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    March 31, 2008

    Those people in Kansas and me

    Posted by: Andoni

    Dorothy I went to my accountant today to discuss my taxes and while driving home I couldn’t stop thinking about people in Kansas. You know, those people in the book, "What's the Matter with Kansas" by Thomas Frank. This is the book that asks the question why the majority of people in Kansas continue to vote Republican when it is not in their economic interest to do so.

    Republicans do not have a track record of protecting jobs for the middle class, expanding health care, or benefiting the typical worker economically. Yet middle class and working class Kansans don’t seem to care and keep voting GOP. Kansans seem moved more by Republican positions on social issues like gay marriage and abortion than their own economic interests. Why can’t these people see the light?

    Then, while driving home I realized that I’m a Kansan, too. No, I don’t vote Republican for their social values, I vote Democratic for theirs. But voting Democratic for me also puts me in the same category of those Kansans we love to criticize. It goes against my economic self interest.

    Let me explain. I’m retired and my entire income comes solely from capital gains. Thanks to George W. Bush’s tax cuts a few years ago, for the third year in a row, my final total federal tax rate is 15% -- lower than Warren Buffet’s. The Democrats want to end this tax give away for the wealthy. McCain and the Republicans want to renew it. My economic interest would be to vote Republican to continue saving all this money in capital gains taxes -- a very, very sweet deal.

    However, social issues like gay rights are what more important to me than my own economic interests. As a result, I’ll be just like those Kansans I used to like to criticize so much. I'll vote my “values” instead of my economic interest. Count me as irrational as those Kansans. This demonstrates to me that as much as I would like to think otherwise, values can trump economics and make people act "irrationally."

    The question for this November is, will a severe recession cause enough Republican "values voters" to switch into economic voters; that is, to suddenly become rational?

    March 30, 2008

    WaPo 'ins' gay soldier killed in Iraq

    Posted by: Chris

    Rogers_allen The Washington Post ombudsman has gently criticized the paper's editorial judgment for "inning" a gay soldier killed in Iraq, omitting his sexual orientation from a story about his life.

    Deborah Howell tackled the issue after a Washington Blade story quoted friends of Army Maj. Alan G. Rogers who were upset the Post ignored that Rogers was effectively the first openly gay soldier killed in the Iraq war. Rogers was out to many friends and was active in AVER, a gay veterans group.

    Howell's look behind the scenes in the Post newsroom was quite telling:

    For The Post, Rogers's death raised an unanswerable question: Would he have wanted to be identified as gay? Friends also struggled with that question but decided to tell The Post that he was because, they said, he wanted the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule repealed. …

    [The reporter] first wrote a story that included his friends talking about his orientation; some at the paper felt that was the right thing to do. But the material was omitted when the story was published. Many editors discussed the issue, and it was "an agonizing decision," one said. The decision ultimately was made by Executive Editor Len Downie, who said that there was no proof Rogers was gay and no clear indication that, if he was, he wanted the information made public.

    It's fascinating to see journalists aggressive as those at the Post deferring to (some) friends and family rather than applying the same standards of newsworthiness they would to any other story. The Post stylebook even incorporates the views of the story subject into the editorial decision:

    "A person's sexual orientation should not be mentioned unless relevant to the story . . . . Not everyone espousing gay rights causes is homosexual. When identifying an individual as gay or homosexual, be cautious about invading the privacy of someone who may not wish his or her sexual orientation known."

    I'm not sure what "evidence" Downie needed to to prove Rogers' sexual orientation. Ex-boyfriends? Love letters? Did the reporter search for them? Yes it's true that heterosexuals can join gay rights groups and have gay friends, and that is true. But still why wasn't Rogers' participation in the group, which was confirmed, in and of itself newsworthy, along with what his gay friends had to say about him?

    Howell eventually concludes in the last paragraph of her column that the story should have included Rogers' sexual orientation, but she cushions her criticism:

    The Post was right to be cautious, but there was enough evidence -- particularly of Rogers's feelings about "don't ask, don't tell" -- to warrant quoting his friends and adding that dimension to the story of his life. The story would have been richer for it.

    Cautious OK but the way the story was handled suggests a real double standard, however well-intentioned, is at work here. My own belief is that real reason for the omission -- which has been an ongoing issue with obituaries at the Post that I've written about a number of times over the years -- was signaled in the opening line of Howell's column:

    What should a newspaper print about a person's most private life in a story after his death?

    Rogers' being gay was his "most private life"? Why is the sexual orientation a gay person his "most private" secret when it is a routine fact treated with no privacy expectation whatsoever with heterosexuals? Howell acknowledges that Rogers kept his romantic life -- not sex life, which is private, but romantic life -- only as private as he needed to in order to comply with "Don't Ask Don't Tell."

    I'm not of the school that the press "owes us" our heroes and thus should report sexual orientation more frequently. But I do believe the same editorial standards ought to apply to gay and straight alike.

    GNW 5: Only one gay N'Sync'er

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Italian police pin-up named Gaydar's sexiest manItalian police pin-up named Gaydar's sexiest man: QUICK LOOK: Gorgeous Italian motorcycle cop, Fabrizio Chiazza, has been voted the world’s sexiest man in Gaydar.co.uk’s hotly contested ‘Sex Factor’ competition. The 33-year-old... (MORE)
    2. N'Sync singer denies 'Gossip Girl' boyfriend rumorN'Sync singer denies 'Gossip Girl' boyfriend rumor: QUICK LOOK: This just in -- JC Chasez is not gay. A disappointing conclusion for gossip girls and boys around the globe who heard all about it on the nasty blogs: The 'N Sync alum... (MORE)
    3. Married American ordered to pay gay Brazilian ex-boyfriend: QUICK LOOK: A court in Brazil has ruled that a married American man must share part of his wealth with a Brazilian man with whom he had a four year relationship.  The Court of Justice in the southern state... (MORE)
    4. Okla. rep meets with PFLAG, backs workplace rightsOkla. rep meets with PFLAG, backs workplace rights: QUICK LOOK: Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern had the first public meeting with an LGBT advocacy group since her shockingly anti-gay speech was posted online by the Gay and Lesbian... (MORE)
    5. Evangelical group moves from gay to other issuesEvangelical group moves from gay to other issues: QUICK LOOK: An evangelical group that wants to reshape the movement's political reputation for being focused on opposing abortion and same-sex marriage is hoping that a series of... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    March 28, 2008

    The audacity of 'huh?'

    Posted by: Chris

    The Blade published a provocative guest editorial today by former Log Cabin political director Chris Barron, arguing that Barack Obama's relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright ought to disqualify him from the presidency. It covers the usual ground concerning Wright's controversial sermons, but veers into new territory here:

    I wonder what the reaction from the gay left would have been if it were revealed that Jerry Falwell had been John McCain’s pastor for decades or that David Duke had been the best man in his wedding. I am fairly certain that such an intimate association with men with such divisive and repulsive views would certainly be grounds enough not to support his candidacy.

    I don’t believe in simple guilt by association, but I do believe it is fair to assess a candidate, particularly their judgment, by looking at those they choose to so closely associate themselves with. Rev. Wright is no different than Jerry Falwell or David Duke, and the consequences for Obama should be no different than they would be for a Republican.

    Let's count the holes here, shall we? First off, McCain did choose to associate himself with Falwell, as well as Rev. John Hagee, who said Katrina was God's smiting the sodomites in New Orleans gathering for Southern Decadence weekend.

    Second, the comparison of Wright to Falwell or Duke is strained, to say the least. Wright never inserted his oddball politico-religious beliefs into public policy debates and he certainly never argued that his own theological beliefs were a basis for limiting the individual rights of others. One would hope a Log Cabin Republican would understand that critical difference.

    Finally, Barron acknowleges that (a) he doesn't know if Obama ever confronted Wright about the extremist sermons he did hear (Obama has said he did); and (2) he doesn't believe Obama shares Wright's outrageous views. Add that up with Barron's failure to analogize Wright to right-wing religious extremists who push their view into our politics, and you're left with a "huh?"

    I would count myself alongside Hillary Clinton, who (opportunistically) said yesterday that she would have quit Wright's church if he were her pastor. But I cannot see the relevance of a political candidate's personal decision of whether or not to do the same. What about Mitt Romney, whose church didn't consider blacks equal to whites until 1978?

    What's it all about, Howie?

    Posted by: Chris

    Howard_dean_2 This was my weekly column, written on Tuesday, before his quote about the insanity of gay Republicans and before another bit of breaking news I note in a postscript at the end.

    The column was a bit of a love letter to Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean:

    Dear Howard,

    It’s us, the gay community. We need to talk. You know what about -- our relationship.

    It’s no secret we’ve been drifting apart, all that romance and excitement from the halcyon days of 2004 seems like a lifetime ago now. These days, all we do is argue, and our dirty laundry is daily fodder for the gossiphounds on the blogosphere.

    The name-calling. The nastiness. The pettiness. This isn’t us.

    We should be thick as thieves. Eight years of George W. Bush is enough to make all but the button-down Log Cabin boys swoon at the prospect of one of yours in the White House. I mean just look at our choices.

    The GOP is nominating a septuagenarian whose idea of a May-December romance is a gay rights record even worse than George Bush in 2000: no workplace protections, no hate crime law, no gays serving openly in the military -- even the most limited domestic partnerships are a non-starter with John McCain.

    Your side, on the other hand, is down to two courtesans who know exactly what to say. Hillary had us practically at hello –at least since she said she wasn’t staying home serving milk and cookies. She’s already won over most of our prominent politicos, including 13 of the 21 out LGBT superdelegates. (We won’t count Donna Brazile, nudge nudge wink wink.) Despite Barack Obama’s own charm offensive, he has only 2.

    But the handsome senator from Illinois knows how to push our buttons, too. He woos us with promises to repeal all of the Defense of Marriage Act, which reminds us of the presidential playa who signed it into law in the first place. Hillary feels our pain on that, no doubt.

    When you see Clinton and Obama courting us, do you remember the 2004 party primaries? It was all about you, Howard -- a little-known governor from Vermont who courageously supported the nation’s first civil unions law. No matter the audience, you talked about gay rights before gay rights were cool. We swooned in response, and our dollars played a major role in putting you on the map. Later, we cheered when you parlayed your primary success into a bid to chair the Democratic National Committee.

    So where did it all go wrong, Howard? It was that meddling “M word,” wasn’t it? Our expectations for this relationship went sky high after we could get married in Massachusetts. We thought you’d be happy for us but instead, like most pols, you just weren’t ready to go there. We were moving too fast for you, and it put you on the defensive. Sorry about that.

    Then you went on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” and said your party platform backed “one man-one woman marriage.” Ouch! We felt doubly betrayed; you were philandering with our sworn enemies and acting like you weren’t already spoken for. Looking back, we were too sensitive. It was smart politics for you to reach out to the religious right. So many of them these days are not their grandfather’s evangelicals.

    But the Democratic Party platform is actually neutral on gay marriage, and it wasn’t the only time you got that wrong in public. Our suspicions grew. Where was the Howard we fell for? Maybe you were just like Bill Clinton and the rest – wham bam, thanks for the cash, man.

    Then came the squabbling. Some of your most loyal party gays swore you’d lost that lovin’ feeling. You nixed the “gay outreach desk,” left us out of the party’s annual grassroots report, and you wouldn’t go along with treating us like other minority groups in delegate selection. You said you had your reasons, you said you did it for us, to make our bond stronger. We said, “Talk to the hand.”

    What did you expect? You sacked Donald Hitchcock, your top gay liaison, and said it was strictly based on performance. But now he’s sued you alleging anti-gay bias. We don’t know who to believe, considering he got the axe just a week after his partner, longtime Dem Paul Yandura, publicly blasted you for not doing more to fight state marriage amendments. There’s that “M-word” again.

    You know what happened next. Everything got personal. You called the Washington Blade “the Fox News of the gay media.” The Stonewall Dems got so riled at your chief of staff they said it was high time to “get these mother fuckin’ snakes off this mother fuckin’ plane.” A senior DNC staffer said she used gay newspapers to line her birdcage.

    It’s crazy, isn’t it, how nasty it’s gotten, when we were so important to each other early on. Is it too late for us? Have we gone from Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” to “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”? Actually no – that’s the “M word” again, sneaking up from behind. Still, civil union “D-I-S-S-O-L-U-T-I-O-N” just doesn’t have the same ring.

    So what do you say, Howard? Can we give us one more try? Meet us halfway? You don’t have to bring us flowers – just get a gay rights bill or two through the Democratic-controlled Congress.


    As a postscript, it's interesting to see this from today's Washington Blade report on Dean's deposition in the Donald Hitchcock suit:

    Dean noted that he personally supports same-sex marriage, a position brought about by “getting to know gay people” during and after his 2004 presidential campaign.

    “I learned more,” he said. “I learned a lot about the gay community. And I became much more comfortable with the gay community as I got to know more about them.”

    That's a big change from his previous position, which was to derisively dismiss the notion that civil unions and marriage weren't equal. It also confirms what I wrote earlier today -- this is a man who believes in our equality, and that's an important first step toward making it a reality.

    To the right lies insanity?

    Posted by: Chris

    Howard_dean Ever wondered why gay rights legislation is typically an agenda afterthought for congressional Democrats, why we seem to be the first minority group to be "thrown under the bus," as Melissa Etheridge put it? Ever suspected the Democratic National Committee and other fund-raising arms of the party love us more for our wallets and purses than they do for our civil rights struggle?

