Showing posts with label US Vice President. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Vice President. Show all posts

November 16, 2016

Pence Anti Gay, Anti Women Reproductive Rights and Also Trump’s VP

As president-elect Donald Trump begins his transition into the White House, a great deal of attention has centered on the complex decisions surrounding the transfer of power. Vice-president elect Mike Pence, a staunch conservative who has implemented or tried to implement controversial policy decisions during his time as Indiana's governor, replaced Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey as the leader of the transition team, strengthening speculation he will have a more prominent role in the administration than once thought.

Pence's political rise has been unconventional and mostly under the radar on the national scene. He started his political career began in 1988 after twice failing to defeat former U.S. House Representative Phil Sharp. While serving as president of the Indiana Policy Review, a Fort Wayne-based conservative think tank, Pence would begin hosting a statewide syndicated radio show in the early 1990s. He would later be elected to the House from 2001 to 2013 in Indiana's second district, which includes working-class cities like Elkhart. In 2012, he narrowly defeated Democrat John Gregg to succeed highly popular governor Mitch Daniels.

Throughout his time in public office, Pence's conservative credentials have remained clear. As governor, Pence received a 99 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and had just a 7 percent rating by American Civil Liberties Union as a congressman. In his own words, Pence described himself in 2010 as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order.” 

With one Supreme Court appointment certain, many liberals and conservatives will be interested in knowing what type of influence Pence will wield within the administration on social issues. His anti-abortion stance and history of anti-LGBT policies have many worried that the Trump will restrict the rights of both women and the LGBT community.

Pence's ardent religious beliefs account for the rabid opposition to abortion that has guided much of his legislation. His quest to defund Planned Parenthood was pushed into high gear as a congressman in 2011 when he submitted an amendment to the House to significantly cut funding for the organization.

“If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not to be in the business of providing abortions,” Pence told Politico in a 2011 interview. “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.”

Pence would keep his word. By 2014, just a year after he became governor, Indiana had slashed its funding to Planned Parenthood to half of its 2005 levels. Pence also signed a measure in March 2016 prohibiting abortions performed on the basis of a fetus’ race, disability or gender. The law allowed doctors who were found to have performed abortions on the basis of any of those characteristics to be held liable for wrongful death.

“By enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn while still providing an exception for the life of the mother,” Pence said in a statement. “I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families.” The law was ultimately struck down by a federal judge.

Pence also has a contentious history with the LGBT community. He opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a controversial policy enacted by Bill Clinton in 1993 intended to keep the sexual orientation of military service members confidential.

“We ought not to use the American military as a backdrop for social experimentation or debating domestic policy issues,” he told CNN in 2010.
In 2015, Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act into law, allowing business owners to deny service to any person if they felt that serving them would violate their religious beliefs. He later amended the law to say that business owners could not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, race, religion or disability, angering those who felt that it made the law insufficient and disappointing those who still felt it would allow for discrimination.

Accusations have been leveled at Pence for supporting conversion, or electroshock, therapy as a means of changing a person’s sexual orientation, though he has never explicitly said that. The allegations likely come from Pence’s statements when he was running for Congress in 2000. During that time, his campaign website stated that Congress should only support a law providing funding for HIV/AIDS treatment “after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Trump told "60 Minutes" on Sunday that he wouldn’t seek to ban gay marriage as president. “It’s law,” he said. “It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean, it’s done.”

Despite the fact that Roe v. Wade is also the law of the land, Trump implied he wouldn’t rule out changing it. “If it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states.”

October 6, 2016

The Real Mike Pence Wanted HIV Meds Connected to Conversion Therapy

Up to now Pence has maintained a low key compared to Trump and was seen as a pooper scooper for the Donald. Since he became more vocal at the debate talking about himself like he was a good human being because he is religious forgetting the terrible people that committed 9/11 were very religious too. Lets get to know him a bit:

