San Diego mayoral candidate leaves Republican Party
March 28th, 2012
San Diego is beautiful. The weather is lovely, Balboa Park is peaceful, housing isn’t insane, and the people are generally nice. If I win the lottery, San Diego is on my possible cities list.
San Diego is also home of an odd mix of political views: pro-business, pro-military, pro-gay. It’s currently helmed by Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican former chief of police who is a fierce advocate for marriage equality.
But Sanders’ term is up and there are four credible candidates running to replace him: three Republicans and a Democrat. Or there were three Republicans until today; State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher – who gave an eloquent endorsement for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on the Assembly Floor – just left the Party to become Independent.
Which leaves only two Republican candidates: District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and City Councilman Carl DeMaio, both of whom are gay.
No one in San Diego thinks this is odd.
The Impossible Happened In New Hampshire, Ctd.
March 22nd, 2012
Building on Timothy’s post yesterday, the New Hampshire General Court’s website has been updated with the roll callon a vote on the proposed marriage repeal vote. A “yea” vote was to agree that the bill was “inexpedient to legislate,” thus killing the bill. The vote tally was:
More Republicans turned out to vote for preserving marriage equality than showed up to vote against. Another one in five Republicans found reasons not to show up that day. This is a very far cry from where the Republican Party is nationwide, but turning points always start somewhere. It’s fitting that this one should come in the “Live Free or Die” state.
Ken Mehlman: “I Apologize To Them And Tell Them I’m Sorry”
March 2nd, 2012
In a conversation with Salon’s Thomas Schaller, former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman apologized for the first time for the harm that was done to gays while campaign manager for President Bush in 2004. That was the race in marriage amendment propositions were placed on ballots in key states drive social conservatives to the polls. That campaign also saw aggressively anti-gay flyers being mailed out in West Virginia and other states which said that electing Sen. John Kerry president would result in gay marriages and a ban on the Bible.
In reflecting on his role in the Republican party’s use of anti-gay themes in 2004, Mehlman told Schaller:
“At a personal level, I wish I had spoken out against the effort,” he says. “As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved. I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry. While there have been recent victories, this could still be a long struggle in which there will be setbacks, and I’ll do my part to be helpful.”
When Mehlman came out in 2010, he acknowledged that if he had not been closeted while working in the 2004 and 2006 campaigns, he might have fought to keep the party from deploying an anti-gay agenda during those campaigns. Since then, he has worked actively in lobbying for marriage equality in New York and elsewhere, and he lobbied Republican U.S. Senators in the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Andrew Breitbart’s contribution to the gay community
March 1st, 2012
Andrew Breitbart died today, presumably due to longterm heart problems. Response to his passing has been, to an extent, flavored by how one perceived his activism and where one stands on the political spectrum.
Breitbart served as sort of the Right’s answer to Michael Moore. Like Moore, he carefully selected anecdotes and presented them, often out of context and without explanation or contrary evidence, as representative of broader trends and themes. While anecdotal illustration can be useful if your goal is reform of abusive institutions, too often – as in their case – this is merely a means of galvanizing the forces, demonizing the opponent, and leading the charge for total destruction of the enemy in the Great American Culture War. It matters little that the “enemy” is your next door neighbor or your cousin and that outsiders find it hard to distinguish between you.
And, also like Moore, he delighted in his role as provocateur. With a bombastic style, palpable contempt for the idiots on the other side, and an unquenchable thirst for attention, they never miss an opportunity to see the worst in other and describe it in detail.
But while I have little use for Breitbart’s propaganda efforts and find his antics a bit distasteful in a man older than 22, I neither hate him nor revile him. So my response has been primarily to note that Breitbart is younger than I am and that “died of natural causes” has suddenly taken on a new meaning. I won’t miss him or his work, but I offer my condolences to this family and loved ones.
Yet, the time of his passing may be a good time to note observation of a social phenomenon about which Breitbart is a good illustration. He, perhaps as much as anyone, represented a significant shift in social and political acceptance of gay people.
There have always been those in the Republican Party who believe in and supported gay rights. Many of the old guard, those who were active in the 60′s and 70′s, were not part of the social conservative wing and did not hold their values. While folks like Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford, and Alan Simpson may not have advocated for gay rights specifically then (few politicians did), they held the worldview and perspective that allowed them, along with their Democratic counterparts, to grow to support equality.
And there have been those who are called – and often call themselves – Moderate Republicans. They tend to see politics from the perspective of pragmatic solution-finding rather than with rigid adherence to a set of partisan distinctions and are often open to gay-supportive positions. Like Moderate Democrats, their instinct is to find a way to advance policy which can be accepted by the broadest majority of constituents, often to the annoyance of those in their respective parties who are more dedicated to specific goals.
