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2013: The year in quotes

Edith Windsor, Edie Windsor, gay news, marriage equality, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Washington Blade, quotes

Edith Windsor (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“The gay community is my ‘person of the year’ and I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies … Thea would be thrilled, proud and so happy to see what we have all accomplished together.” Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, reacting to be named one of the Top 3 individuals for “Person of the Year.” (Joe.My.God, Dec. 11)

 

“There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life. My confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most-beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. “

Jodie Foster during her Jan. 13 acceptance speech for the Cecil B. Demille Award during the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards (ABC News, Jan. 14)

 

Cory Booker, United States Senate, New Jersey, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the root of my hatred did not lie with gays but with myself. It was my problem. A problem I dealt with by ceasing to tolerate gays and instead seeking to embrace them.”

Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker in a 1992 op-ed where he wrote about coming to terms with his negative feelings toward homosexuals. (Stanford Daily, Jan. 9)

 

“Just letting you know… that using ‘your gay’ as a way to put someone down ain’t ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab”

NBA star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, responding via Twitter to someone using “you’re gay” as an insult. In 2011, Bryant was fined $100,000 for calling an NBA official a fag. (CBS Sports, Feb. 11)

 

“I don’t think it’s very controversial to suggest that a candidate who favors gay marriage and free contraception might have more appeal to a younger demographic. Does anyone want to argue … that there are more gay rights organizations on college campuses than in VFW halls?

— Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s lead presidential campaign strategist, in an op-ed about what caused Romney to lose to President Obama. (Washington Post, Feb. 24)

 

President Bill Clinton (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Bill Clinton (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is … incompatible with our Constitution.”

Former President Bill Clinton, in a column against the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed in 1996. The law, which the Supreme Court will take up on March 27, denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages and allows states to ignore same-sex marriages from other states. (Washington Post, March 7)

 

“Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?”

One of several scenarios included in a Boy Scouts of America survey sent to members and their parents as the BSA considers whether to relax its ban on gay Scouts, volunteers and leaders. The BSA board may consider the policy in May. (Dallas Voice, March 11)

 

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, responding at the company’s annual shareholder meeting to a stock owner who questioned whether the coffee chain was being hurt by its support for same-sex marriage. (NPR.org, March 20)

 

“Life is life and love is love, and I’m just trying to be a better me, you know what I’m saying?”

Rapper Snoop Lion, asked by paparazzi his stand on gay marriage. “I don’t have a problem with gay people. I got some gay homies,” he also said. (TMZ.com, April 7)

 

“I think this is going to be good for a lot of black young people who want to come out. E.J. is going to be that symbol — a symbol of hope that they can now come and tell their parents, tell their friends.”

Basketball legend Magic Johnson, who came out as HIV-positive in 1992, on his support for his son, Ervin “E.J.” Johnson III, coming out as gay after being photographed by TMZ holding hands with his boyfriend. (Denver Post, April 7)

 

Jason Collins, Washington Wizards, NBA, gay news, Washington Blade, Sports Illustrated

Jason Collins (Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. … If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

NBA veteran Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards, coming out in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. Collins becomes the first gay athlete in major U.S. men’s professional sports to come out during his career. (Sports Illustrated, released online April 29)

 

“In making the film, the socio-political aspect of it was not really in my mind but I was focused on … trying to make this relationship as believable and realistic as we could. When this issue comes up, of equal rights for gays, I am hoping 50 years from now we will look back on this and wonder why this was even a debate and why it took so long.”

Director Steven Soderbergh discussing his latest film, Liberace biopic “Behind the Candlebra,” which made its Cannes debut May 21 (Reuters, May 21)

 

Robbie Rogers, soccer, sports, gay news, Washington Blade

Robbie Rogers (Photo by Noah Salzman via Wikimedia Commons)

“I’ve been on this huge journey to figure out my life, and now I am back here I think where I am supposed to be.”

Professional soccer player Robbie Rogers in a May 26 post-game press conference after his debut with the LA Galaxy made him the first openly gay athlete to compete in U.S. men’s professional team sports. Rogers, a former national team player, came out in April and announced his retirement. (YouTube, May 27)

 

“Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence. We have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love … Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.”

Open letter from national LGBT organizations supporting a federal investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death after his accused killer was found not guilty. (Press release, July 15)

 

“We welcome all individuals regardless of sexual orientation into our ballparks, along with those of different races, religions, genders and national origins. Both on the field and away from it, Major League Baseball has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, announcing new code of conduct that will be distributed individually to professional baseball players at every level of the game. (New York Attorney General’s Office press release, July 16)

 

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, telling reporters that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. The former pope, Benedict XVI, had said gay men should not be priests. (New York Times, July 29)

 

“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads.”

