Showing posts with label Gay Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Politics. Show all posts

December 13, 2016

Increased Anxiety on Younger LGBT Since Trump’s Election

Giovanni Guerrero says he has been "staying in more and more lately."
The third-year aerospace engineering student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo is both a member of the LGBT community and Mexican-American, and he feels especially vulnerable after a highly divisive election campaign that was accompanied by a rise in various types of hate crimes.
"I mean, [living] in California is a lot safer and I'm grateful for that … [but] anti-LGBT people are very pumped now," he said.
Guerrero's anxiety is shared by many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, as evidenced by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit group that works to prevent suicides among LGBT youth. The project's national suicide hotline for LGBT youth received more than twice its normal call volume in the two days after the presidential election.
Trevor Project spokesman Steve Mendelsohn told VOA the crisis center received an average of 150 to 175 calls, texts or online messages a day last December. In the week following the November election this year, the number of contacts was up to 230 a day.
"There's a lot of fear out there … [and] the anxiety was heightened after the election. … They're worried they will lose their rights," Mendelsohn said.
Mendelsohn said people who contacted the hotline disclosed anxiety about their personal safety as well as fears they would be forced into conversion therapy or that laws establishing marriage equality would be reversed after Donald Trump assumes the presidency in January.
A person holds up a "Gays for Trump" sign as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign event in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 2, 2016.
A person holds up a "Gays for Trump" sign as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign event in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 2, 2016.
Trump's LGBT position
During his campaign, Trump vowed to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would reverse a ruling making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, though he later said the current law was "settled" and he was comfortable with it. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has long been suspected by the LGBT community of supporting conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change someone's sexual orientation. In a recent New York Times interview, Pence's spokesman denied this.
The former Indiana governor supported the state's religious freedom law in 2015, which lets people and companies assert that their exercise of religion has been or is likely to be substantially burdened as a defense in legal proceedings. Critics say this permits discrimination against the LGBT community.
Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans — a leading group of conservatives fighting for LGBT inclusion in the Republican Party — said a lot of the fear people are experiencing stems from myths that were perpetuated by Democrats during the campaign. He said Trump was the "most pro-LGBT" Republican nominee ever.
Trump, he said, is "someone who has reached out directly to the LGBT community during his campaign and who said, and I quote, 'I will be a real friend to the LGBT community.' "
But to Guerrero, the current environment favors those who have a "dark" attitude, exemplified by a man who yelled "faggot" recently at some of his friends who were holding hands.
"It's obvious that a lot of people are more comfortable in showing their opinions, which come off as racist and homophobic," he said.
Heightened anxiety
In an online survey of primary and secondary school educators across the country, the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance project contacted more than 10,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and others working with youth in schools.
Ninety percent reported that the climate in their schools had been negatively affected since the election, and most of them said they thought the impact would be long-lasting.
"There's certainly a lot of anti-LGBT harassment reported," said Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance and the study's author.
Eight in 10 educators reported heightened anxiety on the part of marginalized students, including LGBT students, immigrants, Muslims and African-Americans.
"LGBT kids, immigrants or kids perceived as immigrants are very anxious about the future and they have now suffered this harassment, and that doesn't go away," Costello said.
Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds up a rainbow flag with "LGBTs for TRUMP" written on it at a campaign rally in Greeley, Colo., Oct. 30, 2016.
Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds up a rainbow flag with "LGBTs for TRUMP" written on it at a campaign rally in Greeley, Colo., Oct. 30, 2016.
Angelo said he would not discredit anyone's personal experience, but that he thought the anxiety about the LGBT community's future under Trump was ill-founded.
"This notion that conversion therapy is going to be forced upon LGBT Americans or whether marriage equality is going to go away are not statements that Mr. Trump made during the course of his campaign and certainly are not of any policy agenda for the Trump administration," he said.
In July, Angelo described himself as "mad as hell" at the Republican Party's platform, which was drawn up during the campaign. The platform opposed marriage equality and included language affirming conversion therapy, supporting adoption agencies that deny gay couples the right to adopt, and endorsing Pence's religious freedom bill. Angelo described it as the "most anti-LGBT platform in the party's history."
But now, he said he's keeping an open mind, giving Trump and Pence a chance to lead.
"[Trump] has already condemned anyone who is bullying or harassing other people and using his election as a justification," he said.
Meanwhile, Guerrero said anxiety and fear were taking him and his friends back in time.
“I don't want to feel that I have to get used to this type of life where I'm always hiding from my personal identity," Guerrero said.

October 11, 2016

Raining Men Politicly but Not to the Democrats Camp

Interactive- mover cursor over the graphs to get numbers. You will notice that as a voting block LGBTQ is voting united but when you break it down some are more united than others. Also there is nothing to suggest that the trend that you see as of 2012 has change in any major way.

