McCarthy drops out of Speaker race
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.
September 25th, 2015
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
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
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
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
Once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down. Jeb pushed him hard! Remember!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2015
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.
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
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.
Gov. Ricketts in Chicago for a special event
June 6th, 2015
One of the odder early moments in the 2016 primary season was a week or two in which the presumed GOP candidates were asked whether they would go to the same-sex marriage of a close friend or family member. And in what seemed to be a weird effort to play both sides, several responded that while they oppose the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, they’d happily attend the wedding of someone they love.
But, as it turned out, they weren’t necessarily being cynical. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had already attended a gay wedding reception and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had RSVP’d and had plans to attend.
So maybe it’s a thing.
It does seem a bit hypocritical, but I suppose one can simultaneously hold the position that society is better off restricting marriage to traditional couples while also celebrating your friend’s happiness. Politicians have certainly held stranger positions.
In any case, Walker and Kasich are not alone. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is staunchly defending the state’s ban on marriage equality, insisting that the only a vote of the constituents should bring about equal protection under the law. But while he’s holding firm against gay marriage in Nebraska, he’s attending one in Illinois. (Omaha.com)
Ricketts will attend the wedding of his sister, Laura Ricketts. She is marrying Brooke Skinner, a brand strategist for Twitter.
Laura Ricketts was one of the leaders in the gay-rights movement in Chicago and was active in pushing for the legalization of gay marriage in Illinois, which took effect last year.
It would be reasonable to object to the idea of a politician opposing equality and then showing up for the ceremony. But I can’t help but think that this is positive. It’s hard to hold a continued objection once you’ve been a part of a lovely and touching and beautiful ceremony.
And who knows, maybe this is the tool that is needed not only for them to confront this issue on a personal level, but also to explain an eventual change of heart.
Maggies report card on Indiana
April 8th, 2015
Maggie Gallagher has graded several potential Republican presidential contenders on their response to the Indiana FRFA brouhaha.
While Maggie highly regards those who wish Indiana to broadcast its antipathy towards its gay citizens, something I disavow, I think that this chart tells us something else, something useful. What this measures for me is the extent to which these potential candidates have their ear attuned to the nation’s current attitude on gay issues.
It would seem to me that those whom she grades lowest were the best capable of recognizing the quagmire the state had created and avoiding stepping in it.
CA GOP recognizes Log Cabin
March 2nd, 2015
Log Cabin Republicans was founded in 1977 in Southern California to oppose a ballot initiative that would have banned gays and lesbians – and those who supported them – from holding the position of teacher in a California public school. Log Cabin was able to marshal support from what was called ‘country club Republicans’, and eventually, after former GOP Governor Ronald Reagan took a stance in opposition, the Briggs Initiative was defeated by a vote of 58% to 42%.
In the 38 years since that time, Log Cabin has had varying times of success. As the Republican Party turned more and more to social issues and adopted opposition to gay rights as a fundraising and voter rallying point, LCR took an an odd role. Candidates for offices often used the political shorthand of supporting or denouncing Log Cabin to publicly identify with either the right-wing social activist or the fiscal conservative wing of the party.
And Log Cabin grew. First within California and then, in the 90s, into a nationwide organization.
In the beginning, LCR’s position within the community was often welcomed and respected. As co-founders of California’s LIFE Lobby, which provided one of the first full-time gay lobbyists to a state legislature, Log Cabin utilized its perspective and partisan language to appeal to Republican legislators. And Log Cabin forged relationships within other growing national groups.
But over time, national groups began to see themselves as more aligned with progressive ideology and, rather than strictly advancing legislation that dealt with matters impacting gay people, instead saw their place as partners in a progressive movement. As this movement drifted further towards the left side of the Democratic Party, there was less and less commonality with Log Cabin and eventually the organization separated itself from the nominally non-partisan joint efforts.
Log Cabin turned, instead, to a tactic that had been used successfully by social conservatives in the past. They became grassroots activists. Turning to county central committees and structures within the GOP, they sought to influence and change the presumptions of ‘the base’.
And Log Cabin has made visibility within the party a priority, knowing that simply being in the room could change the rhetoric.
Some places they found harsh opposition. The Texas GOP has proudly waved its bigotry and homophobia like a banner. New England was much more welcoming.
