A February 9 post on the right-wing blog Big Government discussed several conservative groups' boycott of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) following CPAC's inclusion of the conservative gay group GOProud at its annual conference. The post appeared to equate Gay-conservatives" with "Islamist-conservatives," by asking, "If one is ok with Gay-conservatives then what about Islamist-conservatives, or Muslims who happen to be conservative but are not radical Islamists?" Andrew Breitbart, who is the publisher of Big Government, was recently named to GOProud's board. From the post:
Now, there are fair questions being asked regarding whether the gay inclusion amounts to compromising values. Certainly tolerance at some point implies endorsement. If one is ok with Gay-conservatives then what about Islamist-conservatives, or Muslims who happen to be conservative but are not radical Islamists? I think Reagan would have an answer for that too. [Big Government, 2/9/11]
Erick Erickson is the latest conservative to take sides in the battle between social conservatives and GOProud, a gay conservative organization. In a post on Red State, Erickson claimed GOProud "is not a conservative organization" after GOProud co-founder Chris Barron called conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell a "bigot." From Red State:
I have, for me, shown an amazing amount of restraint in keeping my mouth shut on an issue about which I can stay silent no longer -- GOProud and CPAC.
I have done my best to stay out of this business, keep my mouth shut, and appreciate my friends on both sides of the CPAC divide. Had I not seen this particular attack by GOProud against long time solid conservatives I'd continue keeping my mouth shut. But this is too much. And my guess is that there aren't many if any willing to call foul, so I will do it.
As someone who spent time trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I accept this as conclusive proof that, while it is a Republican organization, GOProud is not a conservative organization.
Those groups and people who have sat out CPAC this year have done so not because they hate the gays, as Grover Norquist and GOProud would have you believe, but because GOProud is not a conservative organization and its agenda is not a conservative agenda.
For that, they are called losers and nasty bigots.
These losers and nasty bigots have done a lot more for the conservative movement than GOProud. And I am very happy to call them my friends.
This week, I'd much rather be with them than be at CPAC.
In a February 9 Washington Times op-ed, Scott Magill, executive director of Veterans in Defense of Liberty, called GOProud and the American Conservative Union "enemies of the American tradition." Magill further stated that GOProud "seek[s] to brainwash America's youth through the school system by inserting favorable references to homosexuality in the curriculum as early as kindergarten."
From Magill's op-ed:
Many conservative organizations have chosen to boycott this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but Veterans in Defense of Liberty will be there in force. Our group is going to CPAC to fulfill our sworn and solemn oath to "defend and protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic." Unfortunately, the nation's pre-eminent grass-roots conservative gathering has become a showcase for the enemies of the American tradition.
The ACU has landed solidly behind the radical homosexual agenda. Veterans in Defense of Liberty does not oppose people who are homosexual, although we do object to their behavior. However, we forthrightly oppose the policy prescriptions expressed by GOProud.
The homosexual agenda of GOProud parallels that of other homosexual ideology, militantly demanding social approval and that homosexual principles assume the same moral high ground as heterosexual ideals. GOProud members use the Saul Alinsky-like strategy of seeking to subvert traditional morals: marginalization of their enemy and destruction of the traditional family. They favor repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment and seek to brainwash America's youth through the school system by inserting favorable references to homosexuality in the curriculum as early as kindergarten. Religiously based moral objections to this approach are swept aside in the name of "separation of church and state."
Of course, this is the Washington Post we're talking about, so the call for civility is directed at those who criticize anti-gay bigotry, not those who practice it:
Remember, this is Washington Post, which features anti-gay screeds on National Coming Out Day, treats gay suicide as a two-sided issue, gives a blog to someone who calls homosexuality an "abomination" and "indecent" and "perversion," features activists who want "gay behavior" outlawed and who urge military chaplains to denounce gay congregants, treats hate-merchants like Bill Donohue as respectable figures, and promotes claims that gay sex "serves death" and comparisons of gay-rights advocates to racists and assertions that gays are sexist.
And now the Post thinks it's important to promote the claim that it is uncivil to refer to discrimination against gays as homophobic. Yeah. We wouldn't want to hurt the feelings of the "God hates fags" crowd. Speaking of which: This call for civility is entirely one-sided: It doesn't contain so much as a word of reproach for those who use ugly rhetoric to attack gays.
A February 2 post on the right-wing blog Jawa Report linked to an article about a Portuguese journalist who was reportedly castrated with a corkscrew and asked, "Isn't that how Rachel Maddow got started?":
National Review Online contributor Ed Whelan has promised to show that the record of President Obama's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Caitlin Halligan suggests she is "hard left on a broad array of issues." Whelan's first attack on Halligan is that she is out of the legal mainstream on the issue of same-sex marriage. But it is a fairly weak attack.