September 5, 2016

NYT: There is a Big LGBT Political Sway Going On

On a sweltering afternoon in late August, Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat running for Congress against a longtime Republican incumbent, stole a half-hour from a crammed schedule for something that grieving residents of this metropolitan area still routinely do: She visited Pulse nightclub, where a gunman ended 49 lives in June.

The club itself has been closed since then, but a patch of the property in front brims with flowers, photographs and rainbow flags, which signal that Pulse was a place where many gay people gathered and many gay people died. It’s an eye-catching, heart-stopping memorial.

Could it also be an omen of political change?

Prominent among the issues that Murphy, 37, is campaigning on is her 73-year-old opponent’s dismal record on L.G.B.T. rights. And some Democrats are convinced that this could work powerfully in her favor, especially at this time, in this place. Her district includes much of Orlando, though not Pulse itself, and is home to victims’ relatives and friends.

Murphy was at Pulse on this day to show it to United States Representative Barbara Lee, a California Democrat who belongs to a quickly swelling army of party leaders who have traveled to Florida to stump for Murphy or help her raise money, reflecting the party’s identification of her contest as one that might flip a House seat from red to blue and help to erode the Republican majority.
Stephanie Murphy, candidate for Congress from Florida. Credit Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press
“This is a very winnable race,” Lee told me as we approached Pulse, adding that what happened there — and its exposure of the hatred that L.G.B.T. Americans still confront — is part of the equation. “I think people will see that as a defining moment and say: ‘No more. My vote is going to be for human rights.’ ”

Across many decades and hundreds of campaigns at every level of government, L.G.B.T. rights have been a point of bitter debate, often benefiting Republican politicians in conservative areas where voters pushed back at social change. In recent years, though, Democrats have increasingly sought to turn their advocacy for L.G.B.T. people into an advantage.

Public opinion polls leave no doubt that a significant majority of Americans support laws protecting L.G.B.T. people from discrimination and approve of same-sex marriage. But that doesn’t mean that they prioritize the issue and punish politicians with contrary views. The results of many elections suggest that they don’t. 
I think that’s changing, and 2016 could be the proof of it. In several closely fought races around the country, candidates’ actions and comments regarding gay people have come to the fore and come to define them. Murphy’s contest against John Mica, now in his 12th term, is only one of them.

The outcomes of two of the most competitive gubernatorial contests — in Indiana and North Carolina — could be affected by voters’ feelings about how the candidates have handled L.G.B.T. rights. That’s especially true in North Carolina, where Gov. Pat McCrory is being hammered for a shockingly regressive measure that he signed into law last March.

It hallucinated some grave public danger in transgender people’s using public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity, banned them from doing so, and then went even further, nullifying local ordinances that outlawed employment and housing discrimination against gay and lesbian people.

“I believe that he started this in order to stir up his right wing and to win this election,” said his Democratic challenger, Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general, when I spoke with him last week. “But it’s backfired on him because it’s backfired on the state.”

In protest of the law, PayPal nixed plans to build a major new operations center in Charlotte. The National Basketball Association relocated an all-star game from North Carolina to another state. Business groups moved conventions. Performers canceled concerts.

“It has cost us thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cooper told me. And it has tarnished McCrory’s carefully tended image as a common-sense, pro-business governor.

Cooper presses the issue all the time, including in a recent debate against McCrory. Polls in August showed him ahead by one to nine points.
Roy Cooper, North Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Credit Chuck Burton/Associated Press
“That really is a new day,” JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, told me.

As more business leaders stand up for L.G.B.T. rights, which they deem important to assembling the best work force and burnishing their brands, more politicians find that their own positions can have a serious impact on their relationship with the corporate community. Being against L.G.B.T. rights can complicate any claims they make to being champions of economic growth. It can also depress financial contributions to their campaigns.

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Just look at the congressional race in northern New Jersey between Scott Garrett, the Republican incumbent, and Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat.

A little over a year ago, Politico revealed that Garrett was refusing to give what is generally a pro forma donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee because it backed openly gay candidates.

Although Garrett had always had close ties with Wall Street, several big financial institutions stopped donating to his campaign, and that could put Gottheimer, a fund-raising whirlwind, on a more equal footing with him than Democratic challengers in previous election cycles. Partly for that reason, political handicappers envision a potentially close contest between him and Garrett, who got at least 55 percent of the vote in 2010 and 2012.

Gottheimer said that news coverage of Garrett’s tussle with his fellow Republicans over gay candidates brought into the light a host of extremely conservative positions — on everything from equal pay and abortion rights to the Confederate flag and global warming — that many of his constituents weren’t wholly aware of.