But Andrew Breitbard was not old guard. He was not a moderate. Andrew Breitbart was a Conservative Republican and a darling of those who see the country in terms of ‘friend or foe’. He was a Culture Warrior and he did not view those whom he considered to be The Left with benevolence. Andrew Breitbart was also on the board of a ‘gay organization’.
I put ‘gay organization’ in quotes because I don’t find much about GOProud, the organization in question, that is dedicated to advancing issues of importance to our community. Nevertheless, to many on the Right, self-identification as gay is in itself offensive. To those who insist that they don’t hate anyone but are so motivated by ‘religious conviciton’ that they find it to be ‘supporting the homosexual agenda’ if they are physically in the same room with gay people who otherwise agree with them, GOProud is a militant homosexual activist group seeking to destroy the family.
So it is of some social importance that Breitbart not only sympathized with GOProud, but joined their Board of Directors. And what his participation did, along with that of Grover Norquist, Chuck Muth, and humorless comedienne Ann Coulter, was send a message that one could still be a Conservative Republican and be pro-gay. And as a firebrand and one who was currently relevant (sorry, Ann), his may have been the most surprising and impactful.
I don’t suggest that GOProud’s Board Members necessarily have pro-gay positions (Ann Coulter certainly doesn’t seem to), but rather that they introduce the idea that a Conservative could actually find themselves siding with gay people on an issue without having an identity crisis. And once one accepts that a Conservative need not, by merit of identity, oppose gay people on every issue, then one is opened up to support on at least some issues. The notion that one could be hardcore on taxes or immigration or abortion or funding of social programs, and not be compelled by bonds of association to also oppose ‘the evil homosexual agenda that seeks to destroy America’. For example, Breitbart reportedly supported the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
A message that “Conservatives are allowed to like gay people” may not seem like much. And GOProud is certainly not going to capitalize on this message by actually seeking to influence any conservatives to change their policies.
But it does open the door for real gay advocacy organizations like Log Cabin or HRC or Marriage Equality to present our case without facing automatic hostility. And it also frees Moderate Republicans to be supportive on gay issues without having their legitimacy challenged or them paying a high price in committee assignments or party influence. And I can’t think of a vote in which we didn’t need at least some Republican support.
And it also moves the goal post.
Pat Robertson railed against gay people in vile terms. George Dubya said that the debate over ripping civil rights from gay people had to be respectful. Sarah Palin had unnamed and possibly mythical “gay friends”. Andrew Breitbart joined a ‘gay’ group. It may not feel like progress that is meaningful, but unapologetically conservative and unapologetically accepting of gay people (though not necessarily gay politics) is a position that was unthinkable a short time back.
In short, the pro-gay visibility of Breitbart and others like him is not a great thing, but it’s a good thing.
I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture or praise Breitbart too highly; he doesn’t deserve it. His contribution to our community was more emblematic than intentional. Yet he did choose to join (though he resigned later over the outing of Tony Fabrizio) and that is worth something. And at the time of his passing it is appropriate that reflection on his life be tempered – on both the Right and the Left – by that contribution.
Babeu banks on conservative support
February 27th, 2012
The Washington Blade has interviewed Paul Babeu, recently outed conservative sheriff of Penal County, AZ:
In an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade, Paul Babeu, who’s running to represent Arizona’s 4th congressional district in Congress, said his election would be “very impactful and helpful” in changing “the views, perceptions, beliefs about who we are.”
“If they know me first as a sheriff, as a police officer who has responded to, literally, thousands and thousands of emergencies, has fought criminals, has actually saved lives and served our country in the military for 20-plus years … and when regular people see those accomplishments and those results first, then understand at a later point that I am gay, it changes people’s beliefs and perceptions and understanding,” Babeu said.
While this may seem a bit like wishful hoping, it is possible that we are watching a social shifting right before our eyes.
When this story broke, I expected the usual. Babeu would bluster and slink off, Republican leaders would be “hurt by his deception” and the everyone, right and left, would agree that his presumed guilt over the abuse of power allegations was what they found objectionable.
But to my surprise, the revelation about his orientation and accusations of abuse of power did not result in broad rejection from the right. Even with the charge of abuse as a handy cover for homophobia, the Republican Party leadership didn’t jump.
When the Phoenix New Times looked for quotes from those calling for Babeu’s resignation or investigation, they were limited to his primary opponents and pro-immigrant activists. In contrast, on Saturday night, the California Rifle and Pistol Association honored him with their Defender of Freedom Award.
For me, this is a story that is difficult to process. As much as I long for the day in which one’s orientation plays no role in evaluation one’s worth, I do not see that day as here. Like the first poll that reported a majority support for equality, I do not accept one instance as compelling evidence.
But I do think I may be seeing an interesting political development. For some, Paul Babeu may have become an opportunity to jab at The Liberals and take them on at their own issue. For some, this could be seen as an opportunity to, in effect, say, “see, we aren’t homophobic. We aren’t attacking this gay man, you are!”
