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    October 31, 2008

    Freedom of speech

    Posted by: Andoni

    I've always said the answer to bad speech is more speech. This is a great example of this principle.

    Obama, the fiscal conservative

    Posted by: Andoni

    FrugalIf I asked you which campaign has been more careful in their spending this presidential election season, which would you guess, the Obama campaign having raised twice the money of the McCain campaign, or the McCain campaign-- the one with the more limited income?

    Or another way of asking this would be, which has run a more frugal campaign, the McCain campaign which riles against wasteful government spending, or the Obama campaign which McCain accuses as the one that will grow government and increase wasteful government spending?

    Well the New York Times has studied this and the results are startling.

    The Obama campaign is managing its money far better than the McCain campaign.

    Some examples: Of the top 15 staff people on either campaign, only 2 are in the Obama campaign, the other 12 are on McCain's -- including the three highest paid.

    On field offices across the nation, Obama has 700 and McCain has 400, yet Obama has managed to spend less on total rent than McCain. This goes on and on, even down to the per diem for meals for staffers. McCain staffers get $40 per day, Obama staffers $30.

    So when each candidate says they will cut wasteful government spending, which one has actually demonstrated that they can do this?

    I think it is much better to look at each candidate's actual performance during the campaign as evidence of their believability and competence, rather than simply believing what they say. In actions and performance, McCain has failed this test in many ways. The two biggest examples are his (non)"presidential decisions" of choosing a veep and responding to the economic crisis.

    Obama's performance, however, actually parallels his words.

    So what are you going to believe, the reality of what you see with your own eyes, or the propaganda of what they say?

    October 30, 2008

    Obama on privacy and the right to marry

    Posted by: Andoni

    Did Barack Obama just give us a hint on how he will ultimately come down on same sex marriage? In an interview with Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News this evening, Brian asked him about how he might approach his appointments to the Supreme Court. In describing how he might interview a prospective Justice Obama said

    a right to privacy ...(is) not perfectly enumerated in the Constitution, but you know, I think it is there. The right to marry who you please isn't in the Constitution but I think all of us assume that if a state decided to pass a law saying, Brian you can't marry the woman you love, then you'd think that is unconstitutional. Where does that come from? I think it comes from the right to privacy.

    The right to privacy comes at 1:30 into the.

    Obviously Obama uses the word "woman" when giving this example to Brian Williams, but I would argue that the right to privacy Obama sees in the Constitution would also apply to me..... my right to marry the man of my dreams.

    I am very pleased with how Obama reads the Constitution.


    Suppressing the vote in Georgia

    Posted by: Andoni

    Long_linesI'm part of a team that drives people to the polls to vote early in Georgia.

    Consider the following three early voting polling places in metro Atlanta: the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta, the Dekalb County Fire Headquarters in Tucker, and the Cobb County Galleria in suburban Atlanta.

    In Atlanta, the lines took 4 to 6 hours to reach the voting booth. These people were majority African American voters. In Dekalb County where the population is very diverse and the lines ran about 1/3 African Americans, the wait to vote was 2 and 1/2 hours.

    And finally in the cushy Cobb County suburbs, with mainly white Republicans, there was not wait.

    Was the wait at these respective places proportional to the turnout? NO, the wait was proportional to the equipment at these respective sites.

    Here is a rundown on the equipment. In Atlanta, there were only 2 computers to check people in to determine if they indeed were registered to vote. Because of this, half the voting machines stood empty at any given time because the bottleneck was at the two computers. The Dekalb County site had three computers and 16 voting machines. Again, half the voting machines were unused at any give moment because of the bottleneck at the computers.

    However, good old boy pre-dominantly Republican Cobb County had 10 computers to check people in, and 20 voting machines, 100% in use, leaving almost no wait to vote.

    Why does this all matter? Because many, many of the people I drove to the polls in Atlanta waited an hour or two and gave up. They left without voting. Will they return tomorrow to try again? I don't know? Will they show up on the real election day, Tuesday, after their bad experience with early voting? We'll see.

    The equipment disparity I describe is not illegal under state law. However, I would argue that it is unfair, and if US observers saw this in a foreign country whose elections they were monitoring, they would call that country on it.

    Voting is a right and a duty. Anything the state does to make it easy for some citizens to vote but harder for others is voter suppression as far as I'm concerned. It is wrong and it should be illegal. Oh, and did I mention that the state government is run by Republicans?

    Shouldn't the goal in this country be to make it conducive for everyone who has the right to vote to vote without having to stand in line most of the day?

    We'll see if this trend continues on actual election day.

    The Week on GNW (Oct. 18-25)

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. A look inside boot camps that 'cure' homosexualityA look inside boot camps that 'cure' homosexuality: QUICK LOOK: At a Christian 'boot camp' in the US, those struggling to reconcile faith and sexuality are taught to overcome gayness. "How many of you are in need of some hope here... (MORE)
    2. Christian Right warns of gay marriage under ObamaChristian Right warns of gay marriage under Obama: QUICK LOOK: Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts. All... (MORE)
    3. Austria confronts homosexuality of deceased leaderAustria confronts homosexuality of deceased leader: QUICK LOOK: There were rumors for years, but they were widely ignored in Austria, a conservative nation not much interested in prying into the private lives of its leaders. Now,... (MORE)
    4. Calif. ban is line in sand for same-sex marriage foesCalif. is line in the sand for same-sex marriage foes: QUICK LOOK: While the battle over same-sex marriage has been all but invisible in the presidential race this year, it is raging like a wind-whipped wildfire in California. Conservative... (MORE)
    5. Ottawa Anglicans poised to bless same-sex marriageOttawa Anglicans poised to bless same-sex marriages: QUICK LOOK: Ottawa's Anglican churches may soon be the second in Canada to bless same-sex marriages.
      Bishop John Chapman plans to ask the Canadian House of Bishops next week... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • Elderly gay Indiana couple murdered in possible bias attack: QUICK LOOK: Eric Hendricks, 73, and Milton Lindgren, 70, were killed in the home they shared in their Indianapolis home, police said. Michael Brown, 56, a friend of the victims, and Kevin Tetrick, 38, a neighbor,... (MORE)
    • GOP ex-mayor of Folsom comes out, against Prop 8GOP ex-mayor of Folsom comes out, against Prop 8: QUICK LOOK: Glenn Fait, the former Republican mayor and city councilman of Folsom, did something he never imagined five years ago. He took out an ad in the local paper and announced... (MORE)
    • Filipino comedian reveals gay marriage to AmericanFilipino comedian reveals gay marriage to American: QUICK LOOK: For the first time, comedian Jon Santos revealed that he has been married to an Italian-American for three years. Santos told ABS-CBN News that he and West Stewart, a... (MORE)
    • Jerry Lewis uses another gay slur on Aussie televisionOn Aussie TV, Jerry Lewis again uses anti-gay slur: QUICK LOOK: Jerry Lewis made an anti-gay slur on Australian television similar to one he apologized for using on his annual telethon a year ago. Following a news conference in Sydney... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3

    These were the five stories on Gay News Watch with the biggest buzz over the last seven days, along with some of the most popular stories from the last week. You can also view the stories with the biggest buzz factor from the last month or year, and the most popular from the last month or yea

    October 28, 2008

    Feinstein says "No on 8!"

    Posted by: Andoni

    Diane_feinsteinIn a long awaited move, California Senator Diane Feinstein came out against California's Proposition 8 in an ad released tonight.

    Feinstein says, "Proposition 8 would be a terrible mistake for California. It's about discrimination and we must always say NO to that."

    You can view the ad here.

    Also, now groups opposing Prop 8 need more money to air the ad in this crucial week before the vote and you can help with that here. I have given multiple times and am giving again tonight because of this powerful ad. I hope you will do the same.

    Many thanks to my ACLU board colleague Robert who is Feinstein's next door neighbor and I believe had something to do with getting Senator Feinstein into action.

    October 27, 2008

    "I've been tested." Bullshit!

    Posted by: Andoni

    Mccain_final"I want to tell you one thing, my friends, I've been tested. I've been tested."

    Am I the only person in the world who hears these words and wonders what the hell he's talking about?

    McCain's claim came up most recently after Senator Joseph Biden told a group of supporters that a President Obama would be tested by our adversaries in the first 6 months of his administration, just as President Kennedy had been tested by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    McCain jumped on this statement and said he would not have to be tested in this manner. He claimed that he was already tested because he was there during the Cuban Missile Crisis and was already tested. What McCain is referring to, and what none of the corporate media has examined or questioned, is that he was merely a navy pilot during that crisis. He was based on an aircraft carrier, that carrier was sent to the waters near Cuba, and he was ready with his plane to attack Cuba. Is this equivalent to the test the leader of the free world faces in a major crisis? When the leader of the free world is confronted by crisis such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, he must analyze the options, and then make a decision that affects the entire country, if not the world. Is that how McCain was tested when he was sitting in his plane on that aircraft carrier? I think not! McCain was merely following orders.