In California, the group has had a mixed record. In some years, statewide candidates have been supportive, in others homophobia has ruled the day.
For many years there has been a battle within the state GOP for control of the party and its image. Some wanted the GOP to be a voice for fiscal conservatism and others wanted to champion theocracy. As the latter gained more influence, the party as a whole lost power.
The Legislature has seen a constant decline in GOP representatives as moderates and independents in the state have found the Party’s positions to be harsh and not reflective of their views. Currently Democrats have a super-majority in both the Assembly and the State Senate and the GOP holds no statewide elected office.
In this climate, the statewide party structure has not been historically supportive of the gay group. They have never been banned from visibility in state conventions – and one of the best attended social events has always been the Log Cabin party.
And in several counties, Log Cabin has had chartered recognition and gay Republicans pretty much keep the party going in some places. But access to statewide decision making has been limited.
However over the weekend there came an important change (LA Times)
The Log Cabin Republicans, a 38-year-old organization that had unsuccessfully sought a charter from the state party several times in the past, received the formal imprimatur on a 861-293 vote at the party’s biannual convention in Sacramento.
This is more than just a polite acceptance. As an official part of the structure of the California Republican Party, Log Cabin gains rights and access on the same terms as other volunteer organizations. They now have a vote on the State Central Committee and a voice in establishing party policy.
This move did not come without opposition.
Some opponents said Log Cabin’s proposal was sneaked onto the convention agenda without notice, and that the group violates the party’s by-laws, which forbid the recognition of organizations focused on “lifestyle preferences.”
“The only thing I ask is this body stand on the rules we’ve supported for two decades that say there is a process to change the rules and the bylaws,” Assemblywoman Shannon Grove repeatedly pleaded during the hearing.
And Grove is correct. Anti-gay factions in the party had specifically changed language in the past to exclude the possibility of Log Cabin’s inclusion. This seems, however, to have been ignored by 75% of the delegates to the convention.
It is difficult to know exactly what this says about the future of the California Republican Party. Symbolically, this may send a message that the theocrats have finally lost. It may be the first step in the dismantling of bigotry and exclusion within the California Republican Party.
Or it may simply be a middle ground. This may be an indication that party members want a ‘balance’ that allows for gay people to be in the room but keeps policies and positions as hostile.
I’m inclined to see this as reflective of significant change. Because the vote was so large and because it was vehemently fought by the far right contingent, this seems to be to be a major gain for the party’s moderate faction.
Bryan Fischer “Fired” While Republican Party Leaders Travel To Israel on Hate Group’s Tab
January 29th, 2015
While news outlets in America are discussing Speaker John Boehner’s irresponsible invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress as part of Netanyahu’s re-election campaign back home, the Israeli daily Haaretz is filling its Israeli readers in on a trip being made by some sixty members of the Republican National Committee, with all expenses paid by the American Family Association. In the process Haaretz is giving its readers a good glimpse of what the AFA’s Bryan Fischer has said on behalf of the organization footing the bill for the Republican junket:
Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of issue analysis, has said that black people “rut like rabbits.” Moreover, in a September essay, he wrote: “We are a Christian nation and not a Jewish or Muslim one.” On a video segment on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” last Friday, Fischer was seen blasting gay activists as “jack-booted homo-fascist thugs,” and depicting Islam as “an Ebola virus that is lethal and deadly.”
…For his part, AFA’s Fischer, in a 2010 essay slamming the end of the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay soldiers, blamed homosexuals for the Holocaust: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
The AFA has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. GOP Chairman Reince Priebus sent out the invitation for the trip to all 168 RNC members in November. About sixty accepted and are going on the trip, including Priebus. Altogether 98 people are going on the nine-day trip that begins on Saturday. David Lane, who heads the American Renewal Project, is organizing the trip. The American Renewal Project is funded by the AFA, and is housed at AFA headquarters in Tupelo, Mississippi. Haaretz also gave its readers a small dose of some of Lane’s past statements as well:
His American Renewal Project is working to persuade 1,000 evangelical pastors to run for public office in 2016. “The Lord gave me this model of mobilizing pastors to try and engage the culture. Somebody’s values are going to rein supreme,” Lane told Haaretz, adding, “America was founded by Christians for the glory of God and the Christian faith.”