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, stating at a rally that homosexuality “seeks to destroy our lineage” and Zimbabwe will not “accept the homosexuality practice” even if it costs the country U.S. aid. (News Day, July 25)

 

“As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.”

White House press release announcing that Bayard Rustin, who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut in space, will also receive the Medal of Freedom; she became known publicly as gay when her obituary listed her longtime partner. (Aug. 8)

 

“I was excited to hear today that more states legalized gay marriage. I, however, am not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to.”

Actress Raven-Symone, who gained fame as a child on “The Cosby Show,” coming out in a statement after tweeting, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” (Washington Times, Aug. 4)

 

“Dude, lesbians love me. I’m tall, I have a deep voice, I’m like, ‘Hello, catnip!’ Now that this show’s out I’m curious what happens from here because whenever I go out lesbians try to, y’know, turn me.”

Actress Laura Prepon, discussing playing lesbian drug dealer Alex Vaus on “Orange is the New Black.” (Canada.com, Aug. 1)

Vladimir Putin, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo public domain)

“Putin, end your war on Russian gays!” a shout by an unidentified man at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.” Gay activists protested the opera to bring awareness to Russia’s law banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” that President Vladimir Putin signed into law in June. (Sept. 23, The New York Times)

 

“I am usually a very strong and confident person, but I have my moments too. Although there was positive feedback, there was a lot of negative too, and the negative affected me more than it ever has before. I recorded this because I didn’t know how else to vent, I didn’t want to talk to anybody.” – Cassidy Lynn Campbell, a transgender teen who was named Huntington Beach high school homecoming queen, in a YouTube post where she was visibly upset by negative reactions. (Sept. 23, Los Angeles Times)

 

“Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.” Mary Cheney responding on Facebook on Nov. 17 to her sister’s response on “Fox New Sunday” saying she opposed same-sex marriage and that was an area where she and her sister disagreed. Liz Cheney is running for U.S. Senate in Wyoming.

Compiled by Georgia Voice

 

01
Jan
2014

Romney needs time to determine impact of marriage equality

Mitt Romney said on "Meet the Press" it could take "generations" to determine the impact of marriage equality. (Screenshot via NBC News).

Mitt Romney said on “Meet the Press” it could take “generations” to determine the impact of marriage equality. (Screenshot via NBC News).

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney reiterated his opposition to marriage equality on Sunday, saying it will “take a long, long time” to determine whether the advancement of same-sex marriage will have an impact the way children are raised.

Romney, who lost the election to President Obama in 2012, when asked by host David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an appearance to discuss the 2014 Winter Olympics whether the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the country has had a negative impact on society.

Gregory pointed to a 2004 op-ed that Romney wrote for the Wall Street Journal in opposition to same-sex marriage, titled, “A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Marriage.” Romney wrote it nearly ten years ago while governor of Massachusetts after the State Supreme Court legalized marriage equality, making the Bay State the first in the country to afford marriage rights to gay couples.

At first, Romney dodged in his response to Gregory’s question on whether he has found negative impact of same-sex marriage since that time, reiterating his previously stated talking points that he believes marriage should be limited to one man, one woman.

“Well, I think marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and I think the ideal setting for raising a child is in a setting where there’s a father and a mother,” Romney said. “Now there are many other different settings that children are raised in, and people have the right to live their life as they want to, but I think marriage should be defined in the way that it has been defined for several thousand years, and if gay couples want to live together, why that’s fine as well. That’s their right.”

But when Gregory pressed Romney to evaluate whether marriage equality has had a negative impact, the former Massachusetts governor said it’s too soon to tell and it may take “generations” before the consequences are known.

“I think it’s going to take a long, long time to determine whether having a gay marriage make it less likely for kids to be raised in settings where there’s a mom and a dad,” Romney said. “That’s not going to happen overnight. It’s something which happens over generations, in fact. Again, I think the ideal setting is whether there’s a mom and a dad that can invest their time and their resources in supporting the development of a child.”

Despite Ronmey’s concerns, major psychological and family groups have disputed the notion that gay parents aren’t as fit as straight parents in raising children. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out in support of same-sex marriage.

Romney also refused under further questioning to characterize the issue of same-sex marriage as an Republicans have lost, saying it’s playing out across the country.

“I think, in this case, it continues to be an issue that people find relevant and important, and it’s something which is being considered in various states across the country,” Romney said.

Following numerous court rulings in favor of marriage equality and expectations the issue once again reach the U.S. Supreme Court, the former Republican presidential contender added he believes the issue of marriage equality should be decided by the people, not judges.

“I do believe, by the way, that it’s best decided by the people, rather than by the courts,” Romney said. “I think when the courts step in and make a decision of this nature, they’re removing from the people something which they have the right to decide themselves.”

