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.
Paul Varnell’s Legacy
December 13th, 2011
Paul Varnell was an outspoken activist and early leader in our community. But Paul’s contribution was unique in a way worth mentioning.
After DADT and with GOProud as comparison, gay Republicans such as Log Cabin are enjoying a moment of acceptance. But when Paul founded the Chicago Area Gay Republican Organization in 1984 (which, if I recall correctly was one of the local groups which merged in the 90s to become the national LCR organization) being Republican publicly within our community was to invite contempt and abuse. Paul did it anyway.
Paul went on to also found the Independent Gay Forum, a site for expressing and apply conservative or non-Progressive ideology to issues in the gay community. This was not an act without criticism. That didn’t stop him.
Most of our heroes and leaders know what it feels like to face adversity from anti-gay conservatives. Paul did too. But he also knows the feeling of being condemned, opposed, and hated by those within our community who could not see the value of thinking independently rather than blind loyalty to the Democratic Party.
Paul, through tenacity and consistency cut a clearing in our political jungle where others could grow and develop a political voice other than the expected, and by that all of our community was enriched.
(side note: I appreciate the IndyGayForum, but if you ever wonder why we monitor the comments, it’s in response to the hate circus that dominates their comment threads)
Karen Ocamb shares some of her recollections:
When I first started freelancing for Frontiers magazine in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I was intrigued that the gay publication printed opinion pieces from conservatives and people who were more independent-minded than most of the left-leaning gay community. I didn’t know that the late publisher Bob Craig was a Republican until one-time “moderate” Republican Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the gay rights bill he promised to sign. Bob quit the GOP and became something of a mash-up between Libertarian/Independent/Democrat.
Perhaps the most prominent consistent voice for Libertarian/Independents on the Frontiers Opinion page was Paul Varnell, a one-time academic-turned-activist-turned-columnist, mostly for the Windy City Times. Some of Paul’s columns would drive liberals and leftists crazy. There were angry letters to the editor and even some staffers would throw up their hands, vexed beyond words. But that’s what made a Paul Varnell column so interesting to read: he made you think, especially if you disagreed with him. He forced you to analyze why you disagreed. For those of us who think thinking is fun, it was a great intellectual exercise that often yielded new thoughts.
Rest in peace, Paul. We are appreciative of what you gave us.
Liberal activist (Republican) judges
December 8th, 2011
In today’s political environment, judicial decisions are praised or derided based on outcome not on the quality of argument or the consistency with the constitution. Conservatives of the dittohead variety not only measure a decision by its outcome but then deride the judges who disagree with them as being liberal activist judges legislating from the bench. Republican politicians regularly appeal for votes claiming that they must be elected so more of these liberal activist judges are not appointed.
Well, the Proponents of Proposition 8 were back in court today over the issue of whether Judge Vaughn Walker was not qualified to rule on Proposition 8 because he is gay. Well, actually, they say that because he was in a gay relationship and may have wanted to marry and therefore should have recused himself. This made him a biased liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench. Or, more specifically, a gay Republican liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench.
(One must assume then – to be consistent – that they think that only atheists should judge on freedom of religion cases. But somehow I doubt it.)
Today’s argument is not really about Judge Walker’s decision. That was a different day in front of a different court.
No, today was dedicated to arguing that Judge Ware was a biased liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench. Or, at least, he was when he found that Judge Walker was perfectly capable of judging in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. More specifically, a black Republican liberal activist judge seeking to legislate from the bench.
We submit to you that Judge Ware abused his discretion.
Because, after all, abusing discretion is what those liberal activist judges are all about. Well that didn’t seem to catch much traction with the panel of three judges, including Justice Smith.
But should the Ninth Circuit determine that Judge Ware did not abuse his discretion, you can expect the usual rhetoric. Oh yes, the Ninth is the most liberal of appellate courts and the most often overturned. Because they are liberal activist judges. And should that decision include Justice Randy Smith, then he will be the Mormon Republican liberal activist judge legislating from the bench.
Gosh, maybe those good conservative folk should stop voting for Republicans.
Donald Trump to Moderate Republican Debate
December 2nd, 2011
Because, you know, Carrot Top wasn’t available.
Iowa’s Republicans not to reintroduce anti-marriage bills
November 29th, 2011
The Iowa Senate Majority Leader, Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs), has the power to stop any bills or provisions to amend the state constitution from being brought to the floor of the Senate. And he’s promised to use that power to stop any effort to remove marriage equality from the state.
