Showing posts with label Government Against the Poor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government Against the Poor. Show all posts

April 21, 2015

88,200 New Yorkers Trying to get one of 55 Affordable(?) Units

2015_04_notpoordoor.jpgThis is probably the rich door
The Upper West Side building that made "poor doors" a policy issue has been flooded with low-income New Yorkers trying to get inside. The developer claims that over 88,000 applications for the 55 affordable housing rental units have been received so far.
Gary Barnett, president of 1 Riverside Park (the rich door side with pool, gym, bowling alley, indoor playground, "Yoga, Pilates, Personal Training and Kinesis Rooms," golf simulator, etc.), told the NY Times, "I guess people like it. It shows that there’s a tremendous demand for high-quality affordable housing in beautiful neighborhoods." The Times adds, "Mr. Barnett said 88,200 applications had been received by early Monday. Officials with the NYC Housing Partnership, the nonprofit that will screen applicants for the developer, said that applications could reach 90,000 by the time the submission period ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday. The total will not be known until mailed applications, which must be postmarked by Monday, are counted."
21815.jpgThe building
As Chris Robbins explained last year, "The new residents of One Riverside Park [will] enjoy their 'rock climbing wall' and $25 million views. At the adjacent [470 West 62nd Street], Normal Humans can reside in relative comfort for $833/month in a studio, $895/in a one bedrooom, and $1,082 for a two-bedroom. The catch is that you have to earn between $30,240 and $50,340, and submit to a litany of credit and background checks and the kind of crippling uncertainty that rich people aren't usually acquainted with."
Barnett insisted, "The most important thing is to provide affordable housing. It’s what people really want."
2015_04_poordoor2.jpg1 Riverside Park aka 40 Riverside Boulevard
Mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell said, “We oppose so-called poor doors and will change the necessary rules so that when affordable housing is provided on-site, we will not allow separate entrances based on income."  
No matter what the government calls the people that will be selected for these units they are not for poor New Yorkers nor homeless. The owners of the buildings will be getting tax abatements and other permits to make these crumbs available. Meanwhile Poor New Yorkers will keep becoming  homeless as they loose they rent stabilized apartments they might have now. These apartments start at a fair or even low rents but every year they go up the maximum allowed by law. These means that as these retired or disabled people depending on a small pension or social security pay these increases it will come the time they can not afford the apartments( rent stabilized ). It’s pure simple math.
 As the apartments go up every year these people incomes can not keep up with the increases. The tax payers will pay for those Luxury 55 units and they will pay for the rent stabilized units and they will pay for the shelters for those who become homeless and they will pay for new apartments for the qualified homeless that lost their apartments to the rent increases the city approves every year through a group of landlord caring group appointed by the mayor.  Its all a game to fool some people into believing that the city is giving luxury apartments to the poor thus having a reputation of a merciful fair government (I heard this by commenters at FaceBook) It’s a joke but no body will be laughing except!! the developers who will get permits for buildings that are too tall and sometimes in the wrong places for a measly number of apartments for a measly number of people. It will be better for the tax payer and the the working poor and non working poor to get a better effort in securing permanent shelters, I mean apartments that they can afford. Now wait a minute! the city just passed a bill that the people that get those units will be able to use the gym, sauna and benches outside the building. The can also enter through the main door, which before they could not and had special elevators marked for them. You see the building management people of apartments of that kind were keeping the lucky people that got the cheap units from utilizing the luxury commodities of the building, even the entrance!!!! The city let them have it though in a one two punch. Now those making $30-45k a year can rub shoulders with the ones making a million  a year. What a city government we have. By the way the name of the government in the city is “Progressive.” I’m ticked all over and feeling like throwing up, it most the building lunch I had.

