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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2010

Obama Administration does not appeal federal ruling… in favor of Alliance Defense Fund

Timothy Kincaid

October 15th, 2010

Anti-gay activists argue that the federal government has an obligation to appeal pro-gay rulings as far as they can. And this administration has – to date – chosen to appeal decisions that have been made in Federal Court which find anti-gay laws and policies to be in violation with the US Constitution.

But this argument is false. There is no legal obligation to defend laws, much less appeal the rulings of judges. And this administration’s Justice Department does not always challenge cases that they lose: (WaPo)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Aug. 6 that the Park Service’s regulation forcing individuals or small groups to obtain a permit for First Amendment activities was unconstitutional. But the court upheld the agency’s policy of setting aside designated park areas for larger demonstrations and the sale of printed material after applicants obtained a permit.

The Justice Department this week declined to appeal the ruling.

Servicemembers United, which is furious with the Obama Administration for their decision to appeal Judge Phillips’ finding on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, noted their choice. They also noted who had challenged the Park Service, the notoriously anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund.

“In the very same week, the administration says that it absolutely must appeal a federal court’s decision on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ while it orders the Justice Department not to appeal a federal court’s ruling in favor of the conservative Alliance Defense Fund. This contradiction is simply incomprehensible and insulting,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans. “Servicemembers United renews its call for the administration to withdraw its appeal of both the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ruling and the injunction pursuant to that ruling.”

I happen to think that the ruling reducing permit requirements for small casual gatherings is not unreasonable. But you have to admit that Nicholson has a point.

Who Does The HRC Represent Anyway?

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2010

HRC?After the White House has failed to lobby the Senate for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s” repeal while vigorously defending DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, guess how the Human Rights Campaign made their displeasure with the White House’s lack of leadership known.

That’s right. They invited White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to be their featured speaker at their gala fundraiser Saturday night. Not only that, but HRC lauded both Jarret and the White House, saying “She and President Obama both care deeply about equality and are strong supporters of those of us fighting for LGBT rights.”

If the White House’s inaction represents “strong support,” I can’t even begin to imagine what weak support would look like.

Servicemembers United, who has actually been lobbying very strongly for DADT’s repeal and whose representatives on Capital Hill alerted everyone to the sham vote that took place in the Senate last month, fired off a statement asking that Jarrett meet with LGBT veterans before attending the swank black-tie dinner:

“We certainly do not feel like the White House is a ‘strong supporter’ of gay and lesbian troops and veterans right now,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army human intelligence collector who was also discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “Before she appears at a black-tie fundraiser to tout the administration’s ‘strong support,’ Jarrett should meet and talk with those who have actually been impacted by this discriminatory law and who continue to fight this uphill battle for the lives and livelihoods of gay and lesbian troops. To ignore the reality of the administration’s choices, a reality manifested in our daily lives, while appearing at a party hosted by an organization that has given cover to this administration would be incredibly insulting.”

Nicholson really nails it when he accuses HRC of giving the administration cover. In May of 2009 — seventeen months ago! — HRC had already given Obama a blank check to maybe repeal DADT whenever, after emerging from a meeting with the White House over impatience with the administration’s foot-dragging clear back then. “They have a vision,” Joe Solmonese, HRC’s head honcho said. “They have a plan.”Later in October, Solmonese grew a tiny piece of a vertebra when he finally gave the White House a strict deadline for DADT’s repeal: January 19, 2017, the last day of Obama’s presumed second term in office.

HRC’s “fierce advocacy” on behalf of the Obama administration when into overdrive again yesterday in response to Servicemembers United’s criticism, with this statement from Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications:

“These latest hijinks by Nicholson are part of a troubling pattern of irrational, unprofessional, and unproductive behavior,” Sainz said. “[Nicholson’s] rant is also without substance. The Administration helped to craft the legislation that was successfully voted on by the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Never before has a Defense Secretary or a Joint Chiefs chairman publicly supported repeal. This president got them there, and for that, he deserves our gratitude.”

Gratitude people, please!

Nicholson wasn’t having any part of that:

Nicholson responded to HRC’s statement on Saturday: “When the spokesperson for the largest gay organization stoops to vicious personal attacks against committed, unpaid staff of the smallest gay organization, you know there’s a problem with the former,” he said. “While I have more professionalism, rationality, and class than to return the favor and attack Sainz personally, I think this official ‘response’ from the Human Rights Campaign speaks volumes as to who is truly holding the administration’s feet to the fire on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.'”

Is Sen. Reid Sabotaging DADT’s Repeal?

Jim Burroway

September 21st, 2010

That’s what Servicemembers’s United’s Alexander Nicholson is asking this morning:

Sen. Harry ReidJust more than 60 votes had been lined up to break a filibuster on (the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA) and allow the legislation to move forward for debate, amendments and a final vote before the Senate adjourns for yet another month-and-a-half-long recess. That was until Sen. Reid announced he was going to use his status as Senate Majority Leader to block the minority’s customary ability to also offer their amendments to the massive annual defense-spending bill.

This unusual and controversial move by Sen. Reid predictably enraged all Republicans, including the few who were previously prepared to help break the filibuster and allow a repeal-inclusive NDAA to move forward. And who can blame them? This isn’t a very fair move on Sen. Reid’s part, and it wasn’t a very fair move at points in the past when Republicans did it either.

…Observers are already catching on to the fact that Sen. Reid is setting himself up to simply say “I tried” when Republicans vote to filibuster NDAA on Tuesday, but “I tried” will not be good enough anymore. We see through this trick, and we’ll make sure everyone else does, too. If NDAA fails this week because of cheap political stunts, we will ensure it is the Senate leadership that is held accountable, not the unreasonably slighted minority.