Rick Perry: Ooops. I Did It Again.
June 20th, 2014
Rick Perry’s comments last week comparing gays and lesbians to alcoholics has elicited quite a few headslaps and groans across the political spectrum. Sane people see it as just another example of Texas-style ignorance and insanity, and even some Texas Republicans are wishing that he hadn’t opened his big mouth. And few are trying to step away from the recently-approved Texas GOP platform endorsing sexual orientation change therapy. All of this has threatened to derail that re-boot of the Republican Brand ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections. Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri, in particular, sees the danger:
But he did address the inclusion of reparative therapy in the platform, saying he doesn’t believe you can convert a LGBT individual to a heterosexual by simply talking to them.
“And I just make the point for anybody that thinks that may be the possibility: Do they think they can take a straight person to a psychiatrist and turn them gay?” Munisteri said.
Munisteri said he’s not the only one who opposes this plank in the party’s platform.
“My emails and phone calls to the office are running overwhelmingly opposed to that plank in the platform,” Munisteri said.
Ministeri describes the parliamentary maneuver that allowed the platform to be approved with the conversion therapy plank in place and says that there is no way to tell if a majority of Republicans statewide actually support the conversion therapy plank.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry’s handlers in his totally-not-running-for-Presidential campaign have apparently had a sit-down with him and have gotten him to see that his remarks weren’t going to win him any votes:
I got asked about an issue, and instead of saying, ‘You know what, we need to be a really respectful and tolerant country, and get back to talking about, whether you’re gay or straight you need to be having a job, and those are the focuses I want to be involved with,’ instead of getting — which I did, I readily admit, I stepped right in it,” he said.
Michigan GOP former Speaker of House calls for equality
June 17th, 2014
A number of formerly prominent Republicans have signed a brief urging the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the ruling that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is in violation of the US Constitution. (ClickOnDetroit)
The Republicans include former House Speaker Rick Johnson and former House Majority Leader Chris Ward.
Former U.S. Rep. John “Joe” Schwartz has signed on, along with former state lawmakers Leon Drolet, Doug Hart, Dave Honigman and Susan Grimes Gilbert.
It seems to me that in some parts of the country we have now reached the stage in our quest for equality wherein former GOP leaders or power-players are beginning to champion our cause. And while most of those currently in power do not yet appear to be willing to be publicly supportive, many have elected to adopt language such as “let the judicial system decide” or even “it is inevitable, so we should focus on respecting each other”.
While Republicans are not speaking in harmony with not the fully supportive language of the Democrats, I think that these shifts in the political stance of Republicans leaders, both current and former, foretell a time not so distantly ahead in which civil equality is assured and not even terribly controversial.
LGBT activist wins Nevada house nomination
June 13th, 2014
Lauren Scott is the executive director of Equality Nevada and a leading advocate for civil rights issues in the state. She is also a government consultant and serves on the Equal Rights Commission.
She is now also her party’s candidate for Nevada Assembly District 30.
The Republican Party, that is (gaystarnews)
Scott received 58% of the vote over rival Republican primary candidate Adam Khan who only received the support of 42% of party members.
Khan had been endorsed by the Nevada Republican Assembly but Scott received endorsement from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval in her bid to be the candidate.
Sandoval appointed Scott to Nevada’s Equal Rights Commission in 2012 and she also helped found the group Equality Nevada.
Scott brings with her extensive military service and a devotion to the state. Scott had been a Democrat until 2011, but her passion for economic development and job creation – and the nature of Nevada politics – suggested that she’d be more effective as a Republican.
Should she win, she will make history. Lauren Scott will be Nevada’s first transgender legislator.
Meet the Guy Who Convinced the Texas GOP To Endorse Ex-Gay Therapy
June 12th, 2014
That’s Jeremy Joel, who Cathie Adams credits for the idea. Adams is President of the Texas Eagle Forum who spearheaded the effort to get the state Republican Party to endorse ex-gay therapy in its 2016 platform. Joel founded an ex-gay group called Joel 2:25 International, and Lone Star Q provides a roundup of his story:
In another post that includes the packet he sent to GOP delegates proposing the platform amendment, Joel discusses how he became an activist against bans on reparative therapy for minors like those that have passed California and New Jersey.
“Reparative Therapy and this type of ministry work played a significant role in saving my life and I have been blessed to help many others over the past four years,” Joel writes. “Recently though, this ministry work has been under attack across the country and in some states Republican legislators and Governors have been silent or complicit in passing these laws.”
