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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2012

Michael Lucas on party and politics

Timothy Kincaid

October 24th, 2012

Porn king Michael Lucas has an op-Ed in the Advocate discussing why he is not (yet) a Republican.

Here’s the simple truth: I’m not a Republican. And here’s the less simple truth: I wish I could be.

I’m an intensely political person by nature, so it’s infuriating not to have a party that I can support. In many ways, that party should be the GOP. As an entrepreneur and an individualist, I am drawn to the Republicans’ hands-off approach to fiscal policy. But although I believe that government should not interfere with business, I believe just as strongly that religion has no business in government.

Lucas’ perspectives are probably more common than many bloggers and blog readers suspect.

Mehlman: Conservative case for marriage

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2012

Considering that Ken Mehlman is perhaps best known for being George Bush’s campaign manager during his “ban gay marriage” reelection campaign, it’s a bit ironic hearing him now advocate for equality. Nevertheless, the message – in this case – is more important than the messenger. And this is a message that needs to be heard.

“Conservative” can mean adherence to a specific set of political positions. However, it also can also refer to a way of life, an approach to thinking and the manner in which one structures their personal affairs. While “conservative” (in this sense) may have a loose correlation with the political term, a far-left Democrat who has a wife and children, a college fund, and retirement savings invested for the long term is far more conservative than a Republican playboy who throws lavish parties and is invested only in risky schemes.

I suspect that because the terms are the same, many people (especially those who live in conservative areas) believe that while they cautiously plan and prepare and value tradition and family, those liberals out there in San Francisco are irresponsible and wife-swapping and are all divorced and their kids run free like animals. That may be an extreme, but I do think it likely that they genuinely believe that liberal people do not value marriage and family as much as they do.

Which raises an interesting disconnect. What do you do with the gay folk who are clamoring for the right to marry, raise kids, live in a white picket fence neighborhood, volunteer for the local boy scout troop, and march in the Halloween Parade? That’s so… conservative. Those aren’t “San Francisco values”. How can this be?

One answer, the one pushed by those who have an interest in dividing the nation and living off the discord, is that Teh Gheys are only trying to get into marriage – and other conservative institutions – to destroy it! They don’t really want to marry, they hate marriage (because it was designed by God) and they want to bring it to an end.

And if you live in that bubble and are looking for a way to make your conflicting impressions make sense, this is an appealing answer. And besides, it’s championed by people who claim that they are good conservatives, the same people who value tradition and family and morality and decency, so it must be true.

Which makes it all the more important that another answer be heard. And that it too be championed by people who are good conservatives. They don’t want to hear from the people who insist that there be no crèche at Christmas or those who think it’s better to live together before marriage or those who think that more taxes are the solution to an economy without jobs or the folks who insist that Palestinians have as valid a claim on Jerusalem as the Jews. They don’t trust their judgment and they aren’t going to agree with anything you say.

But a conservative – especially one they trust – well, they’ll maybe at least listen. So I love that Ken Mehlman starts his op-ed this way: (StarTribune)

What do Clint Eastwood, Dick Cheney, Ted Olson, and John Bolton have in common? All are strong, lifelong conservatives. Each has fought on behalf of smaller government. And all support the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.

You may think Eastwood a doddering fool, but they LOVED his speech about the empty chair. You may think Cheney a war-monger, they think he’s a defender of the nation. And John Bolton, well he’s that Fox News guy who stood up to the United Nations or something.

And Mehlman speaks their language.

But this amendment would put a one-size-fits-all government mandate on all private institutions, including our churches, by telling them that any marriage they choose to perform is null and void for the purposes of Minnesota.

As Republicans, we respect the individual and work to empower people to live as they see fit, with as little intrusion by the government as practical. This idea is grounded in an important Judeo-Christian value that we should all treat others as we would like to be treated.

The argument isn’t new. It’s not really that revolutionary. And to those who think conservative lives equals conservative politics, this is an appeal that allows them the ability to hear our appeal and to consider us as maybe, just possibly, a little bit, well, conservative.

This is the message that will eventually win them over. And let’s hope that Mehlman’s appeal will work with voters in Minnesota. (And some day later we can deal with the eventual outcome: the day that conservatives start ranting about how The Gays need to settle down and find a good man and get married and raise a family like decent people and lesbians do.)

Roy McDonald (Republican Four) appears to have lost primary

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage finally has a non-made-up-totally-bogus reason to celebrate. It appears that Roy McDonald has fallen victim to their attempts to punish those Republican New York State Senators who voted for equality. (Times Union)

Marchione was up by 110 votes when counting began Monday in two counties of the 43rd State Senate District. McDonald gained 23 votes in Saratoga County, but was offset by a 26-vote pickup for Marchione in Columbia County, according to election officials in Saratoga and Columbia counties. Elections officials in Rensselaer and Washington counties tallied their absentee ballots last week.

All things considered, McDonald trailed by 113 votes with 50 ballots set aside.

This is very sad news and probably will hurt us on some level with close legislative votes in which we need some Republican support. But on some level, this is an inspiring story.

Sometimes victory comes in unexpected ways. Sometimes someone goes against the odds, does the right thing… and loses anyway. But there is nobility in doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, and sometimes in the loss comes a different victory, the victory of example. Of honor. Of respect. Sometimes this year’s loss gives birth to next year’s greater success.