But that certainly doesn’t have to stop the Republicans in the House of Representatives (where they have a majority) from trying to pressure Gronstal and make him appear to abuse power by bombarding him with bills from the House. And the House Republicans did pass a constitutional amendment bill in the last session.
However, they will not be doing so when the House reconvenes. (Trib)
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said he has no plans to revisit volatile social issues like gay marriage and abortion when lawmakers convene Jan. 9. Republicans who control the House approved tough restrictions on abortion and a resolution calling for a statewide vote on banning gay marriage last time around, but the Senate’s Democratic leader blocked debate on both measures.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has indicated he would do the same again, and given that, Paulsen said there’s little incentive to revisit the issues.
It seems hardly worth noting. Just a decision not to waste time. A choice not to grandstand. An option for statesmanship over partisan politics. And, to be sure, any praise due for this decision is of the weakest sort.
However, this is the sort of indicator that we often overlook. And sometimes the little things, the absence of an action tells us more than a headline grabber.
For example, we see that today, in Iowa, the public sentiment just isn’t anti-gay enough to pressure Gronstal. And while they’d happily vote away our rights, the issue isn’t important enough for Republican legislators to waste their own time. And, more importantly, “sending a message” by voting again in this session is being considered a waste of their time.
This little non-action tells us quite a bit, really. It’s an indication that time is on our side, that “the Republican base” just doesn’t have the influence it once had, and that – at least to some extent – anti-gay activism is now a luxury issue.
Mitt Romney Endorses “New Rule” On Disrespecting American Soldier
October 4th, 2011
The newly minted rule about booing an American soldier stationed in Iraq and refusing to thank him for his service has now been fully endorsed by the GOP frontrunner, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In this interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, you can watch the panderer in chief in action:
Union Leader: Governor, there were a lot of chattering going on in the mainstream media about some of the goings on at the debates, including a question from a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq who happened to be gay. Could you hear question and answer from this guy from your position on stage?
Romney: I heard the question and answer, yeah. You hear a lot, I mean you don’t hear everything going on. Obviously you’re concentrating on the people on the stage and what you’re going to say.
Union Leader: Well there was audible, to the home audience, boos from a couple of people or thirty people, I don’t know, in the audience. And I couldn’t tell from home whether you people on stage could hear the boos, and if you did hear the boos what was your reaction to them.
Romney: Actually, I think we can hear the boos, I would tell you that in these debates, there’s been a lot of booing and a lot of applause, cheering and booing, some of which I don’t agree with. Now, I have not made it my practice to scold the audience to say I disagree with this person, I agree with that person because it goes in a lot of different directions. don’t recall whether this soldier, whether people were booing his question or just booing…
Union Leader: They booed as soon as he identified as a gay person.
Romney: You have to look into that. I don’t know when they booed and I don’t know why people booed. But I will tell you, that the boos and applause has not always coincided with my own views. But I haven’t stepped in to try and say, “this one is right, this one is wrong.” Instead, I focus on the things I think I will say.
Union Leader: I ask because I think it was Herman Cain over the weekend was asked about it and he said in effect that he should have criticized whoever was booing in the audience.
Romney: That’s…I understand his thoughts.
Union Leader: But yours are…?
Romney: Look, there were people who cheered when statements were made at the Reagan library that a number of… two hundred some-odd people had been executed in Texas. I don’t know that cheering for executions is something I would agree with either, but I don’t raise my hand and say, “Please let me talk, I want to tell everyone you shouldn’t be cheering.” (laughs) We … I haven’t made it my practice to listen to the cheers and the boos and to try to the people on their expressions of their view.
But you can bet your mother’s grave that if a Democratic audience membered had booed any soldier for any reason that Romney and his cowardly cohorts would have no hesitation to condemn them in the most thunderous, righteous terms available. You can also bet your father’s grave along with it that never before has a Republican presidential candidate failed to thank a man or woman in uniform for their service, and will never again fail to do it — as long as they believe that servicemember is straight.
That’s the new rule in politics. A rule that Romney has refined a bit by by placing the disrespect of an American soldier alongside cheers for executing 254 prisoners in Texas. Thank you Stephen Hill for your service to America.
New Rule: Some Soldiers Are Less Worthy of Respect and Thanks Than Others
October 3rd, 2011
Christiane Amanpour: Let me start by asking you some of these questions. We’ve just seen what President Obama said last night about that incident at the Florida debate, where there was booing in the audience when a gay soldier started to speak. Nobody said anything. You didn’t, Rick Santorum, none of the others did. Do you wish you had said something, intervened at that moment?
