Posts Tagged As: Republicans

House GOP Caucus Heard “Homosexuals Worthy Of Death” Verse Before Spending Bill Vote

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

I mentioned this earlier, but Roll Call has just come out with more details:

Georgia Rep. Rick W. Allen led the opening prayer by reading from Romans 1:18-32, and Revelations 22:18-19. An aide to Allen told CQ that Allen did not mention the upcoming vote on the Energy-Water spending bill or an amendment it included from Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York that would prevent federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Passages in the verses refer to homosexuality and the penalty for homosexual behavior. “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet,” reads Romans 1:27, which Allen read, according to his office.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” read lines 28-32, which Allen also read, according to his office.

The night before, the full House — with the help of 43 Republicans — approved an amendment offered by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) Malone to restore President Obama’s LGBT non-discrimnation Executive Order. The order is threatened by a clause inserted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) into a VA spending bill passed by the House last week that would overturn it.

Following the prayer/sermon/caucus meeting this morning, 130 of the 246 House Republicans– well more than half the caucus — defeated the energy spending bill, with many of those voting against it citing specifically citing Maloney’s amendment. When Maloney heard about the GOP conference prayer/sermon, he declared, “To suggest that protecting people from being fired because of who they are means eternal damnation, then I think they are starting to show their true colors.”

Only 106 Republicans joined six Democrats to support the bill. Democratic opposition centered around a another amendment added to the spending bill after Maloney’s amendment was approved that would prevent the Obama administration from reducing Title IX and other funding to North Carolina over that state’s discriminatory anti-trans legislation. Exchanging one form of discrimination for another made the prospect of voting for the larger spending bill anathema to all but six Democrats.

What Went Wrong Today: Same As Before, But With A Twist

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

Emmarie Huetteman at the New York Times has an interesting analysis of what went wrong today when House Republicans derailed their own spending bill due to the inclusion of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-NY) amendment restoring Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to provide anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That Executive Order is threatened by a clause inserted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) into a VA spending bill passed by the House last week that would overturn it. After Maloney’s amendment to the Energy spending bill restoring Obama’s order was approved late yesterday, the House turned around and voted down the entire bill today.

So what happened?

During the revolt that drove out Speaker John A. Boehner last fall, Republicans demanded a more rule-abiding House, where members would be allowed to introduce amendments and there would be votes on appropriations bills. (House Speaker Paul Ryan), so dedicated to procedure that in January he cut off a key vote to rebuke tardy lawmakers, agreed.

Now, with bipartisan majorities forming around amendments like anti-discrimination legislation for gay men and lesbians, some House Republicans are having second thoughts.

…After the amendment’s passage, several Republicans told Mr. Ryan during a private meeting Thursday that they were not so keen on regular order, as the process of parliamentary rule-following is called, after all, according to members present.

Mr. Ryan said the collapse was to be expected. When he agreed to more amendments, he said, he understood “that some bills might fail, because we’re not going to tightly control the process and predetermine the outcome of everything around here. Well, that’s what happened here today.”

It might be tempting to say that the Tea Party wing of the GOP was hoisted on its own petard, but in the end it’s hard to know exactly whose petard got hoisted. Ryan blamed the Democrats for the bill’s failure. Only six voted for the measure. But the thing is, 130 Republicans — more than half of the GOP caucus, joined the Democrats to defeat the bill, against only 106 Republicans supporting it. That same infighting is also why House Republicans haven’t been able to produce a budget this year. So House Republicans continue to demonstrate their ongoing inability to govern their own caucus, let alone the House.

Ryan’s ascendency to the Speakership was supposed to usher in a new era, with the House getting things done and following the rules. The past two weeks have demonstrated that this new era, lasting not quite five months, now lies in shambles. In the end, the new era — the new ways of doing things — fell victim to the same forces that brought down the old era under Boehner. So how do they fix that? Well, it looks like there’s even more  talk today about dropping “regular order” and going back to the way things were done when Boehner was Speaker. We know how that worked out.

Updated: The House May Have Passed the LGBT Amendment, But They Defeated The Larger Bill

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

The House rejected a appropriations bill for the Energy Department, Army Corps of Engineers, Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation and several other commissions. The huge $37.4 billion spending bill went down 112-305. Dems lined up against the measure, citing such poison pill provisions as amendment targeting the Iran nuclear deal and prohibiting the Obama administration from revoking Title IX funds previously appropriated for North Carolina and Mississippi over those states’ anti-trans bathroom bills. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) was among those voting against the bill:

Ultimately, though, Maloney said he voted ‘no’ on the Energy-Water bill, which included his LGBT anti-discrimination amendment. He pointed to a subsequent amendment by Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C.,   which prohibits the Obama administration from blocking North Carolina from receiving federal funds in retaliation to its transgender bathroom law. That measure was adopted 227-192.