According to an interview posted on YouTube, Joel lived an active gay life for about six years. He had two long-term relationships and attended a gay church but remained religiously conflicted and dissatisfied. In 2009, he sought treatment from California psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, a founder and former president of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).
Nicolisi referred Joel to an ex-gay retreat called Journey Into Manhood, which he says reduced his same-sex attraction by 50 percent in one weekend.
Joel claims that his group has 400 members in 37 countries thanks to Skype. He also told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that he thinks his idea has been overly hyped by both sides. Nevertheless, he’s happy with the platform plank as it stands:
Jeremy said the Republican platform amendment was much like the original version he took to Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum.
The final version characterizes the therapy as “reparative” for patients “seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access.”
Jeremy said he is also glad that Republicans deleted other old platform language claiming that homosexuality “tears at the fabric of society” and blaming gays and lesbians for a “breakdown of the family.”
“We should never portray a hostile message about dividing people,” he said.
Brat v Cantor
June 11th, 2014
The election of Dave Brat as Virginia’s 7th District GOP candidate, a move that expels House Majority Leader from the House of Representatives, has shocked the political world.
Tea Party advocates are seeing this as an indication that the Tea Party Movement is live, well, powerful, and underestimated. And many in our community see anything Tea Party to be a threat to our community.
They may be correct. But that also may be too simplistic of an assumption.
The Tea Party movement incorporates a great many people who see Washington politicians as out of touch and beholding to moneyed special interests. Certainly some of those include those who see an increasingly anti-religious fervor in government to be a threat and for many of them gay issues are a weathervane.
But the movement also includes those who see ever increasing federal involvement in their lives as a violation of the GOP purported belief that the state that governs least governs best. And many others see the constant ‘kick the can down the road’ approach to fiscal policy to be a sell out of the nation’s children.
And it also includes the somewhat disenfranchised libertarian wing of the party. These are the folks who mock both the Right and the Left for their incessant claims of freedom and liberty while simultaneously seeking to remove the rights of those they perceive as enemies.
It may be that Dave Brat fits in the latter category. The Wall Street Journal has reviewed some of his writings including this
Can Christians force others to follow their ethical teachings on social issues? Note that consistency is lacking on all sides of this issue. The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality. The Left likes to think of itself as the bulwark of progressive liberal individualism, and yet it seeks to progressively coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule. Houston, we have a problem. Coercion is on the rise. What is the root word for liberalism? (Answer: Liberty)
On the other hand, Brat is a fervent Christian, holds Divinity degree (along with an economics degree), and clearly sees a role for faith in governance. That seldom promises hope for pro-gay positions on legislation.
It will be interesting to see how his views play out in the coming campaign and (as this is a safe Republican district) in his votes. I simply don’t know enough about this out-of-nowhere politician and think it far too soon to predict.
Texas GOP Approves Platform Supporting Ex-Gay Therapy
June 9th, 2014
About 10,000 Texas Republicans wrapped up their annual convention in Fort Worth this weekend to approve a new platform for the 2016 elections. Things looked promising at first, when the Dallas Voice reported that the party had stripped a statement from their proposed platform proclaiming: “We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.”
Whatever good news that represented evaporated when a new plank on homosexuality surfaced:
Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.
Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.
The Texas Republican Party approved that platform over the weekend.
The enshrinement of ex-gay therapy into the official agenda of the Texas Republican Party goes against the recommendations of every legitimate mental and medical health professional organization in America, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the American School Counselors Association.
The platform also opposes same-sex marriage, as well as “the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married.”
Texas GOP Convention Denies Log Cabin Request for Booth
May 30th, 2014
Yesterday, the Log Cabin Republicans announced that their request for a booth at the annual convention in Fort Worth had been denied by the state Republican Party:
“Overall, Log Cabin Republicans of Texas has found incredible support within the Republican party — Texans, like the rest of the country, are evolving on LGBT rights issues,” said Log Cabin Republicans of Texas Chairman Jeffrey Davis. “The Republican Party of Texas has even welcomed many of our members as delegates to the Texas State Republican Convention. However, the party has denied our several attempts to host a booth in the convention exhibit hall, citing archaic language in the party platform to support their actions.”
