Posts Tagged As: Chris Christie

Report: Trump To Seek New Powers To Purge the Civil Service

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2016

There are a whole range of policy-making positions in the federal government occupied by people who serve at the President’s pleasure. Cabinet secretaries are the obvious ones, but the range of positions extend several layers down from there. But there is a point in the hierarchy where jobs are shielded from political patronage by Civil Service laws. The President doesn’t get to fire those people based on the color of their shoes or the party ID on their registration cards. Trump surrogate Chris Christie is telling donors that they aim to change that if Trump is elected:

Christie, who is governor of New Jersey and leads Trump’s White House transition team, said the campaign was drawing up a list of federal government employees to fire if Trump defeats Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“As you know from his other career, Donald likes to fire people,” Christie told a closed-door meeting with dozens of donors at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters and two participants in the meeting.

…Trump’s transition advisers fear that Obama may convert these appointees to civil servants, who have more job security than officials who have been politically appointed. This would allow officials to keep their jobs in a new, possibly Republican, administration, Christie said

…”One of the things I have suggested to Donald is that we have to immediately ask the Republican Congress to change the civil service laws. Because if they do, it will make it a lot easier to fire those people,” Christie said. He said firing civil servants was “cumbersome” and “time-consuming.”

They fear that “Obama may convert these appointees to civil servants” because every president before them did the same thing. And to be clear, this practice, called “burrowing,” is not simply declaring, say, an assistant to a deputy cabinet secretary as a a protected civil service job. Rather, it’s the practice of moving a political appointee from a policy-making position outside the purview of civil service laws and finding them non-political positions jobs in the government, with the hope that they might somehow still be able to wield some kind of influence. Every president has done this: Bush did it before he left office, as did Clinton, elder Bush, Reagan, and so on.

But this kind of proposed change to the Civil Service laws would go beyond endangering just former political appointees who are now in non-political positions. It would, in by Christie’s own admission, make it easy for Trump to fire whomever he pleases, just like he does on his TV show. It would open the gates to the kind of nineteenth century-style political patronage that the civil service laws were intended to abolish, when political litmus tests were standard for every government job from mail clerk to Postmaster General.

In fact, it was this kind of patronage that contributed to the assassination of President Garfield in 1881 by Charles Guiteau, a mentally unstable man who was furious that Garfield didn’t give him a government job in return for guaranteeing Garfield’s election thanks to a speech that Guiteau gave that nobody remembered. Garfield’s assassination was the last straw for a populace already outraged over the “spoils system” which saw the wholesale replacement of federal employees every time the government changed hands.

So imagine now a scenario where a new law goes through allowing those protections to be eliminated if the president or one of his minions doesn’t like the politics of some federal workers. There is precedent for that, from 1950 to 1953, when thousands were fired from government jobs because the were supposedly “subversives.” A particular kind of “subversive” sought during those times were gay people, a witch hunt that was codified in a 1953 Executive Order signed by Eisenhower. For the next twenty-two years, it was the official written policy to prohibit hiring and employing gay people by federal employment, and for the next twenty-two years, thousands of gay people, or simply people accused of being gay, were fired. One such firing turned Frank Kameny into an aggressive gay rights pioneer and a perennial thorn in the Civil Service Commission’s side until 1975, when the Commission finally modified its policy following a string of defeats in the courts.

So Trump now wants to replace a system designed to protect government employees from being fired for political purposes and replace it with a system specially designed to specifically allow employees from being fired for political purposes. Purges like what he has in mind are dangerous territory, especially in the hands of someone who already sees no constitutional problem with instituting a religious test banning Muslims from entering the U.S. So why stop with Democrats? Why wouldn’t he purge civil service employees based on religion? Or, given Trump’s famously thin skin and fondness for vendettas, just someone — anyone — he doesn’t like?

It’s hard to know whether this proposal would actually go anywhere, but with this Republican Congress, it’s hard to dismiss it outright. More importantly, though, this gives us a very clear view of the mindset inside the Trump campaign, which already has shown it has no concern about the nuts and bolts of the constitution or for laws, rules, norms, history, facts, etc. If you want to know what Trump’s American might look like, you might want to check out Turkey or Russia right about now. Especially Russia. He admires Putin.