“I wasn’t about to support the Pittenger amendment … having fought all week to get workplace protections,” Maloney said. “We won the vote last night. That’s an important victory. It shows there is a majority in the House that supports work place protection.”

Update:  Politico adds this bit of inside baseball:

Some GOP lawmakers were furious over Rep. Rick Allen’s (R-Ga.) comments on the LGBT issue at a GOP Conference meeting prior to the vote.

Allen read a passage from the Bible and questioned whether members would violate their religious principles if they supported the bill.

But moderate Republicans were stunned by Allen’s remarks, and some walked out of the meeting in protest, according to GOP lawmakers.

“A good number of members were furious,” said one Republican, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “There was some Scripture that was read and the like … Nothing good was going to happen to those that supported [the LGBT provision.] A good number of members were furious.”

An amendment offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) added a line saying that Maloney’s provision, which restored Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to provide anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, would not conflict with “the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution.” The hope was that this caveat would reassure more conservative members of the caucus. But this morning, those conservatives informed leadership that they would not support the appropriations bill with Maloney’s amendment attached. Those conservatives said that GOP leadership never should have allowed Maloney’s amendment to be vote on in the first place. Meanwhile, Democrats also abandoned the bill over the Title IX amendment and other provisions targeting climate change science and withholding federal funds from “sanctuary cities.”

House Finally Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Measure

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

Remember that amendment that Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) tried to attach to veterans spending bill last week that would uphold President Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to maintain anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity? Remember that he tried to attach that amendment because Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) had inserted a provision that would have overturned Obama’s Executive Order? And remember how House GOP leaders went through extra lengths — even going so far as to openly break their own House rules to do it — to see Maloney’s amendment defeated?

Well, the House has approved Maloney’s measure as an amendment to an Energy Department appropriations bill. The vote was 223-195 late Wednesday night. Forty-three Republicans joined all voting Democrats to support the amendment. According to The Hill:

Republicans were more prepared this time for Maloney’s amendment since it was clear ahead of time that it would come up for a vote. Last week’s vote, meanwhile, came with little warning, which resulted in GOP leaders partaking in the last-minute arm-twisting.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) offered a counter-amendment so that Maloney’s proposal would be modified by stating that no funds could be used in contravention of the LGBT executive order except as “required by the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution.”

“Does anyone in this chamber seriously oppose Article I of the constitution, the First Amendment, or the 14th Amendment?” Pitts asked.

Maloney allowed Pitts’s amendment to pass by voice vote, saying that he had no objection to simply stating adherence to the Constitution.

“What do you say we abide by the whole Constitution? The part that tries to make it more progressive, more inclusive of people like me, of people of color, of women, of people who were shut out when it was written. How about we include the whole Constitution? Can we do that?” Maloney said.

All seven Republicans who switched their vote last week wound up voting for Maloney’s amendment.

Earlier that evening, the House approved an amendment from Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) which prohibits the Obama administration from revoking Title IX funds previously appropriated for North Carolina over the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill.

The whole bill goes before the House on Thursday, and will need to be reconciled with the Senate version which does not include Maloney’s amendment.

House Dems Promise More LGBT Amendments, GOP Leaders Counter With Rule Change

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

These two stories go hand in hand. Here’s the first:

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

House Democrats will keep trying to force floor votes on the issue of LGBT nondiscrimination after an amendment they offered to a spending bill last week failed when Republicans switched their votes, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday.

“There will be” more amendments, the Maryland Democrat said. “We believe that our country is all about inclusion. We certainly differ from [Donald] Trump on that issue.”

Last week, House GOP leaders broke their own rules to orchestrate the defeat of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)’s amendment restoring President Barack Obama’s executive order requiring federal to maintain anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity. A clause overturning the order had been inserted into the 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK).

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had promised to return the House to regular order and to be a stickler about House rules and the vote clock.  but he was convientiently AWOL during these shenanigans. He also didn’t bother to criticize the rule-breaking, saying he knew nothing about what happened. And here is where the second story comes in: Ryan informed his caucus this morning that he’s going to tinker with a key rule that have been in place since the GOP took over the House five years ago:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Ryan laid out plans at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning to require that members submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides.