It has also become a yardstick of Garrett’s humanity. That’s how I increasingly notice L.G.B.T. rights playing out among many voters in the center. It’s a marker. A metaphor.

It has power on its own, too. In a recent interview in Paramus, N.J., Gottheimer told me that when his campaign did a poll testing which of Garrett’s conservative positions bothered the largely suburban district’s voters the most, “This issue was above everything else.”

“I would have guessed that this would do well with more Democratic-leaning voters,” he said. But, he added, “The whole middle and middle-right were equally offended by this.”

Karen Gerbatsch, 64, a registered Republican who has voted repeatedly for Garrett, told me that when she heard about his disapproval of gay candidates, she thought, “That’s not me.”

“It bothered me a lot,” she added. She said that she’ll vote for Gottheimer, but cited additional reasons, chief among them her concern about the current crop of Washington Republicans amassing too much power, especially if Donald Trump happens to win the presidency.
Josh Gottheimer, candidate for Congress in New Jersey's 5th District. Credit Danielle Parhizkaran/The Record of Bergen County, via Associated Press
It’s impossible to isolate the impact of L.G.B.T. rights from other factors in these races. Gottheimer, who worked as a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, is connected to an extensive network of powerful Democrats who have rallied to his cause, and he’s an astute, poised first-time candidate who, at 41, promises a freshness that Garrett, 57, cannot.

Murphy, another first-time candidate, is competing in a district that the Florida Supreme Court recently redrew so that it’s younger and more Democratic than it was in past elections. Odds makers still give Mica the advantage.

She has an inspiring family story: Her parents fled the Communists in Vietnam by boat when she was just 6 months old. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, she abandoned a lucrative consulting career in the private sector to work for the Department of Defense. She now teaches at Rollins College in Winter Park, which abuts Orlando. She has two young children. And she presents herself — eloquently — as an alternative to Congress’s entrenched ways.

When Trump visited Orlando last month to speak to a conference of leaders who adamantly oppose L.G.B.T. rights, she blasted her opponent, Mica, for having endorsed him and presented a litany of Mica’s anti-gay positions and remarks across the years.

Two weeks later, she was the first candidate to be endorsed by a new political action committee called the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, which will raise money for politicians supportive of both L.G.B.T. rights and gun control.

Jason Lindsay, the founder and executive director of the Pride Fund, told me that in several visits to Orlando, he has been struck by “the sheer determination” of gays and lesbians there. “The Pulse attack was incredibly personal,” he said.

Murphy cited Pulse to me when she noted that Mica had opposed the inclusion of any reference to sexual orientation in federal hate-crimes legislation. “How can you have that position given what has happened?” she said.

“His positions,” she said, “have been extreme and exclusionary.”

At Pulse, I was struck by something that hadn’t been clear to me in news coverage right after the shooting. This gay nightclub shared its stretch of a prominent thoroughfare with a Dunkin’ Donuts, a Radio Shack and, directly across the street, a Wendy’s, with its logo of a pigtailed, red-haired, freckled girl.

It wasn’t off in the shadows but right in the mix — which is where L.G.B.T. people are today, and where L.G.B.T. rights are in the 2016 election.

June 28, 2016

Little Marco Could Make Hillary President {Up to Young Dem, Ind., LGBT}


Marco Rubio says he decided to run for re-election because it will be imperative to have people like him in the U.S. Senate if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“There’s [a] role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: the Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

But it is worth asking: Does Rubio’s decision to run make it more likely Clinton will become president?

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which it does. Eagerness to drive a political stake through Rubio’s heart could increase Democratic turnout in Florida, throwing the most important swing state — and therefore the election — to Clinton.

Think about it. Democrats hardly would be whipped into a frenzy by a desire to defeat, say, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Most voters probably still are fuzzy at best on who, exactly, Lopez-Cantera is. But Rubio? He’s become a high-profile target.

The wish to stick it to Rubio also plausibly would be a better election-day mobilizer than any positive feeling toward either Rep. Patrick Murphy or Rep. Alan Grayson, who are battling it out to be the Democratic senatorial nominee.

Rubio’s insinuation that the Orlando massacre influenced his decision to seek re-election only heightens Democratic anger toward him. Before, the biggest knock on Rubio was that he was a slacker who couldn’t be bothered to show up to work in the Senate. Damaging, yes, but not something to make Democrats get out and vote.

Now, though, Rubio is the hypocrite who steadfastly has opposed LGBT equality and commonsense gun control yet has the gall to imply he’s running in response to the assault-weapon massacre perpetrated at a gay night club?

How epically self-serving.

