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Agema responds to criticism over anti-gay remarks

Dave Agema responds to anti-gay criticism against him on Facebook. (Screenshot provided by anonymous source).

Dave Agema responds to anti-gay criticism against him on Facebook. (Screenshot provided by anonymous source).

Dave Agema continues in his response to criticism over his anti-gay remarks (Screenshot courtesy anonymous source).

Dave Agema continues in his response to criticism over his anti-gay remarks (Screenshot courtesy anonymous source).

A member of the Republican National Committee who has been criticized for making a series of anti-gay comments has apparently responded ahead of an upcoming national party meeting in D.C.

Dave Agema, who formerly served in the Michigan State House, issued the response via Facebook posting Sunday night, according to an individual with access to his news feed and an apparent screenshot of the message.

Saying he’s been on vacation for the past eight days, Agema said his intent with his previous messages — which have riled both gay Republicans and GOP leadership — was to “encourage discourse.”

“While I was gone it seems the same people are feeding half truths to the news within the GOP, stirring up divisiveness,” Agema apparently said. “I stand on the same issues I always have — God, family and country.”

Agema, who recently called Russia’s controversial anti-gay propaganda law “common sense” via Facebook, asserts he doesn’t necessarily align himself with the views expressed in items he posted.

“There are times I have posted or linked an article to encourage discourse,” Agema apparently said. “This does not constitute endorsement of that position, but some capture a controversial snippet and allege those are my words. It is an unfortunate and uncivil tactic meant to ruin a person’s reputation.”

Further, Agema apparently takes on the mantle of the victim, saying he’s faced retaliation for his remarks, including threats and vulgar messages.

“The Party platform is clear and the State Constitution is clear,” Agema looks to have said. “I have tried to uphold them but have been threatened, sent vulgar T-shirts, called nasty names at all times of night and day. I have never used name calling. Political correctness is taking the place of free speech via fear and intimidation.”

Agema concludes his posting by calling for “supporters and friends to turn the other cheek and not show the intolerance some of the opposition have shown.”

As seen in the screenshot, Agema made the posting visible to only his friends on Facebook, so the Blade is unable to independently view it to confirm its accuracy. Agema didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment to verify the posting.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, dismissed the notion that his postings merely fostered discourse, saying the RNC member “needs to look in the mirror.”

“His statements go far beyond polite debate about civil marriage equality; they’re outright bigotry,” Angelo said. “When GOP leadership across your state make a point of distancing themselves or explicitly denouncing you, it’s time to rethink your role in the party.”

Further, Angelo, who previously called for Agema’s ouster from the RNC, said it’s time for the Michigan Republican to relinquish his post.

“If Mr. Agema was truly as serious about getting conservatives elected as he professes, he would do the right thing and vacate his seat at the RNC,” Angelo said.

Dennis Lennox, a Republican precinct delegate in Grand Traverse County in Michigan, expressed his continued displeasure with Agema in an email on Monday sent to all 168 members of the Republican National Committee and obtained by the Washington Blade.

“Our party should be focused on defeating Democrats, not defending Republican candidates and incumbents from a toxic committeeman who has proved himself unfit for the duties and responsibilities entrusted to him as a member of the RNC,” Lennox said.

Controversy continues to brew over Agema just before the RNC is scheduled meet in D.C. between Thursday and Saturday. Lennox said the party should take the opportunity to act against Agema.

“I know many of you will be cautious to take action for a variety of reasons,” Lennox told RNC members. “However, the time is now for the RNC to repudiate and defrock Dave Agema by word or action. Staying silent will do nothing but help Democrats.”

Asked if he shares the view that the RNC should address Agema in some capacity at the upcoming meeting, Angelo said, “We called for Agema to resign; that demand still stands.”

Over the past year, Agema has reportedly made a series of anti-gay comments and postings on Facebook. In addition to calling Russia’s propaganda law “common sense,” he reportedly made a similar anti-gay posting when oral arguments were taking place on marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was titled, “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals” and appeared under the byline Frank Joseph, M.D. According to the Detroit Free Press, it reportedly depicted gays as sexually promiscuous, rife with sexually transmitted diseases and responsible for “half the murders in large cities.”

Additionally, while expressing views in opposition to same-sex marriage at a Republican fundraiser, Agema reportedly said he’s seen gay people working for American Airlines falsely claim to have HIV-infected partners to obtain spousal health coverage. He was also the sponsor of a resolution approved in April by the RNC reaffirming the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

But Agema’s comments aren’t limited to anti-gay remarks. According to Mlive.com, Agema also posted an old online attack piece that questions whether Muslims have ever contributed positively to American society.

Republicans at both the state and local level have joined in the criticism against Agema, although no action has been taken against him despite repeated calls for him to step down.

In a statement provided to the Washington Blade on Monday, RNC Chair Reince Priebus repudiates Agema’s remarks, taking particular exception to the Michigan Republican’s comments about the Muslim community.

“While I have already commented on this issue before, people should be treated with grace and respect and these comments don’t reflect that principle,” Priebus said. “Additionally, the most recent comments regarding Muslim people living in America are patently wrong, lack merit and are devoid of any meaningful value. These comments don’t represent the Republican Party.”