But for perhaps more, Babeu’s outing has done the unexpected. He may be right. As unlikely as it sounds, Babeu may be changing the minds of his constituents.
At a meeting of the Yavapai Tea Party, the discussion about the sheriff did not play by script. (Arizona Daily Star)
Yet voters, Republican voters in particular, are also asking some questions of themselves, about acceptance and identity and values, about what really matters most to them.
Said Bill Halpin, a 64-year-old ex-Air Force pilot who serves on the local tea party board: “I care less. I just care less. Don’t preach it on me. Don’t push it on me and, by golly, I respect your rights.”
Mona Patton, the 60-year-old real estate agent who is the group’s president, put it this way: “I’m a Christian, but who am I to make a judgment about somebody else?
“I still believe in him. I still back him.”
It is impossible to tell at this point to what extent the perception of Paul Babeu as “our guy” will outweigh long-held beliefs about homosexuality. And the answer to that question may never be known.
Because there is another twist to the story. An Arizona ABC affiliate is claiming that a private school for troubled youth that Paul Babeu ran from 1999 to 2001 had abusive correction policies. That’s not the issue; frankly, getting tough with troubled teens is not going to be seen as a negative by Babeu’s constituents.
But sleeping with them will be. And Babue’s sister Lucy is claiming that he had a relationship with a 17 year old student while he was headmaster of The DeSisto School.
This could be the final straw. This could sink his campaign. Even though a 17 year old is above the age of consent in Massachusetts, sex with teenagers – especially those under your supervision – is not acceptable to rural Arizona voters.
But it is still possible that this could be taken differently. If Babeu denies the charge and can reasonably paint his sister as having suspect motivations, there is a remote chance that it may actually help him. If conservative voters see this as an aggressive witch hunt by the Liberal Media, it could position him as a symbol around which to rally.
Regardless of how this all turns out, it is fascinating to watch. I am truly amazed.
UPDATE: AZCapitalTimes has fuller coverage of the Yavapai meeting. It will leave you wondering if this is an anomaly or if while we were busy battling the professional anti-gays, the world shrugged and decided to take a giant step forward.
The unique voter options in Erie
February 27th, 2012
It’s always a good thing when a Republican politician is supportive on gay issues. It allows voters who support equality more options and brings issues that really are important higher prominence.
And so when four New York Republican Senators voted for marriage equality, it was of benefit not only to the gay community, but to their constituents. Unburdened by an issue that, absent prejudice and theocratic ideology, would not be debated, voters are free to address fiscal policy and matters that impact economic recovery.
Of course, the National Organization for Marriage will seek to make marriage equality an issue in hopes of “punishing” those Republicans for daring to stray from the fold and to put their principles ahead of their party loyalty (though I suspect that they were doing precisely what the party leadership wanted). But for the most part, this is not an issue on which voters are likely to respond; Republicans who may not feel comfortable with gay marriage are not inclined to switch their vote to a Democrat who not only favors equality but differs with them on other issues as well. Voters in these districts will not have to consider their position on the matter in their vote.
Except for one.
As it turns out, the district represented by Sen. Mark Grisanti is one in which pro-equality and anti-equality voters may have to take their position on marriage into consideration and determine the importance they place on social issues. In Erie, there is one candidate whose approach to social issues will be to use his “conscience” to dictate the behavior of others. And New York’s Conservative Party (a small but influential ‘third party’) has given him their endorsement.
The party instead endorsed Charles M. Swanick, a former member of the Erie County Legislature who once changed his affiliation to Republican before returning to the Democrats. Mr. Lorigo said Mr. Swanick had told the county’s Conservatives that he was against same-sex marriage and abortion and in favor of fiscally conservative policies.
“Swanick is not a fall-in-line Democrat,” Mr. Lorigo said. “Swanick will vote his conscience. He’s made a commitment to us that on our issues, on our values, he will vote his conscience.”
Swanick is not yet the Democratic Party’s candidate and it would be a rather peculiar move to coalesce around a social conservative. But Democratic leaders are desperate to win this seat and they are currently shopping for the best candidate with the Conservative Party’s power a consideration.
Should they select Swanick, gay voters and progressives who value individual freedom could have a strong reason to not only vote for the Republican but against the Democrat.
And, unlike some situations, this time a vote which supports a pro-gay Republican does not necessarily end in the support of Republican leaders who will work to defeat equality. In New York, the leadership could have blocked the marriage vote or used power and threat to bring these four representatives in line. Instead, Republicans met in private, came out of caucus, brought the bill to the floor and while the majority voted against the bill, enough voted in favor to secure passage. (I have theories about very bright politicians seeing the winds of change and how a party that effectively blocked equality in New York would be perceived.) Republican leadership is supporting the four in their reelection efforts.
So, depending on how this plays out, this may be a unique situation in which I can, without any hesitation, encourage voters to vote Republican in 2012.
