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Posts for November, 2012

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote:
David Wiggins:
Yes (retain): 54% 
No: 46%
83% reporting.

NOM is having a very bad night. A historically bad night. I’m going to bed now and I will sleep very, very soundly.

1:39 EST: President Obama is now giving his victory speech. And with that, I’m going to sign off for the night. I will provide an update with the latest results again tomorrow morning.

1:30 EST: Here is a rundown of all of the LGBT-related races I’ve been following:

BALLOT MEASURES:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.2% √
No: 45.8%
58.1% reporting.

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.2% 
No: 48.1%
96.8% reporting.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 49.2.5%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 49.2%
67.4% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.8.9%
No: 48.2%
49.9% reporting.

SENATE RACE:

Wisconsin:
Tammy Baldwin (D, openly lesbian): 51.2%
Tommy Thompson (R): 46.2.%
86.8% reporting.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

Arizona:
Kyrsten Sinema (D, openly bi): 47.4%
Vernon Parker (R): 46.3%
86% reporting.

California:
Mark Takano (D, openly gay): 54.4%
John Tavaglione (R): 45.6%
13% reporting.

Colorado:
Jared Polis (D, openly gay): 54.6%
Kevin Lundberg (R): 40.4%
45.3% reporting.

Massachusetts:
Richard Tisei (R, openly gay): 47.1%
John Tierney (D) 48.4%
98.3% reporting.

New York:
Sean Patrick Maloney (D, openly gay): 51.7%
Nan Hayworth (R): 48.3%
96.7% reporting.

Rhode Island:
David Cicilline (D, openly gay): 53.1%
Brendan Dohert (R): 40.7%
97.0% reporting

Wisconsin:
Mark Pocan (D, openly gay): 67.4%
Chad Lee (R): 32.6%
90.5% reporting.

12:55 EST: Gov. Mitt Romney is now giving a very classy consession speech, congratulating President Obama for his win.

12:50 EST: Here is a rundown of the ballot measures addressing same-sex marriage. Voters in two states have approved marriage equality. Voters in Washington are on their way to approving marriage equality, and Minnesota voters look poised to turn down a proposal to write a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. After voters in 30 states have written marriage equality bans into their state constitutions, we now have a remarkable turnaround in 2012. Remember this day.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54% 
No: 46%
51% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52% 
No: 48%
93% Reporting

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 48.5%
Blanks: 3.7%
Yes: 47.9%
53% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52%
No: 48%
50% reporting.

12:40 EST: Tammy Baldwin has now given her victory speech. With 79% reporting, she has defeated Gov. Tommy Thompson 51-47%, making her the first openly gay Senator in American history.

12:38 EST: Now I’m ready to call Maryland’s Question 6 a win for equality! With 92% reporting, Question 6 has passed 1,126,598 to 1,050,179 (52-48%) Maryland voters have joined those in Maine to approve marriage equality at the ballot box. I don’t know about you, but this really feels like a truly historic turning point.

12:30 EST: Colorado has now gone to Obama, bringing his lead to 290-201. There’s a lot of talk about whether Ohio was prematurely declared, but even if Ohio went red, this would still be Obama’s victory. An ugly one, especially if he doesn’t win the popular vote, but it is a win.

12:28 EST: Another gay congressman is headed to Washington. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) has defeated Rep. Nan Hayworth (R), 52%-48%.

12:15 EST: Believe it or not, Politico has had the results swapped between Question 6 and the “Illegal immigrant tuition” question all night long. For the love of god!!!  Question 6 is up, but only 52-48%, way too early to call.

12:00 EST: With 44.1% reporting in Maine, Question 1 is projected to win!

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.4%
No: 45.6%
44.1% Reporting

11:45 EST: With 81% reporting in Maryland, Question 6 is projected to win!

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
81% Reporting

11:31 EST: Remember James Hartline?

I took my Bible with me today and proudly honored God with my decisions. I refused to vote for the demonized Mormon Cultist Mitt Romney or Obama. Instead, like nearly two million other voters, I marked other and wrote in Jesus.

11:30 EST: Has Tammy Baldwin won her Senate race? Reuters called it, but right now with 53% reporting, she is only up 49-48%. She may yet win, but it looks like a lot of folks might have jumped the gun a bit.

11:23 EST: CNN has given Ohio to Obama. President Barack Obama, the most pro-gay president in American history, has been re-elected.

11:05 EST: A slew of new projections has put Obama on top 243-191. Ohio continues to lean toward Romney, but CNN is now mapping out multiple possibilities for Obama to win even without Ohio.

