Showing posts with label Pro Gay Politician. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pro Gay Politician. Show all posts

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.

May 12, 2016

Dan Savage Talks About Hillary’s LGBT Record

During an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show on Monday, the gay activist explained that the Democratic front-runner has an “excellent” stance on LGBT issues.

He said: “Hillary Clinton is good on LGBT issues. She’s excellent on them. She wasn’t always good on gay marriage, but neither was Barack Obama. 

December 18, 2015

Is There One GOP Presidential Candidate who will do no harm to LGBT?


Donald Trump’s been accused of being a bully and a bigot. But he stands out among Republican presidential hopefuls for his comparative sensitivity to one politically potent minority group: the gay community.
Trump has advocated for banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. He criticized a Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court found, earlier this year, that the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry. He is also one of only two Republican candidates — along with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — that the Human Rights Campaign deems to have even a “mixed” record on gay rights
“He is one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency,” said Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, an advocacy group for LGBT Republicans. Trump would do no harm on same-sex marriage, Angelo said, and has a “stand-out position” on non-discrimination legislation.
That’s not to say the real-estate mogul and former reality TV star trumps Democrats when it comes to issues of importance to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley are all vocal advocates for most of the priorities of the LGBT community. Nor does it mean gay and lesbian Republicans will ignore Trump’s treatment of other minority constituencies — or base their votes on LGBT issues.
But it does mean that Trump has an opening to draw support from gay Republicans in the primary, and that could matter in states where the LGBT community is particularly well organized. It also means he could get financial and political support from the Log Cabin Republicans and their allies in the general election. Whether or not he’s the favored Republican among gay and lesbian voters, Trump could be their ally if he makes it to the White House.
Social issues were absent from Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, the first GOP confab since the Paris and San Bernardino, California, terrorist attacks. But even without emphasizing his stance on issues important to LGBT voters — and perhaps in part because he doesn’t — Trump appears to be gaining traction with gay Republicans.
Pax Hart, a 45-year-old software engineer in New York, was a Rand Paul supporter and low-dollar donor until he saw video of Trump’s immigration speech in Phoenix, Arizona, this summer. Where some voters see xenophobia in Trump’s promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and his proposal to put a moratorium on Muslims traveling to the United States, Hart, who is gay, says he sees policies that would prevent dilution of LGBT rights in the country.
“We are importing people who are the absolute most hostile to gays and lesbians,” Hart said of discrimination against LGBT citizens in some Middle Eastern and Latin American countries. “We’re bringing in people who are indoctrinated that gays [should be] exterminated.”
As Hart points out, Trump is hardly emphasizing his positions on gay rights or social issues as he seeks the nomination in a party heavily influenced by religious conservatives.
“It’s not that he’s an advocate or anything like that,” Hart said. “It’s not an issue for him. It’s about fairness for him.”
But among the top candidates for the nomination, Trump’s tone, temperament and record are distinct.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz backs a constitutional amendment that would reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage and has opposed workplace anti-discrimination legislation. Likewise, Florida Senator Marco Rubio opposes marriage rights and efforts to ban employment discrimination. And Ben Carson, who is mostly in line with Cruz and Rubio on policy, has further angered LGBT-rights groups with his rhetoric.
Trump, too, opposes same-sex marriage. But he criticized the Kentucky clerk, and, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this year, he condemned Republican candidates who called for a reversal of the court’s judgment.
“Anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons,” he said. “The Supreme Court ruled on it.”
Of course, Trump’s moderation on gay rights won’t bring him many votes from LGBT Democrats. Boasting a more tolerant record than the rest of the Republican Party hardly merits a medal, they say.
“The truth is if you are a Republican who is either gay or a Republican for whom gay rights are important, there is nobody in that field who is attractive to you,” Richard Socarides, a former top adviser to President Bill Clinton and prominent gay-rights advocate, said.
“Trump, because he was part of the New York business community and obviously knew a lot of gay people, probably has supported gay rights measures as one-offs,” Socarides said. “But at the core of the gay civil-rights movement, are ideas of diversity and inclusion. Of all the candidates he is probably the least supportive of diversity and inclusion.”
And therein lies the rub for Angelo’s Log Cabin Republicans. They have asked for an audience with Trump, and in January they are due to begin discussing their criteria for endorsing whomever the GOP nominates for president. Angelo qualified his praise for Trump’s record with the caveat that he’s been polarizing on other issues. That, Angelo said, “is something that should at least come into the discussion.”Since 1992, the Log Cabin Republicans have endorsed or withheld their endorsement from Republican nominees based on key issues. But Trump might be able garner its support.
Whether Trump’s record is good enough for Log Cabin Republicans, the Human Rights Campaign argues the differences between Trump and his GOP rivals are minimal on the issues of greatest importance to the LGBT community.
“Not one of the major Republican candidates supports the Equality Act, which would guarantee full federal equality for LGBT people by adding them to our nation’s civil rights laws,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs at the organization. “Not one of them supports marriage equality, but several say they’ll appoint justices who’ll seek to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling. Not one of them has vowed to protect President Obama’s executive order protecting LGBT federal contractors, though some have vowed to immediately repeal it. “Trump is no different, and he is not an ally of the LGBT community.”
The group’s website makes clear, however, that Trump is the least offensive of the Republican candidates for supporters of LGBT rights — with the possible exception of Christie. Though Trump can’t expect to pick up support from large numbers of gay and lesbian Democrats in a general election, his record and rhetoric may win him the backing of LGBT Republicans in the primary, and, if he wins the nomination, next November.
By Jonathan Jacob Allen