Don’t be shocked if Republicans support Babeu
February 22nd, 2012
Will conservative Republicans support Sheriff Paul Babeu, now that he is out as a gay man? It’s hard to say.
Some will not. For some, Babeu’s orientation is a deal breaker, a fact that brands him as an enemy, an abomination, and inherently unworthy of public office. But a number of conservatives have already done so and I suspect more will. Some, specifically because he is gay.
Group identity politics is often born out of discrimination and abuse. Often what establishes commonality, be it as African Americans, as the gay community, or any other minority group, is in reaction to how a group is perceived or treated by others. And often, it is through finding alliance with other groups – a coalition of the mistreated, if you will – that oppressed minorities can find a voice and state their case.
But while this process is empowering, it is also limiting. Because in entering into coalition, one takes on the allies – and the enemies – of those in your coalition. And by tying one’s goals to the goals of another, then each individual is burdened with advancing every goal and convincing every argument.
And even when winning their own argument, it can seem as though one has not. To illustrate my point, let’s look at the relationship between African Americans and the Republican Party.
For a time, the Republican Party was the political home of racists who opposed equality and championed bigotry. And accusations of racism were deserved. But the case for judging a person on the content of their character, hard work, and intellect rather than on the color of their skin is powerful and over time many Republicans ceased to care about race.
But they still didn’t vote for black candidates.
Many who observed this saw it as evidence that nothing changed; Republicans are all racists, always have been, always will be. Actually, many times it was evidence of an entirely different phenomenon. African Americans, as a whole, had adopted a set of positions that made it impossible for Republicans to vote for them.
Now there is nothing inherent to the amount of melanin one has which would dictate one’s views on environmental issues, governmental protection for labor unions, tax policy, distribution of wealth and resources, or immigration policy. Even opinions about education quotas, reparation, and non-discrimination policies are not the consequences of genetic determination.
But with few exceptions, black candidates held views on a range of issues which were strongly tied to Democratic goals and with few exceptions, Republicans voted against them. And were called racists for it.
Charges of racism hurt. People don’t want to think that they hate others for no good reason – whether they do or not. And consequently, whenever an opportunity to prove to others (or themselves) that they were not motivated by racial malice, some Republicans jumped at the chance.
This is, I believe, at heart of the adoration that conservatives hold for Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice (though both are far more moderate than their admirers). While they are respected for their contributions, they are adored for being “finally someone black who thinks like I do on issues.” And there really is no better explanation for the rise of Herman Cain (before he imploded) than that Tea Party Republicans could support someone who epitomized their good ol’ boy values and simultaneously prove themselves to not be the bigots that they had been portrayed to be.
Is this tokenism? Yes, in the sense that the candidate is advanced in part due to their race. Surely breaking assumptions about Republicans and race contributed significantly to the selection of George W. Bush’s cabinet. But it is not tokenism in the sense that the candidate was unqualified or would have no power and be merely a puppet. JC Watts rose to the position of House Republican Conference Chair and few suggested that either Powell or Rice were not competent or were merely mouthpieces for others.
I am not trying to suggest that there is not continued discomfort between the Republican Party and African Americans. Party leadership is often unwilling to take the necessary steps to appeal to black voters – or candidates- and sometimes appears hesitant to even consider which views are more consistent with the party’s stated ideals. And at times there seems to be a willingness to pander to those many racists still within the party ranks rather than shame them for the dishonorable nature of their positions.
Eventually, race will cease to be partisan. But that will not be before Republicans are willing to oppose bigotry within their ranks and develop concern about how their policies impact subpopulations nor until African Americans let go of affiliations that position them to be in conflict with that party’s perspectives. It has started (and sadly and ironically is currently being helped by shared anti-gay activism) but it has quite a ways to go.
Which brings me back to Paul Babeu.
The Republican Party is home to many homophobes. There are a good many people in that party who would toss out the window the content of one’s character, hard work, and intellect and base their vote solely on sexual orientation. If Ellen Degeneres’ being a lesbian makes her unqualified to push JC Penny products, then there’s no way they would vote for “one of them.”
But there is a mostly-invisible but quite large segment of the Republican Party who chafe at being called bigot and homophobe and would leap at the opportunity to prove their detractors wrong. They may poll as opposed to marriage equality, but some would still vote for a gay person who shared their views on environmental issues, governmental protection for labor unions, tax policy, distribution of wealth and resources, and immigration policy. And they would so precisely because this person was gay, not despite that fact.
I can’t judge at present just how large that group is. Anti-gays are vocal and visible and also quick to claim to represent far more than they do. And polling seems to be specific issue driven leaving Republican gay support in the very broad range of about 75% on military service to about 25% on marriage.