In an interview with Detroit News, Betsy Devos, a former Republican National Committee member and former head of the Michigan Republican Party, said she’s personally called Agema to ask him to step down, and, when he didn’t respond to her messages, called on Preibus to dump Agema or marginalize him.

“He has a right to express his ideas and opinions, but he also has a responsibility to the party,” DeVos was quoted as saying. “He has damaged his position and his party. He reflects badly on Republicans and on Michigan.”

In his State of the State address last week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made a veiled criticism of Agema. Without mentioning the RNC member by name, Snyder said in the state of Michigan, people have made “derogatory” and “negative” comments and called for “a greater degree of civility and respect to others of different backgrounds and different views.”

20
Jan
2014

Obama’s State of the Union light on LGBT issues

State of the Union, 2014, Barack Obama, United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, U.S. Congress, gay news, Washington Blade

President Obama was criticized by LGBT advocates over his State of the Union address. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Obama had few words in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night on LGBT issues, disappointing advocates who had wanted him to address the lack of federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

Devoting a large portion of his speech to income equality, Obama called on on Congress to pass other initiatives — such as a Voting Rights Act, a measure to ensure equal for pay women, immigration reform — and pledged to sign an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for federal contractors.

“In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together,” Obama said. “Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want: for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.”

LGBT advocates had been pushing Obama to include in his speech a call to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and a pledge to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

Obama’s continued decision to withhold the LGBT executive order became more pronounced after he promised during his speech to take executive action if Congress doesn’t pass legislation, and enumerated a specific plan to boost the minimum wage through executive order. That raised questions about why he hasn’t done the same for LGBT workers.

“What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” Obama said. “Some require congressional action, and I am eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

But Obama’s speech wasn’t completely devoid of any references to the LGBT community. The president identified marriage equality as one of those issues with which the White House is partnering with “mayors, governors and state legislatures” on throughout the country.

Further, he said the administration pursues a robust foreign policy because “we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being” regardless of categories like sexual orientation. Obama also said American values “equality under law” in his speech, which is of importance as courts decide the issue of marriage equality.

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President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner at the 2014 State of the Union Address. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Nonetheless, the speech fell short of what LGBT advocates were calling in terms of federal workplace non-discrimination policy, prompting disappointment.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, responded the president’s failure to address LGBT issues in his speech with criticism, a striking change in tone from the organization’s usual praise of Obama as a strong LGBT ally.

“The President’s message tonight failed to address the needs of LGBT workers looking for a fair shake in this economy,” Griffin said. “Not only was there no call for the House to pass a federal law to protect LGBT workers nationwide, President Obama also sidestepped his commitment to take action where Congress has left off, leaving out an order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors.”

Griffin added Obama “missed a real opportunity” to commit in the State of the Union to “executive action to address anti-LGBT discrimination for the millions of Americans employed by federal contractors.”

The absence of ENDA was particularly noteworthy because just months ago, for the first time in history, the Senate approved the measure on bipartisan basis, leaving the House as the only obstacle toward passage.

Although the president made no mention of ENDA during his speech, the White House included the legislation as part of a fact sheet distributed to reporters prior to the address, identifying LGBT non-discrimination as an issue in which the administration is “continuing to work with Congress.”

“Today, federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, and disability,” the fact sheet states. “It’s time to add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list, so that no American worker can lose his or her job simply because of who they are or who they love. ”

After noting that the Senate last year passed ENDA by a bipartisan vote, the fact sheet says Obama “renews his call for the House to do the same.”

Others advocates said they would continue to push Obama on the executive order despite the president’s exclusion of the directive from the State of the Union address.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said Obama’s pledge to issue an executive order on minimum wage was “great news” because it means there’s an opportunity for Obama to sign an executive order against LGBT discrimination.

“It’s disappointing ENDA did not make it into the State of the Union,” Almeida said. “But no matter what was omitted from this one address, we can still make 2014 a year of action for LGBT workplace protections by pushing the House of Representatives to allow an ENDA vote and pushing the President to keep his promise of the federal contractor executive order.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, gave Obama mixed reviews after previously calling on Obama to use the word “transgender” and address immigration reform during his speech in addition to LGBT workplace protections.

“The President is right to urge congress to fix our broken immigration system this year, the creation of more jobs, equal pay for women, and the restoration of the Voting Rights Act,” Carey said. “We are also pleased that the President is using his pen like he said he would to move things forward: in this instance by signing an executive order to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers. However, he must go further and sign an executive order that bans discrimination against the same contract workers who are LGBT.”

Carey noted some of the workers who are set to receive pay raises because of the minimum wage executive order are vulnerable without the executive order for LGBT workplace non-discrimation.

“The irony is that some LGBT federal contract workers will get a pay raise but they could still be fired for who they are and who they love,” Carey said. “The longer the President waits the more damage LGBT people will face; discrimination is a painful reality that is too often the lived experience of LGBT people. The President has to act when Congress won’t.”

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, took issue with the speech as a whole, not simply for Obama’s handling of workplace issues.

“For a moment, I thought the news accidentally re-ran last year’s State of the Union, because all I really saw was more of the same,” Angelo said. “In the midst of a stagnant economy, understated unemployment, and ballooning debt, the only new ideas presented by the President involved using ‘a pen and a phone’ to push a liberal agenda for which hard-working Americans have no appetite.”