    There is not equivalence here. McCain was in the navy on his aircraft carrier, his aircraft carrier was ordered by the president to the waters near Cuba, and McCain was ordered to be ready. McCain did not have to make any decisions. All he had to do was follow orders, as any good soldier does. Is it being tested when you follow the orders of your superior? To do anything else, he would have been court-martialed. So, I don't see how this scenario relates in any way to a new commander in chief being tested by a foreign adversary. McCain was not in charge, McCain made no decisions. His claim on this is bullshit.

    So when was McCain tested? During his 5 and 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi? Sure that was tough, but that test was one of personal survival skills, not a test of the administrative, intellectual and decision making skills that a president must have. And if you want to get technical, did McCain pass that test with flying colors? I would argue not really. During his time there he signed many confessions and participated in propaganda films against the United States. I would have probably done the same. However, there is no correlation between surviving in a POW camp for 5 years and the administrative, judgment and intellectual skills needed to be a good president.

    You might argue that McCain refusing to accept early release because his father was an admiral was a test and he passed that. Maybe so, but I would counter that "first in, first out" is a Commandment in the military and McCain knew very well that if he went afoul of that, he would never make admiral, something that he still aspired to at that time. But most importantly, again, that type of test (following an established, routine military Commandment) is nothing like the test that a president must face when a never seen before or experienced before crisis arises.

    "I've been tested" rings even more hollow when you consider McCain's conduct during this presidential campaign. His has been a campaign with no direction, no backbone, and complete disorder. He failed the test when he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. He really wanted Senator Joe Lieberman because he felt Lieberman was the best choice for the country. However, he did not go to bat for Lieberman and instead, allowed himself to be bowled over by the right wing religious base of his party. On this test that is more relevant to the decisions a president makes, he was tested ........and failed!

    Also, in the recent economic crisis, McCain did not measure up as a tested leader. He lurched from position to position and could not chart a clear direction for his campaign, his party or the country. Again, this was a test more analogous to what presidents need to do in crises.......and once again, he failed!

    McCain's statement, "I've been tested" is all bullshit. In the early years it had nothing to do with skills needed to be commander in chief. And most importantly, in recent months in situations that do have relevance to being president, McCain failed miserably.

    October 26, 2008

    Bill's still got it!

    Posted by: Andoni

    Dsc03836_2The headliner for a fundraiser for I attended last night for Jim Martin, the Democratic challenger of one term incumbent US Senator Saxbly Chambliss of Georgia, was former president Bill Clinton.

    My love affair with Bill ended earlier this year when I thought some of the comments he made regarding Barack Obama were over the line. But all is forgiven now.

    Last night Bill Clinton reminded me why he is such a good great politician (when he isn't emotionally involved). He told a story weaving all the pertinent facts together and had the audience nodding, applauding and yelling every moment of the way. He had crowd pleasing lines for Barack, for Hillary, and of course for himself (ever so subtly and humbly woven into the narrative).

    Of note, Bill has made 20 campaign appearances for Barack and said they will appear jointly next Wednesday in Florida. He proudly told us that Hillary has been Barack's surrogate in chief, making 65 campaign appearances for him, more than anyone else.

    Clinton heaved praises on Obama -- his intelligence, his political skills, his ability to communicate, his leadership, his ability to read the mood of the public. I think he might have said "just like me" once or twice during the oratory. But hey, if the King says the other guy is a King too, that is meaningful.

    But the crux of the reason for electing Jim Martin to the Senate (besides the fact that he is better on the issues than his opponent - the economy, LGBT rights, energy, the Wars) is that unlike when Bill was first elected, it takes 60 votes in the Senate to pass anything now except the budget. It has become the politics of obstruction and one of the many problems is that there are solutions to these problems, but the government can't pass the solution, whether it is the Republican solution or the Democratic solution. I won't even get into the argument that most of the current Republican solutions have been thoroughly disproven as solutions.

    So bottom line, unless the Democrats get 60 votes in the Senate, and a message is sent coast to coast that the public wants gridlock to end, and solutions to begin, the Republicans will try to make Obama's presidency a failed presidency from day one. They will not allow any of the bold and effective pieces of legislation that are necessary to turn this ship of state around.

    Besides this reason there is the reason that Saxbly Chambliss, a guy who never served in the military by repeatedly getting deferments during the Vietnam War for a trick knee, ran one of the sleaziest campaigns in history to defeat his predecessor, Max Cleland, a triple amputee Vietnam War hero, calling him unpatriotic and morphing him into Osama Bin Laden in TV ads. In post 9-11 Georgia, that trick worked. Hopefully the voters are having remorse now.

    So I'm an FOB (friend of Bill) again. I would like to be invited to visit his Facebook page, etc.

    What about DADT and DOMA you ask? Hey, I forgive him and hope he forgives me for all those nasty things I said about him behind his back when he signed these pieces of legislation.

    I am looking forward to the next few years when we will pass ENDA, hate crime legislation, overturn DADT and DOMA........ and for DOMA, if we can't overturn it, at least pass legislation that recognizes same sex couples for federal benefits.

    October 24, 2008

    Flipping a pro-lifer to Obama

    Posted by: Andoni

    Pro_life_2As those of you who have been reading Citizen Crain for a while know, I have lots of relatives who do not see things the way I do. I have racist relatives and evangelical Christian relatives. I even have one who works for Pat Robertson.

    Here is the story of how I convinced a radical pro life cousin to vote for Barack Obama. She lives in Pennsylvania and has been pro life as long as I can remember. I constantly get forwarded emails from her espousing Christian messages, many dealing with abortion. I usually ignore or delete, but a few months ago I decided to engage her on abortion.

    She supported John McCain because he vowed to overturn Roe v Wade. Since I am a physician and was in medical school before abortion became legal, I remember the days of self induced abortions and back alley abortions. I described to her several cases of women showing up in the emergency room with botched abortions, where it ended up that both the mother and baby died. This was not atypical in the days before Roe.

    We had an email dialogue for two months discussing abortions and "unborn babies" (her language - which during the discussion I used in the dialogue). I started by arguing that in the days before Roe, it was not uncommon for two lives to be lost, both the mother and child, because the procedure was botched when a doctor did not officiate. (Thankfully my cousin is not that radical to think that a mother should die as punishment if she tries to abort her fetus.)

    Then I developed the argument that if Roe is overturned and abortions become illegal in many states, that that will not stop abortions. The analogy I made was the drug laws. Drugs are illegal. Does that stop people from using drugs? Absolutely not. The fact that drugs are illegal does not stop people from using drugs. The same would be true with repealing Roe. People who want or need abortions will continue to have them in spite of the law.

    I told her if her only goal was to overturn Roe v Wade (as purely a political victory), then she should vote for McCain. However, that will not save the babies and might actually cause more deaths when mothers die too. If all she wants is that political victory, she should vote McCain. But if her goal is really to decrease the number of "unborn babies" that are "killed" (her language) she should consider Obama.

    First Obama believes in education so young women will be have the knowledge to avoid pregnancy in the first place. Fewer pregnanices, fewer abortions ....a la some of the European countries. The Republicans do not believe in sex education as a way to tackle pregnancy. Secondly, Obama believes that whatever the young woman decides to do about her pregnancy, she should be supported. If it is keep the "unborn baby" she would receive the social, financial and medical support to bring the baby into the world. This would most likely help some more young women to decide to choose to continue with the pregnancy.

    My cousin's turning point was in the final presidential debate when McCain attacked Obama over abortion and Obama answered that no one is pro abortion. When she heard those words from Obama's lips and combined them with my prior arguments, she pretty much concluded that the best way to decrease the number of abortions (save the most babies) was not to overturn Roe, but to pass a saner, more intelligent and more effective government policy on sex education and pregnancy in this country.

    This makes good sense to me.......and finally, now to my evangelical cousin.

    October 23, 2008

    Feinstein and Prop 8

    Posted by: Andoni

    Prop_8As an indication of how outmatched people who oppose California's Prop 8 are (our side), when I did a Google search for images on Prop 8 to accompany this post, the first five to pop up -- and an overall large majority of the images, were vote YES on Prop 8 images. Not a good sign.Vote YES on Prop 8 would overturn the CA Supreme Court decision that legalized same sex marriage. Vote NO would preserve same sex marriage in CA.

    Joel makes a good point in the second comment of my previous post about the Harvard Club seemingly hiding their photo of George W. Bush. He thinks that there are more serious issues we should be discussing on this blog. He is correct, although "all serious all the time" is not is not my style.

    So here goes again. The battle for marriage equality in California is our Battle of Normandy. We have established a beach head in the most populous state in the union. If we can hold it, freedom (to marry, to live without discrimination, to be left alone, etc.) will continue its march, and soon the whole continent will be liberated (from the tyranny of anti gay laws). The "Nazi" goal is to keep the tyranny. They want us off the beach head, and out to sea. If they succeed, our cause is thrown back 10 to 30 years. They are fighting as if their lives (and way of life) depended on it. We are not. We have been outspent in this battle two to one. Even the LGBT residents of California are lax. By one report I read, fewer than 2% of the LGBT population in California has contributed to the anti-Prop 8 campaign. This is shameful.