Geidner: Christie’s argument has been procedural, not personal

Timothy Kincaid

October 21st, 2013

Chris Geidner

Christie’s entire defense of the marriage law, in fact, has been premised — like Monday’s statement — upon process and not upon his personal opposition to same-sex couples’ marriages, which he has continued to maintain in his bid for reelection.

When the trial court ruled against Christie in September, for example, he did not defend “traditional marriage” or something similar. Instead, he looked to process, with a spokesman saying, “Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”

NOM has no love for Christie

Timothy Kincaid

October 21st, 2013


The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today sharply criticized the courts of New Jersey for orchestrating the redefinition of marriage, and also criticized New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for withdrawing an appeal of the court ruling imposing same-sex marriage and thus abandoning the right of voters to determine the definition of marriage. NOM pledged to continue to fight for the right of New Jerseyans to define marriage, and suggested that Christie’s decision will end any chance of him winning the GOP nomination for president.

“…and thus abandoning the right of voters to determine the definition of marriage.” Huh?

I think NOM has now completely given up any pretense at making sense and is now just throwing up catch words and phrases in the hopes of stimulating emotions.

Gov. Christie’s Hypothetical Gay Son Can Marry on Monday

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2013

From the New Jersey Star-Ledger:

…And it’s a setback for Gov. Chris Christie, an opponent of same-sex marriage who says only “one man and one woman” should be able to wed.

At a campaign event at a restaurant in Dover, Christie ignored a reporter’s request for comment about the ruling.

Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman, later issued a brief statement.

“The Supreme Court has made its determination,” Drewniak said. “While the Governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law.”

Gov. Christie said earlier this week that if one of his four sons had come out to him as gay,  he would “grab them and hug them and tell them I love them,” but he would also tell them “that Dad believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.” Beginning Monday, his hypothetical gay son will be allowed to marry just like his other brothers.

In related news, Princeton makes the fifth city (that I know of) to announce that they will accept license applications today from same-sex couples who want to get married on Monday. They early start on accepting applications is intended to accommodate New Jersey’s 72-hour waiting period. Princeton joins Asbury Park, Jersey City, Newark and Red Bank in accepting applications today.

Christie’s solution

Timothy Kincaid

August 6th, 2013

Suppose that you believe that gay couples should have the rights that come with marriage and are governor of a state that supports marriage equality. But, being a Catholic Republican with presidential aspirations, you know that supporting gay marriage might come at a very high political cost. What do you do?

If you’re Chris Christie, you could support civil unions. You could veto a marriage equality bill while talking up the rights that come with your state’s civil unions bill.

And that worked for a while. In a pro-marriage state with about a 13% advantage for Democrats, Christie remains about 30 points ahead of his Democratic opponent in his campaign for reelection in November.

But the overturn of DOMA3 has raised complications. No longer do civilly united gay couples in New Jersey have the same rights as married gay couples next door in New York. This puts Christie in a contradictory position: claiming to support full equality for same-sex couples, but standing in the way of its implementation.

The most obvious solutions to this dilemma are not particularly politically palatable. If Christie were reverse and support marriage equality and ask for the legislature to forward him another marriage bill, this would not sit well with many who will be voting in the Republican primaries in 2016. And were he to quietly encourage Republican legislators to join with Democrats in overturning his veto, such an act could give the impression that he is a weak governor, unable to keep his own party in check.

So instead, Christie appears to have developed a strategy that could insulate him from the process: losing in court.

In 2006, the Supreme Court of the state of New Jersey ruled that “unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our State Constitution.” However, they allowed the correction of that unequal dispensation by civil unions rather than marriage. As the federal government recognized neither structure for same sex couples, only state-granted rights were up for consideration and the court accepted ‘separate but equal’ arguments.

Now, after the striking down of Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, the situation has changed. Irrespective of arguments about the inherent inequality of separate institutions, there are now tangible and irrefutable differences between the two; marriages are allowed the benefits and obligations that come with federal recognition, civil unions are not.