Few Facts:

There are hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the United States. The picture below shows the estimated numbers by state. California has by far the largest amount of homeless people.
homelessness-estimates-by-state_hudNY: 77,420
This a homeless problem in Australia as well. The ratio is 1 in every 200 people are homeless. Look at the following statistics taken from Homelessness in Australia:

March 21, 2015

The Suburbs Could Help Crowded New York City? In Your Scarsdale Dreams

New York City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod said something on Tuesday that badly needed saying: The city cannot solve its housing shortage on its own. The suburbs must step up and create more dense, affordable housing too. If they do, it will be good for housing affordability, and for the environment.

It’s fashionable among economic policy wonks to attack the nation’s densest cities such as New York and San Francisco for causing their own lack of affordability by restricting new housing development. There is certainly some truth to this critique. That’s why New York City is changing the zoning in many areas to allow taller buildings, incentivize developers to include more affordable units, and remove some parking requirements. (Disclosure: My mother is the director of the New York City Planning Department’s zoning division.)

But the people who have to actually make New York City run and keep it livable — like Mayor Bill de Blasio and Weisbrod — have a huge challenge: The city is already bursting at its seams. Many subway lines are unbearably crowded at rush hour, traffic is a nightmare, and the sewers overflow when it rains heavily. New York’s infrastructure cannot support adding new residents ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, New York’s suburbs are ungodly expensive. Just like in the city, this is primarily the result of high demand and limited supply due to development restrictions. The difference? Those restrictions in the suburbs require much lower density, with much more parking, and the result is much more fossil fuel emissions. The average density in New York City is over 27,000 people per square mile. The New York metropolitan region as a whole has only 2,800 people per square mile, because its suburbs are less dense than the suburbs of Los Angeles. That’s why the average resident of Manhattan has half the carbon footprint of her counterpart in suburban Great Neck, Long Island.

Here is Weisbrod’s crucial comment: “The city is the heart of the region. But our continuing health really depends on the vitality of all our surrounding counties as well as the city itself. We know that the number of suburbanites commuting to the city for work is growing. But, more interestingly, the number of New York City residents commuting to jobs outside the city is also growing.” More apartments in the suburbs, says Weisbrod, “helps relieve the pressure on our residents.” Weisbrod is obviously correct that more apartment housing options in suburban areas could reduce demand for housing in the city, which would restrain price increases.

It also would help lower-income workers currently reverse-commuting from the city to suburbs to cut their commute time and carbon footprint. For example, if you are poor and you live in the South Bronx, you may find work cleaning fancy houses in suburban Westchester. It would be more economically and environmentally efficient if you could live closer to your job. The problem is that most affluent suburbs don’t have — and often don’t allow — any affordable housing. That’s not just affordable housing in the publicly regulated or subsidized sense. They don’t allow the type of housing that is affordable on the free market, because they do not allow big buildings full of small apartments and without parking spaces. That’s why the New York region is among the nation’s most socio-economically segregated.  

Of course, many of the rich people who live in the suburbs — even the ones who publicly argue that New York City should have more tall apartment buildings — have no interest in denser, more affordable housing in their own towns. Just ask Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. REBNY is a powerful force in city politics, constantly demanding the freedom to build upwards. But Spinola himself lives on Long Island and he doesn’t think his neighbors would stand for letting lower-income renters into their communities. “I have some concerns over that solution,” Spinola told Capital New York when asked about Weisbrod’s comments. “I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done. But I live on Long Island. … there’s been lawsuits to stop [affordable housing] and so forth. … is this going to be a significant portion of the solution to affordable housing? I don’t think it is.”

If you take it as a given that suburbs can and will continue to reject socioeconomic diversity and environmental efficiency, then Spinola is right about the political challenge. But if the suburbs are smart, they’ll change their attitude. As The New York Times has repeatedly reported in recent years, officials in towns on Long Island have worriedly noted that younger families, and older people who can no longer drive, are increasingly abandoning suburbia. They don’t want car-dependent, monochromatic suburban neighborhoods, but are instead choosing a more urban lifestyle in transit-accessible, walkable areas. The smart towns are responding by building dense, walkable downtowns with apartments over stores. It’s also possible for the state or federal government to create federal housing subsidy programs that reward or punish towns or counties for building, or failing to build, their fair share of affordable housing.