    This thing can still be salvaged, but it is going to take money.....lots of it because the Mormon Church has poured up to $20 million into passing Prop 8 and ending marriage equality. I have given multiple times, and here is where you can give too. Every little bit helps, even if you can only afford $10, please give now. If you need more info on why this is important you can read this by Matt Coles, director of the ACLU LGBT Project.

    Furthermore, if you have contacts with any high ranking CA state officials, urge them to speak out against Prop 8. Last weekend at my ACLU meeting in NYC, I asked a fellow board member Robert who happens to live next door to Senator Diane Feinstein to ask her to come out against Prop 8. He was surprised to learn that she hadn't and promised he would speak to her. I don't know if it was Robert's actions or a combination of actions, but yesterday Andrew Sullivan reported  that something is in the works with Feinstein.

    Now we need to work on Arnold. He said he would oppose Prop 8 early on, but to date has not done anything. We need to hold him to his word. If anyone has contacts with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, now is the time to make that call.

    This is a turning point in history for LGBT rights. Are you doing all that you can do?

    October 22, 2008

    Harvard Club hides Bush photo near bathroom

    Posted by: Andoni

    Bush_harvard_clubThis past weekend I attended a National Board meeting of the ACLU in New York.

    Our regular meeting venue was not available due to renovations, so we had to meet in a temporary new location - the Harvard Club of New York on W. 44th Street.

    This is a very nice facility. It has lounges, dining rooms, libraries, meeting rooms and overnight guest rooms. The club is peppered with notable graduates of Harvard all over the place, from the main lobby when you enter, to well, the wall down an obscure corridor next to the men's room on the second floor.

    We met in a large room on the second floor. When I visited the men's room for the first time, I noticed the above photo of President George W. Bush on the wall next to the men's room. This is not the place I would expect a picture of the current president of the United States.

    I'm wondering what kind of discussions they had before they hung the picture. Was the picture initially in this spot or did it get moved to this spot as his poll numbers tanked?

    Although this is one of the least prominent spots in the entire building, I can say this. During long meetings where they serve lots of coffee, people make many trips to the men's room. So in spite of its remote location, this 1975 graduate of "The Business School" is viewed quite often. In my case, much more often than I would have liked.

    October 21, 2008

    The grandmother vote

    Posted by: Andoni

    Obamagrandma2xThe McCain campaign must be seething. Barack Obama is taking two days off to visit his sick grandmother.

    During the crucial final two weeks of the campaign, Barack Obama is leaving the campaign to visit his seriously ill grandmother in Hawaii. Talk about "family values," this is it.

    And to make matters worse, he made the announcement that he is going to do this while he was in Florida - probably the nation's capital for grandmothers living by themselves. Most of these grandmothers spend a great deal of their time wondering why their grandchildren don't come to visit them. So this is an even bigger coup for Obama.

    Maybe the McCain camp will end up calling it a ploy - since they have managed to generate so many phony negative accusations against Obama recently.

    The fact that Barack's grandmother raised him while his mother was away and that she is his sole surviving "parent" makes this moment particularly heartwarming. During his one week vacation in August, Obama chose to go to Hawaii, amid criticism that it was too exotic and would play into the accusations that he was elite. The main reason he went there was to visit his grandmother and did so every day.

    It's kind of hard to portray someone as "other" or "foreign" as the McCain camp has been trying to do to Obama, when that person displays the same emotions and family love that the rest of do. Actions counter accusations almost every time.

    I'm not sure what the next two weeks will bring, and I wish Barack Obama's grandmother the best. One thing I am sure about however, Barack Obama is doing the right thing to visit his seriously ill grandmother, regardless of the political cost of missing two days in the final two weeks before the electon.

    And maybe in this case doing the right thing sews up the grandmother vote in Florida securing its 27 electoral votes in the process.

    October 19, 2008

    The Week on GNW (Oct. 11-17)

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. Poll shows most in Conn. support gay marriage rulingPoll shows most in Conn. support gay marriage ruling: QUICK LOOK: A new poll says 53 percent of Connecticut residents support last week's state Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay and lesbian marriages. The University of Connecticut... (MORE)
    2. Texas judge equated gays with prostitutes defending lenience for killer: QUICK LOOK: The horror that accompanied the shooting deaths of two Dallas gay men in 1988 was only equaled by the injustice that followed the trial of their killer.  Jack Hampton, the judge who presided... (MORE)
    3. Ellen buys TV time to play her video opposing Prop. 8Ellen buys TV time to play her video opposing Prop. 8: QUICK LOOK: Ellen DeGeneres has purchased ad time to run her video in which she urges California voters to vote no on Proposition 8. In the spot, she says, “Hi, I’m Ellen DeGeneres... (MORE)
    4. Religion can't justify sodomy law, says Delhi high courtReligion can't justify sodomy law, Delhi high court rules: QUICK LOOK: Testing the government's logic justifying ban on homosexuality, Delhi HC asked it to produce evidence that AIDS had spread in countries where homosexuality has been decriminalised... (MORE)
    5. Aussie Senate OKs bill for 'de facto couples' including gays: QUICK LOOK: De facto couples, including same sex couples, whose relationship has broken down will be treated in the same way as divorcing couples under legislation passed by the Senate. The government's legislation... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • Asian-Americans strongly oppose Calif. gay marriage ban: QUICK LOOK: Asian-Americans in California overwhelmingly oppose a ballot measure that would ban gay marriage in the state, according to a groundbreaking survey released Wednesday. The poll found that 57 percent... (MORE)
    • S.D. judge rules against firefighters in gay pride suitS.D. judge rules against firefighters in gay pride suit: QUICK LOOK: A judge has concluded that city officials did not violate the free-speech rights of four firefighters when they were ordered to attend last year's gay pride parade in Hillcrest. ... (MORE)
    • Thousands flock to Rio De Janeiro's Gay Pride paradeThousands flock to Rio De Janeiro's Gay Pride parade: QUICK LOOK: Hundreds of thousands of gays, lesbians and transsexuals partied down Brazil's world famous Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 12 to call for an end to homophobic... (MORE)
    • Wanted: Sponsorship for Aussie gay gold medalistWanted: Sponsorship for Aussie gay gold medalist: QUICK LOOK: There are out-and-proud cabinet ministers, ambassadors, high court judges and religious leaders, but Australia's only openly gay elite athlete is Matthew Mitcham, who... (MORE)
    • No residency requirement for Conn. gay marriagesNo residency requirement for Conn. gay marriages: QUICK LOOK: Same-sex couples won't have to live in Connecticut to wed once gay marriage becomes officially legal here. And they won't have to wait. Spouses-to-be will need only to... (MORE)
    • Meet the 'bofes' from Gay Pride in Rio De JaneiroMeet the 'bofes' from Gay Pride in Rio De Janeiro: QUICK LOOK: Rio celebrated its 13th Annual Gay Pride yesterday. According to the event organizers, about 1.5 million people attended the parade by the beach. The governor Sérgio...(MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3

    These were the five stories on Gay News Watch with the biggest buzz over the last seven days, along with some of the most popular stories from the last week. You can also view the stories with the biggest buzz factor from the last month or year, and the most popular from the last month or year.

    October 15, 2008

    Live-blogging the last debate

    Posted by: Chris

    Another UPDATE: At least one post-debate poll shows a much closer judgment by voters about the encounter that the early snap polls did last night. The Politico/Insider Advantage poll found voters gave the debate to Obama, 49% to 46%, but independent voters scored McCain the winner, 51% to 42%.

    UPDATE at the end of the post:

    Obamamccainpostdebate Here we are for the third and last debate, unless John McCain decides a gimmicky challenge to more of them in hopes of reviving his sinking fortunes. With three debates (counting the veeps) come and gone sans any real fireworks, now would be McCain's last, best chance to shake things up.

    9:02 p.m.: The warmest pre-debate welcome yet; no eye-dodge by McCain.

    9:05 p.m.: McCain offers more detail on his $300 billion buyout of struggling home mortgages. How odd to see a conservative Republican pinning his presidential hopes on massive government spending and interference in the private sector. Meanwhile, the liberal Democrat Barack Obama replies with tax credits and tax cuts.

    Artmccainap A style point: McCain looks at the moderator; Obama looks at the camera. I've been surprised no one has used that technique so far in the debates. It may be jarring for thos in the hall, but it comes off to the vast majority watching on TV as much more direct. Oops -- as soon as i write that, McCain looks directly at the camera, and then at Obama -- definitely more effective.

    Another style point: Is that a U.S. flag pin on Barack Obama's lapel? Where is John McCain's? Oh that's right -- only non-conservatives are required to prove (and prove again, and prove again) their basic patriotism.

    9:17 p.m.: Neither candidate is particularly effective in explaining how their policies are fiscally responsible. Obama stays very vague, going "line by line" in the budget eliminateing wasteful programs. How many election cycles have we been hearing presidential candidates -- from both parties -- promising this? McCain, meanwhile, just spent half his answer re-trumpeting his $300 billion home mortgage buyout, and the second half decrying growing government spending. Huh?