Here are the state marriage ballot measures. All of them are still looking good so far.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 53%
No: 47%
30% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
55% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 52%
Blanks: 3.8%
Yes: 45%
19% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:55 EST: Obama is now tied with Romney, 172-172. Ohio is leaning toward Obama, and FLorida and Virginia are very nearly tied so far. It’s going to be a long night.

10:35 EST: Great news so far in the three states with marriage on the ballot that are reporting:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 55%
No: 45%
16% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 60%
No: 40%
41% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 57%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 42%
7% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:25 EST. In Rhode Island, it looks like openly gay Rep. David Cicilline has defeated Republican challenger Brendan Doherty. With 82% reporting, Cicilline is ahead 50-44%.

In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is trailing in his question to become the first openly gay Republican congressman. Rep. John Tierney is leading 49-47% with 58% reporting.

10:15 EST: We can celebrate Tammy Baldwin’s win now. Fox News is projecting that she will be the new fabulously openly lesbian Senator from Wisconsin. History is made!

Question 1 in Maine is now tightening. With 11% reporting, it is now up 53-47%.

10:00 EST: Mitt Romney has won his home state of Utah. But he lost New Hampshire

With 7% reporting, Question 1 is passing in Maine, 55-45%.

With 23% reporting, Question 6 is passing in Maryland, 61-39%.

With only 3% reporting, Amendment 1 is trailing in Minnesota. 61-38%, with about 1.5% of the ballots blank for the proposed amendment. Blank ballots are will be counted as no votes.

9:45 EST: CNN Projects Elizabeth Warren (D) has unseated Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts, and JOe Donnelly (D) has defeated Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana. God’s will, you know. These are both pick-ups for Dems.

9:42 EST: NBC and Fox have given Wisconsin to Obama. CNN has finally given Pennsylvania to Obama also.

9:35 EST: The Associated Press has declared Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) the winner in her Senate race against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), making Baldwin the first openly gay Senator in U.S. history. Oops, take that back. The AP has NOT called for Baldwin.

9:20 EST: Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama. I’ll take it.

9:15 EST: Vote counts for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1 are excruciatingly slow. With 3% counted in Maine, Question 1 is trailing 4,253-5,362. In Maryland, Question 6 is passing 192,860-157,767 with only 1% of the vote counted. Obviously with vote tallies this low, it’s way to early to see any trends.

9:00 EST: Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Last polls close in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas. And with it, a whole slew of new projecitons, mostly lining up with expectations. So far, it looks like the red states are going heavily red, while the blue states are slower to come in. Right now, Romney is up 152-123.

CNN says that the Republicans will hold on to the House. Obama is getting a lot of grief for not campaigning in key House races on behalf of Democratic candidates.

8:50 EST: Alabama is red. Romney is up 82-64.

People are still in line in Florida and Virginia, even as polls have officially closed. Those who are in line will get to vote. Twitter hashtag #stayinline is now trending upward. It sure would have been nice if someone had mentioned to Florida and Virginia election officials that they were supposed to be ready for an election today.

8:30 EST: Polls just closed in Arkansas, which CNN has called for Romney. CNN has also called Tennessee as well, putting Romney ahead 73-64.

So far, only about 1% of the results are in for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1, which means that there aren’t enough results to talk about yet.

8:25 EST: In the Senate races, it looks like the Angus King, the independent candidate for Maine’s Senator to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is headed to Washington. He hasn’t said which party he will caucus with, but most observers expect that he will caucus with the Dems. Another possible pickup for the Dems might be Joe Donnelly, who is leading Richard Mourdock by 50-44% with 30% of the votes counted. Mourdock, you may recall, got in trouble during the debate when he said that when a child is born as a result of rape, it’s God’s will.

8:16 EST: Georgia now goes to Romney, bringing the EC count to 64-56 for Obama.

8:00 EST: Polls have now closed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

CNN has called a Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for Obama, and Oklahoma for Romney. This puts Obama up 64-40 in the Electoral College, with Maine splitting its vote 3-1 for Obama. (Nebraska is the only other state that is not winner-take-all in the Electoral College.)

Virginia officially closed but:

Polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. ET, but with long lines at polling places around the state — and those in line still able to vote — the state is delaying counting votes so as not to unduly influence those still waiting in line. Smart move.

7:43 EST: CNN has now called South Carolina and West Virginia for Romney. Not much of a surprise. It’s now Romney, 33-3 in the electoral count.