October 29, 2015

How Bernie Evolved on Gay Marriage

 Bernie Sanders (wikipedia)

He's long opposed anti-gay laws, but he was not an advocate for gay marriage until recently

At a marquee event on Saturday one hundred days before the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders went after Hillary Clinton’s record on gay rights.

With Clinton waiting nearby, Sanders blamed her for supporting the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of gay marriage, arguing that she is now misleading the public about her past views when she says that she only supported the law to prevent a constitutional amendment.

“Today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for one anti-gay law to stop something worse,” Sanders told a group of top Democratic organizers, without saying Clinton’s name. “That’s not the case! There was a small minority opposed to discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters, and I am proud that I was one of those members!”

With both Democratic contenders mostly in agreement on the topic today, the Vermont Senator is criticizing the former Secretary of State’s past positions, attempting to tie them to a broader critique that she does what is politically expedient.

By all measures, Sanders was ahead of his time in supporting gay rights. In 1983, as mayor of Burlington, he signed a Gay Pride Day proclamation calling it a civil rights issue. He was one of just 67 members in the House of Representatives to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, a politically tough decision he prides himself on and points to as a key progressive bona fide. Sanders opposed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 1993, another President Bill Clinton-era policy, and supported civil unions in Vermont in 2000.

“I’m not evolving when it comes to gay rights. I was there,” Sanders told the New York Times earlier this year.
But his record on gay marriage is more complicated than he now makes it sound. While Sanders generally opposed measures to ban gay marriage, he did not speak out in favor of it until 2009. That’s still ahead of Clinton, who released a YouTube video announcing her support in 2013, as well as most other Democratic Senators, but not as early as he’s now casting it.

In addition, his reasoning for opposing efforts to restrict gay marriage was much narrower and legalistic than he now makes it seem.

When Sanders was asked on Sunday about his vote against the Defense of Marriage Act on CNN, he said that he believed back in 1996 that gay couples had the right to gay marriage. “I thought then and I think now that people have the right to love those folks that they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation,” he said.

That wasn’t the answer his staff gave in 1996, however. His wife and chief of staff Jane Sanders told an Associated Press reporter in July of 1996 that he opposed the law because it weakened the section of the Constitution that says states must respect laws that are made in other states.