However it happens, Weisbrod is right about what the New York region, and every region, needs: affordable apartments in the suburbs as well as the inner city.

 Ben Adler

I was invited to this meeting and at the last minute I decided not to go. Somehow I knew that I could not sit there while scapegoats and insulting arguments would be thrown to the wall to see if they stuck. Ive given the top of the page to the argument the son of the Chair.  My argument is not even an argument but an invitation to anyone with an open mind to look at what is happening. It is a short statement that self explains what the situation is.  

First, what the suburbs do or don’t do is not going to solve NY city’s housing crisis. Secondly the argument implies that the less affordable New Yorkers that have problems paying their ever increasing rents, should now buy a car with the insurance and expenses that go with it so they can moved to the now affordable (?) suburbs. 

Secondly, the suburbs cannot and would not solve NYC rent crisis because this is self created by New York with its zoning laws, overbuilding of luxury buildings and a commission tilted towards the owners. Up to now the owners get very close of they ask every year, for even these times that inflation is down and oil prices at a bargain and expected to continue. Anyone that drives around the city would see plenty of empty lots, empty buildings. There is construction but the construction is meant to be for luxury apartments and small percentage of  it. ”affordable” for people that don’t need  No they don’t need to be paying for an apartments in any borough at $500 a month when they are a single people earning over $30K or family of two making 45K. Those people could afford a $1500.00 a month for rent. Is that too much? Yes it is but the retirees or disabled making 1500.00 a month certainly cannot afford the 1500.00 rent but actually I know of SS recipients not SSI that pay $1000 a month plus utilities in apartments that go up every year at a rate much higher than any cola they might get on their checks.

To the conclusion it would be decent for the promises that were made on the last election be kept and also that we stop talking about 2020 for reports to suggest what to do as I heard on TV l;listening to the hearring.   To me they want those elderly, disabled people to go ahead and die to make the problem better with people of another generation that would probably be making more. I hope that is not the case but this is time to act so in two years maximum we have alleviated the problem.

March 16, 2015

New Map Shows Which Luxury Buildings You are Paying without Ever Setting Foot on them

12915one57.jpgA rendering of One57, a luxury building that received 421-a tax abatements because it subsidized 66 affordable units in the Bronx (via)
No government agency keeps track of how your tax dollars are used to subsidize luxury apartments—job-creating neighborhood-renewers shan't be stifled. But a handy new mapshows you where your investments live, and it's not in a three-bedroom Craigslist share in Bushwick. 
The Municipal Art Society had to retrieve data from the Department of Finance, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the Department of City Planning to make the map, which shows that 60% of the $1.1 billion in tax revenue that we forfeited last year under the 421a tax abatement went to building apartments in Manhattan that very few people can actually afford. 
2015_02_masmap.jpgScreengrab of the map
In Manhattan, Long Island City, and large swaths of Brooklyn, the exemption is supposed to require that developers make 20% of their units "affordable," except when lawmakers give them a loophole to ignore or dilute the requirement. 
"It's not the 1970s anymore. In these booming Manhattan neighborhoods, the only value of a 421-a program is to spur affordable housing, yet the data on 421-a's affordable housing impact is largely unavailable," MAS' executive director, Margaret Newman, says in a release
One way of measuring 421a's impact would be to look at how much affordable housing was generated under Mayor Bloomberg: In 2013, 421a helped build 150,000 new apartments; only 12,000 of them were affordable. The city loses 11,000 affordable units to deregulation each year.
Another way would be to look at some of these properties getting the exemption: a few blocks from Bloomberg's apartment, at 150 East 86th Street, developers got $5.8 million in tax exemptions over a decade to build a total of 118 apartments, only 24 of them "affordable" (and those are built off-site). 
In the Financial District, 343 Broadway got $4.4 million over 20 years to build 358 apartments, only 18 of them "affordable." 
On the Upper West Side, 535 West End Avenue got $3.3 million over 10 years to build 31 apartments, and just six of them are "affordable." 
One57, pictured above, got $35 million in tax breaks, including for the $100 million penthouse that recently sold; for that, developers will build 66 "affordable" units in the South Bronx. 

