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Murkowski backs same-sex marriage

Lisa Murkowski, Republican Party, United States Senate, Alaska, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has becomes the 3rd sitting U.S. Senate Republican to endorse marriage equality. (Photo public domain)

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday became the third U.S. Senate Republican to endorse same-sex marriage.

The Human Rights Campaign said Murkowski, who voted for the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal bill in 2010, made the endorsement during an interview with KTUU, an Anchorage television station. The NBC affiliate said it will post the interview on its website later today and air it on their evening newscast.

Murkowski confirmed her position in an op-ed posted to her Senate website.

“Countless Alaskans and Americans want to give themselves to one another and create a home together,” she wrote, noting former President Ronald Reagan’s daughter said she feels her father would have supported nuptials for gays and lesbians. “I support marriage equality and support the government getting out of the way to let that happen.”

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo applauded Murkowski in a statement to the Washington Blade.

“Senator Murkowski could have waited for the pending Supreme Court rulings on the landmark cases being decided this month, but instead chose to stand up for what’s right without wasting another day,” he said. “I know this wasn’t an easy decision for the Senator, but that’s why it’s called courage. And the Senator’s statements show the power everyday gay Americans have when they live their lives with honesty and pride.”

HRC President Chad Griffin described Murkowski’s endorsement as a “courageous and principled announcement.”

“We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her,” he said. “Alaska may be nicknamed ‘the Last Frontier,’ but we’ve got to make sure that LGBT Alaskans don’t have to wait to find justice.”

“Senator Murkowski joins the majority of U.S. senators taking a stand for equal treatment under the law on one of the most important bonds in our society: marriage,” Mark Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, added. “As the third GOP senator to announce support for marriage this year, she shows that the conservative tenets of freedom and family are perfectly in line with the freedom to marry.”

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk in April publicly endorsed same-sex marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) backed the issue during an March interview with CNN’s Dana Bash.

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady and former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr., are among those who also support nuptials for gays and lesbians.

19
Jun
2013

McCain criticizes Putin over gay rights record

John McCain, Republican Party, Arizona, Senate, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday criticized the Russian government over a host of issues that includes the Kremlin’s gay rights record.

“They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn,” McCain wrote in an op-ed titled “Russians deserve better than Putin” the Russian online newspaper Pravda published. “They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest President Putin’s rule.”

McCain’s comments come in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments against the United States’ potential military strike against Syria over its use of chemical weapons against civilians last month that he made in an op-ed the New York Times published on Sept. 11. The Arizona Republican’s statements also come against the backdrop of growing outrage over the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February.

Putin in June signed a bill that bans gay propaganda to minors. A second law that bans same-sex couples and anyone else from a country that allows same-sex marriage from adopting Russian children took effect in July.

A 2012 law requires organizations that receive funding from outside Russia to register as “foreign agents.”

Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein and others have called for a boycott of the Sochi games over Russia’s gay rights record. Author Dan Savage and LGBT rights advocates Cleve Jones are among those who have called for a boycott of Russian vodka.

Gay Olympic diver Greg Louganis, who was unable to compete in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because then-President Jimmy Carter boycotted them over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the year before, opposes a boycott of the Sochi games. President Obama, retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova, Outsports.com and the Dutch LGBT advocacy group COC Nederland have also taken a similar position.

Obama on Sept. 6 met with LGBT Network Director Igor Kochetkov and Olga Lenkova, spokesperson for Coming Out, a Russian LGBT advocacy group, during a meeting he had with nine activists at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. The president last month cited Russia’s gay rights record as among the factors that prompted him to cancel a meeting with Putin that had been scheduled to take place in Moscow before the gathering.

“It is important for us to remember that in every country — here in Russia, in the United States, around the globe — that part of good government is making sure that we’re creating a space for civil society to function effectively: freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, making sure that people can join together and make common cause around the issues that they care deeply about,” Obama told the advocates during the Sept. 6 meeting that National Security Adviser Susan Rice and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul also attended.

Putin spokesperson Dmitri S. Peskov dismissed McCain’s comments.

“As far as the question of what Russians deserve is concerned, they are able to answer this question on their own, and they do so when elections are held,” Peskov told Russian news agencies as the New York Times reported. “I do not think that the opinion of any person who lives overseas can play any role in swaying Russians’ preferences.”

Log Cabin Republican Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo welcomed McCain’s comments.