    9:20 p.m.: The first pre-fab line from McCain: "Senator Obama, I'm not President Bush." Obama ought to reply, "I don't know George Bush personally, George Bush is not a friend of mine, but Senator McCain, your policies are four more years of George Bush." Obama is far more cool and calm in his reply, of course. It works for him since his the frontrunner but in a closer election, a more vigorous response would have been more effective.

    Artobamagi 9:27 p.m.: An effective question from Bob Schieffer. Rather than ask the candidates to promise not to be negative, he challenges them to say directly to their opponent that their campaigns have been saying. McCain was very effective, I thought, pushing Obama on his reversal on accepting public financing. Obama looked somewhat rattled and didn't address it in his reply. This has been McCain's best question in any debate, and it's incredibly ironic considering the angry lies coming from McCain-Palin rallies (more Palin's than McCain's).

    9:35 p.m.: John McCain's anger looks about to boil over. I can't imagine this works to his benefit. Obama's reply on Ayers and ACORN are also very effective. These are not the kind of issues that will sway many voters.

    9:40 p.m.: Oh my -- a running-mate question. Talk about your softballs to Obama! Once again, McCain does a decent job of turning a defect -- Palin vs. Biden -- to an advantage by attacking Biden much more effectively than Obama does Palin. Obama's decision to adopt a prevent defense is understandable, given his huge advantage in the polls, but it is risky.

    9:55 p.m.: Is it enough for Obama to smile when McCain says he wants to restrict trade and raise taxes? Maybe.

    10:00 p.m.: Two-thirds into a debate on domestic issues and not a single question on civil rights -- i.e., gay rights, abortion. Are these issues really less important that free trade with Colombia and Bill Ayers and ACORN?

    Sarah_palin_wink 10:03 p.m.: Taking a cue from his running mate, John McCain just winked at the camera while Obama was discussing McCain's health care plan. Did NRO's Rich Lowry feel any "little starbursts" bounce around his living room?

    10:07 p.m.: Finally, a civil rights question, about whether Roe vs. Wade is a litmus test for nominees to the Supreme Court. McCain just tied himself into knots saying he wouldn't apply a litmus test on abortion, and yet he would never appoint a justice who has publicly supported Roe. Obama's answer isn't anymore convincing, although he at least admits as much by saying that the Roe precedent "hangs in the balance" in the election. Maybe.

    10:14 p.m.: McCain's willingness to demagogue on abortion by claiming Obama actually opposes providing live-saving medical treatment for infants outside the womb during an abortion procedure is a new low. To me, this represents as clearly as anything else that McCain represents the past -- demagoguing and bumper-stickering divisive issues like abortion rather than trying to find common ground and adopting reasonable legislation.

    10:16 p.m.: The last question is on education; there will be nothing on gay marriage, even though the Connecticut Supreme Court and the ballot measures in California and Florida have put the issue front and center.

    Final thoughts: All in all, I thought McCain was more effective tonight than in either of the first two debates, and Obama's decision to stick to a prevent defense is a risky one. As a result, McCain actually managed to take two questions that should have been naturals for Obama -- personal attacks in the campaign and relative qualifications of their running mates -- and turned them to his advantage. On the other hand, the way McCain let his anger boil over on a couple of occasions was downright scary.

    Also, John McCain once again came off as arrogant as in the first debate, saying Obama "didn't understand" foreign policy issues. Tonight it was smirks and laughter and interrupting Obama, as well as never acknowledging the way Obama did that the tough issues before them were ones on which reasonable minds may differ.

    Debates rarely have the impact on elections that the pundits say they do, and this one is very unlikely to fundamentally change his fortunes. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the post-debate polls show a much closer breakdown on "who won" the debate, perhaps even showing McCain won -- at least among undecided voters.

    UPDATE:

    Initial polling from CBS/Knowledge Networks suggests I was too generous to McCain. The undecided voters agreed by more than two to one (53% to 22%), giving the third and final debate to the Democrat.

    October 14, 2008

    Hate and Fear

    Posted by: Andoni

    Wanted_for_treasonOK, I'm going to play the age card now. Because I am older than most of the people who read this blog, I remember the 1960's and the indelible feelings associated with that era.

    Just as the memory of a smell lasts forever, a particular emotional feeling does too.

    Over the weekend Congressman John Lewis said  that presidential candidate John McCain was sowing the seeds of hatred and division just as Governor George Wallace had done during his political career and when he ran for president.

    I can't confirm that because I'm not a black man who was on the receiving end of those assaults. I have no idea what it felt like to be John Lewis at the time, but I believe him.

    As a white man, however, the current climate feels to me the same as it did in 1960 when the issue was religion, not race.

    I was brought up Greek Orthodox, which for all practical purposes is just like Roman Catholic, except for the fact that the two churches had a huge fight a thousand years ago (The Great Schism) and excommunicated each other and didn't speak until very recently. As a result, in this country, the Greek Orthodox Church ended up joining with the Protestant churches in the World Council of Churches and ignored the The Roman Catholic Church.

    For this reason I ended up joining a Protestant Boy Scout Troop when I was young, although I thought of myself as much more Catholic than Protestant. All was well until Kennedy ran for president in 1960. Because they thought I was one of them, they spoke freely about their feelings toward Kennedy, and Catholics. It was like being a closeted gay guy in a gang of bigots (which was also the case, but that part was still being suppressed by me).

    The hate for Kennedy based on his religion was unbelievable. The words, nonsensical statements about patriotism, loyalty, and associations were very much the same that you see Sarah Palin and John McCain using today. The climate was poisonous, the hate palpable, and the fear irrational.

    It is the exact same feeling for me today when I see what is happening as it was back then. Take the woman at a McCain rally last week who seemed to be shaking and said she was afraid because she read that Obama was an Arab. I knew many people in 1960 who were so frightened at the thought of a Roman Catholic becoming president that they literally shook from fear. They thought the Pope would take over America. Fear had taken over their being.

    The difference between now and 1960 is that in 1960 it was not Richard Nixon or VP candidate Henry Cabot Lodge who whipped up these fears. In 2008 it is the candidates themselves and their campaigns who are inciting this hatred and fear that result in cries of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and "off with his head." I heard this same stuff from angry, scared folks from 1960 to 1963.

    It is illegal in this country to shout fire in a crowded theater. It is not illegal however for a preacher to incite someone in his congregation to go out and beat up or kill a gay man. It is not illegal for a political leader to use words the end up causing riots or even violence toward a group or a particular person. However, when a candidate does this, it is not leadership. It's demagoguery. And certainly it is not presidential.

    I'm glad McCain is walking his recent approach back a bit, but as far as I'm concerned the damage is already done and impossible to undo.

    In case you're wondering about the photo at the top of this post, it a pamphlet that was distributed in Dallas the day before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated there in 1963. It's definitely worth a read. It acuses JFK of lying, being un-Christian, as well as unpatriotic.

    Every cell in my body shouts out that the shit we are seeing from the McCain campaign and the far right today feels exactly the same as it did in 1960. That is when another long standing American political barrier was broken by electing the first Roman Catholic president. The forces that control the status quo do not go quietly or peacefully. They fight change with every tool they have, including hate, fear, and division. This is not new. We just have to make sure that it does not work.

    October 13, 2008

    The Left plays the homophobia card in São Paulo

    Posted by: Kevin

    KassabgaybaitingIn the most important election taking place in Brazil this year, the mayoral election in the country's largest city (and my current home) São Paulo, a desperate opponent who once fashioned herself the great champion of the city's gay community is now using blatant gay-baiting in desperation.

    It is a sad and hypocritical plunge into dangerous territory for President Lula da Silva's Worker's Party (or PT, its Brazilian acronym) in a city that remains a springboard to national politics.  And the barrage of television and radio ads blatantly questioning the sexuality of incumbent Mayor Gilberto Kassab comes at a time when vicious anti-gay attacks and murders have been taking place.  And given the current state of politics in the city, the use of blatant gay-baiting by the PT is fanning the very flames of hate that has cost the lives of several innocent people in and around a neighborhood that gave Kassab his largest margin of victory in the first round of voting on October 5th.

    The history which brought us here makes this turn of events even more galling for the city's gay residents.  The PT candidate, former mayor Marta Suplicy, was elected in 2000 as the first candidate for major office in Brazil who openly campaigned for the support of gay and lesbian voters.  She marched in the city's world-record-setting gay pride parades, helping add to the momentum of the event as it became the largest annual gay pride event in the world and a major focus for the whole country's gay population. 

    However, her management of the city was widely seen as a disaster, racking up a huge debt and tying traffic up in knots with badly planned public works and out-of-kilter priorities that seemed designed to favor her base of supporters rather than the whole city.  In turn, she was soundly bounced from office in 2004 by the center-right opposition party, led by José Serra, the likely center-right presidential candidate in the race to succeed Lula in 2010.