    My suspicion has always been that Democratic Party leadership genuinely believes in our equality -- probably even including gay marriage -- but in the end will spend minimal political capital on us because they know the GOP is so much worse on our issues. That's no slam on Democrats per se; the GOP has been treating conservative Christians like that since the Reagan years, even with their much bigger numbers.

    Every once in a while a leading Dem will say something that confirms my suspicion that we are taken for granted. Consider what DNC chair Howard Dean said yesterday at a speech in Madison, Wis.:

    Dean said that the Republican Party has scapegoated every ethnic group and therefore can’t create a multicultural identity and reach younger voters.

    “They can’t become more diverse,” Dean said. “Who in their right mind, if they were African American or Hispanic or Asian American, if they were gay or lesbian, would join the Republican Party?”

    That's a common belief among not just party leaders like Dean, but many gay Democrats as well. Unfortunately, that assumption has real political consequences, primarily undermining whatever influence GLBT issues might be given within the party. Why take political risks on hot-button issues for a group that has nowhere to go?

    Therein lies the primary criticism I've made against the Human Rights Campaign over the years because the gay Dems who run it work to reinforce the assumption that our movement is destined to be just another special interest captive within the Democratic Party. HRC's Joe Solmonese has actually said that's his goal.

    Part of fixing that means pushing the Democratic Party to do better. The other part is improving the Republicans on gay issues, so Dean's arrogant assumption is challenged. Enter the Log Cabin Republicans, who issued a statement understandably taking umbrage at having their sanity questioned, especially in such drive-by fashion -- as if the question wasn't one for serious debate.

    Nonetheless, it was faschinating to read the reaction from LCR director Patrick Sammon, who sounds like he's spent a lot of time this election year listening to Barack Obama:

    “It’s unfortunate that the chairman of the Democratic Party would rather divide people than engage in a thoughtful debate about policy ideas or a vision for our country’s future.  Americans deserve to know whether the two Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, agree with these remarks,” said Sammon. “The chairman of the DNC should focus on what unites Americans instead of dividing us by race or sexual orientation.”

    Si se puede, Patrick! If only Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, the closeted previous chair of the  Republican National Committee, thought more like you.

    Apology accepted

    Posted by: Chris

    Petersprigg Here's something you don't see every day.

    Remember that outrageous quote from Peter Sprigg, policy VP at the Family Research Council, about why they oppose immigration rights for gay Americans?:

    I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.

    I'll take a smidgen of credit, ever so humbly, for being the first to publicize that whopper on the blogosphere. Since then, Sprigg has shown up on dozens of blogs and websites for gay rights organizations.

    Now, lo and behold, he taking it all back:

    In response to a question regarding bi-national same-sex couples who are separated by an international border, I used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God. I apologize for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace.

    That's refreshing, especially his professed wilingness to at least see the human toll that legal inequality can take. Sure it might not be genuine, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I only wish Sprigg and his fellow travelers would pause long enough to consider what might have motivated that original quote, and whether causing pain and heartache in the lives of gay Americans, his fellow Americans, is really what Jesus would do.

    Sprigg goes on to say that FRC opposes the Uniting American Families Act because, "FRC does not believe that homosexual relationships are the equivalent of marriage." Fair enough, but why should that preclude any legal recognition at all for same-sex couples? If Sprigg really respects our dignity, he would see there's no harm in letting us be together with the one we love.

    (H/t: Immigration Equality)

    Poor Martha Wash

    Posted by: Chris

    Her booming voice gave us some of the greatest classics of the disco era and the early '80s. She even gave Marky Mark his "Good Vibrations":

    How did we return the favor? First she got Milli Vanilli'd in videos by C&C Music Factory and Black Box, with her vocals lip synched by a model:

    And now this:

    Oh the indignity of it all!

    March 27, 2008

    Walking contradiction for president

    Posted by: Chris

    Bob_barr The man responsible for the most homophobic law ever passed by Congress is weighing a run for president as a Libertarian, despite that party's longtime claim to being strongly supportive of gay rights.

    When Bob Barr was a Republican congressman from Georgia, he authored and was the chief sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks any federal recognition of gay couples married by the states, as well as allowing each state to refuse to recognizes marriage licenses issued to gay couples by other states.

    Barr has always been a walking contradiction, defending the institution of marriage from gays even as he divorced his first two wives and is now on his third; he is also an ardent foe of abortion rights even though he supported a decision by his wife at the time to terminate a pregnancy. There are individual rights Barr does care about -- he's a longtime board member of the National Rifle Association.

    Since leaving Congress in 2003, Barr has become active on privacy issues -- no, not the Roe v. Wade, Lawrence v. Texas kind. He's spoken out against the Patriot Act, joined the national board of did consulting work for the ACLU, and even testified against a federal marriage amendment -- based on states' rights grounds.

    Libertarians have a strong reputation on gay rights, including support gay marriage (or junking legal recognition for all relationships entirely) and repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell." But they do oppose workplace protections (for any minority group) and hate crime laws (for any minority group.)

    Barr would appear to be a very conservative peg in the Libertarian hole, but his candidacy could have a very significant benefit for gay rights -- siphoning off support for Republican John McCain, who remains unpopular with many conservatives.

    Barr's chief opponent for the Libertarian presidential nomination may be former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, one of two Democratic presidential candidates who backed full marriage equality, who quit his party to join the Libertarian race. Gravel's gay marriage support is a better fir with the Libertarian platform, but his support for gay rights protections in the workplace and against hate crimes is not.

    Say whaaaa?

    Posted by: Chris

    I've read this article twice, about how upset some Marylanders were when a small town council member responded to a question about school bullying by noting the higher incidence of bullying of gay and gender-nonconforming kids:

    At a town hall meeting in Clarksburg last week, Councilman George L. Leventhal said many victims of bullying are gay after a resident commented about that her daughter was being bullied at school.

    ‘‘It was totally inappropriate,” said Kathie Hulley, president of the Clarksburg Civic Association. ‘‘If the County Council is going to come out to a town meeting and somebody in distress asks a question, to go off on a tangent, which has no bearing to what she was asking, is really bad.”

    Councilman Marc Elrich, who also attended the meeting, said ‘‘I don’t know why [Leventhal] went there.”

    Huh? Were they upset because the remarks suggested the daughter was gay? Or minimized her victimization if she wasn't? The article never says, dancing around it in some sort of silly suburban code.

    Even more bizarre than the reaction to Leventhal's answer was the rambling question he was responding to:

    During a question-and-answer segment, Derwood resident Valerie Ricardo described how her daughter was being bullied at an area middle school. Ricardo went on to discuss the county’s anti-discrimination law covering transgendered individuals, and also discussed her fears of being approached by ‘‘a man with an exaggerated walk, a female walk” and ‘‘evil intent in his eye.”

    ‘‘So I want to say that the risk is real and I think that we need to take these situations of violence and bullying and crazy situations for what they are and begin to do something about it,” Ricardo ended her statement.

    Double huh? So we feel sorry for her daughter -- and we do -- and we blame it on men who prance a bit too much?

    Can anyone else translate this for me?

    GNW 5: Gay Kentucky dominates news!

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Gay Philadelphia group endorses Clinton for presidentGay Philadelphia group endorses Clinton for president: QUICK LOOK: The members of the Liberty City Democratic club, an LGBT political group in Pennsylvania, voted to endorse Hillary Clinton for president. Two-thirds of the members voted... (MORE)
    2. Ex-GOP senator slams Bush on gay marriage, IraqEx-GOP senator slams Bush on gay marriage, Iraq: QUICK LOOK: Former Rhode Island Senator. Lincoln Chafee often seemed to be odd man out in Washington. He was one of the Senate's most liberal Republicans, bucking his party on big... (MORE)
    3. Frustrated gay marriage foes turning to Calif. votersFrustrated gay marriage foes turning to Calif. voters: QUICK LOOK: California conservatives, stifled by the Democratic majority in the Capitol, are turning to the people in hopes of advancing their stalled agenda in 2008. Four conservative-backed... (MORE)
    4. Ky. college students get crash course in 'Lesbian 101'Ky. college students get crash course in 'Lesbian 101': QUICK LOOK: A lesbian walks up to a group of students and says, "ask me anything you want." Do they get out a notepad or bolt for the exit? Last night, eight students not only took... (MORE)
    5. Ky. House rejects ban on universities' D.P. benefitsKy. House rejects ban on universities' D.P. benefitsQUICK LOOK: A Kentucky House committee yesterday killed a Senate bill that would bar state universities and other public agencies from providing health insurance for domestic partners... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    Continue reading»

    March 26, 2008

    Hillary Clinton's truthiness problem

    Posted by: Andoni

    Hillarytuzla Famed reporter and author Carl Bernstein drops a bomb on Clinton's presidential hopes with a post on Anderson Cooper 360 blog concluding:

    The jury — armed with definitive evidence like the CBS tape of Hillary Clinton’s Bosnian adventure — seems on the verge of returning a negative verdict on her candidacy.

    This is well worth the read because Bernstein is uniquely qualified to judge Clinton's veracity having written a book on her last year. In his post, his cites many other examples of Hillary playing fast and fancy with the truth.

    A few weeks ago, I wondered in a post whether Hillary's repeated exaggerations of her national security credentials were an example of reaction formation, a Freudian defense mechanism that employs strong words, actions and positions to balance out what you unconsciously know are your own internal weaknesses. (And before anyone says enough of discredited Freudian psychobabble, that is true of a much of Freud's views, but reaction formation has held up among modern researchers.)

    The question for Hillary is whether she lies unconsciously (reaction formation) or on purpose?  I don't really care. Bernstein reminds us that it's a major character flaw either way, and would be harmful for our country. I think it disqualifies her to lead the country.

    Knowing what I know now, I don't think I can vote for Hillary even if she is the Democratic nominee, and I say that as pretty much a lifelong Democrat. Voting for her, knowing this character flaw, would be as insane as voting for Richard NIxon in 1968, if I had known his flaws. Talk about saving the country a lot of anguish.

    I love the Democratic Party, but I love my country more -- and I wouldn't want to put my country through all that electing Hillary would entail.

    I hope other Democratic voters can see this before it is too late.


    I just came across an interview with the Air Force pilot who flew Senator Clinton into Bosnia on the day in question, and if you want a real treat, listen and count the lies. I counted six -- and some of them are real whoppers. For instance, the pilot said the military never asks passengers to sit on their flak jackets, as Clinton claimed. He said the only time he ever heard of that was in the movie "Apocalypse Now."

    An apple falls close to the tree

    Posted by: Chris

    Her father's reckless philandering wrecked his second White House term and crushed the hopes of countless progressive legislative initiatives -- not to mention costing the Democrats the 2000 election and giving us eight years of George W. Bush.

    Her mother may not have been to blame, except he was enabled by years of her turning an obvious blind eye; part of a political marriage that has paid off for her personally, even as it screwed over the rest of us. (Not to mention that both her parents oppose our marital equality, a haughty stance considering their own unconventional "arrangement.")

    And yet there was Chelsea Clinton, taking personal umbrage when a college student had the temerity to ask whether the Lewinsky scandal hurt her mother's credibility:

    Far be it from us mere voters to ask whether putting her parents back in the White House risks a scandal-plagued repeat.

    Clearly, the arrogance apple did not fall far from the tree.

    The quiet death of ENDA, hate crimes

    Posted by: Chris

    Joesolmonesehrcla We all remember the days after Democrats took control of Congress in the November 2006 election, promising among other things that they would get right to passing long-delayed gay rights legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. Some of us grumbled that the vaunted "gay agenda" ought to go further, considering those bills have already passed in one form or another for a decade.

    More than a year after Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were sworn in as speaker and Senate majority leader, it now appears even our most limited expectations have been dashed. Consider this nugget from a speech by Joe Solmonese at the Human Rights Campaign's Los Angeles gala:

    A number of hurdles, as you know, made it impossible to move those bills any further this session.

    Say what? Last we heard, Ted Kennedy was introducing ENDA in January or February and would be searching for other legislative vehicles to attach the Shepard Act, after House Dems rejected it as an amendment to a big Defense Department. No excuses this time, we were assured, about how our civil rights being too "hot button" in an election year.

    But instead of lobbying from HRC to push these bills forward, we get a lecture from Solmonese about being impatient:

    When did we all say to ourselves -- OK, that civil rights thing -- I'll give it a year, maybe two - then everything should be done.

    A year? Who is he kidding? Solmonese may be late to the gay rights party, joining the movement only after he got a quarter-million-dollar job running HRC, but for most of us this ain't the first time at the rodeo. ENDA came with a vote of passing in 1996 -- more than a decade ago -- and both bills have been backed by a large majorities of the public and their reps in Congress for years.

    Hell yes we're impatient. Rather than motivating us into action and pressing Congress to do better, Solmonese is wagging his finger at us -- at us! -- and tamping down expectations. Call it the fierce urgency of next year.

    There's plenty of blame in Congress as well, of course. Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and Pelosi deserve credit for getting both bills passed the House -- the trans-inclusive Shepard Act sailed through and ENDA hobbled through in gay-only form. But Reid has seemingly done nothing in the ENDA. (Maybe Hillary will do better as Senate majority leader next year?)

    Yes, the primary culprits here are congressional Republicans, who rejected a trans-inclusive ENDA and balked at backing the Shepard Act add-on to the DOD bill, as well as President Bush, who threatened to veto both. But the GOP doesn't rake in gay money, votes and loyalty based on promises to get things done. Democrats do. And it's HRC that hoovers up gay dollars nationwide, promising to bring change, while never delivering.

    They all have some 'splainin to do.