Rubio’s anti-LGBT record is exactly the kind of issue that could motivate young Democrats and independents who otherwise might have stayed home to make the effort to vote. As a group, they might not even have been that enamored of Clinton. But if they take the trouble to vote against Rubio in remembrance of Orlando, they might just vote for Clinton while they’re at it.

For Clinton to win in November, she’ll need a big turnout of Democrats in the Orlando area — precisely the area that ought to be most offended by Rubio’s decision to use the Pulse horror as his excuse to run. Democratic turnout in South Florida also is a key, and that’s also an LGBT-friendly venue.

Plus, Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration is a double-whammy in those two regions. Not only does it anger Hispanics who feel he stabbed them in the back by abandoning immigration reform, it angers those who remember that gay Hispanics were targeted in the Pulse attack.

Current polls show Rubio beating either Murphy or Grayson. But if Democrats exploit Rubio’s Pulse hypocrisy with skill, Rubio might just help them beat Trump.

By Jac Wilder VerSteeg who is a columnist for the South Florida Sun Sentinel and former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post.  

March 2, 2016

Gay Billionaire Joins the Rubio Campaign

  This is not breaking news being that published it last fall and Quarz last night. However since there is talk about Rubio’s younger escapes this is relevant to know.
When an important gay person decides to go GOP with a candidate that opposes gay marriage and any bill or law offering LGBT security in their jobs in the private sector it becomes news to be reported.

Actually it does make sense for a Republican that has a need to stay Republican and has no candidate that is publicly gay friendly. One has to assume that when someone as smart as Paul Singer is going to be giving money to a candidate he most know something in private the candidate wont say in public. Besides the other GOP candidates like Cruz who cannot be trusted, chained to the Evangelicals and extra right and Trump who is a loose cannon and will go anyway that assures him a win.

Image result for Paul Singer
 Paul Singer, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Republican mega-donor from New York, is about to be named as the national finance chairman for Marco Rubio’s campaign, according to the New York Post
Singer’s new gig is a sign, says Politico’s Mike Allen, of “the GOP’s Wall Street establishment coalescing (a little late, guys) around 

Rubio’s bid to derail Trump’s march to the nomination.” 
But the move could be risky for Rubio, since Singer is a high-profile supporter of marriage equality, which is anathema to many Republican primary voters. 

Singer, who has a gay son, is part of a group of conservative Wall Street hedge fund managers who are vocal supporters of gay rights. In 2011, Singer and other donors urged Republican state senators in New York to support the passage of same-sex marriage legislation, raising vast sums money for their re-election. In 2012, he launched the American Unity super PAC for pro-gay rights Republican donors, and in 2013, the adjacent American Unity Fund, an advocacy and lobbying non-profit. The group aimed to spend $40 million this election cycle. “The Republican Party can be more of a big tent and this issue is part of that,” Singer told the New York Times in 2013.  

Singer is reportedly worth upwards of $1.9 billion, and he scored a major non-politics victory yesterday (Feb. 29) when he prevailed in a 15-year legal battle. Singer’s Elliott Management and several other creditors managed to secure $4.65 billion from the Argentine government following its massive sovereign debt default. 

He initially threw his support behind Rubio in Oct. 2015, and has since become one of the campaign’s top donors. He has also worked tirelessly to rally his network of wealthy associates to the Rubio cause.

 In a letter circulated to dozens of high-income Republican donors in October, he described Rubio as the only candidate who can “navigate this complex primary process, and still be in a position to defeat [Hillary Clinton].”

Neither the Rubio campaign nor Singer have confirmed the appointment as of yet. According to the New York Post, a source close to Singer said that the rumors are “not accurate.”

February 9, 2016

Gay Voter to Rubio “Why do You Want me Back in the Closet”

 Timothy Kierstead spoke to Senator Marco Rubio during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Monday.Credit Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

N.H. – A middle-age gay man confronted Senator Marco Rubio here on Monday over his opposition to same-sex marriage, pointedly asking, “Why do you want to put me back in the closet?”

“I don’t,” Mr. Rubio replied. “You can live any way you want.”

The tense exchange inside the Puritan Backroom diner ended with Mr. Rubio walking away and the displeased voter calling him a “typical politician.”

Mr. Rubio, who is seeking to win over conservatives, is seldom asked about gay rights at his campaign stops. But courting voters in a crowded New Hampshire diner on the eve of the primary is an unpredictable business.

The voter, who identified himself as Timothy Kierstead, was seated at a table with his mother and his husband when Mr. Rubio walked up behind him, according to pool reports of the encounter. During a brief conversation, Mr. Kierstead, 50, told Mr. Rubio that he was married but complained that the senator’s position amounted to him declaring that “we don’t matter.”

Mr. Rubio, who was standing with his youngest son, Dominick, 8, by his side, gently disagreed. “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“Well,” replied Mr. Kierstead, “that’s your belief.”