Coming off a victory in which Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) agreed to sign on as co-sponsor of ENDA, Angelo also chided Obama for his lack of attention in the State of the Union to LGBT non-discrimination in the workforce.

“While the President’s calls for a more equal nation are welcome, there is a profound irony in the absence of any mention of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for LGBT workers tonight, and likewise in the President’s threat to exercise unilateral Executive actions with the explosive potential to ignite class warfare, while at the same time remaining silent on signing a common-sense Executive Order barring federal workplace discrimination: an empty promise to LGBT Americans that stands unfulfilled after six years,” Angelo said.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, defended the speech by saying it wasn’t “a comprehensive list of all of the president’s positions or priorities. ”

“The President has long supported ENDA, and its inclusion in our fact sheet reflects the President’s belief that Congress needs to act,” Inouye said.

Among the guests seated behind first lady Michelle Obama in her box during the speech was Jason Collins, a former Washington Wizards center who made headlines last year after coming out as gay.

Following the speech, lawmakers who spoke to the Washington Blade on Capitol Hill said they noted the absence of the ENDA in his speech, but felt assured by the president’s leadership.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said she thinks the minimum wage executive order will be a “down payment” on an LGBT directive the president will issue at a later time, but took issue with the lack of any mention of ENDA.

“I would love to have seen a mention, and I don’t think I saw, other than a passing mention of the LGBT community,” Norton said. “I think the way to have done it, frankly, would have been with ENDA, because ENDA is overwhelmingly supported by the American people. It’s already been supported by the Senate. It’s ripe, so I am disappointed that that did not occur, but I’m heartened that he’s going to move, and, frankly, I think we can get ENDA out of here in the next year or two.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), one of seven openly gay members of the U.S. House, said he was confident Obama would take executive action to protect LGBT workers based on his previous actions.

“I tell you, 2013 was one of the gayest years in the history of human kind, and this president has used his executive orders already in how he’s interpreted the Supreme Court decisions, the way he’s applied in the ruling in the Windsor case, in ways that have been very favorable,” Takano said. “He’s done that through executive orders and interpretations, so he’s already used his executive order in the gayest way possible. So, I have hope that he’ll continue to do so.”

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Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) at the 2014 State of the Union Address. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

29
Jan
2014

FEC streamlines political donation process for gay couples

Federal Election Commission, gay news, Washington Blade

The FEC adopted policy to ease the political donation process for married gay couples (Image public domain altered).

The U.S. agency charged with regulating campaign finance law unanimously approved Thursday a pair of opinions that brings its policy into alignment with the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Federal Election Commission approved by two separate votes of 5-0 the advisory opinions, which will allow married same-sex couples to make joint political donations from an individual bank account.

The two advisory opinions were drafted by lawyers for the FEC in response to queries from both Democrats and Republicans seeking to simplify the process for married same-sex couples to make political contributions.

One request came from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which sought clarification of the process for which married gay couples on July 1 in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling on Section 3 of DOMA.

The other request came from the U.S. Senate candidate Dan Winslow, who sought to include a contribution from a married gay couple in Massachusetts who are members of the Log Cabin Republicans to help pay debts after his loss following the Republican primary.

In April, Winslow made a similar request with the FEC, but was denied the ability to take the donation on the basis of Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

But in both opinions from this month, FEC concluded that with Section 3 of DOMA out of the picture, married gay couples are free to donate from one account. The committee votes on Thursday means the FEC has formally adopted the opinions.

Guy Cecil, who’s gay and executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he’s “pleased” FEC adopted a policy to treat gay couples equally in the electoral process.

“While this victory was a long time coming, it’s proof that with hard work our grassroots supporters can achieve victories outside of the ballot box, as well as on election day, that make our country a more fair and just place to live,” Cecil said.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, had similar praise for the FEC in the aftermath of the commission’s adoption of the opinions as he noted “it was a decision that we were anticipating.”

“But that doesn’t diminish its importance, nor does it diminish the tremendous elation that we have personally as an organization for being able to step forward and not only bring this case before the FEC, but to highlight before the public in general that in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, there are still important legal questions that remain,” Angelo said. “But after today’s ruling by the FEC, it seems there is one less than there was yesterday.”

Seymour Reisman, a matrimonial attorney and partner at the Garden City, N.Y.-based law firm Reisman Peirez Reisman & Capobianco, predicted the decision will encourage gay couples to take part in the political process.

“As gay couples become even more active in donating to campaigns, they will not only impact House and Senate races in their home states, but this will encourage them to become involved in local and state campaigns in parts of the country that do not yet recognize their right to marry,” Reisman said.

25
Jul
2013

U.S. Chamber of Commerce stays neutral on ENDA

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, gay news, Washington Blade

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is neutral on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. (Photo by Almonroth; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Amid growing support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act from companies large and small ahead of an expected Senate vote this fall, the nation’s largest lobbying group representing business and trade interests remains neutral on the legislation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s neutrality on ENDA is noteworthy in the aftermath the AFL-CIO adopting a resolution to “redouble” efforts to pass the bill.

Blair Latoff Holmes, a Chamber spokesperson, affirmed the Chamber’s neutrality on ENDA adding the organization continues conversations with supporters of the bill.

“Since ENDA’s introduction, the Chamber has been in contact with proponents of the bills, both on the Hill and off,” Holmes said. “Consistent with our prior positions on the bill, the Chamber remains neutral on ENDA.”