Polls close in Maryland and Maine at 8:00. Hopefully we’ll start to get an early look at the marriage ballot measures in those states soon after.

7:30 EST: Polls have now closed in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. CNN’s exit poll has Obama up by 3 in Ohio and tied in North Carolina.

7:19 EST: CNN has called Kentucky for Romney, and Vermont for Obama, which means that Romney leads the electoral college count 8-3. And we’re off!

7:00 EST: Polls have closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. First results will probably begin within the half hour. Here are the races I’ll be watching, in addition to the presidential election and any others you think I should keep an eye out for.

Consider the comments thread for this post an open thread, which I’ll be watching for whatever tips you have. And jokes. We may need some jokes. Or videos of cute kittens. Whatever you got. You can also email them by hitting the Contact Us link on the sidebar.

The case for Romney

Timothy Kincaid

November 5th, 2012

There aren’t many good reasons for a gay person to vote for Mitt Romney this year. But anti-gay activist* Maggie Gallagher presents his best case, such as it is. She, of course, doesn’t see it as such: (National Review)

Meanwhile the GOP elites’ tactical decision to ignore social issues totally is not helping. The major Romney super PACs are “truce” PACs, refusing to run any social-issue ads at all — except the one saying Romney actually supports abortion in some cases. Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina — these are all states where, if voters learned how extreme President Obama is on abortion and gay marriage, it would help Romney.

Social conservatives are absent from this election. Their money isn’t being used in any visible way to organize voters. If Romney loses, this will be part of the reason why.

If Romney wins — and I think he will — look for an intense effort to finally push social issues out of the party.

I guess that would be the silver lining to hope for. Or, at least, a ‘lighter shade of gray’ lining

* There was a time when I would have held off on calling Maggie an anti-gay activist. But her rhetoric has, in the past few years, broadened from being opposed to equality due to her concerns about its feared consequences to comments that can only be seen as expressing contempt for, or superiority over, gay people. And NOM has veered into blatant homophobia and gay baiting. It’s about a half-step from being a hate group.

Romney’s Most Consistent Position Ever

A commentary

Jim Burroway

October 29th, 2012

Video of Gov. Mitt Romney speaking to an audience of conservative Repblicans in South Carolina is now making the rounds in which he exclaims, “Some gays are actually having children.” This speech is part of a pivotal moment in political life of the Massachusetts governor when, in 2005, Romney embarked on a year which The Wall Street Journal called a year of key policy shifts in anticipation for a possible presidential run.

This video is recirculating after last week’s Boston Globe’s account of how Romney’s lawyers reviewed each and every birth certificate issued to a child of same-sex couples, and the September revelation of Romney’s distinctly unempathetic meeting in 2004 with Massachusetts gay activists, including Julie Goodridge who had successfully sued to be allowed to marry. That’s the meeting where Goodridge asked Gov. Romney what she should tell her eight-year-old about why her parents couldn’t marry, and he responded, “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.” After looking at all that, The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky observed:

For a guy who has flip-flopped on every topic under the sun, there is one issue on which Mitt Romney has been remarkably constant over the years. If gay people give you the heebie-jeebies, Mitt’s your man. He’s been as constant as the northern star.

But even Romney’s most consistent mpossitions has as its inception a moment of inconsistency. When he tried to unseat Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994, he claimed that he’d be “better than Ted for gay rights.” But that was almost two decades ago, and he was speaking to the Boston-based LGBT newspaper Bay Windows. And we all know about his habit of telling the audience in front of him what they want to hear at the very moment they are in front of him. That is the only thing that’s really consistent about him. Except, of course, when that audience happens to include Julie Goodridge.

Boston Globe: Romney Blocked Birth Certificates for Gay Parents

Jim Burroway

October 25th, 2012

It seemed like a minor adjustment. To comply with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in 2003, the state Registry of Vital Records and Statistics said it needed to revise its birth certificate forms for babies born to same-sex couples. The box for “father” would be relabeled “father or second parent,” reflecting the new law.

But to then-Governor Mitt Romney, who opposed child-rearing by gay couples, the proposal symbolized unacceptable changes in traditional family structures.He rejected the Registry of Vital Records plan and insisted that his top legal staff individually review the circumstances of every birth to same-sex parents. Only after winning approval from Romney’s lawyers could hospital officials and town clerks across the state be permitted to cross out by hand the word “father” on individual birth certificates, and then write in “second parent,” in ink.