October 8, 2014

Mayor de Blasio Affordable Housing Plan, Too little and too late


Calling it the "largest, most ambitious affordable housing plan ever" from any U.S. city, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his vision to build 80,000 new units of affordable housing over the next 10 years while preserving another 120,000. "The crisis is greater than ever before," the mayor said at a press conference in Brooklyn on Monday, adding later in the Bronx that housing costs have "undermined the very idea that people can live in New York long-term, that people can stay in their own neighborhoods." De Blasio's plan would build more than four times as many apartments for very low-income people than Mayor Bloomberg's programs did. Yet the plan is likely to fall far short of solving that crisis.

In documenting the depth of the problem, the plan notes that the city has about 980,000 households who earn less than $42,000 a year (50% of metropolitan “area median income”) for a family of four—including more than half of its renters—and about 360,000 of them spend more than half their income on rent. It says there are about 425,000 apartments that rent for $1,050 or less (about 40% in public housing), what these households could afford without spending more than 30% of their income on rent. That’s a shortfall of more than 550,000 units. 
In short, the de Blasio plan would build about 16,000 apartments for this income group—more than twice as many as Bloomberg did, but not quite 3 percent of what it implies are needed.

The plan's 80,000 new apartments will be built using city funds to leverage private development. In areas rezoned to allow taller, denser buildings, developers would be required to include 50 percent "middle income" apartments—more accurately, for the upper middle class, designated for households with incomes of roughly $100,000 to $140,000, and renting for $2,500 to $3,500. 
Another 30 percent would be for "moderate income" households, who make $67,000 to $100,000; these would rent for about $1,700 to $2,500. The remaining 20 percent would be for "very low income" households, those making less than $42,000.

This would replace the city's 80/20 formula, in which luxury housing developers could get tax or zoning breaks if they agreed to include up to 20 percent below-market units.

The plan is "the outer limit of what can be achieved in a decade," the mayor said. The administration estimates its cost at $41 billion, including $8.2 billion in direct city investment. But it is limited by three major constraints.
5714housing4 .jpgMayor de Blasio announcing his plan in Brooklyn on Monday (via Ed Reed / Mayor's Office)

First, although there are almost 250,000 people on the waiting list for the city's public housing, public housing construction is "essentially frozen" due to a lack of funds, de Blasio said.

Second, while the plan calls for preserving 120,000 currently affordable apartments, state law lets landlords deregulate vacant rent-regulated apartments if the rent can be raised to $2,500 or more, and the market is inexorably pushing rents toward that threshold all around the city. More than 250,000 apartments have been decontrolled since the first version of that law was enacted in 1993. 
"We have lost more units through deregulation than this ambitious plan calls for producing," says Larry Wood of the Goddard Riverside SRO Law Project. "If we keep losing affordable rent-regulated units through vacancy decontrol, all the new production will be meaningless."

Third, while the plan calls for repealing the state law that prohibits the city from strengthening its rent laws, it does not urge the repeal of vacancy decontrol. "We will work with the state as rent regulation comes up for renewal in 2015 to prevent abuses of the vacancy and luxury decontrol provisions," the report says. That wording enrages veteran tenant activist Michael McKee, who calls it a carefully phrased "cop-out," reneging on de Blasio's campaign promise to support repeal.

Instead, the plan's preservation initiatives will rely on intensified enforcement against housing-code violations and landlords who harass tenants. The mayor called 1269 College Ave, the Bronx building where he held the press conference, "a prime example" of such preservation. As public advocate in 2012, he named the building's then-owner, Eli Abbott' s College Management, the worst landlord in the city. Tenants there complained about rats breaking into their refrigerators and ceiling leaks so bad they had to sit on the toilet with an umbrella, while rents averaged more than $1,100. 

