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Posts for April, 2013

History to be made in Rhode Island

Timothy Kincaid

April 23rd, 2013

Freedom to Marry is reporting that a new threshold is about to be crossed.

Today all five Republicans in the Rhode Island Senate announced their support for S38, the marriage bill to end the statewide exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, and their intention to vote for it on the floor. The bill passed easily in the Rhode Island House of Representatives in January, and the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a vote on it today. This will be the first time ever that a party caucus in a legislative branch — Republican or Democratic — will have voted unanimously in favor of freedom to marry legislation.

If the National Organization declares war on these Republicans – and they will – they are going to seem even less relevant in New England than they already do.

Tony Perkins Calls for Withholding GOP’s Allowance Until It Learns To Be More Anti-Gay

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2013

In a blog post and email blast to supporters yesterday, the Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins called on supporters to stop donating to the Republican Party until Grandpa’s Old Party learns to be more anti-gay:

As the RNC debates its future at meetings in Los Angeles this week, we called on the Committee to pass a resolution reiterating the GOP’s support for the party platform that was overwhelmingly adopted in Tampa last year. In the meantime, instead of trying to appease millennials, Republicans should try educating them on why marriage matters. …

Until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don’t give them a dime of your hard-earned money. If you want to invest in the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who reflect your values and organizations you trust–like FRC Action. At least then you can relax, knowing that your money will be spent advancing faith, family, and freedom!

Efforts by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus to nudge the party to become more “inclusive and welcoming” have stoked a fierce backlash from the GOP’s anti-gay wing. As a result, the RNS is expected to overwhelmingly approve today an anti-gay resolution opposing same-sex marriage and supporting Prop 8 and DOMA.

GOP Slams Brakes On Rebranding Effort

Jim Burroway

April 11th, 2013

The Republican National Committee is meeting in Los Angeles over the next three days beginning today, and one of the first items on the agenda for consideration is a resolution that states:

WHEREAS, the institution of marriage is the solid foundation upon which our society is built and in which children thrive; it is based in the conjugal relationship that only a man and a woman can form; and

WHEREAS, support for marriage has been repeatedly affirmed nationally in the 2012 Republican National Platform, through the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, signed into law by President Bill Clinton), and passed by the voters of 41 States including California via Proposition 8; and

WHEREAS, no Act of human government can change the reality that marriage is a natural and most desirable union; especially when procreation is a goal; and

WHEREAS, the future of our country is children; it has been proven repeatedly that the most secure and nurturing environment in which to raise healthy well adjusted children is in a home where both mother and father are bound together in a loving marriage; and

WHEREAS, economically, marriage is America’s greatest weapon against child poverty no matter what ethnic background individuals are; and, based on the facts of stunning recent articles, marriage is the best way for society to get out of poverty and raise emotionally healthy children; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of laws adopted  to protect marriage from the unfounded accusation that support for marriage is based only on irrational prejudice against homosexuals; therefore be it

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of American; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee implores the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The GOP platform last summer was probably the most anti-gay platform in the party’s history. After Barack Obama won re-election in a campaign which included support for marriage equality, there were some suggestions that the Republican Party should soften its anti-gay positions. But after RNC Chairman Reince Priebus issued the official “autopsy” of the 2012 presidential elections which called on the party to become more “inclusive and welcoming,” a coalition of social conservatives responded with a letter to GOP leadership warning that “an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support.” The letter writers also protest that their anti-gay stance does not mean the party can’t can’t attract gay voters:

Many homosexuals are active in the GOP because they agree with Republicans on economic issues. The fact that the Party is strongly committed to traditional marriage has not prevented their involvement through GOProud or Log Cabin Republicans. We deeply resent the insinuation that we have treated homosexuals unkindly personally.

And we would like to point out that in the four blue states where voters narrowly voted for same sex marriage in 2012, Mitt Romney, who refused to discuss the issue, lost by an average of five points more than the state initiatives to preserve marriage.

Republicans would do well to persuade young voters why marriage between a man and a woman is so important rather than abandon thousands of years of wisdom to please them.

…Real and respectful communication is needed with our organizations. Alleged gaffes by candidates in 2012 on social issues could have been avoided if Party leadership had consulted us, the experts on how to articulate those positions.

Those so-called “experts” who signed the letter were:

  • Gary Bauer, President, American Values
  • Paul Caprio, Director, Family-Pac Federal
  • Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List
  • Dr. James Dobson, President and Founder, Family Talk Action
  • Andrea Lafferty, President, Traditional Values Coalition
  • Tom Minnery, Executive Director, CitizenLink
  • William J. Murray, Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Sandy Rios, VP of Government Affairs, Family-Pac Federal
  • Austin Ruse, President, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
  • Phyllis Schlafly, President, Eagle Forum
  • Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, Founder, Traditional Values Coalition
  • Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association

According to Politico, the anti-gay resolution is expected to pass overwhelmingly tomorrow when it goes before the full committee, although it’s not clear whether the resolution’s final form will be the same as the version that has circulated today.