Additionally, Babeu may not be the guy for “see I don’t hate gays” Republicans to rally around. His district may be so very conservative that those type of Republicans are in short supply. That his accuser is a Mexican immigrant could either hurt him or help him but the accusations of political abuse might make him less palatable than a squeaky clean conservative gay man. On the other hand, having illegal immigrant advocacy groups like Respect-Respeto attack him and being the target of the New Times will only increase his standing among many Republicans in Arizona.
So I don’t really think he’ll win his primary. But I’ll not be too surprised if Paul Babeu does far better than conventional wisdom dictates or if he receives more than a little “I never would have expected it from him” conservative support.
SaveAmerica’s Presidential Report Card
January 18th, 2012
Wackadoodle Extraordinaire Randy Thomasson, calling himself SaveAmerica, has prepared a “Report Card of the Natural Family” to let good values voters know just where their Republican nominees “really stand on marriage, children, adoption, family and moral standards.”
To Randy, a “yes” on this chart is a good thing.
You know, should Mitt Romney become the next president, one good thing will be that he won’t owe any favors to the ranting wackadoodle gay-hatin’ loons on the right fringe of his party.
The coronation of Pope Rick marred by dissent
January 16th, 2012
When the collection of social conservatives met, the public perception was that the purpose was to coalesce around one Republican candidate, shifting support from a variety of ‘non-Mitt’s to just one not-Mitt in hopes of having a social conservative as the Republican candidate. In reality, they met so each could try and convince the others to support they guy they supported. And just a few days after the white smoke went up, it now seems that all that was really accomplished was a sharp division into two not-Mitt camps.
Which is not very surprising. The collection of “leaders” who met are not known for their humility; in fact, they mostly exist for the purpose of being disagreeable and opposing things they don’t like. Concession is not part of their vocabulary.
But what is a bit surprising is that the conservative evangelical theocratic alternatives are narrowed down to Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Neither really seem to be ideal choices. They are both Catholic, you see. Papists, devotees in the cult of Mary, the tools of a foreign dictator, and worshipers of Mystery Babylon the Great Harlot. While that cultist polygamist Romney might be completely unacceptable, the pagan idolaters Santorum and Gingrich should be only marginally more acceptable – and that simply because Catholicism is a cult more familiar than the secretive Mormonism cult. *
(It is rather amusing when people who hate each other find common cause only in hating someone else even more.)
But it didn’t take long for the American Family Association to set the record straight. (OneNewsNow)
“The Evangelical community still holds a divergent opinion on who the nominee should be,” Rick Tyler, senior advisor to Winning Our Future PAC, a pro-Gingrich group, told OneNewsNow.com. “Rick Santorum won a straw poll that had a questionable methodology.”
“Rick has a very good record on evangelical issues but has no ability to beat Mitt Romney and less so for Barak Obama,” said Tyler. “Endorsing Rick only serves to help Romney who has a terrible record on the issues evangelicals care about.”
Tyler added that at least nine Gingrich supporters did not attend the meeting. He also said such notable evangelicals like Don Wildmon, American Family Association founder, Beverly LaHaye, founder of Concerned Women of America, Pastor Tim LaHaye, Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church and Prop 8 organizer, leading Christian researcher George Barna, former congressman JC Watts, Thomas Sowell, a conservative thought leader, Richard Lee, founding pastor of First Redeemer Church in Atlanta, Georgia and Mat Staver, dean of Liberty Law School have all endorsed Gingrich.
It’s hard to say why they are so devoted to Gingrich. Maybe it’s because his background is Protestant and they have doubts about the sincerity of his devotion to the Catholic Church. Maybe it is because they suspect that Rick Santorum truly would take any position or do without question any action directed by the Vatican. Or maybe they recognize that in a debate with a box of rocks, that Gingrich has hope of coming out on top.
But whatever the reasons, the advocates of theocracy are demonstrating what many of us have known for a while: their supposed influence and power has long been more theater and bluster than substance.
[* I'm not expressing my views, but the views of many evangelical fundamentalist Christians who view both the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church as being heretic.]
Republican support for marriage grows in Washington State
January 15th, 2012
Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat notes a Republican county official who is taking a risk by supporting equality.
Reagan Dunn on Monday also said he supports allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
Dunn is a King County Council member. His blood bleeds so Republican his mother named him after Ronald Reagan. And he’s running statewide this year, to be attorney general — which means he is this state’s highest-profile Republican, by far, to come out for gay marriage.
It also means he’s out stumping for GOP money and votes not just in liberal King County, but in the reddest of red counties. Not to mention trying to rally the party’s base of social and church conservatives to his cause.
Westneat notes that there are now five elected Republicans who have in the past week come publicly on board. Let’s hope it’s a trend
Colorado Republicans start pro-civil unions group
January 9th, 2012
With very high support for civil unions in Colorado – including from one in five Republicans – a new group has formed to give voice to that support. (Colorado Statesman)
“Coloradans for Freedom” enters the scene less than one year after a bill to legalize civil unions was voted down by Republicans on party lines in the state’s House Judiciary Committee last March.