Holmes didn’t respond to a follow-up email asking whether any change could be made to ENDA to win the Chamber’s endorsement.

But LGBT advocates working to pass the bill say they’re happy with the Chamber’s neutrality on ENDA because the lack of interference of a powerful business lobbying group enables Republicans to support the bill.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said the neutrality of the Chamber on ENDA is “a huge victory” considering the group regularly opposes expansions of workplace protections proposed to Congress.

“It may be that the Exxon Mobils of the world, who are dragging their feet on LGBT workplace fairness are the reason the Chamber cannot get to an official ‘yes,’” Almeida said. “But regardless of the reasoning, the Chamber’s neutrality is incredibly helpful and we raise their neutrality when we speak to Republican senators, Republican members of the House and Republican staff on Capitol Hill.”

Still, Almeida said he’d like the Chamber to come out in favor of the legislation. He declined to comment on whether Freedom to Work has had conversations with the Chamber to convince the organization to support ENDA.

The Chamber was neutral on ENDA in 2007, when a gay-only version of the bill lacking trans-inclusive language came to a vote on the House floor.

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Americans for Workplace Opportunity, said he doesn’t expect the Chamber’s neutrality to change even though many companies have now expressed support for ENDA.

“The fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not oppose ENDA is helpful,” McTighe said. “While we don’t expect the Chamber to alter their current position, an ever-increasing number of businesses of all sizes in the U.S. do support the legislation.”

Earlier this month, as McTighe noted, UBS and Moody’s — two leading financial services firms — joined the business coalition of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses that have come out in support of ENDA.

Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to the pro-LGBT Republican group American Unity Fund, said his group is working with members of the business community to pass ENDA when asked about his views on the Chamber’s position.

“The private sector has been leagues ahead of government on non-discrimination for years,” Cook-McCormac said. “Business and labor leaders alike both recognize that non-discrimination is not only the right thing to do, it’s the best policy for businesses that need to compete for talented individuals and want their employees focused on getting the job done instead of fearing discrimination.”

The Family Research Council didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether the Chamber’s neutrality on ENDA was helping its opposition to the bill.

Despite the general satisfaction, some LGBT advocates say an endorsement from the Chamber would bring the organization into alignment with the companies it represents and provide a much needed boost to ENDA.

Michael Fleming, executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation, which contributes funds to LGBT causes, said having the Chamber endorse ENDA would have a positive impact.

“So many companies — big and small — are on the record supporting policies like ENDA, because they know they’re both the right thing to do and good for their bottom lines,” Fleming said. “Having the Chamber endorse ENDA would likely reflect the internal policies of their members. It would also, I think, move some members of Congress from considering supporting ENDA to fully and publicly endorsing the bill.”

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said he’s comfortable with the Chamber’s current position on ENDA, but the organization could help by coming out in favor of the bill.

“Eagerness to know the Chamber’s position on ENDA comes up a lot in my meetings with Republicans on the Hill,” Angelo said. “Knowing that the Chamber is neutral on ENDA is always welcomed; having their full support would only help bring more Republican supporters to the bill.”

18
Sep
2013

Onward to the House for ENDA

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All eyes will be on Speaker John Boehner as advocates push for a House vote on ENDA. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act are hoping to capitalize on the momentum from last week’s historic bipartisan Senate victory as they pursue a vote on the bill in the U.S. House.

Ten Senate Republicans voted for ENDA, which would prohibit most employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Their support gave the bill more bipartisan support than “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, which had just eight GOP votes, and more than any other pro-LGBT bill that has come to a vote in the Senate.

Liz Mair, a Republican political strategist who favors LGBT inclusion in the party, said the support that ENDA received in the Senate from Republicans demonstrates the party isn’t as opposed to LGBT rights as some observers might think.

“The fact that ENDA garnered 10 Republican votes in the Senate — and from a Republican caucus that is significantly less moderate than certain predecessor versions now that it lacks Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, Judd Gregg and the like — is a reminder that the GOP is much more attuned to gay rights issues and much more in line with mainstream American attitudes on those issues than one would think from the image of the GOP that certain very conservative party leaders and the media tend to present,” Mair said.

The two Republican original co-sponsors — Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) — were joined in support by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Of those 10, the votes from McCain and Flake are particularly noteworthy because they represent a “red” state that President Obama lost in both 2008 and 2012. In addition, both senators expressed misgivings about ENDA before they ultimately voted for the bill.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, nonetheless said he wasn’t surprised by their support for the bill in the end.

“I know that both senators had expressed some hesitancy before casting their votes, but Flake is someone who voted for ENDA in 2007 when he was a member of the House, and Sen. McCain had even indicated that he would be open to supporting ENDA when he was running for president in 2008 — as part of, I believe, a questionnaire or interview he did with the Blade no less,” Angelo said.

A Senate source familiar with ENDA said McCain was able to support the bill after the adoption of the Portman-Ayotte amendment, which would prohibit federal, state and local governments from retaliating against institutions that invoke the religious exemption in the bill to discriminate against LGBT employees.

For Flake, who earlier told the Washington Blade he’d vote against ENDA because of the transgender protections in the bill, the Senate source said his support was solidified after he received assurances that businesses would receive guidance on the prohibition of gender identity discrimination.