In 2012, Romney campaigned not only in opposition to same-sex marriage, but signed a pledge with the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage to support a U.S. constitutional amendment that would ban gay nuptials throughout the country and defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

David Gregory: Lemme talk to you about politics, and of course, the issue of gay rights around the world, particularly in Russia, has been part of the backdrop of these games, and you think about the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Ten years ago, almost to the month, it was Massachusetts when you were governor that really set same-sex marriage rights into motion.

You wrote about it at the time rather pointedly, where you said, after that decision by the court, “The definition of marriage is not a matter of semantics. It will have lasting impact on society.” Ten years later, as you’ve seen same-sex marriage now in 17 states and the District of Columbia, has it had a negative impact on society in your judgement?

Mitt Romney: Well, I think marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and I think the ideal setting for raising a child is in a setting where there’s a father and a mother. Now there are many other different settings that children are raised in, and people have the right to live their life as they want to, but I think marriage should be defined in the way that it has been defined for several thousand years, and if gay couples want to live together, why that’s fine as well. That’s their right.

Gregory: But lemme just follow up, do you think it’s actually had a negative impact on society that you have so many states now recognizing it?

Romney: Oh, I think it’s going to take a long, long time to determine whether having a gay marriage make it less likely for kids to be raised in settings where there’s a mom and a dad. That’s not going to happen overnight. It’s something which happens over generations, in fact. Again, I think the ideal setting is whether there’s a mom and a dad that can invest their time and their resources in supporting the development of a child.

Gregory: As you look at the progression of this issue, as a Republican do you think Republicans have lost the fight politically over this?

Romney: I don’t know that you have to worry about who wins and who loses a particular fight. I think if you stand for various principles, you communicate those to the American people, and they either support those or not. Sometimes, if something is lost, why, you move on to the next issue. You wish you would have won that one, but you move on. I think, in this case, it continues to be an issue that people find relevant and important, and it’s something which is being considered in various states across the country.

I do believe, by the way, that it’s best decided by the people, rather than by the courts. I think when the courts step in and make a decision of this nature, they’re removing from the people something which they have the right to decide themselves.

16
Feb
2014

Mitt Romney calls for veto of Arizona anti-gay bill

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has urged for the veto of the Arizona anti-gay bill (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has urged for the veto of the Arizona anti-gay bill (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has added his voice to the choir of voices calling for a veto of the controversial “turn away the gay” bill in Arizona.

Romney, who was governor of Massachusetts and the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, called on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the SB 1062 via Twitter.

Romney isn’t the only major Republican to have voiced opposition to the measure, which critics say will enable Arizona businesses to refuse services to LGBT people. Both Republican senators representing the state in the U.S. Senate, Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), have urged for a veto of the bill.

But Romney’s opposition to the measure is striking because he was known for holding anti-gay views and support for a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage during his presidential campaign. Just last month, Romney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said it could be “generations” before we determine the impact of marriage equality on the nation.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, commended Romney.

“Our interactions with Governor Romney always showed him to be a common-sense conservative, and his call on Governor Brewer to veto SB-1062 underscores what we knew all along,” Angelo said. “I hope liberals who chastised Log Cabin Republicans for endorsing him for President in 2012 take note.”

UPDATE: Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who competed against Romney for the Republican nomination in 2012, also affirmed via Twitter that he believes Brewer should veto the measure.

25
Feb
2014

BREAKING: Arizona governor vetoes ‘turn away the gay’ bill

Jan Brewer, Republican Party, Arizona, gay news, Washington Blade

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Following a firestorm of opposition from LGBT advocates, Republican leaders and business leaders, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced on Wednesday she vetoed a controversial bill that would have allowed individuals to refuse to serve prospective customers on religious grounds.

“After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate bill 1062 moments ago,” Brewer told reporters.

Critics said the measure would have enabled businesses to individuals to refuse services to LGBT people out of religious concerns.

Brewer said she vetoed the legislation after taking “the necessary time to make the right decision,” touting her record protecting religious freedoms in the state.

“Senate bill 1062 does not address a specific or pressing concern related to religious liberty in Arizona,” Brewer said. “I have not heard one example in Arizona where business owner religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.”

Noting that she had called for a responsible budget and a child protections when speaking before the legislature last month, Brewer chided lawmakers for making SB 2016 “the first policy bill to cross my desk.”

“To supporters of this legislation, I want you to know that I understand long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before,” Brewer said. “Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely belief that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.”

Following her announcement, Brewer posted a picture of her vetoing SB 1062 via her Twitter account.

 

The announcement made Brewer strange bed fellows with LGBT advocates, who praised her for rejecting the legislation.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Brewer “spared her state” from a law that would have enabled discrimination.