“The president’s silence was deafening in the wake of Putin’s insulting New York Times op-ed, so once again Republicans are carrying the water for an administration out of its depth on international policy,” he told the Washington Blade. “As the only national gay rights organization to demand the Obama administration take action on Russia and its anti-gay laws, Log Cabin Republicans is proud to stand with Sen. McCain against Russian oppression and bigotry.”

19
Sep
2013

U.S. LGBT leaders travel to Israel

Kevin Naff, gay news, Washington Blade

Washington Blade Editor, Kevin Naff. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Washington Blade Editor Kevin Naff is among the U.S. LGBT leaders who are in Israel this week to meet with their Israeli counterparts.

The American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange organized the trip that the group described in a press release as its first-ever “seminar focused on the LGBT community.”

Naff and the eight other trip participants — Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo, Tamika Butler of Young Initiatives, gay Harrisburg (Pa.) Treasurer John Campbell, Gill Action Fund Executive Director Kirk Fordham, Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin, Lavender Effect Executive Director Andy Sacher, Williams Institute Executive Director Brad Sears and Point Foundation CEO Jorge Valencia — on Tuesday met with Israeli LGBT rights advocates and members of the Knesset, the country’s parliament, in Tel Aviv.

The group on Wednesday met with Palestinian officials in Ramallah on the West Bank.

The trip is scheduled to conclude this weekend in Jerusalem.

“We are honored to bring this high-powered delegation of LGBT American leaders in our first such seminar in Israel,” Project Interchange Executive Director Sam Witkin said. “Israel’s progressive attitude towards LGBT rights offers fertile ground for building bridges, sharing best practices and nurturing solidarity between the LGBT communities in both countries.”

30
Oct
2013

Is Israel ‘gay heaven?’ It’s complicated

Kevin Naff, Andy Sacher, Tamika Butler, John Campbell, Brad Sears, Paula Abdul, Jorge Valencia, Kirk Fordham, Malcolm Lazin, Project Interchange, Israel, Palestine, gay news, Washington Blade

Project Interchange participants ran into Paula Abdul in the Jerusalem market. From left-right: Kevin Naff, Andy Sacher, Tamika Butler, John Campbell, Brad Sears, Paula Abdul, Jorge Valencia, Kirk Fordham and Malcolm Lazin. (Photo courtesy Project Interchange)

When a delegation of nine LGBT leaders from the United States arrived last month in Israel for an intensive seminar, we knew the gay residents of progressive Tel Aviv enjoyed broad acceptance and myriad legal protections. But imagine our surprise when TV personality Gal Uchovsky announced that we had arrived in “gay heaven.”

Israel is “the best LGBT country in the world,” he told us, adding that the nation’s LGBT residents face no serious problems that he could identify. A gay child growing up in rural Israel is better off than a similar kid in the rural United States, he observed. Homelessness is rare here and Israeli parents embrace their gay kids because, well, better to be gay than dead.

Uchovsky is a proud cheerleader for his country, which is endearing, though his privileged worldview has perhaps shielded him from some unpleasant, inconvenient realities. Life for LGBT Israelis is, indeed, more complicated than Uchovsky’s rosy assessment and, thus, our trip’s catchphrase was cemented: “It’s complicated.”

The stellar seminar, sponsored by Project Interchange, a program of the American Jewish Committee, brought me well out of my comfort zone and right into Ramallah and to the edge of the Gaza Strip. The focus of the visit — LGBT issues — was often overshadowed by the frustrating stalemate of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Why can’t the two sides come to an agreement on a two-state solution? It’s complicated. And, as we learned, it’s far more complicated than American mainstream media seem to grasp.

And so from the West Bank to Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to the Negev, the nine of us trekked to learn all we could from a diverse range of perspectives, including from Palestinians and Israeli experts critical of the country’s record on LGBT rights. The other eight participants in the weeklong seminar were: Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo; Tamika Butler of Young Invincibles; gay Harrisburg (Pa.) Treasurer John Campbell; Gill Action Fund Executive Director Kirk Fordham; Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin; Lavender Effect Executive Director Andy Sacher; Williams Institute Executive Director Brad Sears; and Point Foundation CEO Jorge Valencia.

We toured Tel Aviv’s bustling, posh community center, touted as the only such center in the world that is municipally owned. The government’s funding of such centers and related LGBT causes is a mixed bag. In the United States, small LGBT non-profits and HIV service providers jockey for limited public grants, often leading to turf wars. But most such U.S. groups aren’t beholden to the government or muzzled by fears of government retaliation. It’s not clear that the same is true in Israel. It’s a dilemma: accept public money to advance your important work and mute your criticisms of the government or reject public funds and risk financial shortfalls that will curb programming. As one speaker put it, “I’d rather our public money went to gay causes than to building another bomb.”