The change will not yet be in effect this week for a bill to fund the Energy Department and water infrastructure projects. But lawmakers would have to abide by the requirement, which before now was optional, starting with appropriations bills considered after the Memorial Day recess.

By requiring amendments to be made public in advance, GOP leaders would be able to anticipate difficult votes and figure out a strategy before the last minute. Specifics of the revamped process, such as the deadline for members to file their amendments, haven’t been determined by leadership yet.

… Top Republicans have touted the use of open rules as a return to “regular order” and a way to empower individual members. But it has backfired spectacularly on House Republicans twice in the last year.

The change affects appropriations bills only. On all other bills, the Speaker has discretion in determining which amendments will be considered from the floor.

Log Cabin Republicans Denounce Yesterdays Vote-Switching on Anti-Discrimination Provision

Jim Burroway

May 20th, 2016

Here’s their press release:

LCRLog Cabin Republicans has sent a letter to Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) demanding full accountability and a public explanation for the unprecedented and likely unparliamentary act yesterday that allowed a pro-LGBT amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fail.

“During an election year in which voters across the country are crying out because they feel our country’s political system is at best broken and at worst rigged, the sham on the floor of the United States House of Representatives yesterday spearheaded by Leader McCarthy played up everything wrong with congress today,” Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo stated. “Beyond overriding an executive order that existed under President George W. Bush, yesterday’s actions on the House floor defy the repeated promises of House Leadership to operate under regular order and with transparency. Log Cabin Republicans commends the 29 Republicans who refused to succumb to strong-arm tactics and voted for the amendment, and demands those congressmembers who perpetuated this fraudulence be held accountable.”

After House leadership broke their own House rules to orchestrate the defeat of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)’s amendment restoring President Barack Obama’s executive order requiring federal to maintain anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity, Democrats pounced on the seven vote-switchers, three of whom are in particularly vulnerable in tight races, and vowed to make their actions a campaign issue. LCR is also publicizing the those vote-switcher names. In case you missed it, they were Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR), Mimi Walters (R-CA), David Young (R-IA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), and David Valadao (R-CA).

Acrimony In Da House: Chaos As Republicans Defeat Anti-Discrimination Amendment

Jim Burroway

May 19th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 12.15.07 PM

When the 2016 Defense Authorization Bill hit the floor of the House today, it carried with it a provision attached by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) which would overturn President Obama’s executive order requiring federal contractors to maintain anti-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity.  Today, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced an amendment from the House floor to strike Russell’s provision from the bill. And that’s when

The Hill describes it succinctly:

The House floor devolved into chaos and shouting on Thursday as a measure to ensure protections for members of the LGBT community narrowly failed to pass after Republican leaders urged their members to change their votes.

Initially, it appeared Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-N.Y.) amendment had passed, as 217 “yes” votes piled up over 206 “no” votes when the clock ran out. The measure needed 213 votes to pass.

But it eventually failed on a 212-213 vote after a number of Republican lawmakers changed their votes from “yes” to “no” after the clock had expired.

GOP leaders held the vote open as they pressured members to change sides. Infuriating Democrats, they let lawmakers switch their votes without walking to the well at the front of the chamber.

The clock for the vote was set at two minutes. According to House procedures, after the clock expires, the lawmaker holding the gavel asks the House if any members want to change their votes. At that point, the electronic voting machines are switched off, and any vote-changing members go to the front of the chamber to switch their votes in person.

But in this case, when GOP leaders saw that Maloney’s amendment had passed when the clock ran out, the Speaker pro tempore never asked the question and the electronic voting machines were kept open as GOP leaders prowled for potential vote-switchers. After an additional five minutes and 37 seconds had passed, the vote was closed soon after the 213th “nay” vote was cast.

When Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) took over the as Speaker from Rep. John Boehner, he promised to return the House to regular order and to be a stickler about House rules and the vote clock. Today he feigned ignorance to reporters when asked whether his leadership team pressured seven Republicans to change their votes. But a senior House Republican leadership aide told CNN that all of the top GOP leaders were working to defeat Maloney’s amendment.

Ryan was not in the House chamber when the vote was taken. Democrats say it was Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who was the most visible actor in the campaign to flip votes.

Maloney emphasized that many Republicans held their ground and refused to switch sides. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) “was at the head of that list,” Maloney said.

“McCarthy went down and talked to him, and [Dent] told [McCarthy] to get lost,” Maloney said. “And McCarthy then went around and twisted everybody else’s arms, and it was disgraceful.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that craven and that ugly in my time in Congress,” Maloney added.