“The bipartisan outpouring of opposition to this bill is all the proof you need that this country isn’t turning backwards,” Griffin said. “Gov. Brewer did the right thing in stopping this assault on businesses and the LGBT community and we call on her and the legislature — and governors and legislators in other states — to resist any attempt to give license to discrimination.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, commended Brewer for vetoing the legislation.

“We thank Gov. Brewer for her decision to veto this outrageous measure — a law that if enacted would be bad for Arizona people and the Arizona economy,” Carey said. “In doing so, she has stopped a bill that both cynically uses religion as a smokescreen to justify discrimination and insults people of faith who feel that discrimination is morally wrong. This decision sends a clear message that extremism is totally unacceptable to people of all political persuasions.”

Erin Ogletree, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Arizona, said the veto is a watershed moment that “signaling that Arizonans and all people of goodwill” don’t support discrimination.

“It is also a loud wake-up call to the Republican Party,” Ogletree said. “We do best when we champion the freedom and rights of all individuals. It is time to refocus on being the party of limited, competent, and accountable governing that welcomes everyone.”

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Apple and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are among the myriad of organizations and businesses that called upon Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1072. U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also urged the Arizona governor not to sign the measure.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council, nonetheless expressed disappointment that Brewer vetoed the bill, saying she “yielded to the cultural bullies.”

“This measure should have been a political no-brainer and only went down because people either chose to ignore the plain language of the bill or refused to read it altogether,” Perkins said. “Apparently, they’re graduates of the Pelosi School of Policy, where they dispose of bills before they find out what’s in them.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday the legislation sounds “pretty intolerant,” but the White House never issued a full-throated opposition to the bill. No LGBT advocates called on Obama to speak out against the legislation as some said his opposition could have in fact influenced Brewer to sign the bill into law.

As the Washington Blade previously reported, the Arizona bill is part of a national trend of movement on state bills aimed at expanding the exercise to religion to allow discrimination against LGBT people. Other bills are pending in Mississippi and Kansas and others has been defeated in Maine and South Dakota.

Michael K. Lavers contributed to this report.

27
Feb
2014

Republicans continue to self-destruct

Ann Coulter, CPAC, gay news, Washington Blade

This week, we will be treated to the annual spectacle of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a place where the most outrageous Republicans are invited to spew their venom to the party faithful. In the past the conference has hosted the likes of irrelevant figures like Donald Trump and Ann Coulter. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

There is a certain Schadenfraude when I hear Republicans say things that are sure to quicken the downward spiral of the national Republican Party.

Republicans in places like Arizona who pass legislation designed to allow people to discriminate just keep adding to the view that the Republican Party today is a place that only welcomes those who want to discriminate against the LGBT community, women and other minorities. The few moderates left seem to be losing any control they once had of the platform or direction of the party.

That makes it difficult to convince people in places like Massachusetts to even consider electing a Republican. Take the case of congressional candidate Richard Tisei who is being touted as a moderate gay Republican who can change the party from within. The facts challenge that assumption. When he ran on a ticket for lieutenant governor with Charlie Baker who claimed to be a moderate, he couldn’t even get him to support basic equality for the transgender community. The Blue Mass group said, “If he can’t convince his own running mate in Massachusetts to be less extreme, how in the world will he convince Republicans from conservative states to be less extreme on gay rights or any other issue?”

Another problem with electing someone like Tisei to Congress is that his first vote would be for Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as House Speaker — the same speaker who has blocked ENDA since the Senate passed it last year.

This week, we will be treated to the annual spectacle of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a place where the most outrageous Republicans are invited to spew their venom to the party faithful. In the past the conference has hosted the likes of irrelevant figures like Donald Trump and Ann Coulter. This year promises to bring more of the same; the intellectual giant Sarah Palin will be there.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be two of the big draws. I understand they were excited to invite and get an acceptance from Christie before he got entangled in Bridgegate. It will be interesting to see how far right Christie will go to attract the GOP faithful. They forced Mitt Romney far enough right in the last election to ensure a loss to President Obama. Huckabee, on the other hand, already has just the kind of far-right cred they love.

Then CPAC attendees will surely hear from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). This is the same Ryan who ran as Romney’s running mate and managed to gain a reputation as someone who had a few problems telling the truth. He recently spoke about the budget he is preparing for the Republican House, which will question all the programs meant to help those in need, the safety net programs like Medicare, food stamps, Head Start etc. Democrats wait with baited breath to see if his solution is simply to cut these programs or to legitimately improve them.