And so a lawsuit has been raised, asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to revise their ruling in the light of these changes and to require the state to offer marriage equality. Christie is the defendant. And as best I can tell, he seems determined to lose.

Christie and his legal team have crafted an argument that, while complete legal nonsense, allows him to position himself as a champion of gay couples. He’s declared that the federal government is obligated to recognize civil unions as marriages. And, if it does not do so, plaintiffs should sue the Obama Administration instead of him.

Despite its chutzpah, it’s astoundingly smart. Christie can shift his presented stance from oppressor to advocate, merely by asserting an absurdity. It is he who wants his state’s gay couples to have federal rights, you see, and it’s the Obama Administration that is refusing equality. And it has the added benefit of positioning him to (as I suspect he will) champion the idea of federal civil unions recognition when he makes his presidential run.

Of course, this notion is extremely likely to fail in court. The Obama Administration lacks the authority to treat non-married couples as married, and Congress will not be passing legislation to do so. And, with seven years of history down the road and a marriage support rate in New Jersey of about 60%, the NJ Supreme Court is not going to decide that less equality is acceptable. Nor are they going to buy the wacky notion that “civil union spouses” are already legally entitled to federal recognition.

The most likely outcome is that the NJ Supremes will simply require the state to recognize same-sex marriages and Christie will defer to the will of the court. Voila, the issue disappears in New Jersey and Christie can continue to say that he supported equal treatment through civil unions but defended the traditional definition of marriage.

Christie Slams DOMA Ruling

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2013

New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie, whose name is often brought up as a potential 2016 presidential contender, blasted yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional:

“I don’t think the ruling was appropriate. I think it was wrong. They, the Court, without a basis in standing, substituted their own judgment for the judgment of a Republican Congress and a Democratic President. In the Republican Congress in the ’90s and Bill Clinton. I thought that Justice Kennedy’s opinion was, in many respects, incredibly insulting to those people, 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and Bill Clinton. He basically said that the only reason to pass that bill was to demean people. That’s heck of a thing to say about Bill Clinton and about the Republican Congress back in the ’90s. And it’s just another example of judicial supremacy, rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for. So I thought it was a bad decision.

Christie reiterated his vow to again veto a marriage equality bill in New Jersey, insisting instead that the rights of New Jersey LGBT couples be put to a vote.

Next Step: civil union states

Timothy Kincaid

June 26th, 2013

The overturn of DOMA3 provides a number of benefits for citizens of the marriage equality states. But it simultaneously creates a situation of discrimination for those who live in civil union states.

Before today same-sex couples in New Jersey, for example, had all of the same rights as married couples in New York. That is to say, both were afforded all of the marriage rights and obligations that a state confers but none of the federal rights or obligations. Now, however, New York same-sex couples can avail themselves of a whole host of federal benefits while New Jersey couples remain subjected to a lesser status – not only in name, but in practice.

Currently the states with civil unions (or domestic partnerships) are Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, and Oregon (Wisconsin offers limited rights). Of these, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon are banned by state constitution from offering equal marriage status to same-sex couples. Which leaves our next battlegrounds to be Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey.

In Hawaii, the legislature has been either voting down (or letting die) marriage equality bills, including one submitted in January of this year. However, this changes the picture and it is likely that marriage will finally come to the state which brought the issue to the nation’s attention.

Illinois’ speaker of the House let die a marriage bill just last month. Equality is likely when the House reconvenes in November.

But New Jersey will be the interesting battle. Governor Christie vetoed a marriage bill in February 2012. But he has also supported civil unions and asserted that “discrimination should not be tolerated”. Although marriage and civil unions simply are not equal, his position was not necessarily contradictory before today.

Now, however, a state can decide if federal benefits should be afforded to their gay citizens. Should the legislature send Christie another marriage bill – and I anticipate that they will – he will have to decide whether he opposes unequal treatment or whether he supports tradition and the teachings of his church. And as Christie has presidential aspirations, this might be the first indicator as to whether the Republican Party can acclimate to the new reality.