This is particularly creepy: Romney ordering his lawyers to personally review each and every birth of a child to same-sex parents to figure out whether that child deserve to have its birth certificate state who its actual parents are:

Most of the birth-certificate reviews by the governor’s office appeared cursory. For example, health department deputy counsel Wiesenberg e-mailed Brian Leske and Nielsen on Dec. 23, 2004, to ask permission to issue a certificate regarding one birth: “Birth at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Facts (married mother, same sex spouse, anonymous donor) are similar to 23 other cases that Mark has reviewed … [and] instruct[ed] the hospital to list mother & same sex spouse as the second parent on the child’s birth certificate.”

Leske e-mailed back: “You are authorized to inform the Medical Center that may list the same sex spouse as a second parent on the birth certificate.” In one instance, in which a couple asked that the handwritten alteration for the second parent say “wife” instead of second parent, the request was denied. In another, Leske refused to allow a birth certificate to be issued listing a same-sex couple as the parents because they were not married.

LCR’s Pick responds

Timothy Kincaid

October 24th, 2012

Log Cabin staffer Casey Pick responds to the, ummm, colorful comments directed towards that organization and attempts to portray Romney in a less hostile light.

I knew what we were in for when Log Cabin Republicans made the decision to issue a qualified endorsement in favor of Mitt Romney for president. Congressman Barney Frank gave us a taste of it this summer, turning abusing gay Republicans into his personal crusade since the Democratic National Convention, with many liberals eager to take up his battle cry of “Uncle Tom.”

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been called a “Jew for Hitler” since the announcement, and certain “gay rights activists” have gone so far as to threaten physical violence if a Log Cabin Republican dares to show his or her face at a gay bar this weekend. We’ve even heard rumors of a bounty.

As too often happens, the bullied have become bullies themselves. The irony is that many of these same individuals often demand to know how Log Cabin Republicans can stand to be part of a political party that “hates” us.

Thankfully, there are also many in our community who, though they may disagree with our position, do recognize that bipartisan effort is necessary to winning equality for all. No matter who is in the White House, it is crucial that 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.

But while we considered many factors in our deliberations, the response from our critics was not one of them. Simply by being LGBT Republicans, there are some people we know we will never please -– no matter how many GOP voteswe secured to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or how strong of a stand we take for the freedom to marry.

Our priorities were to represent our membership, further our mission of building a more inclusive Republican Party, and above all, stand for what we believe is in our nation’s best interests. We are proud Republicans, and we are proudly pro-equality, but we are proud to be Americans first. Especially after the economic crisis of the last four years, it is our firm conviction that the United States is in dire need of new leadership, leadership that Governor Romney is well suited to provide.

Observing the onslaught of hostility, it is apparent that too many in the LGBT community are laboring under a misperception of who Governor Romney is. As we said in our endorsement statement, Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum.

Mitt Romney is the candidate who, when asked in a primary debate last year, “when’s the last time you stood up and spoke out for increasing gay rights?” answered, “right now.”

Mitt Romney is the candidate who, as a moderate governor of Massachusetts, appointed several openly gay individuals as judges and said “he has not paid a moment’s notice to his nominees’ … sexual orientation.”

Mitt Romney is the candidate who has campaigned on his record as a successful businessman and problem-solver, and whose aversion to running on social issues leaves antigay leaders like Maggie Gallagher frothing with frustration: “gay marriage should be helping put Romney in the White House. Instead, in his consultant-tested messaging, Romney is conveying discomfort with his own position,” she recently wrote.

Contrary to the irresponsible claims of certain activists, Governor Romney has no intention of reinstating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or stopping same-sex partners from being able to visit their loved ones in the hospital. Far from a fire-breathing ideologue, Governor Romney is somebody we can work with to improve the lives of LGBT Americans, including on the vital issue of workplace discrimination. And beyond specifically LGBT concerns, Governor Romney has a plan to restart our economy and put America back to work -– something that will benefit us all.

We know this to be true because Log Cabin Republicans know Mitt Romney. We’ve spoken to the man, and worked with his campaign to make this endorsement something more than just a press release, something based on the promise of actual, tangible results if the governor is elected. In response to our endorsement, a campaign spokesperson said, “Gov. Romney is pleased to have the support of the Log Cabin Republicans and looks forward to working together for the future of our country.” That is hardly the reaction of an avowed homophobe.

Governor Romney is not perfect — we know that, and the qualified nature of our endorsement reflects that reality. On the issue of marriage equality, his stated position is offensive to us both as LGBT people and as conservatives who value our nation’s Constitution.