Sen. Mark Kirk Becomes Second GOP Senator to Support Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

April 2nd, 2013

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) today has become the second sitting Republican Senator to announce his support for marriage equality, in a statement released by his office:

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.

Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most.  Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back– government has no place in the middle.

In January 2012, Kirk suffered a serious stroke at the relatively young age of 52. It took him a full year of recovery before he was able to return to the Senate this year.

When Kirk, then as Congressman, voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, activist Mike Rogers outed Kirk as gay, an outing that the unmarried then-recently divorced and currently unmarried Senator has never acknowledged. That same year, Kirk announced his support for civil unions, and when the Senate took up DADT repeal at the end of the year, the newly sworn-in Sen. Kirk switched his vote to “yes.” More recently he has backed Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady against a failed recall attempt after Brady announced his support for a marriage equality bill in the Illinois state legislature.

Kirk’s announcement comes three weeks after Ohio Sen. Rob Portman became the first sitting Republican Senator to back marriage equality. Since then, eight Democratic Senators have announced their support for same-sex marriage. With Kirk’s announcement, there are an even fifty Senators who are now on the right side of history.

Update: The penultimate paragraph was updated to more accurately reflect Kirk’s marital status and his votes on DADT repeal.

The Thirty-Six Percent

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2013

Click to enlarge.

An ABC/Washington Post poll released yesterday (PDF: 194KB/5 pages) shows that support for marriage equality has hit an all-time high:

Support for gay marriage reached a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, marking a dramatic change in public attitudes on the subject across the past decade. Fifty-eight percent of Americans now say it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed.

That number has grown sharply in ABC News/Washington Post polls, from a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, advancing to a narrow majority for the first time only two years ago, and now up again to a significant majority for the first time.

Most Americans, moreover, say the U.S. Constitution should trump state laws on gay marriage, a question now before the U.S. Supreme Court. And – in another fundamental shift – just 24 percent now see homosexuality as a choice, down from 40 percent nearly 20 years ago. It’s a view that closely relates to opinions on the legality of same-sex marriage.

The poll also shows that intensity of opinion has changed a lot in the past decade. But what’s most interesting, I think, is how much of a shift has occurred  in just the past seven months:

On another subject, do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
  2/22/2004 8/5/2012 3/10/2013
Legal (strongly) 25% 39% 41%
Legal (somewhat) 13% 14% 17%
NET Legal 39% 53% 58%
No opinion 4% 5% 6%
Illegal (somewhat) 6% 11% 6%
Illegal (strongly) 49% 32% 30%
NET Illegal 55% 42% 36%

I think Rob Tisinai is onto something in observing that the recent rush of a few key conservatives who had previously opposed marriage equality to the pro-equality camp represents their last opportunity to be on the right side of history before the door closes for good with the Supreme Court’s upcoming marriage cases. After all, nobody remembers anyone who decided to support mixed race marriages after 1967′s Loving v. Virginia decision. And with the notable exception of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, it’s hard to remember anyone who switched his support for segregation after Brown v. Board of Education and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

And yet, switching sides for those who had staked out such a strong position against marriage equality cannot be an easy thing to do, mainly because it means having to admit that you were once wrong. And while a few in the Republican Party are willing to do that, and while the younger generations of Republicans are telling their elders that they most definitely are wrong, it’s only now that the GOP appears to be truly wrestling with how to pivot, but without pivoting. Last January, a panel of “Political Insiders” convened by The National Journal showed that among GOP insiders, 48% said that their party “should avoid the issue” of gay marriage, and only 11% said they should oppose it outright. So when the Republican National Committee released its “autopsy” of the 2012 presidential election, it chose not to address gay issues directly, but noted instead that those issues stand in the way of reaching the voters that the GOP really needs in order to survive:

For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.

If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out. The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree.

…When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming. If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.

That’s hardly the call for the GOP to become more gay friendly that some observers have made it out to be.  But rather, it’s a call to recognize that the GOP’s positions on gay rights are turning off young voters, the demographic that the party really wants to attract. But how the GOP will do that without changing its positions on gay marriage is anybody’s guess. My  guess is magic. Or social media, which is also magic. Or more realistically, as Michelangelo Signorile suggests, the Supreme Court:

It’s been been clear since President Obama came out for marriage equality in May of 2012 that a Democrat could never win the Democratic presidential nomination again without supporting marriage equality. But few of us would have imagined just a few years ago that contenders might be fiercely battling one another over who has done more for gay equality. With mainstream America embracing gay rights, that’s becoming a bigger reality. The GOP’s only hope, it seems, is for the Supreme Court to take the issue off the table entirely. It’s ironic (and grotesque) that the party that has been the most vociferously anti-gay, the party that brutally attacked LGBT people for decades and exploited homophobia for political gain, may be praying that the justices next week begin the process of giving gays full equality.