Christie Vetoes New Jersey Marriage Bill

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2012

As expected, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed the marriage equality bill that passed the House yesterday and the Senate on Monday. In his veto message, Christie asserted that civil unions should be just as good as marriage, and that “Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen’s right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied.” He also continue to insist that putting American citizens’ rights up to a vote is the best way to deal with this issue, and suggested appointing an ombudsman to address problems with New Jersey’s civil union law.

You know, if he had just let the bill become law after 45 days without a signature, Garden Staters wouldn’t have a use for an ombudsman. Christie’s suggestion is pure nonsense. The mere fact that Christie thinks its a good idea to appoint an ombudsman for civil unions is prima facie evidence that civil unions aren’t equal to marriage.

But hey. At least he won’t have a Romney-style marriage problem when he runs for president in 2016. His career is still in the clear.

UPDATE: Garden State Equality’s Steven Goldstein reacted to Christie’s ombudsman proposal:

In vetoing the marriage equality bill, Governor Christie’s offer to create a civil union ombudsman is the very essence of the political theatre he decries.

How in the world would a civil union ombudsman enforce the civil union law for New Jersey couples who work in New York, a state that recognizes marriage equality – would New York State actually deputize a New Jersey civil union ombudsman to work within its own borders?   How in the world would a civil union ombudsman deal with the children being raised by same-sex couples – children stigmatized at school by questions about the perceived inferiority of their families because of the second-class civil union label?   How in the world would a civil union ombudsman deal with the assault on the dignity faced by civil union couples by hospitals and employers who understand the civil union law perfectly well – but sneer at the relationship of couples who aren’t married?

A civil union ombudsman might well be the country’s first-ever Enforcer of Discrimination – and worse.   A civil union ombudsman is nothing more than the shameless dressing up of a veto of people’s dignity and equality – the equivalent of gold-plating a separate water fountain for a specific class of people.

In my opinion, Christie’s ombudsman idea is just as looney as his suggestion that we would have been better off if African-Americans’ civil rights had been put to a popular vote in the South during the 1960s.

Goldstein to Christie on impending veto

Timothy Kincaid

February 17th, 2012

I have tremendous respect for Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality. His is the style of pragmatic goal-driven activism not distracted by personality or partisanship that I wish I could pull off. And his statement on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s impending veto of the marriage bill illustrates just how capable he is in finding reality while not letting go of the dream and in clarifying the consequences of each.

As we await the Governor’s veto of the marriage equality bill, I beg your indulgence if this statement is a bit more personal than usual. Many in Trenton know that Governor Christie and I have a good relationship. This may come as a surprise, and even disappointment, to some of Garden State Equality’s members, but I like the Governor personally even though I agree with him on almost nothing.

I came of political age where leaders who disagree passionately on the issues, who even fight with one another like cats and dogs in the political arena, were able put the fights aside and see one another as people. I grew up at a time when the legendary Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House, Tip O?Neill – a hero of mine – and President Reagan did exactly that. And it’s always been my philosophy in dealing with Governor Christie and his Administration.

And having worked for several public officials myself, I know there’s a heck of lot more to them than their public images would suggest. No public figure is the two-dimensional character of the headlines. As Garden State Equality’s leader, I have worked closely with this Governor on issues upon which we agree, notably to counter school bullying.

As I have said before, where we agree with them on the issues, Governor Christie and his Administration have treated us with warmth and responsiveness. Yes is yes, no is no, and we’ll get back to you means they get back to you faster than you thought, usually with invaluable help.

And that’s precisely why Governor Christie’s veto of the marriage equality bill will hurt so badly. We’re not naïve – we’ve always known he would veto the bill, and frankly, I was always a bit puzzled by the silly tea-leaf reading and phantasmagoric hopes that perhaps the Governor would look deep inside his heart and let the bill become law. Ridiculous. I know this Governor, and when he says he’ll do something, take him at his word, for better and here for worse.

It’s why I chose not to waste a breath in pleading with the Governor not to veto – and have put Garden State Equality immediately to work to achieve an override. The great news is, we have until the end of the legislative session, in January 2014, to do it.