CPAC attendees will also get to hear from that Joseph McCarthy-like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.). They will also get another chance to hear from right-wing Johns Hopkins retired surgeon turned Fox News commentator Dr. Ben Carson. This is the same Carson forced to withdraw as the Johns Hopkins commencement speaker after he compared gay marriage to bestiality and pedophilia. He attacked the Affordable Care Act as socialism by quoting Lenin: “Lenin thought so. He declared: ‘Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the Socialized State.’” Carson apparently took that quote from a brochure attacking Harry Truman for his attempt to get everyone medical insurance and some have disputed that Lenin ever said it.

Democrats aren’t perfect and there are Blue Dog Democrats whose voting records clearly don’t match the Democratic Party platform. The difference is those Democrats don’t control the party and they vote for a leadership team that is progressive and favors ensuring the human and civil rights of all people.

04
Mar
2014

Romney still opposes marriage equality

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney still opposes marriage equality (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney still opposes marriage equality (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says he continues to oppose same-sex marriage — despite certain prominent figures within his own party and his own former advisers speaking out in favor of marriage equality.

In a four-minute segment of a previously unaired interview, the former Massachusetts governor told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that his position on same-sex marriage hasn’t evolved since the election.

“I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a women, and that’s because I believe the ideal setting for raising a child is where there’s a mother and a father in the home,” Romney said. “Other people have differing views and I respect that, whether that’s in my party or in the Democratic Party. But these are very personal matters. My hope is that when we discuss things of this nature, we show respect for people who have differing views.”

Romney not only opposed same-sex marriage as ran against President Obama, but campaigned on a Federal Marriage Amendment that would have banned it throughout the country and pledged to resume the executive branch’s defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

On the same day Romney lost holding that position, marriage equality was legalized at the ballot in Maine, Maryland and Washington State and Minnesota voters rejected a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Despite Romney’s lack of change of position, a number of the 131 Republicans who signed the high-profile friend-of-the-court brief against California’s Proposition 8 were among his advisers.

Among the signers is Katie Biber, who served as general counsel for Romney both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns; Beth Myers, who served as his campaign manager; Nancy Pfotenhauer, regulatory advisor for Romney during his 2008 presidential campaign; Lee Rudofsky, who was deputy general counsel for Romney in 2012; Josh Ginsberg, who was national field director for Romney in 2008; and Alex Lundry, who was director of data science for Romney in 2012.

Other signer of the brief are former Govs. William Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift of Massachusetts, Republicans who were chief executives of the state prior to the state court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality — a decision that Romney later fought.

Gay conservative groups had differing reactions to Romney’s continued opposition to marriage equality.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative GOProud, dismissed Romney’s views as unimportant.

“I’m not sure why his opinion is relevant,” LaSalvia said. “Mitt Romney’s position on any issue has about as much relevance to the Republican Party as Michael Dukakis’s has to the Democrats.”

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said Romney’s continued position is “not surprising,” but also noted the former GOP hopeful’s remarks that he respects differing views on the issue.

“I don’t think anyone would expect someone who was so assertive in his views on marriage to do a complete turnaround in the four months since the election,” Romney said. “What is interesting is Romney’s statement that he respects Republicans who believe in marriage equality. It shows that even among those opposed to civil marriage for same-sex couples, there is a knowledge that the voices in favor of the freedom to marry within the GOP can no longer be dismissed.”

Watch the video here at HuffPostGay

05
Mar
2013

Council race heats up

Patrick Mara, Republican Party, Republican National Convention, Washington Blade, gay news

Patrick Mara at the 2012 Republican National Convention (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein raised eyebrows last week when he called on the LGBT community not to vote for pro-gay Republican candidate Patrick Mara in the April 23 special election for an at-large seat on the D.C. City Council.

In his political column in the Blade, Rosenstein reminded LGBT voters that Mara, while saying he personally supports LGBT rights, was a delegate at the Republican National Convention last summer for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who opposed nearly all LGBT rights initiatives.

“Mara tells anyone who will listen that he doesn’t agree with the Republican Party platform and personally favors marriage equality and full civil rights for the LGBT community and that he is pro-choice,” Rosenstein wrote. “In so doing, he asks us to overlook his active support for candidates and a party that don’t believe those things.”

But longtime gay Democratic activist and D.C. civic leader Joel Lawson, who’s supporting Mara, said Mara’s support for Romney doesn’t bother him and shouldn’t be a problem for others in the LGBT community who are considering voting for Mara.

“I’m a lifelong active Democrat,” Lawson told the Blade. “And the only ‘R’ I’m worried about is reform. And those attacks on Pat are just more nasty fighting that’s hurt D.C.”

Lawson added, “This race is between Pat Mara and business as usual, and Pat is the strongest [candidate] for reform.”

Political observers say people like Lawson – both gay and straight – appear to be part of a growing bloc of voters who are angry about the long list of ethical lapses that have surfaced in city politics over the past several years.