I don’t know if this is one of those times. Maybe politicians will see McDonald as an example of why you always put the safe bet first, of why you use polls rather than conscience, of why you should kowtow to right-wing extremists. Maybe they will see this as evidence that ill will and malice are tools more effective than integrity, of how you win by following instead of leading.

But maybe (and I know I’m often too optimistic), maybe this off-the-cuff, unprepared but totally honest answer that Sen. Roy McDonald gave to the press at the time of the vote will live on to encourage others:

You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.

You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.

I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.

Saland (one of the Republican Four) wins primary

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2012

Steve Saland, one of four Republicans in the New York Senate to vote for marriage, has won his primary. On election day the results were too close to call, but now that the absentee ballots have been counted it is clear. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

After the remaining absentee and affidavit ballots were counted today at the Dutchess County Board of Elections Saland received 286 and Di Carlo 217, said Fran Knapp, Democratic election commissioner.

This gives Saland a grand total of 5,288 votes and Di Carlo 5,181 votes in Dutchess and Putnam counties — a 107 vote lead for Saland.

There are 34 ballots set aside for judicial review before the results become official.

Of the four, Sen. Alesi did not run for reelection, Sen. Grisante won his primary on election night, and Sen. McDonanald’s absentee ballot count has not been completed.

DADT Is Still An Issue for GOP Base

Jim Burroway

September 18th, 2012

ThinkProgress caught up with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) at last week’s Values Voter Summit and asked wither he would support re-instating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on gay military personnel serving openly which was rescinded one year ago this Thursday. Jordan answered, “We’ll look at guidance from our military, but I’m certainly supportive of going back to the previous policy.” ThinkProgress explains why we should pay attention:

Though first elected in 2006, Jordan is no back-bencher. He chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 160 Republican congressmen dedicated to pushing conservative causes that wields major influence within the GOP caucus.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said earlier that DADT’s revival was “not something that I would personally bring up.” Gov. Mitt Romney, too, has said that he would not pursue its implementation if he wins the presidential race. That’s not exactly a principled stand against DADT’s revival, but it does recognize that DADT is not a burning issue, even among a very substantial number fellow Republicans. But not being a burning issue is not opposition; it’s just a complacent acceptance of the status quo. And that complacency ignores the fact that there are still a lot of Republicans for whom it is a burning issue, and they have been ascendant in the GOP for the past four years.

And so, I would have to say that those statements from McKeon and Romney answer the wrong question. The real question is this: If DADT’s revival were to gain traction, would you oppose it or support it? Because personally, I cannot even begin to imagine that a President Romney would suddenly grow a principled backbone and veto such legislation if it were to reach his desk.

NY primaries pit anti-gay Republicans against pro-gay incumbents

Timothy Kincaid

September 13th, 2012

There’s nothing that angers an anti-gay more than a pro-gay Republican. They consider it traitorous for someone who runs as a conservative or a Republican to vote for equality and they vow revenge.

The National Organization for Marriage has, for example, made it a high priority to “punish” those Republican legislators that voted for marriage equality. The top article in the NOM blog today is:

We promised that we would hold accountable all the politicians in Albany who betrayed us on marriage. We have delivered on our promise to not let the actions of those who flip-flopped and voted against the will of the people be forgotten.

We have fought the good fight, in the name of honor and integrity across New York State—but today we need your help to finish the job!

Today is Primary Day in New York.

But NOM is not alone. Primary opponents too have taken up marriage as an Alamo cause. Though perhaps not exactly wisely.

One rabble rouser who wants to see Sen. Grisanti replaced decided that the smart way to attract people to his arguments is to email them gay porn. Matthew Ricchiazzi, some bisexual dude who unsuccessfully ran for Buffalo mayor (and who evidently opposes equality) sent out this:


Yeah, that wouldn’t have been my first choice of campaign literature but I get the impression that he’s not very bright.

And then there was Juan Reyes who decided that Republican NY city councilman Eric Ulrich was too friendly with gay people. So he sent out this:

That didn’t exactly go as planned. As a result, Rudy Guiliani, who had stayed out of the race, endorsed Elrich.

After seeing what his campaign has done, which is disgusting, Juan doesn’t belong in politics. I don’t know where he belongs, but he belongs someplace else… I find these attacks, the gay-bashing attacks, childish, silly, and a real indication you don’t belong in public service.

It will be interesting to see how the primary goes.

UPDATE: Both Grisanti And Ulrich won their primary races tonight.

David Koch endorses marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

September 1st, 2012

From Fox News

Billionaire businessman David Koch has helped direct millions to Republican candidates but he disagrees with the party on gay marriage.

“I believe in gay marriage,” the 72-year-old Koch told Politico. He was in Tampa as a New York delegate and to attend an event held by Americans for Prosperity — the political advocacy group he helps fund and lead.

And that could make things interesting. When a billionaire speaks, politicians listen.

Invisible support

Timothy Kincaid

August 29th, 2012

In an article entitled “GOP friendlier to gay community — at least behind the scenes“, CNN tells the story of Barbara Ann Fenton and Themis Klarides who propose and seconded, respectively, a proposal that the GOP platform endorse civil unions. It seems to tell a tale of party bosses and right wing activists who craft the voice of the party to be ragingly anti-gay, and delegates who don’t all necessarily agree.