At one point, Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), who had inserted the pro-discrimnation clause in the first place, was heard prowling the Republican side of the aisle shouting, “Need two more votes!”

Maloney added that “easily a dozen” Republicans approached him on the floor “and expressed disgust for what happened today.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was similarly outraged over what he called the “cowardice” of those House members who switched their votes:

Hoyer alleged that the Republicans who changed their vote initially believed that the amendment would fail.

“Several Republican Members initially cast votes in favor of Rep. Maloney’s amendment but shamefully changed their votes after it was clear the amendment would pass, leading the amendment to fail by just a single vote,” Hoyer said in a Thursday afternoon statement. “Not only did they vote against equality and inclusion, but those who switched their votes did not even have the courage to do so openly in the well of the House. They did so quietly from the back benches, contrary to established practice that requires vote-switching to be done in person at the Clerk’s desk, and House Republican leaders held a two-minute vote open for nearly eight minutes.”

…Hoyer later revealed on Twitter the seven Republican members who changed their vote on the amendment: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA), Rep. David Young (R-IA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA).

Walden is chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign committee for House Republicans. Valadao, Young and Poliquin have been identified by the NRCC as vulnerable, and before this vote they were already marked by the NRCC for extra “special protection” campaign spending. Democrats are already pouncing on the possibility of making this a campaign issue in those and other competitive districts.

House Republicans Refuse to Remove Anti-LGBT Provisions From Defense Bill

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2016

The House Rules Committee yesterday refused to take up a bipartisan proposal bipartisan amendment introduced by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) which would remove anti-LGBT language from the 2017 Defense Authorization Bill. If that language remains in the bill, it would overturn President Barack Obama’s executive order requiring that federal contractors maintain anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The committee voted down the amendment 9-3 on strict party lines.

The original amendment overturning Obama’s executive order was inserted into the Defense Authorization Bill by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) when the House Armed Services Committee was marking up the legislation.

Rep. Steve Russel (R-OK)

Rep. Steve Russel (R-OK)

The amendment, introduced by freshman Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), would require the federal government when contracting with religious organizations to afford them exemptions consistent with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the American with Disabilities Act. Since neither of those laws prohibit anti-LGBT bias, the amendment would enable religious organizations doing business with the U.S. government to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Because the measure would have the force of law, it would overrule the executive order signed by President Obama in 2014 prohibiting contractors doing more than $10,000 a year in business with the U.S. government from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination against employees. The president included no religious exemption in his order, although he left in place a Bush-era exemption allowing religious organizations contracting with the U.S. government to favor co-religionists in hiring practices.

The amendment provides an exemption for “any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution or religious society” contracting with the U.S. government. All of those terms are undefined in the amendment, but the lack of definition for “religious corporation” could allow courts to construe the term broadly to any federal contractor — not just religious organizations — in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

The White House has said that it strongly objects to the anti-LGBT provision. It has previously threatened to veto the bill over objections to several other provisions in the legislation.

The Senate version of the bill does not contain the anti-LGBT provision. The next opportunity to remove it from the house committee would be during conference committee after both houses approve their respective versions of the bill.

Texas GOP Enters Race for the Most Hatin’-est Platform in the U.S.

Jim Burroway

May 15th, 2016

Texas Republican PartyThe Texas Republican Party just wrapped up its state convention after putting its finishing touches on the state party’s platform (PDF). And what a doozy it is, with not just one, but two, bathroom bill-type planks. Also, the GOP renewed its support for sexual orientation conversion therapy, an expansive so-called “religious freedom” bill, and a whole lot of other stuff besides.

The first call for a bathroom bill is filed under the heading of “Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health”:

Gender Identity- We urge the enactment of legislation addressing individuals’ use of bathrooms, showers and locker rooms that correspond with their biologically determined sex.

John Wright reports that this plank was approved by 90 percent of the delegates. Other anti-LGBT planks in that section touch on marriage, support for sexual orientation conversion therapy, and planks on adoption and sex education:

Family and Defense of Marriage- We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between one natural man and one natural woman.

▪ We support withholding jurisdiction from the federal courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage.

▪ We shall not recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse, including granting benefits by political subdivisions.

▪ We urge the legislature to rescind no-fault divorce laws and support covenant marriage.

Overturning Obergefell v. Hodges- We believe this decision, overturning the Texas law prohibiting same sex marriage in Texas, has no basis in the Constitution and should be reversed, returning jurisdiction over the definition of marriage to the states. The Governor and other elected officials of the state of Texas should assert our Tenth Amendment right and reject the Supreme Court ruling.