GOP Sen. Portman supports equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2013

I knew it had to happen at some point. Some Republican US Senator had to be the first to endorse marriage equality, but I was thinking maybe Sue Collins or Mark Kirk. I certainly wasn’t guessing Ohio’s freshman Senator, Rob Portman.

But then again I didn’t know that Portman has a gay son. (Cleveland.com)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman on Thursday announced he has reversed his longtime opposition to same-sex marriage after reconsidering the issue because his 21-year-old son, Will, is gay.

Portman said his son, a junior at Yale University, told him and his wife, Jane, that he’s gay and “it was not a choice, it was who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember.”

“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years,” Portman told reporters in an interview at his office.

This is a bit risky. Ohio Republicans are a different breed from the New Hampshire strain.

But I’m going to hazard a guess that this wont much hurt Portman. It might even help him. Times have changed and even the wing-nuts can accept a father acting out of love for his kid.

(CNN has a fuller story )

UPDATE: Sen. Portman has written an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch expressing his views on marriage. Some I disagree with (I hope for an expansive court decision on marriage equality), but as an appeal to other conservatives and Republicans, I welcome this step. It’s far stronger to have Portman assert in his own words his support for equality than simply to tell the press.

GOP tries unsuccessfully to block Minnesota marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

March 14th, 2013

A series of procedural votes suggest that marriage will pass the Minnesota Senate. (PostBulletin)

While the votes were procedural, Republicans portrayed a final floor vote as a functional vote on gay marriage. That motion, which adds the bill to a long list of bills awaiting action on the Senate floor, passed 35-31. One Republican senator joined all but four of the chamber’s Democrats to keep the bill moving.

But it is the argument in opposition that floors me. Having discovered that marriage equality is coming to Minnesota, Senate Republicans have suddenly found a concern over the fiscal impact of marriage.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans produced a document they said shows that authorizing gay marriage could cost the state’s insurance fund over $600,000 a year to provide coverage to spouses of gay state employees. They questioned whether it could also increase court costs or have other ramifications on state spending, and said the bill should be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees spending.

“I think it’s going to cost the state of Minnesota a bunch of money,” said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson. “I think that impact is going to be significant. If I’m wrong, so be it.”

So that’s why they oppose equality. Not because it is gay people we are talking about, but because treating all of the state’s citizens equally would increase the annual state budget by 0.0018 percent.

As a fiscal conservative – and an accountant – this argument is far far more offensive than worries about The Children, or the Traditional Definition of Marriage, or even The End of Civilization As We Know It.

This is an acknowledgment that gay citizens are treated unequally. This is a calculation of the cost to the gay and lesbian citizens of Minnesota that they unfairly pay. And the argument is that although gays and lesbians receive $600,000 less in state services – services freely given to straight state employees but for which gay state employees have to reach in their own pocket – this discrimination should continue because equality would increase the budget by about 1.8 thousands of a percent.

As an argument for tossing the right to a citizen’s self determination out the window, this is about as offensive and stupid as it gets.

Brady survives ouster attempt

Timothy Kincaid

March 12th, 2013

When Pat Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, endorsed marriage equality earlier this year, many thought it would end his influence and position in the party. But instead it seems to have highlighted a decline in the sway of social conservatives. Moderates – and those who don’t much care one way or the other – appear to no longer be giving the far right control over social issues; or at least not in this matter.

Sources within the GOP state central committee said the group of committee members seeking Brady’s ouster had been having difficulty coming up with the required 60 percent of the weighted vote to remove the state chairman. Questions also were raised over whether such action could be taken during a special meeting under the state GOP’s rules.

The states other party power players, including the House GOP leader and Sen. Mark Kirk, have sided with Brady.

While this does not suggest that Republicans as a whole are going to do an about face on marriage, it does portend that there are going to be some political fireworks ahead.

Final Tally: 131 Republicans Sign Brief Opposing Prop 8

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2013

The list includes Mormon former Utah governor and GOP presidential nomination candidate, former New Mexico governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson, former Reps. Mary Bono Mack, Jom Kolbe, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, former New Jersey governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, columnist David Frum, Clint Eastwood, and Mary Cheney (but not her father). Sadly, the list only includes seven current office holders: Reps. Richard Hanna (NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), New Hampshire State Sens. John Reagan and Nancy Stiles, Wyoming State Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff and Dan Zwonitzer, and New York State Sen. Mark Grissanti, who cast the pivotal vote allowing same-sex marriage in New York.