Donald Trump’s more tepid supporters like to think of his running mate, Mike Pence, as the adult on this year’s Republican ticket, one who offers the previously ideologically wishy-washy Republican nominee rock-ribbed conservative credentials to boot. “What we have here is a really good leader, a good conservative, a knowledgeable conservative, a real Reagan-like happy warrior joining this ticket,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan glowed after Pence was picked in July. The Indiana governor may be a true conservative, but Pence is hardly the picture of a mainstream Reagan-esque “happy warrior” that his supporters would like to claim. Indeed, throughout his long and strange career, Pence has displayed a willingness to uncritically adopt the kookiest, angriest, most deranged positions of the far-right wing of his party. A brief overview of his political history demonstrates this pattern of unhinged extremism—and suggests that his debate performance on Tuesday night will veer between dull obfuscation and awkward evasion of an extremist policy background that he is too craven to openly defend.
Start with Pence’s passionate anti-LGBTQ beliefs, which led him to thrust his state into a national debate over gay rights in 2015. That March, Pence signed a “religious freedom” law designed to let businesses discriminate against LGBTQ customers, then repeatedly lied about its purpose on national television. Eventually, he caved and signed a legislative “fix” to prevent the law from facilitating discrimination, a tacit concession of its original intention.

Although Pence attempted to paint himself as a kinder, gentler Republican during the religious freedom flap, his lengthy history of anti-LGBTQ advocacy proves he’s one of American politics’ most militant culture warriors. As a congressman, Pence supported a constitutional amendment that would’ve banned same-sex marriage across the country, calling gay unions a “deterioration of marriage and family” and a sign of “societal collapse.” In 2010, he voted against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” claiming that allowing gays to serve openly in the military was tantamount to “social experimentation.” And he has vigorously opposed a federal law that would prohibit anti-gay employment discrimination, calling the measure a “war on freedom and religion in the workplace.”

Dig a little deeper, and the bigotry gets wackier. In 2000, during his first successful run for Congress, Pence declared that federal funds meant to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS were actually “being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.” (Presumably, Pence was referencing groups that treated HIV/AIDS patients without condemning homosexuality.) Instead of funding HIV/AIDS treatments, Pence wrote, the federal government should redirect its resources to gay conversion “therapy” programs. (The mere fact that Pence supported horrific, abusive conversion therapy—and has not yet disclaimed that support—should really be its own scandal.) And in the 1990s, Pence served as president of a conservative think tank that published a bizarre screed against gays in the military—a polemic that included extensive descriptions of graphic gay sex acts. (Certain details, including one involving light bulbs, defy logic and suggest a great amount of poetic license.)
Pence’s anti-LGBTQ activism, however, is really only the tip of his uniquely berserk iceberg. Did you hear about the time that, as governor, he tried to create a Soviet-style state-run news agency? Or when he resisted a needle exchange program, thereby exacerbating his state’s escalating HIV crisis? What about the time he helped to dismantle Indiana’s extraordinarily effective energy efficiency program, for no apparent reason other than to appease his donors in the coal industry?

Should we talk about Pence slashing taxes for the extremely wealthy and battling a minimum wage increase while preventing local governments from implementing paid sick or family leave? Or his dozens of votes in Congress against bills designed to protect endangered species, clean air, and safe drinking water? Naturally, Pence denies the existence of climate change; he also rejects evolution and supports the teaching of creationism in public schools. The fact that these positions haven’t gotten more attention—that Pence is still seen as the more rational and benevolent man on the ticket—is an illustration of how anyone can seem competent when compared with Donald Trump.

While Pence is a fierce adversary of liberty and equality behind closed doors, he is vapid and tedious in public.

To get a better sense of Pence’s governing style, though, perhaps it’s more fruitful to focus on some of his plainly illegal actions as Indiana governor. In 2015, Pence issued an order barring state agencies from providing social services to Syrian refugees in the state. Months later, a federal judge blocked his order, ruling that it constituted “impermissible discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” (An appeals court affirmed the injunction on Monday.) More recently, Pence signed a bill prohibiting women from obtaining an abortion because of a fetus’s race, sex, or disorder, including lethal abnormalities. The bill would have required doctors to demand that women explain why they chose to terminate their pregnancies and held doctors liable for wrongful death charges if they performed abortions for forbidden reasons. Once again, a federal judge prevented the law from taking effect, ruling that it violated women’s “liberty right to make independent decisions” in contravention of the 14th Amendment.