Whelan attacks a memo that Halligan wrote as solicitor general of New York state on the issue of whether New York law allows same-sex marriage. It's strange for a conservative opponent of same-sex marriage like Whelan to focus on this memo, since Halligan concludes that New York law does not allow same-sex marriage even though New York law did not "explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage"; says the constitutional question has not been decided yet and does not have a clear outcome; and advises New York officials not to perform marriages for same-sex couples. Indeed, here is Halligan's conclusion on the subject:
We conclude that the Legislature did not intend to authorize same-sex marriages. This interpretation of the statute, however, raises concerns, which are best resolved by the courts of this State.
Because the purpose of the marriage licensing process is to "provide a definite, well-chartered procedure for entrance into marriage, so that parties following the statutory requirements can have a fair degree of certainty in their marital status," Practice Commentaries to DRL § 13 at 149, we recommend that clerks not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and officiants not solemnize the marriages of same-sex couples, until these issues are adjudicated by the courts.
Whelan doesn't mention this, but Halligan's memo advising New York officials that they shouldn't perform same-sex marriages came only a few days after a mayor of the small New York town of New Paltz began marrying same-sex couples. Thus Halligan's memo -- which was informal and did not have the force of law -- directly contradicted the decision by a New York official that the laws of New York state allowed same-sex marriage.
Whelan's argument amounts to a criticism that Halligan does not give sufficient weight to some of the arguments that Whelan finds compelling. But that is hardly evidence that Halligan is "hard left."
A January 28 New York Times article reported that two new lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) may force the Obama administration to "take a stand":
WASHINGTON -- President Obama has balanced on a political tightrope for two years over the Defense of Marriage Act, the contentious 1996 law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Now, two new federal lawsuits threaten to snap that rope out from under him.
Mr. Obama, whose political base includes many supporters of gay rights, has urged lawmakers to repeal the law. But at the same time, citing an executive-branch duty to defend acts of Congress, he has sent Justice Department lawyers into court to oppose suits seeking to strike the law down as unconstitutional.
The two lawsuits, however, have provoked an internal administration debate about how to sustain its have-it-both-ways stance, officials said. Unlike previous challenges, the new lawsuits were filed in districts covered by the appeals court in New York -- one of the only circuits with no modern precedent saying how to evaluate claims that a law discriminates against gay people.
That means that the administration, for the first time, may be required to take a clear stand on politically explosive questions like whether gay men and lesbians have been unfairly stigmatized, are politically powerful, and can choose to change their sexual orientation.
"Now they are being asked what they think the law should be, and not merely how to apply the law as it exists," said Michael Dorf, a Cornell University law professor. "There is much less room to hide for that decision."
The Obama legal team has not yet decided what path to take on the lawsuits, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the internal deliberations. But the Justice Department must respond by March 11. The debate has arisen at a time when Mr. Obama has signaled that his administration may be re-evaluating its stance.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama backed civil unions for gay people while opposing same-sex marriage. But last month, after Congress -- in the final hours before Republicans took control of the House -- repealed the law barring gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from serving openly in the military, he told The Advocate, a magazine that focuses on gay issues, that his views on marriage rights "are evolving."
"I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options," Mr. Obama said, referring to finding a way to end the Defense of Marriage Act. "I'm always looking for a way to get it done, if possible, through our elected representatives. That may not be possible."
In a CNSNews.com column, NewsBusters' Brent Bozell complains that Entertainment Weekly, Glee's Chris Colfer, Hollywood press awards (Colfer just won a Golden Globe for playing a bullied gay teen on Glee), and the entertainment industry in general are "evangelists for a revolution of sexual immorality." Bozell also criticized Colfer for his acceptance speech, in which he dedicated his award to kids who face bullying because of who they are:
If anyone doubts that our entertainment industry and our entertainment media are evangelists for a revolution of sexual immorality (or in their lingo, "progress"), he needs only to read the latest cover story in Entertainment Weekly magazine, a "special report" on gay teen characters on TV, and "How a bold new class of young gay characters on shows like 'Glee' is changing hearts, minds, and Hollywood."
Gay "Glee" actor Chris Colfer and his boyfriend on the show, Darren Criss, lovingly put their heads together on the cover. Colfer just won a Golden Globe for his part, which is another way the Hollywood press rewards propagandizing the youth of America. In his acceptance speech, he lamented anyone who would say a discouraging word about teen homosexuality, somehow putting all of those words in mouths of bullies: "Screw that, kids!"
As you might suspect, Entertainment Weekly didn't plan to debate gay teen propaganda, but to encourage it, energetically. Not a single soul had anything critical to say. Not even a question. If this magazine weren't so earnestly in the tank, the story could come with a disclaimer: "This issue is an advertisement bought and paid for by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
They are not celebrating diversity. They are intimidating dissidents.