But Log Cabin Republicans believe we should never make the perfect the enemy of the good. We encourage all Americans, especially members of the LGBT community, to get beyond the caricatures, the memes, and the myths. Before you call us crazy –- or worse — take a moment to try and see what we see. It may surprise you.

I’ve tried, Casey, and I’m sorry but I just don’t see your vision of this candidate. I’m truly glad you have a relationship with him, and I think I understand why you endorsed him, but the risks on DOMA and a Justice Department that would oppose my civil rights rather than see them as obvious are just too big a hurdle for me.

And, though you probably won’t agree, I think that four more years of a government that is hostile to business and which sees moving people from the private sector to the public sector as an economic solution just might be a fair punishment to those businesses who have empowered the radical fringe and held gay people hostage. Corporate America sold out to religious extremists and now they have to deal with the fact that this position makes my support impossible.

It’s very simple. If Romney wants my vote, he needs stop courting the vote of those who work tirelessly to keep me inferior.

[Note: Casey Pick's name was originally incorrectly written as Chris Pick]

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.

Baptist Post on differences between Romney and Obama on equality

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2012

The Baptist Post has identified what it considers to be substantial differences between the two candidates when it comes to equality. While I’m sure their audience has a different response to the article, I thank them for providing such a clear distinction.

When future historians write about the 21st-century debate over gay marriage, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will be featured prominently.

Romney was governor of Massachusetts when the state’s highest court issued its first-in-the-nation decision legalizing gay marriage, and he not only fought to have the ruling overturned but also supported an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Obama voted against that federal marriage amendment as a U.S. senator, and once he was president he became the first sitting U.S. president to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and also to endorse gay marriage.

While I very much doubt that Mitt Romney will garner more than a footnote in future historians’ discussion about equality, the article does list a number of differences and is worth reading as a reminder of how the two candidates view your citizenship, your rights, and your humanity.

Romney appealing to base voters

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2012

According to BuzzFeed, Mitt Romney’s campaign has adopted a new strategy: cease appealing to undecided voters about economic issues, focus on firing up “the base”, and pray that President Obama’s supporters don’t show up at the polls.

Three Romney advisers told BuzzFeed the campaign’s top priority now is to rally conservative Republicans, in hopes that they’ll show up on Election Day, and drag their less politically-engaged friends with them. The earliest, ambiguous signal of this turn toward the party’s right was the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate, a top Romney aide said.

“This is going to be a base election, and we need them to come out to vote,” the aide said, explaining the pick.

And as the issues “the base” cares about, social issues, can be best sold in hyperbolic claims about “them” (liberals, homosexualists, Muslim, anyone that “the base” may not have much familiarity with), it’s going to get ugly. Mitt will be out there promising to protect religious freedom, the sanctity of marriage, and the life of the unborn.

Of course it ain’t gunna happen; he doesn’t have the political capital. But much of the base is too stupid to realize that they’ve heard this over and over since Reagan without accomplishing any of their goals, so they’ll be there to support the guy who’s talking the talk. If they can get over the fact that he’s a “cult member” and not a real Christian. And they forget everything he’s been saying since he started his political career.

But as a political move, this may be his only hope. He’s behind in electoral vote counting and there are really only a couple of choices: state his case, hope for a miracle, and lose with whatever is left of his personal integrity; or adopt the absurd, hope for a stroke of really good luck, and hope no one notices that he hasn’t any integrity at all.

I don’t think anyone’s surprised at his choice.

“He Completely Lacks Empathy”: Massachusetts Gay Advocates Recall Meeting Gov. Romney

Jim Burroway

September 12th, 2012

The Boston Spirit, the LGBT-centric blog for The Boston Globe,  has a post which has also appeared in The Boston Spirit magazine in which Scott Kearnan spoke with two plaintiffs in Goodridge v Dept. of Public Health, the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case which opened the way for same-sex marriages in that state. After the court victory, Julie Goodridge and several other plaintifs had a meeting with Gov. Mitt Romney, who at that time was looking for a way to  keep the Goodridge decision from taking full effect:

For about 20 frustrating minutes, say those in attendance who Boston Spirit interviewed recently, they shared their stories, pled their case, and tried to explain how equal marriage would protect them and their families. Romney sat stone-faced and almost entirely silent.

“Is there anything else?” Romney asked when they finished. With that, the meeting was over.