It’s easy to get caught up in who signed and who didn’t sign, the actual arguments in the brief (PDF: 130KB/42 pages) have mostly been overlooked. Which is a shame, because these arguments appear to be addressed to conservatives specifically:

Amici do not denigrate the deeply held social, cultural, and religious tenets that lead sincere people to take the opposite view (and, indeed, some amici themselves once held the opposite view). Whether same-sex couples should have access to civil marriage divides thoughtful, concerned citizens. But this Court has long recognized that a belief, no matter how strongly or sincerely held, cannot justify a legal distinction that is unsupported by a factual basis, especially where something as important as the right to civil marriage is concerned. Amici take this position with the understanding that providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples — which is the only issue raised in this case — poses no credible threat to religious freedom or to the institution of religious marriage. Amici believe firmly that religious individuals and organizations should, and will, make their own decisions about whether and how to participate in marriages between people of the same sex, and that the government must not intervene in those decisions.

Another area in which the brief appears to address anti-gay activists, in particular, directly, is in the misuse of social science research:

Amici do not believe that measures like Proposition 8 rest on a legitimate, fact-based justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage. Over the past two decades, amici have seen each argument against same-sex marriage discredited by social science, rejected by courts, and undermined by their own experiences with committed same-sex couples, including those whose civil marriages have been given legal recognition in various States. Amici thus do not believe that any “reasonable support in fact” exists for arguments that allowing same-sex couples to join in civil marriage will damage the institution, jeopardize children, or cause any other social ills. Instead, the facts and evidence show that permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples will enhance the institution, protect children, and benefit society generally.

The brief goes very deeply into the argument that marriage is good for families and children, including children in families with  same-sex parents:

Marriage also benefits children. “We know, for instance, that children who grow up in intact, married families are significantly more likely to graduate from high school, finish college, become gainfully employed, and enjoy a stable family life themselves[.]” Institute for American Values, When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America 52 (2010); see also id. at 95 … These benefits have become even more critical in recent decades, as marital rates have declined and child-rearing has become increasingly untethered to marriage. See, e.g., Cherlin, American Marriage in the Early Twenty-First Century, 15 The Future of Children 33, 35-36 (2005).

These findings do not depend on the gender of the individuals forming the married couple. Same-sex couples, just like couples composed of a man and a woman, benefit from the security and bilateral loyalty conferred by civil marriage. There is no reason to believe that the salutary effects of civil marriage arise to any lesser degree when two women or two men lawfully marry each other than when a man and a woman marry.

…Moreover, hundreds of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples5 — some married, some precluded from marrying — would benefit from the security and stability that civil marriage confers. The denial of civil marriage to same-sex couples does not mean that their children will be raised by married opposite-sex couples. Rather, the choice here is between allowing same-sex couples to marry, thereby conferring on their children the benefits of marriage, and depriving those children of married parents altogether.

…It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that amici do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.

The brief also tackles the oft-heard “sincerely held belief” argument:

However firmly and honestly held, the belief that same-sex couples should be treated differently from opposite-sex couples where civil marriage is concerned, by itself, does not provide a permissible justification for a discriminatory law like Proposition 8. The rule that a classification must find support in a legitimate factual justification is central to our constitutional tradition. This Court has long recognized that private beliefs, no matter how strongly held, do not, without more, establish a constitutional basis for a law.

As you can see, the brief includes arguments that we’ve all heard before, but couched in a way to address conservatives especially. That is particularly evident in the final, lengthy section designed to argue that overturning Prop 8 is would not be an act of judicial activism. What I find interesting is the way this brief invokes James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, among others, in what looks to me an attempt to address those who hold the “original intent” view of the Constitution (they’re looking at you, Scalia):

Amici recognize that a signal and admirable characteristic of our judiciary is the exercise of restraint when confronted with a provision duly enacted by the people or their representatives, and it is not the job of this Court “to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” National Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 132 S. Ct. 2566, 2579 (2012). Nonetheless, this Court’s “deference in matters of policy cannot …become abdication in matters of law.” Id. It is this Court’s duty to set aside laws that overstep the limits imposed by the Constitution—limits that reflect a different kind of restraint that the people wisely imposed on themselves to ensure that segments of the population are not deprived of liberties that there is no legitimate basis to deny them. As James Madison put it,

In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents.

…It is accordingly not a violation of principles of judicial restraint for this Court to strike down laws that infringe on “fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.” McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3042 (2010). It is instead a key protection of limited, constitutionally constrained government. See The Federalist No. 78 (Hamilton) (“[A] limited Constitution … can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void.”); see also Madison, Speech in Congress on the Removal Power (June 8, 1789).