What does all of this political chicanery foretell about Tuesday’s debate? Probably very little, actually. While Pence is a fierce adversary of liberty and equality behind closed doors, he is vapid and tedious in public, which may speak to his broader appeal among mainstream Republicans: It is easier to sneak through militantly reactionary measures when your public persona is that of a milquetoast puppet. Rather than boasting about his conservative history during his debate showdown with Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, it’s more likely that Pence will simply cleave to talking points. Be prepared to see him reiterate his support for racist and constitutionally shady Trump proposals like a nationwide stop-and-frisk program while boasting of his running mate’s dubious business acumen, and not address his lengthy far-right rap sheet. The best he can probably hope for out of the debate is one more forgettable and inoffensive appearance in which he trots out some decent attack lines against his opponents.

But there were no questions to Pence in  his awful track record on gay issues and HIV funding, the most popular being holding HIV funding until it was agree(it never was) that people receiving help for doctors and meds had to go thru conversion therapy. Pence was not asked sharp, unexpected questions. When that has happened in the past, his failure to deliver a coherent response has been downright revelatory. Challenged to say whether he thinks anti-gay discrimination should be illegal or whether former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke is deplorable, Pence has panicked, stuttered, and melted into a silence that speaks volumes. When Pence collapses on the air, two things become immediately apparent: This man is a fanatical ultraconservative—but he also doesn’t have the courage to openly defend his beliefs. In those moments, voters can peer between the lines to see the coward that hides beneath the culture warrior. That is the real Mike Pence. And it is the man whom Pence’s handlers will likely strive to conceal from view under the bright lights of prime-time TV on Tuesday night.
Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.
Editing and intro by adamfoxie blog

July 8, 2016

“Hiring For GOP Veep” Free Driver and Tanning Sessions{No Takers So Far} Except______.

Image result for for hire veep 

 In the long Kabuki dance that is a presidential election, there are only one or two moments that even come close to a decision worthy of the Oval Office. All the rest is commentary.

For Donald Trump, we are fast approaching one of those moments. In the next two weeks, the property developer will make his most fateful decision since he fired Meat Loaf from Celebrity Apprentice.
Who deserves the peculiar honor of serving the nation just a heartbeat away from an orange-hued president? More importantly, who would accept a job that famously – even under sane and qualified presidents – isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss?

Trump’s vice-presidential pick might reassure some Republicans that there would be some adult supervision of a president who wants to launch a trade war with China, deport 11 million US residents, and close the borders to a billion Muslims.

Then again, any voter who thinks that Trump will listen to wise veep counsel is in desperate need of some adult supervision of their own.

First and foremost, this is a candidate – and possible president – who cannot keep secrets. The veep selection and vetting process is normally a confidential affair. Candidate Obama smuggled his candidates into his hotel through the rear entrances located by the garbage trucks.

The reasons for confidentiality are clear. You stand more chance of surprising voters – and dominating the news cycle – with a secret pick. You also avoid the risk of association with tarnished goods if news leaks before the vetting is complete. And finally you avoid the risk of looking impotent when your selections turn you down.

It’s a question of trust and discipline: if a candidate cannot keep a secret, how on earth can he or she protect national security secrets inside the West Wing? This ought to be an obvious point to a candidate obsessed with Hillary Clinton’s private email server. But it turns out that self-awareness and self-promotion do not go hand in hand.

Instead of secrecy and self-discipline, Candidate Trump brags about meeting his veep candidates on Twitter. He has boasted of his time with Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. (For some reason, he hasn’t bragged about his body man and former presidential rival, Governor Chris Christie.)

In between those meetings, the GOP’s standard-bearer had this to say: “The only people who are not interested in being the VP pick are the people who have not been asked!”

Well it turns out that even some of those who have met with Trump are not interested in being his vice president.

Ernst ought to fit the bill as a solid pick: a Tea Party darling, she was one of the rising stars of the 2014 cycle thanks to a TV ad that featured her boasting about her knife skills. “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm,” she began sweetly. “So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.” 

In fact, Ernst prefers a cleaver to a scalpel: she wants to abolish several US departments and agencies such as the Department of Education and the IRS. She is a rare female army veteran in the US Senate who was deployed to Kuwait during the Iraq war. And she believes that Saddam Hussein really did possess weapons of mass destruction; we just couldn’t find them.