Mr. Rubio continued: “I think that’s what the law should be. And if you don’t agree you should have the law changed by a legislature.”

Mr. Kierstead said the law had already been changed, referring either to a Supreme Court ruling that has legalized same-sex marriage across the country or to state legislation in New Hampshire that did the same.

Mr. Rubio decided to conclude their conversation. “I respect your view,” he said, patting Mr. Kierstead on the shoulder and starting to walk away.

Mr. Kierstead was unsatisfied. “Typical politician,” he said loudly. “Walk away.”

In an interview afterward, Mr. Kierstead offered a portrait of his life: He owns a restaurant in Manchester, and he and his husband have three children. He is a registered independent and said he would cast his vote for a Democrat on Tuesday because Republicans did not support his right to marry.

“They want to take my rights away as a citizen of the United States,” said Kierstead said.

“Love is love,” he added. “People don’t choose who they are going to love.”

Mr. Kierstead said his mother and husband had approved of his confrontation with Mr. Rubio, for the most part. “He knew I wouldn’t shut up,” he said of his spouse.

Sexuality, it seems, was a recurring theme during Mr. Rubio’s visit to the diner. A different patron in the same restaurant, a 92-year-old woman, asked Mr. Rubio about the personal life of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“He’s a bachelor, right?” the woman asked.

“He is,” Mr. Rubio said.

Then she asked, “Is he gay?”

Mr. Rubio chuckled. “No,” he replied.

April 14, 2015

Would You Bottom for Hillary?


A San Francisco man named Ryan, who's only going by his first name for press purposes at the moment, has just launched a small site in support of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid, and he was out in Dolores Park on Sunday selling tank tops and t-shirts that say, "I'd Bottom for Hillary."

bottom-for-hillary-dolo.jpgRyan had a cardboard cutout of Hillary that he was toting around, and that he got a couple of local nudists to pose with. And he's set up an Instagram account, where he's encouraging others to post with the hashtag #BottomForHillary. As he explains to Fusion, "With bottoming, there’s a lot that goes into it. A lot of homosexuals understand the concept. Bottoming for someone takes a lot of trust and understanding."
And he insists this is a sincere campaign, even though at least one Republican commenter on one of his Instagram posts assumed this was satire. "It really is a compliment to Hillary,” he says. “[Being willing to bottom for her is] kind of the same relationship that a lot of people have with Hillary Clinton.” 
I can see the straights wearing this tshirt what Iam not sure is how the so called “Tops” are going to take this. Iam not talking versatile here, Iam talking straight Tops. The reason I say that is because if you were it you own it, meaning you will have to and for sure you will be ask.adam

Photo: Instagramstory from 

November 19, 2014

Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s proud of her Trans Son


A Miami television station on Monday aired Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s first interview with her transgender son.
Rodrigo Lehtinen during the exclusive interview with WFOR spoke at length about his decision to tell his parents in 2007 that he is trans. Rodrigo Lehtinen, whose birth name is Amanda, came out as gay while in high school.

“Coming out as transgender is really about coming out as your authentic self, coming out as the person you always knew you were,” said Rodrigo Lehtinen. “But no one else may have known and now you’re sharing that honesty with other people for the first time.”

Ros-Lehtinen and her husband, Dexter Lehtinen, a former U.S. attorney, both spoke to WFOR reporter Jim DeFede about accepting their son.
“As parents, we wanted to make sure that Rigo understood that we’re totally fine with it and that we wanted to make sure that he was safe,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “We know Rigo as our child, whether it’s Amanda or now as Rodrigo. He’s our son. We’re proud of him.”
“We’re very happy that our son is happy with who he is,” she added. “That’s a blessing to us.”

Ros-Lehtinen is the first Republican in Congress to publicly support marriage rights for same-sex couples. She is also an original co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I have full confidence that she would have come to these pro-LGBT opinions, whether I happen to be transgender or not,” said Rodrigo Lehtinen. 
Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Cuba, is a vocal critic of the Cuban government.
She frequently criticizes Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, whose supporters have credited with expanding LGBT rights on the Communist island. Ros-Lehtinen late last month in a statement to the Washington Blade blasted Cuba’s bid to host a 2016 LGBT rights conference in Havana, the Cuban capital.

The Miami Herald in 2010 first reported that Ros-Lehtinen has a trans son.
Rodrigo Lehtinen, who is a former fellow of the National LGBTQ Task Force, told WFOR that many of his Republican friends told him they “support” him and rights for trans people.
Ros-Lehtinen during interview offered advice to other parents with trans children.
“Don’t freak out,” she said. “Stay calm and don’t be afraid. Love your child because that is your child…never reject your child.”
LGBT rights advocates were quick to praise Ros-Lehtinen for publicly supporting her trans son.