Check out the article and see what you think.

Fenton said after the meeting she had only one disturbing run-in.

“One person did come up and tell me I should renounce my Catholicism — that what I was spewing was pure evil,” Fenton said. “It was hard to keep a straight face.”

But for the most part, the reaction she received from other delegates and Republican staffers was positive. She said she felt that behind the scenes, the party was much more supportive.

“People kept buying me drinks and kept coming up to me saying how they wanted to support my group for doing this. I don’t have a group,” Fenton said. “Some people asked me if I was gay. I told them you could still be for gay rights and be a heterosexual. I don’t think that’s political suicide. If it was, I wouldn’t be a part of this party.”

She said, “One guy even dropped a note in my lap. I thought I was going to get bashed with some nasty note, like you’d get in fifth grade. But what it said essentially was, ‘I’m in the closet. Thank you so much for this.’

“People may now realize you can be gay and still be welcome in the GOP party.”

Personally, I’m decidedly less optimistic than Fenton.

The Republican Convention, circa 1992

Randy Potts

August 29th, 2012

20 years ago, at another Republican National Convention, Mary Fisher stood up to say that “the AIDS virus is not a political creature” and challenged her party to see her as “one with the lonely gay man sheltering a flickering candle from the cold wind of his family’s rejection.”

It’s not far-fetched to believe that George W. Bush’s  record on worldwide HIV/AIDS (called PEPFAR, the “President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief”) was partly inspired by this amazing speech given when his father was up for re-election. In 2012, however, “HIV” and “AIDS” do not exist in the party platform in terms of US-based efforts (PEPFAR’s focus is Africa); instead, where the platform mentions publicly-funded research it says that “research must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups” and lists things like “breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and other killers.” If HIV/AIDS were implied here, it is at the very least unclear and, by any reckoning, an obvious repudiation of Mary Fisher’s call to action.

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This year, the Log Cabin Republicans in their most recent National Update in July had this to say:

As Republicans it is time to recommit to the defense of life and liberty and renew the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  This month the International AIDS Conference was held in Washington, DC, focusing on the need to fight complacency, particularly among gay and bisexual men.  Despite medical advances, LGBT minorities continue to be devastated by the crisis.  While GOP leaders work to rein in government spending, funding for HIV/AIDS programs should remain the priority they were to the Bush administration.

Strong words and yet, thus far in Tampa, not a word has been breathed about HIV/AIDS.  The focus for LCR in addition to a full page ad in Tampa has instead been on marriage equality.

Globe compares 2008 and 2012 Republican Party platforms

Timothy Kincaid

August 29th, 2012

The Boston Globe compares certain statements within the GOP Party platforms between 2008 and 2012:

GAYS IN THE MILITARY

2008: “We affirm . . . the benefits of traditional military culture and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.”

2012: “We will support an objective and open-minded review of the current Administration’s management of military personnel policies and will correct problems with appropriate administrative, legal, or legislative action.”

and

MARRIAGE

2008: “Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it.”

2012: “We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Those two quotes (out of five) might look as though they are less egregious. But I think that in context, and when including the other segments I discussed yesterday, it would be hard to make a case for much improvement. I think “more subtle” might be the best that could be said.

Babeu wins sheriff nomination

Timothy Kincaid

August 29th, 2012

Three months ago Paul Babeu dropped out of the race for Congress amidst a bit of a media circus. It went something like this:

The Phoenix New Times ran a story claiming that Babeu, as Sheriff of Pinal County, threatened to have a former boyfriend deported to Mexico if he disclosed their relationship. The paper demanding an investigation. Babeu responded by announcing that he is indeed gay but that the rest of their charges were false.

After a few more stories it became clear that the New Times was under the impression that by outing Babeu they could end his political career and that the boyfriend story was a vehicle to that end.

Especially disconcerting was an article ran by the New Times which consisted, frankly, of homophobic gay baiting. They ran a shirtless picture of Babeu from a dating website (calling it “sexually explicit”) and posted a picture of him in his underwear which was not on the site (provided by his former boyfriend – a man whose identity they and other media sought to shield). They insinuated that membership in a gay dating site should result in his being fired, equating it to porn production.

The New Times also sought quotes from his primary opponents, particularly State Senator Ron Gould, who ran an ad saying that Washington needs “a straight shooter”. They finally lost all credibility (with me, anyway) when they started running “caption that photo” contests with the pictures given to them by Babeu’s ex-beau.

Additional allegations arose about him dating a former student in Massachusetts. And a panel was assigned the task of looking at the whole mess. On May 11, he dropped out of the congressional race. I pretty much thought at that point that the Phoenix New Times had accomplished their goal and that Paul Babeu’s life in politics was over.

But to their surprise – and mine – his very conservative constituents did not denounce him. Instead, many seemed to rally around him and offer support. Rather than give up on public life, Babeu seems to have decided to broker for even stronger power in Pinal County. Choosing to run again for the office of Sheriff, he formed an alliance with a fellow Republican running for county attorney and a few county supervisor candidates.