Also significant on the Republican position on ENDA was the fact that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to Senate Republican aides familiar with the bill, didn’t whip the vote on the legislation and instead allowed members of his caucus to vote their conscience.

Angelo was among those who saw no evidence of Republican leadership instructing members to vote against ENDA.

“The fact that you had almost one-in-four members of the GOP caucus in the Senate vote in favor shows that membership was allowed to take a vote of conscience on this issue,” Angelo said.

Will the House vote on ENDA?

Now that the Senate has wrapped up its consideration of ENDA, attention has turned to passing the bill in the House, where Republican support will be necessary, first, to bring the bill to the floor and, second, to find 218 votes for the bill in the Republican majority chamber.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has indicated his opposition to the bill out of concern it would lead to “frivolous lawsuits” and a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was quoted in The Huffington Post as saying the bill “is currently not scheduled in the House.”

Nonetheless, Democrats ranging from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), ENDA’s chief sponsor in the House, insist that the House has enough votes for passage should it come to the floor.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told the Blade his boss is among those who believe ENDA has sufficient support in the House for passage.

“Leader Pelosi has made it clear that there is sufficient support in the House to pass ENDA now,” Hammill said. “Instead of scheduling a vote on this measure, House Republicans are planning to vote for the 46th time to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act. There is only one man standing in the way of the expansion of workplace protections for millions of LGBT Americans. His name is John Boehner.”

ENDA has 196 House sponsors. That’s just 22 votes short of the necessary votes to pass the legislation on the House floor.

While the bill could technically come up at any time during the 13 months that remain in the current Congress, Polis said the legislation should come up sooner rather than later because, as Election Day approaches, members of the House will leave to campaign in their districts. It would be the first time that ENDA has come to the House floor since 2007, and the first time ever the chamber would consider a version of the bill that included transgender protections.

ENDA supporters claimed another Republican as their own last week when former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who served as spokesperson for former President George W. Bush, penned an op-ed in Politico urging the House to pass the bill.

“Allowing people to be successful in their workplaces is an essential piece of individual opportunity and liberty,” Fleischer said. “Working for a living is one of America’s freedoms. It’s a virtue to be encouraged — and supporting it is important to the future of the Republican Party.”

But not all LGBT advocates agree that sufficient votes exist to pass ENDA in the House. Some Republican supporters of the legislation stopped short of saying ENDA already has sufficient support to pass on the floor.

Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to the pro-LGBT Republican group American Unity Fund, said more work is needed when asked if ENDA is ready to move to the House floor.

“We’re encouraged by the momentum, working to identify and demonstrate majority support and committed to engaging legislators in the thoughtful and respectful conversations necessary to get there as quickly as possible,” Cook-McCormac said.

Mair said ENDA will be “a more uphill battle in the House” not only because of conservative worries over the bill’s content, but also out of fear of supporting anything seen as part of Obama’s agenda. Still, she wouldn’t rule out a surprise.

“Even back in 2007, ENDA garnered a noteworthy amount of GOP support in the House, including from some rather conservative members,” Mair said. “Thirty-five Republicans voted for ENDA then, including John Campbell, Jeff Flake, Thaddeus McCotter and Paul Ryan. So it will be interesting to see how it plays out this time around.”

For Cook-McCormac, the next priority is to build the number of Republican co-sponsors for ENDA. There are currently five: Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Jon Runyan (R-N.J.).

Dent told the Washington Post that Boehner “should allow a vote on this bill” because the American public believes the workplace should be free of discrimination.

Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement to the Blade that she also hopes Republican leadership will bring ENDA to the floor for a vote, but chose her words carefully about its prospects.

“The passage of ENDA by the Senate is a great first step toward making this bill law,” Ros-Lehitnen said. ”I urge my colleagues in the House to sign on to the companion bill and hope House leadership will bring it up for a vote. I believe if it is brought to a vote, it has the opportunity to pass.”

Renee Gamela, a Hanna spokeswoman, said ENDA is good for business.

“Rep. Hanna would like ENDA to receive a vote in the House when it is clear that there are sufficient votes for passage,” Gamela said. “He intends to speak directly with his colleagues about why, as a small business owner, he believes supporting the legislation is good for economic competitiveness, individual liberty and our party.”

As articulated by Pelosi, one approach seen as a pathway for passage of ENDA in the House would be similar to what happened with reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Amid public pressure, the House in February passed a bill with protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence after the Republican version of the bill without the provisions failed on the floor.

Log Cabin’s Angelo said whether a vote on ENDA will take place in the House “comes down to pressure” both from Republicans in the House who support it and advocates on the outside who want to see it passed.

“I think if you had a similar push that happened with the Violence Against Women Act, where you had a tremendous surge among grassroots, and you also had GOP members of Congress urging leadership to bring this up for a vote, you got there,” Angelo said. “But it’s going to take considerable pressure. I’m not a Pollyanna when it comes to prospects in the House, but I am cautiously optimistic.”

 

12
Nov
2013

Rep. Forbes under fire for opposing gay GOP candidates

Randy Forbes, Virginia, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) has expressed concerns over Republican money going to support gay congressional candidates. (Photo public domain)

Gay Republican groups are criticizing Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) over his reported comments that gay congressional candidates should not receive money from the Republican Party to run for office.