Among the concerns of these voters were the arrest and guilty pleas on corruption related charges by former D.C. Council Chair Kwame Brown and former Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas, both Democrats, who were sentenced to time in jail.

The U.S. Attorney’s office continues to investigate illegal campaign finance practices uncovered in Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 election campaign. And the City Council last month voted to reprimand gay Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who was accused of violating city ethics rules by reportedly interfering with a city contract. Graham disputes allegations that he acted improperly on the contract matter.

Similar to most elections in D.C. over the past 20 years or longer, each of the seven candidates running in the special election – five Democrats, one Republican (Mara), and a Statehood Green Party candidate – are strong supporters of LGBT equality, including same-sex marriage.

The candidates include Democrats Michael Brown, a former Council member who lost his re-election bid last year to David Grosso (D-At-Large); Anita Bonds, chair of the city’s Democratic State Committee, which elected her as interim Council member until the special election is held; former Washington Post and Washington City Paper reporter Elissa Silverman, who most recently has worked as a budget analyst for the progressive think tank D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute; and local attorneys Paul Zuckerberg  and Matthew Frumin, who operate D.C. law firms.

Also running is community activist and ex-offender advocate Perry Redd, who was nominated by the Statehood Green Party.

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance is expected to rate each of the candidates on LGBT issues later this month based on their responses to a GLAA questionnaire that the group has been giving to candidates running for local office for more than 30 years. The Blade will report on the candidates’ detailed positions on LGBT issues when the GLAA questionnaire results are released.

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, is scheduled to hold a forum for the Democratic candidates on March 21 at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington. The club is also scheduled to vote on an endorsement at the forum. But club members say an endorsement is uncertain due to the group’s requirement that a candidate receive a 60 percent majority vote among members to earn the club’s backing.

With each of the candidates supportive on LGBT issues, activists following the campaign say the so-called “gay vote” could be driven by non-gay issues as well as name recognition and the perception of the candidates’ visibility in the LGBT community.

Brown and Mara have run for City Council seats in the past, and each has done well in precincts known to have high concentrations of LGBT residents at various times. Bonds, who has been active in city politics for many years, is less known to non-activists but has support from several key LGBT movers and shakers. Among them is David Meadows, a former Stein Club president, who now works on her Council staff.

Silverman, Redd, Frumin, and Zuckerberg are newcomers to electoral politics and must overcome a lack of widespread name recognition, political observers have said. Silverman, Frumin, and Zuckerberg told the Blade they have been longtime supporters of LGBT equality and, if elected, would push for city policies and laws that strengthen the ongoing quest to achieve full equality for LGBT city residents. Each said they would have voted for the city’s same-sex marriage law had they been on the Council when it came up for a vote in 2009.

Redd couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Longtime Statehood Green Party leader and LGBT rights supporter David Schwartzman told the Blade that Redd is a strong supporter of LGBT equality, including same-sex marriage.

D.C. political consultant Chuck Thies is among the local political observers who believe Mara and Brown are the two frontrunners in the race. Thies told the Blade that gay Democratic activists may be worried about Mara because he has received a significant number of Democratic votes in two previous runs for a Council seat.

In a 2011 special election for an at-large seat, Mara came in second, just behind Vincent Orange, a Democrat with wide name recognition who won the eight-candidate race. Mara beat Democratic candidate Sekou Biddle, who was backed by most LGBT Democratic leaders.

In a development that surprised some gay Democratic activists, Mara won by large margins in at least seven of the 14 voter precincts with high concentrations of LGBT voters.

In the special election set for April 23, Mara has a solid bloc of the city’s Republican voters and could benefit by his Democratic opponents splitting the vote among each other while capturing a sizable portion of the Democratic vote as a perceived reform candidate, Thies said.

Mara’s appeal to Democrats this year surfaced at the Stein Club’s February meeting, when a resolution was introduced to allow Mara to participate in the club’s candidate forum on March 21, even though the club’s bylaws bar the club from endorsing a non-Democrat in races where Democrats are competing.

“Some of us thought it would be useful to the community to give him a chance to speak,” said Christopher Dyer, the Stein Club member and director of the city’s Office of GLBT Affairs under Mayor Adrian Fenty, who introduced the resolution.

The resolution lost by a wide margin, with many club members saying a Democratic group shouldn’t be giving a platform to a Republican candidate. However, longtime club members said the fact that such a resolution even came up suggests that Mara appeals to LGBT voters.

Thies called Frumin the dark horse candidate, who could be a strong competitor to Mara and Brown based on his ability to raise campaign funds. The most recent campaign finance reports filed with the city show he raised just under $72,000 in contributions and kicked in $10,628 of his own money, making him the best funded candidate in the race so far.