“While the fact that Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has a transgender son may be news to some, her love of Rigo has been no secret in the halls of Congress,” Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, told the Blade on Tuesday. “Putting a human face on LGBT issues has been one of the most important catalysts for the rapid progress on issues such as non-discrimination and marriage equality legislation in recent years. This CBS profile shows why.”

Tico Almeida, a Cuban American Democrat who is executive director of Freedom to Work, a group lobbying Congress to pass ENDA, agreed.
“Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has long been one of the best allies that LGBT Americans have had in the Republican conference and in the entire Congress,” he told the Blade. “It’s really wonderful to see that television news report covering how proud she is to be the loving mother of her transgender son.”

Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, applauded both Rodrigo Lehtinen and his parents.
“We are proud of former National NGLTQ Task Force Fellow and Field Organizer Rodrigo Lehtinen’s contributions to the LGBTQ movement — his work and his family’s support provide millions of LGBTQ youth struggling to find acceptance with hope,” Nipper told the Blade in a statement. 

September 12, 2014

Gay Man Helped Overturn Ban on Gay Marriage backs a GOP’r

The gay Oregon man who helped overturn the state's decade-old ban on same-sex marriage is featured in a campaign ad for a Republican Senate candidate -- and he now finds himself on the receiving end of some criticism from LGBT activists.
Ben West and his husband, Paul Rummell, became high-profile figures in Oregon’s gay rights community this year when they challenged the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and won.

Now West is backing Monica Wehby, the Republican nominee and same-sex marriage supporter who's challenging Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democratic incumbent with a long record of fighting for LGBT rights.
It wasn't too big of a surprise that Wehby is unveiling her support for same-sex marriage.
 Court strikes down same-sex marriage ban Church changes its marriage definition Virginia's ban is overturned
"This is Oregon. This is not Texas," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said, referring to the state's liberal tendencies. “I don't see a political risk."

It was, however, a big step for West and his husband to lend their names to Wehby's campaign.
While many of West's friends and acquaintances have been respectful and even happy with his decision, he said, some have been "shocked." His Facebook page shows a sampling of the disagreements. Some simply can’t fathom electing a Republican, while others say they have a hard time buying Wehby's position.

"Where was she earlier this year when we were 'fighting the fight'?" one person wrote, referring to the legal challenge against the state's law. "But now that it's over and she doesn't want to be on the 'wrong side of history', she is supportive, or says that she is."
Still, others are dismayed that West would not support Merkley, a senator that one person described as “a point of pride for Oregon."

"I am deeply saddened by the public stance that you have taken against one of the gay community's champions in DC," another person wrote. "I hope you will recant your position."
Judge strikes down Florida's same-sex marriage ban
Jeana Frazzini, executive director at Basic Rights Oregon, a group that worked actively in the challenge against the state’s same-sex marriage ban, said she can't speak for West and Rummell, adding the "LGBT community is politically diverse and we can't expect 100% agreement on every issue or candidate."

She went on to laud Merkley and question Wehby's record on same-sex marriage. Democrats point to previous comments when Wehby didn't take one position or the other on same-sex marriage, saying mostly that it's an issue that should be left to the states.
The ad causing the stir

In the 30-second television spot released Tuesday by Wehby's campaign, West looks directly into the camera and talks about how marrying his partner "was the happiest day" of his life. But he cautions there's still "a lot of work left to do" in the national push for same-sex marriage.
"Whether it's standing up for equality or for the unemployed or for the next generation, we need leaders who have the courage to do what's right," he continues. "That's why I support Monica Wehby. I know she'll fight for every Oregon family, including mine."
At the end of the ad, which was first reported by Politico, West and Wehby stand next to each with their arms around each other, smiling.

In a written statement, Wehby said she's "proud and humbled" to have the endorsement of West, a Republican, and his husband, a Democrat. "Their courage to stand up for their family, and against inequality, is inspiring and embodies the spirit I will serve with as Oregon's next senator," she said.
Supreme Court: No same-sex marriage in Virginia, yet
West and Rummell reached out to Wehby's campaign shortly after she became the GOP nominee and got to know her over a coffee date and a long visit to her house. While Rummell had some serious doubts at the beginning, West said they eventually decided to "go out on a limb" and endorse her because they believed she was an overall better candidate than the incumbent senator.
Citing their role in Oregon's gay rights world, West described the decision as "very difficult."
"It's not easy to get the blowback when yesterday you were the darling of the community," he said. "But we're acting with conviction in our hearts, and I'm not going to apologize for that."
A blueprint for the future?