The building was rescued, explains longtime Bronx community organizer Harry DeRienzo, by a complex network of tenants, community groups, city agencies, legal services, a sympathetic bank, and a new landlord ethical enough to renovate the building while keeping rents down. Apartments there now cost $650 to $1,100, he adds—cheap by Manhattan standards, but not so cheap for Bronx residents.

Finally, the plan's new housing relies on private developers, which means rents can't be so low that it discourages them from participating. "To pay market rate for a site and create 50 percent affordability is clearly not feasible," developer David Pickett said at the Brooklyn press conference.

The administration did not propose building nonprofit co-op developments like Electchester in Queens or Manhattan's Penn South, says Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, because it's too hard to find large enough plots of land.

The result is that large groups of people will be left out the plan. It does not specify how many apartments will be built for the city's working poor, but the $40,000 a year it categorizes as "very low income" is middle-class next to a minimum-wage worker, for whom even a $600 rent would take more than half their income.

The administration expects that the bulk of its preservation efforts will benefit the city's middle class, households making roughly $42,000 to $67,000, but no new housing is slated for this group.

Several housing activists praised the "different tone" of the de Blasio administration. After 12 years of Bloomberg, who thought astronomical rents demonstrated the city's success as a luxury brand, it's good, they say, to have a mayor who cares about people being able to afford to stay here.

On the other hand, to solve the crisis, de Blasio has to deliver more than Clintonesque "I feel your pain" bromides about inequality. To make a significant dent in its housing shortage, the city really needs something on the scale of the Mitchell-Lama program, which from 1955 to the late 1970s built more than 100,000 apartments that were genuinely affordable to working and middle class people. 
As of now, it appears that his administration’s plan may replicate the worst flaw of Bloomberg's housing programs: In the name of "affordable housing," building more apartments that cost more than $2,500 than ones that rent for less than $1,000.
Steven Wishnia is a New York-based journalist and musician, and the editor of Tenant/Inquilino.He is also the author of "When the Drumming Stops," "Exit 25 Utopia," and "The Cannabis Companion." His previous work for Gothamist includes "Why The Push To Abolish Rent Control Is Stupid And Irresponsible" and "How NYC Can Solve Its Affordable Housing Crisis"

October 3, 2014

Gay Marriage is Fundamental but it is past time to Address other Injustices



Another supreme court victory is great for the Gay Inc establishment. But marriage is inadequate for expanding rights to queer people who are not married, who are poor, or both. Photograph: Freedom to Marry / YouTube
So the nine most powerful people in America – three women and six men in robes, all of whom profess to be straight – met this week to consider the most important legal matters of our time. Among the cases the US supreme court announced on Thursday morning that it would hear this term: one that could empower racial housing discrimination, and a couple others aimed at “shrinking voting rights or loosening campaign finance rules”Not among them – not until at least next weekanyway – are any of the seven pending cases that could decide, once and for all, finally and at long last, if millions of families headed by same-sex couples can be legally married.
The cases span from Utah, where the population is split on marriage equality, to Virginia, where a clerk is fighting marriage while the governor is supporting it. In the midwest, scandal-plagued Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is challenging the right of a lesbian (named Virginia Wolf) to wed, while nearby Federal Judge Richard Posner, appointed by Ronald Reagan, ruled Indiana’s argument against equality “is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously”.
All the cases provoke the Supremes to address a simple matter avoided by 2013’s landmark, but incomplete, decisions on Doma and Prop 8. They ask a question left unanswered for too long in a nation full of sudden majority acceptance: do LGBT Americans have a constitutional right to get married? Well, here’s a more complicated one: is marriage enough?
It’s tempting to wonder if Justice Scalia and his ilk want to hear the one or two gay marriage case least likely to provide clear answers, or if the notorious Justice Ginsburg and her jazzercise posse will push the one most likely to end, as clearly and with as much finality as possible, our relegation to “skim milk marriage”.
Ginsburg made her milk comment during oral arguments for Windsor v US, the case that wound its way to the high court and struck down section three of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. It was argued by attorney Roberta Kaplan, who warned me on Wednesday against speculating too much about which new LGBT marriage cases the justices might accept, or when.
“I haven’t figured out the magical formula that has allowed me to read the justices’ minds,” Kaplan told me, laughing, while recalling that she and her plaintiff, Edie Windsor, had to wait for months into the 2012 term to find out if the Supremes would take up their case.