Homosexuality- Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We oppose the granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

Counseling and Therapy- No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to sexual orientation change efforts for self-motivated youth and adults.

Adoption- We support reducing the time, bureaucracy, and cost of adoption. We oppose mandates that deny mothers a choice in selecting a traditional home for their children. We oppose mandatory open adoption. We oppose any government agency from forcing faith-based adoption or foster care organizations to place children with same-sex couples.

Sex Education- We respect parental authority regarding sex education. We support the teaching of biology of reproduction and abstinence until marriage. We should prohibit entities and their affiliates that contradict our beliefs from conducting sex education and/or teacher training in public schools. We oppose all policies and curriculum that teach alternate lifestyles including homosexuality, transgender and other non-traditional lifestyles as normal.

The second bathroom-bill plank appears under the “Educating our Children” heading:

Facility Utilization- We support public school facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms and
showers being reserved for the use of students based on biological birth gender.

John Wright reports that this plank garnered the support of 93 percent of delegates.

The call for expansive so-called “religious freedom” legislation appears under “Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety”:

Safeguarding Religious Liberties- We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the 1st Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. … We also support vigorously protecting the rights of commercial establishments to refuse to provide any service or product that would infringe upon freedom of conscience of religious expression of the commercial establishments as stated in the 1st Amendment.

Freedom of Conscience- That legislation at the state and federal level be passed that concretely defines public accommodations as originally defined and understood in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that it prohibit any expansion of that legal definition by any federal, state or local law to expand government control to restrict any First Amendment rights; and to proscribe any law that requires any private business or individual to create or provide a custom product or service, or any kind of expressive work, or enter into a contract, or be coerced into any speech that is not their own.

And under “Strengthening the Economy,” there’s this odd entry:

Unnecessary Medical Procedures for Prisoners- We believe no extraordinary medical care such as sex-change operations, hormonal medications, or gender-altering therapies should be provided to prisoners at the expense of the taxpayers.

The rest of the platform is a veritable witches’ brew of conspiracy theories, theocracy and half-baked economic policies, including withdrawing from the World Bank, the W.T.O, the I.M.F. and the United Nations (and “the removal of the United States from United States soil” [sic]), as well as prohibiting the U.N. from levying taxes (because apparently, that’s a thing.) Also they support teaching Creationism, returning prayer and Bible study in the schools, the repeal of the Federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard, building Trump’s “high wall with a wide gate,” abolishing the Minimum Wage, and Benghazi!

On the other hand, they do support Uber, industrial hemp, and “improv(ing) the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to prescribed patients.” Because with a platform like this, it’ll take a whole lot more prescribed cannabis to make living in Texas bearable if they get their way.

McCarthy drops out of Speaker race

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2015

NBC is reporting a rather surprising turn of events in the race to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has abruptly pulled out of the race for Speaker of the House on the same day that he was widely expected to be nominated for the position.

The nominating contest in the GOP conference set for Thursday afternoon in the House has been postponed.

This is very not good for our community.

McCarthy is a conservative Republican and not an advocate for our equality. However, through his tenure as Majority Leader he has purposefully avoided social issues. His votes were against us, but he did not raise issues or go out of his way to support the more extreme measures of the far right.

The remaining candidate, on the other hand, is a nightmare.

Until today, the tea partiers had two candidates. The first, Jason Chaffetz should be well known to BTB readers. A California Jewish Democrat turned Utah Mormon Republican, Chaffetz has often led quixotic charges against the gay community. He was the frontman on the attack on marriage equality in Washington DC, seeking to impose a Federal override of the locally elected representatives. He wasn’t very successful.

He also isn’t very smart.

He is, however, dedicated to far right ideology and not afraid to let a little thing like constitutionality or the continuing functionality of government to stand in his way. As Speaker, Chaffetz would lead standoffs with the other branches of government, demand shutdowns, and advance bills that are consistent with his social agenda irrespective of whether they have support.

He would not just be bad for our community, he’d be bad for the country. And the Freedom Caucus (as the tea partiers have renamed themselves) apparently saw that and chose to have Daniel Webster, a rep from Florida, as their candidate.

I know less about Daniel Webster. He is, however, a far right conservative with strong religious ties to the more extreme end of evangelical Christianity. He is a fierce foe of equality and a supporter of a constitutional amendment to remove the rights of gay citizens.

Also, simply that he has been selected as the choice of those who see government as a means to put their theological doctrines into civil law should be enough to let us know that he’s not someone we want as Speaker of the House.

Webster is unlikely to be the first choice of establishment Republicans. He’s just too far out there.