Herman Cain: Well the thing that’s being overlooked is that in the heat of of debate when you have exactly sixty seconds to answer any question, you know, taking the time to try to figure out why they were booing. I happen to think that maybe they were booing the whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal more so than booing that soldier. But we didn’t know that. So that was not the time to try and decipher why were they reacting that way.
Amanpour: But you don’t think that you probably should have said something like, audience, you know please, a little bit of respect?
Cain: I did not have that luxury because I was not in control. I was not moderating.
Amanpour: In retrospect, would you have done something given the controversy it’s …
Cain: In retrospect, because of the controversy it has created and because of the different interpretations that it could have had, yes, that probably… that would have been appropriate. But at the moment, it was not the focus on the people on that stage, I can assure you.
I can assure you that the focus of the people on the stage at that very moment was the shocking (to them) visage of a patriotic American soldier who is in Iraq right now, who announced to them that he was gay and asked, in essence, what were they going to do about it. And every one of them froze. When you go back to the video, you find that even Sen. Rick Santorum, to whom the question was directed, stumbled a bit before he regained his footing and confirmed he would kick soldiers like him (but not that particular soldier, he hastened to add later) out. The rest stood there mute — dumbfounded, more like it — at the image of a gay soldier in Iraq.
Later that night, former Utah Gov Jon Huntsman, Jr. mustered the courage to call the incident “unfortunate.” It took an entire news cycle before Santorum apologized — sort of — on Fox News for not speaking up or thanking the soldier, only to walk it back on ABC. New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he was embarrassed at the intolerance, an embarrassment that took him more than a day to express after leaving the stage.
For decades since the Vietnam debacle, it has become a political maxim that any time a politician meets an American soldier, the very first thing to tumble out of his mouth is effusive thanks for that soldier’s service. Stories of Vietnam vets returning home to boos and worse were used by politicians on the right to shame politicians on the left into proving their patriotism by supporting the troops no matter what. Politicians on the left responded by doing exactly that. Granted, some of the expressions were more heartfelt among some than others, but no one was going to be caught out in that political faux pas. But no one was going to out-thank or out-praise those soldiers’ sacrifice and dedication to American freedom more than politicians on the right. That was the rule. A rule so hard you could bet your paycheck on it and always beat the market.
Until now. We now find that there is an escape clause to that rule. When it’s a gay soldier, no thanks are required. No defense of against booing (or worse, should the situation arise?) is needed. An instinct that had been ingrained into Republican politicians so thoroughly they could reflexively salute a soldier in their sleep suddenly evaporated with the uttering of two words: I’m gay.
It took ten days and three questions by a persistent Christiane Amanpour on a low-rated Sunday talk show before Cain finally conceded that maybe — “probably” — saying something to quell the boos would have been appropriate — with all of it in the past tense and a reluctant passive voice. And he came to that only after explaining that there were maybe some good excuses for booing a soldier because now — new rule! — it’s okay to boo under certain circumstances.
But of course, there’s still nothing about thanking that soldier. Cain’s protest that they only had sixty seconds and, besides, he wasn’t “in control” rings hollow. Cain felt no compunction about jumping in at other points in the debate to say something he felt had to be said. It takes less than four seconds to say “thank you for your service” — a phrase so stock in Republican politics that it’s inconceivable that the thought of saying it didn’t cross someone’s mind on that stage. Even if it was just, ”Gee, if only he were straight I’d be thanking him.”
Johnson “Embarrased” By Booing of American Soldier, Other Candidates Refuse To Comment
September 24th, 2011
ABC News’ Emily Friedman rounds up the reactions of GOP presidential candidates to the booing by audience members of Stephen Hill, a gay American Soldier stationed in Iraq, who asked about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during Thursday night’s debate. On the night of the debate, Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. said he heard the booing and thought it was “unfortunate.” He later added, “We all wear the same uniform in America. We all salute the same flag I have two boys starting their journey in the U.S military. We should take more time to thank them for their services as opposed to finding differences based on background or orientation.”
After one news cycle passed, Sen. Rick Santorum claimed that he didn’t hear the booing (which was loud enough to actually create an echo in the vast hall in Orlando), and said he should have thanked the soldier for his service. At least that’s what he told Fox News. When speaking to ABC News, Santorum walked it backed a little.