“We’re not legislating values. We have to follow the Constitution,” Jane Sanders said. “And anything that weakens the Constitution should be (addressed) by a constitutional amendment, not by a law passed by Congress.”

In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state had to guarantee protections and benefits to gay couples, a stop short of legalizing gay marriage. Sanders approved of the decision.

“The Vermont Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that under the Vermont Constitution, all citizens of the state have the same right to the benefits of marriage,” Sanders said at the time. “I applaud that decision. Vermont has once again shown itself to be a leader in the struggle for human rights.”

But the court also said that the Vermont legislature should decide the issue. Many prominent Democrats, including Sanders’ successor as mayor of Burlington and a gubernatorial nominee, spoke out in favor of gay marriage, but Sanders kept mum.

Peter Freyne, a locally beloved Vermont writer and opinion writer whom Sanders later lauded as “the best political reporter in the state of Vermont,” accused the then-Congressman of obfuscating on his gay rights position.

“Obtaining Congressman Bernie Sanders’ position on the gay marriage issue was like pulling teeth … from a rhinoceros,” Freyne wrote. Freyne described repeated attempts to hear Sanders’ views on gay marriage, and the congressman only said he “supports the current process” in the state legislature. Though Sanders was not in the Vermont state legislature at the time, it was a hot topic in his home state at the time.

“It’s an election year, yet despite the lack of a serious challenger, The Bern’s gut-level paranoia is acting up,” Freyne wrote.

In 2006, when the Bush White House proposed an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman, Sanders spoke out against the Republican plan, saying it was “designed to divide the American people.” 

But when Sanders was asked by a reporter whether Vermont should legalize same-sex marriage, he said no. “Not right now, not after what we went through,” he said.

That same year, Sanders was asked in a debate during his first run for the Senate about a Massachusetts state court decision that legalized gay marriage. The debate moderator wanted to know if Sanders thought the federal government should overturn that decision. He responded by talking about states’ rights, which is an argument often used by politicians who have argued against federal recognition of gay marriage as well.

“I believe the federal government should not be involved in overturning Massachusetts or any other state because I think the whole issue of marriage is a state issue,” Sanders said in the 2006 debate.

It wasn’t until 2009 that Sanders publicly voiced support for gay marriage, years after many of his contemporaries in Vermont. The state legislature voted to legalize gay marriage that March and overrode a gubernatorial veto to pass it into law in April. It’s unclear when exactly Sanders took his position. When asked, his campaign provided a news article from July of that year which noted that he had “previously supported” it.

But a Sanders’ campaign spokesman, Michael Briggs, stressed that he has a “long and consistent record on gay rights.” He pointed to a YouTube video showing Sanders taking a fellow member of Congress to task over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 1995.

“You said something about ‘homos’ in the military,” Sanders said. “Was the gentleman referring to the many thousands and thousands of gay people who have put their lives on the line in countless wars defending this country? Is that the group of the people the gentleman was referring to? You used the word homos. You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line. I think you owe them an apology.”


October 6, 2015

Hillary Makes LGBT Rights a Cornerstone of her Campaign for President


Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday delivered the strongest speech in support of gay rights in the 2016 presidential race on Saturday, promising that ending discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people would be a central pillar of her administration.

"I see the injustices and the dangers that you and your families still face," she told hundreds of gay activists at the annual meeting of the Human Rights Campaign. "I'm running for president to stand up for the fundamental rights of LGBT Americans."
She added: Thats a promise from one HRC to another."