    Serra was elected governor of São Paulo state in 2006, and his vice-mayor, Gilberto Kassab of the conservative party, the Democratas (DEM), assumed office.  Kassab is a life-long bachelor, and is a very popular mayor.  He has spearheaded several popular projects, including the Cidade Limpa law which banned all billboards and public advertisement displays inside the city limits and restored a sense of pride and conservation in the city's eclectic architecture.  He also restored São Paulo's finances, and has backed a revival of the city's old downtown, which was a sad hellhole for more than a decade.  Crime is way down in the city and continuing to drop.  The city's health services are being reformed to improve efficiency, and public works priorities seem more sane and less erratically political.  And in a marked symbol of the city's growing pride in itself, a major TV campaign promoting the city as a tourist destination was launched on CNN International earlier this year.

    To his credit, Kassab's government signed a landmark cooperative agreement one year ago with the state government which would join public defenders in both jurisdictions to provide more resources to citizens who seek redress for any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation.  It was perhaps the most significant move by any executive branch in the country in recent memory to more concretely safeguard the rights of gay citizens in Brazil in the most meaningful way.  And despite some initial criticism (including from me) during the spate of anti-gay murders last year, the state and municipal police forces managed to apprehend every one of the perpetrators of these crimes and put them behind bars.

    In the first round of voting, Kassab leaped into the top position, eliminating a fellow center-right opponent and a scattering of minor candidates.  His approval rating tops 60%.  Marta Suplicy came in second place, and a picture emerged of a city sharply divided between the bairros of the city center (Kassab) and those in the poor periphery (Marta).  Marta is polling as much as 17 points behind Kassab in the latest published surveys.  Her only hope of squeaking to victory is to manage an enormous turnout in the periphery, and cut into his support in some parts of the city center.

    And alas, she is playing the gay card as a key element of her strategy in the second round.  As the two candidates participated in a tense debate on the Bandeirantes TV network last night, Marta's campaign launched a TV and radio ad campaign which asked voters about what they "don't know about Kassab." The screen has a pixelated black-and-white picture of Kassab's face, and it asks a number of questions about him, the last of which is: "Is he married?  Does he have children?" And the tone is clearly meant to suggest the mayor is gay, and that it's a dirty, shameful thing that should disqualify him as mayor.  And quite rightly, Kassab has filed five separate motions with the electoral commission to force Marta and the PT to take the ads off the air. 

    This comes only a year after a wave of anti-gay attacks and murders hit the Jardins neighborhood in the city center, in and around where many gay residents and gay hangouts are concentrated.  (I've written on this anti-gay crime wave extensively here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.) Jardim Paulista is, ironically, the bairro where Kassab won his biggest margin of victory anywhere in the city in the October 5 first round (and I'm proud to add, it's where I live and work).  And the attackers in nearly all of the murders and beatings have been skinheads and self-described "punks" who purposely come into this neighborhood from the poorer periphery neighborhoods, the very areas to which Marta is directing her gay-baiting message, and where Marta won every bairro in the first round.

    So the so-called champion of São Paulo's gays is now throwing us to the wolves in a desperate ploy for the votes of the homophobic periphery.  She is intentionally dividing the city along lines that have flared with murderous violence for years.  And she and the PT have the gall to still claim the mantle of being the protector of gay Brazilians.  Que merda essa.

    While I cannot vote in Brazil, I am giving all I have to volunteer and agitate for Kassab's re-election.  In this case, to say this election is a matter of life and death for the gays of São Paulo is no exaggeration.

    UPDATE: This has exploded into a major story on the front pages of all the city's newspapers and websites, with near universal condemnation for what Marta's campaign is doing.  This is a huge relief, but alas the journalists of this city are not from the periphery and, in turn, are often seen as only a partial voice of the full electorate.  It is very heartening, however, to hear that highly respected political analyst Alberto Carlos Almeida told the Estado de São Paulo newspaper that Marta has "committed a fatal error that will mark her entire career" with the ad campaign.  And columnist Ricardo Noblat, who blogs for the #1 newspaper in all of Brazil, O Globo, wrote today that her ad campaign "is indeed bigoted, and is indeed sexist.  As it would be similarly sexist and bigoted to run an ad insinuating that Marta cheated on her first husband [Senator Eduardo Suplicy] before she left him." Even her own (second) husband, Luis Favre, has posted on his own blog that personal lives should be off the table in this election.  (And then defended her campaign in the very next post.  Bizarre.)

    But at an editorial meeting today with the #1 newspaper in the city, Folha de São Paulo, Marta spoke out of three different sides of her mouth, and deepened the controversy by repeating the charge, then saying she's the real victim, and then denying she even knew about the ad to begin with (my translation from Folha's report):

    "I am someone who is against bigotry.  You will never hear a single prejudiced word from my mouth.  [...] But I think that you're interpreting this all too much," Marta said, when questioned as to whether the content of the ad wasn't invasive and prejudiced. 

    The candidate denied that the ad made insinuations about the mayor's life.  "For me it's just as important is he's married, widowed or single.  People have to know." [...]

    "I think people ought to know about the candidate.  My whole life, the person with the most invaded privacy has been me.  For this reason I'm against it," affirmed the PT candidate, who said that the TV ad was the responsibility of the marketing director for her campaign.  "The decision is with the marketing director [...] I didn't even see the ad."

    This has now become, perhaps, an even more profound decision for São Paulo's voters over what kind of city this will be going forward.  Not just a question of economics, public works or taxation -- but about the very soul of this city.  Will division, resentments and hatred win, or will São Paulo take another step forward among the major cities of the world and toss this kind of manipulative politics into the trash?

    October 12, 2008

    The Week on GNW (Oct. 4-10)

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. Conn. Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage: QUICK LOOK: Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making the state the third behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions. The divided court... (MORE)
    2. Bush opposes Conn. high court's gay marriage rulingBush opposes Conn. high court's gay marriage ruling: QUICK LOOK: President Bush on Friday night announced that he opposed a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling from earlier in the day that made Connecticut the third state — after California... (MORE)
    3. U.S. immigration law won't allow gay family reunification: QUICK LOOK: President Bush on Friday night announced that he opposed a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling from earlier in the day that made Connecticut the third state — after California... (MORE)
    4. Young voters shift support for Calif. gay marriage banYoung voters shift support for Calif. gay marriage ban: QUICK LOOK: A new CBS 5 poll finds that California's Proposition 8 has picked up support in the wake of a television ad campaign that features footage of San Francisco Mayor Gavin... (MORE)
    5. FTM trans workers earn more than MTF employeesFTM trans workers earn more than MTF employees: QUICK LOOK: The first systematic analysis of the experiences of transgender people in the labor force suggests that raw discrimination remains potent in U.S. companies. Kristen Schilt,... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • Jury told Mr. Gay UK stabbed man, cooked his thighJury told Mr. Gay U.K. tabbed man, cooked his thigh: QUICK LOOK: The first winner of Mr Gay UK stabbed a man to death before carving a piece of   flesh from his thigh, seasoning it with fresh herbs and cooking it in olive   oil,... (MORE)
    • Fox News ties Barney, boyfriend to U.S. financial crisisFox News ties Barney, boyfriend to U.S. financial crisis: QUICK LOOK: (*WARNING: anti-gay source*): Unqualified home buyers were not the only ones who benefited from Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank’s efforts to deregulate Fannie Mae throughout... (MORE)
    • Hillary Clinton slams Bush at D.C. gay rights dinnerHillary Clinton slams Bush at D.C. gay rights dinner: QUICK LOOK: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday called Republican presidential candidate John McCain not a maverick but a "mimic" of President Bush. Clinton made the remarks... (MORE)
    • Trans candidate defeats claim she misled Ga. votersTrans candidate defeats claim she misled Ga. voters: QUICK LOOK: Georgia's top court ruled in favor of a transgender politician who was slapped with a lawsuit by two political opponents who claimed she misled voters by running as... (MORE)
    • Unclear if circumcision protects gay men from HIVUnclear if circumcision protects gay men from HIV: QUICK LOOK: There is not enough evidence to show that circumcision reduces the risk of AIDS in sex between men, researchers are reporting, even though previous studies in Africa... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3

    These were the five stories on Gay News Watch with the biggest buzz over the last seven days, along with some of the most popular stories from the last week. You can also view the stories with the biggest buzz factor from the last month or year, and the most popular from the last month or year.

    October 08, 2008

    Overcoming bigotry

    Posted by: Andoni

    BigotboyADDENDUM AT END

    I'm back from my Greek island. Of note is that when I arrived in Greece I had to pay 1.5 dollars for one Euro. When I left, I got back merely 1.2 dollars for every Euro. As I said in "The view from Europe," although the Europeans were at first gloating over our economic woes, they soon realized that it would affect them too -- that we are all linked together. As a result many are moving their money to dollars as a safe haven -- and making the dollar rise in value.

    To view our presidential election from outside the United States was fascinating. I speak Greek, so I was able to get unfiltered views directly from the locals.

    One interesting observation was that a great many people referred to our two candidates as "the old man" and "the black man." A few actually knew McCain's name, so it was "McCain" versus "the black man." It's telling that Obama was almost always "the black man." Greece could never be called a bastion of racial equal opportunity (or religious equal opportunity, for that matter). Greeks are not a tolerant people with respect to race. The country is nearly 100% white and any other color really stands out as a visitor or student - and these people are not accepted as intellectually or socially equal.