And it seems that the Republican voters of Pinal County didn’t much care that Babeu is gay, supports marriage equality, and has a hook-up site membership. They overwhelmingly nominated him for reelection, giving him over 60% of the vote against three opponents. His political allies had mixed results, and “straight shooter” Gould lost the primary, so – depending on how the vote goes in November – it appears that Babeu has come out of the situation with increased influence.

The New Times is plenty bitter about Babeu’s win.

GOP endorses extremist platform

Timothy Kincaid

August 28th, 2012

The Republican Party has now released it’s “emphatically approved” platform for 2012. It is as nasty as you thought. No, actually, it’s worse.

You can read it here but the following provisions are the ones which most directly impact the gay community (emphasis throughout is added):

From the section on the economy

Reform the tax code by reducing marginal tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board in a revenue-neutral manner; Eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers; End the Death Tax; and Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.

One of the few points in this document which could positively impact gay people. In those states in which marriage is not recognized, the inheritance tax unfairly taxes same-sex spouses but not opposite sex spouses. Even in marriage states the IRS has insisted on taxing same-sex spouse inheritance. This was successfully challenged in New York, and is currently expected to be heard by the Supreme Court.

While there are other recourses or methods to correct the inequality, should the SCOTUS fail to require that the Federal Government recognize state marriages, this proposed repeal would level the field by eliminating the inheritance tax altogether. And that’s pretty much where the good stuff ends.

From the section on the Restoration of Constitutional Government:

In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral. We will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes and ask all to join us in rejecting the forces of hatred and bigotry and in denouncing all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, or religious intolerance. We support efforts to help low-income individuals get a fair chance based on their potential and individual merit; but we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides as the best or sole methods through which fairness can be achieved, whether in government, education, or corporate boardrooms. In a free society, the primary role of government is to protect the God-given, inalienable, inherent rights of its citizens, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Merit, ability, aptitude, and results should be the factors that determine advancement in our society.

The language of this paragraph – when inspected closely – endorses discrimination against gay and transgender people.

We learn early on that bigotry and discrimination are as active in what isn’t said as in what is. When everyone in the room is praised in some way except you even a child knows that it is personal. You have been isolated and set aside for dissimilar treatment. You didn’t get the cookie, your school didn’t get repainted, all the people who look like you didn’t get scholarships. Nothing has to be said.

And, similarly, we know that when the list of all of those against whom discrimination is opposed includes all the usual targets of discrimination except you, you know that it wasn’t an oversight.

It means that the 2012 Republican Party does not oppose discrimination against you.

A Restoration of Constitutional Order: Congress and the Executive (Top)

We salute Republican Members of the House of Representatives for enshrining in the Rules of the House the requirement that every bill must cite the provision of the Constitution which permits its introduction. Their adherence to the Constitution stands in stark contrast to the antipathy toward the Constitution demonstrated by the current Administration and its Senate allies by appointing “czars” to evade the confirmation process, making unlawful “recess” appointments when the Senate is not in recess, using executive orders to bypass the separation of powers and its checks and balances, encouraging illegal actions by regulatory agencies from the NLRB to the EPA, openly and notoriously displaying contempt for Congress, the Judiciary, and the Constitutional prerogatives of the individual States, refusing to defend the nation’s laws in federal courts or enforce them on the streets, ignoring the legal requirement for legislative enactment of an annual budget, gutting welfare reform by unilaterally removing its statutory work requirement, buying senatorial votes with special favors, and evading the legal requirement for congressional consultation regarding troop commitments overseas. A Republican President and Republican Senate will join House Republicans in living by the rule of law, the foundation of the American Republic.

That “defend the nation’s laws” part is in reference to the determination by the Attorney General and the Justice Department that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the Constitution.

Defending Marriage Against An Activist Judiciary

A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.

A Sacred Contract: Defense of Marriage

That is why Congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. The current Administration’s open defiance of this constitutional principle – in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing a same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts – makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath. We commend the United States House of Representatives and State Attorneys General who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.

We’ve already discussed this at length.

From their section on The First Amendment:

The most offensive instance of this war on religion has been the current Administration’s attempt to compel faith-related institutions, as well as believing individuals, to contravene their deeply held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs regarding health services, traditional marriage, or abortion. This forcible secularization of religious and religiously affiliated organizations, including faith-based hospitals and colleges, has been in tandem with the current Administration’s audacity in declaring which faith-related activities are, or are not, protected by the First Amendment – an unprecedented aggression repudiated by a unanimous Supreme Court in its Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC decision. We pledge to respect the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard the independence of their institutions from government. We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and of our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, and we affirm the right of students to engage in prayer at public school events in public schools and to have equal access to public schools and other public facilities to accommodate religious freedom in the public square. We assert every citizen’s right to apply religious values to public policy and the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs, removing religious symbols, or submitting to government-imposed hiring practices. We oppose government discrimination against businesses due to religious views. We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association of the Boy Scouts of America and other service organizations whose values are under assault and condemn the State blacklisting of religious groups which decline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples. We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage and call for a federal investigation into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights.