The statement marked a remarkable evolution for Clinton, who opposed same-sex marriage for more than two decades in public life as first lady, senator and presidential candidate. As recently as this year, Clinton said that while she personally supported gay marriage, the issue was best left for states to decide —a position held by most of the Republican presidential field.
Since then, Clinton has placed equal rights at the forefront of her campaign, in part a reflection of the growing political and financial strength of the gay community in Democratic politics.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a 2016 run, gave the keynote address to the group's star-studded dinner, where he called transgender rights "the civil rights issue of our time" and issued the Obama administration's most unequivocal statement of support to date for allowing transgender people to serve openly in the U.S military. As he spoke to the crowd of 3,000, he was interrupted by a loud shout of "You should run."
"There's homophobes still left. Most of them are running for president, Biden said, in a pointed jab at the Republican White House hopefuls.

Clinton, in her appearance, said she has been "fighting alongside you and others for equal rights and I'm just getting warmed up."
As activists chanted her name, she promised to work to pass legislation that would end discrimination, lower costs for HIV treatment and stop funding child welfare agencies that discriminate against gay parents.

She committed to pushing equal rights in the military, including for transgender people. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said the Pentagon's current regulations banning transgender individuals from serving in the military are outdated. He has ordered a study aimed at ending one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service.
Clinton's remarks, particularly on the transgender issue, were some of the strongest in the presidential campaign. "We need to say with one voice that transgender people are valued," she said. They are loved and they are us."

This summer, her campaign jumped on the Supreme Court's watershed same-sex marriage decision, changing Clinton's red campaign logo to a rainbow colored H, releasing a video of gay wedding ceremonies and sending supportive tweets.
Clinton said Saturday that the courts decision could be overturned, should a Republican win the White House next year and appoint conservative justices.

The Human Rights Campaign made its first presidential endorsement in 1992, backing Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton cast herself as a champion for their cause. In 2008, the group stayed out of the primary fight, siding with then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama a day before Clinton dropped out of the race.
Clinton credited the organization with influencing her views.

"I'm really here to say thank you for your hard work and your courage and for insisting that right is right," she said. "You helped change a lot of minds. Including mine."
Clinton backed her husband's Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and said in a Senate speech in 2004 that marriage between a man and a woman was a "fundamental bedrock principle." In 2007, she dodged when asked whether she agreed with a statement from the then-Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman that homosexuality was immoral.

But like much of the Democratic Party and the country, her position shifted in recent years. As secretary of state, Clinton said at a 2011 conference in Geneva that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
She referenced that statement two years later when she released a video saying she backed gay marriage "personally, and as a matter of policy and law." In April, her campaign released a statement voicing her support for making gay marriage a constitutional right.

But as recently as a year ago, she was still struggling to explain her switch in position.
"You are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons," she said, in an tense exchange last June with NPR's Terry Gross. "That's just flat wrong."
Her pivot on the issue may give her primary opponents a chance to broadcast their liberal credentials, allowing them to point out that they came to the right side of history years before Clinton.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2016 rival, voted against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act when he was in the House. His home state was the first to legalize same-sex unions in 2000 and gay marriage through legislative action in 2009 — both efforts Sanders backed. This spring, he told the Washington Blade that hed make a point to talk about transgender issues during his campaign.

"All I can say is I think I have one of the strongest, if not the strongest record, in the United States Congress on LGBT issues," Sanders said the May interview. "My record speaks for itself, and I will compare it to any candidate who is out there."
Biden won praise by endorsing gay marriage ahead of the 2012 election and became the highest elected official to support what was then a highly charged political issue. Obama followed soon after.
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman

March 31, 2015

RahmRambo Says He is a “Jerk" and "He knows it” but not sorry for his 4 years of Accomplishments