    So you can imagine my shock when after two weeks there, it became fairly clear that a majority of Greeks are for "the black man." They think he is smart, young, energetic, and has what it takes to re-establish the United States into the leadership role they would like to see it in. Most Greeks have close relatives in the US, so deep down they really are pulling for us.

    When I arrived home I checked in with my Greek relatives who are US citizens, most of whom live in Florida, to see how they are voting. They all used to be for McCain. They are now about evenly split. In particular, one says she is not voting for Obama because she doesn't want a Muslim in the White House. No amount of facts or discussion could convince her that he is not a Muslim. How does she know? From the radio.

    Another relative tells me (in Greek) point blank that he cannot and will not vote for a black man. No reason, end of discussion. Three others, used to be for McCain, but have now flipped to Obama. These are people who still use the "N" word when speaking of blacks and I have heard them refer to Obama that way. They say they flipped out of fear.

    The economy is tanking and they are worried.The downward spiral in the stock market and overall economic conditions have allowed them to actually focus on issues and forget about the color of skin. They listen to Obama and see someone who may be able to lead us out of this mess and they look at McCain, and although he's white, don't see that ability.

    Is this good or bad? I don't know. However, I find it interesting how a jolt to the economy suddenly has made these bigoted people color blind. It's like what Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania is telling his constituents: If you are drowning in the river and there is someone on the bank with a lifesaver and a rope, you aren't going to care if that person is black or white.

    My relatives have proven this to be true.

    I find this all amazing.

    ADDENDUM: A more exact translation of what the Greeks in Greece were calling Obama (o mavros) is "the black one" rather than my more polite "the black man." Does that ring any bells for anyone who watched the debate last night?

    October 07, 2008

    Live-blogging 2nd presidential debate

    Posted by: Chris

    T1landhandshakecnn Once again live-blogging the debate here. Please chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section!

    Tonight's debate is in Nashville, Tenn., a city I know very well, having grown up just a few hours down the road in Memphis and later spent my college years at Vanderbilt University -- located just blocks away from Belmont Univ., the Baptist college where tonight's debate is being held.

    By the way, check out this debate precursor from Cindy McCain, making the jaw-dropping accusation that Barack Obama has "waged the dirtiest campaign in American history." Considering the McCains were convinced that George W. Bush spread the rumor that their adopted child was actually the illegit daughter of McCain and a black woman, that's absolutely incredible.

    9:03 p.m.: This time John McCain actually looked Barack Obama in the eye during the handshake!

    9:07 p.m.: McCain is clearly in "Mr. Nice" mode, referring to Obama directly. The townhall format works well for him, and he already seems more effective. Already cutting jokes with Tom Brokaw. Will he give us a Sarah Palin wink before the night is over?

    9:12 p.m.: How long did NBC have to look to find a black voter who is actually undecided?

    9:16 p.m.: Both candidates are effectivly advocating responses to the crisis, but Obama does not seem as sharp as in the first debate, and McCain seems more comfortable with the format.

    9:20 p.m.: Obama definitely hits his stride when going after President Bush. There wasn't enough of that in the first debate; there may well be more tonight. McCain's response? "Washington is broken," so elect him even though he's been there for more than a quarter-century.

    9:23 p.m.: McCain hits Obama on spending, but his figures are so inflated that he's not credible -- $800 billion in new spending. (FYI his campaign just today claimed the figure was $1 trillion.) McCain is more effective tonight but his energy level is still sagging a bit.

    9:27 p.m.: At least judging by CNN's undecided voter "squiggly lines," Obama scores much better talking positively about his plan than McCain did going on attack. That's a real quandary for McCain, who needs to do something to change the dynamics of the race.

    9:35 p.m.: Good Obama reply to McCain's "across the board" spending freeze; using a hatchet vs. using a scalpel. McCain replies with a harsh attack on Obama on taxes. At this point, most voters know that the tax increase will only hit the wealthiest Americans.

    9:40 p.m.: Obama mostly dodged the question but took the time to make a very effective rebuttal to McCain on taxes. For the third or fourth time, McCain says "we know what to do" without ever saying what to do. And then finally, on Medicare, says, "We need a commission." That's a solution?

    9:44 p.m.: McCain is definitely more animated, engaged and comfortable in this debate. The charge against Obama's thin record is his best, of course, but so so weakened by McCain's own selection of running mates. Obama's reply slamming McCain's long record of opposition to incentives for alternative fuels sticks pretty well, as well.

    9:54: p.m.: McCain's health care response got completely jumbled in the numbers. Fuzzy math anyone? And I hardly think most voters have a problem with small businesses being fined for failing to provide health insurance for employees.

    9:56 p.m.: Great question on health care: a responsibility vs. a right. McCain's answer was telling and no doubt appeals to libertarian types. It's a "responsilbiity" but there's no fine or other government mechanism; just wishful thinking, for small businesses to live up to that responsibility. It strikes me as very similar to McCain's view on workplace protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He's opposed to discrimination but not in favor of any law that says so.

    10:01 p.m.: Clearly the Obama camp was ready to reply on the "Obama doesn't understand" line about foreign policy.

    10:07 p.m.: McCain says we need "a cool hand" as commander in chief. Barack Obama or John McCain -- who is the "cool hand" and who is the "hothead"?

    10:11 p.m.: Who do we think talks softly and who do we think carries the bigger stick? (Stop your snickering.) McCain has boxed himself in on Pakistan and Al Qaeda, so much so that even his rookie running mate gets that he's wrong.

    10:14 p.m.: There's your biggest debate moment for Obama -- nailing McCain on "bomb bomb bomb, Iran," "annihilating North Korea," and "next up Baghdad." McCain says he was "joking an old military friend" about bombing Iran when anyone who has seen the video knows that it was on stage in front of an entire room.

    10:28 p.m.: The CNN "squiggly lines" are running very contrary to my own view that McCain is much better tonight and Obama started off, at least, slightly off his game. Obama has scored much, much stronger on almost every answer than McCain. I'll be very curious to see if it's repeated in the post-debate numbers.

    Strange that the candidates didn't shake hands afterward -- though Obama did shake Cindy McCain's hand. I wonder if he knew about her pre-debate quote (mentioned above). Although I am more disposed toward Obama based on policy and as candidates generally, I believe Obama was more effective than McCain tonight. Not by the same margin as the first debate; McCain was definitely better than the first time around.

    Obama's "bomb Iran" reply will get the most comment around the water cooler; and for McCain it was referring to Obama as "that one," which undid a lot of his efforts to appear more warm toward his opponent than the first time around -- making eye contact, being looser, etc.

    October 06, 2008

    Obamamania and McCainiacs in Brazil

    Posted by: Chris

    Claudiohenriquebarackobamadabaixada The U.S. presidential election isn't just making news headlines here in Brazil; it's producing its own sideline stories. For instance, there were eight "Barack Obamas" on last weekend's municipal election ballot. How's that?

    Due to a quirk in Brazilian electoral law, candidates can put any name they want on the ballot, as long as it isn't offensive. At least eight candidates have chosen to be known as "Barack Obama" in the Oct. 5 elections.

    The Illinois senator is hugely popular in Brazil. The prospect of a black U.S. president has generated enthusiasm across the country, where more people call themselves black than anywhere except Nigeria.

    A variety of Brazilian candidates are hoping they can ride his distant coattails into office.

    Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, who's running for mayor of Belford Roxo on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, took the name "Barack Obama de Belford Roxo" and said he's gone from third place in the polls to a tie.

    Unfortunately for the Brazilian Obamas, the soaring fortunes of their American namesake didn't exactly rub-off:

    At least eight "Barack Obamas" who borrowed the Democratic presidential candidate's name to run in Brazilian local elections lost.

    The defeat of the so-called Obamas came in municipal elections on Sunday that selected mayors and council members in more than 5,000 cities across the nation — and saw the ruling Workers Party and allies of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva make gains across the nation.

    Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, the Belford Roxo mayoral candidate, swears the name "opened doors" for him, though the official tally shows he did not receive a single vote.

    Amd_extra145x260 Maybe he should have tried "John McCain." The GOP presidential nominee also has his Brazilian fans, none more rapturous than Maria Gracinda Teixeira de Jesus, who describes the 72-year-old senator as "tasty, loving and romantic."

    She should know, the 77-year-old former model had a brief affair with McCain back in 1957 when his ship was stationed in Rio De Janeiro. McCain briefly recounted their torrid romance in his book "Faith of our Fathers," and the Brazilian media tracked her down last month.

    Then last week, taking a page out of Sarah Palin's "You Can See Russia From Here" handbook, McCain's top foreign policy adviser, Richard Fontaine, claimed McCain's affair with Gracinda more than a half-century ago was actually evidence of his interest in Latin America:

    In fact, I saw, I guess it was last week, that his old girlfriend in Brazil has been found from his early days when he was in the Navy and was interviewed. She's a somewhat older woman now than she was then, but it sorta speaks to the long experience he has had in the region -- in the most positive terms.