Click here to see the full list of signatories

Minnesota GOP leaders fall on either side of marriage debate

Timothy Kincaid

February 27th, 2013

This week has seen a number of prominent Republicans speak out in favor of equality. But not all GOP members are signed on for a new perspective on marriage or ready to apply laws equally to all of a state’s citizens. Some Republican legislators in Minnesota rallied today to announce their opposition to that state’s move towards allowing same sex couples the same access to marriage law as heterosexual couples. (CBS)

The gay marriage bill was unveiled Wednesday at the Capitol. Its backers say last fall’s defeat of a constitutional gay marriage ban shows the state is ready for gay marriages.

But Republicans say voters only rejected putting the ban in the constitution, and that it shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement of gay marriage. About 15 GOP lawmakers gathered for a press conference against the bill.

Meanwhile one more prominent Minnesota Republican has added her voice in support. Patricia Anderson served as Minnesota State Auditor from 2003-07 and as Republican National Committeewoman from 2011-12. She has also run as a Republican candidate for governor and currently serves as the chair of the Fourth Congressional District Republicans. (Pioneer Press)

If we are truly the party of freedom and limited government, what justification is there to use the power of government to restrict people’s lives?

Overwhelmingly, younger generations support marriage for same-sex couples, and I agree with Sen. Petersen that it is inevitable. As a mother of generally Republican-leaning children in high school and college, it was difficult to explain to them why our party took the position it did. The philosophical double standard was troublesome, to say the least.

I believe it is time for Minnesota state law to finally reflect the fact that marriage is about the love, commitment and responsibility that two people share. Marriage is good for children, and it strengthens families and communities. If we truly believe these things, I cannot think of any valid reason for our state to continue to exclude same-sex couples from having the opportunity to marry and pursue happiness like anyone else.

See also a Minnesota Post interview.

David Frum’s reversal

Timothy Kincaid

February 27th, 2013

Why David Frum signed the amicus brief (Daily Beast):

As a conservative concerned with stabilizing families to rely less on government aid, I have been convinced: I’ve been worrying about the wrong thing. Stopping same-sex marriages does nothing to support families battered by economic adversity. Instead, it excludes and punishes people who seek only to live as conservatives would urge them to live. Treating same-sex partnerships differently from husband-wife marriages only serves to divide and antagonize those who ought to be working together.

Like many signatories of the amicus brief, my thinking has been influenced by the fine example of the many committed, devoted same-sex couples I know. At least as much, however, I have also been swayed by an intensifying awareness of the harm culture-war politics has done to my party. Culture-war politics have isolated the GOP from the America of the present and future, fastening it to politics of nostalgia for a (mis)remembered past. Culture-war politics have substituted for relevant cultural policies aimed at encouraging the raising of children within married families. Worst of all, culture-war politics has taught the GOP to talk to America as if the nation were split into hostile halves, as if more separates Americans than unites them.

UPDATED: Prominent Republicans file amicus brief in Prop8 case

Timothy Kincaid

February 26th, 2013

New York Times

Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.

They are supporting equality. So far there are 75 names attached to the brief, which will be filed this week.

UPDATE: Here’s the list – so far:

Ken Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Tim Adams, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2005-2007

David D. Aufhauser, General Counsel, Department of Treasury, 2001-2003

Cliff S. Asness, Businessman, Philanthropist, and Author

John B. Bellinger III, Legal Adviser to the Department of State, 2005-2009

Katie Biber, General Counsel, Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012

Mary Bono Mack, Member of Congress, 1998-2013

William A. Burck, Deputy Staff Secretary, Special Counsel and Deputy Counsel to the President, 2005-2009

Alex Castellanos, Republican Media Advisor

Paul Cellucci, Governor of Massachusetts, 1997-2001, and Ambassador to Canada, 2001-2005

Mary Cheney, Director of Vice Presidential Operations, Bush-Cheney 2004

Jim Cicconi, Assistant to the President & Deputy to the Chief of Staff, 1989-1990

James B. Comey, United States Deputy Attorney General, 2003-2005

R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. Alternative Representative, United Nations Security Council, 2007-2009

Julie Cram, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director White House Office of Public Liaison, 2007-2009

Michele Davis, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Director of Policy Planning, Department of the Treasury, 2006-2009

Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, 1981-1984 and 1987-1989

Lew Eisenberg, Finance Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2002-2004

Elizabeth Noyer Feld, Public Affairs Specialist, White House Office of Management and Budget, 1984-1987

David Frum, Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002

Richard Galen, Communications Director, Speaker’s Political Office, 1996-1997

Mark Gerson, Chairman, Gerson Lehrman Group and Author of The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars and In the Classroom: Dispatches from an Inner-City School that Works

Benjamin Ginsberg, General Counsel, Bush-Cheney 2000 & 2004

Adrian Gray, Director of Strategy, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Richard Grenell, Spokesman, U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, 2001-2008

Patrick Guerriero, Mayor, Melrose Massachusetts and member of Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1993-2001

Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, 2005-2009

Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, 2005-2009

Richard Hanna, Member of Congress, 2011-Present

Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, 2005-2009

Margaret Hoover, Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, 2005-2006

Michael Huffington, Member of Congress, 1993-1995

Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah, 2005-2009

David A. Javdan, General Counsel, United States Small Business Administration, 2002-2006

Reuben Jeffery, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, 2007-2009

Greg Jenkins, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Advance, 2003-2004

Coddy Johnson, National Field Director, Bush-Cheney 2004

Gary Johnson, Governor of New Mexico, 1995-2003

Robert Kabel, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, 1982-1985

Theodore W. Kassinger, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, 2004-2005

Jonathan Kislak, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Small Community and Rural Development, 1989-1991

David Kochel, Senior Advisor to Mitt Romney’s Iowa Campaign, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012

James Kolbe, Member of Congress, 1985-2007

Jeffrey Kupfer, Acting Deputy Secretary of Energy, 2008-2009

Kathryn Lehman, Chief of Staff, House Republican Conference, 2003-2005

Daniel Loeb, Businessman and Philanthropist

Alex Lundry, Director of Data Science, Romney for President, 2012

Greg Mankiw, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005

Catherine Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director for Policy & Planning, 2005-2007

Kevin Martin, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2005-2009

David McCormick, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2007-2009

Mark McKinnon, Republican Media Advisor

Bruce P. Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2001-2003

Connie Morella, Member of Congress, 1987-2003 and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003-2007

Michael E. Murphy, Republican Political Consultant

Michael Napolitano, White House Office of Political Affairs, 2001-2003

Ana Navarro, National Hispanic Co-Chair for Senator John McCain’s Presidential Campaign, 2008

Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting, 2002-2005

Nancy Pfotenhauer, Economist, Presidential Transition Team, 1988 and President’s Council on Competitiveness, 1990

J. Stanley Pottinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney General (Civil Rights Division), 1973-1977

Michael Powell, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2001-2005

Deborah Pryce, Member of Congress, 1993-2009

John Reagan, New Hampshire State Senator, 2012-Present

Kelley Robertson, Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress, 1989-Present

Harvey S. Rosen, Member and Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005

Lee Rudofsky, Deputy General Counsel, Romney for President, 2012

Patrick Ruffini, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007

Steve Schmidt, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President, 2004-2006

Ken Spain, Communications Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2009-2010

Robert Steel, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, 2006-2008

David Stockman, Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1981-1985

Jane Swift, Governor of Massachusetts, 2001-2003

Michael E. Toner, Chairman and Commissioner, Federal Election Commission, 2002-2007

Michael Turk, eCampaign Director for Bush-Cheney 2004

Mark Wallace, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for UN Management and Reform, 2006-2008

Nicolle Wallace, Assistant to the President and White House Communications Director, 2005-2008

William F. Weld, Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997, and Assistant U.S. Attorney General (Criminal Division), 1986-1988

Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, 1994-2001, and Administrator of the EPA, 2001-2003

Meg Whitman, Republican Nominee for Governor of California, 2010

Robert Wickers, Republican Political Consultant

Dan Zwonitzer, Wyoming State Representative, 2005-present

The New York Times is suggesting that this sort of amicus brief – along with the level of signatories – might be very influential in the swing-votes on the Supreme Court.

Sun-Times politics wonk: Republicans want marriage equality passed and over with

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2013

Recently a friend and I play a smart-phone game in which you spell words to flip letters and gain control of the board. If you play creatively and protect your letters, you can situate yourself into a non-losable position. And when I’m so lucky as to do so, Anthony will play a word that ends the game, letting me win, and move on to the next game.

And, according to Rich Miller, the political reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, that is what Illinois Republicans want to do on the issue of marriage equality: lose the battle and move on to the next one.

Talk to just about any top Illinois Republican these days off the record and they’ll freely admit that they want the bill legalizing gay marriage to be approved as soon as possible.

The reason so many Republicans would like to see the bill passed is because they know that with the huge, new Democratic majorities in both legislative chambers, that it’s eventually going to pass anyway.

They want to get this issue out of the way and behind them as soon as possible. The issue is trending hard against the GOP’s historical opposition, and they want the thing off the table before it starts to hurt them.

After New Hampshire Republicans refused to reverse marriage, and after New York Republicans met in caucus and came out with enough votes to pass marriage, and after the call by Wyoming Republicans for marriage (and it’s very close vote in today’s committee hearing), and after Rhode Island’s House Minority Leader lecturing the Senate Leader about delaying votes, and after the Illinois GOP chairman’s endorsement of equality (without losing his position), this argument makes a lot of sense.

And I’m sure that BTB readers will happily agree. Let’s pass marriage equality and move on.

Illinios GOP anti-gays have trouble ousting State Chairman

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2013

Thing got very interesting in Illinois at the start of the year. In a move I didn’t anticipate, the state Republican Party chairman endorsed marriage equality and began lobbying legislators to support a marriage bill.