…We were established as a Christian nation in the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith. It’s my position that we’ve lost that,” Lane explained, in an appearance on conservative political commentator Glenn Beck’s television show “The Blaze.” “Restoring America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establishing a Christian culture is the only way that we get out of where we are.”
No one from the RNC, the Republican Jewish Coalition, or the Anti-Defamation League would respond to a week’s worth of telephone messages from Haaretz for comment.
So far, this has been little noted in the American press, although it’s gotten to be a really big deal in Israel. Debra Nussbaum Cohen, the Haaretz reporter, appeared on Rachel Maddow last night to talk about the story. Maddow also reported that the AFA has responded by announcing that Fischer has been “fired” as a spokesperson and Director of Issues Analysis for the AFA. Tim Wildmon, the AFA’s president, told MSNBC that Fischer was now “just a radio host,” and that he was “fired” because of “the soundbite quotes, you know, the Hitler and the homosexuality one…” Maddow noted that even though Fischer has a long history of consistently making these same remarks over and over, Wildmon said simply, “we reject that.” For now, at least, while the Israeli public’s eyes are on them.
I’m still putting Fischer’s “firing” in quotes, because he apparently still has his radio program, carried throughout the AFA’s radio network of more than 200 stations. He may no longer have the title, but he still has the same national platform that he always had, courtesy of the AFA:
Don't believe everything you hear! I'll be on air same time tomorrow as always 1-3pm CT, on http://t.co/sI2xhN0XQd. Tune in!
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) January 29, 2015
Meanwhile, more than a third of the entire Republican National Committee and its chairman will depart Saturday in the company of several Christian Reconstructionists on the AFA’s $400,000 tab. So for now, nothing’s really changed.
The single MOST important thing to Rep. Bill Hayes
January 9th, 2015
Hayes is the Representative to the Ohio House of Representatives from the 71st District, a rural chunk of dirt between Columbus and Cleveland. And he holds his Republican values with pride (candidate site)
Bill is “Rock Solid” on –
- Smaller Government
- Protection of the Unborn
- Lower Taxes/Less Spending
- Gun rights
- Quality Education
- Securing Our Borders
But though he left if off the list, there is one value, one singular issue, which is more important than any of these. So important, in fact, that Bill Hayes wrote a letter to the Newark Advocate editor to explain how this issue trumps all others.
Here’s Bill telling us why he isn’t endorsing fellow Republican Senator Rob Portman:
I am very much in line with the Senator on many, in fact most, issues such as his conservative approach to fiscal matters, the 2nd amendment, health care, education, school prayer, and most family issues.
However, as a matter of conscience I do not concur with his position that loving homosexual couples should be permitted to “marry”. That view requires me to redefine my strongly held religious view on the institution of “marriage”, a view that, because of conscience, I cannot support and that does not allow me to endorse the senator’s candidacy due to the influence my endorsement may have on others.
I think that when Rep. Hayes runs for re-election he should just leave off all that stuff about guns and smaller government. After all, the truly important thing to Hayes is stopping gay people from getting married.
Rest in Peace, Judy Baar Topinka
December 10th, 2014
The state of Illinois and the gay community has lost a treasure. (Chicago Tribune)
Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, long one of the state’s most colorful and outspoken elected officials, died early Wednesday of complications from a stroke she suffered Tuesday, her chief of staff said. Ms. Topinka was 70.
Illinois politics has always been a carnival, providing colorful characters and unexpected storylines. Tales of shady dealings abound. Some still insist that voter fraud by Mayor Daley won the 1960 election for Kennedy and no one seems at all surprised that four of the last seven governors went to jail for fraud or racketeering or blatantly trying to sell government positions to the highest bidder.
The Illinois Republican Party has also been a whirl of grand-scale spectacle where in the past few decades much of the brouhaha has been over social issues, particularly gay rights.
The stomping grounds of such characters as Peter LaBarbera, the Prairie State GOP has it’s share of anti-gay activists. But it also is home to Senator Kirk, a marriage supporter, and former state party chairman Pat Brady who in 2013 was an active campaigner for the marriage equality bill.
Republicans in the Land of Lincoln are not, on the whole, pro-gay. But there is a far greater tolerance for pro-gay politicians there than in many GOP circles. And no small part of that is due to Judy Baar Topinka, a GOP politician who never balked at letting her support of the community be known.