We are sick of waiting for answers. We are sick of waiting until next week, and the week after that, especially considering octogenarians like Windsor and nonagenarians like Alice ‘Nonie’ Dubes and Vivian Boyack literally cannot wait forever. Equality shouldn’t take this long anymore, when gay marriage is palatable to straight people and politically safe for politicians. But like me, Kaplan has been surprised at the speed of Windsor’s effect on marriage law, with “40 pro-equality cases” in about a year. Marriage equality, she reminded me, is still on a roll:
When Doma passed passed in 1996, not a single state allows same-sex couples to marry – and it didn’t apply to anyone until relatively recently, in 2003, when marriages start in Massachusetts. In 2010, only five states, not including New York, allowed marriage. By the time I argued, in 2013, it was nine. When the case was decided, it was 12. Today, it is 19, plus another 14 opinions saying [marriage bans are unconstitutional], but are stayed pending appeal. ... The majority of states, and certainly a majority of the American population, live in states where couples are getting married.
Seven months ago in these pages, Kaplan predicted that “Windsor was the Battle of Normandy” in the battle for gay rights. Now we have to conquer the rest of Europe, as it were.
We are sick of waiting for the hammer to fall on gay marriage, because the conquest isn’t just marriage equality for all – the conquest is all equal rights for all.
Indeed, for everything it’s done done for people like Edie Windsor, who shared financial assets (including a house in the Hamptons) with her late wife, marriage is inadequate for expanding rights to queer people who are not married, who are poor, or both. Marriage doesn’t help homeless kids, who are disproportionately LGBT. Marriage doesn’t get healthcare for the HIV-positive single person. Being married won’t help you if you are fired, legally, because you are gay.
I asked Kaplan about that harsh reality – that marriage isn’t the only venue for gay rights, especially when it is often sold with the appearance to benefit rich, white and even straight people, not to mention their lawyers who make millions fighting that singular fight. (“It never occurred to me not to take it pro-bono,” Kaplan said of taking the Windsor case for free.) She admits that gay rights have gotten to a point where “if you’re middle class or above, we can can have wonderful lives.” Kaplan added:
It can’t be that you only get to enjoy these benefits if you have the money to do so. It’s time to address social and economic inequality.
This is why Kaplan says she has chosen to broaden her focus towards battling HIV. But she maintains that marriage equality has been fundamental to this broader battle: once we’re legally equal in marriage, she argues, you can’t “treat gay people unequally regarding any other right. Under the logic of Windsor, I don’t think any government agent can discriminate based on sexual orientation.”
Which is still pretty utopian, if you ask me. Because private agents are another matter – perhaps requiring a supreme resurrection of the proposed 1974 Equality Act, which “would have added sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the gold standard among anti-discrimination laws”. Because any queer rights legislation is dead on arrival in Congress, as equality eludes LGBT Americans in arenas from the workplace to the DMV. Because there is too much work to be done for America to be waiting.
Marriage may be the most pragmatic and legally convenient game right now. But equality is incomplete, whether we’re on the Notorious RGB’s dance card or not.