    (Photo of Joe Solmonese at HRC's L.A. dinner via Bilerico/Karen Ocamb)

    Guilty of gay by association

    Posted by: Chris

    You may have heard about the libel lawsuits that occasionally are brought here in the U.S. when the media reports that someone is gay -- as if that is a defamatory in and of itself. Of late courts have generally done the right thing, allowing the claim to go forward when the plaintiff is in a heterosexual marriage or can otherwise prove that reporting he or she is gay actually is an attack on their reputation.

    Not so in Morocco (big surprise, right?). The courts there have issued one of the largest libel damage awards ever against the media after an article reported that "a judge" -- and unnamed judge -- attended the reception that followed a gay wedding:

    [The article] quoted a police source saying that an unnamed judge in the town attended the party, a sensitive issue in Morocco's mostly conservative society. [The newspaper] apologized for suggesting a judge was present at the gay party, after its police source informed the paper that the judge had been confused with a person with the same name.

    The paper did not name the judge in its report but all four judges [in the town] sued the newspaper for defamation. A Rabat court on Tuesday ordered [the paper] to pay them [about US$200,000] each.

    Sounds like Tom Cruise's kind of country.

    March 25, 2008

    Bill to gays: Who loves you baby?

    Posted by: Chris

    The video is out on Bill Clinton's angry pushback when a college journalist had the temerity to challenge his record on gay rights -- specifically Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act:

    It's classic Clinton for sure, and couldn't resist passing on this priceless analogy from Robbie over at The Malcontent:

    The Clintons truly were the Ike Turner of the gay community during the 90s. After knocking out a few GLBT teeth with the Defense of Marriage Act, he sent his wife to a pride parade - the great proof of how supportive they truly are. “I’m sorry for braggin’ on all those religious radio stations, baby. Here, I bought you a march. Forgive me? You know I had to do it. Sometimes you make me so politically vulnerable! Why do you do that to me, baby? Why?!”

    Debunking the new Clinton metric

    Posted by: Chris

    Setting aside the obvious desperation of the Clinton campaign's search for some measure of primary support she can use to poach superdelegates (and now even pledged delegates), their latest metric just doesn't add up.

    Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who is backing Hillary Clinton, argued over the weekend that we ought to be looking not at pledged delegates or superdelegates or number of states won or popular vote or electability or even national polls -- since all of those favor Barack Obama -- but at the electoral votes available in the general election from the states she has won.

    The New York Times and other MSM applied the Bayh approach and show Clinton in the lead:

    So far, Mrs. Clinton has won states with a total of 219 Electoral College votes, not counting Florida and Michigan, while Mr. Obama has won states with a total of 202 electoral votes.

    The math problem with that conclusion is that it counts two states -- Nevada and Texas -- where Obama actually won more delegates, even though Clinton won more votes. Accounting for those two states, the electoral total would be:

    • Obama: 241
    • Clinton: 180

    So for Bayh's metric to work for Clinton, the argument would have to go something like this: Democrats ought to nominate the candidate who wins states representing the most electoral votes, with "wins" referring to the popular vote in each state, without regard to whether the state held caucuses (Nevada) or a mixed primary-caucus contest (Texas).

    It does have the elegant logic so common in self-serving Clintonian logic.

    McCain's hateful and intolerant pastor

    Posted by: Chris

    Kudos to MSNBC's Dan Abrams for calling out "Teflon John" even as the MSM otherwise obsesses over Wright:

    On the one hand, John Hagee was not McCain's pastor for 20 years. On the other hand, there's every indication that his "controversial" utterances about Catholics and gays were, in fact, indicative of the hateful bile he has preached for years.

    March 24, 2008

    Second-class marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Tax_blog Just a month after a New Jersey commission concluded that the state's civil unions leave same-sex couples mired in second-class status, the arrival of tax time reminds us that the same could be said of even those gay couples lucky enough to marry in Massachusetts. Martin Hollick, a Harvard University librarian who blogs at Heterodox Homodox (oops!) offers up his own story:

    Michael and I must file joint returns in Massachusetts. However, the federal government doesn't recognize our marriage thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed into law by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. So we file individual returns at the federal level.  Our benefits that we give each other via our employers are nontaxable at the state level, but taxable gifts at the federal level.

    So, even though we can grant each other health, dental, and whatever other benefits because of our marriage, the costs of such benefits are not free (as they are to straight married couples), but a tax liability. We, therefore, have a tax accountant prepare our returns so we (or rather he) can get it right. … This is a yearly reminder that we are still second class citizens. 

    Despite the time and expense of being "domestically partnered in three jurisdictions (City of Cambridge, MA; State of California; City and County of San Francisco, CA); married and annulled in California; and married" in Massachusetts, along with signing "wills, health care proxies, and Powers of Attorney written for Massachusetts and then redone for California," all their hard work comes nowhere close to approximating a single Britney Spears nuptial trip to Vegas.

    Hopefully Martin and Michael's story will give pause to those gay conservatives -- including regular readers of this blog -- who buy into the farce peddled by John McCain and others that gay couples can somehow construct the rights and responsibilities of marriage through private contract.

    Rev. Wright, Obama and me

    Posted by: Andoni

    Jeremiahwright It's time to inject a bit of sanity into the discussion of the video clips of Barack Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright that surfaced 10 days ago. After struggling with how to put Reverend Wright’s moments of hate and divisiveness into context, I decided that the only way to judge this man was to put myself in his shoes. I certainly wouldn’t want to be judged by the most outrageous two minutes of utterances in my career.

    The important observation in all this is that Reverend Wright served 30 years at Trinity United Christian Church. That’s a total of more than 15 million minutes as pastor and yet 10 days of intense media scrutiny has produced only these two minutes of offensive clips.

    As a gay man who lived through the 1980s, I saw our government ignore the AIDS epidemic while friends died. If the cameras were rolling on me, there would be hateful clips of me saying “God damn America,” too, and wondering if there were some sort of covert plan to rid the country of sodomites. I was also very angry at President Reagan for ignoring the AIDS epidemic not even uttering the word "AIDS" in public. If the things I said about the president had been videotaped and given to the authorities, it might have gotten me arrested.

    All in all, those words represented about five minutes of my 60 million minutes on earth. If someone showed you these clips of my words, you would think that I was a wild-eyed radical terrorist bent on overthrowing the government. Of course that's not the case at all, then or now. People who know me well will tell you that I’m a very level-headed moderate type of guy.

    So unless someone comes up with hours and hours of hateful speech from me, those five minutes of my life are not fairly representative of who I am or the work I have done, either then or now. The same goes for Reverend Wright. And those few minutes of ugliness don’t say a thing about the people who have chosen to remain close to me in spite of my brief moments of hatefulness over my 60 years. The same holds true for people who have chosen to stick close to Reverend Wright during his years of preaching, in spite a few minutes of his apparent hateful speech.

    Politics isn’t fair and the media scores points for playing "gotcha," finding shocking like these, whether or not they are representative or out of context. Those who played the video clips of Wright's sermons over and over knew exactly what they were doing. It was calculated. However, the answer to free speech is more speech. In an ideal world, someone would make a fair and complete video biography of Wright’s life and sermons and then pay for it to run over and over again on TV to give the public a fuller picture of the man. But that isn’t going to happen because of the time and expense.

    The next best “more speech” solution would be for some 527 organization to gather video clips of the worst two minutes of each of the TV and radio commentators who overplayed the Wright story and subject them to the same scrutiny and ridicule. Maybe we could give equal time to the worst two minutes of those who pastor to John McCain, Hillary Clinton and President Bush. That would be justice in my mind.

    None of us would want our entire life judged by our most outrageous two minutes of utternances. We should remember that when we're judging the words of Reverend Wright.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 For related stories and breaking news, click or bookmark:

    The intro to 'The Speech'

    Posted by: Chris

    Harriswofford With all the well-deserved attention paid to "The Speech" by Barack Obama on race and politics last week in Philadelphia, most of us missed the introduction he received from Harris Wofford, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. I am very proud to call Harris a friend, even though he turned 80 exactly one year and one day after I turned 40.

    I can only marvel at the amazing life he has led, from advising Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy on civil rights issues, to helping launch the Peace Corps. It is to Pennsylvania's credit that Harris was re-elected to the Senate in 1991 over Dick Thornburgh, the heavily favored former governor and U.S. attorney general. It's to the state's eternal shame that Wofford subsequently lost his seat in a razor-thin election  to Rick Santorum, the arch-conservative, anti-gay Republican.

    Harris' lifelong commitment to bridging the gap between the races made him the ideal choice to introduce Senator Obama in Philadelphia last week. His high praise reinforces the notion many have that this presidential campaign has truly unique potential:

    Originals of this kind don’t come along often – maybe once every few generations. They come when they are most needed. When I heard Barack Obama speak at the Democratic Convention in 2004, I saw him as such an original. Since then I’ve read his two books and listened to his words that are reaching the soul of America. And in this campaign we’ve seen him putting those words into action.

    We’ve waited a long time to meet a leader whom the country needs as badly as we needed John Kennedy in 1960 and Robert Kennedy in 1968. And today, I’m more convinced than ever that Barack Obama is that leader.

    He closed his introduction with a story about King and Kennedy that merits retelling:

    I’ll never forget one moment in the early weeks of President Kennedy’s thousand days. The President had to tell Dr. King that he was committed to the full civil rights agenda, but that he would have to delay proposing the far-reaching legislation that had been pledged in the 1960 Democratic Platform. He had decided that to go forward with legislation at that time would have been self-defeating -- triggering a Southern filibuster, exposing the weakness of the Democratic Party, and revealing the inability of the new President, with a razor thin majority, to control the Congress.

    It was a difficult discussion. But it was Kennedy and King at their best; both calm and determined to reason together to find their way forward. Martin was disappointed. But he accepted the decision, and said he wasn’t going to attack the President for it.

    On his way out of the White House, Martin turned to me and said, “I had hoped when I came here today that this would at last be a President who had the intelligence to understand this problem, the political skill to solve it, and the moral passion to see it through. I’m convinced now that he’s got the intelligence and the skill. We’ll have to see if he has the passion.”

    Kennedy eventually proved that he had the passion, as did Robert Kennedy in his turn. Now, as we aim to complete the work that we began all those years ago, I’m convinced that if Martin Luther King were alive today, he’d say Barack has all three.

    The introduction in its entirety is available in the jump to this post.

    Continue reading»

    March 23, 2008

    Maybe this explains…

    Posted by: Chris

    …why the DNC hasn't settled the gay bias lawsuit filed by Donald Hitchock, fired from his job as gay outreach staffer:

    Democrats have a dramatic financial advantage in nearly every part of the political spectrum except at the national parties, where the Republican National Committee has cash to crow about.

    Forms filed with the Federal Election Commission overnight show the Democratic National Committee started March with just under $5 million in cash on hand, while the RNC had just over $25 million to spend. …

    Karen Finney, the DNC’s communications director, said the accounting entry tells only part of the story.

    “Given that many are saying the DNC is broke, I'm wondering what the standard is,” she said in an e-mail to reporters. “We raised $6M, have no debt and have $4.7M cash on hand. McCain has $3.7M cash on hand when you take his debt into account. ... Is McCain broke, too? Happy Friday.”

    Or maybe the unmerited cockiness of Karen Finney is symptomatic of the arrogance and score-settling that takes top priority at Howard Dean's Democratic National Committee.

    (Via Poltico.com)

    Speaking of Hagee…

    Posted by: Chris

    Johnhagee_2 Speaking of Rev. John Hagee, who is supporting John McCain's presidential bid, the controversial San Antonio minister told the New York Times that the GOP nominee sought his endorsement despite distancing himself since:

    As a prominent evangelical pastor based in San Antonio, you were recently catapulted into national controversy when you endorsed Senator John McCain for president. Is it true that McCain actively sought your endorsement? It’s true that McCain’s campaign sought my endorsement.

    Meanwhile, Hagee (unconvincingly) distances himself from his own apocalyptic anti-gay rhetoric:

    Let’s talk about your much-quoted comment that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for a gay rights parade in New Orleans. We’re not going down there. That’s so far off-base it would take us 33 pages to go through that, and it’s not worth going through.

    I am not eager to rehash it either, although I wish that evangelicals were not so hard on gays. Our church is not hard against the gay people. Our church teaches what the Bible teaches, that it is not a righteous lifestyle. But of course we must love even sinners.

    Do you have any gay friends? I don’t want to say that I have any friends, because when you say, “Who are they?” I don’t want them jumping off the balcony.

    But wouldn't they just be fulfilling God's judgment upon them in Leviticus?

    Where's the 'sharp contrast'?

    Posted by: Chris


    The headline this Easter Sunday in the non-denominational Christian Today reads, "McCain's pastor a sharp contrast to Obama's," but that conclusion doesn't bear up to scrutiny:

    John McCain's Phoenix pastor, Dan Yeary, is a folksy patriotic Southern Baptist who opposes abortion and believes homosexuality to be a biblical sin, but says Christians have an obligation to love such sinners.

    That puts Yeary, who heads the church attended for the past 15 years by the US Republican presidential candidate firmly in the US Southern Baptist mainstream, and in line with the Republican Party.

    He offers a sharp contrast to Democratic contender Barack Obama's former preacher Jeremiah Wright, who has stirred controversy with his fiery comments on race and America.

    The comparison is false on its face. Yeary may well be within the mainstream of Southern Baptists but Wright is similarly within the mainstream of the black church, however incendiary the snippets from his sermons may have been to white Americans.