Coloradans for Freedom spokesman Mario Nicolais, a Jefferson County attorney who served as a Commissioner on the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, said the group exists primarily to serve as a resource for Republicans and anyone else interested in a conservative argument for civil unions.
I wish them well.
Box of Rocks takes impressive 3-0 lead
January 9th, 2012
In the battle of intellect between Rick Santorum and a box of rocks, the rocks are making a surprisingly strong showing. While the rocks haven’t said anything incredibly stupid at all today, Rick Santorum described his position on recognition of gay couples thusly:
The question is do I think I can beat President Obama cuz I have strong feelings on the issue of marriage and other social issues. Everyone on the stage yesterday and the day before has pretty much has the exact same position I have on all those issues. President Obama says he has the same position I have on gay marriage. So people always talk about the… the only difference is between myself and any of them is that when someone asks me a question I answer it.
I must have missed the press conference wherein the President announced that he has the same views on gay marriage as Rick Santorum. But, knowing the President’s positions, we can now conclude that:
- Rick Santorum believes that DOMA (the anti-gay federal “Defense of Marriage Act”) is a violation of the US Constitution
- Rick Santorum supports civil unions that “provide all the benefits that are available for a legally sanctioned marriage.”
- Rick Santorum may not yet fully support marriage equality, but his views are evolving in that direction.
Or that Rick Santorum is so incredibly stupid that he doesn’t know what President Obama has said on the subject. (One alternate possibility is that Santorum knows Obama’s position and is betting that his audience does not. Frankly, I don’t think he’s bright enough for that sort of political calculation.)
Washington equality quest goes bipartisan
January 9th, 2012
The Seattle Times reports a happy event:
SOMETIMES it takes just one individual to stand on principle and let others follow. State Sen. Steve Litzow announced he will be the first Republican in the Senate to support gay marriage.
“I am a traditional Republican,” explained Litzow. “When you think about gay marriage, it’s the right thing to do and it’s very consistent with the tenets of being a Republican — such as individual freedom and personal responsibility.”
While the vote is certain in the House, the state Senate is less sure. Although Democrats have a healthy majority, some are not supporters of equality. This early and unequivocal support from Litzow may shame reluctant Democrats and encourage other Republicans and is very welcome.
Box of Rocks – 2; Santorum – 0
January 7th, 2012
Reporting from Manchester, N.H.— For the second time in as many days, Rick Santorum waded into the issue of gay marriage, suggesting it was so important for children to have both a father and mother that an imprisoned father was preferable to a same-sex parent.
Citing the work of one anti-poverty expert, Santorum said, “He found that even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children’s lives.”
Allowing gays to marry and raise children, Santorum said, amounts to “robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to. You may rationalize that that isn’t true, but in your own life and in your own heart, you know it’s true.”
Oddly, my heart doesn’t tell me that depriving children of same sex parents the legal and social protections they need will somehow cause imprisoned heterosexuals to be involved in the lives of their children.
Another Man’s Wife
January 6th, 2012
Stahl: So you’re pro-choice?
Diana Cantor: I am.
Stahl: Gay marriage? What does that mean?
Diana Cantor: I don’t-
Stahl: You disagree with him?
Diana Cantor: I do disagree. There’s really that respect. If I expect him to respect my views that could be different, I certainly need to respect his.
Here we go again. Yet another wife of an anti-gay politician supports gay marriage. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s wife Diana Cantor joins Cindy McCain and Laura Bush as being gay supportive in ways that contrast with their political husbands. It’s a long if not necessarily a well-trod tradition; Nancy Reagan fretted over the health of her Hollywood friends while her husband’s administration stonewalled on AIDS.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Mrs. Cantor holds those positions and is willing to speak up about them. More wives should. But more to the point, more wives — or more particularly, more Republican women — should speak up, become more active in their party, and even run for office. Remember, we wouldn’t have DADT repeal today if it weren’t for Sen. Susan Collins refusing to let it die on the Senate floor. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has signed on as cosponsor for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA. So, please excuse me if I’m appreciative but not entirely thrilled to my toes over learning that another anti-gay politician’s wife supports us. What am I supposed to do with it? Congratulate Rep. Cantor for choosing such a plucky little lady?
What Iowa means
January 4th, 2012
Coming out of the Iowa caucuses, the total delegate count for each of the GOP presidential candidates now stand at zero. Because yesterday, Iowans didn’t vote for a presidential nominee; they voted for delegates to the Iowa Republican Convention.
And while the delegates they elected ran as stand ins for a specific candidate, they have no obligation to vote for that candidate at the convention and likely some will not do so. Because by the time that the Iowa delegates to the state Republican Party convention select their delegates to the national convention, the primary season will be virtually over and the candidate of their choice may no longer even be running.