That doesn’t obviate the pain of the Governor’s veto. Because I do know him, I also know he is not some anti-LGBT nut. He is no Rick Santorum. Frankly, I don’t think Chris Christie has an anti-gay bone in his body, however much I cannot say the same about his impending veto. His veto will be a brutally anti-gay act, pure and simple.

The Governor keeps calling for a referendum, which everyone knows will never happen in New Jersey. To borrow the Governor’s words, it’s time for him to stop engaging in political theater. Our lives are not La Cage Aux Folles: LGBT people fall in love, raise families, often children whom the rest of society shuns, and pay taxes in what is still one of the most heavily taxed states in the country.

Our Governor knows our contributions to society. He won’t veto the bill because he’s anti-gay. He’ll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina Republican Presidential primary electorate is anti-gay. And if I get flooded with letters now from Charleston, so be it.

And that’s what hurts so badly. I like this Governor and am able to see him beyond the headlines. When you are rejected by someone you want so badly to love you unconditionally – my own parents have taught me what that’s like – the pain is searing. Rick Santorum I can live with. Gerry Cardinale I can live with, too. But Chris Christie’s rejection? That hurts.

Governor, rest assured that even though I came of political age in an era where political adversaries could be friends – and if you’re game, we’ll continue that good relationship – Garden State Equality and I will continue to fight you on marriage equality with every bone in our bodies. You would expect no less.

For us, this is not about politics. This is about our fundamental American right to conduct our lives with a full life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Equality.

And until we achieve it, we will fight with our every last breath. And we will win, so help me God.

What Did Christie Apologize For?

Jim Burroway

February 1st, 2012

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie really stepped in it when he announced that he would veto any legislation granting marriage equality that reaches his desk. The serious controversy arose when he added, about African-American’s civil rights, “The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.” Right. As if that would have worked out. As one of our commenters pointed out, when Alabamans had the opportunity to remove segregationist language from their state constitution, they rejected the idea. In 2004! The lunacy of Christie’s idea should be self-evident to anyone with a glancing familiarity with history.

Last night, Christie sought to put the controversy to bed during an appearance on talk radio with an apology that looks like this:

“Anybody who was offended by what I said, if you’re listening out there tonight, I apologize for that,” he said on New Jersey 101.5’s monthly radio call-in show. “I didn’t mean to offend anybody, and if I did I’m sorry.”

According to Politico, he explained:

“I also recognize that my job, one of my jobs as Governor, is to clearly communicate to people what I’m thinking, every time I open my mouth. And I try to be very good about being very direct about what I say so that there’s no ambiguity but obviously when I was talking last week at the town hall meeting about the civil rights movement in the South, I wasn’t clear enough. I just wasn’t.

“And what I did was, by saying those things, I left them open to misinterpretation and obviously there are some folks out there whose feelings I hurt or sensibilities I offended. And I apologize for that, because that’s my job. My job is to clearly communicate all the time. And so to those folks out there who were somehow offended or concerned about the ambiguity in my statement, I apologize for that because very clearly what I was trying to say, I said yesterday at the press conference about 5 or 6 times.”

I’ve read this several times, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what Christie’s actually apologizing for. Near as I can tell, he’s only apologizing if anyone who was offended. He apologized for being “misinterpreted” and for “sensibilities I offended.” It’s like he stomped on someone’s foot and apologized that they were hurt by it. What I don’t see is any sense that he recognizes the sheer folly of putting a reviled and stigmatized minority’s rights up for a vote and expecting that minority’s rights to be magnanimously granted. The history of that actually happening is sadly sparse, as sparse in the new millennium as it was in the last. I don’t see any recognition in Christie’s words that he understands that. It looks like, at most, he’s apologizing for opening his big mouth, but not for the beliefs that we now know he holds.

Harris’ recusal is the right decision

Timothy Kincaid

January 30th, 2012

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s appointment to the state supreme court, Bruce Harris, has promised to recuse himself from future judicial decisions on the subject of marriage equality for gay New Jersians. But, before some in our community object, this is the right and proper action for the appointee.