In many respects, Ms. Topinka could be considered the matriarch of the moderate wing of the state Republican Party. A fiscal conservative, she was an early advocate of abortion and gay rights, positions which often put her at odds with members of the socially conservative wing of the GOP.
“I don’t know that I was ever the choice of the party regulars,” Topinka said during her 2006 run for governor. “One fellow told me, ‘You are never going to get anywhere. You don’t run with the big dogs.’ OK, well, you know, now, the big dogs are either retired, dead or in prison. So here I am.”
Topinka started her career as a news reporter and in 1980 she ran for state representative. After two terms, she was elected to the state senate and then to the position of State Treasurer, where she served for 18 years. From 2002 to 2005, she served as the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and in 2006 Topinka was the GOP nominee for Governor, losing to Rod Blagojevich.
In 2010 she was elected State Comptroller, a position to which she was reelected last month.
Topinka was a unique character. In a heavily partisan state, she was a maverick who spoke her mind, didn’t mince words, and would accept the ideas of anyone who would help her achieve her goals. In a world of polished politicians, she shopped at resale stores and garage sales and played polka on the accordion.
And she earned the respect of those of all political persuasion who worked with her.
And for much of her political career, she was a visible advocate for the community. A regular in the pride parades and seen campaigning in gay bars, Topinka used her position to help the community achieve funding for the construction of a community center. She was a supporter of the marriage bill and was on the dais when Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill.
Thank you, Judy, and rest in peace.
North Carolina GOP petitions to intervene
October 9th, 2014
The Republican majority in the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives have filed a brief arguing that the ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied certiorari by the Supreme Court, does not apply to their state. Because those crazy liberals in Virginia made concessions in court that the Republicans in the North Carolina legislature would never make, therefor their ban on same-sex marriage – unlike everyone else’s – should be upheld.
They are being represented by John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, who ran Attorney General in the Republican primary, winning 34%. Eastman is not exactly the most persuasive of legal minds and his involvement is likely to be an advantage to marriage equality proponents. You may recall him from his unbroken string of colossal losses in NOM’s battle to defy state political donor laws.
Should the judge write a big giant F in red ink across the face of their brief, they alternately want to be granted the right to appeal any ruling for marriage to the Fourth Circuit (who already ruled for equality), to the court en banc (good luck with that) and to the Supreme Court (which has already denied cert from this circuit).
GOP response to lack of certiorari
October 6th, 2014
Today the Republican Party quickly responded to the decision by the US Supreme Court to deny certiorari to marriage equality appeals with the following:
Silence, echoing silence is all that can be heard from party leaders.
As Jim has shown, the usual voices of the anti-gay extremists have been loud in condemnation. But where are RNC Committee Chairman Reince Preibus? Surely this merits a moment of his time.
And as for House Majority Leader John Boehner… well perhaps he’s too busy to comment today. He’s on his way to San Diego to raise money for a gay GOP congressional candidate.
Sure they may both say something about the denial of cert. They may even remind us that they “personally uphold the traditional definition of marriage” or something of the sort. But gone are the days of blistering retort or angry denunciation.
And that, as much as anything, is a sign that while the fighting isn’t over, we’ve already won.
Haley’s right-wing challenger supports marriage decision
July 29th, 2014
Nikki Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, is perceived to be weak by some of the state’s more extreme citizens. She simply isn’t sufficiently conservative on taxes, spending, education, or health care.
And in the race as an “Independent Republican”, seeking to provide an alternative to her radical liberalism (from a South Carolinan’s perspective), is former legislator and judge Tom Ervin. But Ervin may not tick all of the boxes one might expect from those to the right of Haley. (CharlestonCityPaper)
Government does not belong in the bedroom. My personal faith affirms that marriage is between a man and a woman but under our Constitution, people in this country are afforded equal protection under our laws.
This means that anyone should be free to marry the person they love. Government should not be in the bedroom, but it should also not be in the church. Individual churches should be allowed to decide which marriage ceremonies they want to perform.
Further action on this matter, such as an appeal by the state, is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Well, ummm, yeah exactly!
So far, Haley has expressed support for the ban and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen was noncommital.