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    July 31, 2009

    How to repeal DADT

    Posted by: Andoni


    We are 7 months into the Obama administration and DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) is still on the books. I believe anything the president does to initiate the repeal will cause a firestorm that is much, much greater than any of us activists anticipate and could significantly wound Obama politically. This is in spite of the fact that 75% of the public thinks gays should be able to serve openly in the military. Even though they are a significant minority, right wing reactionaries are waiting to ambush the president the minute he moves to repeal DADT.

    So how should we repeal DADT with a minimum of damage? If I were speaking to the president, this is what I would advise him.

    Wait until October when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen's two year term ends. In choosing a new Chief, make sure the general or admiral has impeccable military credentials and is firmly in favor of repealing DADT. Make sure he understands this is a top priority and it is his mission to accomplish this in the first few months of his term. Also instruct the future Chairman that he is to be open and honest about his opinion and plans for DADT during the Senate confirmation hearings.

    During the Senate hearings make sure the nominee is asked several DADT questions and that he publicly states that he believes DADT is a bad policy and needs to be repealed. With the Democrats in control he should be confirmed. The hearings will put him on record about his intentions for the future of DADT. By confirming him, Congress has now approved the concept. The public is on notice and Congress is on notice that things are going to change. No one should be surprised when it happens.

    Then a month or two later, the Chairman appears before Congress with numerous studies showing how DADT decreases national security, how we are losing talented men and women we cannot afford to lose during war time, and that the unit cohesion argument is a myth. He formally requests that Congress repeal DADT for the good of the armed forces. The repeal of DADT is initiated by the military.

    The request was not initiated by a president who has no military service (a major Achilles heal for many). With the military requesting the change, it would give Congress the cover it needs to repeal DADT. It would also fly better with the American people. And if the military requests the change in the law, it would be much more difficult for the right wing to condemn it.

    Had Obama directly requested Congress to do this, I am confident we would have a repeat of the political warfare that happened in 1993 when Clinton tried. Even with 75% of the country with us on this, the crazy right wingers can make a lot of noise, wound the president, and distract from other important issues such as health care reform, banking reform, and comprehensive immigration reform. This is not cowardice, it is smart politics.

    I don't know if the White House is thinking along these lines, but I got the idea after reading "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Lincoln used this technique a lot. Whenever Lincoln ventured into military matters he found that he often got burned by the then third rail of politics - the military. The military was very political back then. Lincoln discovered that when it came to military matters -- it was often best if the order, suggestion or decision seemed to come from the military. Lincoln would make the decision, but then ask a general to announce it as though it were the general's. Lincoln learned that a controversial order or decision about the military was much better accepted if it came from the military.

    I hope Obama has learned this from Lincoln.

    July 30, 2009

    Harvey Milk to receive Medal of Freedom

    Posted by: Andoni


    The White House announced today that slain San Francisco gay rights leader Harvey Milk will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom - America's highest civilian honor. The award will be made posthumously at a ceremony on August 12.

    Lesbian tennis star Billy Jean King will also be among the 16 recipients of this award on August 12

    Other recipients will be Senator Edward Kennedy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking, and civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery.

    Former Rep. Jack Kemp, who died in May will also be honored posthumously.

    I would say that two LGBT people out of 16 (12.5%) is quite nice for our community -- about our proper share of the medals. I really appreciate President Obama's broadening the definition of who is included in American heros.

    A full list of the recipients is here.

    July 23, 2009

    DADT and the Senate

    Posted by: Andoni


    UPDATE 2:  Andrew Sullivan, back from his sabbatical, doesn't believe that the Dems are serious about repealing DADT.

    UPDATE: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced this morning that the United States Senate would hold its first ever hearings on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy this fall.

    Perhaps many on you have read in today's Washington Blade that Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) has dropped her idea of attaching an amendment to the defense appropriations bill temporarily suspending the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law (DADT) for 18 months while the military determines whether a full repeal should be done. She couldn't get the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster by those who still support DADT.

    This is very discouraging. The military needs more people, qualified people. Just yesterday Secretary Gates announced plans to increase the army by 22,000 servicemembers because we don't have enough with two ongoing wars. Yet since the inception of DADT the military has discharged about 13,000 trained and able soldiers because of the policy. 

    The saddest part of all this is that polls have repeatly shown that 75% or more of the public favors allowing gays to serve openly in the military. So why can't we repeal DADT? The problem is the US Constitution and the Senate rules. In the Senate you need 60 (out of 100) votes to pass anything. And each state gets two senators, no matter how few people they represent. So all those big (and conservative) states with not too many people in the mid-west get two votes.

    Our government is set up to effectively allow 25 to 30% of the population to block the will of the other 70 to 75%. It's very, very hard to change things in this country. I guess that's good if you are trying to prevent a revolution from within, but not so good if you are talking about protecting the rights of a minority, especially when the courts are so reluctant to do so.

    The only silver lining in all this is that when the people who hate us were in power, we could block a lot of their agressive anti-gay legislation, although not enough of it, because in the hysteria of the era, the Democrats did not block DADT or DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act).

    So given this history, I think I would rather have had a parliamentary system. They still would have passed DOMA and DADT, but at least we might have been able to reverse those by now with simple majorities.

    July 16, 2009

    "Prejudice has no place in the United States of America"

    Posted by: Andoni

    From President Obama's address today at the 100th anniversary of the NAACP (National Association of Colored People):

    "But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country.  By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.

    On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America."