While it wasn't a big risk in Oregon, the spot was certainly an uncommon move on the national level. Only four current GOP members of the U.S. Senate support same-sex marriage.
But Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon, trails Merkley by double digits. While her race has become more competitive than expected, political observers still rate it as a likely Democratic seat. Experts say she needed to make a splash to keep the pressure on.
“It seemed like a powerful, daring and bold move, but it also seems very wise given the landscape of Oregon," said O'Connell.

Judges hear four states defend same-sex marriage bans
As polls continue to show increasing support for same-sex marriage, O'Connell argued Republicans will be paying close attention to the outcome in Oregon. "Depending on how this turns out for Wehby, this could be a blueprint for how Republicans could move forward," he said.
Advocates for traditional marriage, however, have vowed to stop any momentum Wehby may gain from the ad.

"I think she's committed suicide politically," said Frank Schubert, the political director for National Organization for Marriage. He blasted her for supporting West and Rummell, calling their lawsuit a major insult to the voters who backed the amendment in 2004.
Schubert said his group is beginning to put together its plan to go after Wehby, adding that they're prepared to spend money in the state.
“Our organization will certainly urge Oregonians to refuse to vote for her,” he said saying they'll make sure people know she's not only in favor of same sex-marriage, but "she is in favor of the courts invalidating their votes."

By Ashley Killough, CNN

July 29, 2014

Opposing Gay Rights is bad Politics


When should the gay rights movement declare political victory? Some think success will come when gay marriage is legal nationwide; others are holding out for an LGBT omnibus equality bill. But my sense is that the true political triumph will arrive when conservatives can no longer scare up votes and dollars by running against gay people. Once there’s no political capital to be gained from opposing gay rights, no politician will oppose gay rights.
When will that moment come? Sooner than you might expect. On Saturday, theHuffington Post ran a fun story pondering why Republicans went totally silent on President Barack Obama’s executive LGBT nondiscrimination order. One GOP congressman claimed he hadn’t heard about the order. When pressed, Speaker of the House John Boehner simply sighed, “The president signs a lot of executive orders.” Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a supporter of the Senate’s flawed, failed bill, gentlychided Obama for leaving out Portman’s preferred (and widely maligned) religious exemptions. But not a single member of Congress took the bait and slammed Obama on the merits of the order.
This, surely, is a turning point. Republicans eager to bash Obama had a number of hoary talking points at their disposal: reckless disregard for religious liberty, tyrannical use of the executive order, special treatment of an undeserving class. But conservatives kept their arrows tucked away in their quivers, in what was surely a coordinated effort to prevent Democrats from seizing yet another anti-gay Republican sound bite to campaign against. (Never one to follow the crowd, Rep. Michele Bachmann did say on Wednesday that gays are plotting to legalize pedophilia.)
The tacit message of this strategy—a retreat, really—is clear: Loudly opposing an LGBT job discrimination measure is no longer politically tenable. Handed the opportunity to rail against gay rights or in favor of a “religious liberty” to discriminate, Republicans balked. That doesn’t mean they’ll start supporting ENDA outright. But when Democrats renew their push for the bill in the near future, the party may have functionally forfeited most of its future objections. If an LGBT job discrimination measure isn’t worth condemning in 2014, why would it be worth combatting in 2015? Don’t expect Republicans to have a coherent answer to that question when it next arises.  
Mark Joseph Stern

February 2, 2014

South Africa: New Political Party formed to Defend the Gay/Lesbian Community


A new party that will defend gays and lesbians against violence and persecution will stand in South Africa's elections this year, its spokesman said Saturday.
"We need a voice in parliament to protect women from being raped because people want to cure them from being lesbians," Michael Herbst of the Equal Rights Party told AFP.
"We need someone in parliament when boys are bullied at school because they are thought to be gay," said the retired professor of health studies at the University of South Africa.
"South Africa has one of the most beautiful constitutions that guarantees the rights of the people who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, et cetera. But in reality, it doesn't work well," he said.
While homosexuality is widely accepted in mainly white parts of Johannesburg and Cape Town, it remains taboo in many rural areas and in working-class black townships.
While gay marriage has been recognised since 2006, gays and lesbians are regularly killed because of their lifestyle.
Lesbians in the townships are often victims of "corrective rape".
Herbst also said lawmakers for the new party would have a platform for speaking out against violations of gay rights in countries such as Russia, Nigeria and Uganda.
Asked what he thought the party's chances were in the elections slated for the second half of the year, Herbst said: "We can definitively make it."
The National Assembly's 400 seats are awarded proportionally, and the smallest party in the current parliament won fewer than 36,000 votes -- some 0.2 percent -- in 2009 elections.