The highlight of that visit for me was hearing from Uzi Even, the first openly gay member of the Knesset and a pioneering elder statesman of the Israeli LGBT rights movement who has helped rid the military of discriminatory policies and liberalize adoption laws. In a true sign of the times, his latest cause involves sorting out Israel’s divorce laws as they relate to same-sex couples.

My advice to Israeli LGBT advocates: Take time now to celebrate and honor the contributions of Even and others like him. Record his personal history and share it with young people. It wasn’t so long ago in Israel when gay sex acts were illegal. Such lightning-speed progress doesn’t happen by accident and brave pioneers like Even deserve our gratitude.

As we made our way up the stairs to meet with Even in the community center, we could hear the giggles of young children and stepped over a pile of neatly arranged kids sneakers in a hallway. Another sign of the times.

Several speakers emphasized the role that a 2009 shooting played in advancing gay acceptance. On Aug. 1, 2009, a gunman burst into the LGBT community center in Tel Aviv and opened fire, killing two and injuring at least 15 others. It’s hard to quantify how significant a role that tragedy played in changing Israeli attitudes toward gays, but our speakers agreed it was a turning point.

It’s a stark contrast to what we see in the United States, where violent hate crimes continue to plague our community, from trans women routinely killed in our inner cities to the recent murder of a gay man in the heart of New York’s gay village. Americans are so inured to violence that these crimes barely register in the mainstream media, let alone lead to a widespread change in attitudes.

After a couple of days in progressive Tel Aviv, we made our way to Jerusalem. In addition to the usual religious sites, a group of us visited the Jerusalem Open House, an LGBT community center engaged in broad grassroots work in the face of complicated problems like funding, space constraints, religious critics who have sometimes turned violent and the ever-present challenge of building relations with Arab residents of the city.

Celebrating gay pride in Jerusalem has been complicated, too. They don’t agree on much, but anti-gay animus was something that united the world’s major religions as conservative Jewish and Arab leaders denounced plans for pride parades in the holy city in recent years. In 2005, marchers were attacked by an ultra-orthodox Jewish man who stabbed three participants. The following year, Jerusalem was selected to host WorldPride, which led to more unrest and violent protests. Some lawmakers in the Knesset attempted to ban gay pride parades in Jerusalem, but those efforts fizzled. Our hosts in Jerusalem insist that relations are improving and that Pride is safer than in the recent past. Here, another stark contrast to the way we celebrate in the United States, with our corporate-sponsored pride villages, beer gardens and all-night parties.

From Jerusalem, we took a daytrip and toured Efrat, a small city in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc with its mayor, Oded Ravivi. The issue of settlements commands a lot of attention in U.S. media coverage of Israel and so I was curious and excited to see one up close. Efrat has eschewed the barbed wire fences that snake through so much of the Israeli landscape and officials have worked to cultivate economic ties with surrounding Palestinian villages. But we learned that such efforts only go so far. When the mayor approached a Palestinian schoolmaster about sending teachers to Efrat to teach Arabic to Israeli kids, he declined, fearing he would be “slaughtered” for collaborating with the Jews.

It was a sobering reminder of how moderates on both sides of the divide are thwarted by the extremists in their midst. Is there a cautionary lesson here for Americans, as our own political rhetoric becomes increasingly dominated by the most extreme, shrill voices of the far left and right; our legislators afraid to compromise and be seen as collaborating with the opposition?

In one awkward moment, a member of our group asked Mayor Ravivi how he would react if one of his children came out to him as gay. He seemed startled by the question and suggested it couldn’t happen in his family. Cue the eye rolling among some of us. Such reactions are common among many who proclaim they don’t discriminate but haven’t devoted much thought to the underlying issues. Gay kids are good for conservative politicians — just ask Dick Cheney.

After absorbing the complicated problems and history of Jerusalem, some of us needed a release and our gracious hosts at Open House took us to the lone gay bar in Jerusalem, called Video, where we had a few drinks and danced till the wee hours alongside a diverse crowd of revelers. Music, indeed, makes the people come together.

 

Accusations of ‘pinkwashing’

 

The concept of “pinkwashing” emerged as a hot topic throughout the week. Some critics claim the country’s embrace of LGBT rights is merely a propaganda effort to claim the mantle of modernity and establish a stark contrast to homophobic regimes in the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East. These critics claim the government’s support for gay rights doesn’t threaten or undermine the structure of Israel and amounts to a “fig leaf,” and an attempt at distracting attention from the difficult problems of finding peace with the Palestinians.