That “archaic language” is not so archaic, coming from page 8 of the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform where over 100 colorful words describe the party’s position on “homosexuals” (the position against human trafficking, on the same page, takes only 12 words):
Human Trafficking ― The Republican Party of Texas adamantly opposes any form of human trafficking.
Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s 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 believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.
The decision, unusual for a state party, is, according to this source, allowed because of a 1997 ruling by then-Texas-Supreme-Court-Justice and now-Texas-gubernatorial-candidate Greg Abbott who
ruled on the case of the Republican Party of Texas vs. Dietz, which was a suit brought by the Republican Party against a lower court judge who ruled the Party had to provide the Log Cabin Republicans with a convention booth. Abbott ruled– relying on a muddled conflation of Texas state and US constitutional law– the Party could legally bar the group from its convention because the Texas Bill of Rights only applies to government and the Party’s actions did not constitute state action.
Gregory T. Angelo, head of the National Log Cabin Republicans, has condemned both the decision and the language in the state party platform.
Another GOP Congressman Supports Marriage Equality
May 28th, 2014
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) emerged as a leading voice in what remains of the moderate wing of the Republican Party when he tried to head off the disastrous GOP-led government shutdown last October. He long supported anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and he has now joined two other GOP congressional representatives in coming out in support of marriage equality:
“Life is too short to have the force of government stand in the way of two adults whose pursuit of happiness includes marriage,” Dent said in a statement provided first to The Washington Post on Wednesday.
Quoting from the Pennsylvania ruling, “in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage,” Dent said that in “conversations with my family, I have come to realize that they already see the world through that lens.”
…”As a Republican, I value equality, personal freedom and a more limited role for government in our lives,” Dent said in his statement. “I believe this philosophy should apply to the issue of marriage as well.”
Dent’s saying this from an exceptionally safe place. His announcement came out just eight days after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s statute banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, and one week after the state’s much more conservative Gov. Tom Corbett announced he wouldn’t seek an appeal. Dent represents a district that drew no Republican primary opponent last week, and he has no Democratic opponent in the fall in a very moderate, middle-of-the-road district. So no matter how you look at it, this is as no-risk a position as any he could take.
The only other GOP members of Congress who support marriage equality are Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and New York’s Richard Hanna. That’s in addition to three GOP Senators: Ohio’s Rob Portman, Illinois’ Ron Kirk, and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.
Advocating for rights within the Utah GOP
April 28th, 2014
The former executive director of the Utah Republican Party was at the state party convention this weekend advocating for gay rights. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Along with his wife Megan, DuBois attended Saturday’s state GOP Convention wearing a big Equality Utah sticker. The couple, who were not delegates, were there to mingle with old friends, some of whom did a double take when DuBois urged them to support legislation to ban housing and workplace discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Such bills have received little traction in the conservative, Republican-dominated Utah Legislature.
His message was simple and blunt.
“I’m not scared of gay people,” said DuBois, who left his party post last year. “You can be a really good Republican and support people who don’t fit the same mold as you.”
Let’s hope they’re very persuasive.
Illinois GOP ousts anti-gay committee members
April 21st, 2014
Pat Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, started 2013 off with a bang by announcing that he was lobbying state legislators to support marriage equality. While this received immediate reaction, the situation did not play out as might have been expected.
There was movement for Brady’s removal and some members of the state central committee called for a vote on his ouster. But this effort did not receive support from party leadership and both the GOP House Leader and US Senator Mark Kirk (who has endorsed equality, himself) supported Brady.
Eventually, Brady resigned from the position. But not before it became clear that he did so on his own volition and that the ouster effort did not have the necessary votes to remove him. Only seven of the 18 committee members signed onto a letter demanding his removal.
In November the state legislature passed a marriage equality bill, by a narrow margin, with the necessary support of three GOP representatives. Anti-gay activists vowed that they’d pay for their “betrayal” at the polls. Last month Republican voters rejected primary challenges to all three.
And now it appears that the social agenda activism of the anti-gay committee members has placed them on the outs in Illinois GOP politics. (Daily Journal)
A crop of Republican officials who wanted to oust former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady for his statements supporting same-sex marriage have been replaced in their party positions.
Illinois Republicans across the state held elections for all 18 state central committee member posts this week, replacing six of the seven officials who signed on to a letter last year to hold a vote on removing Brady as chairman. The seventh person to sign the letter, Mark Shaw of the 10th Congressional District, was re-elected to a four-year term.