The groups were responding to an article published late Thursday in Politico, which cited a half-dozen anonymous sources as saying Forbes has undertaken “a lengthy crusade” to convince the National Republican Congressional Committee to drop support for gay Republican candidates.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said Forbes’ position indicates he wants to relegate Republicans to minority status in the U.S. House.

“You either want Republicans to win, or you don’t — it’s as simple as that,” Angelo said. “Apparently, Congressman Forbes does not. Thankfully, the real GOP leaders in the House know how to pick winners, and their money is on Richard Tisei and Carl DeMaio.”

Among the gay Republican congressional candidates cited by Politico are Massachusetts Republican Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost in his challenge to unseat Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) last year and is considering a rematch, as well as Carl DeMaio, who’s seeking to represent the San Diego area in the House.

Another gay candidate seeking to carry the Republican banner in a bid for a congressional seat not mentioned in the Politico piece is Dan Innis, a University of New Hampshire administrator in a same-sex marriage who’s seeking to unseat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.).

In a statement provided to the Blade, DeMaio said he focused on winning his congressional race and not the comments from the Virginia politician.

“Under Mr. Forbes, San Diegans are not focused on sexual orientation,” DeMaio said. “To the contrary, I’m winning this district because San Diegans are looking for fresh leadership in Washington to reform wasteful government spending, revitalize the economy and hold government programs accountable.”

Tisei didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment, and Innis couldn’t be reached.

Ross Hemminger, co-director of GOProud, said Forbes’ behavior is “disappointing.”

“This type of rhetoric is symptomatic of someone who does not understand the importance of being a team player,” Hemminger said. “Our party cannot win elections by appealing to the lowest common denominator amongst the minority of American voters. This type of rhetoric embarrasses Republicans everywhere, and it is not helpful.”

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was succinct when asked about the issue during his news conference on Thursday.

In response to a question about whether Republican money should go to gay congressional candidates, Boehner replied, “I do.”

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), accused Boehner of being disingenuous in his answer and took the opportunity to bash gay Republican candidates as well as the speaker’s failure to bring up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a vote.

“LGBT Americans are more interested in passing ENDA and expanding freedom and equality in our country than Speaker Boehner’s insincere efforts to marry himself to extreme gay Republican candidates,” Hammill said.

Forbes, who scored “0″ in the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent congressional scorecard, is known for his anti-LGBT record in Congress.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Virginia Republican has supported the anti-gay American Family Association and was set to headline one of its fundraisers before canceling at the last minute.

Forbes is among the 59 sponsors of a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment in the House that would ban same-sex marriage throughout the country. As ThinkProgress notes, Forbes spoke out against ENDA on the House floor in 2007, saying the LGBT anti-bias bill will lead “activist judges to redefine the institution of marriage.”

In the Politico piece, Forbes is quoted as saying he believes Republican leaders can “do whatever they want to do” in terms of giving money to congressional candidates, but is concerned about House members being asked to contribute to the campaigns.

“There would be a different situation if they tried to force other members to give money,” Forbes said.

As Politico notes, the NRCC is partially funded by collecting tens of millions of dollars from House Republicans, who pay dues to the organization.

NRCC Chair Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) was quoted as saying in Politico that the policy of his organization is to contribute money to Republican candidates — even if they identify as gay.

“Our decisions on the Republican nominees we support will not be based on race, gender or sexual orientation but will be based on the strength of their candidacy and their ability to defeat Democrats,” Walden said.

News is breaking now over Forbes’ objections to gay congressional candidates, according to Politico, amid speculation over who’ll replace Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) as chair of the House Armed Services Committee after his expected retirement next year.

Forbes has been mentioned as a possible successor, but McKeon’s chief of staff has reportedly said his boss expects Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to be the next chair.

“Throwing solid conservative contenders under the bus in a cynical and hopeless attempt to gain a chairmanship is beyond the pale,” Angelo said. “Congressman Forbes would do more to help his image by supporting efforts to grow the Republican House majority rather than undermine it.”

05
Dec
2013

Huntsman comes out for marriage equality

Jon Huntsman, gay news, Washington Blade

Jon Huntsman, Jr. came out for marriage equality in an article in the American Conservative. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Calling on fellow conservatives to embrace marriage equality to help rebuild their party, former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr., came out on Thursday in support of same-sex marriage.

In a column for the American Conservative, Huntsman issued the call for Republicans to support civil marriage for same-sex couples because the party is “at a crossroads” after losing the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.

“[C]onservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry,” Huntsman writes. “I’ve been married for 29 years. My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life. There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love.”

As governor of Utah, Huntsman previously came out in support of civil unions even though polling at the time showed 70 percent of people in his state were to opposed to them. During the presidential race, he was seen as the most moderate candidate on LGBT issues among his fellow Republicans, although he told the Washington Blade he supports the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act because it “serves a useful purpose.”

Huntsman emphasizes in his article that he supports civil marriage for same-sex couples and the legalization of marriage rights for gay couples doesn’t mean “any religious group would be forced by the state to recognize relationships that run counter to their conscience.”

“Marriage is not an issue that people rationalize through the abstract lens of the law; rather it is something understood emotionally through one’s own experience with family, neighbors, and friends,” Huntsman continued. “The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans.”