So it’s difficult to predict what McCarthy’s move will mean.

It is possible that McCarthy is trying to shake up the party a bit and show them the possibility of one of the crazies being in charge so as to have them consolidate in support. Or he may be stepping aside to allow another establishment rep to come forward.

But if he’s clearing the road for Webster, it’s going to be an interesting, frustrating, and crazy year before the voters rush to the polls to remove the Republican majority next November.

Boehner resigns

Timothy Kincaid

September 25th, 2015

john boehner

John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has announced his resignation. (Tribune)

With Congress in turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly informed fellow Republicans on Friday that he would resign from Congress at the end of October, stepping aside in the face of hardline conservative opposition that threatens an institutional crisis.

Boehner has faced increasing criticism from the more conservative elements within the Republican Party caused by his reluctance to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding. Boehner is seen as the quintessential establishment Republican by the Tea Party elements and an impediment to their wild west style of politics.

A constant focus of conservatives’ complaints, Boehner was facing the threat of a floor vote on whether he could stay on as speaker, a formal challenge that hasn’t happened in over 100 years. That was being pushed by tea partyers convinced Boehner wasn’t fighting hard enough to strip Planned Parenthood of government funds, even though doing so risked a government shutdown next week.

“It’s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution,” Boehner told a news conference several hours after making the announcement to his rank and file. “There was never any doubt I could survive the vote, but I didn’t want my members to go through this, I didn’t want this institution to go through this.”

In all likelihood, Boehner could withstand a floor vote. But I suspect that to do so he would require not only the support of less extreme Republicans, but that of Democrats who have nothing to gain from Boehner’s replacement.

This resignation is not good news for our community. While the Speaker has been portrayed as The Enemy by many gay writers, in reality his language and tone have been civil and respectful and have signalled that one can be opposed to our objectives without engaging in hateful diatribe or invective.

Probably Boehner’s most notorious behavior was hiring and funding counsel to bolster the Defense of Marriage Act. But, as I said at the time, defense of a law by Congress is not an unreasonable action, irrespective of what one believes about that law.

And it should be noted that during the defense of DOMA, Boehner did not attack gay couples or wail about the sanctity of the time honored definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, choosing instead to say that “The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts.”

Interestingly, in the middle of the battle, federal bankruptcy judges in the Central District of California declared DOMA to be a violation of the US Constitution. Boehner decided not to appeal the decision as it was unlikely to be a vehicle through which the Supreme Court could rule on DOMA’s constitutionality in a broad sense.

Upon the Supreme Court ruling in Windsor that DOMA was a violation of the US Constitution, Boehner announced his disappointment but immediately ceased defense of any federal laws or measures that discriminated against same-sex couples. Nor did he or the House involve themselves in the Obergefell or other state marriage cases.

This is not to say that Boehner was an ally to the community nor that as Speaker he advanced our goals. That is not the case. Boehner supported DADT and continues to express his beliefs that marriage should be limited to heterosexuals.

But he has also not been a derisive opponent. And while he did not encourage the GOP to adopt equality, he expressed that the party should be inclusive of gay people and in the last election cycle he traveled to support gay Republican candidates – even though they disagreed with him about marriage and other issues.

It will be interesting to see who will replace the Speaker. Though it is possible that maverik moderates may refuse to vote for an extremist, it is more likely that the next Speaker of the House will be a Tea Party activist. And should that be the case, we may be subjected to a season in which the House of Representatives debates – or perhaps even supports – efforts to change the Constitution to institute bigotry. Almost certainly religious preference laws will be proposed so as to encourage and protect discrimination.

It’s likely to get nasty.

California GOP softens platform on gay issues

Timothy Kincaid

September 22nd, 2015

From the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

On Sunday September 20, the California Republican Party in a near-unanimous vote removed anti-gay communications from its platform and added language in support of the LGBT community.

The CA GOP’s platform continues to oppose marriage equality, but language about “special rights” and other trigger terms were removed. This follows the recent inclusion of Log Cabin Republicans as a recognized party organization and reflects the realization that anti-gay policies no longer have widespread support.

The state party also softened positions on immigration.

Last day for silly grandstanding on Obergefell

Timothy Kincaid

July 21st, 2015

Those organizations that are funded primarily due to their rantings about a homosexual agenda and how God is going to rain fire and brimstone down on America have been pushing a notion that is either baldly cynical or astonishingly naive. They have been trying to rally their listeners to call Mike DeWine, the Ohio Attorney General, and demand that he ask the Supreme Court to rehear Obergefell.