I think it is now clear that irrespective of what they may individually believe about marriage, Illinois Republican voters have no stomach for continuing a culture war against the rights of their gay neighbors.
Nevada GOP drops anti-gay position
April 13th, 2014
Nevada Republican Party activists met this weekend at their annual convention. And it was a contentious meeting with factions battling over the endorsement process and what it means to be a “true” Republican.
What was not contentious, however, was the move to drop opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage from the state party platform. From the Washington Times (which I nearly never quote, but which seems to be carrying the story before anyone else):
The Nevada Republican Party stripped opposition to abortion and gay marriage from its platform Saturday as state convention delegates instead focused on judging fellow Republicans on their worthiness to serve in office and adherence to GOP values.
The platform, with few changes, was adopted overwhelmingly as the Las Vegas convention stretched late into the evening. The vote mirrors that of the Clark County GOP, which voted earlier to remove platform language defining marriage as between a man and a woman and statements opposing abortion.
Congratulations to Log Cabin Nevada and others who have been working for a long time on this issue.
UPDATE: The Washington Times has inexplicably dropped the story, it seems. But the Las Vegas Review-Journal gave the following detail:
By a show of hands, convention-goers adopted the platform as proposed by a separate committee without the two planks on marriage and abortion, following the Clark County GOP’s lead in removing hot-button social issues from the party’s statement of its principles. Some 520 delegates attended the convention, but less than half were present when the platform was adopted at about 7:30 p.m. Little debate preceded the vote, a far contrast to earlier in day.
State party Chairman Michael McDonald said it was a successful convention at the end of the day.
“I think it was about inclusion, not exclusion,” McDonald said, referring to the platform. “This is where the party is going.”
Republicans who sat on the platform committee said they decided not to deal with social issues this year because the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have weighed in and it doesn’t make sense for the party of “personal freedom” to have the government or the political party get involved in people’s personal lives.
“The issue was how can we back out of people’s personal lives,” said Dave Hockaday of Lyon County, who sat on the platform committee. “We need to focus on issues where we can have an impact.”
Gay GOP woman of faith
March 21st, 2014
Ashley Rooney, an executive assistant at Log Cabin Republicans, wrote an opinion piece for TownHall arguing that Republican Party holds a place of promise for gay and lesbian people of faith.
The article itself is mostly twaddle, a sort of blind stabbing at “liberals” and “the left” and and extolling of the theoretical virtues of the Republican Party.
But, nevertheless, the message – if heard by the right ears – is an important one. Too often people on both sides of the political divide assume that orientation dictates ones political ideology. And too often both sides of the political divide assume that matters of faith do the same. Rooney argues that this need not be the case.
Similarly, LGBT Republicans need to expose the inaccuracy of the liberal claim that the LGBT community is “overwhelmingly” Democrat. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2012, one in four LGBT people consider themselves to be conservative or very conservative, and a deeper look into these numbers reveals that the demographic breakdown of LGBT voter preferences is similar to that of the overall population.
Relatedly, we need to stop assuming that being a person of faith and being a supporter of LGBT equality are mutually exclusive. The left’s smears against religious Americans as anti-LGBT not only outcast LGBT people of faith but also ignore the reality that many religious communities are increasingly supportive of LGBT equality. A 2013 Public Religion Research Institute survey found that a majority of white mainline Protestants, 62 percent of Catholics, and over one in four white evangelical Protestants support marriage equality. A strong majority in every major religious group favors protections from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there are a growing number of religious groups dedicated to advancing LGBT equality.
Now I know that the first reaction of many will be to think, “but she’s wrong, Republicans are vile and any gay person so registered is delusional and self-loathing.” And undoubtedly some will find it impossible to skip an opportunity to weigh in on their own political leanings.
But setting aside Rooney’s partisanship and the perhaps idealistic rose-glassed view of her political affiliation, there is value in her statement. Primarily because it is something that flies in the face of the assumptions of a certain target audience.
Which makes where I read this all the more important. Rooney’s TownHall opinion piece was picked up by the Christian Post.
The Christian Post has, to the best of my recollection, only ever presented one variation of gay person before: the kind that advances an anti-gay crusade. They’ve had “former homosexuals” declare that no one is born gay. They’ve had bitter and emotionally stunted gay people rant on about the horrors of the “homosexual lifestyle”. They’ve presented the wacky two or three that buddy up with NOM to argue that gay marriage will be the end of the world as we know it.