In their Gay Teen Timeline, we hear the gay actors proclaiming the lack of opposition. "We never received a negative word," says the gay actor on ABC's 1994 bomb "My So-Called Life." The gay teen on ABC's "Ugly Betty" insisted "99 percent of the public response was positive." Translation: get in line.
Bozell has a history of anti-gay rhetoric. He previously argued Hollywood demonstrated "liberal bias" by failing to portray gays as "morally wrong." He's also warned that the gay lifestyle and agenda "endorses the right of gays to marry and teach children, and that's in utter opposition to mainstream America." Bozell's Media Research Council is also boycotting the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), becuase GOProud, a group for conservative gays and their allies, is participating.
As Media Matters has previously noted, recently Fox & Friends presented right-wing radio host Brian Sussman as a climate expert so that he could peddle misinformation to cast doubt on global warming. However, Sussman, a former radio show meteorologist, has a history of making inflammatory comments and is a frequent promoter of "birther" and other conspiracy theories.
As we all know now, President Barack Obama has pinned his sights on the future -- a word he peppered throughout his State of the Union speech 15 times on Tuesday evening. The president offered forward looking and aspirational goals on everything from education and innovation to investment and infrastructure.
But what worries me in terms of LGBT concerns is that, other than working on the implementation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) repeal, he and his administration have not revealed any road map to equality over the next year in his speech or otherwise.
Advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans had varying reactions to the president's shout out to the community in Tuesday's speech.
"Our troops come from every corner of this country -- they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay," Obama said. "Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC."
True, he and his speech writers checked at least part of our constituency's box by using the word "gay." But they essentially used the accomplishment of the DADT repeal as a vehicle to provide the president an opportunity to urge campuses that had banned military recruiters and ROTC programs over the misbegotten policy to reinstate access. In other words, abolishment of the ban was more of a mechanism to get Obama from Point A to Point B. The mention fell short of laying out any new benchmarks for the community and certainly didn't begin "a conversation" about relationship recognition that the president has said we must have as a nation.
Additionally, the president's assertion that "this year" lesbians and gays would be able to serve openly revealed no new details about the timeline for certification of the repeal (60 days after which, the ban will finally end in earnest). Those details may be more clear after a Pentagon briefing Friday in which senior officials are expected to roll out an implementation training plan over the next few months.
But what was far more disconcerting than the president's handling of LGBT concerns in his SOTU speech was the administration's announcement of an entire initiative -- per a White House statement-- to "better coordinate and strengthen the Federal government's support for military families," which included absolutely no reference to the fact that those families would soon include gay service members and their partners/children. President Obama, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden even hosted an East Room event Tuesday and during their combined 30 minutes of remarks none of them made a single mention of gay service members or their families. Once lesbians and gays become visible in the military, will our government continue pretending their families aren't?
How gay partners of service members will be treated by the military still warrants serious consideration since the law includes no clause that requires parity and President Obama has not committed to administering a nondiscrimination mandate (by executive order or any other means) once the ban is lifted. In fact, he meticulously avoided giving that specific assurance twice during my Decemberinterview with him.
But other than implementation of repeal, the only vision we've heard from the president about what he can do for LGBT Americans over the next two years involves "looking for constant opportunities" to use his bully pulpit to advance the equality conversation and making administrative changes within the federal government.
"One of the most important things I can do as president is to continually speak out about why it's important to treat everyone as our brothers and sisters, as fellow Americans, as citizens," he said in December. "And as I said, there are things that we can continue to do administratively that I think will send a message that the federal government, as an employer, is going to constantly look for opportunities to make sure that we're eliminating discrimination."
It remains to be seen what those administrative changes will entail. The federal government already has a nondiscrimination clause that protects the entire continuum of our community from transgender to gay (Obama added trans Americans to the federal guidlines). And in 2009, the president already bestowed certain benefits on federal LGBT workers and their same-sex partners, but the Defense of Marriage Act -- which his administration continues to defend -- still prohibits the government from offering the most critical benefits such as health insurance and Social Security survivor benefits.
The LGBT community should look at President Obama as the CEO of a company -- in this case, that company is the federal government. He has plenty of latitude and he can aim as high or as low as he wants. If the president wanted to go big, he could require all businesses that contract with the federal government to have nondiscrimination policies providing protections on the basis of both gender identity and sexual orientation.
And how he handles LGBT concerns during the repeal implementation period will be a proving ground for him of sorts. He can issue a nondiscrimination mandate that covers all gay service members and their legally wed spouses. He can formalize a policy banning discharges of transgender individuals. Or, he and his administration can hedge and divvy out benefits piecemeal. If we begin to see the government and its lawyers use any terminology that amounts to handling issues on a "case-by-case basis," that will be an immediate red flag for equality advocates.