Nor is the Iowa caucus process indicative of the views of the electorate and who will be victor in November. Last cycle, Mike Huckabee was the clear winner of the caucuses and eventual GOP nominee John McCain came in fourth.
In fact, Iowan caucusers should probably be known best not for what they predict, but for their inclination to give support to candidates that are so far out of the mainstream as to be laughable. In 1996 they gave Pat Robertson 23%, just slightly less than Bob Dole and in 2000 wackadoodle extraordinaire Alan Keyes had 17%.
And I would caution against seeing this process solely in terms of pro-Mitt or anti-Mitt. It is my observation that while a populace may switch loyalties between various similar candidates (Bachmann, Santorum, Perry, Gingrich), those who are loyalists to their candidate (the ones elected as delegates) often hold greater enmity towards the other comparable candidates than they do to the alternate choice. Perry delegates may well hate Santorum more than they do Romney.
So what exactly did yesterday’s vote determine? Nothing.
Well, nothing other than fodder for pundits and marketing tools for candidates. And market they will.
Out Of Many, Fewer
January 4th, 2012
One aspect of the GOP race which greatly benefited former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the splintered tea-party/Evangelical vote across five other candidates: Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann. It’s worth noting that while Romney is the front-runner by virtue of his narrow Iowa win, his massive war chest and a well-established national organization, three out of four Iowa Republican caucus-goers nevertheless voted against him.
Today, with Bachmann dropping out and Perry going back to Texas to ask God if he still wants him to run, we may begin to see a consolidation of the tea party/Evangelical vote around Santorum. That could be significant. If the Iowa votes cast for those three “Not Mitt” candidates — Santorum, Bachmann and Perry — all went to Santorum, it would have brought his total up to 40% against Romney’s 25%. Sure, not all of those votes would have consolidated to Santorum; some would have likely drifted over to Romney or Paul, but take a quick glance at the polling data (as all of the campaigns are doing right now) and you can quickly see how the Iowa race would have been very different without that split.
Ron Paul, who came in a solid third in Iowa, probably won’t benefit much from such a consolidation, especially in closed primary states where non-Republicans can’t easily cross over to vote in the GOP primary. Whether a smaller field will help Santorum overcome his huge deficit in money and organization is still an open question. I doubt it. But social conservative extremists are beginning to see this consolidation as the only way to stay in the game. Bob Vander Plaats, head of Iowa’s anti-gay Family Leader, endorsed Santorum just two weeks ago, not long after Santorum’s campaign admitted that Vander Plaats indirectly solicited money from Santorum’s campaign. (The asking price for an endorsement was reportedly as high as one million dollars.) Today, Vander Plaats is calling on Bachmann, Perry and Gingrich to step out of the race:
“The worst thing that can happen to Mitt Romney is to run head to head against Rick Santorum,” he told reporters at Santorum’s campaign headquarters here tonight. “He wants to have a multiple candidate field, so I think some of these candidates — they need to reassess where they are at tonight.”
…”We did this drill four years ago. Had Fred Thompson not stayed in the race in South Carolina and takes nine percentage points, Huckabee wins South Carolina,” he said.
“If Huckabee wins South Carolina, McCain is out of the race and it’s Huckabee-Romney going into Florida. So what I’m saying is that we have to be smart about getting a pro-family conservative to go up against Mitt Romney.”
Laura Ingraham: Can you see a scenario under which the two of you would align together to try to defeat the establishment candidate, Mitt Romney?
Newt Gingrich:Absolutely. Of course. I mean Rick and I have a 20-year friendship, we are both rebels, we both came into this business as reformers, we both dislike deeply the degree to which the establishment sells out the American people. We both think Washington has to be changed in very fundamental ways, and we have lots of things that fit together. And the thing that’s interesting is if you take the votes, you add to that Perry and Bachmann, you begin to see the size of the conservative vote compared to Romney…if you take, you know, Santorum and Perry and Bachmann and Gingrich you get some sense of what a small minority Romney really represents.
Update: Mother Jones’s David Corn says that Newt is ready to settle scores in the time-honored tradition he established as the bomb-throwing House Speaker. Meanwhile, it looks like Perry still thinks he’s in the race despite his fifth place showing in Iowa.
Big Centralized Government is a Michigan Republican Value
December 27th, 2011
The Michigan Republican Party claims the usual litany of principles that most state Republican Party organizations claim. Their listing of beliefs speak a great deal about equality and nearly every point uses the word “individual”. The two beliefs that stand out as defining characteristics of Republicans, those that really differentiate from Democrats, are probably the following:
I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.
I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
Reading the full eight statements of belief, one might believe that Michigan Republicans believe in small government, individual self-determination, and equality under the law. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, Michigan Republicans believe in utilization of state power to coerce compliance by counties and local governments, dictated values, and a class system based on religious dogma. And nothing illustrates that truth more effectively than House Bills 4770 and 4771.