While I was delighted by his support, I feared that he would not hold his position much longer. And the Party does have a provision for removing the state chairman should he do something odd or out of character for a Republican. (Daily Herald)

According to party rules, a special meeting can be called if at least five of the 18 state central committeemen request it.

So, not surprisingly, a committeeman has been rallying the forces to removed Pat Brady from office. Sugar Grove dairy magnate and state Sen. Jim Oberweis wants him gone because, you know, there are more important issues to deal with, you see. But he’s not finding it as easy as he expected.

Oberweis said he emailed “six or seven” committeemen, and several expressed their support for a special meeting. Oberweis said he has yet to see “five hands go up.”

Because, as it turns out, Republican leadership in Illinois may not love Teh Ghey so much, but what they really don’t like is losing. And they took a little glance at the last election results and decided that kicking out a marriage supporter is just not smart politics. As Republican House Leader Tom Cross put it:

“It reaffirms people’s worst fears about our party. I think we bragged about being the big tent party over the years. And there are going to be people that adamantly oppose gay marriage and people who support it. And we need to be the party that says, ‘Hey, that’s fine.’”

Various groups, including women, Latinos and young people aren’t listening to Republicans, Cross said,

“In the last election, we lost Kane County, DuPage County, Lake County, Will County. And we lost almost all demographic groups,” Cross said. “Old white guys aren’t going to win the elections any more,”

Now Oberweis may yet win. Brady may go. It seems to good to be true that the anti-gay forces in the Illinois GOP can’t get five committeemen to oppose ‘The HomoSEXshull Agenda’.

But at the moment it seems possible. And if so, we just may be sitting in front row seats for the biggest political extravaganza in decades: the drastic reformation of a political party. This could prove to be a VERY interesting year.

GOP “Political Insiders” Support Avoiding Same-Sex Marriage As An Issue

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2013

The National Journal hosts a panel they call Political Insiders, consisting of a selected group of about a hundred politicians (current and retired), consultants and strategists from each party. Obviously, the panel isn’t necessarily representative of the larger political class, but it can be a good indication of how the pulse is beating on several issues. A recent Political Insiders question asked the following:

Which statement comes closest to your political views on gay marriage?
Democrats
(109 votes)
Republicans
(99 votes)
My party should support it 97% 27%
My party should oppose it 0% 11%
My party should avoid the issue 2% 48%
Other 1% 14%

A few select responses:

“Wouldn’t it be fascinating if for once the Republicans were on the front side of a historic wave, rather than thrashed around in the undertow?” one GOP insider asked.

…”The lines have been drawn on this. Such a polarizing topic, and given other pressing issues, this is a red herring with dynamite taped to its back. No good can come from messing with it,” another added.

That second line is indicative of how far we’ve come in such a short time. It was only a few years ago when you’d hear Democrats muttering those rueful sentiments. But now, only 2% of the Dems on this panel want to avoid it, with 97% seeing it as both a winning issue and the right position to take. My, but how the wedge has shifted.

I wonder though, is there any other issue — any issue at all — in which nearly half of the Republican members of this panel think the party should avoid?

Virginia Republicans suddenly support gay judge

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2013

20130114-222750.jpg

Poor Belshazzar could be forgiven for not reading the handwriting on the wall considering how fast it’s been scribbling. I swear I wouldn’t be surprised if the Republican Party sent out a press release saying, “Hey, about that marriage thing, you knew we were kidding, right? I mean c’mon it was just a joke. Ha ha. Dude, I mean seriously, of course we support you.”

Well, okay maybe that would surprise me. But not much more than what’s happening in Virginia.

It seems that a Mr. Tracy Thorne-Begland was nominated as a General District Court judge. True, it’s more like People’s Court than Supreme Court, but last year the legislature just wasn’t having it.

Not cuz he’s gay, hrmph mutter mumble, but because he’s one of those ‘openly aggressively gay’ gays and had gone on TV as a Navy pilot opposing DADT. And that was violating military policy and breaking the law and so such.

Ah, but that was last year. And since then it seems they’ve seen the hand writing on the wall. And it was writing “mene mene of you are going to lose elections if you don’t drop the anti-gay crap”. So this year they have a whole new tune.

In the interim Thorne-Begland got a temporary appointment and, by golly it turns out that all his confirmation problems turned out to be a huge comical misunderstanding. (WaPo)

Republican leaders, who are hoping to de-emphasize some of the social issues that dominated the previous session, said they were changing course in this case because they had received more information. Morris said he initially believed that Thorne-Begland had violated Navy regulations by coming out on national television but later concluded that he had not because he was not in uniform on TV.

Well golly gee, I’m awfully glad that was all cleared up. For a moment there I thought it might have something to do with obvious political trends or the fact that Corporate America had a lil’ chat about what is good for business.