Mara has raised just over $20,000 and Silverman has raised a little over $36,000 as of the last finance reporting period. Brown and Zuckerberg had raised around $9,500 during the same reporting period, with Bonds raising $11,000. Redd came in last in fundraising, with just $900.95 as of the last reporting period ending Jan. 31.

Like most special elections, voter turnout is expected to be low, giving key voting blocs, including the LGBT vote, the ability to play a decisive role in who wins. And so far, the buzz within LGBT political circles has been over whether gay Democrats should remain faithful to their party or break ranks and vote for Mara.

“Mara will not win LGBT votes if the community holds him responsible for his work for, and support of, an ultra-conservative party and Romney/Ryan,” Rosenstein told the Blade.

Veteran gay Democratic activist John Klenert, who’s supporting Mara, said that to him, Mara’s strengths outweigh his support for Romney.

“This race comes down to a personal issue: that Pat will serve honestly, with integrity and strong ethics,” Klenert told the Blade. “This is about new blood for an ethically challenged City Council.”

06
Mar
2013

Say no to Mara: Vote against hypocrisy

Republican Patrick Mara has announced another run for Council-at-Large in the District. I endorsed Mara in a 2008 race to elect a non-Democrat to the Council. During that race many overlooked his Republican views because he was running for a seat on the Council that had to go to a non-Democrat and supporters hoped if he won he would fight for the citizens of D.C. Mara is a very genial guy, great to have a meal or drink with. With that being said there is absolutely no reason for the people of the District to vote for him today and plenty of reasons not to.

Mara talks government reform and the need for honesty and ethics in government, but how can you trust what he says — or know what reforms he would actually support — given the hypocrisy of his support for ultra-conservative Republicans diametrically opposed to what he claims to believe.

Mara actively supports ultra-conservative Republican Party candidates who espouse policies that would harm women, minorities and the LGBT community in D.C. He actively supported Mitt Romney, who believed 47 percent of the American people were takers (including veterans, seniors and the unemployed). Further, Romney claimed that President Obama’s support of issues such as marriage equality, the Dream Act and healthcare for all Americans were simply gifts meant to win a campaign.

Mara was a delegate to the Republican National Convention and actively supported the Romney/Ryan ticket with their all-out war on women and the LGBT community. In fact, Mara was gleeful when blogging from the RNC Convention in Tampa, Fla., including such fun tidbits as, “If you didn’t see Ann Romney last night, you missed a great speech; One of those rare moments when the stage isn’t occupied by a seasoned politician.” Or this one, “The best event of the day was “Nuestra Noche” (sponsored by the American Conservative Union) in Ybor City. Sen. Marco Rubio, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Tagg Romney appeared; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was a no-show.”

Having fun at a convention is fine and part of what a convention is about. But blogging about being excited by Republican politicians and organizations, such as the American Conservative Union, which are incredibly out of touch with the needs of D.C. voters, is another thing.

Mara tells anyone who will listen that he doesn’t agree with the Republican Party platform and personally favors marriage equality and full civil rights for the LGBT community and that he is pro-choice. In doing so, he asks us to overlook his active support for candidates and a party that don’t believe those things. He asks us to overlook his support and work for a party that forced the District to stop spending its own money on needed and legal abortions for poor women; his work for a party whose candidates had as their stated mission to shut down Planned Parenthood; his work for a party whose candidates signed a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage promising to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; and his work for the candidates who opposed a woman’s right to choose. And, truth be told, none of this is new for Mara.

In 2004, when even the Log Cabin Republicans took a principled position to not endorse George Bush for reelection because he opposed gay rights, Mara obviously felt that was not an issue important enough to him and he endorsed Bush. Neither did he consider it important enough that Bush was against D.C. voting rights and said if a D.C. voting rights bill reached his desk he would veto it.

Now Mara wants the support of the people of the District, including Latinos, the LGBT community and women. But why would anyone in those communities support him? Even if voters forgive him the Bush endorsement as old politics, what about this year’s endorsement and work for the Romney/Ryan ticket?

For years, Republican politicians in the District have suggested they should be supported because they will then influence the policies of their party. It is the height of hypocrisy to ask voters to continue to believe that nonsense. With their (and Mara’s) supposed influence over the years, the party has gotten even worse on issues related to women, the poor, minorities and the LGBT community. You can’t influence a party if you support and work for its candidates that have adopted a litany of positions you say you disagree with. And with the city in the best financial shape in years — and the envy of most states — you also can’t claim you are running to correct the economic policies of the city.

Many voters have not yet made up their mind on who to support for this at-large Council seat. I would suggest that one person not deserving of your vote or support for these and other reasons is Patrick Mara.