    I also fail to see any contrast in the suggestion that Wright is divisive but Yeary somehow is not. Yeary opposes abortion rights, guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court for 35 years, and advocates second-class treatment of gays. What's worse, there is every indication that McCain agrees with his pastor on those points, in the religious and political sense, making his pastor's views much more clearly fair game for discussion.

    For example:

    The 69-year-old Yeary adheres to the Southern Baptist belief that gay marriage and homosexual relations go against Biblical scripture, hot-button issues for many in the United States.

    "The Bible is pretty clear about it, in my opinion it specifically calls it a sin. I also am a sinner and you are a sinner. ... Did Jesus Christ love homosexuals? I'm sure he did," Yeary said.

    This sounds remarkably light John McCain's fervent opposition to absolutely any form of legal recognition for gay relationships -- not just marriage or civil unions but even limited domestic partnerships.

    There's no indication, on the other hand, that Obama has taken any political cues from Wright's divisive views. To the contrary, Obama has insisted Wright is purely a spiritual mentor and has rejected, denounced and otherwise distanced himself from the controversial political views Wright has aired from the pulpit.

    If anything, we should be hearing less about Wright and more about McCain's pastor, and his other religious supporters like Pastor John Hagee, who famously claimed that Hurricane Katrina was intended by God to wipe out the gay Southern Decadence party set for that weekend.

    March 22, 2008

    The gay case for McCain

    Posted by: Chris

    Mccainfalwell Jamie Kirchick of The New Republic is making the case that John McCain wouldn't be "so bad" for gay voters, no matter who the Democrats nominate. I've known and respected Jamie for years and published his columns in the Blade when he was still a student at Yale, but he's trying way too hard here.

    Much of what he argues will sound familiar to those who remember the Log Cabin Republicans' spirited defense of the Arizona senator, especially his "courageous" opposition to a federal marriage amendment, Let's remember that McCain attacked the measure as "un-Republican" because it violated states' rights -- a principle with a dubious civil rights history -- and not because it wrote intolerance into the U.S. Constitution.

    Jamie tries papering over McCain's unprincipled flip-flop on Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance" who had no place in the GOP. "Sure, McCain spoke at Falwell's Liberty University in 2006," he writes, "but he didn't pander." Oh really? Well it was certainly no random graduation appearance:

    McCain's appearance came eight months after the founder of the Moral Majority visited him at his Senate office in what both men said was an effort to put their contentious past behind them. This weekend, Falwell rolled out the red carpet for his old adversary, assembling about 150 church leaders from around the country for a Friday night reception and later hosting a small, private dinner for the senator.

    This was purely politics, breaking bread with the conservative leader he once called "evil." Asked on "Meet The Press" last year whether he still believed Falwell was an "agent of intolerance," McCain said: "No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain to you his views on this program when you have him on."

    Jamie imagines that McCain's supposed hostility toward the religious right -- certainly kept well-disguised in recent years -- means he won't "feel the need to appease the anti-gay wing of his party." And yet there he was in 2006, endorsing Arizona's draconian anti-gay ballot measure, which not only banned gay marriage but also civil unions and limited domestic partnerships.

    Kirchick tries to excuse McCain's support for the Arizona measure -- historic for being the only gay marriage initiative rejected by voters -- by reminding us that John Kerry had also backed state amendments banning gay marriage. Then again, Kerry was one of a handful of senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, supported civil unions including federal recognition, not to mention ENDA, hate crimes and repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell." And last I checked, Kerry was the Democrats' nominee in 2004, not 2008, and both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are on record opposing even limited state marriage amendments, much less Arizona's bigoted overreach.

    Kirchick cites several examples of McCain's personal comfort around gay people, and no doubt that's correct. But we've been here before, haven't we? Those who knew George W. Bush were universal in praising his comfort with gay people, in and out of politics, and yet look where it got us. Since when is the absence of personal discomfort in the presence of homosexuals somehow a qualification for the presidency?

    Whatever gay Republicans and libertarians may think of McCain's views outside the realm of civil rights, the unmistakable reality is this: McCain's hostility to absolutely any form of legal protection whatsoever for gay relationships is consistent with his opposition to absolutely any form of protection for gays individually. That includes workplace protection, service in the military and even hate crime laws.

    McCain's gay allies may be relieved that Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee didn't win the GOP nomination, but McCain's political record remains one of ardent gay rights opposition -- worse even that George W. Bush when he ran in 2000. This is progress?

    (Photo of McCain and Falwell via New York Times)

    March 21, 2008

    GNW 5: Pregnant trans man tells story

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Is society ready for this pregnant transgendered man?Is society ready for this pregnant transgender man?: QUICK LOOK: To their neighbors, Thomas and his wife Nancy don’t appear in the least unusual. To those in the quiet Oregon community where they live, they are viewed just as we are... (MORE)
    2. Gay gossip is the norm on 'Juicy Campus' websiteGay gossip is the norm on 'Juicy Campus' website: QUICK LOOK: The post that appeared on a Juicy Campus message board on Feb. 25 was blunt and decidedly extracurricular. It identified a Yale sophomore, by name, as having appeared... (MORE)
    3. Staffer lawsuit gives Howard Dean one gay headacheStaffer lawsuit gives Howard Dean a big gay headache: QUICK LOOK: As if dealing with a protracted Democratic presidential primary fight and the Michigan and Florida delegate debacles weren't enough, Democratic National Committee Chairman... (MORE)
    4. U.S. gay couples seek their own immigration reformU.S. gay couples seek their own gay immigration reform: QUICK LOOK: Immigration is always a hot button issue, but it becomes even more controversial when the immigrants seeking legal U.S. citizenship are homosexual. There's a new bill... (MORE)
    5. Penn, Damon wrap filming of 'Milk' in San FranciscoPenn, Damon wrap filming of 'Milk' in San Francisco: QUICK LOOK: "Harvey will be coming out soon," an extra assured the crowd in front of City Hall on a recent Sunday. They had gathered to be in a scene in "Milk"- the movie about the... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    The newest technological annoyance

    Posted by: Chris

    Annoyingcell Text messages to your cell phone from the Human Rights Campaign:

    Text messaging has some real advantages over e-mail as a form of communication, said Dane R. Grams, online strategy director at the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington advocacy group that focuses on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues.

    So far at least, mobile phones aren’t overrun with spam, he said, and while many people have multiple e-mail addresses — some of which they check infrequently — most only have one mobile number. …

    To date, the organization’s use of the medium for fund raising has been limited. At the end of January, as the group’s annual membership drive was coming to a close, it sent out text messages encouraging people to join or to renew their support.

    But the Human Rights Campaign hopes to soon send out fund-raising appeals that would ask members of the mobile network that would connect people who want to make a gift to live operators who could take their information.

    That's our "leading" gay civil rights group -- getting the jump on cell phone spam. As if the group's constant torrent of snail mail and telephone donation solicitations weren't enough, not to mention outing innocent homos through mis-addressed e-mail alerts.

    In related news:

    • Respected lesbian journalist Karen Ocamb was unimpressed by HRC's Los Angeles gala, where "Brokeback" actress Anne Hathaway seemed as confused as the audience for why she was receiving an "ally" award. Apparently being a celeb with a gay brother and a role in a gay film is critical to the movement's future.
    • Michael Petrelis has more evidence that the fix is in for HRC (the candidate) at HRC (the organization): chief strategist David Smith gave a whopping $2,300 to the Clinton campaign in January.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 For related stories and breaking news, click or bookmark:

    NLGJA stands by Blade against DNC

    Posted by: Chris

    Nlgja_logo It's very gratifying to see today that the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is speaking out publicly in defense of the watchdog role of the LGBT press, even when covering political "friends" of the gay rights movemement like Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee.

    I concluded my post last week about the DNC's contempt for the gay press with this:

    The Democratic Party has enjoyed a major resurgence the last several years, attributable almost entirely to the utter disaster of the Bush presidency and the inspirational (until recently) presidential primary. Dean will no doubt ride that wave as long as he can, but it is long past time for gays and gay groups to speak out against the contempt and disrespect with which Democratic Party officials treat the gay press.

    Where is the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association when the gay press needs it?

    Afterward, I contacted Eric Hegedus, the group's president, to see where NLGJA stood, and to my very pleasant surprise he told me last weekend that the group would come forward with a strong statement in support of the LGBT media and press freedom. That statement is published in today's Washington Blade, in the form of an op-ed that encourages the gay press to "keep up the good fight" in watchdogging the DNC, party chair Howard Dean and his controversial staff chief Rev. Leah Daughtry:

    In the end, the LGBT media deserve as much respect and attention as mainstream media, and I have just one message to [editor Kevin] Naff and the Blade, as well as other journalists working in LGBT press: Keep up the good fight. Continue to do your job, follow your ethics, question political motives and open the public's eyes and ears regarding how governmental process works.

    There’s a reason journalists subscribe to the tenet of a “free press,” whether in mainstream or niche media. It's our job to cover politics, bureaucracy and governmental leaders, not to mention our communities, and we have no room for apprehension and scare tactics in our pursuit of the truth.

    This isn't a matter of journalists working in the gay press simply circling the wagons. NLGJA consists almost entirely of gay journalists working in the mainstream media -- including all of the top newspapers, TV networks and new media -- and the org traditionally shies away from anything that resembles "activism." In fact, this is the first time in my decade of affiliation that I remember NLGJA ever speaking out for the LGBT press; it's important and very welcome.

    Hegedus is careful not to take sides on the particular factual dispute here -- whether Daughtry sent lawyers to the Blade offices in an attempt to intimidate the paper from covering her and the DNC -- but NLGJA is offering a crucial defense of the independence of the LGBT media against attempts to disrespect and intimidate. He acknowledges that LGBT press is criticial because it can cover gay issues in a way that the mainstream press effectively cannot. (Although it was nice to see that the Washington Post awoke yesterday from its gay slumber long enough to cover Dean and the bias lawsuit brought by Donald Hitchcock.)

    If only the gay men and lesbians with influence within the DNC apparatus could see beyond their partisanship long enough to join the NLJGA and stand up against the contempt shown by the party for the LGBT press -- and the movement and LGBT constituency itself.

    Richardson to endorse Obama

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamarichardsonclinton_2 Barack Obama receives some great news at the end of the most difficult week of his campaign. The AP is reporting that he'll receive an endorsement on Friday from New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson:

    Richardson, the nation's only Hispanic governor, is endorsing Obama for president, calling him a "once-in-a- lifetime leader" who can unite the nation and restore America's international leadership. Richardson dropped out of the Democratic race in January, and is to appear with Obama on Friday at a campaign event in Portland, Ore.

    The backing from Richardson, who was heavily wooed by both the Clintons, bucks up Obama's national security credibility, given Richardson's history as Bill Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations and success as a "roving diplomatic troubleshooter," as the AP puts it, negotiating the release of U.S. hostages and handling delicate negotiations with North Korea, Cuba and Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Richardson certainly knows what it takes to respond effectively to that mythical 3 a.m. phone call.

    Richardson will also bolster Obama with Latinos, who until now have largely supported Hillary Clinton.

    Perhaps the most encouraging result of this endorsement is the possible selection of Richardson as Obama's running mate. Richardson had his problems on the campaign trail, but he can help Obama in the general election geographically, demographically and on the hot-button issue of national security experience.

    It's also worth noting that Richardson was probably the second best president candidate on gay rights -- gaffes aside -- behind Obama himself. These two candidates at the top of the ticket should generate enthusiasm from LGBT voters of all political stripes.

    March 20, 2008

    Say anything, do anything (IV)

    Posted by: Chris

    Bayhclinton Just when you think the Clintons will engage in any tactic, no matter how sleazy, or make any argument, no matter how sneaky and specious, they set new lows -- almost by the hour. As the mathematical impossibility of Hillary's nomination effort sink in, the growing desperation is resulting in a whole host of tactics that alternatively make me laugh, shake my head or vomit a little inside my mouth.

    The latest from Hillaryland:

    • Because the Clinton campaign knows that they will lose the pledged delegate count and must convince the superdelegates to overturn that result, they've settled on two arguments both of which are fundamentally race-based. The first is that Obama can't win white working class voters. The analysis suggests Obama trails in this demographic because of some failing of his, and no doubt some white working class males simply don't like him. But there's also no doubt that racism is at play here, and defaulting the Democratic Party nomination, despite the majority of pledged delegates and popular vote, is unconscionable. That the Clinton campaign would explictly use race to argue against Obama's candidacy is abhorrent.
    • The second argument is also explicitly racial, based on Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright. You won't hear Hillary Clinton or anyone on her campaign talk about it openly -- campaign chief Maggie Williams has issued a stern edict against any such utterance. Instead, it's the focus of behind-the-scenes arguments made to superdelegates: "Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said they had spent recent days making the case to wavering superdelegates that Mr. Obama’s association with Mr. Wright would doom their party in the general election. That argument could be Mrs. Clinton’s last hope for winning this contest." (New York Times)
    • Asked today in Indiana if her surrogates were using the Wright controversy to sway superdelegates, Clinton responded coyly: "Well my campaign has been making the case that I am the most electable." A follow-up question about whether the Wright flap was an example of Obama's unelectability, she ignored the question.
    • As part of swaying superdelegates, Clinton must overtake Obama in popular votes because she cannot in pledged delegates. Keep in mind that the "popular vote" measure is itself a misnomer because it only includes primary states, ignoring voters in caucus states entirely. Even still, winning the overall popular vote mathematically requires a re-vote in Michigan and Florida, and that both be won handily by Clinton. As a result, Clinton ratcheted up the (ridiculous) rhetoric.
    • Failure to conduct a re-vote in Michigan would "disenfranchise" voters there and be "un-American,"  Clinton claimed in a quick trip to Detroit that cast the re-vote issue in civil rights terms, citing the barriers to office she faced as a woman. This is the same Hillary Clinton who said last October, "It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything." The difference? Last October she was on a New Hampshire radio call-in show, reassuring voters there that their primary's early influential status wasn't threatened.
    • To make the case yesterday, Clinton claimed in Michigan that "when others made a decision to remove their names from the ballot, I didn't, because I believed your voices and your votes should count." Back on in New Hampshire last October, in addition to saying those votes weren't "going to count for anything," she claimed she left her name on the ballot to protect Democrats in the general election.
    • Chastising Obama for removing his name from the Michigan ballot, the Clinton campaign argued, "There aren’t many second chances in life but Senator Obama has one now and should ask the people of Michigan for their vote." How Orwellian is that? The January primary was invalid under DNC rules, as Clinton herself acknowledged, and it is Clinton -- not Obama -- who is pressing for a re-vote to preserve any semblance of her viability in the race for pledged delegates and popular vote.
    • The Obama campaign has challenged any Michigan re-vote that disqualifies everyone who voted in the GOP primary there in January, given that voters generally knew the Democratic primary was invalid and the only vote they could cast that would matter would be on the GOP side. The Clinton response? Simply to cite the DNC rule against allowing double-voting in both parties' primaries, as if that answer the concern.
    • The Clinton campaign also dismissed out of hand the Obama campaign's argument that a June primary is unfair to college-age voters because school will be out of session and Michigan law does not allow first-time voters to cast absentee ballots.