A national leader of the organization known as No Labels, which seeks to encourage political leaders to act in a bipartisan fashion to address the nation’s problems, Huntsman is known for his willingness to reach across the aisle.  Prior to his presidential bid, Huntsman served under President Obama as U.S. ambassador to China.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the Washington Blade during a news conference on Thursday that he wasn’t aware of Huntsman’s new support for marriage equality, but said it’s in line with Obama’s position and demonstrates the country’s evolution as a whole on LGBT issues.

“I think that what we have seen, and the president has spoken about this, is an evolution, if you will, of views across the country about this issue, about extending rights to LGBT Americans,” Carney said. “And the president feels very strongly about that, as you know. So while this is not news I was aware of, it’s certainly in concert with the president’s views.”

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said Huntsman rightly says the Republican Party needs to realign itself to support same-sex marriage.

“Jon Huntsman is correct: the conservative movement is indeed at a crossroads, and it’s encouraging to see more and more conservative leaders such as Gov. Huntsman walking the road that leads to the right side of history,” Angelo said. “The time is now for the party championing free markets to champion the freedom to marry for all.”

Huntsman isn’t the first former Republican presidential candidate to support same-sex marriage, nor is he the first former Republican governor to do so. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson came out for marriage equality while still running for the Republican Party nomination. Also, Fred Karger, a gay activist who ran for president last year as a Republican, supported same-sex marriage.

Huntsman’s support for marriage equality is also noteworthy because he’s a Mormon, a religion whose leaders have opposed same-sex marriage and purport that homosexuality is in violation of God’s law.

David Baker, a spokesperson for the LGBT Mormon group Affirmation, praised Huntsman for adding his voice to those in support of marriage equality.

“Affirmation commends former Gov. Huntsman for his support for full civil marriage equality and agree with him that marriage equality is the ‘right thing to do’ as ‘all Americans should be treated equally by the law,’” Baker said. “We firmly believe that marriage equality strengthens the institution of the family and that gay couples and their children deserve every societal and legal protection afforded to straight couples.”

21
Feb
2013

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

RNC report calls for gay outreach

Reince Priebus, Rebpublican National Committee, RNC, Republican Party, GOP, Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Amid division within the Republican Party on LGBT issues like marriage equality, the Republican National Committee unveiled a report calling for greater outreach to gay people along with other minority groups.

The 98-page report launches the “Growth & Opportunity Project” to repackage the GOP brand after losses on Election Day.

Outreach to gays is noted in the section of the report that recognizes the notion some minorities think the Republican Party is uncaring. One recommendation: Republican candidates and officeholders need to “do a better job” talking to communities the party normally doesn’t address.

“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too,” the report states.

The report notes that younger voters — not just gay people — are being turned off by the Republican Party because treatment of gay people is seen as a “gateway” to entering the party.

“Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be,” the report states.

Other non-gay related recommendations in the report are enhanced messaging, holding fewer debates during the presidential primary and holding the Republican National Convention earlier in the year. As part of a $10 million effort, the report recommends hiring political outreach directors to communicate with black, Latino and faith-based communities, although hiring an LGBT outreach director isn’t identified in the report.

The report makes no mention of the positions the Republican Party should adopt on LGBT issues, such as same-sex marriage. The 2012 Republican Party platform opposes marriage equality and calls for passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

During a breakfast at the National Press Club, RNC Chair Reince Priebus talked about the importance of the report and said it highlights errors made by the party in the 2012 election.

“We wanted an assessment that was frank, thorough and transparent,” Priebus said. “To get a fresh start, we had to be honest with ourselves and with our voters. We want to build our party, and we want to do with bold strokes to show that we’re up to the challenge, and we’re done with business as usual.”

During the question-and-answer session, Priebus was asked by event moderator and National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane about what the GOP can do to overcome its anti-gay and anti-woman reputation. In his reply, Priebus invoked Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who came out last week in favor of marriage equality.

“I think Sen. Portman made some pretty big inroads last week,” Priebus said. “I think it’s about being decent. I think it’s about dignity and respect — that nobody deserves to have their dignity diminished, or people don’t deserve to be disrespected. I think there isn’t anyone in this room — Republican, Democrat, in the middle — that doesn’t think, Rob Portman, for example, is a good conservative Republican. He is, and we know that.”

But in response to a question submitted by the Washington Blade, Priebus dodged when asked whether the RNC supports Portman’s decision to come out for same-sex marriage.

“It’s his decision,” Priebus said. “It’s not a matter of whether I support his decision; I support him doing what he wants to do as an elected person and as American. If that’s his opinion, I support him having that opinion.”

Asked whether Portman’s position would detract from the financial support the senator would receive from the RNC, Priebus replied, “No, not at all. He will be supported.”

The Democratic National Committee didn’t respond to a request for comment on the GOP’s plans, but LGBT groups affiliated with the GOP had high praise for the report.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, attended the breakfast and said Priebus demonstrated he’s “serious” about getting back voters who’ve been turned off by the party.

“Of all the underrepresented populations with which the GOP needs to make inroads, acknowledging the party’s deficiencies in addressing LGBT voters would not only broaden support among gay voters, but increase appeal among the youth vote that is critical to the longevity of the Republican Party,” Angelo said.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud, also praised the report.