Sadly, she isn’t available for the veep job, because she has to be somewhere else for the next few years. “I think that President Trump will need some great assistance in the United States Senate and I can provide that,” she told Politico this week. “I will probably participate more as an advocate.”
Bob Corker is a less obvious choice for Trump, but he would have added some desperately needed foreign policy heft to a Trump White House. The chairman of the august Senate foreign relations committee specializes in sounding reasonable while voting solidly along party lines. 

After meeting the entire Trump family, Corker ruled out running for veep because, well, it just doesn’t feel right. “I’ve always thought that I’m better suited for other kinds of things, and I think most people who know me agree with that,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

That leaves Pence: a former talk radio host who went on to become an arch conservative in the House, where he policed ideological purity at the Republican Study Committee. He was opposed to immigration reform, LGBT rights and was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq.

It’s not yet clear what Pence thinks of Trump’s position on Saddam Hussein. For some time, the GOP nominee has voiced his admiration for the man his own party only recently considered a vile dictator forming an axis of evil with Iran and North Korea.

But that was so post-9/11. Nowadays the Republican party is led by a man who thinks Saddam – a designated state sponsor of terrorism – was in fact a great leader in the war on terror.
To put it mildly, this is not the worldview of Pence, Ernst and Corker. Republicans used to campaign against Obama by saying that the troops would have no confidence in a commander-in-chief who opposed the war in Iraq.

Now they are getting vetted by a man who thinks Saddam would have been a great ally. On that basis, it seems a shame to have destroyed him and his regime, destabilized the entire region – and killed almost 4,500 US servicemen and women, as well as tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

These are hard times for what passes for the Trump campaign and the RNC. Staffers are hired and depart a few days later. The RNC is supposedly professionalizing a candidate who is pathologically determined to make things up as he goes along. Maintaining the façade of unity and popularity is a gold-plated exercise in hyperbole and question-dodging.

That leaves the small problem of who to put on stage at the Republican convention in Cleveland in less than three weeks’ time. Beyond his blood relatives, Trump has suggested he will give speaking slots to sports figures, like the boxing promoter Don King.

This is not just a challenge for staging a convention. Without party support – and no, Ben Carson doesn’t count – there can be no legislative action to back up the over-inflated words that emerge from President Trump’s mouth. It’s all hat and no cattle; all Don King, no Muhammad Ali.

For a candidate who admires dictators, this might not be a problem. For members of Congress running for re-election, this is a catastrophe. Aesop wrote that a man is known by the company he keeps. By now, it’s painfully obvious that the Grand Old Party doesn’t want to keep Trump’s company.

Richard Wolfe


January 21, 2016

Banging on the table Biden urged not treating LGBT as second class citizens



U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged executives in Davos to use their influence to drive change in countries where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face repression, putting gay rights at the heart of this year's meeting.

The issue is on the official agenda for the first time at the World Economic Forum, where political leaders from countries that discriminate against gay people, such as Nigeria and Russia, schmooze business leaders and billionaire investors.

Biden told U.S. executives including Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of apartment-sharing firm Airbnb, Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca Cola Company, and Anthony Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, to push for change.

"You can change the terms of debate," he said. "You actually put governments on notice."

He said he and President Barack Obama privately raise the issue of repression of the LGBT community when they meet political leaders.

"I have had some run-ins with at least four heads of state already on this," said Biden.

Banging his fist on the table, Biden said there was no national cultural justification to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"People used to be cannibals as part of their culture, people used to do terrible things as part of their culture," he said.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the United States' largest LGBT civil rights organization, said business leaders should take the opportunity in Davos to confront the leaders of countries with "hateful laws".

Big business has been key to lobbying for change on gay marriage around the world. Some leading companies, including Google, Twitter and eBay, released videos of their employees voicing their support for marriage equality ahead of a country-wide vote on the issue in Ireland.