I’m not convinced. Politics is about the art of the possible, not the ideal and certainly not the perfect. Sometimes we have to accept imperfect solutions or motives in the interest of securing protections for people in need. What’s most striking about Israel’s LGBT record isn’t what it has achieved legislatively or through court rulings, but the fact that all this progress is happening in the heart of the Middle East. Our group trip featuring nine outspoken American LGBT advocates is simply not possible anywhere else in the region. Even compared to the progress we’ve seen recently in the United States, Israel stands out because it is such a young country enacting these reforms. Americans are notoriously forward thinking and, as a result, we tend to forget our history. It was less than 10 years ago when President George W. Bush called for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and scores of states enacted their own constitutional bans. The architect of this shameful attack on LGBT rights was Ken Mehlman, a closeted gay man and modern-day Roy Cohn who has since come out as gay and now raises money for marriage equality campaigns. The change afoot is new and fast but fragile. Would America be seeing such dramatic change now if Mitt Romney had won last year’s election?

Meanwhile, Israel opened its military to out gays and lesbians and transgender service members — something still barred by the U.S. military. There is relationship recognition, if not full marriage equality. The government directly funds and supports the LGBT movement, for better or worse. And it doesn’t hide that support, but promotes it.

Still, some see nefarious motives.

Upon returning home from this trip, I received a letter criticizing the visit from a group called New York City Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. It read, in part:

“The delegation met with some unspecified ‘Palestinian officials in Ramallah,’ which strikes us as nothing but a token gesture. Worse, ‘pinkwashing’ — the attempt to use Israel’s supposedly decent record on gay rights to whitewash Israeli occupation and apartheid — has been front and center in international LGBT organizing over the past several years, particularly in the US. Any delegation of LGBT ‘leaders’ to Israel that doesn’t address it is clearly intended to contribute to pinkwashing.”

Our group was sensitive to pinkwashing from the outset and several of us requested meetings with gay Palestinians and their representatives. Project Interchange worked hard to provide a balanced view of the issues and invited two Palestinian LGBT groups — alQaws and Aswat — to meet with us. Officials at the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem LGBT centers were also asked if they could assist in persuading those groups to meet our delegation or knew of other Palestinian LGBT representatives who would be willing to meet us. Sadly, the groups refused to meet with us. Change is simply not possible without dialogue and I deeply regret this lost opportunity the Palestinians had to engage with an open-minded group of visitors seeking nothing more than understanding and education.

(I invited NYCQAIP to respond to this story and they accepted. I look forward to publishing their reaction and thoughts on pinkwashing in the coming days.)

In Ramallah, we were scheduled to meet with Dr. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator. He cancelled his appearance and we learned why the next day: He had just submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over frustration with the pace of negotiations. Abbas rejected Erekat’s resignation but it’s clear that the current talks, which began four months ago with a John Kerry-instigated deadline of nine months, are not going well. Given the sorry record of our involvement in decades of failed talks, perhaps it’s time for the United States to step aside and allow another party a chance at diplomacy.

In Erekat’s place, we met with Abu Zayyad, a scholar and Fatah and PLO adviser. It seemed somewhat silly to ask him about the state of LGBT affairs given all the day-to-day challenges facing Palestinians in the West Bank. But he insisted that there is a level of gay acceptance, even if such views differ widely among family members, noting there are no laws in Ramallah related to gay issues and that there are at least two non-governmental organizations that espouse gay rights. He spent most of his lecture discussing the state of life for Palestinians and much of what he said was not encouraging. He lamented the lack of mobility for Palestinians, who don’t have passports, making international travel difficult at best. Locally, the checkpoints that Ramallah residents must navigate just to visit nearby Jerusalem create daily headaches. Zayyad, who said he spent three months in prison for participating in an anti-Israel protest, fears that a two-state solution will be impossible five years from now, when an estimated one million Israelis could be living in West Bank settlements.

“It will explode again,” he warned.

It’s often been said that Israel is a land of contradictions and that assessment came into sharp focus during our visit. Israel celebrates its status as the only Democracy in the Middle East, while its non-Jewish residents live under a flag adorned with religious iconography. In a nation so steeped in history, Israel is just 65 years old and is surprisingly lacking in many traditions. Located in the heart of the Middle East, where homosexuality can be punished by jail time or even death as in Iran, Israel has emerged as one of the world’s most pro-LGBT nations. A country that is more than 60 percent desert has perfected drip irrigation and desalinated water from the Mediterranean to solve a decades-old water crisis. And in a nation with such ancient religious influences, a large chunk of the population — estimated by one speaker as high as 50 percent — identifies as secular or atheist.