Their script goes something like this: DeWine requests a rehearing (which must be requested by today); Kagan and Ginsburg recuse themselves (cuz they HAVE to, you know); SCOTUS votes without the Kagan and Ginsburg; and we win, we win, we win!!!

There are a few problems with that scenario, of course. The court isn’t going to rehear Obergefell, Kagan and Ginsburg aren’t going to recuse themselves, and the anti-gays aren’t going to win, to win, to win!!! But, even more simply, DeWine isn’t going to request a rehearing.

Because he doesn’t want one.

On the day that SCOTUS handed down Obergefell, gays and lesbians were the happiest people in the nation. The second happiest were Republican politicians.

Because while there are candidates for office that will continue to scream about gay marriage so as to raise their profile among church goers and Fox watchers, saner GOP leaders can read polls. So they know well that this is an issue that is only going to hurt the identity of the party going forward. They are delighted that it is behind them.

GOP Prez contenders respond

Timothy Kincaid

June 26th, 2015

Most of the presumed presidential candidates have weighed in on the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling today. Without exception, the Democrats expressed their delight and support.

But the Republicans had a number of different responses. As I see them, they fall into these categories:

Whew, that’s over

Some of the saner GOP candidates rightly see this as a favor from the courts and a way to get past the need to appeal to homophobes for the nomination and to the rest of the country in the general election. Their responses consist primarily of statements of respect for the courts and a promise to move forward.

Chris Christie opposed “the way it’s been done

“I don’t agree with the way it’s been done, but I take an oath, and the same way I’ve supported and enforced the law here in New Jersey since our Supreme Court made their 7-0 decision on same-sex marriage, and I’ve supported and endorsed that law. I would have to do the same across the country,” Christie told reporters. “But I want to be clear — I don’t agree with the way it was done, but it’s been done, and those of us who take an oath have a responsibility to abide by that oath.”

He appears to be the only GOP candidate who forgot to remind everyone just how much he loves the one man and one woman marriage.

John Kasich is also moving on

“I do believe in the traditional sense of marriage — that marriage is between a man and a woman,” the Republican said during a Statehouse news conference with legislative leaders.

But, he added, “We’ll honor what the Supreme Court does — it’s the law of the land. It’s the way that America functions.”

Kasich was asked how the state would handle anti-gay discrimination arising from the ruling — such as a photographer refusing to work a same-sex wedding.

“Let’s not create problems where there frankly is none — or very little,” the governor replied.

But we gotta protect religious freedom

Some took the above position, but also threw out some red meat to the cultural conservatives by adding statements of support for traditional marriage and a promise to defend religious freedom. However, they also were careful to appeal to move forward together as Americans.

Jeb Bush released this statement

Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.

He later told CNN that he opposed efforts to amend the constitution.

Ben Carson, in a rare moment of lucidity, said something similar:

While I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, their ruling is now the law of the land.

I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected. The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs.

I support same sex civil unions but to me, and millions like me, marriage is a religious service not a government form.

Lindsay Graham was a bit wordier in saying much the same

I am a proud defender of traditional marriage and believe the people of each state should have the right to determine their marriage laws. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and I will respect the Court’s decision. Furthermore, given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue, I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress. Rather than pursing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans. No person of faith should ever be forced by the federal government to take action that goes against his or her conscience or the tenets of their religion. As president, I would staunchly defend religious liberty in this nation and would devote the necessary federal resources to the protection of all Americans from any effort to hinder the free and full exercise of their rights. While we have differences, it is time for us to move forward together respectfully and as one people.

Marco Rubio had this to say

While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.

“The next president and all in public office must strive to protect the First Amendment rights of religious institutions and millions of Americans whose faiths hold a traditional view of marriage. This is a constitutional duty, not a political opinion. Our nation was founded on the human right of religious freedom, and our elected leaders have a duty to protect that right by ensuring that no one is compelled by law to violate their conscience.

Carly Fiorina posted to FaceBook

The Court ruled today that all Americans should receive equal benefits and rights from the government under the law. I have always supported this view. However, this decision was also about the definition of marriage itself. I do not agree that the Court can or should redefine marriage. I believe that responsibility should have remained with states and voters where this conversation has continued in churches, town halls and living rooms around the country.

Moving forward, however, all of our effort should be focused on protecting the religious liberties and freedom of conscience for those Americans that profoundly disagree with today’s decision.