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has built his political career on his unapologetically confrontational approach to, well, everything. But now, amid a surprisingly competitive runoff race for a second term, Emanuel is confessing that his brash personality isn't always such a good thing.
Rahm Emanuel: 'I can rub people the wrong way'(0:31)
Chicago mayoral candidate and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel ran this ad, in which he says, "I can rub people the wrong way, I can talk when I should listen. I own that, but I’m driven to make a difference." (Rahm Emanuel via YouTube)
The 30-second ad, which began running on Tuesday in Chicago, shows a very different side of Emanuel -- all soft-spokenness and humility. "I can rub people the wrong way. Or talk when I should listen," Emanuel acknowledges in the spot. "I own that." Later, he admits: "I'm not going to always get it right."
What would make the man who embraced the nickname "Rahmbo" so contrite, so suddenly? Maybe the prospect of losing a race that prior to the Feb. 24 primary no one thought he could lose. Or post-primary polling that suggests Jesus "Chuy" Garcia has a genuine chance of pulling what would have to be considered a massive upset.
Emanuel is trying to make a simple argument in this ad: I may be a jerk (and I know I am one and I'm sorry), but I'm your jerk. And don't let my abrasiveness get in the way of the accomplishments I have racked up in my first four years.
Will it work? Who knows. But that Emanuel is trying it speaks to just how worried he is.
 who writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

April 28, 2014

Out/Singer Clay Aiken Running for Congress


Singer-songwriter Clay Aiken doesn't have a problem with name recognition. But that doesn't mean voters in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District will send the "American Idol" star to Washington to represent them in Congress.
Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers has represented the district for two terms and would like to make it three. The tea party favorite has a good shot at doing so.
The GOP-controlled state legislature gave Republicans the advantage when they redrew congressional districts in 2011. A veteran House Democrat who barely survived in 2012 opted to retire at the end of his term, while others in President Barack Obama's party face an uphill battle — even a well-known personality like Aiken.
North Carolina offers clues as to why Democrats have little chance to retake control of the House from Republicans in the 2014 elections. An unpopular president in his sixth year in office combined with a divisive health care law are a drag on Democrats and energize core Republican voters in what are traditionally low-turnout midterm elections.
Ellmers, a 50-year-old nurse first elected in the tea party wave of 2010, captured 56 percent of the 2012 GOP primary and the general election vote in her district. That year, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won nearly 6 in 10 votes in the district and narrowly defeated Obama statewide.
So precisely drawn were the state's new congressional districts, and so unpopular is Obama in the state that Rep. Mike McIntyre in December dropped his re-election plans. McIntyre represented North Carolina's 7th Congressional District for nine terms and is the only Democrat in Congress who has never voted for the Affordable Care Act, Obama's health care law.
But North Carolina's rightward shift hasn't stopped Aiken and two other Democrats from competing ahead of the May 6 primary for the right to challenge Ellmers in November. National Democrats and their supporters are expected to pour money into the top-of-the-ticket race to defend the seat held by Sen. Kay Hagan and the party's six-seat Senate majority.
Also running in the 2nd District's Democratic primary are textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco and Tony Morris, a licensed family counselor. Crisco and Aiken are touting their credentials as centrists.
"I don't care what party they're in," Aiken says of voters in the central North Carolina district, "I'll talk to whoever."
Aiken believes he can tap into voters' dissatisfaction with Congress. And he said reporters are the only people asking whether being a gay man could impede his campaign to represent such a conservative district.

August 30, 2013

The Opposition to Booker Inserting Rumors He is Gay: He’s Response

This is what Catherine Thomson on  TPM  had to say about Booker’s response to rumors that he might be gay:
In a wide-ranging interview with the Washington Post published Monday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) said that his failure to settle down with a "life partner" by this stage in his career has led to speculation that he may be gay.
The U.S. Senate hopeful recounted to the Post that early on in his time in the mayor's office, he sought out a friend who was a pastor to share his feelings about the rising murder rate in Newark. Booker expected to receive spiritual advice, but instead was told "you need to get married.” 