That is not only absurd, it is a declaration of outright war on gay people. You will notice that they DO NOT condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism that proponents of “traditional marriage” actually engage in on an ongoing basis. In other words, saying unkind things about Chick-Fil-A is condemned by the GOP. Burning down the gay-supportive South Bloomingdale Christian Church is not.

And it is laughable that these “lower taxes, no government spending” folk are all lined up at the trough demanding that they can hold on to their “beliefs” and “participate fully in public programs” as well.

Judicial Activism: A Threat to the U.S. Constitution

Despite improvements as a result of Republican nominations to the judiciary, some judges in the federal courts remain far afield from their constitutional limitations. The U.S. Constitution is the law of the land. Judicial activism which includes reliance on foreign law or unratified treaties undermines American law. The sole solution, apart from impeachment, is the appointment of constitutionalist jurists, who will interpret the law as it was originally intended rather than make it. That is both a presidential responsibility, in selecting judicial candidates, and a senatorial responsibility, in confirming them. We urge Republican Senators to do all in their power to prevent the elevation of additional leftist ideologues to the courts, particularly in the waning days of the current Administration. In addition to appointing activist judges, the current Administration has included an activist and highly partisan Department of Justice. With a Republican Administration, the Department will stop suing States for exercising those powers reserved to the States, will stop abusing its preclearance authority to block photo-ID voting laws, and will fulfill its responsibility to defend all federal laws in court, including the Defense of Marriage Act.

They just can’t get enough of that, can they?

Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage

The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.

Just in case you missed it elsewhere. Cuz this party wouldn’t want you to accidentally think that they agree with the VAST MAJORITY of the American people who support either marriage (over half) or civil unions (another third).

Adoption and Foster Care

Families formed or enlarged by adoption strengthen our communities and ennoble our nation. We applaud the Republican legislative initiatives that led to a significant increase in adoptions in recent years, and we call upon the private sector to consider the needs of adoptive families on a par with others. Any restructuring of the federal tax code should recognize the financial impact of the adoption process and the commitment made by adoptive families. The nation’s foster care system remains a necessary fallback for youngsters from troubled families. Because of reforms initiated by many States, the number of foster children has declined to just over 400,000. A major problem of the system is its lack of support, financial and otherwise, for teens who age out of foster care and into a world in which many are not prepared to go it alone. We urge States to work with the faith-based and other community groups which reach out to these young people in need.

I’m sure it wasn’t intended, but this would be beneficial to same-sex families, many of whom adopt. Other than the “faith-based” crack, this is actually a pretty good position.

Supporting Federal Healthcare Research and Development

We support federal investment in healthcare delivery systems and solutions creating innovative means to provide greater, more cost-effective access to high quality healthcare. We also support federal investment in basic and applied biomedical research, especially the neuroscience research that may hold great potential for dealing with diseases and disorders such as Autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. If we are to make significant headway against breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, and other killers, research must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups.

This is a roundabout way of saying that the party no longer wishes to fund research on HIV/AIDS. That’s reason enough to question their wisdom. At a time when we are on the verge of a breakthrough, with the possibility of the elimination of transmission – if not a complete cure – is at the doorstep, that’s when the GOP wants to focus on Autism and Alzheimers?

This platform is far too extreme for Gerald Ford or George Bush, Sr. And I’ve recently heard commentators say that Ronald Reagan could not be comfortable in this crowd. But with this step they show themselves to be too extreme to be the party of George W. Bush, who – if nothing else – did see the importance of HIV/AIDS programs.

Protecting Individual Conscience in Healthcare

No healthcare professional or organization should ever be required to perform, provide for, withhold, or refer for a medical service against their conscience. This is especially true of the religious organizations which deliver a major portion of America’s healthcare, a service rooted in the charity of faith communities. We do not believe, however, that healthcare providers should be allowed to withhold services because the healthcare provider believes the patient’s life is not worth living. We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty. We likewise support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their children, including mental health treatment, drug treatment, and treatment involving pregnancy, contraceptives and abortion. We urge enactment of pending legislation that would require parental consent to transport girls across state lines for abortions.

I suspect that this is a direct dig at California’s proposed law to ban reparative therapy for minors.

Under Supporting our Troops

The spiritual welfare of our troops and retired service members should be a priority of our national leadership. With military suicides running at the rate of one a day, with post-service medical conditions, including addiction and mental illness, and with the financial stress and homelessness that is often related to these factors, there is an urgent need for the kind of counseling that faith-based institutions can best provide. We support rights of conscience and religious freedom for military chaplains and people of faith. A Republican Commander in Chief will protect religious independence of military chaplains and will not tolerate attempts to ban Bibles or religious symbols from military facilities. We will enforce and defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Armed Forces as well as in the civilian world.

Funny… the chaplains have no problems with DOMA as enforced on base. But I guess “rights of conscience and religious freedom” means the GOP’s right to dictate what their conscience will tell them and religious freedom is only the freedom to support some religious positions.

You know, it won’t be very long until a majority of the religious people in this country not only support gay rights, but do so out of their firm religious conviction. I doubt we’ll be hearing much about religious freedom then.