    Is it a surprise to anyone that Gallup finds this?:


    Wright defies convention on gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Jeremiahwright Barack Obama and many other parishioners of the Trinity UCC in Chicago have said that Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been unfairly caricatured by the brief excerpts of sermons playing in endless loop on cable TV and YouTube. 

    It does seem that whatever ugly intolerance and divisiveness he spews on those videos, Wright has been more accepting of gay parishioners than many in the black church, especially those who preach "black liberation theology":

    As a leader, Wright defied convention at every turn. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, he recalled a time during the 1970s when the UCC decided to ordain gay and lesbian clergy. At its annual meeting, sensitive to the historic discomfort some blacks have with homosexuality, gay leaders reached out to black pastors.

    At that session, Wright heard the testimony of a gay Christian and, he said, he had a conversion experience on gay rights. He started one of the first AIDS ministries on the South Side and a singles group for Trinity gays and lesbians—a subject that still rankles some of the more conservative Trinity members, says Dwight Hopkins, a theology professor at the University of Chicago and a church member.

    None of that excuses Wright's hateful rhetoric in the pulpit, but it gives a fuller version of the man than we've been getting.

    Mildly offensive can be funny, too

    Posted by: Chris

    Bardaboa If you'd like a good laugh, take a minute and fill out the form on this website promotion for Antarctica beer from Brazil and watch the humorous, gay-themed video that follows, incorporating your name and that of a friend. Here's all you have to do:

    1. Go to this site: http://www.tatuagemdaboa.com.br/
    2. Type your first name on the first line.
    3. Type the name of a "crazy friend" you want to punk on the second line.
    4. If you want to go whole hog, type your email on Line 3 and your friend's email addy on Line 4 (but that's optional).
    5. Click "Visualizar" and watch the video that follows OR if you typed in email addresses, click "Enviar por email" and you and your pal will be sent emails with a link to the video.

    You can get the gist of the joke even in Portuguese, but I've translated it for you on the jump. Be forewarned that my translation spoils the joke if you read it before you see the video.

    All in all it's harmless fun, and I'll admit to laughing out loud.

    (Hat tip: Rob Bob)

    Continue reading»

    Say whaaaa?

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.


    "I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society."

    That's how Peter Sprigg, vice president of policy at the Family Research Council, explained the conservative group's opposition to the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow gay Americans the same right straight Americans have to sponsor a foreign partner for citizenship here.

    Just in case you wondered…

    (Video here; Spriggs quotes at 1:37)


    Immigration Equality linked to this post earlier today, and later the group's director Rachel Tiven issued this statement:

    Unfortunately, the Family Research Council's preference to export lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender (LGBT) Americans prevails. This policy continues to separate people who love each other, but of course Mr. Sprigg's group doesn't care about that. 

    I hope, however, that the Family Research Council realizes that when we 'export homosexuals' we also export talented men and women who have made incredible contributions to this country and its economy - THAT is 'destructive to society'.   LGBT Americans who are forced into exile from this country are researchers for companies like GE and Pfizer, nurses in the Midwest, teachers in our inner cities and sons and daughters of aging parents who depend on them for care.

    The Family Research Council might not care about our families but current immigration laws are 'destructive' to America and I hope that is something they do care about.

    March 19, 2008

    What if Obama said this…?

    Posted by: Andoni



    Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.

    -- Senator John McCain, speaking in Jordan (March 19, 2008)

    Can you imagine the reaction from the media and critics if Barack Obama had similarly misstated and misunderstood the difference between Sunni and Shia in Iraq, and confused which side Al Qaeda was on? He would have been ridiculed and labeled unfit to be commander in chief. There may well have been calls for him to leave the race because of his ignorance of foreign affairs.

    Yet this is exactly the error that on at least four occasions Sen. John McCain made on his trip to the Middle East. After repeating his error for the third time, McCain was saved by a tap on the shoulder by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who whispered that he had the wrong players on the wrong sides.

    What is going with the double standard here?

    Hillary Clinton complains about a media double standard that is tougher on her, but what if she had won 12 straight primary victories after Super Tuesday, as Obama did? Again, there would have been an outcry for Obama to drop out. No such reaction when it was Obama winning a dozen in a row.

    Is Obama being held to a higher standard than the others because he's black? Because he's young? Because he's new?

    Reversing the players is an effective way of determining whether treatment of a candidate is fair or not and imagine the reaction. It's clear to me the standards are unfair here, and Obama is getting a raw deal.

    GNW 5: More McGreevey messiness

    Posted by: Chris

    1. McGreevey ex-aide responds to wife's 3-way denialsMcGreevey ex-aide responds to wife's 3-way denials: QUICK LOOK: This is the statement today from former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey’s former driver and aide Teddy Pedersen after Dina Matos McGreevey denied Pedersen’s claims... (MORE)
    2. Ore. senator pushing gay rights repeal says 'shut up'Ore. senator pushing gay rights repeal says 'shut up': QUICK LOOK: State senator Gary George’s advice to the gay community? “Shut up!" In his first media interview since coming forward as co-sponsor of the initiative to repeal the recently... (MORE)
    3. Family death doesn't keep Hathaway from HRC galaFamily death doesn't keep Hathaway from HRC gala: QUICK LOOK: Anne Hathaway is a trooper. Despite a death in the family this weekend, she still showed up at a gay-rights gala on Saturday night. The 25-year-old starlet was given... (MORE)
    4. Calif. lesbian couple, son welcome new quadruplets to family: QUICK LOOK: A lesbian couple in California who already had one son are now the proud parents of quadruplets. "We're definitely done having kids," Cristine Gaiennie said. "We got more than we bargained for. We... (MORE)
    5. How 'gay' became children's insult of choice in U.K.How 'gay' became children's insult of choice in U.K.: QUICK LOOK: The word "gay" is now the most frequently used term of abuse in British schools, says a report. How did it get to be so prevalent and why do children use homophobic insults... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    The de-gaying of 'gay'

    Posted by: Chris

    _44489463_bully416 Me thinks the bullies of the world are protesting too much when they claim the word "gay" has been transformed into an innocuous insult that means "lame" or "stupid." On its face, it doesn't excuse using a word that describes a group of people as an insult. Would it be OK to use the names of other groups that way?: "That shirt is so Jewish!"

    A new survey of schoolteachers in the U.K. confirms that "gay" is only one in a series of homophobic words that top the list of student insults. Here's the list of insults, according to the British Association of Teachers and Lecturers; the percentages indicate what proportion of teachers heard the particular word on a regular basis:

    • Gay (83%)
    • Bitch (59%)
    • Slag (45%)
    • Poof (29%)
    • Batty boy (29%)
    • Slut (26%)
    • Queer (26%)
    • Lezzie (24.8%)
    • Homo (22%)
    • Faggot (11%)
    • Sissy (5%)

    Of the top 11 insults, eight words (including Brit slang like poof and batty boy) are explicitly homophobic, and three words (bitch, slag and slut) suggest promiscuity and are usually used against girls.

    And yet somehow the adult "experts" are buying into the claim by kids that gay has been 'de-gayed' and isn't anti-gay when hurled as an insult:

    One reason for this increase in use could be because "gay" has partly lost its sexual connotations among young people, says slang lexicographer Tony Thorne. While still pejorative, for the majority of youngsters it has replaced words such as "lame".

    "I have interviewed scores of school kids about this and they are always emphatic that it has nothing at all to do with hostility to homosexuals," says Mr Thorne, compiler of the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. "It is nearly always used in contexts where sexual orientation and sexuality are completely irrelevant."

    Whether or not the teens who use "gay" intend it to be homophobic, it's place at the top of a list of other popular insults -- almost all explicitly anti-gay -- suggests otherwise. So does the history of how it became an insult:

    "In the early 19th Century it was used to refer to women who lived off immoral earnings," says Clive Upton, professor of Modern English Language at Leeds University. Around the 1970s it was claimed by the homosexual community as a descriptive term for their sexual orientation, now its most popular meaning. By the 1980s it was finding its way into schools as a playground insult.

    "Every generation grows up with a whole lexicon of homosexual insults, in my day it was 'poofter' or 'bender'," adds Thorne. "They were used much more because they were considered more offensive than 'gay', which is more neutral."

    I've noticed how the use of "gay" as an insult has come out of the playground and crept into pop culture, including films and TV shows. I hope our friends at Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, who've done a bang-up job the last several years consigning "fag" to the dustbin of unacceptable slurs, can reclaim the word gay from being further cheapened as an insult that is somehow not homophobic. 

    (Photo of bullying via BBC)

    March 18, 2008

    SLDN schools Bill Clinton

    Posted by: Chris

    43541 The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, created back in 1993 after Bill Clinton signed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into law, has released an open letter to the former president, calling him out for his recent misrepresentations (here and here) of the policy itself, the politics that led to it, and the way it was enforced. In the letter to Clinton, SLDN director Aubrey Sarvis writes:

    Over the last several months you have been asked by reporters and others about the passage and implementation of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.' You have stated the law was not implemented as you understood at the time it would be.

    I gather from your comments that when 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' became law you intended for the Department of Defense’s implementing regulations to protect service members’ private lives. Unfortunately, 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s' implementing regulations are by in large consistent with the statutory language of the law itself and effectively prohibits service members from engaging in any actions seen as homosexual conduct. This includes simply telling others that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual.

    It's rather than charitable of SLDN to believe that Clinton actually buys his own B.S. about the intended effect of DADT's implementing regulations, considering how clearly they proscribe any type of "homosexual acts," whether or not the soldier or sailor is in private or wearing a uniform.

    Kudos to SLDN for speaking out, since it has become almost unthinkable for the current crop of Beltway gay groups to publicly criticize anyone generally considered "pro-gay. Will we see a similar statement from the Humarn Rights Campaign or the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, whether on this issue or Bill Clinton's revisionist history of that other twin pillar of anti-gay discrimination from his administration: the Defense of Marriage Act.

    Obama's Wright Stuff (III)

    Posted by: Chris

    Barack Obama's speech today in Philadelphia on the race-related controversy raised his pastor's remarks was, in the grand scheme of things, both brilliant and uplifting. He spoke about the racial anxieties of not just black Americans but whites and Latinos as well, and he recognized in a very rare way in politics that real grievances run in all directions.

    Here's a video of the speech, in case you missed it:

    In some ways the furor over the incendiary sermons by Rev. Jeremiah Wright played right to Obama's strengths -- a controversy he could address with a powerful speech, expertly delivered. Certainly anyone with an open mind who heard Obama speak so forcefully about his love for country and faith will accept that no part of Obama agrees with his pastor's outrageous statements.

    For the immediate future, however, Obama did not do all that he could have to relieve legitimate doubts raised by the controversy. He has certainly used all the right words to condemn Reverend Wright's race-baiting and anti-Americanism in a way that will satisfy almost everyone. This primary season is already too consumed with Hillary's game of rejecting vs denouncing, etc., and it's downright ridiculous to see conservative pundits joining in now, since they generally abhor such silly semantics when practiced by the P.C. left.

    Still, Obama would have dealt with his political problems more effectively if he responded to the utterances with specificity. He mentioned several in passing, including Wright's attempt to cast Israel as solely responsible for Middle East violence. But it would be reassuring, for example, to hear Obama directly refute Wright's exploitation of the urban myth that the U.S. government somehow infected African Americans with AIDS. That sort of ludicrous paranoia doesn't just sow distrust toward the government and white people, but is at a more fundamental level an attempt to deny the very existence of black gay and bisexual men. (President Ahmadinejad, anyone?)

    But as a journalist I know that the key to settling a controversy is to give satisfactory answers to the lingering questions, the way Obama tried to with his three hours of meeting with Chicago journalists over the Mike Rezco matter. Yet on Wright, at least today, Obama may have succeeded in raising as many "nagging questions," as he called them, as he did settling others.

    When it comes to specifics, Obama said:

    Did I know [Reverend Wright] to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy?  Of course.  Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church?  Yes.  Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views?  Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed. 