David Wilson, one of the plaintiffs who was at the meeting, recalled that occasionally Romney would say something, like one offhand remark: “I didn’t know you had families.” Goodridge also recalled:

“I looked him in the eye as we were leaving,” recalls Goodridge. “And I said, ‘Governor Romney, tell me — what would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?’”

His response, according to Goodridge: “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”

Romney’s retort enraged a speechless Goodridge; he didn’t care, and by referring to her biological daughter as “adopted,” it was clear he hadn’t even been listening. By the time she was back in the hallway, she was reduced to tears.

“I really kind of lost it,” says Goodridge. “I’ve never stood before someone who had no capacity for empathy. It went behind flat affect. It was a complete lack of ability or motivation to understand other people.”

The article also talks about events leading to Romney’s decision to kill the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, his defunding of the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, his attempts to obstruct an anti-bullying guide, and his interactions with Massachusetts gay Republicans and government employees. His literal and figural dismissal of gay people has a long history, going all the way back to his high school days.

Next President Ryan

A Commentary

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2012
YouTube Preview Image

Calling Dr. Freud. In this morning’s rollout of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney introduced Ryan as “the “next president of the United States” instead of as the next vice-president. After Ryan appeared on the stage erected in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin — after all of the music, applause, and general fanfare died down — and just as Ryan was about to launch into his speech, Romney approached the microphone and said, “Every now and then, I’m known to make a mistake” to more laughter from the crowd.

Romney then said that he didn’t make a mistake in picking Ryan. Pundits will be debating that point over the next several months. As a caveat, I’ll remind you of my biases — I’m a Democrat and an Obama supporter (in case that somehow escaped your notice, although I have been critical of the President’s timidity at times) — and so I doubt that my saying that this is a mistake on Romney’s part will persuade many folks. But I do think that a look at the evidence is in order.

The Human Rights Campaign rates Rep. Ryan a “zero” on its scorecard, although I do think there’s room to argue  whether the HRC’s criteria are all that informative on the bigger issues. They certainly don’t help in drawing distinctions between Ryan and Romney — or Obama and Biden — since the HRC only rates representatives and senators. Romney, for his part, has a few silver linings on LGBT issues if you look hard enough, but sometimes you have to squint to see them. He says he doesn’t want to reimpose “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (although he says that repealing it was a mistake), he opposes marriage equality (and supports a federal marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage) but he had said that he supported civil unions (that was before he dumbed it down to, essentially, hospital visitation rights and couple of other bones). And, oh yeah, he kinda sorta thinks Boy Scouts should allow gay kids to sign up.

Ryan’s positions appear to be even more to the right on these issues than Romney. In 2006, he supported Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment which banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions. He voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. He voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act five years ago, but he’s withdrawn his support since then.

I don’t know Ryans position on gay Boy Scouts. But that looks like our last hope for a possible pro-gay position. I’m not optimistic.

And this, I think, is just one example which strengthens the argument that Romney’s choice for a running mate is a mistake. Romney is down by a significant number of percentage points in just about every poll out there, and the gap has only been widening in many of the swing states. Conventional wisdom holds that the election is going to come down to those who are still undecided — which means that it comes down to those who think Romney and Obama both are similarly good (or similarly bad) candidates. Ideologues and true believers have picked sides long ago, and now it’s down to those who find things about both candidates that they like. You know, moderates.

Which is why it was presumed that Romney was going to have to find some way to appeal to those moderates, either by moving toward the center or by filing down some of the sharp edges from those points that scare moderates off. It’s why Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rob Portman (R-OH) were seen as having the inside track. They both represented swing states, and they both represented constituencies that were not solidly in Romney’s camps.

But when you look at it, Ryan also represents a constituency that is not solidly in Romney’s camp as well: tea partiers, a group that is increasingly seen in a negative light among moderate voters. They’ve never trusted Romney, and they remain a rebellious, restive constituency.  Ryan is their darling, and they’ll pick Ryan over Romney any day. And that appears to be the calculation that Romney’s making. But if he was going to make a play for moderates, this is not the pick he should have made. Tea partiers are famous for their disdain of moderates.

But here’s the thing that I find even more interesting. Ryan’s claim to fame is his very detailed budget proposals, which are solidly aligned with the tea party line. Romney’s campaign has been built almost entirely on not being specific about much of anything. He’s worked hard at perfect opacity on as many  issues as he can get away with. Ryan’s budget proposals, on the other hand, are filled with some very frightening specifics. The debate will now shift to Ryan’s policy proposals and not Romney’s, largely because it’s often hard to figure out what Romney’s policy proposals really are. It’s not at all difficult to figure out Ryan’s.