Harris is not recusing himself because he is gay. That, as has been determined by Federal Judge Ware, is as irrational as insisting that he not act on matters involving African Americans because he is black.

Rather, Harris is recusing himself because he has advocated for marriage equality, sending an email to his representatives in which he uses the example of his own life to seek to persuade them to support the cause. And it is a long-held tradition that advocates for causes pledge to recuse on those issues so that their evaluation is based on their fitness for office and not simply be a legislative effort to dictate judicial results.

And while Harris may not be part of the upcoming judicial evaluation as to whether civil unions have met the mandate for equality that the court laid out, his presence on the bench will undoubtedly not go without notice. It is one thing to say that civil unions are “good enough for them”; it is quite another to tell an associate that “civil unions are good enough for people like you.”

Harris’ email after the break

Read the rest of this entry »

Christie: We Should Have Put African-American’s Civil Rights To A Vote

Jim Burroway

January 26th, 2012

In response to the outcry to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s call for a statewide referendum putting the marriage rights of same-sex couples up for a vote, Gov. Christie has doubled down against criticisms against putting the rights of minorities at the mercy of the majority:

“The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”

This is the rest of the quote: “It was our political institutions that were holding things back. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily so special about this particular issue that it must be handled by a Legislature. Why would that be?…I don’t understand how anybody could argue with letting the people decide this issue.”

Seriously? Seriously?

Does he really think that holding a referendum on civil rights in 1964 in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas — or in Massachusetts or Michigan — would have put an end to official desegregation? Does he even think that Southern African-Americans themselves would have even been allowed to vote on this referendum? Does he honestly believe that the white citizens of Selma, Greensboro, Atlanta, Birmingham, Little Rock and Mobile would have voted to allow African-Americans to sit at their lunch counters or next to them in theaters, let alone work in their front offices and department stores? Is Christie completely unaware of the racial segregation that was legally enforced in his own state of New Jersey?

Actually, I’m beginning to think that he is fully aware of what such a referendum would have produced. He’s right in one sense: I’m sure there were a lot of people who would have been perfectly happy to hold a referendum on Black civil rights in 1964. And there would be many more people today who would be ashamed of how their parents and grandparents voted in Christie’s referendum.

Update: I love BTB readers. A commenter points out that Christie’s suggestion was already tried in California in 1964:

We did have a vote on civil rights, in California, in 1964. Prop. 14 would have put in the state constitution a provision that would void all local and state ordinances on racial discrimination in housing, and replace it with a property owner’s right to refuse to lease, sell or rent property on any basis.

The initiative passed by a 2-1 majority in Nov. 1964, even with a liberal Democratic ticket sweeping the state. It took the U.S. Supreme Court to void it.


So yeah, you don’t even have to guess at how Christie’s suggestion would work out.

NJ Gov Vows To Veto Marriage Equality Bill

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2012

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today said that he would veto any marriage quality bill reaching his desk. The bill, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today in an 8-4 vote, was identified as a top priority for state Democratic lawmakers. Christie instead urged lawmakers to pass a bill calling for a state referendum on marriage, saying “The institution of marriage if too serious to be treated like a political football.” Given that there are whispers that Christie is on the short list for the GOP vice presidential nomination, this is one issue he clearly wants to keep as far away from his desk as possible.

Christie also called for a strengthening legal protections under the state’s separate and unequal civil union law, specifically on questions of hospital visitation. Federal medicare regulations have already trumped state laws when it comes to visitation rights.

Congratulations, Bruce Harris

Timothy Kincaid

January 23rd, 2012

In November we reported that Chatham Borough, New Jersey has just elected Bruce Harris, making him the nation’s first African American gay Republican mayor. But the Star Ledger is reporting that Harris will soon be mayor no more. Governor Chris Christie is forcing him out of office… by appointing him to the state Supreme Court. Which will make him, I believe, the nation’s first African American gay Republican Supreme Court Justice.