Booker told the Post that after that conversation he started dating more, although his courtship occurred strictly outside of the spotlight -- and not with Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, whom he was rumored to be seeing in 2007.
“Because how unfair is it to a young lady to put them in the spotlight if they haven’t signed up for that yet?” Booker said. “And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’”

April 28, 2013

Ohio US Rep.Tim Ryan of Niles, Supports Gay Marriage

Congressman Tim Ryan - Washington, DC
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, pledged his support to legalize gay marriage in Ohio at a rally for marriage equality at Youngstown State University on Saturday.
“The promotion of fairness, equality and justice is a hallmark of who we are as Ohioans and Americans,” Ryan said in remarks prepared for the approximately 100 people attending the rally.
“These entrenched values go far in ensuring a just and peaceful society that does the right thing for its people. If we are going to transform this nation, we need to welcome all of its sons and daughters with open arms,” he added.
Ryan also said he believes full marriage rights should be granted to all Ohioans and all Americans, adding that such rights do not force any religious institution to sanction these marriages.
About 10 couples who are either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender were married Saturday during the outdoor rally in front of Kilcawley Center. The marriages, however, would not be recognized legally by the state of Ohio.
Other scheduled speakers included Steven Snyder-Hill, Joshua Snyder-Hill, Jennifer Tyrrell, Ian James, Jacob Nash, Jack Gordon, Adam Hoover and Judy Benson.
YSU President Cynthia Anderson also attended the rally.
Grass-roots organization Marriage Equality Ohio sponsored the event. It is seeking to place an issue on the Ohio ballot to legalize gay marriage.

April 21, 2013

Bill Clinton } People Opposing Gay Marriage Acting Out of Of Their Identity and Respect For No One Else

Former President Bill Clinton made a comment Saturday evening guaranteed to raise some eyebrows.
During his acceptance speech for the Advocate for Change Award at the 24th annual Los Angeles dinner of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Clinton said, “People who oppose equal rights for gays in the marriage sphere are basically acting out of concerns for their own identity not out of respect for anyone else."
BILL CLINTON: There’s one other person I’d like to thank for this award who I didn’t know was even in town until late this afternoon. That’s my daughter Chelsea. She had a profound impact in many ways on the way I see the world. It's sort of humbling when you get to be my age and your child knows more than you do about everything.
But Chelsea and her gay friends and her wonderful husband have modeled to me the way we all ought to treat each other without regard to our sexual orientation or any other artificial difference that divides us. Many of them come and join us every Thanksgiving for a meal. I have grown quite attached to them. And over the years, I was forced to confront the fact that people who oppose equal rights for gays in the marriage sphere are basically acting out of concerns for their own identity not out of respect for anyone else."

April 20, 2013

Ex GOP'rs WifeTalks Nice About Change of Heart on Gay Rights on Her Ex

 When an Ex wife speaks well of her husband particularly one that has taken a change of heart on something as sinful in the republican party as Gay Marriage, one has to listen. I’ve gone a step further and I am posting it as she wrote it.

Anthony Dugal is a fervent conservative -- a founding member of the local Tea Party, a vocal advocate for gun rights and small government, and don't get him started on Obama.

He's also an elected member of the Kalamazoo County Republican Party's executive committee and was a GOP candidate last fall for the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.

As Dugal's ex-wife, I'm on his email list and frequently get his political missives. (He especially likes chiding me about the failings of the mainstream media.)
But his latest round of emails have taken me aback: The subject has been gay rights, and Tony's ire has been directed at Dave Agema, the Michigan Republican who has compared gays to alcoholics in desperate need of treatment and rehab.
Along with criticizing Agema, Tony also analyzed his own evolution on gay marriage and his take on the Republican Party's stance, offering an interesting insight into how views on gay marriage are changing even among hard-core conservatives.
Tony has given me permission to excerpt his email:
I do believe Agema hates gays. Why else would any responsible person in his position post such filth about homosexuals ... for no reason, other than to share hate? Agema is free to hate anyone he wants. But when he shared his hate with everyone, as a leader of our party, he crossed a line. (I'm glad I did not vote for Agema as our national committeeman).
Agema's Facebook post had nothing to do with policy, or a (Republican National Committee) position. If he'd posted an academic study which concluded that gay marriage is destructive to society, that would be a different matter -- as traditional vs. gay marriage is a fair policy debate, at least among sociologists and academics. But Agema posted nothing more than a hateful diatribe against gays -- which was full of inaccuracies (such as half of murders are committed by gays). How else can one describe what Agema said and did (and continues to defend), if not "hateful"?
For the record, I believe the GOP's stance on supporting only "traditional" marriage is short-sighted. It's a social issue, which divides voters, and will result in continued erosion of GOP election success.