Argle-Bargle, Sputter Spew

These candidates seemed less interested in where to go from here and seemed to see today as a day to vent their anger and spew their rage. They also hinted that somehow this could all be magically changed if you vote for them. Considering that changing the constitution was impossible twelve years ago when George W. Bush ran for reelection on the promise of a constitutional amendment (right up until the day he was reelected), these guys are either imbeciles or deeply cynical (or both).

Scott Walker issued a statement (which I don’t seem able to find directly)

“As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage,” Walker said in the statement.

Rick Perry (is he running again? really?) implied magical powers

I am disappointed the Supreme Court today chose to change the centuries old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. I’m a firm believer in traditional marriage, and I also believe the 10th Amendment leaves it to each state to decide this issue. I fundamentally disagree with the court rewriting the law and assaulting the 10th Amendment. Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written.

Rick Santorum seems of the mind that one can simply not “accept bad decisions”

The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record. The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.

But leaders don’t accept bad decisions that they believe harm the country, they have the courage of their convictions and lead the country down the better path. Marriage, the family and our children are too central to a healthy society to not fight for what is best. I realized that fact early on and that is why I lead the charge against some in my own party in 2004 to ensure the Federal Marriage Amendment received a vote and I continue to stand for marriage, for families, for freedom,” continued Santorum.

As President, I will be committed to using the bully pulpit of the White House to lead a national discussion on the importance to our economy and our culture of mothers and fathers entering into healthy marriages so that every child is given their birthright- to be raised by their mother and father in a stable, loving home. I will stand for the preservation of religious liberty and conscience, to believe what you are called to believe free from persecution. And I will ensure that the people will have a voice in decisions that impact the rock upon which our civilization is built.

I’m completely insane, just bat-poop loony-tunes crazy

Yes, I know that some of the positions taken above are irrational, contradictory, cynical or delusional. And yes I know that they are all damaging to both the national dialogue, the political culture, and the respect for the separation of powers.

But they, at least, sound sane. Maybe not bright (hello Rick Santorum and Ben Carson), but sane.

These guys don’t. At all.

Donald Trump chose to respond by Twitter

Which we think was his response to the marriage ruling. But it’s Trump. That could mean anything.

Mike Huckabee completely lost it and started ranting some truly weird nonsense.

I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.

This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.

The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the laws of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.

But as crazy as Huckabee’s “I will not acquiesce” insanity, no one quite does crazy as well as Bobby Jindal

Jindal released a statement and it wasn’t all that radical – or not by comparison

The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.

This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.

But it was his action as Governor of Louisiana that earns him the title of Jackass Jindal.(nola)

The Jindal administration has said Louisiana’s state government won’t recognize gay marriage until a lower court rules on the issue. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has taken up a gay marriage case, but was waiting on the Supreme Court ruling before moving forward with it. The Jindal administration is now delaying recognition of gay marriage in Louisiana until this appeals court decision is issued.

Lawyers said the delay will probably only last a few days. Attorneys representing seven Louisiana same-sex couples have already filed a motion seeking to enforce the ruling in the state. The appeals court ruling will largely be a formality, now that the Supreme Court has issued an opinion.

And what the rest of his administration is saying is off the rails. (inforum)

In Louisiana, Republican Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office issued a statement saying that it had “found nothing in today’s decision that makes the Court’s order effective immediately.”

The Louisiana Clerks of Court Association was advising local clerks not to issue licenses for 25 days, the period in which the Supreme Court could be petitioned for a rehearing, said New Orleans lawyer Brandon Robb, whose firm specializes in working with the gay community.

Yeah…. cuz the Court may decide to rehear this case. And if the ruling doesn’t say “effective today” it can just be ignored. Uh-huh.

Congratulations, Bobby Jindal, you’ve managed to out-stupid Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson combined.

Texas Governor does not call special session

Timothy Kincaid

June 8th, 2015

Texas Governor Greg Abbott will tell you that be absolutely supports traditional marriage and wants to protect that treasured definition. And so will every GOP legislator in that state.

But somehow the legislature managed to end the legislative session without passing any bills that would in any way hinder marriage equality coming to Texas after the Supreme Court rules later this month. And Abbott has now responded to demands that he call a special session for them to do so. (WOAI)

“I do not anticipate any special session,” he told News Radio 1200 WOAI. “They got their job done on time, and don’t require any overtime.”

A cynical soul might conclude that the Texas GOP passed exactly the number of bill protecting traditional marriage that they wanted to pass. None. Such a person might even think that the Texas GOP is far more concerned with the demands of the Texas business community, which has opposed such bills as bad for business, than they are the demands of the Texas Eagle Forum or Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

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