    It was a mistake to be so stingy with details, when the media will not let up until he is more forthcoming. What type of controversial statements did Obama here? On what topics? How frequently? Did he hear about other controversial statements from other parishioners? On what topics? How frequently? Did he ever raise with Wright directly his objections to any of these remarks? Did he and Michelle Obama consider leaving the congregation? You get the idea.

    At the same time I recognize the political reality that Obama needs to answer these additional questions, I would also like to channel Hillary Clinton just long enough to complain that this whole line of questioning is being unfairly applied in practice.

    As I've noted before, there is a real double standard in how the story has been covered. The second place candidate in the just-concluded Republican primaries was not just  candidate with a pastor but a pastor himself -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. And yet Huckabee has refused help to release tapes or written copies of his own sermons. And what about Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith is so poorly understood -- were we entitled to hear tapes of all the sermons from his church?

    The videotapes of Wright's sermons made this an irresistible controversy, but the media should at the very least ask conservatives using Wright to tar Obama whether the sermons by Huckabee and by Romney's pastor are similarly fair game.

    More Bill Clinton revisionism

    Posted by: Chris

    Clintonsgores The Clinton campaign is having one heckuva time keeping "the big dog" on the porch, and almost every time Bill Clinton barks, it's his wife's candidacy that ends up getting bitten. Thus far he hasn't been as divisive on gay issues that he has been on race -- probably because conventional wisdom says Hillary is doing better among gays -- but he has repeatedly rewritten his own political history.

    You can't blame him, really, considering that two of his wife's central promises to LGB voters are to repeal the discriminatory anti-gay laws he signed as president. So first two months ago and then again this week, the former president rewrote the history of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and even the substantive policy himself.

    Jennifer Vanasco at Logo's Visible Vote notes that in the same interview this week with college journalists, Clinton was also asked to respond to Melissa Etheridge's memorable comment in the HRC-Logo forum that the Clinton administration "threw gays under the bus" -- in particular because of the Defense of Marriage Act.

    In response, the former president once again threw facts to the wind and scribbling his way through the history books:

    There was at the time a serious effort to argue that the Congress ought to present to the States a constitutional amendment on gay marriage. The idea behind the Defense of Marriage Act was not to ban gay marriage, but for them to simply to say that if a marriage was…just because Massachusetts recognized the gay marriage. …

    All [DOMA] said was that Idaho did not have to recognize a marriage sanctified in Massachusetts. That seemed to be reasonable compromise in the environment of the time and it’s a slight rewriting of history for Melissa, whom I very much respect, to imply that somehow this was anti-Gay.

    Once again, the history and the substance are wrong. DOMA was not a defensive measure in response to a federal marriage amendment. It was a pro-active measure meant to "protect" other states from having to recognize marriage licenses issued to gay couples in Hawaii, where the state supreme court had signaled it was going to require.

    What's more, it's flat wrong to suggest that "all DOMA said was that one state did not have to recognize a marriage sanctified in another state." For one thing, state laws don't "sanctify" marriage; churches and synagogues do. For another, DOMA has two provisions and the one Bill Clinton cites would remain on the books if Hillary Clinton has her way.

    DOMA's other provision -- which has a much greater real-life impact -- is to define marriage under federal law as a heterosexual-only institution. One of the college reporters even tried to make that point, saying "people see this as an equal opportunity problem at the federal level, not just at the state level."

    But Clinton bulldozed his response, turning the tables on his interviewers. "Will there be more or fewer gay couples free of harassment if the law is that every gay couple in America could go to Massachusetts and marry and didn’t have to be recognized in Utah?" he asked.

    Got that? Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law, depriving bona-fied married gay couples from hundreds of federal rights and the portability of recognition in other states, but only to protect us from a backlash. The subtext is clear: Stop badgering our champions, the Clintons. Just say thank you for your inequality and wait for enough change so that it's politically expedient to support you. (See Kerry, John)

    Bill's final point on DOMA:

    The only point I was making is that I think that the attack that Melissa Ethridge is raised is a slight rewriting of history and doesn’t take a good account of where we were at the time and the fact that the Republican Right thought if they could just have a national referendum on gay marriage and make the Democratic Party about nothing but that they could bury the progressives in the country.

    Got that? Lesbian and gay Americans' claim to equality threatened the Democratic Party politically, so DOMA was a necessary evil to preserve viability. So yes he threw us under the bus, but at least he had a good political reason.

    The full excerpt relating to DOMA is available after the jump:

    Continue reading»

    March 17, 2008

    Fifteen minutes and counting…

    Posted by: Chris

    Large_mcg1 Dina Matos McGreevey should have listened months ago when the alarm clock announcing her 15 minutes of accidental fame had elapsed. But when New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer appeared at a press conference with his wife Silda by his side to admit that he had hired prostitutes, Dina couldn't resist stealing a few more precious seconds.

    So there she was, on every conceivable chat show, and even on the New York Times op-ed pages, drawing suspect  moral equivalences  -- not just between philandering Spitzer and her own estranged husband, ex-New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, who acknowledged in October 2004 that he is "a gay American." But also between herself and Silda Wall Spitzer as two wholly unsuspecting spouses, victimized by heartless men who valued sex over their marital commitments.

    We already knew that the first analogy was strained. Whatever you think of former Governor McGreevey, and I don't think very much of him, there is a substantial difference between a heterosexual husband hiring female prostitutes to cheat on his wife, and a closeted gay husband struggling with his homosexuality and cheating on his wife.

    Now it turns out that the victimized wife analogy doesn't fit either. While we don't know -- and I hope we never learn -- the details of the Spitzers' marital relationship, the McGreeveys have each written tell-all books about theirs and are now embroiled in nasty divorce proceedings.

    New06a But it was Dina's turn on the talk show circuit this past week that apparently turned the stomach of the luv guv's former driver Ted Pedersen, who is spilling the beans about a regular threesome he said he engaged in with the McGreevey's during their courtship and while they were engaged:

    "She's framed herself as a victim - yet she was a willing participant. She had complete control over what happened in her relationship," he said. "She was there, she knew what was happening, she made the moves. We all did. It's disgusting to watch her play the victim card."

    "We called it the Friday Night Special," Pedersen said. The "intense" escapades, he said, usually began with a "couple of drinks" at a local T.G.I. Friday's and culminated in "a hard-core consensual sex orgy" between the three of them at McGreevey's Woodbridge condo. …

    "He liked watching me, and she would watch me while she was [performing sex acts] with Jim," Pedersen said. "In my opinion, me being a part of their sexual relationship enhanced it for both of them."

    Pedersen lives with his girlfriend and claims he only had sexual contact with Dina during their threesomes, but those bedroom details blow a gaping hole into Dina's claim to being completely shocked her husband the governor was gay.

    A few more interesting tidbits about Pedersen's relationship to the then-governor:

    • From McGreevey aide tells of sexual trysts with ex-governor, wife, Newark Star-Ledger (March 16, 2008): "I wanted to get this out now because it was so offensive to me that she goes on television playing the victim," Pedersen said. "She's trying to make this a payday for herself. She should have told the truth about the three of us." Pedersen did not say if he was gay or bi sexual and only described having contact with Matos McGreevey during the trysts.
    • From N.J. Governor hires a dozen 'pretty boys'; big jobs, no experience needed, Bergen Record (Oct. 10, 2004): People with no real qualifications other than their proximity to the governor were awarded handsome jobs with dubious duties. As the governor's weekend aide or so-called "body man" -- a job that combines the duties of executive secretary and assistant -- Rutgers student Teddy Pedersen grew to be such a favorite of McGreevey that he was given his own room in Drumthwacket, the governor's mansion in Princeton, sources said. The governor even helped Pederson with his homework, other sources said.
    • From Matos McGreevey seeks financial information on husband's partner, Newark Star-Ledger (Jan. 11, 2008): Matos McGreevey also wants all e-mails between McGreevey's boyfriend Mark O'Donnell and McGreevey's friends, Theodore Pedersen, James Kennedy, Charles Kushner, Weiner Lesniak and Raymond Lesniak. She also wants promissory notes or other financial instruments made by McGreevey and Pedersen that shows any obligation to O'Donnell.
    • From Battlin' McGreeveys step it up, Bob Ingle Blog (Feb. 6, 2008): As part of divorce proceedings, Dina Matos wants to take a look at a financial link with Jim McGreevey's friend Theodore Pedersen. Matos McGreevey claims that a trip Pedersen took with McGreevey and McGreevey's boyfriend Mark O'Donnell to China in August 2007 was paid for out of a joint account with O'Donnell and McGreevey. Gosh, this is getting ugly.

    Actually, it apparently got much uglier than we realized. Dina subpoenaed Pedersen as part of the couple's lengthy divorce proceedings -- which have now lasted longer than their marriage -- and took his deposition, according to the New York Post: "The former driver said he believes that Dina subpoenaed him as an end-run around her estranged hubby, to see what he would say if he was called on by McGreevey's side. Pedersen said he believes that Dina never expected him to talk about their trysts."

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 For related stories and breaking news, click or bookmark:

    Reprioritizing our legislative agenda

    Posted by: Andoni

    The worst kind of discrimination is the kind our government inflicts on us. Relatively speaking discrimination that others inflict on us is not as bad, not as powerful.

    Discrimination written into the law, like slavery or separate but equal public facilities, set the tone for society, encouraging similar conduct by private citizens and companies. For us as gay citizens, the two most egregious pieces of federal legislation that enshrine official anti-gay discrimination by the government are "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act.

    4354 On Friday I attended a fundraiser honoring Aubrey Sarvis, the new executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Aubrey was a very talented and successful telecommunications lobbyist, and he knows how to get legislation through Congress. Under Aubrey’s leadership, SLDN has a strategic plan to repeal DADT with either President Obama or President Clinton in the White House. What impressed me most, however, is that SLDN also has a strategy to work with a President McCain as well.

    For me, the most important issue is same-sex immigration, but I realize that any success in ridding our government of institutionalized discrimination is a step toward reversing other anti-gay policies. For this reason, I am now supporting SLDN and believe that repealing DADT and DOMA are the two most important things we can do; more important and more symbolic than passing ENDA and hate crimes.

    ENDA and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act were selected as top priorities because they were supposed to be the easiest to get through Congress. However, I think there is a stronger moral argumen that our government treat every individual equally under the law before it adopts legislation that insists individuals and companies do not discriminate.

    I would like to see our national organizations shift their emphasis to give government discrimination basd on sexual orientation a higher priority than the efforts to remedy individual and corporate bias.

    Should a friendly new administration be elected, DADT and DOMA should be repealed first because that would be most effectively set a new tone against gay discrimination everywhere. To get this done, more of our national organizations need to prioritize DADT and DOMA and follow the lead of SLDN -- building a strategic plan. Getting this legislation passed requires lots of ground work and resources. You can’t ad lib it or do it on the fly.

    Barack Obama's Wright stuff (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    There's been no shortage of opportunities to hear Barack Obama condemning the racially incendiary sermons of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and explaining their relationship. A quick list:

    • Blog post by Obama on Huffington Post: Uses strong condemnatory language and clarifying that Obama wasn't in the pews when any of Wright's "greatest hits" were uttered.
    • Interview with Anderson Cooper: By far the best interview in the bunch; Cooper presses Obama on whether he at least heard secondhand about Wright's post-9/11 sermon blaming the attacks on the U.S. and saying rather than "God Bless America," blacks should say "God Damn America."  Obama makes the interesting point that Wright, like Geraldine Ferraro, is the product of a different time, and still harbors anger and frustration from that era. Obama sees himself part of a new generation that while benefiting from the efforts of Wright's, nonetheless moving beyond seeing the world through "a racial lens."  Funny -- I can't imagine Hillary Clinton drawing the same kind of contrast with Ferraro, positioning her presidential candidacy as moving beyond gender victimization.
    • Interview with Major Garrett on Fox News: The first third is a sophomoric set-up by Garrett that Obama handles well. Eventually Garrett moves on to the crux, whether Obama would have quit the church if he had been aware of the sermons.
    • Interview with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC: I've linked to and commented on this one earlier.
    • Obama's remarks yesterday in Plainfield, Ind.: Obama makes a powerful analogy to a speech by Robert F. Kennedy the night Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, and the choice we have to allow hate to divide us even further or to tread a common path that embraces commonalities.
    • Interview with the Chicago Tribune: Second half of the interview focuses on Wright.
    • Obama campaign posts YouTube video on Wright:

    Some will no doubt never be satisfied that Obama has sufficiently denounced Wright's rhetoric, but that part is settled for me. I also accept his unequivocal statement that he was not present when the sermons were given and had not heard about them secondhand.

    If you have been a regular churchgoer or have spent time around regular churchgoers -- I have both -- then you know it's common to hear someone say, "I just love Rev. Smith. He's so kind and his sermons or so powerful -- except when he starts talking about [subject x] and then he just goes off the deep end."

    The lingering trouble I have is based on how fundamentally Wright's rhetoric conflicts with the core message of Obama's campaign. Maybe words really don't matter, as Hillary keeps claiming, if Wright could simultaneously preach such hate while providing someone with Obama's beliefs a happy church home.

    What's more, Obama's appeal for so may is based upon his ability to heal divisions and bring people together. But will Obama really be effective in reaching the rest when he couldn't even reach his own pastor and (from the video it appears) many members of his own church?

    06huckabee450 That said, there is a very real double standard in how the story has been covered. The second place candidate in the just-concluded Republican primaries was not just  candidate with a pastor but a pastor himself -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. And yet Huckabee has refused help to release tapes or written copies of his own sermons.