The GOP insistence on "traditional" marriage reveals a closed-minded, non-inclusive approach. The RNC platform is not explicitly hateful toward gays who want to marry. But the position may be interpreted that way by many citizens.
The RNC Chairman said the vote supporting "traditional marriage" was unanimous. Bull crap! If there was truly no dissent among the 150 voting RNC members, then the GOP is as bad as the DNC … apparently stifling dissenting opinion. Not a recipe for success.
Government -- and the GOP -- should not be in the business of defining marriage. The matter should be left to churches & other religious groups. At the least, it should be a 10th Amendment issue, left to each state. This is the current scenario, with some states sanctioning gay marriage; most, including Michigan, rejecting it.
Understand my view: I am NOT a fan of "non-traditional" (gay) marriage, but it's far down my list of important matters the GOP should be focusing on. I believe homosexuals are born that way, created by God. I did not CHOOSE to be "straight." Nobody CHOOSES to be gay.
There are tens of millions of gays living as "married couples" (legally sanctioned or common law arrangements). Why should the GOP say their "marriage" can't be legal? If you have a "gay" child, could you tell him/her that they're a second-class citizen, and can't be married? Would you reject or disown your gay child? If you had the legislative power to prevent your gay child from marrying, would you?
What's the worst thing if gays can marry? Does it diminish your marriage, or mine? Should I think less of you or others if they're simply "co-habitating" and have not sealed the deal with a legal document? Does a government-sanctioned "Certificate of Marriage" make a "traditional" couple better than a gay couple, who can't marry in Michigan?
In other words, I'm asking how we VALUE marriage. I wish more heterosexual couples committed thru marriage, as I know marriage helps provide a good foundation for children, as well as stabilize society. Would a married gay couple not also be better than an unmarried, co-habitating gay couple?
Should one "hate" those who are gay, simply because God made them that way? There are great people in the KGOP who happen to be gay, and I value them, as patriots and friends.
... The development of my view on "gay marriage" occurred much like my view on the death penalty. Like most conservatives, I used to be "pro life" and also "pro death penalty". Those are the GOP "mainstream" positions (just as "traditional" marriage). But, I was troubled with the apparent hypocrisy. If killing an unborn child of God is wrong, isn't killing an adult child of God also wrong? I'm all for a true "life sentence" for a murderer. Let him rot in prison, but killing him is wrong. If I support a marriage commitment for a traditional couple, why not for a loving gay couple?
I'm a Conservative (perhaps slightly to the left of some on the "far right"). Despite opinion polls, and Roe vs. Wade, which support abortion rights, I will not waiver in my "pro life" beliefs, as abortion is killing a human being. There's no "gray area" about murder. No compromise. (Read the gory details of abortionist Kermit Gosling's current murder trial, if you want to know the truth about abortion). But, whether two gays can be married in some states is way down my list of concerns. Sort of a "gray area" I'm willing to accept, as a loving and compassionate person -- even toward those whose "lifestyle" concerns me.