From the section on International Assistance

Foreign aid should serve our national interest, an essential part of which is the peaceful development of less advanced and vulnerable societies in critical parts of the world. Assistance should be seen as an alternative means of keeping the peace, far less costly in both dollars and human lives than military engagement. The economic success and political progress of former aid recipients, from Latin America to East Asia, has justified our investment in their future. U.S. aid should be based on the model of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, for which foreign governments must, in effect, compete for the dollars by showing respect for the rule of law, free enterprise, and measurable results. In short, aid money should follow positive outcomes, not pleas for more cash in the same corrupt official pockets.

I included this because when taken with the following statement, it’s shocking:

The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda. At the same time, faith-based groups – the sector that has had the best track record in promoting lasting development – have been excluded from grants because they will not conform to the administration’s social agenda. We will reverse this tragic course, encourage more involvement by the most effective aid organizations, and trust developing peoples to build their future from the ground up.

You get that? The “rule of law” excludes “the homosexual rights agenda”. God, this is an evil document.

I have tremendous respect for Log Cabin for their efforts to fight within the Republican Party and make inroads where they can. But I am glad that I didn’t have to sit in a room with people who seriously can spout this stuff without recognizing the venom and bile that it is.

It’s not just the anti-gay stuff.

Yes, there are some decent clauses and a few ideas that I found reflect some of my own. But then there are those truly mind-numbingly strident statements (on immigration, for example) that leave you wondering just who on Earth they are appealing to. And those by far outweigh any common sense – or even principled conservative approach – that can be gleaned.

Overall, the document seems out-of-touch and extremist and reflective of the views of people that I simply can’t fathom – and I’ve met some pretty unusual people. It’s an angry rant by an increasingly isolated people who seem to mistrust and resent the rest of the world around them; and no one more so than those of us who are gay.

GOP reportedly sides with incarceration and execution of gay Africans

Timothy Kincaid

August 27th, 2012

Think Progress has posted a portion of what they claim is the GOP platform on foreign aid. If this is an accurate and complete statement, then the Republican Party has, in effect, assured African nations that if they return to power, the US will not oppose the horrific mistreatment of gay Africans.

The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda. At the same time, faith-based groups — the sector that has had the best track record in promoting lasting development — have been excluded from grants because they will not conform to the administration’s social agenda. We will reverse this tragic course, encourage more involvement by the most effective aid organizations, and trust developing peoples to build their future from the ground up.

In Africa – other than South Africa – “the homosexual rights agenda” is not about marriage or adoption or other matters of civil equality. It’s about not being murdered in the street, it’s about being able to meet without police crackdowns, it’s about not being thrown in jail for decades, it’s about not being executed by your government for “repeat offenders”, it’s about existence.

And it is this that is “the administration’s social agenda”. The Obama administration has taken efforts to require that those nations who receive US taxpayer dollars treat their citizens with some small measure of respect.

With this platform, the GOP will “reverse this tragic course… and trust developing peoples to build their future from the ground up.”

You want to throw gay people in jail for 14 year in Malawi? We trust you. You want to pass legislation in Uganda to execute gay people, like couples, who “repeat” the “offense” of having sex with each other? We trust you. You want to incarcerate anyone who “aids or abets” same-sex unions in Nigeria? We trust you.

Yes, I know that the platform has no bearing on the policies of the candidates. Yes, I know that both parties tend to turn the platform over to the less-mainstream members and ignore it thereafter.

But this is extreme. This is the sort of policy statement that really can’t be interpreted to be anything other than horrific. And if the Republican Party members leave this in their platform when it is voted on from the floor this week, it will result in shock and embarrassment when regular people, good ol’ voters, just normal family folks who aren’t really all that concerned about gay people either way hear what it means.

Because it’s one thing to “disagree about the definition of marriage”. It’s quite something else to endorse the execution of people for being gay.

About that throw away line…

Timothy Kincaid

August 23rd, 2012

Log Cabin Republicans presents the Republican Party’s platform as outdated, desperate and abysmal. I think that all those who favor freedom and equality would have to agree.

But they also present the rather lukewarm assurance that “in certain places the 2012 Republican platform is an improvement compared to the 2008 document”. Weak praise indeed. It would be difficult to get worse.

And one of the comparitive improvements they list is “we appreciate the inclusion of language recognizing that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect”.

I agree that such language is always welcome. And I’m certain that virtually all readers – if this were in any context outside a national election – would agree that such language is better present than absent.

But as this is an election year, this sentence has been received with – shall we say – less than trumpet flair and confetti. In some instances it has been met with derision and contempt.

Perhaps the best example of this comes from Stonewall Democrats who not only mocked Log Cabin for their pleasure in the inclusion of the line, but claim that it is nothing new. In a press release titled “Gay Republicans Mislead LGBT Americans on GOP Platform” they assert the following:

“What’s even more ridiculous is the idea that this language is something new. The Republican Party platform has included similar language since at least 1996. This is just a rewording of a generic principle that few Republicans would construe to include LGBT equality.”

They go on to list what they insist are examples of statements that are substantively the same.

But is that true? Is the sentence that Stonewall says Log Cabin “touted” (but which Log Cabin says was “an improvement”) nothing more than a recitation of a meaningless phrase that has been around since 1996?

The answer is, as it so often is in politics, both yes and no.

Can Stonewall claim that those words – or similar ones – were used in the past? Yes. Similar words have been used. But not in the context in which they are presented in the 2012 platform.