“I didn’t hear it. I didn’t hear the boos,” Santorum told ABC News. “I heard the question and answered the question, so I’ve heard subsequently that happened. I’ve heard varied reports about whether they were booing the soldier or the policy.”
“I don’t know what they were booing,” he said. “If you can go out and find the people who were booing and find out if they were booing because a man was gay or because of a policy they don’t agree with.”
“You find out why they booed, and I’ll respond to your question,” he added.
Today, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson said he was embarrassed by the episode:
“That’s not the Republican Party that I belong to,” said Johnson. “I’m embarrassed by someone who serves in the military and can’t express their sexuality. I am representing the Republican Party that is tolerant. And to me that shows an intolerance that I’m not a part of in any way whatsoever. ”
Johnson added that he could hear the boos from the stage and believes that the other candidates – despite Santorum’s denial – could as well.
That’s a second candidate who admitted he could hear the boos from the stage. Yet none of the nine candidates spoke up against the demonstrated disrepsect of an active-duty soldier stationed in Iraq, and none of them engaged in the time-honored Republican tradition of shoving each other out of the way in the race to thank that soldier for his service to the country.
And for six of those candidates, that silence continues through day three. Pizzaman Herman Cain refused to comment saying he didn’t want his comments “taken out of context.” Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s spokesperson refused to comment, as did the campaigns for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Santorum Finally Gets Around to Condemning the Booing of an American Soldier, But He Totally Has A Good Excuse For Not Speaking Up Sooner
September 23rd, 2011
An entire news cycle has passed since the American people witnessed the spectacle of nine GOP presidential candidates remaining silent while audience members booed an American soldier during last night’s debate. Instead of speaking up against the outburst or even thanking Stephen Hill, who is currently stationed in Iraq, for his service, they stood in stone silence while Sen. Rick Santorum railed against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as “playing social experimentation with our military.” Their silence was all the more remarkable considering their willingness to interrupt each other on other topics throughout the debate.
After nearly a full day of mounting criticisms from the left, the right, and everywhere in between, Santorum finally got around to condemning the booing and, very belatedly, to thank him for his service. But only after he was asked directly about it. Furthermore, there was no hint of an apology for last night’s debacle:
Megyn Kelly: Now online this is getting a lot of attention, this video question from a gay soldier. I want to ask you not so much about your answer because you and I did that back and forth last night, but I want to ask you about people are now criticizing the audience last night for their reaction when they heard this video question. Let’s play just the video question:
Stephen Hill: … Iraq, I had to lie about who I was because I’m a gay soldier and I didn’t want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? [Scattered booing]
Kelly: So there were a couple of boos in the audience. I mean there were five thousand people there. And now some people are criticizing you for not responding to it and Republicans for, you know, booing a gay soldier. Your response?
Santorum: Yeah. Well, I condemn the people who booed that gay soldier. That soldier is serving our country. I thank him for his service to our country. I’m sure he’s doing an excellent job. I hope he’s safe and I hope he returns safely and does his mission well. I have to admit, I seriously did not hear those boos. Had I heard them, I certainly would have commented on them, but, as you know, when you’re in that sort of environment, you’re sort of focused on the question and formulating your answer. I just didn’t hear those couple of boos that were out there, but certainly had I, I would have said that that was… I would have said don’t do that. This man is serving our country and we are to thank him for his service.”
I find his excuse that he didn’t hear the boos incredulous. The videotape shows the loudest booing clearly reverberating throughout the hall. It’s also telling that he was more focused on condemning gay people because of all of the sex, sex, and more frothy sex, that he imagines them having all the time in the barracks, in the showers, and on the parade grounds — and you know how much gay people love a good parade — than he was in undertaking the simple decency of thanking the soldier for his service.
Former Utah Gov. John Hunstman called the booing “unfortunate” last night following the debate, adding, “You know, we’re all Americans, and the fact that he is an American who put on the uniform says something good about him.” It would have been good if he had the courage to say that while still on the dais with the cameras rolling. Meanwhile, seven other GOP presidential candidates have continued their radio silence, both on the booing and their own neglect for thanking an American soldier.
Mark this day as a historic first: for the first time in the history of the Republic, not a single Republican freedom-loving, flag-saluting, allegiance-pledging, birth-certificate-waving patriotic presidential candidate tried to step over everyone else to be the first to thank an American soldier for his service to the country.