Apple CEO (AAPL.O) Tim Cook came out last year, but according to the U.S.-based Center for Talent Innovation, 41 percent of LGBT people do not feel comfortable disclosing their sexuality at work.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last year but it is still legal in many U.S. states to fire someone based on their sexual orientation.

 by Carmel Crimmins

March 24, 2014

Biden links Russia’s anti-gay laws to incursion into Ukraine

(CNN) – Russia’s “gay propaganda” law that makes it illegal to tell children about gay rights is linked to the nation’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea, Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday night.

Speaking at a gala in Los Angeles for the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, Biden suggested countries that don’t respect the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender people also disregard borders.
“As the great Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov said, ‘A country that does not respect the rights of its citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors,’ and we're seeing that today, we're seeing that today in Ukraine,” the vice president said.
Biden, who infamously declared his support for same-sex marriage on national television before President Barack Obama, used his remarks at the annual event to call on Congress to pass a measure banning workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has passed the Senate but doesn’t appear to have traction in the U.S. House.
Some Democrats have called on Obama to sign an executive order that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians by federal contractors as the legislation stalls on Capitol Hill.
On Saturday, Biden said the absence of workplace protections for gays and lesbians was downright cruel.
“My grandkids, my children, and their kids and going to be shocked – it shocks the conscience – that an employer can fire you just because of who you are or who you love. It’s close to barbaric,” he said.
“Imagine 20 years from now, as American look back and say, ‘How the hell could that have ever been allowed?’ The country’s moved on. The American people have moved on. It’s time for Congress to move on, and pass ENDA.”

September 17, 2013

Vice-President Joe Biden “I don’t Remain Silent, Civil Rights isThe Issue of Our Day"

Joe Biden official.jpg
Vice President Joe Biden stood firm behind his decision to endorse same-sex marriage in May 2012, describing marriage equality as the civil rights issue of our day during a Sunday fundraiser.
"A lot of people criticized me for speaking out, not long ago, about gay marriage. I could not remain silent any longer," Biden said, according to Politico. "It's the civil rights of our day. It's the issue of our day."
Biden's remarks came during an appearance in Iowa at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak-fry fundraiser and alluded to his May 2012 appearance on Meet the Press that some believe prompted President Barack Obama to come out for same-sex marriage just three days later.
Asked by David Gregory during that appearance if he was comfortable with same-sex marriage, Biden responded, "I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that."
Biden has long been outspoken in his support for LGBT rights. During a campaign appearance in October, Biden described transgender rights as the "civil rights issue of our time."
Biden's Sunday remarks marked the second time in one week the vice president spoke to his endorsement of same-sex marriage. During a Thursday event at the vice president's residence celebrating the 19th anniversary of the the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which Biden originally drafted and was reauthorized this year with protections for LGBT people, Biden voiced no regrets for his May 2012 remarks.
Although Biden blamed "this sort of Neanderthal crowd" in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for slowing down the legislation, he said that GOP opposition to adding protections for LGBT victims of abuse stems from a lack of education, according to a White House pool report. Noting when he "went off script" during his Meet the Pressappearance, Biden added, "I make no apologies on the issue of marriage.”

Posted by Justin Snow 

September 3, 2012

Vice Pres Biden U-HAul Truck Stolen(Now Found) in DETROIT/No Low Jack?

A stolen rental truck packed with equipment for a vice presidential Labor Day campaign event in Detroit was found on Monday, the Secret Service said.Agency spokesman Ed Donovan said the U-Haul truck that disappeared on Sunday from the Westin Hotel was discovered by police near Henry Ford Hospital.Some of the contents had been recovered earlier in the day in an abandoned house and the rest appeared to be inside the truck, Donovan said.Donovan would not describe the gear, but a law enforcement official who did not speak for attribution said there were no weapons inside the vehicle.Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a downtown rally organized by the Michigan AFL-CIO.