    By that measure, I should be a leading candidate to be McCain's ambassador to Brazil.

    October 05, 2008

    The week on GNW (Sept. 29 - Oct. 5)

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. Constitution OK'd in Ecuador includes gay civil unionsConstitution OK'd in Ecuador includes gay civil unions: QUICK LOOK: Ecuadorans approved by a wide margin Sunday a new constitution that would expand the powers of President Rafael Correa and allows civil unions for gay couples. "We expect... (MORE)
    2. Starring roles are still rare for actors out in HollywoodStarring roles are still rare for actors out in Hollywood: QUICK LOOK: There's a bisexual woman in “Bones” and a lesbian couple on “The Goode Family.” “Dirty Sexy Money” features a transsexual and “Brothers & Sisters” a gay marriage... (MORE)
    3. Canadian pol may be charged for call to kill all gaysCanadian pol may be charged for call to kill all gays: QUICK LOOK: Police are investigating whether an independent federal candidate committed a hate crime by telling high school students homosexuals should be executed. David Popescu... (MORE)
    4. Study shows gay relationships have same commitment level: QUICK LOOK: Gay and lesbian couples are just as committed in their relationships as heterosexuals and the legal status of their union doesn't impact their happiness, according to new research. In two new studies... (MORE)
    5. Vatican blocks France appointment of gay diplomatVatican blocks French appointment of gay diplomat: QUICK LOOK: The next French envoy to the Holy See has been chosen after Roman Catholic officials rejected the first candidate because he is gay. AFP reports that another candidate... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • Mr. Gay Brazil contestant decides to pose sans speedoMr. Gay Brazil contestant decides to pose sans speedo: QUICK LOOK: Twenty-one-year-old Maicon Araujo, a.k.a. Mr Gay Florianópolis, let it all hang out at the beach for the October issue of G magazine, a popular Brazilian magazine. He... (MORE)
    • Swastikas found in home of Calif. gay boy's shooterSwastikas found in home of Calif. gay boy's shooter: QUICK LOOK: A 14-year-old boy charged with a hate crime in the death of an eighth-grade classmate had among his possessions numerous items of white supremacist literature and drawings,... (MORE)
    • Larry Craig gives farewell speech to empty chamberLarry Craig gives farewell speech to empty chamber: QUICK LOOK: It was just last year that Sen. Larry E. Craig riveted political Washington with his arrest in an airport sex sting and subsequent public declaration, “I am not gay.”... (MORE)
    • McCain makes pitch to gay voters in a written Q&AMcCain makes pitch to gay voters in a written Q&A: QUICK LOOK: Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told the Washington Blade in an writting interview that he appreciates the Log Cabin Republicans’ decision... (MORE)
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    October 03, 2008

    Bernstein on Biden and gay marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Scarlbernsteinonclintonlarge We already know that public opinion is moving rapidly toward support of full marriage equality for same-sex couples, but sometimes it still catches me surprise. Take the discussion on CNN's "Situation Room" just a few minutes ago, when journalist lion Carl Bernstein offered his thoughts on the gay marriage discussion in last night's vice presidential debate.

    After pointing out that the impression left by Sarah Palin, supporting at least basic rights for same-sex couples, doesn't square with the McCain/GOP position or even her own view, Bernstein said he suspected Joe Biden didn't offer his actual view either.

    Over the years, I've grown accustomed to bracing myself when I hear one white-haired politico talk about what another white-haired politico thinks about gay issues, especially marriage. And so I was surprised when, instead, Carl Bernstein said what we gay folk having been saying (and hoping) for years -- that (paraphrasing here) even though Biden stated his opposition, "inside Joe Biden's head, he probably has no problem with gay marriage."

    Roger Ebert on Sarah Palin

    Posted by: Chris

    Sarah_palin_wink Leave it to a movie critic, quoting an 18th century Englishman, to nail it exactly:

    [It was] like a dog's standing on its hind legs. It is not done well, but one is surprised to find it done at all.

    (H/t: Andrew Sullivan)


    UPDATE: In case you missed it, check out this bit of political humor. (Try treating it like a political cartoon, Palin fans, and not a literal viewpoint).

    Palinflowchart

    Evan Wolfson on Biden-Palin

    Posted by: Chris

    As a follow-up to my post last night about the debate exchange between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin on legal recognition for same-sex couples,Evan_wolfson Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson, the most respected voice among gay marriage activists, had this reaction:

    The good news is that Senator Biden expressed his belief that gay and non-gay couples should be treated equally under the law, and committed to support for the incidents of marriage, the legal protections and responsibilities that come with marriage.  The bad news is that he stopped short of supporting actual equality through the freedom to marry itself, the only way to provide the full security, clarity, and protections that marriage alone brings, and failed (as did the moderator) to point out the inconsistencies and falsehoods in Governor Palin's answer.  His comments garbled the distinction between religious rites of marriage, properly left to religions to decide, and the legal right to marry, regulated by the government, which should not discriminate.  Supporters of gay equality should not be using the anti-gay forces' false talking-point (introduced by Governor Palin) that ending gay couples' exclusion from marriage is "redefining" marriage; marriage is not "defined" by who is denied it.

    The good news in Governor Palin's answer was that she felt obliged to go out of her way to proclaim herself "tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves," a position that, if true, raises the question of why the law should then discriminate against those Americans, whether in marriage or other legal mechanisms such as domestic partnership (which she opposed in Alaska and tried to overturn by constitutional amendment).   

    Her assertion of non-judgmental "tolerance" is inconsistent with her chuch's hosting an anti-gay "change through prayer" program that she has refused to repudiate.  And her claim that "not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties" is at odds with Senator McCain's support for anti-gay constitutional amendments such as the one in Arizona that would have impeded legal acknowledgment of gay couples and denied the range of protections, from marriage down to specific legal measures such as partnership recognition, to unmarried couples, gay and non-gay.  McCain's and Palin's actions -- nearly always rejecting pro-gay steps and measures, nearly always supporting anti-gay positions -- is the worst news.

    Overall, then, the bad news is that while one party's positions are immensely better than the others, both candidates failed to support full equality for America's gay families (despite Governor Palin's invocation of "equal rights" as an American value in her closing); the worse news is that the real and immense difference between their actual positions -- one supporting actual movement toward equality and fairness, the other offering bland assurances belied by actual policy positions deepening discrimination -- may have gotten lost. 

    And, to end on a positive, it is good news that yet again we see that the discussion around marriage equality is moving politicians, sincerely or otherwise, to greater acknowledgment of gay families and the wrongness of discrimination against them.  That one presidential ticket is indeed committed to specific legal measures to reduce discrimination and, indeed, tacit support for marriage equality, even if they won't yet embrace or explain it, is perhaps best of all.

    Evan makes a good point about how the draconian Arizona constitutional amendment that McCain supported (and voters rejected) back in 2006 would have blocked the state as well as local governments from adopting even minimal domestic partner protections that would ensure things like hospital visitation.

    Same-sex couples would not have been prohibited from designating each other the authority to make medical decisions and visit each other in hospitals, but most couples either aren't informed or don't expend the time and money necessary to prepare such private legal documents. Even those who do can face resistance from poorly trained medical staff, especially outside major metropolitan areas with large gay populations.

    Basic D.P. protections like these cannot be said to "approach marriage" in the way that Palin says she opposes, although the good governor also indicated no willingness to go "round and round" about what level of second-class citizenship gay couples are actually entitled to.

    October 02, 2008

    Palin and Biden on gay marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Bidenpalindebateap_2 UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    Taking a closer look at the gay Q&A from the vice presidential debate (transcript excerpt below), Joe Biden was surprisingly strong in his answer. Moving beyond the bromides about hospital visitation and the like, he said: "Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple."

    In fact, Biden even went so far as to essentially declare the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- which he voted for! -- is unconstitutional. If in his view the Constitution requires that gay married couples be treated the same as straight married couples, then federal DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from giving any recognition or benefits to gay married couples, is unconstitutional.

    That kind of affirmative support for legal recognition of gay couples is a real rarity at a national level, and absolutely so in a general election presidential or vice-presidential debate. He even addressed the marriage third rail, saying that "committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits" as straight couples.

    Biden was at his weakest claiming that the question of civil unions vs. marriage is a decision to "be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it." Bullshit, of course, considering that civil marriage is something the government decides, and no one has proposed legislation that would decide for individual faiths whether to "marry" gay couples.

    As for Sarah Palin, it's unclear why Biden and the post-debate pundits think she was agreeing with Obama-Biden on legal recognition for gay couples. As close as she came was this: "No one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties." Not prohibiting is entirely different from guaranteeing, and she in fact echoed McCain's misleading rhetoric in this area.

    What Palin was really saying is that gays won't be stripped of hospital visitation and the right to contract if John McCain is president. Gee thanks. And through all her protestations of tolerance, she says she doesn't want to go "round and round" about what exact rights and recognition same-sex couples deserve. I wonder how her "dear friends" who are gay feel about her unwillingness to take that time.