January 4, 2014

Clay Aiken Explores a Run for Congress

Political high notes? Clay Aiken is actively working toward a run for Congress, sources told the LGBT-oriented Washington Blade newspaper

Clay Aiken, the openly gay runner-up in the 2003 American Idol contest, is quietly exploring a run for Congress in his native North Carolina. And Republicans have already gone on the offensive.

The Washington Blade, a gay community magazine in the nation's capital, reported Friday that the crooner has talked with pollsters and election consultants to learn whether he would stand a chance to unseat Rep. Renee Ellmers, the Republican who has represented the Raleigh, North Carolina district since 2011.
Daniel Keylin, a spokesman for the North Carolina Republican Party, was unimpressed by Friday's news.
‘In a testament to the weakness of the Democrat Party, Clay Aiken would actually be one of their strongest Congressional candidates if he runs,' Keylin told MailOnline.

One of the Democratic operatives Aiken has met with is Betsy Conti, a veteran of Tarheel State politics who served under Governor Bev Purdue and worked on former Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore's campaign in 2000.
Aiken lost the 2003 American Idol crown to ‘velvet teddy bear' Ruben Studdard, the rotund gospel singer who made news in 2013 when he lost a reported 112 pounds on the show 'The Biggest Loser.'

His career has spanned recording, publishing, theater and television, appearing as Sir Robin in the Broadway production of 'Spamalot!' and co-authoring a New York Times best-seller in 2004 and taking second place – behind former late-night host Arsenio Hall – in the 2012 edition of Donald Trump's show 'Celebrity Apprentice.'
A run for Congress wouldn't represent the gay father's first toe-dip into politics. In July he made an appearance on Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to get tougher on anti-gay bullying. 
‘I was picked on, I was called gay, I was called fag, I was called sissy, you name it,;' he said during a congressional briefing.

'Fortunately, I was able to overcome it and live through it because of a number of friends who were supportive of me.'
 In 2012 he told the Charlotte Observer that he harbored a secret desire to become North Carolina’s governor.

'When I was in eighth grade, we had to do a project where we interviewed somebody we admired and wrote a paper about them,' he said. 'Everybody did a parent or their youth pastor or someone close to them. I called [then-U.S. Senator] Terry Sanford’s office in Raleigh and went and interviewed [him].'
Aiken has not yet announced his candidacy. The deadline for running in the May 6 primary election is February 28.
If he were to enter the race, he would face former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco, who has far more government experience but less name recognition. 

November 18, 2013

The Cheney Women Spat Over Gay Marriage

Mary Cheney is gay. She and wife Heather Poe are raising two children.
“Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree – you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history,” wrote Mary Cheney on her Facebook page.
This intra-family spat was sparked by a comment that older sister Liz, who’s running for the GOP Senate nomination against incumbent Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, made earlier in the day on “Fox News Sunday”.
Asked by host Chris Wallace if she’d flip-flopped on gay rights, Liz Cheney said she hadn’t. While she supports equal benefits for same-sex partnerships, she thinks it’s an issue best left to states to decide.
“I do believe in the traditional issue of marriage,” she said.
This is what did not sit well with little sister Mary and Mary’s spouse Heather Poe, whose own Facebook comments were direct and personal.
“Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 – she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us,” wrote Poe. “To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least”.
The context of this story is that on gay marriage Liz Cheney is caught between her family and the politics ofWyoming.
Wyoming is a conservative state. Sen. Enzi, the man Cheney wishes to unseat, is himself a gay marriage opponent. Plus, an outside money group that supports Enzi, the American Principles Fund, has been running ads that take not-too-subtle swipes at Cheney as soft when it comes to gay rights issues.
An ad titled “Wrong for Wyoming," for instance, shows clips of Cheney appearing on the “liberal elites” channel MSNBC to discuss same-sex marriage. Cheney “supports government benefits for gay couples” says the spot.
Another, called “Wyoming Values”, features conservative icon and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee saying that Mike Enzi is a “principled conservative . . . who believes that a mom and dad can do a better job raising kids than a government ever can do”.
On “Fox News Sunday” Cheney complained about this tactic, saying “Senator Enzi’s friends and supporters are running a really scurrilous ad in Wyoming. And the senator has said many times that he doesn’t believe in gutter politics . . . I think he ought to renounce it,” says said.
Cheney may be struggling to get traction against an incumbent who’s punching back pretty hard against her primary challenge. There’s little polling in the thinly populated state, but a July survey by the Democratic firm PPP found her 28 points behind Enzi. An internal poll conducted by the aforementioned American Principles Fund at the end of October put Enzi up by a whopping 52 points.
That should be taken with a heaping tablespoon of salt. But it’s probably safe to say that at this point, with a long way to go in the campaign, Cheney remains well behind the three-term incumbent.

Washington Editor
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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