The words that Stonewall quotes – in each of 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 – are in the preamble and speak to a generic sense of equality of all and are not intended to apply to any particular policy. However, in 2012, the words that complete the section titled Marriage are: “We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.” This is a non-generic and policy-associated statement.

In other words, for the first time the Republican platform has stated that within the context of the marriage fight, all Americans (and by implication, specifically those who seek same-sex marriage) should be treated with respect and dignity.

It is not the same as previuos years. Yes the words may be similar, but as we so often tell our opponents, context matters.

Now this may mean little to many who see it as a pittance. And, indeed, it is a pittance. And if we are seeking to measure whether this redeems the platform, no it most decidedly does not. It’s still atrocious.

So is that throw away line really all that unimportant? That depends on what you’re looking for.

Does it suggest that Romney/Ryan is an acceptable choice? No, not at all. Even Log Cabin makes no pretense that their efforts were effective in swaying the “base” of the party. It’s a nasty platform reflecting the nasty policies of a collection of people who – or at least a majority of whom – really don’t like us and want to do us harm.

But those who watch trends and measure social progress may find it quite interesting. Tony Perkins may brag about “writing it”, but I very much believe that this is a concession he would not include if he could have avoided it. And, as Log Cabin notes, the future of the Republican Party trends towards inclusion. Even as a trailing indicator, it’s worth attention.

Log Cabin’s realistic (and non-touting) response to the Republican platform

Timothy Kincaid

August 22nd, 2012

As predicted, the Republican party platform is wretched.

Stonewall Democrats decided to use the platform as a contrived excuse to attack gay Republicans, asserting that Log Cabin was “touting” their role in the document. Unfortunately Stonewall’s claim was repeated all over the place as though it were accurate.

Here is what Log Cabin actually had to say:

(Tampa, FL) – While Log Cabin Republicans commend the delegates who proposed inclusion of pro-equality language in the 2012 Republican Party platform, the final document is marred by outdated social conservative ideology.

“Tony Perkins may be boasting today about having written an antigay marriage plank into the Republican Party platform, but it will be a hollow and short-lived victory,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper. “The obsessive exclusion of gay couples, including military families, from the rights and responsibilities of marriage, combined with bizarre rhetoric about ‘hate campaigns’ and ‘the homosexual rights agenda’ are clear signs of desperation among social conservatives who know that public opinion is rapidly turning in favor of equality. Unfortunately, what voters can’t see in this document is the significant debate within the Committee. We were pleased to see vigorous debate on amendments in support of civil unions and to delete language regarding DOMA. While these measures failed, the future direction of our party clearly trends toward inclusion. This may well be the last time a platform will cater to the likes of the Family Research Council on marriage, and the fact is, platforms rarely influence policy. Tony will never see his discrimination written into the United States Constitution.”

Cooper continued, “Together with Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, Log Cabin Republicans are proud to have encouraged this important debate at the Republican National Convention. Only by being in the room and speaking conservative to conservative will we succeed in building a stronger and more inclusive Republican party.

Despite abysmal marriage rhetoric, in certain places the 2012 Republican platform is an improvement compared to the 2008 document for LGBT Americans. Log Cabin Republicans advocated for the exclusion of any language calling for the return of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – there is no longer any reference to the supposed ‘incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.’ We are pleased that the 2012 platform’s language on refugees no longer presents a barrier for asylum of LGBT people who are persecuted and threatened with execution in places like Iran. Finally, we appreciate the inclusion of language recognizing that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. While there is clearly a long way to go and the language regarding marriage will be harmful to Republicans in November, these changes should not be overlooked.”

Tony Perkins: “I Wrote” GOP Platform

Jim Burroway

August 21st, 2012

The Log Cabin Republicans yesterday were all kinds of proud over the impact they had in helping to shape the Republican platform this week. LCR chief R. Clarke Cooper told BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner that the draft platform’s preamble approved yesterday morning includes the statement, “We embrace the principle that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect,” which they took as some kind of an olive branch to the gay community. Bless their little hearts. And they also sold themselves a little short. I managed to find another reference to dignity and respect in the main body of the draft platform. Maybe you can find it too.

Marriage

The Institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, and are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, are less like to to engage in crime, and are less likely to get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic wellbeing of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also more government control over the lives of its citizens in all facets. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting along, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as a national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.

There’s more:

Marriage and the Judiciary

A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundation of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.

Defense of Marriage

That is why congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. An activist judiciary usurps the powers reserved to other branches of government and endangers the foundation of our society. We oppose the Administration’s open defiance of this constitutional principle — in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts — makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath. We commend the United States House of Representatives and those State Attorneys Generals who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so.

That doesn’t sound like a platform influenced by the Log Cabin Republicans. It sound much more like — actually, virtually identical to — something that would have come out of an email blast from the Family “Research” Council:

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins told BuzzFeed: “You should read the entire plank on marriage, which I wrote. I feel very happy about it. I feel pretty optimistic about the outcome here.” [Emphasis added]

Ordinarily, whenever you read someone claiming sole credit for something, you can usually be safe in ignoring the boast. But when you go back and read these sections again, especially the first one, Perkins’s boast appears to be well-founded. Just try to find one iota of difference between these platform statements and the daily blasts from the Family “Research” Council. I mean, hell, even the FRC can include a throw-away line about dignity and respect for all Americans.

