particularly important. This is a continuance of the recent trend to find gay people to be a unique class of people, as opposed to just a behavior. As gay people continue to be a class, any efforts to enact laws which restrict the equality, freedom, or rights of gay people will be held to scrutiny and, as they all are based in animus, tossed out.

This is key to our freedom. If we are just a bunch of folks who whimsically decide to engage in some behavior, then such a decision can be punished without being in violation of the constitution. But as gay people are recognized as individuals sharing a common immutable trait, then such laws are held to higher and higher standards and such animus becomes not only legally but socially unacceptable.

Utah GOP selects Log Cabin leader as candidate

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2010

To run for State Senate in Utah, you need to file certain disclosures by a deadline. If you do not, you are disqualified and the state party can pick a new candidate. (Pride in Utah)

The time limit expired last night on Ben McAdams’ Republican opponent Nancy Davis to file her disclosures and she was forced out of the race. In these unlikely circumstances, the Republican Party is allowed to nominate their own candidate to automatically run without going through the delegate system. You won’t believe who they picked.

Of all people… Melvin Nimer, the President of the Utah Log Cabin Republicans and board member of the Utah Pride Center.

Ben McAdams, the Mormon Democrat currently holding the office, is supportive of the community and a reliable ally. His predecessor in the 2nd District was gay.

It’s difficult to know just what prompted the Republican Party to pick a gay candidate. Perhaps they figure that a gay man has a better chance in the district, and they like winning more than they oppose gay rights. Or perhaps it was pure tokenism, tossing an impossible seat to the gay guy; yet this is a token that Utah Republicans have not traditionally considered.

Regardless of the reason, this is very unexpected and very welcome.

Newer Posts | Older Posts