The synopsis of HB 4770 pretty much says everything that needs to be known about its intent or the mentality of those who passed it:
A bill to prohibit public employers from providing certain benefits to public employees.
This bill prohibits local governmental employers – county, state, fire departments, etc. – from providing local governmental employees – librarians, firemen, teachers, lifeguards, etc. – with benefits under certain conditions. It removes from the ‘government closest to the people’ the ability to make decisions that reflect the values and needs of the people and puts the state in the position of dictating the terms and conditions of local employment contracts.
Specifically, the Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act (yes, this really is it’s name), dictates that “a public employer shall not provide medical benefits or other fringe benefits for an individual currently
residing in the same residence as an employee of the public employer” unless they are an opposite-sex spouse or a dependent (or an intestate successor). Those gay employees of villages or towns who receive the same compensation package as their heterosexual office-mates will now be stripped of a portion of their pay.
The sole purpose is to impose the beliefs of the state legislators onto those municipalities that do not share their beliefs. Unable to convince local communities to engage in anti-gay discrimination, Republican legislators will now use the power of the state to force them to do so.
Companion bill HB 4771 adds the following language into the collective bargaining law: “(11) Health insurance or other fringe benefits for any coresident of an employee of a public employer on terms that conflict with the Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act.”
I will give them this much: they are not pretending that this bill is anything other than what it is. As the bill puts it, “that group of employees” is it’s target. And while the bill would strip unmarried heterosexual couples eligible for domestic partner benefits (should any municipality provide such coverage), there’s no pretense that this is not a blatant attempt to strip gay people of equal pay.
Earlier this month, the Republican majorities in the House and Senate passed HB 4770 and 4771 on a party line vote (with the support of one Democrat) and on Thursday, Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed the bills into law.
[L]ead sponsor Rep. David Agema, R-Grandville, praised the governor’s decision, saying, “Time and again, Michigan residents have said ‘no’ to paying for the health benefits of the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees, and the governor’s signature today gives the people’s voice the rule of law.”
I don’t know of any municipalities that provide domestic partnership benefits to roommates and I don’t think Agema does either. Rather, I suspect that is just his way of demeaning gay people by pretending to think that long-term committed same-sex relationship are just “roommates”. Having imposed his religious views on those who do have different beliefs, he now is blaring his contempt for you.
And Agema is quite clear that it is truly his intention to impose his religion on the land, regardless of the beliefs or desires of others. Describing himself as a servant of “God, family, and country” (in that order) Agema runs Saboath House Ministries, a dominionist organization.
In today’s language, Sabaoth means “Taking Back God’s Property”. That is what Sabaoth Ministries is all about…going into the city and taking back God’s property.
Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that Michigan Republicans have become increasingly known for their anti-gay activism (and bizarre antics). Which is fine, I suppose. If the Michigan Republican Party truly wishes to be the political vehicle for extremist dominionists who seek to impose a talibanish form of theocracy, then they should have the right to present those views. If they want to be the party of strong centralized government and dictated social policy, that’s their right.
But I do object to them claiming to be the opposite. It’s time they give up the pretense of favoring the rights of the individual or the principle of smaller, local, less intrusive government.
Paul describes Santorum in one sentence
December 19th, 2011
Speaking to Jay Leno, republican presidential candidate Ron Paul tagged Rick Santorum in one accurate sentence. And no it didn’t include the phrase “frothy mix”.
CNN reports that when Paul was asked on Friday about former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, he said Santorum does not like “gay people and Muslims.”
Yep, that pretty much covers it.
Rules for staying in the closet…
December 16th, 2011
If you are the mayor of Southaven, Mississippi’s third largest city, and
If you are married with three children, and
If you ran for Congress in 2008 as a “consistent conservative who will always vote with the conservative party”, and
If city auditors allege that you own about $170,000 in improper charges to your city credit cards, and
If you are turning in credit card receipts to show that your expenditures were proper and to reduce your debt, and
If you don’t want anyone to find out that you are really secretly gay,
Then, it probably isn’t a really good idea to include the purchase you made at “Priape: Canada’s premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop.”
Memphis Commercial Appeal:
As details emerged Thursday from the receipts, provided by state auditors to Southaven aldermen and subsequently obtained by The Commercial Appeal, Davis conceded publicly for the first time in an interview with The CA that he is gay and has struggled to keep the issue from affecting his public life as mayor of Mississippi’s third-largest city.
“At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that this can no longer remain the case,” Davis said Thursday afternoon at his Southaven home. “While I have performed my job as mayor, in my opinion, as a very conservative, progressive individual — and still continue to be a very conservative individual — I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles I have had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay.”
Here’s Greg Davis more or less promising to vote more conservative than the most conservative of Conservatives, conservatively.
Snark aside, I commend Davis for not trying to come up with some bogus excuse for the purchase. And I wish him well on his new path to self discovery.