Wall Street Republicans fund GOP congressional candidates

Timothy Kincaid

August 16th, 2012

Perhaps “Wall Street Republicans fund GOP congressional candidates” isn’t exactly ground-shaking news. But the reason that the Republican Unity super-PAC selected its first three recipients might surprise you. It’s because they want to build a base of pro-equality supporters within the GOP. (Politico)

American Unity PAC, launched by Elliott Associates hedge fund executive Paul Singer earlier this summer with a $1 million donation, is poised to advertise in the races being fought by Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.). While none of the three candidates has stated a clear position on gay marriage — only one GOP House member supports it — the group hopes to move the people it backs toward support of it.

The major contributors to the PAC, aside from Singer, are financier Cliff Asness, who gave $100,000, [hedge fund manager] Dan Loeb, who gave $250,000, and [investment group founder] Seth Klarman, who also gave $250,000. Asness and Loeb played a role in Singer’s efforts to fund the push for New York’s successful gay marriage legislation in 2011.

While Bono Mack, Hanna, and Biggert have not taken public positions in support of marriage equality, they are generally supportive of the community. And I rather suspect that when Mr. Singer calls and says, “Hi. I’m Paul Singer and I just saved your political career. Let’s talk about marriage”, they just might find his arguments very convincing.

The Party Platforms

Timothy Kincaid

August 13th, 2012

This is a rather exciting year for firsts, when it comes to party platforms.

The most exciting and best known change comes in the Democratic Party platform which will, for the first time, endorse marriage equality. Although many party members and elected officials have been supportive, it was not until this election cycle that there is sufficient consolidation of position (about two thirds) to make this an agreed upon issue.

While this is a bit of a gamble (we could get blamed if the Democrats do less well than expected), it is, I think both the right thing to do and a smart political choice. The movement is towards equality and even those who do not support us won’t be surprised by the move.

But another smaller change also has happened this year, one that mostly flew under the radar. But this change is probably far more important than it might appear at first glance: Log Cabin, the organization for gay and lesbian Republicans, is for the first time sending a delegation to the Republican platform committee.

Now I don’t anticipate that there will be anything remotely resempling a positive plank come out of that committee. It will oppose equality and probably call for an anti-gay constitutional amendment. But it is possible that by simply being in the room, they will be able to influence the language adopted. It’s harder to be dispicably vile when your victim is sitting there looking at you.

But it is not the anticipated content of the platform that is worth note. As a symbolic move, allowing Log Cabin to participate is of tremendous importance. For decades the GOP has been openly hostile to its gay members – when it even bothered to notice their existence. For the first time, the party has – by this move – indicated that gay Republicans are “real” Republicans and have a legitimate place in the Party.

It will be some time before the Republican Party follows the lead of Europe’s conservatives and decides that “marriage is a conservative value”. And the voices of discrimination and animus will only get shriller before they are drowned out by the inevitable change in public position.

But these small steps are exciting to see. They demonstrate a change in the Nation that promises our eventual success. And they send a signal to the raging anti-gays that their days are numbered, that no matter how much chikin they binge in their battle for superiority, the end of the war is in sight.

You know that you’ve lost the “protect marriage” battle, when…

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2012

… less than 10% of Republicans in Iowa consider overturning gay marriage to be a high priority. And when people who consider themselves “social conservatives” and Rick Perry supporters endorse marriage equality. (CBS)

Conservative lawmakers are watching public opinion move away from them on the gay marriage issue, and now fear that voters might not approve a ban even if the GOP can put one on the ballot by winning control of the Legislature in the November elections.

Geddes, who is managing a handful of GOP statehouse campaigns, said internal polls in conservative Iowa districts show that fewer than 10 percent of Republican voters now consider overturning gay marriage a high priority.

GOP Senate leaders no longer list the issue high on their agenda, although they have promised to propose a ban if they control the legislature. A handful of Republican leaders, such as former county Linn County chairwoman Kathy Potts of Cedar Rapids, recently have announced support for gay marriage.

“If it weren’t for the loud voices of a few in our party, I do believe more Republicans would stand up in support” of gay marriage, said Potts, a social conservative who backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid.

But the HOMOSEXUALS!!! Are getting MARRIED!!! And, and, and… oh, what the hell… where’s the reception and are they serving top shelf?

You know that you’ve lost the “protect marriage” battle, when…

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2012

… you sue the State of New York because Republicans conspired to pass marriage equality. (Fox News)

The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Rochester ruled against gay marriage opponents who argued that Republican state senators violated New York’s open meeting rules ahead of the law’s passage last year.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said Cuomo and another gay marriage supporter, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, met behind closed doors with the Senate’s Republican majority in violation of the open meeting law.

Oh those dastardly Republicans, all meeting up in secret to impose gay marriage on the state!! The vote should be overturned!!

The appeals court noted 5-0 that caucuses can meet in private to discuss issues, even if there is a representative from the Governor’s office present. As of yet, no news source is reporting that any justices burst out laughing or called the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms a bunch of addled loons. Or, at least, not to their faces.

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