Mara owns a consulting firm; sits on the school board as a representative of Ward One; and has a stake in Meridian Pint, a popular neighborhood pub. It seems he has plenty to do without sitting on the D.C. Council. I wince when he claims he is a more moral and ethical politician than others on the Council or those running. Ethics must be a real consideration when voting, but there is a huge ethical issue when someone claims to have one set of positions yet actively supports candidates with positions diametrically opposed to them.

Voting for Mara would reward a D.C. Republican, who when the chips were down and the country’s and the District’s future was on the line, disregarded his claimed beliefs and fell in line to support Mitt Romney for president.

That is not only unethical behavior but the height of hypocrisy. There are a host of candidates running who have been much more consistent in standing up for what they say they believe and who haven’t waivered in their fight for all the people of the District.

27
Feb
2013

2012 was a very good year

It was an interesting year in so many ways. Looking back made me realize the first thing I did was accept reaching the age when many people retire. I contemplated that for about 10 minutes before moving on to more relevant thoughts. After all, life was still fun, my job still interesting and writing was still something I enjoy.

Each month of the year brought with it some new events to focus on. Overriding everything was the election. In January, I wondered why we should care what the Iowa caucus results were — and I am still wondering. That was about the same time the pizza guy flamed out over his transgressions with a series of women. The ups and downs of the Republican debates were fascinating in a macabre way, like watching a train wreck is fascinating. Some of the candidates faded faster than others including Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann (not fast enough), Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry. Others like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum hung around longer and used the eventual nominee Mitt Romney as a piñata dragging him further to the right all to the eventual benefit of President Obama.

Then there was Foundry United Methodist Church’s fight for LGBT rights within the Methodist Church. While they lost that fight we can all be thankful for the ongoing work of Foundry and their Senior Pastor Dean Snyder. In May, Dr. Robert Spitzer, a leading member of the American Psychological Association, wrote an apology (better late than never) that admitted he was wrong when he authored a study supporting “reparative therapy” for gays. That study harmed unknown numbers of young gay men who were subjected to this phony therapy and still are in some areas.

June brought Pride with its festivals and parades and the knowledge that we now had a president who supported marriage equality and was willing to stand up and tell the world. There was also the decision by the Supreme Court to declare “Obamacare” constitutional. In his statements on the Affordable Care Act as well as other comments Justice Scalia again showed why he should be impeached.

July brought the International AIDS Conference to the United States for the first time in 20 years. There were meetings and talk about how far we have come in the fight against HIV/AIDS and recognition of how far we still had to go. There was the announcement of the first patient, called the “Berlin Patient” who has reportedly been cured and the discussion of spending more money on finding a cure and not just finding a vaccine. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the conference and to great applause spoke of a generation without AIDS being within reach.

In August we watched the spectacle of the Republican Convention in which they approved a platform clearly more appropriate for the 19th century than the 21st. They highlighted their fight against women and the LGBT community and selected the Romney/Ryan ticket, which proved a colossal mistake.

The election was going fine for the Democrats until the first presidential debate, when President Obama barely showed up. An election thought to be in the bag suddenly became a nail biter for a short while. But those of us who are Nate Silver fans soon understood that President Obama was going to win a second term and do so fairly easily. The bonus was winning marriage referenda in four states and gaining House seats and two Senate seats as well.

All in all, a good year yet it ended with so many things left to be done. Some are easy and can be done with the stroke of a pen like the president signing an executive order to ban discrimination in federal contracting. Others — like setting the nation on a course to fiscal solvency — will take negotiation and perseverance and require our help as we pressure Congress to act.

But at midnight on Dec. 31, as we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in 2013, let us all drink a toast to the year past and say a prayer and pledge to each other that in the year to come we will keep up the good fight for equality and will do everything in our power to make the world a safer and healthier place for all.

27
Dec
2012

Year in review: LGBT issues absent from presidential election

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, election 2012, Washington Blade, gay news

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

The presidential campaign season came to a close with virtually no reference to LGBT issues — including the hot-button issue of same-sex marriage — in mainstream discourse between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In each of the three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, not a single reference to LGBT issues was made either by moderators or the participating candidates.

There were some exceptions to this rule. In an Obama radio spot that aired close to Election Day on stations intended for younger listeners, a woman chides others who don’t intend to go to the polls.

“What are you going to tell them,” the woman asks. “You were just too busy? You didn’t think it mattered? Is that what you’re going to tell your friends who can’t get married? The ones who couldn’t serve openly in the military?”

References to the LGBT community also came up numerous times during the Democratic National Convention, such as when Obama said the United States is a place where “we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems — any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.” Obama also touted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in his campaign appearances in swing states.

27
Dec
2012