Santorum Doubles Down on DADT, With No Apology Or Thanks To American Soldier
September 23rd, 2011
GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum followed up his criticism last night of gays serving openly in the military. In last night’s GOP presidential debate, in which an American soldier currently stationed in Iraq was booed by members of the audience, Santorum called the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” an exercise in “social experimentation.” Today, he appeared on Fox News’ morning program Fox and Friends, in which he falsely claimed that other nations’ militaries which allow gay people to serve openly are mostly non-volunteer forces.
Q: I don’t know if he had the same idea with you about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but I do know that you disagree with President Obama, which by the way got rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” just a couple of days ago. Let’s listen to what you said last night:
Santorum, during the debate: …Any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military and the fact that they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege in removing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I think tries to inject social policy into the military and the military’s job is to do one thing and that is to defend our country. [Applause] … What we’re doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that’s tragic. …
Q: So you would go back to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if you become President?
Santorum: Absolutely. We haven’t even begun to see what the consequences of going to ‘DADT’ are going to be. The men and women who sign up for the military are now going to be placed in very difficult and uncomfortable personal situations, in very close quarter situations. Look, this is a volunteer military. In the other militaries where this has been tried by and large, have not been voluntary militaries. You’ve been required to serve. This is not, and so we’ve got to recruit people who would want to do this and now you’re going to put them in a very odd and uncomfortable environment. A lot of people, I believe are going to leave. I think a lot of folks aren’t going to join who otherwise would have joined, and that’s going to hurt our ratings, it’s going to hurt our ability to defend this country, and we shouldn’t be playing social experimentation. As I said last night, there is no role for playing sexual experimentation games in the United States military. This is about securing our country.
In fact, most of the militaries around the world which allow gays to serve openly are all volunteer forces, including Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay.
No mention was made about the booing of an active-duty American soldier by the debate audience. It is also the only time I can recall when an active-duty American servicemember appeared in a GOP debate who was not thanked for his service to our country. Andrew Sullivan reacts:
But somehow the fact that these indignities were heaped on a man risking his life to serve this country, a man ballsy enough to make that video, a man in the uniform of the United States … well, it tells me a couple of things. It tells me that these Republicans don’t actually deep down care for the troops, if that means gay troops. Their constant posturing military patriotism has its limits.
The shocking silence on the stage – the fact that no one challenged this outrage – also tells me that this kind of slur is not regarded as a big deal. When it came to it, even Santorum couldn’t sanction firing all those servicemembers who are now proudly out. But that’s because he was forced to focus not on his own Thomist abstractions, but on an actual person. Throughout Republican debates, gays are discussed as if we are never in the audience, never actually part of the society, never fully part of families, never worthy of even a scintilla of respect. When you boo a servicemember solely because he’s gay, you are saying he is beneath contempt, that nothing he does or has done can counterweigh the vileness of his sexual orientation.
Can you even begin to imagine the hissy fit we would be hearing right now if any American active-duty soldier currently stationed in Iraq had been booed at a Democratic debate?
American Soldier Booed At GOP Debate
September 23rd, 2011
Frankly, I never thought I’d see the day.
Megyn Kelly: Senator Santorum, this question stirred up a whole lot of controversy online and comes from Stephen Hill, who is a soldier serving in Iraq.
Stephen Hill: In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was because I’m a gay soldier and I didn’t want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumvent progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? [Scattered booing]
Sen. Rick Santorum. Yeah, I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military and the fact that they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege in removing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I think tries to inject social policy into the military and the military’s job is to do one thing and that is to defend our country. [Applause] We need to give the military, which is all volunteer, the ability to do so in a way [cheering and applause] that is most efficient and protective of our men and women in uniform and I believe this undermines that ability. [more cheers and applause]
Kelly: So what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean now he’s out. You know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted his video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he’s out. So what would you do as president?
Santorum: I think, it’s… it’s… Look, what we’re doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that’s tragic. I would just say that going forward we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was President. Period. That policy would be reinstituted, and as far as people who are in it, I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration. But we would move forward in conformity to what was happening in the past which was sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. [applause] Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself [applause and cheers] whether you are a heterosexual or a homosexual.
GOP candidates and their spinners in the spin room afterwards were scrambling to characterize the booing as “unfortunate.” But none of the candidates found it necessary to denounce it on stage.
UPDATE: GOProud was perhaps the first out of the gate to demand an apology:
Tonight, Rick Santorum disrespected our brave men and women in uniform, and he owes Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked him the question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, an immediate apology.
“That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life. It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service.
“Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports. How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”