“This report was a massive undertaking with input from all kinds of Republicans, including gay conservatives,” LaSalvia said. “I am very encouraged by the final product. It demonstrates that the RNC’s leadership ‘gets it.’ We have to engage with everyone in America, and that includes gay Americans.”

18
Mar
2013

Hagel fails to impress some LGBT advocates

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, gay news, Washington Blade

Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is still facing questions from advocates on LGBT military policy. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBT rights supporters are seeking more from Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel in the aftermath of testimony in which he expressed a commitment to gay and lesbian troops.

In written testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Hagel built upon earlier comments to express support for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and committed to “move forward expeditiously” on the issue of outstanding partner benefits for gay service members.

LGBT advocates say they appreciate Hagel’s commitment, but want him to make good on his promises and act on LGBT military issues that he hasn’t yet addressed.

The Human Rights Campaign emphasized the importance of Hagel taking action upon confirmation to extend benefits to troops with same-sex partners. Among the outstanding benefits that could be extended administratively are military IDs, joint duty assignments and access to family programs.

“We were glad to see Sen. Hagel’s clear statement of support for gay and lesbian service members and their families,” said HRC Vice President of Programs Fred Sainz. “If confirmed, we expect Sen. Hagel to make good on his statements and act immediately to ensure that all military families have equal access to all military benefits available to them under the law.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said she’s happy Hagel articulated a commitment to gay troops, but hopes he’ll “exercise future leadership” to lift the barriers for transgender service members.

“Sen. Hagel’s commitment toward full implementation of DADT repeal and providing equal benefits to the same-sex spouses of service members was encouraging,” Carey said. “If confirmed, we hope he will exercise further leadership on LGBT issues and work to remove Defense Department barriers that prevent transgender people from serving their country openly.”

Another request came from Allyson Robinson, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, who issued a statement following the hearing calling on Hagel to extend non-discrimination protections in the military to LGBT troops. Currently, gay service members have no recourse for claims of discrimination and harassment other than their chain of command.

“If Sen. Hagel is confirmed, he must use his authority to ban discrimination and guarantee equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of the military,” Robinson said.

GetEQUAL, among the LGBT groups that had come out in opposition to Hagel, seemed to budge a little in the wake of the confirmation hearing, but also was looking for a greater commitment.

Heather Cronk, managing director for GetEQUAL, said she’s glad Hagel made the commitments for gay service members, but is looking now for “specifics behind that commitment” to offer support.

“Our key questions are whether Hagel will implement a non-discrimination policy, since DADT repeal didn’t include one, and whether that policy will immediately allow transgender service members to serve openly,” Cronk said. “If he will answer both of those questions in the affirmative, we’ll be more convinced that his values align with the stated values of the Obama administration.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deferred Blade requests to elaborate on Hagel’s LGBT military policy views to his previously stated testimony:

Washington Blade: Jay, following the confirmation hearing yesterday, the LGBT military group OutServe-SLDN issued a statement saying Sen. Hagel as defense secretary must “use his authority to ban discrimination and guarantee equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the military.” That non-discrimination, unlike the benefits issue, has heretofore gone unaddressed during the confirmation process. Does the White House expect Hagel to make this policy happen if he’s confirmed as defense secretary?

Jay Carney: I would just point you to numerous answers the senator gave in response to questions about his support for the president’s positions on issues regarding LGBT rights, including with regard to service in our military. I don’t have anything more you, but the president’s positions on these issues are clear, and he continues to intend to make progress them as he made clear in his inaugural.

Blade: Sen. Hagel did express in written responses to questions that he’d move “expeditiously” on the benefits issue, and you said last week the issue has the president’s attention. But when will these benefits be enacted?

Carney: Well, I think expeditiously is when they will get attention, as Sen. Hagel rightly answered, and, hopefully, with him at the Pentagon as soon as possible.

Carney’s remarks suggest that LGBT advocates will have to wait for Hagel to take the helm of the Pentagon for action on partner benefits for gay troops as opposed to having them enacted under the watch of outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who’s been under pressure to make the changes.

The time when Hagel will be faced with these issues may come soon. Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said during the hearing a committee vote will take place Thursday, and a floor vote should take place soon after.

However, without a single Senate Republican expressing support, questions persist over whether 60 votes are present in the Senate to overcome a filibuster of his nomination.

The Log Cabin Republicans, which took out a full-page ad against Hagel in the New York Times and another in the Washington Post, remains opposed to the Hagel nomination even in the wake of his confirmation hearing.

Gregory Angelo, Log Cabin’s interim executive director, echoed some Republicans who accused Hagel of flip-flopping in his positions as he pursues the position of defense secretary.

“Sen. Hagel did so much flip-flopping, waffling and walking back on his prior statements on Iran, Israel and Iraq yesterday that we find no reason to assume he won’t shift his opinion on his opportunely timed, new-found support for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as well,” Angelo said. “Yesterday’s hearings only underscored what Log Cabin Republicans has been saying all along: Chuck Hagel is the wrong choice for Secretary of Defense.”

One key voice in the LGBT community who hasn’t yet articulated a final position on Hagel one way or the other is lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) — even though other Democratic senators who have pro-LGBT records like Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) have come out in favor of the nomination.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last month, Baldwin said she’d ask Hagel “tough questions” about his vision for the post-”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military but hasn’t yet commented publicly on the issue further. Her office didn’t respond to a request to comment.

01
Feb
2013