This is kind of a big deal. I seem to recall a little issue that will soon be brought to that august body… something about civil unions not really providing the same level of equality as marriage. I don’t know Harris’ beliefs about marriage (and it would be inappropriate for us to know) but we can be certain that he does not go to the bench with a position of hostility towards our community.

And I appreciate the unique perspective and voice that Harris, as a racially minority gay man, may be able bring to the judicial process. Our opponents delight in pitting our communities against each other, and such tactics are likely to be less effective when there is someone on the bench who is part of both communities.

New Jersey and the Veep pick

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2012

rings *

One of the Republican Party’s rising stars is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. So much so that in the introductory episode of her new show, Oprah Winfrey interviews Christie to ask why he has not yet run for President. And, as such, Christie’s name is always in the mix when the talking heads on Fox ponder who will be Mitt Romney’s running mate.

This possibility is something that should be remembered as we go into the legislative year. Democratic leadership in the State have introduced a marriage bill and have mostly asserted that the votes are present to win equality this year. And the ongoing assumption is that Christie would veto such a bill. But the governor has played an unexpected card by being coy about his response to such a bill, should it reach his desk.

This is not a politician known for his subtleties or lack of direct response, so this is remarkably uncharacteristic. And I wonder if his non-committal statement has any basis in a desire to be on the ticket.

At this point, I feel fairly confident in predicting that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. And with the party in disarray, he will need to select a running mate who balances out the team and appeals to the “conservative base”. Further, he will have to announce this running mate fairly soon and not wait until the national convention at the end of August if he has any hope of building momentum in the “anyone but that Mormon” states.

Christie would be an interesting choice. While he does have a reputation as “a conservative”, on gay issues he is significantly more moderate than most prominent Republicans. He doesn’t “favor” marriage, but his opposition is expressed more in terms of what he does support (civil unions with all of the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage) than in terms of why gay people are a “threat” or how marriage should be “protected”.

But the open question is what such a Veep selection might mean to the marriage bill.

Would it be advantageous to position Christie as more supportive on equality issues than Romney in the same way that Cheney was to Bush? Or would a veto of the marriage bill fire up and energize the base? But would a veto and the public reaction reinforce the image of the Republican Party as homophobic and hostile to the will of the people – especially with young voters – and cost the party more than it could gain? Or is the issue too volatile to keep Christie in consideration?

These are all questions that Republican strategists will consider.

But there are also secondary scenarios to consider. One possibility is that Christie would accept the vice president run and would resign as governor so as to avoid his state administration from impacting his candidacy. While this is not a requirement of a seeker of higher office, a Democrat controlled legislature could create embarrassing situations designed to weaken his public image.

Stepping into his place would be Kim Guadagno, the state’s Lieutenant Governor. In 2009, Guadagno stated that she was in agreement with Christie:

Guadagno said she and Christie “agree on virtually every issue,” mentioning same-sex marriage, where they both want to maintain the current civil-union structure but do not want to extend the term “marriage” to gay couples.

But times change, polls change, positions change, and perhaps Guadagno is open to such change. She has been known to attend gay events and it is not unusual for Republican women to be supportive on marriage.

Another – albeit remote – possibility could be the temporary assumption of gubernatorial duties by Guadagno while Christie is out of the state. Although it would be an absurd notion that a Lieutenant Governor would sign a bill that was staunchly opposed by a Governor of the same party while he was temporarily away, it could be presented as such and political ‘reality’ has room for nonsensical assertions.

It still remains most likely that the legislature will pass the bill and that Governor Christie will promptly veto it as the choreography of this particular dance has been written, but we should keep our eyes open for other possibilities and argue our case should any chance – however peculiar – arise.

(* – an earlier version of this commentary included a pic that I “borrowed”. The source will remain unidentified other than their initials being RCC and that they are obnoxiously and arrogantly anti-equality. However, the pic was just two perfect – two identical wedding bands of the same size and when you looked at it you realized that they unintentionally were both for men. This replacement pic is compiled from a ring I saw on I have no idea who they are, but they use language that feels very inclusive (e.g. “two souls”, “your union”) and they had some items that were reasonably priced without looking cheap.)

« Older Posts    

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.