May 24, 2014

Dems Went with gay marriage and Fairness to all Citizens Vs.GOP 1876 Values and it Fixes on it’s own



It wasn't all that long ago that Republicans used gay marriage as a tool to drive Election Day turnout. But as public opinion on the issue has turned and courts strike down same-sex marriage bans, gay rights is evolving into a wedge issue for Democrats to wield.
Consider Pennsylvania, where Democrats have lambasted Republican Gov. Tom Corbett for comparing gay marriage to incest. Facing a tough re-election campaign, Corbett decided this week not to appeal a federal court ruling striking down the state's ban of gay marriage.
Or Colorado, where Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is hitting his Republican challenger for casting votes that denied gay people protection from discrimination. In Arizona, Democrats plan to hammer Republican legislators who passed a law allowing businesses to refuse to serve gays for religious reasons.
"We're just beginning to see this, and we will see a lot more in the midterms," said Richard Socarides, an activist who was President Bill Clinton's adviser on gay rights. "It will be an incredible shift by the time we get to the (presidential) election in 2016."
That election will arrive 20 years after Republicans in Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Clinton signed the bill defensively, worried the GOP would use it as a campaign issue, Socarides said. Republican activists put anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot in 11 states in 2004, helping President George W. Bush win re-election with the support of conservative religious voters motivated to turn out to support the bans.
Connie Mackey, head of the conservative Family Research Council's Political Action Committee, said that's still a solid strategy. Voters still oppose gay marriage, she argued, and Republicans should not let themselves get faked out by overconfident Democrats.
"The people in the states think one way and the establishment and the courts are showing a different face," Mackey said.
But gay marriage, supported by less than one-third of Americans in 2004, is now supported by a solid majority in recent polls, with approval highest among younger voters. Some Republicans believe that mounting public support represents a danger to their party, and they are scrambling to prevent Democrats from using the issue of gay rights in the same way some in their own party did for years.
"They want to bait Republicans into talking about the issue in a way that ties them to a negative, national Republican brand," said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who hasn't taken a position on gay marriage. "They need to stir up their base and create outrage."
Nevada Republicans dropped their opposition to gay marriage last month from the state party's platform, and a national campaign is underway to remove such language from the national party platform in 2016. Major Republican donors have formed a coalition to push the party to become more gay-friendly.
That shift broke into the open in Arizona earlier this year after social conservatives pushed legislation allowing businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians through the Republican-controlled Statehouse. An outcry from business organizations and national Republicans led GOP Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the measure, but the issue is likely to figure in at least two of the state's competitive congressional races where Democrats are defending seats, as well as the governor's race.
"This is something that really drives a wedge through their party and motivates turnout in ours, and it's the right thing to do," said D.J. Quinlan, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party.
The politics of gay rights have changed perhaps most dramatically in Colorado. In 1992, voters passed a law prohibiting any city or county from protecting gays and lesbians under their laws against discrimination. That measure was eventually struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, but voters went on to ban same-sex marriage in 2006.
Those actions inspired several major donors to invest in expanding the state's Democratic party. At the same time, an influx of younger voters moved to the state from the coasts. A decade-long winning streak followed for Democrats at the top of the ticket.
"A lot of these moderate, independent voters want people who are not haters," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist and chair of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet narrowly defeated a Republican challenge in 2010 after the GOP candidate compared homosexuality to alcoholism. The next year, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper shamed Republicans in control of the state House for refusing to grant gay couples civil unions. The GOP lost control of the chamber in 2012, and Hickenlooper signed a civil unions bill last year.
Seeking re-election this year against GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, Udall has highlighted his opponent's support as a state lawmaker for laws barring adoption by gay parents and opposition to adding protections for gay people to nondiscrimination clauses. "This is a key difference between Rep. Gardner and me," Udall said in an interview.
Gardner, who cast a vote in Congress that would have required the Justice Department to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, replied in a statement that he does not believe "anyone should be discriminated against." The issue, Gardner added, has no place in the campaign.
"While others may seek to divide Colorado on these sensitive issues, you won't be hearing any rhetoric from me like that during this campaign," he said.

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