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October 2, 2011

The First USA Gay Vice President: Meet William Rufus DeVane King

William Rufus DeVane King, the 13th United States vice president, has the distinction of having served in that office for less time than any other vice president.
William Rufus KingHe died of tuberculosis on April 18, 1853, just 25 days after being sworn into office on March 24, 1853, according to an official biography of King prepared by the Office of the Historian of the U.S. Senate.
Other historians have speculated that King holds yet another distinction — the likely status of being the first gay U.S. vice president and possibly one of the first gay members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
King (1786-1853) served in the House of Representatives from North Carolina for six years beginning in 1811 and later served in the Senate from the newly created state of Alabama from 1819-44, when he became U.S. minister to France.
He returned to the Senate four years later, in 1848, where he served until December 1852, when he resigned after winning election in November 1852 as vice president on the ticket of Franklin Pierce.
A lifelong bachelor, King lived for 15 years in the home of future U.S. president James Buchanan while the two served in the Senate. Buchanan, also a lifelong bachelor, is believed by some historians to be the nation’s first gay president.
“They certainly didn’t have the word gay back then,” said Paul F. Boller Jr., professor emeritus of history at Texas Christian University and author of several books on presidential politics, including the book “Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush.”
In a telephone interview, Boller said Washington insiders at the time speculated over whether King and Buchanan’s well-known close friendship had evolved into a romantic relationship.
“I don’t think the word homosexual was used either,” Boller said. “So, they’d sort of use the term ‘a little feminine’ and all of that.”
Boller and historian Jean H. Baker, professor of history at Maryland’s Goucher College and author of a biography of Buchanan, each cite reports that President Andrew Jackson referred to King as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy.” Aaron V. Brown, who became U.S. postmaster general while Buchanan was president, reportedly referred to King as Buchanan’s “wife.”
Baker reports in her Buchanan biography that King’s and Buchanan’s nieces reportedly destroyed their uncles’ correspondence with each other, fueling speculation that the two men were in a gay relationship that their families wanted to conceal.

‘We Are America’