Romney’s gaffe today in introducing Ryan as the next president will undoubtedly generate a lot of laughs. But I suspect that it will serve as a fitting metaphor for where the campaign is headed. It’s no longer the Romney campaign. It’s the Ryan-Romney campaign. And that’s what makes Romney’s selection a huge mistake.

The Song Remains The Same

Jim Burroway

May 14th, 2012

Flip:

“I know many gay couples that are able to adopt children. That’s fine. But my preference is that we … continue to define marriage as the relationship between a man and a woman”

Flop:

On Friday,he was asked, in an interview with CBS affiliate WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., how his opposition to gay marriage “squared” with his support for gay adoptions. Romney told anchor Paul Cameron, “Well, actually I think all states but one allow gay adoption, so that’s a position which has been decided by most of the state legislatures, including the one in my state some time ago. So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one.”

The video of that interview is here. This kind of reminds me of when I was in college and there was a group called the Romantics who had a hit with “What I Like About You.” Another Romantics tune had the line, “I hear the secrets that you keep when you’re talking in your sleep.” I came home from college one weekend and had my seven-year-old brother in the car with me when the song came on the radio and he began to sing along. “I hear the secrets that you keep when you’re talking to your sheep.” I corrected him, we laughed, and he kept right on singing.

I think this is as good an explanation for Romney’s constant flip-flops as anything. He’s singing the songs that he knows his audience wants to hear, but sometimes he gets the words wrong. He also has trouble pulling them off in a way that his audience finds convincing. Sort of like that fifth-tier Vegas lounge singer with the gig at the Airport Rodeway who gamely takes on every song that’s popular regardless of whether it’s a good stylistic fit for him — it could be “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Straight Outa Compton” or the Star Wars Theme. It all depends on what he thinks his audience wants to hear.

And Romney, to his credit, has tried all of them. Back in 1994 when he ran a quixotic campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Kennedy, Romney sang that he’d be better on gay issues than Kennedy. I like to imagine that it came off sounding something like Donny Osmond-meets-Gloria Gaynor. But it was a good enough rendition that he left the local Log Cabin Republicans with the impression that he was more or less on their side. As Patrick Guerrero later recalled, “If you go down his list, (Romney’s support was) pretty much a check-off of the real hot-button concerns for gays and lesbians.” That included everything but marriage itself. “Just don’t use the M-word,” he reportedly said. He liked the idea of civil unions though, and he left the Log Cabiners with the impression that he supported them on other issues of gay equality.

That changed once Romney got into office and was confronted with the Massachussetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that opened the gates to same-sex marriage. He withdrew his reluctant support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage but allowed civil unions. Instead, he supported an alternate proposal that would have banned both marriage equality and civil unions altogether.

By 2005, when Romney looked out his window and decided that there was a larger world to conquer beyond the Charles River, he switched from a little bit rock and roll to a little bit country. That switch has proved somewhat acceptable to his new audience’s ears, despite its pained awkwardness. He may be singing “God, Family and Country,” but it comes off more like a John Tesh cover than the original. Most of his audience would clearly prefer the original, but over the past few months they’ve decided to settle for the cover and pretend that it’s just as good.

This latest flip-flop is a pretty good example of that. The right barely reacted to his Thursday statement that he was “fine” with gays adopting. I think it’s because they saw that as a flubbed throw-away line in a song whose chorus was about gay marriage. It was only those among us who were actually paying attention to the lyrics who thought we might have heard something new. We made a big deal over it, but his supporters appear to have largely not noticed. And as it turns out, his audience, who knew the song by heart, knew better after all.

Yeah, sometimes he flubs the lyrics. That mattered when there were others trying out for the same Republican Idol position. But now that the contest is over, they’re not paying such close attention to his lyrics now. As long as he’s singing to their tune, it’ll be good enough. But if he strays too far from the songbook, they will definitely let him know it.

Romney Talks Marriage at Liberty U, With a Shout-Out to Rick Santorum

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2012

Gov. Mitt Romney gave a shout-out to Sen. Rick Santorum during today’s commencement address at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA:

The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention.  For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%.  But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.  Culture matters.

As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate.  So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage.  Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

Those were just two of Romney’s applause lines today, the second one earning him an standing-O. By the way, when I typed that last sentence, I miss-typed “applause” and my spellcheck suggested changing it to “appease.” My iMac may be trying to insert its own commentary into this post, but I think it’s not as smart as it thinks it is. Not if the AFA’s Bryan Fischer is any indication:

Bryan Fischer: "Mitt's speech at Liberty: did not hurt him with evangelicals, did not help him. Needle didn't budge."