And so today a joint House and Senate panel voted unanimously to advance his approval to the floor.

“I share with you a high degree of comfort you will be certified and elected on the Senate side,” Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) told Thorne-Begland on Monday.

Ya think so, Mr. Majority Leader? Well, I tekel u-pharsin word for that.

Sen Kirk backs pro-gay Illinois GOP Chairman

Timothy Kincaid

January 10th, 2013

Confirmed bachelor, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) has weighed in on the brouhaha resulting from Illinois GOP State Chairman’s support for marriage equality. (WBEZ)

“Senator Kirk has full confidence in Pat Brady’s leadership as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and looks forward to working with him to elect Republicans in 2014,” Lance Trover, a Kirk spokesman, said in a statement.

Illinois GOP Chair Resists Calls To Resign Over Marriage Support

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2013

Chicago’s WBEZ reports:

The head of Illinois’ beleaguered Republican Party is staring down a revolt from some state party bosses after he bucked the official GOP line last week and urged state lawmakers to approve same-sex marriage.

State GOP Chairman Pat Brady faces growing calls for his resignation, at a time when some Illinois Republicans are rethinking the party’s image and stance on social issues, following a dismal showing in November’s elections.

Brady told WBEZ that he hadn’t spoken to party members before speaking out in support of a proposed marriage quality bill. Brady calls the ban on marriage quality the “last condoned discrimination” in Illinois. It is unclear whether there are enough votes in the party’s state committee to force his ouster. Brady isn’t backing down from the threat:

“If people want to throw me out because I took a stand on an issue of discrimination [as] the chairman of the Republican Party, the party founded by Abraham Lincoln, then that’s – that’s up to them and they’re free to do it,” Brady said. “But I’m not backing down.”

Pat Brady lobbies for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

January 2nd, 2013

The effort to pass marriage equality in Illinois has a valuable new ally, Pat Brady. He has pulled out his phone and started calling legislators to encourage support for the bill.

Though you probably haven’t heard of Brady, he has a rolodex to envy. It’s not from his years with high power law and accounting firms, nor his work with the state attorney’s office or the Department of Justice.

No, Pat Brady has the ear of a number of legislators in the state for another reason. He’s the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. (Daily Herald)

Brady said he was making the calls as a citizen, outside of his official role with the Illinois Republican Party.

“I think it’s time for people to support this,” Brady said.

2013 is already turning out to be very interesting.

UPDATE: Brady’s efforts are extremely important, as vote count by conservative site Illinois Review suggest that the bill cannot pass without some Republican support. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Heather Steans, says she has the votes, “if everyone shows up”.

Suburban Romney voters supported marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2012

Walter Olson of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute took a look at the voting results from this month and found something interesting: marriage equality passed in three states – and a ban was defeated in one – in part due to suburban Romney voters.

The Maryland ballot referendum, Question 6, essentially asked voters to confirm or reject a new law allowing same-sex marriage. In 11 of the 18 counties that Mitt Romney carried, Question 6 fared better than President Obama, a sign that GOP voters had crossed over in support. While the phenomenon could be seen everywhere from farm towns to blue-collar inner suburbs, the biggest swings tended to come in affluent bedroom communities. At one precinct in Hunt Valley, north of Baltimore, with 2,116 votes cast, there was a 28 percentage-point swing, leading to a landslide for Romney and the ballot question: Obama drew a paltry 37 percent, but Question 6 carried the precinct with a whopping 65 percent.

And it wasn’t just an odd quirk. Consistently, in all four states, a significant number of suburban Republicans went to the polls and voted for Mitt Romney and marriage equality.

This isn’t to say that Republicans supported marriage equality as a whole or that Democrats did not. Rather, it says that enough Republicans in suburban counties went against their party – exit polls suggested 20 to 25 percent – to make up for those rural conservative Democrats who voted to oppose our marriage rights.

It turns out that in 2012, demographics drove the marriage vote in significant ways. While party registration and presidential selection may have influenced most personal votes, the culture of the community voters live in had tremendous impact on Republicans (and to some extent Democrats).

One quick way to look for towns where Republicans were especially likely to approve same-sex marriage is to consult the state-by-state Yahoo.com “Best Places to Live” series, which highlights communities with high incomes, high education levels and low rates of property crime. The list of “Best Places to Live in Minnesota” is dominated by outlying Twin Cities suburbs, most of which tilt strongly GOP: Sixteen of the 20 supported Romney — six of them by 60 percent or more. But only one town among the 20 voted to ban same-sex marriage, and by an anemic 50.28 percent (had nine voters there switched sides, the outcome would have been different).

This sort of information is valuable in that causes us to nuance our thinking and opens possibilities that we might have been otherwise quick to dismiss.

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