It’s impossible to summarize our weeklong adventure in a couple thousand words. A sincere and heartfelt thank-you to the team at Project Interchange, all of our speakers and to the people of Israel for their hospitality. In addition to the aforementioned experiences, we met with law professor Aeyal Gross, entrepreneur Hamutal Meridor, Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, former Knesset member Einat Wilif, film director Eytan Fox and many others. We were serenaded by Ivri Lider; walked the Stations of the Cross; toured Yad Vashem, the Western Wall tunnels, the Mahaneh Yehuda Market and indulged in far too much of Israel’s impressive cuisine. We visited Sderot, Mitzpe Ramon and slathered ourselves in mud before floating in the Dead Sea.

It was in that moment — nine of us standing half naked, covered in mud — that I perceived a lasting bond forming among us. Despite our differing views on policy back home and occasional misunderstandings, we’d been through something emotional, powerful and unique together. An experience impossible to explain or summarize here, because, well, it’s complicated.

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at knaff@washblade.com.

13
Nov
2013

Gay Republicans criticize Obamacare video

Out2Enroll, Obamacare, gay news, Washington Blade

A scene from the Out2Enroll video that encourages gay men to enroll in the Affordable Care Act. (Image courtesy of YouTube)

WASHINGTON—Log Cabin Republicans on Dec. 22 criticized an online video that encourages gay men to enroll in the Affordable Care Act.

Gregory T. Angelo, the group’s executive director, described the Out2Enroll video that features muscular men wearing underwear, stuffed reindeer antlers and Santa hats as an “example of the left promoting harmful stereotypes that gay men are nothing more than sex-crazed lechers.”

“As a self-proclaimed ‘fierce advocate’ of gay equality, President Obama would do well to distance himself from this nonsense and denounce it immediately,” said Angelo.

Angelo also referenced the controversy surrounding A&E’s decision to suspend “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson after making homophobic and racist comments during an interview with GQ magazine.

“At a time when left-wing propagandists are decrying ‘Duck Dynasty’s’ Phil Robertson for equating homosexuality with promiscuity and deviance, Out2Enroll and others should take a look in the mirror and ask if the truth is that they are the ones responsible for promoting such harmful stereotypes,” he said.

23
Dec
2013

National Stonewall Democrats curtails operations

Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Democrats, Jerame Davis

National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis (Blade photo by Michael Key)

National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis confirmed to the Washington Blade on Tuesday his organization will cease operations through at least the end of this year after it failed to bridge a $30,000 budget gap.

“We obviously had the budget shortfall that we announced late last year and in that process we learned a few things,” he said shortly after the Dallas Voice broke the story earlier in the day. “When we were talking with various interested parties, whether they were from the DNC [the Democratic National Committee] or the labor movement or just LGBT Democrats in general, while finding the money that we needed in the short amount of time like that wasn’t possible, what we did find was there was an interest in keeping the org around. A lot of people really believe there’s a need and a place for Stonewall, it’s just that circumstances over the past several years have led to funding crisis that we found ourselves in.”

Davis told the Blade in an exclusive interview on Dec. 4 that his organization would likely close its doors if it didn’t raise $30,000 by the end of the year. He said the last-minute fundraising appeal netted less than $10,000 as of deadline.

“The decision was made that we would close down our office, cut our expenses down to next to nothing,” Davis, whose last day as a paid executive director was on Dec. 31, said. He remains with the organization in a volunteer capacity. “We tend to spend odd number years in a rebuilding mode anyway. This just kind of fit with what we normally do, the only difference being is we’re not going to have paid staff or an office for this year. Obviously that means our operations will be curtailed, but that also gives us the ability to focus our time and energy on figuring out what the systemic problems are for why we’ve had such funding problems and take the time to look at the org and figure out is there a future and what does that future look like.”

National Stonewall Democrats’ financial problems had previously threatened to shutter the organization.

The Blade reported in Feb. 2011 an anonymous donor gave $100,000 to the organization amid reports then-Executive Director Michael Mitchell did not effectively manage the group’s budget. Davis said there was “1,800 in the bank and a boat load of debt” when he took over in November 2011.

“Most people agree that a big part of our problem was that we had strayed from our original mission,” he said. “We had a muddy, undefined reason for existence and you combine that with the other missteps that we’ve made operationally, turnover in staff, especially at the top and so forth and it just kind of all compounded.”