GOP Pollster: Time To Evolve

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2012

Jan van Lohuizen is a Republican pollster who worked on President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign. He is also the GOP’s Daniel reading the writing on the wall when he sent memo out yesterday to Republican operatives with an overview of poll numbers on marriage equality and suggestions on how the GOP should address same-sex marriage if it wants to stay relevant. You can read the entire memo here.

Van Lohuizan notes that through 2009, the uptick in support for same-sex marriage was at a rate of about 1% per year. Beginning in 2010, there was a noticeable elbow in the curve, with support for marriage equality increasing by approximately 5% per year on average. And while that support is greater among Democrats and Independents than Republicans, support is growing in GOP ranks as well, with a majority of registered Republicans supporting a growing list of protections for gays and lesbians.

Van Lohuizan has a come up with a list of talking points which he thinks that Republican candidates ought to adopt if they want to stay relevant, beginning with:

“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”

This is somewhat similar to Gov. Mitt Romney’s talking points following President Barack Obama’s announcement that he supports full marriage equality. The main difference is that Romney reiterates his opposition both to marriage equality and to civil unions which would approximate marriage equality. Van Loguizan’s suggested talking points addresses neither. But he does explain to the GOP under the guise of another talking point why the party is going to have to change it’s approach to gay people sooner rather than later:

“As more people have become aware of friends and family members who are gay, attitudes have begun to shift at an accelerated pace. This is not about a generational shift in attitudes, this is about people changing their thinking as they recognize their friends and family members who are gay or lesbian.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Santorum has some very different advice for Romney. Santorum told an Arknsas television station that Romney needed to “tep up and take advantage of a president who is very much out of touch with the values of America.”:

“Hopefully Governor Romney will continue to stand tall for his position on this issue and understand how detrimental it would be for society for it to have this changed,” Santorum also told the Arkansas station.

“Governor Romney has to talk about his values,” he added. “That’s the most important thing.”

AFA’s Bryan Fischer expands on that advice here.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 12

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2012

Well, There Were Those Rumors About Perry…

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2012

The Hill:

An adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign defended the candidate’s “kind impulses” on Friday, pointing to his treatment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry during recent GOP debates as proof.

I really hate to use an overworked cliché of saying they just don’t get it, but it looks to me that they don’t even care what the issue is all about. Except that it somehow looks bad. The problem is they’re making it worse:

“The real question here is is Mitt Romney a bully? And the answer is no,” (Romney advisor Kerry Healy) said. “Mitt Romney is absolutely, as his other friend from high school said, he doesn’t have a vicious bone in his body.”

Friend, singular. As opposed to seven who have come forward to talk about the assault.

A “Pack of Dogs”

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2012

Another eyewitness to Gov. Mitt Romney’s scissors assault has come forward:

“It’s a haunting memory.  I think it was for everybody that spoke up about it…  because when you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye you never forget it.  And that was what we all walked away with,” said Phillip Maxwell, who is now an attorney and still considers Romney an old friend.

“I saw it with my own eyes,” said Maxwell, of the anecdote first reported by the Washington Post.  Maxwell said Romney held the scissors helping to cut the hair of a student, John Lauber, who was presumed to be gay and who had long hair. “It was a hack job… clumps of hair taken off.”

Maxwell said he held the boy’s arm and leg, describing he and his friends as a “pack of dogs.”

…“When I saw the look on his (Lauber’s) face,  it was a look I’ll never forget,” said Maxwell. “When you see a victim, the sense of trust betrayed in this boy who was perfectly innocent for being different.”

“This was bullying supreme,” he said.

I gotta say, Romney must have been a real douchebag in high school for so many of his fellow classmates to be so willing to come forward to describe what happened nearly five decades later. These memories are indelible to them, and yet we’re supposed to believe that Romney doesn’t remember?

As for whether Lauber was assaulted because he was gay:

Maxwell said, “We didn’t know that word in  those days… but there were other words that were used. We weren’t ignorant, we just didn’t use the current names for things.”

The shame is not so much that an eighteen-year-old kid in 1965 organized a “pack of dogs” to go after Lauber. There is shame in that, even then, but the shame now is that a 65 year old grown man running for president would laugh it off — and yes, he laughed when he claimed he didn’t remember pinning a student down and cutting his hair with scissors.

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