But I don’t recall ever seeing a gay person on the Christian Post insisting that gay people should live openly and honestly, irrespective of their political leanings. Nor have I seen there an appeal to readers to find commonality or recognize support for gay people from within their own community.
I don’t know that this is a major capitulation on the part of the Christian Post. Nor will it likely change the minds of those who pretend that gay people either don’t exist or are demon possessed or are out to destroy America and civilization. But it might jar some who have simply accepted the easy stereotypes about gay people being “them” and perhaps plant the seeds of thought.
And it will, without doubt, piss off the LaBarberas and Stavers and Donahues who assume that all people of faith should and will rally around them and their campaign for bigotry. And that, if nothing else, is always a good thing.
It’s a good day not to be anti-gay
March 19th, 2014
Remember when marriage equality passed in Illinois with the (necessary) support of a handful of Republicans. And remember how the anti-gays pledged to destroy the GOP traitors and replace them with true loyal purveyors of discrimination and hate.
Well, there’s this (WaPo)
None of the Republicans who voted for gay marriage lost.
When the Illinois state House passed a bill to legalize gay marriage last fall, just three out of 47 Republicans voted for it. On Tuesday, none of them lost. State Rep. Tom Cross (R) cruised to a 14-point victory in the primary for state treasurer while state Rep. Ed Sullivan (R) easily won renomination in his district. The third, state Rep. Ron Sandack (R), narrowly edged out his opponent by fewer than 200 votes, according to an unofficial tally. The close margin could mean the race goes to a recount. Sandack and Sullivan both faced pressure from third-party groups looking to oust them over their gay marriage votes. In Sandack’s case, the issue became a central focus. Had the three Republicans lost, it would have probably given pause to Republicans considering backing gay marriage in other states where the matter comes up in the future. But given two decisive wins and a third tentative victory, gay rights advocates have a lot to be happy about a day after the election.
More GOP voices for equality
March 4th, 2014
From the NYTimes
Evoking Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, a group of Western-state Republicans plans to enter the battle in favor of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, urging a federal appeals court to declare gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma unconstitutional.
The most prominent of the approximately 20 signers of the brief are former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, a longtime supporter of gay rights, and former Senator Nancy L. Kassebaum of Kansas, who said last year that she had reconsidered her former opposition to same-sex marriage. The document says that “marriage is strengthened” and “the social stability of the family unit are promoted” by allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Neither of those names is exactly surprising, but very welcome. For too long mainstream Republicans have let the far right be the face and voice of the party on social issues so, while they have a long way to go, it is encouraging to see momentum build in the moderate side of the party.
Formerly vocal anti-gay GOP leaders now moving on
March 1st, 2014
The New York Times interviewed some leading Republican politicians about the now vetoed anti-gay pro-discrimination bill in Arizona and found nearly all speaking the language of conciliation:
More than anything else, the division was a window into a Republican Party that remains torn on gay rights issues, be it the Arizona measure, same-sex marriage or permitting gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Some of the party’s most committed voters continue to be intensely opposed to gay marriage, but their views are at odds with an increasing percentage of the American electorate, particularly younger and independent voters.
“The establishment’s reaction to the Arizona law reflects the reality that much of the country’s views on these issues have changed,” said Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Wait. Tim Pawlenty?
Just three years ago Pawlenty was signing the National Organization for Marriage’s Pledge that he’d push for a Federal Marriage Amendment and only appoint anti-gay judges. Just three years ago he was on Family Research Council’s bus tour promoting Christian supremacy and narrowly defined family values.
Frank Keating, a former governor of Oklahoma, said that while he opposed same-sex marriage, issues of public accommodation had long ago been settled. He said that he, too, would have vetoed a bill like the Arizona one.
“This isn’t 1964 anymore,” he said. “We’ve moved beyond that. If you open up your doors to the general public, you can’t pick and choose who you are going to deal with.”
And with that, the conservative Oklahoma Republican kicked institutionalized anti-gay discrimination into a grave.
Oh we will continue to fight battles and defend our right to exist. Marriage and other matters of full inclusion will remain contentious for a while.
But I think this article answers the question as to whether we’ve reached a turning point. We have.
The opponents of equality put up quite a fight and many of us were lost. But we have won the day. The river has been forded and the gates are in ruins. Never again will those who seek to impose their definitions of righteousness upon us be in majority nor hold the presumption of moral truth.