Melissa Sklarz, who co-chaired National Stonewall Democrats Board of Directors from 2009 through early 2011, noted to the Blade last month then-President Bill Clinton had signed the ban on openly gay service members and the Defense of Marriage Act into law in the years before former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank founded the organization in 1998.

“The Democratic Party and the LGBT political landscape have changed dramatically in the past 15 years since National Stonewall was founded,” she added earlier on Tuesday. “The Democrats needed to understand the LGBT community and the community needed to understand that the Democrats were the true party of progress. NSD was the right idea at the right time.”

Sklarz further described Davis as “a great leader.”

“I look forward to helping with the new NSD next year,” she said.

“It is not unusual for organizations to take a time out every once in awhile,” gay New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley told the Blade. “There are many conversations going on right now, I am confident that NSD will emerge from this process stronger and more focused than ever before. I look forward to being part of that process.”

Gregory T. Angelo, interim executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, tweeted on his personal Twitter account that he is “not shedding any tears over” National Stonewall Democrats’ decision to curtail operations.

“It’s ironic that Republicans can throw big bucks around and use the partisan Log Cabin Republicans to try and destroy Democrats and their positive initiatives,” Barbra Casbar Siperstein, a former National Stonewall Democrats board member from New Jersey who is a member of the DNC Executive Committee, told the Blade. “Yet it appears that LGBT Democrats who talk about partisanship cannot support a partisan organization that exists to build for equality and expose the damage and destructiveness that the modern Republicans time and time again, almost single mindedly attempt to destroy the Great Society, the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt, but also the work of the great Progressive, Republican Teddy Roosevelt.”

Derek Washington of Stonewall Democrats of Nevada agreed.

“Jerame Davis has done the best he probably could considering the hand he was dealt upon taking charge of national Stonewall,” he said. “Having said that I think it’s time for Stonewall to take this hiatus as a wake up call and rebrand itself as the premiere LGBT political organization regardless of party as we’ve done here in Nevada. Log Cabin and GOProud have no ground operation or presence here due to our aggressive branding and take no prisoners attitude in both our state and Southern Nevada chapters of Stonewall. And I’m not talking about sometime in the future. I’m talking about now.”

08
Jan
2013

Delaware Republicans reportedly seek Fluharty’s dismissal

John Fluharty, Delaware, Republican Party, GOP, gay news, Washington Blade

Delaware Republican Party Executive Director John Fluharty (Photo courtesy of John Fluharty)

A spokesperson for the Sussex County [Del.] Republican Committee on Tuesday denied a report its executive committee approved a non-binding resolution that called for the dismissal of the state GOP’s openly gay executive director over his support of same-sex marriage.

The News-Journal reported committee members approved the resolution against John Fluharty during their monthly meeting in Georgetown on Monday.

Sherwood “Duke” Brooks, spokesperson for the Sussex County Republican Committee, confirmed to the Washington Blade that committeeman Rob Arlett introduced a resolution that states the Delaware Republican Party “stands for traditional family values and all hired representatives of that organization shall publicly reflect that view.”

It does not specifically identify Fluharty.

“That was the extent of the non-binding resolution offered and voted upon in the affirmative,” he said. “To me this resolution seems analogous to the idea that if you are an executive with General Motors you don’t drive around in a Mustang or a BMW. That was the extent of it.”

The committee approved the resolution less than a month after Fluharty highlighted his personal support of nuptials for gays and lesbians during an exclusive interview with the Blade at an Equality Delaware fundraiser in Wilmington.

Fluharty declined to comment, but Brooks said the resolution has nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

“No one and I mean no one in our committee has any problem or any issue with the fact that John is gay,” he said. “He is not only a great guy, but I also believe he is absolutely a good Republican. His GOP bonafides are beyond question at this point.”

Brooks maintained the Delaware Republican Party “is not in favor of changing the definition of marriage.” He described the resolution the committee members approved is “a completely reasonable outlook for a political party.”

“Nobody wants to fire John,” Brooks said. “He’s a good guy.”

Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, cited unsuccessful efforts to oust Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady over his support of same-sex marriage in his response to the Sussex County Republican Committee’s resolution.

“Mr. Fluharty was exercising his right to freedom of speech as a private citizen,” Angelo told the Blade. “Blustering non-binding resolutions only serve to give liberals fodder and plays to people’s worst stereotypes about the GOP.”

09
Apr
2013