Equality, by definition, is not subject to caveats.
The White House may have to change the narrative on marriage equality soon if the media continues questioning President Barack Obama's 1996 pro-gay marriage stance.
In a '96 candidate questionnaire when Obama was running for Illinois State Senate, he stated: "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
When White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the matter at Monday's briefing, he was in a serious bind.
"I think there's a whole host of issues that I would direct you to the campaign on different questionnaires and I would again reiterate what the president has said recently [about his evolving views] on that issue," Gibbs told Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson.
Pressed by Johnson on whether he disputed the accuracy of the questionnaire, Gibbs channeled his first dodge.
"Again, I'm happy to send you the several thousand clips of which went around during the course of 2008 on a whole host of those issues," he said.
Obama's '96 marriage stance was also referred to in two separate op-eds over the weekend: Dan Savage's Sunday New York Times piece urging the president to address marriage equality in his State of the Union address and my Washington Post op-ed on Friday, which pointed out the inherent flaw in Obama's civil unions stance.
White House aides have never faced serious questioning on the matter of Obama's previous stance and the reasons for his devolution on same-sex marriage - an explanation on which I'm sure they'd rather not deliberate.
But I have spoken with enough mainstream journalists to know that they are already curious about what "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal means for marriage equality and, if the president's '96 positioning becomes part of the mainstream discussion, the White House will have to find a way to redirect this recurring loop in the media before President Obama enters the thick of the 2012 election.
We've previously reported on the background and views of David Barton, the factually challenged "historian" whom Glenn Beck has called "the most important man in America today." Barton inspired Beck to form his "Black Robe Regiment," and he also serves up (factually challenged) lectures at Beck's online university.
Barton -- like the rest of Beck's Black Robe Regiment -- is virulently anti-gay; he has even wondered why we don't "regulate homosexuality" like cigarettes or trans fats. So it's no real surprise that Barton would go on another gay-bashing tear.
Right Wing Watch notes that Barton recently had as a guest on his radio show Brian Camenker of MassResistance, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-gay "hate group" and is best known for peddling numerous false claims about Obama administration official Kevin Jennings. Barton bizarrely blamed bullying of gays in schools not on the bullies but, rather, on "people from outside the schools coming in and saying 'Oh, you got a bullying problem and we need to teach a course for you.' " Barton continues:
BARTON: It goes back to the question Jesus asks, "What's it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul?" The question I gotta ask is, what's it worth to you to gain everything you want and lose your kids?
Because unless you're willing to monitor what's going on in that classroom, I guarantee you they are getting homosexual indoctrination. I don't care whether you're in a rural area or not, because this is so much a part of textbooks, so much a part of curricular stuff, it's so much a part of what goes on with other kids. We see it too often in lawsuits, we hear of accounts like this, and we hear of dozens of other accounts where nothing's ever done. You better get on top of what's being taught to your kids.
Again, this is the person Glenn Beck thinks is "the most important man in America today."
From the January 21 broadcast of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
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The New York Times asked Equality Matters president Richard Socarides what advice he is giving the president on what to say during the State Of The Union:
The Caucus asked more than 20 interest groups in Washington what advice they are giving the president, either in public or in private. Here's a sampling of their responses:
Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters: "In order to be the kind of transformational leader he can be, he should show the country the way forth on dismantling the so-called Defense of Marriage Act so that the law no longer robs the states of their right to decide the question of marriage, nor deprives lawfully married gay Americans of their federal benefits. That's the advice I'm giving to all the people I know who might actually influence the speech. If you want to be a leader, this is the speech in which to do it."
Following an NPR Morning Edition story on a Pakistani lesbian couple who have to live in secret for fear of being imprisioned or killed -- part of the ongoing series on "The Hidden World of Girls" -- NewsBusters's Tim Graham complained that "NPR Celebrates Pakistani Lesbians." In the post, which was promoted by Fox Nation, Graham wrote:
On Monday's Morning Edition, National Public Radio offered the latest entry in its year-long series "The Hidden World of Girls," which is subsidized by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Naturally, any series with this title might disappoint if it didn't explore lesbians in Islamic countries, in this case, Pakistan.
Apparently, though, the definition of "girls" is quite flexible. On the October 16 All Things Considered, NPR celebrated the journey of Adam "Theresa" Sparks, running to be the first transgender member of the San Francisco City Council.
Graham then pasted a part of the story's transcript in which the Pakistani couple laughed and wrote:
When the story and the giggles were over, they explained that the whole Hidden Life of Girls series is available at the NPR website, and then an announcer added that this enterprise was funded by CPB and the NEA. Your tax dollars, hard at work.