Historians take note. This year’s National Gay History Project, with its nearly 30 participating LGBT news publications including qnotes, is a shout out to say that the LGBT community will no longer allow insensitivity, intentional or not, to downplay the contributions LGBT people have made to this country. To put it simply, this year’s project is definitive. Without people who were LGBT or LGBT allies, there would be no United States of America. We helped create this nation and we helped keep it together through the Civil War. And, indeed, the Founding Fathers not only had us in mind when creating this country, they welcomed and recruited us in their efforts.
Welcome to “We Are America.”
Mark Segal, Coordinator
In one letter that survived, Buchanan expressed sadness over King’s departure from his house in 1844 to become the U.S. envoy to France.
“I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me,” Buchanan wrote. “I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them.”
King’s relationship with Buchanan, who was from Pennsylvania, could have been a factor in Buchanan’s sympathy for the South during Buchanan’s tenure as a senator and later as president from 1857-61.
Most accounts by historians of King’s political career portray him as a moderate southerner who supported slavery while emerging as a strong unionist. King voiced opposition in the Senate to calls by some of his fellow southerners for the South to secede from the United States during the tense decade prior to the Civil War.
“From such a calamity may God in His mercy deliver us,” King wrote in expressing opposition to the growing calls for secession.
King was born in 1786 in Sampson County, N.C., to a family of wealthy planters. His father owned more than two-dozen slaves, the Office of the Senate Historian reports in its biography of King.
It says King attended an elite preparatory school before attending the University of North Carolina, where he studied law. Following a legal apprenticeship, he was admitted to the state bar in 1805 and began a legal practice. He served in the North Carolina Legislature from 1808-09 and won election in 1810 to the U.S. House and began serving as a congressman in 1811 at age 25.
He resigned from the House in 1816 to enter the world of diplomacy by taking a job as legation secretary for William Pinkney, who was appointed by President James Monroe as U.S. minister to Russia in St. Petersburg. King returned to the U.S. in 1818, when he moved from North Carolina to the territory of Alabama, becoming one of the leaders of the Alabama statehood movement.
The Senate historian’s biography says King purchased 750 acres of land in Alabama and established a plantation. He later joined others to form a land company that founded the town of Selma, which King reportedly named. In December 1819, he became one of Alabama’s first two U.S. senators.
As a moderate Democrat, King became an early supporter of Andrew Jackson’s quest to become president, the Senate biography says. It quotes an unnamed critic of King as describing him as a “tall, prim, wig-topped mediocrity,” noting that King wore a wig “long after such coverings had gone out of fashion.”
The biography quotes a fellow senator as having this to say about King: “He was distinguished by the scrupulous correctness of his conduct. He was remarkable for his quiet and unobtrusive, but active practical usefulness as a legislator … To his honor be it spoken, he never vexed the ear of the Senate with ill-timed, tedious or unnecessary debate.”
The Encyclopedia of Alabama reports in a 2003 article that rumors circulating in Washington about King’s sexual orientation increased as his close friendship with Buchanan became widely known.
“Neither man ever married and by 1836 they were sharing a residence in Washington,” the encyclopedia article says. “Any negative reactions to their relationship appear to have had little effect and the men continued with their living arrangement and their work as legislators.”
By 1840, newspapers in Alabama supportive of the Democratic Party, of which King was a prominent member, promoted King as a vice-presidential running mate for incumbent President Martin Van Buren. Although King received little support outside Alabama for the vice-presidential nomination, he continued to position himself behind the scenes as a possible vice-presidential candidate for the next two decades, the Alabama Encyclopedia reports.
The Senate biography of King says President John Tyler interrupted King’s vice-presidential ambitions in 1844 when he nominated him to become U.S. minister to France and the Senate quickly confirmed the nomination by a lopsided margin.
The bio says King succeeded in his main mission to persuade France not to oppose U.S. plans to annex Texas, which the U.S. acquired following the Mexican-American War.
King returned to the Senate in 1848, two years after completing his service in France. In July 1850, King became the defacto U.S. vice president when President Zachary Taylor died in office and then Vice President Millard Filmore became president, leaving the office of vice president vacant.
King’s Senate colleagues responded by unanimously selecting him as president pro tempore of the Senate, which normally would have placed him third in line to become president. With the vice president’s post vacant, King emerged as first in line to become president if Filmore were to die in office.
In 1852, after years of vying for the vice-presidential nomination, the constellations appeared to be in perfect alignment with Democratic Party politics for King’s longtime dream. After nominating Franklin Pierce for president on the 49th ballot, the Democratic Convention, convening in Baltimore, nominated King as Pierce’s running mate. In the ensuing months, King campaigned aggressively for the Pierce-King ticket, playing some role in Pierce’s victory in November 1852.
But, biographers report that King’s coughing spells became increasingly frequent and painful, leading to a diagnosis of tuberculosis. By December 1852, King described himself to friends as “looking like a skeleton,” the Senate biography reports. Later that month he resigned from the Senate and made arrangements, at the advice of his doctor, to spend the winter in Cuba, where the warm, tropical climate would hopefully help him regain his health.
In early February 1853, King realized his condition was getting worse and he would not be well enough to travel to Washington in time for the March 4 inauguration ceremony.
Upon learning of King’s deteriorating health, Congress took the unusual step of passing a law allowing him to take the oath of office for vice president on foreign soil.
“On March 24, 1853, near Matanzas, a seaport town 60 miles from Havana, the gravely ill statesman, too feeble to stand unaided, became the nation’s 13th vice president,” his Senate biography says.
King boarded a ship to return to the U.S. in April 1853 and arrived home at his Alabama plantation on April 17. He died one day later at age 67.
David Durham, a University of Alabama professor of law and history, said in a Sept. 9 interview that it remains an open question whether King was gay. Durham said it’s also uncertain, but a strong possibility, that King played a role in shaping Buchanan’s policies and views on the issue of slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War.
“I don’t think anybody can prove it one way or the other,” he said in discussing King’s sexual orientation.
“A lot of the speculation comes from misinterpreting, I think, 19th Century lifestyles, where men commonly slept in the same bed and thought nothing of it,” Durham said. “And, the kind of terms of affection used in letters and correspondence between males — in our society now it’s like, umm, that’s very interesting. But, they thought nothing of it and it didn’t mean there was some kind of romantic attachment,” he said.
“But, that’s not to say that there wasn’t,” Durham added. : :
— Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil-rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as senior news reporter for the Washington Blade. In 2011, Chibbaro became the first reporter from the LGBT press to be inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists D.C. Professional Chapter’s Hall of Fame and received the Justice for Victims Crime Award from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in 1998. He received a bachelor’s degree with a double major in biology and political science from the State University of New York at Brockport.

National Gay History Project 2011

by Lou Chibbaro J
via blogger

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