After their stinging defeat in the recent presidential election, many Republicans are taking stock of when went wrong, why their appeal to young women. minorities and gays suffered. Some are reconsidering their views and political positions on social issues, including marriage and gay rights. Republicans are not monolithic in their views, and most are certainly not as they are often portrayed by political opponents, or in the media (which they believe has a strong liberal bias)
... Not too many years ago, blacks and whites could not marry. Times have changed; a majority of Americans believe denying gays the ability to marry is indefensible, under the principles of equality for all.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the RNC will not "change its principles" in opposing gay marriage. I love the principles of the GOP, including smaller government, fiscal restraint, individual liberty and equality for all under the rule of law. I believe the defining "principle" in the RNC and GOP position on marriage should be "equality" for everyone, as our Founding Documents clearly indicated. I don't see how the gender of each person in a marriage relates to the principle of equality.
This column was written by Julie Mack for Mlive/Kalamazoo Gazette. Contact her 

April 9, 2013

A Quiet (and Sometimes Not) Marriage Revolution is Going on in DC

There is a lot of evolving going on in the US these days and no, the dolphins at SeaWorld have not suddenly sprouted opposable thumbs. The evolution is instead taking place in the minds of members of Congress, with long-held beliefs about same-sex marriage being jettisoned quicker than you can say “the polls are moving in one direction and there are less than two years until the midterms elections”.
Politicians of both stripes are suddenly, er, coming out for marriage equality – and in many cases evolution has had a significant role to play. Vice-President Joe Biden started the ball rolling last year when he declared his support for same-sex marriage rights; he was followed by President Barack Obama, who said his view had “evolved”. 

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Since then a trickle has become a torrent: Rob Portman, a Republican senator from Ohio senior enough to be vetted as Mitt Romney’s running mate, last month became the most prominent member of his party to drop his opposition. His change of heart was triggered by his son revealing that he was gay. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican senator from Alaska, said her views on same-sex marriage were also “evolving”, adding: “It’s important to acknowledge that there is a change afoot in this country in terms of how marriage is viewed.”
Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, took the same route. Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, chimed in, saying his beliefs had also “evolved”, while Mark Kirk last week became another Republican to switch: rather than citing an “evolving” view he put his change of heart down to a near-death experience after he suffered a stroke.
Even the biggest beast of cable television news has jumped on the bandwagon. The pugnacious Bill O’Reilly, a Fox News host never afraid of high-volume verbal jousting, said same-sex marriage proponents had a “compelling argument”. Opponents, he added, needed to do more than “thump the Bible” – a change from his previous position.

What is going on? The Supreme Court hearings on the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on same-sex marriage suggest barriers to legalisation will fall eventually. Growing public support for same-sex marriage is another factor: the latest poll by the Pew Research Center shows 49 per cent of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, with 44 per cent disapproving.

This number is significant, not just because it shows that the swing in support for same-sex marriage has been swift, but because – as Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show this week – more Americans have an “evolved” view on same-sex marriage than actually believe in evolution. Forty-six per cent of them think the human race was created in a single day within the past 10,000 years, according to a 2012 Gallup poll. It is unclear how many of them will eventually evolve this view.

Kim’s bad guys
The recent sabre-rattling by North Korea and its 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-eun has caused anxiety around the world. Threats of nuclear war, missile launchers moved to new locations and other provocations have gone unexplained, leaving analysts to search for motives.
But anyone puzzled by Mr Kim’s actions clearly has not been paying attention at their local multiplex. North Koreans have become the bad guys of choice in action movies, winning roles normally reserved for Islamist terrorists, English thesps with plummy accents and rogue Chinese agents. Life, in Mr Kim’s case, is merely imitating art.

In Olympus Has Fallen, a recent caper starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, a group of North Koreans leads a successful invasion of the White House. In last year’s Red Dawn – itself a remake of the 1980s flick in which the Russian army improbably invades a Colorado high school – the bad guys were supposed to be Chinese. But at a late stage in production the decision was made to switch the identity of the baddies to North Koreans.
With China now the world’s second-largest cinema market and censors there able to block the release of US films, any depictions that could be construed as remotely negative are being written out of scripts. This has cleared the way for North Korea to become the western world’s cinematic enemy of choice, a mantle it will relinquish this summer on the release of the latest J.J. Abrams Star Trek film. Its villain? The very posh – and very English – Benedict Cumberbatch.

By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles

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