    And what about Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith is so poorly understood -- are we entitled to hear tapes of all the sermons from his church?

    This Wright story still has legs and deservedly so, but at this point I am cautiously optimistic that it will prove a "Sister Souljah moment" that establishes Obama's own principles in contrast to even some of his closest associates.

    March 16, 2008

    Christina sings about gay sex

    Posted by: Chris

    That's what Ms. Aguilera gets for singing runs on each and every word in her songs.

    This is the funniest YouTube vid I've seen, well, since the last time I swiped one from Andrew. I wonder how Catherine Tate would have translated Christina.

    Via Andrew Sullivan

    Bill's excellent gay military adventure

    Posted by: Chris

    PowellclintonThere he goes again.

    Two months ago, Bill Clinton tried to rewrite the history on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," making it seem that he and Colin Powell had come up with a policy that "meant literally that -- that people would be free to live their lives as long as they didn't go march in gay rights parades or go to gay bars in uniform -- in uniform -- and talk about it on duty they would be all right."

    As I pointed out at the time, the former president described the policy exactly backward, since it actually OKs going to gay bars and marching in Pride parades -- neither of which necessarily mean you're gay -- but strictly prohibits doing anything in a soldier or sailor's private life (out of uniform) that involves "homosexual acts" (sex, kissing, holding hands) or "homosexual statements (coming out, love letters, etc.)

    The reason for Bill's revisionist history was clear: he was trying to explain away why he signed into law a discriminatory policy that dishonored the military service of thousands of gay men and lesbians, and resulted in dramatic increases in gay-related discharges.

    Back in January, gay groups mostly did nothing in response to Clinton's big gay whopper, probably because most are led by Hillary Clinton supporters. Only Log Cabin called him to the carpet. At my request, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network did issue a written statement from director Aubrey Sarvis, though only to me in an email:

    As you point out, there were, indeed, some factual inaccuracies in President Clinton’s statement about "€œDon'€™t Ask, Don't Tell."€ Indeed, regardless of the intention behind the law, the reality is that it has not served the best interests of service members, our country or our national security.  Since its implementation, nearly 12,000 men and women have been dismissed under the law. …

    President Clinton's comments also miss a key part of serving under "Donâ€'t Ask, Don't Tell."€  Military members cannot be out to anyone, at anytime, while serving under the law.  Statements to friends, family members or anyone else are grounds for dismissal from the armed forces, as they have been since day one.  The law, indeed, practically prevents any gay American, who is out in anyway, from serving in the military.

    Sarvis also indicated in the statement that SLDN has "made sure that Senator Clinton'€™s campaign is aware of our concerns regarding the President's remarks."

    Well, whatever SLDN said it didn't stick. Because there he went again this week, repeating his false facts about "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in an interview with college journalists:

    It would have been a better policy if it had been implemented the way Gen. [Colin] Powell and I agreed to implement it. I think we may have the support now in Congress to get rid of it altogether. That's what we should do. We should do what every other major country has done and allow gays to serve honorably in the military. I'm not defending 'Don't Ask, Don’t Tell' on the merits. Our guys came to us and said, 'Look. If you don't agree to this, they’re going to bury you. You will have nothing.

    It's classic Clinton, claiming he's not defending "DADT" when that's exactly what he's doing by suggesting some unseen Pentagon ne'er do wells enforced the policy in a different way than he and Powell had agreed upon. DADT was adopted in the first year of Clinton's presidency, if there was an enforcement problem then why didn't the Commander in Chief do something about it? Was he not ready to lead on Day 1?

    In fact he wasn't, ironically. In this week's interview, Clinton portrays himself in an impossible political bind. But those of us who were in Washington at the time remember like it was yesterday how the president rolled over with absolutely no fight, agreeing to the "compromise" policy foisted on him by Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn.

    Ultimately it's a good thing of course that Bill Clinton supports his wife in repealing the policy, even as he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that it was the policy -- his policy -- that was wrong and discriminatory, and not how it was implemented by the military.

    But Clinton isn't the only one who needs to come clean. Enough of the silence from gay groups on this. It's incumbent on SLDN, the Human Rights Campaign and the Task Force to proactively issue statements that correct the historical record.

    For those who are interested, Clinton also offered some insight into why he promised during his 1992 presidential campaign to repeal the outright ban on military service by gays that existed previously. Follow the jump for that.

    Continue reading»

    The Blade and Howard Dean

    Posted by: Chris

    Howarddeandnc With all the sniping and strong-arm tactics being employed against the Washington Blade and the gay press generally by Howard Dean, his chief of staff Leah Doughtry and the Democratic National Committee, it's worth taking a look at the coverage that was allegedly so one-sided that it reduced these political professionals into crude intimidation and immature name-calling like this:

    "I use the Blade and the other gay papers in the bottom of the birdcage." (Julie Tagen, DNC Deputy Fianance Director, March 2007)

    "The Blade is the New York Post of the gay and lesbian press corps." (Dean, Sept. 2006)

    "The Blade is the Fox News of gay journalism." (Dean, March 2008)

    The Blade coverage at issue includes about 20 articles over three years -- that's less than 1 out of 8 newspapers over the time period. There's a lot there, but this summary offers a good sense of the underlying controversies, as well as whether the Blade's coverage was inaccurate, unfair or one-sided, as alleged:

    • Dean woos gay Democrats (Feb. 18, 2005): Howard Dean is quoted the day before he was elected DNC chair promising gay Democrats to expand the party's gay outreach efforts and slamming Republicans for pushing state ballot measures banning gay marriage. Both issues will emerge later in controversies surrounding Dean's DNC leadership. The article quotes Jeff Soref, chair of the DNC’s Gay & Lesbian Americans Caucus, defending a separate interview Dean gave the same day to the Associated Press, in which he identifies the party as opposed to gay marriage, although the 2004 platform is neutral on the issue, supporting "full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits and protections for these families."

    • Dems abolish gay outreach post (Feb. 3, 2006): One year later, the Blade reports that Soref has publicly quit his post in protest over Dean's September 2005 decision to abolish the party's constituent outreach desks, including the post of director of lesbian and gay outreach. The story notes that Dean had pledged in his campaign to become party chair to retain the gay outreach post in a questionnaire from Soref's DNC gay caucus. The DNC defends the decision by pointing to the hiring of Donald Hitchcock as director of the DNC’s Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council, which Soref complains is essentially a fund-raising position.

      Note: DNC staffers later complain the headline doesn't explain Dean abolished all DNC outreach posts, including the one for gays, though that is made clear in the lead paragraph of the article. No allegations of factual error are made subsequent to publication.

      • Democrats still committed to equality for gays by Howard Dean (Feb. 10, 2006): In a letter to the editor, Dean responds to the Feb. 3 article by denying he abolished the LGBT outreach post, arguing that the DNC's new structure -- which replaced all the outreach posts with "American Majority Partnership" under the supervision of his office, includes gay issues in its scope.

        Note: The Blade stood by the Feb. 3 article as reported. Dean did in fact abolish all the "political desks" as part of his restructuring, which the story reported in full context and with the DNC's explanation of it, as well as criticism from Soref.

    • Dean seek to reassure gay Democrats (Feb. 24, 2006): The focus was on a Feb. 15 statement by Dean defending his decision to replace the outreach desks with a new structure, along with a Feb. 13 appearance by Dean at a meeting of gay Democrats in New York City. Critics are also quoted on the outreach desk decision, as well as on the release of the DNC's annual grassroots report, the first under Dean, which makes no mention of gay issues unlike in the past.

      Note: The article includes balanced quotes from Dean's statement, DNC staffers, Stonewall Democrats and gay DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias. No allegations of factual error are made subsequent to publication.

    • Activists confront Dem senators (March 17, 2006): Gay activists meet with eight Democratic senators, including Hillary Clinton and Majority Leader Harry Reid, to complain that Democrats haven't tried to defend gays on marriage and other issues, as well as Dean's decision to eliminate the outreach posts.

      Note: The article quotes activists who attended the meeting recalling the statements they made in the meeting, along with Reid's spokesperson.

    • Prominent Dem slams party on gay rights (April 27, 2006): Paul Yandura, a prominent gay former staffer in Clinton White House who also worked on the Clinton and Gore presidential campaigns, releases a public letter slamming Dean's strategic decisions on gay issues, including what Yandura claims was a failure to counter anti-gay marriage ballot measures in the 2004 and 2005 elections. Yandura, who is Hitchcock's domestic partner, urges gay donors to stop giving to the DNC.

      Note: The article was precipitated by Yandura's letter, not a Blade "attack," and quotes liberally from the DNC in response to Yandura's criticism. Blade publishes correction on one minor point: The DCCC, not the DSCC, omitted sexual orientation from its non-bias statement.

    • Dean fires Dems' gay outreach chief (May 3, 2006): Dean fires Hitchcock one week after the Blade's article on Yandura's open letter to donors. The article quotes Yandura claiming the firing was in direct retaliation for his public criticism of Dean, along with DNC staffers denying a connection. The story also reports Hitchcock's replacement will be longtime gay Dem Brian Bond.

      Note: The article also quotes Tobias, the gay DNC Treasurer, defending the decision. No allegations of factual error are made subsequent to publication.

    • Dean slams gay marriage on '700 Club' (May 10, 2006): Dean reaches out to evangelical voters by appearing on Pat Robertson's "700 Club" and misstates the party's 2004 platform as affirming marriage is between a man and a woman. In fact, the platform was neutral, supporting "full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families." The story includes Dean's subsequent clarification.

      Note: Dean's decision to go on the "700 Club" was itself newsworthy, along with how he misstated the platform on gay marriage. The DNC responded internally by telling leading gay donors that Dean's interview was with the ABC Family Network and was broadcast by Robertson. In fact, it was an "exclusive" with Robertson's CBN News for "The 700 Club," as video of the interview makes plain.

    • Party seeks to reassure angry gay Democrats (May 19, 2006): Story extensively quotes Tobias and DNC spokespersons defending Dean's decision to be interviewed for "The 700 Club," as well as several gay critics, including National Gay & Lesbian Task Force director Matt Foreman.

    • DNC rejects affirmative action status for gays (Aug. 18, 2006): Reports on decision by top DNC officials to reject a proposal by the party's Gay & Lesbian Americans Caucus to add gays to the affirmative action "goals" used to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Instead, Dean was cited endorsing the addition of gays and persons with disabilities to "inclusion programs"  that acknowledge both groups have been underrepresented on delegate slates. The article quotes a number of leading gay Dems praising the result, as well as Hitchcock criticizing it.

      • Dean dismisses Blade as 'New York Post of gay press' - IN LA magazine (September 2006): In a wide-ranging interview with Karen Ocamb of IN LA about the DNC's delegate selection controversy and the Hitchcock lawsuit, Dean says, "First of all, we consider the Washington Blade to be the New York Post of the gay and lesbian press corps. They’re not credible and they have somebody who has an agenda which is certainly not favorable to the Democratic Party so we simply don’t give them any credence."

    It was at this point (coincidentally!) that I left as editor of the Blade, succeeded by Kevin Naff, who had worked with me as the paper's managing editor for several years.

    • DNC gay caucus to push for more delegates in '08 (Feb. 2, 2007):  Previews Dean's speech to the DNC's Gay & Lesbian Americans Caucus, noting in the second paragraph that exit polls showed 80 percent of gay voters backed Democrats in the 2006 congressional races. The article also reports that the Caucus will press state Dem parties to set voluntary "goals" for openly LGBT delegates to the party's national convention.

      Note: Almost all sources in the article are in support of Dean and the DNC.

    • Democrats pledge to push gay bills (Feb. 9, 2007): Reporting on the DNC's annual winter meeting Feb. 2, and the party's pledge to introduce a gay and trans-inclusive ENDA and hate crime bills in 2007. The article quotes Dean's speech before the party's Gay & Lesbian Americans Caucus thanking gay supporters for their help in the 2006 elections. The second half of the story quotes Hitchcock criticizing Dean for saying there is no exit polling on gay voters, as well as Log Cabin responding to a swipe from Dean in his remarks. Gay Dems are then quoted defending Dean from those criticisms.

      Note: The full text of Dean's speech on LGBT issues was included as a sidebar to the article.

    • Former gay outreach adviser sues DNC (June 8, 2007): Reporting Hitchcock's suit against Dean, the DNC and Tagen, alleging he was fired because of statements made by Yandura, his domestic partner, which represented a form of anti-gay discrimination since public criticism by heterosexual partners and spouses are tolerated by the party. The article quotes the DNC's counsel and the answer filed by the DNC and Dean to respond to the allegations in the lawsuit, as well as Tobias, who defends Dean and the DNC.

    • Dean asks gays to 'vote Democrat' (Aug. 31, 2007): In an interview with the Blade, Dean cites '07 state legislative gay rights victories in Iowa, New Hampshire and Oregon to make the case for gays to support Democratic candidates in the 2008 elections. He also pushes the DNC's compromise position on gay delegate selection to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

      Note: The story quotes Dean at length, along with Log Cabin's director in response, as well as gay Dem activists largely backing Dean on the delegate selection compromise.

    • Mediation ordered in gay man's lawsuit against DNC (Oct. 12, 2007):  A brief article notes the court ordered the parties in the Hitchock litigation into mediation and reprises allegations and denials to date.

    • DNC disparages gay press (Jan 10, 2008): Recounting internal DNC email exchanges that complain about coverage in the gay press and suggest "punishing" the Blade by giving exclusives to the Advocate. Julie Tagen, DNC Deputy Finance Director, says in one email, "I tend to use the [B]lade and the other gay papers in the bottom of the birdcage."