    Responsibility for the muddle in Palin's answer (on this and other questions) faIls in part on moderator Gwen Ifill. Even with format limitations, I agree with Andrew Sullivan that Ifill was not effective, failing to follow up in a way that makes clear to voters the differences between the tickets.

    For one thing, she failed to note that Alaska's benefits for gay couples -- limited to state government employees, by the way -- was mandated by the state's supreme court and Palin backed a constitutional amendment to overturn that ruling.

    Here's the transcript excerpt from the New York Times:

    IFILL: The next round of -- pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Senator Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?

    BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

    The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.

    It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.

    IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?

    PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.

    But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.

    But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.

    But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.

    But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.

    IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

    BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

    The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.

    IFILL: Is that what your said?

    PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
    IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy.

    (LAUGHTER)

    UPDATE: The mainstream media coverage of gay rights is often confused and superficial, but the Reuters story just out about the vice presidential debate is particularly egregious. Even the headline -- "Biden, Palin agree on gay rights at debate" -- is mostly wrong. The only gay rights point they agreed on was opposing full civil marriage for same-sex couples.

    Reuters reports: "In an otherwise contentious debate, both Biden and Palin said they did not support civil marriages for same-sex couples, but both backed a range of other legal protections." In fact, as noted above, Palin was saying only that a McCain White House would not work to prohibit gay couples from entering private contracts of visit each other in a hospital; which is not at all the same thing as guaranteeing those rights through government recognition of same-sex relationships.

    "Such rights already exist in Alaska, where Palin serves as governor," Reuters goes on to mis-report. In fact, Alaska offers domestic partner benefits to the state workers, which means nothing to the vast majority of Alaskans who aren't government employees, and even for state workers, the D.P. benefits don't guarantee anything more than health and other financial benefits (which unlike those for hetero workers are taxable, by the way).

    Live-blogging the V.P. debate

    Posted by: Chris

    Bidenpalindebate Taking a stab at live-blogging the veep debate...

    9:01 p.m.: Did you hear that from Sarah Palin when she shook Joe Biden's hand? "Can I call you Joe?" This is pre-emptive so that the campaign can avoid hypocrisy charges since they complained that Barack Obama called John McCain "John" instead of "Senator McCain."

    9:04 p.m.: Both Biden and Palin look to be aggressive, though Palin's "save" attempt on what McCain meant by "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" was weak. He meant "the ingenuity of American workers"? Please.

    9:10 p.m.: How many times can Sarah Palin say the word "that" in one sentence? Palin says we should demand "strict oversight"? Since when is that something John McCain stood for? Palin's call for personal responsibility, however, was a clever change of subject. Biden comes across stuffy in response.

    9:13 p.m.: That's the second "darn right" from Palin. I guess you love it or hate it. Biden slams Palin on the tax standard and for not defending McCain on deregulation. Is she spunky or annoying for saying she'll refuse to answer questions like Biden or moderator Gwen Ifill wants?

    9:15 p.m.: Palin takes issue with "that redistribution of wealth principle you're talking about there." Apparently Palin and "Government" are on a first-name basis, since that's the way she talks to them. Palin defends McCain's health care plan -- how is a $5,000 tax credit "budget neutral"? Biden's attack on McCain's health care plan explains that somewhat, pointing out the tax on employers to pay for it, but he gets bogged down in numbers and verbosity in making his point. Definitely Biden's weakness.

    9:23 p.m.: Palin opposes the idea of "greed" at the center of corporate operations? Does she understand capitalism? Isn't she a Republican? Now she says she and McCain will "stop greed and corruption on Wall Street"? How exactly do you "stop greed"?

    9:29 p.m.: First Palin gaffe: She reflexively says "That is not so" in response to Ifill when it's clear from context that she hadn't listened to Biden's answer and doesn't have any clue what the question was about (i.e., the Biden proposal to allow troubled homeowners to adjust the principle and not just the interest rates paid on their mortgages).

    9:34 p.m.: Another Palin bluster through the Ifill question about carbon emissions and clean coal to get to the sound byte ("Drill baby, drill.") Good for Ifill for circling back to the question, and getting a clean answer from Palin that she supports carbon emission limits.

    9:36 p.m.: Biden backs "benefits" for same-sex couples "like in Alaska." Of course the Alaska Supreme Court forced the state to offer the benefits and Palin backed an amendment to reverse the policy. Palin doesnt support "exporting" the Alaska policy on D.P. benefits elsewhere if it "approaches marriages." Palin says the McCain administration won't try to prevent gays from visiting loved ones in hospitals or entering contracts. Wow. Gee, thanks.

    I can't wait to see the transcript on this because I didn't hear Palin promise "no civil rights distinction between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples," as Biden claims she did.

    9:40 p.m.: Palin says "we can't afford early withdrawal from Iraq" even though one of her few public statements on foreign policy before being selected by McCain was that she wasn't sure about the surge unless it had a "clear exit strategy." That was two years ago. Nice response from Biden, getting good response from the "uncommitted voters" on the CNN graph. Palin looks positively ridiculous to me when she tries to be tough.

    9:47 p.m.: Palin completely misses the point that the central front in the war on terror is in Iraq because the invasion allowed Al Qaeda to -- for a time at least -- recruit at will against the U.S. invaders. Biden references President Bush, in a complimentary way, reminding me that there have been very few attacks painting McCain as more Bush. Very surprising.

    9:54 p.m.: Palin's smugness, especially in light of her weak record, grates on me on ways that very few have before. Just the idea that you can grin and smile your way through a serious debate really irks.

    10:08 p.m.: Biden brings up "the Bush doctrine." Clever.

    10:11 p.m.: "Say it ain't so, Joe. There you go again, pointing at the past" because he brought up Bush. I can understand why she wants to change the subject; that's for sure. Her answer on education is as vapid and nonsensical as the one on nuclear proliferation. Can't wait to see the transcript.

    10:14 p.m.: Oh lord, she wants "more authority" than the Constitution provides for the veep... No mention at all to the vice president's primary responsibility -- being informed and ready to step in and become president should the worst happen.

    10:18 p.m.: Asked what is her own worst weakness, Palin wanders off into Ronald Reagan's "shining city on the hill" in a way that reminds me of Reagan wandering off near the end of his last debate with Walter Mondale in 1984. Biden's emotional remark about his son came off very genuine, something I wouldn't always say about him.

    10:28 p.m.: Palin's use of cliche, ad nauseum, also grates, at least with me. "I like to be able to answer the tough questions," she says. So why doesn't she hold some friggin press conferences?!

    All in all, the debate was as expected: Biden was more substantive, Palin managed through without any major gaffes. Whatever your views on the substantive issues, I can't imagine not being very uncomfortable with the idea of Sarah Palin as vice president, much less commander in chief.

    October 01, 2008

    Sarah Palin on Roe vs. Wade

    Posted by: Chris

    CBS News has finally released the videoclip of Sarah Palin stumbling through her view of how the Supreme Court has handled constitutional questions throughout American history.


    Watch CBS Videos Online

    The questions begin easily enough, focusing on Roe vs. Wade, although Palin remarkably says she agrees there is an unenumerated "right of privacy" in the Constitution -- a position directly at odds with basic conservative legal theory challenging not only Roe but also the sodomy decision (Lawrence vs. Texas) and going back four decades to Griswold vs. Connecticut, which threw out state prohibitions against contraception sales.

    Palin's support for the right to privacy would be newsworthy except for the fact that it's clear from the context of the interview that she has no clue what that right actually means or how it plays out in abortion or any other controversial legal issue.

    Then, of course, there is her stammer/filibuster over what opinions besides Roe she disagrees with. Considering conservative opposition to much of the Supreme Court's modern constitutional jurisprudence, her non-answer not only underlines her lack of preparedness, but can't make conservatives too happy.

    I do not count myself among those who believe Palin is stupid or even poorly educated, but she is very clearly way out of her league, and not nearly prepared to be one (septuagenarian) heartbeat away from the presidency.

    McCain speaks to gay America

    Posted by: Kevin

    The Washington Blade, which Chris used to run, has published an interview with Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

    It will probably not change a single gay Democratic vote, and frankly that doesn't matter.  (And the partisan vipers who will do all they can to shout down the meaning of this interview might as well save their breath.)  It will, however, energize the gay GOP vote and maybe some who are in the middle.  His openness to a change in "don't ask, don't tell" is a very welcome public statement of something he's been saying in private for at least ten years.  His support for Proposition 8 in California, even in the context of his opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment, is as disappointing as John Kerry's support for a similar measure in Missouri in 2004. 

    But the historical importance of this interview as a whole - the milestones it still contains - goes far beyond this election, one in which (to be honest) the gay vote will probably not be a factor at all.

    This interview is real progress.  Compare it with the Republican campaigns of 2004, 2000, 1996 and especially 1992, and it is unmistakable that our nation has once again taken a step forward.  The bar is higher for the GOP going forward.  And it would never have been possible without the steadfast, unbending tenacity of Log Cabin Republicans to ignore all the caterwauling and keep pushing forward.

    More later.

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