    • DNC lawsuit ensares lesbian activist (Jan. 17, 2008): Quoting legal documents, reports accusation by Hitchcock's legal team that lesbian DNC volunteer Claire Lucas was evading testifying in the lawsuit by claiming she isn't a D.C. resident -- even though she claims a homestead tax deduction for a residence she owns in the District. Lucas' lawyer is quoted defending her, and the article quotes from internal DNC documents from the litigation that show Lucas coordinating criticism of Hitchcock for a letter he wrote published in the Blade in February 2007.

    • DNC lawsuit reveals black vs. gay rivalry (Jan. 25, 2008): Internal DNC emails leaked from the Hitchcock litigation reveal criticism by Stonewall Dems alleging that Leah Daughtry, Dean's chief of staff, incited a wedge between gays and blacks within the party over adding gays to the party's delegate selection affirmative action guidelines, as well as a Alabama state House election disputed between a lesbian candidate and an African American.

      Note: The story quotes at length DNC sources defending Dean and Daughry, alongside the criticisms in the emails.

      • Painting an unfair picture of the DNC by Rick Stafford (Feb. 1, 2008): A very strongly worded opinion column by the chair of the DNC's LGBT caucus says that the Jan. 25 Blade article was "unfair" and "shameful." Stafford doesn't allege any factual accuracies, but instead argues that additional background would have put the delegate selection Alabama election disputes in a different context -- he also lays out those additional facts in detail.

    • DNC seeks to halt leaks stemming from lawsuit (Feb. 8, 2008): DNC legal filings seek a court order blocking Hitchcock's team from leaking internal DNC documents that are "embarrassing, oppressing and damaging" to the DNC and Daughtry. The article reprises the allegations in the Hitchcock lawsuit and the DNC's response. A sidebar to the story reports that other internal DNC docs obtained from the Hitchcock litigation showed party staffers concerned in March 2007 that Dean should not personally issue a statement criticizing Peter Pace, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, for saying the ban on military service by out gays was justified because homosexual acts are "immoral."

      • Dems' love for us is on the down low by Kevin Naff (Feb. 8, 2008): An editorial that criticizes hand-wringing within the DNC back in March 2007 about whether to have Dean personally criticize Pace.  Naff slams Daughtry, an ordained minister, for worrying about fallout if Dean did so, imagining she was worried her "fellow Pentecostal worshippers who also speak in tongues might be offended that the Democratic Party stood up for those sinful gays who are going to hell." Tough stuff but hardly libelous. He also called her to the carpet for trying to undermine gay influence within the party on the delegate selection controversy.

      • Do the wrong thing by Kevin Naff (March 15, 2008): An editorial relates how two lawyers representing Daughtry called for a meeting with Naff and Blade Publisher Lynne Brown to complain about the Feb. 8 editorial. Naff claims the lawyers screamed and cursed and later DNC staffers bragged they had succeeded in intimidate the paper from coveraging the Hitchcock suit.

      • In an interview with Page One Q, one of the Daughtry lawyers denied screaming, cursing or intimidating Naff and the Blade.
    • Gay official seeks end to DNC lawsuit (Feb. 15, 2008): Report focuses on an open letter by Tobias asking Hitchcock to agree to settle his lawsuit against the DNC in exchange for a mutual public agreement of "misunderstandings." The article quotes Hitchcock's attorney declining the offer because it does not include a financial settlement; otherwise the article focuses entirely on Tobias' claims in his letter.

    Evaluating this coverage, there are some important points to keep in mind:

    1. Not one of these articles is "enterprise reporting"; meaning that in each and every case, the story was the result of prominent gay Democrats -- not the Blade -- raising issues about the decisions that Dean and the DNC had made or planned to make. Those public complaints are newsworthy, and it's not the job of the Blade or any newspaper editor to decide whether the Dean's explanations satisfy the criticism. That's up to the reader.
    2. In each and every story, the DNC and its supporters were offered and took full advantage of equal space within the story to make their case to readers. And although this review is largely limited to news articles, Kevin and I both always made sure to publish letters, columns, Sound Offs etc from the DNC and its supporters.
    3. Coverage of ongoing disputes like these walks a fine line between doing enough stories to cover the issues in detail and doing too many so that it appears the paper has some sort of "crusade." Week to week, editorial decisions were based on newsworthy developments that week. Over the last three years, the DNC has alternatively complained that the whole story wasn't being told and that too much attention was being paid to the story.
    4. Readers and story subjects are obviously entitled to their views about the quality of the journalism in the Blade's coverage. But the immature name-calling and strong-arm tacitics of the DNC, Dean, Daughtry et al go beyond the pale and would be inconceivable if directed toward other niche journalists, in the Latino, African American, feminist, labor press etc.

    It's important that gays generally, but especially gay Democrats and those influential within the party's appartus -- Andy Tobias, are you listening? -- speak out for respectful treatment of the independent gay press. They do themselves, their party and the gay rights movement no favors by standing by while Dean and top DNC officials treat our community press with such contempt.

    GNW 5: Gay Republican whizkid

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Pittsburgh council prez fires back at anti-gay Okla repPittsburgh council prez fires back at anti-gay Okla. rep: QUICK LOOK: Pittsburgh Council President Doug Shields late yesterday fired off an angry e-mail demanding an apology from, and the resignation of, an Oklahoma state representative... (MORE)
    2. Obama cuts into Hillary's slim lead among gay votersObama cuts into Hillary's slim lead among gay voters: QUICK LOOK: Tallies now available from 39 precincts in heavily gay neighborhoods around the country add more evidence to suggest that, among LGBT voters, Hillary Clinton is the favored... (MORE)
    3. Gay Republican, 23, is youngest to run in Texas townGay Republican, 23, is youngest to run in Texas town: QUICK LOOK: Justin Nichols is charting new territory in more ways than one. Nichols, 23, is already the youngest candidate ever to run for Plano City Council.  If Nichols wins... (MORE)
    4. Facing primary challenger, Kerry softens on marriageFacing primary challenger, Kerry softens on marriage: QUICK LOOK: In the midst of a re-election challenge from the left in the Democratic Primary this September, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has softened his longstanding opposition... (MORE)
    5. Gay Iranian demands U.K. guarantee his asylumGay Iranian demands U.K. guarantee his asylum: QUICK LOOK: A gay teenager spared an immediate return to Iran, where he claims he faces the death penalty, said yesterday that he will only feel safe if the Home Secretary personally... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    Obama doing well with gay voters

    Posted by: Chris

    Hilaryb_1 Former Blade editor Lisa Keen has an interesting analysis this week that shows Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are closely splitting the vote in districts with large gay populations:

    Counting almost 34,000 votes in 39 heavily gay precincts across eight cities, Clinton has won 52 percent of the vote, compared to Barack Obama’s 48 percent. The neighborhood precincts surveyed included those in Boston, Dallas, Key West, Los Angeles County, Northampton, Mass., Provincetown, San Francisco and South Beach.

    Vote counts from those precincts in Houston considered to have large LGBT populations were not yet available.

    Obama was the preferred candidate in the heavily gay neighborhoods of Boston, Northampton, San Francisco and Chicago; Clinton won in Dallas, Key West, Los Angeles County, Provincetown, South Beach and New York (the latter based on exit polling).

    The numbers offer a striking contrast to those gay exit polls from California and New York purporting to show Clinton with the overwhelming advantage among lesbian, gay and bisexual voters: 63-29 in California and 59-36 in New York. I've already offered some reasons for why these exit polls provide a distorted view of LGB support, but another is relevant when they are compared to the voting in gay districts.

    Exit polls -- like the Knowledge Networks online survey that surfaced during the transgender debate over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- are general public surveys that include anyone who self-identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual. These surveys include large numbers of people -- mostly bisexuals -- who don't necessarily self-identify as a part of the "LGBT community" and are not active participants of it.

    Putting aside the more incendiary question of which is the more valuable measure, it's clear given the various disparities that they measure two very different things.

    (Table of gay voting districts via Dallas Voice)

    March 15, 2008

    Giving up on Howard Dean?

    Posted by: Chris

    In this videotaped deposition posted today on Queerty from the Donald Hitchcock lawsuit against the DNC, Howard Dean doesn't remember much about the promises he made to LGBT Democrats in his campaign to become chair of the Democratic National Committee -- including whether he promised to preserve the "outreach desk" for LGBT issues:

    As you can see in the video, Dean also can't remember whether he read a Feb. 3, 2006, article in the Washington Blade about criticism from some gay Democrats about his decision to abolish the outreach desk on LGBT issues -- along with the party's other constituency desks -- as part of a restructuring effort.

    "I don't think I'd given up on the Blade at this point," Dean chuckles when asked if he read the article when it was published. "I just don't recall reading this at all," he said later. Pressed on a portion of the article that references a questionnaire candidate Dean submitted to the DNC's LGBT Caucus promising to keep the outreach desk, Dean said, "Much of what's been in the Blade is incorrect."

    Well, not this time, Chairman Dean, considering you wrote a letter to the Blade in direct response to the Feb. 3 article that I published in the Feb. 10 issue of the newspaper. In the letter, you defended your decision to abolish the DNC's "political desks," including the LGBT outreach, but made no mention that the article was inaccurate in reporting that you promised in writing when running for DNC chair to preserve the position.

    So should we "give up" on Howard Dean, now that he's been proven doubly inaccurate?

    Kerry: Against it before he was for it

    Posted by: Chris

    Kerryflipflop_2 What a difference four (actually just three) years can make.

    When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, he was not only outspoken in his opposition to gay marriage, but he was fond of saying that his position on the issue was "basically the same" as President Bush's -- even though Kerry opposed Bush's federal marriage amendment and supported repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

    But like Bush, Kerry opposed the landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that struck down the state's hetero-only marriage law, as ewll as conservative efforts to amend state constitutions in Massachusetts and elsewhere to protect the institution from gay incursion.

    A year later, Kerry spoke out in opposition to the state Democratic Party's platform plank supporting full marriage equality.

    Flash forward to 2008, when Kerry faces a rare primary challenge from former Gloucester city councilor Ed O'Reily, who supports full marriage equality for gay couples -- like Ted Kennedy, the state's senior U.S. senator. Now, shockingly, Kerry is having a change of heart on the whole gay marriage thing, according to a report by Bay Windows:

    In a statement to Bay Windows Kerry said that civil marriage rights for same-sex couples are established law in Massachusetts and should remain so. He has also touted his work to sway state legislators to vote against the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment at last June’s constitutional convention, as proof of his support.

    The March 11 statement to Bay Windows from Kerry spokeswoman Brigid O’Rourke stated in part, "In Massachusetts, just last spring Senator Kerry worked with Gov. Patrick and progressive legislators to help defeat a draconian and discriminatory constitutional amendment that would have banned same sex marriage in Massachusetts. Sen. Kerry believes that in Massachusetts, gay marriage is a matter of settled law and there is no reason to change the law."

    So last year's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state was "draconian and discriminatory," even though Kerry supported similar amendments in Massachusetts and Louisiana just four years earlier.

    Barack Obama's Wright stuff

    Posted by: Chris

    15wright_190 Color me disappointed. The message of unity and "new politics" championed by Barack Obama is one that has resonated deeply for me, after years of watching in frustration while bitter partisanship and Rovian wedge politics undermined the common ground our system depends upon.

    But it's hard to square Obama's message and rhetoric with the incredibly incendiary racism and anti-Americanism of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his pastor of 20 years. You've no doubt seen the videos of Wright exhorting his congregation to replace "God Bless America" with "God Damn America"; or when he rails in support of Obama over Hillary Clinton because he knows black America is held down by "rich white people" and she's never been called the "N-word."

    In one sense, Wright is only the latest in what appears an unending stream of supporters of each of the three remaining presidential candidates with outrageous views that must be denounced, rejected, repudiated, whatever. It's a game Obama tried to avoid last fall but now is fully a part of. But Wright's relationship to the candidate is of a different order than John McCain's John Hagee, Clinton's Geraldine Ferraro or Obama's Louis Farrakhan and Donnie McClurkin.

    The Trinity UCC pastor has played a much more central and formative role in Obama's personal development, even providing the inspiration for the candidate's signature "audacity of hope." Only it's hate, not hope, that Wright is preaching in the videos making the rounds in the media, the internet and (of course) the right-wing talk shows.

    I've waited to hear how Obama would respond to the specific sermons that have come to light, and late yesterday he took some important steps in a blog post on HuffPo and an interview with Keith Olbermann to put Wright's outrageousness in context.

    First and foremost, Obama forcefully and unconditionally condemned Wright's rhetoric, which couldn't have been easy on a personal level:

    I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

    He also confirmed that he hadn't been at the church when those sermons were delivered and insisted they weren't characteristic of the pulpit message he absorbed for 20 years:

    The sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn. The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation.

    That's the crux of the matter for me. If in 30 years of preaching Rev. Wright got (very) carried away a few times that have been cherry-picked by the media or oppo research, that's one thing. But if Obama sat through versions of that hateful message on more than very rare occasions over two decades, then it risks undermining the credibility that lies at the heart of his unique appeal.

    Late yesterday, Wright dropped off the Obama campaign's African American Religious Leadership Committe, certainly the right decision for all concerned. But it will take more reporting about their relationship and more openness from Obama to sort through the contours of this story. Whatever effect it might have on his candidacy, short or long term, this isn't a two-day story to be swept under the rug. And better to air it now than in October.

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