    An interesting clause in Obama's recounting the history of the Civil Rights Movement, was, "and presidents had to be pressured into action...."

    He has told our community this very thing about our rights, as well. Let's not forget it.

    You can also view the full speech here.

    Did Sen. Graham endorse gay marriage?

    Posted by: Andoni


    I was shocked and delighted at the way Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) approached his questioning of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor during the Senate confirmation hearings today. He seemed to be laying the groundwork for Justice Sotomayor and the Supreme Court to rule DOMA unconstitutional.

    Graham's two areas of concern in his questioning were whether the right to bear arms was a fundamental right and whether one state should be forced to recognize another state's same sex marriage. He indicated that these were two questions of potential major societal change that the Supreme Court will one day soon have to consider. Graham conceded that although he doesn't want activist judges, that indeed sometimes the Supreme Court needs to step in to secure certain rights because those rights make people uncomfortable and are so unpopular that they could never be achieved by the legislative process.

    Graham then cited an example of where the Supremes imposed a major change on society -- Brown v Board of Education, the decision that desegregated the nation's schools. Graham confessed that if he himself had been a Senator from SC in 1954, he could not have voted to desegregate the schools  because it made so many of his constituents uncomfortable and was so unpopular. It could not be done legislatively. He seemed to feel that this case of judicial activism and major social change was the right thing to do. He claimed that the case was well argued and that harm to that group was well documented.

    Graham concluded his history, sociology and government lesson with this surprising statement praising Sotomayor:

    "I think fundamentally, judge, you're able to embrace a right that you may not want for yourself to allow others to do things that are not comfortable to you, but for the group, they're necessary."

    I have no idea if Graham only had the right to bear arms in mind when he encouraged Sotomayor to rule for rights that are necessary even if they make other people uncomfortable, but the two cases he told her (and us) were heading for the Supreme Court were gun rights and gay marriage rights.

    To me it sure sounded as if he was arguing for Sotomayor to become part of a Supreme Court that would proclaim a fundamental right to bear arms as well as the right of gays to be married in every state of the union --- no matter how uncomfortable this made some people.

    Who would have thought that Senator Lindsey Graham was a closeted freedom to marry supporter?

    "Gratuitous cruelty" by the US

    Posted by: Andoni

    Steve and Joe

    "This is simply gratuitous cruelty. It serves no interest of the United States to be cruel to these people."
    That's how Congressman Jerrold Nadler describes the situation for the latest bi-national couple to undergo forced separation by the United States due to its arcane immigration laws.

    You can read the full story in today's Metro Weekly.

    In summary, Steve and Joe have been together for 9 years. They are legally partnered in DC and legally married in Connecticut. Steve is a US citizen and Joe was born in Indonesia but was educated in the US and has been here on a student visa and then a work visa, always legally. He was days away from gaining his permanent residency (green card), but was just laid off, which stops everything and gives him 30 days to leave the country. If Joe were a woman, the marriage would be recognized and he/she would have gotten a green card within a month or two of the marriage.

    However, in the United States, the government does not recognize any gay relationship for immigration purposes.

    I think "gratuitous cruelty" is the exact right description for this inhuman treatment.

    I you think so too, please call and write your Senators and Congressperson to co-sponsor the Uniting American Familes Act -- UAFA, S 424 (Senate) or HR 1024 (House). Also tell them that gay and lesbian families must be part of any comprehensive immigration reform bill Congress passes.

    There are few things in life as painful as the tearing apart of a family. Just imagine how angry you would be if this happened to you. Yes, "gratuitous cruelty" is a perfect description.

    July 12, 2009

    UPDATE: President Palin (not an obituary)

    Posted by: Andoni

    Anyone who read my original post should check out New York Times columnist Frank Rich's take on Palin today. It's worth a read.

    He makes the following points:

    1. the Palin phenomenon is largely emotional, not rational
    2. almost 75% of Republicans say they would vote for her for president
    3. this gives her a really good shot at the Republican nomination in 2012 if she wants it
    3. Americans have very short memories
    4. she could track Nixon's comeback after supposed death
    5. it was Democratic divisions and failures that gave Nixon that opening

    Palin is not dead politically. As I said in my post, only two things need to happen for her to become president: A.) she gets the nomination and B.) Obama is perceived as a failed president.

    A.) doesn't seem like a problem for her. And B.) ....... we don't know yet, but I would bet that everything rides on the economy. Since Obama isn't a world renowned economist on his own, that puts him in the position of only being as good as the people around him who advise him, and right now, I'm not sure he is getting the best advise. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman agrees.

    So whether you support health care reform, gay rights, global warming, energy independence, banking reform, immigration reform or some other interest, the long term success of all of these, depend on the economy improving starting very soon, then significantly before 2010 and greatly before 2012.

    The public will not support all these great plans unless they start seeing improvement on the horizon. And if he convinces us that improvement is on the horizon, and it doesn't come, then he (and those who support these programs) are in serious trouble.

    A large majority of the bloggers who are joyously dancing at the supposed end of Sarah Palin's political career were not even born in 1962 when Nixon supposedly fell. I was in high school and remember it clearly ....and how it felt. The overall Sarah Palin picture feels the same way that the Nixon exit felt. And that's scary.

    I'm not going to lose sleep over the thought of President Palin for the time being, but I want everyone to know that it is more possible than you currently think it is.

    July 10, 2009

    New straight hero on DADT

    Posted by: Andoni

    Congressman Patrick Murphy, a straight Congressman from PA, is taking the lead on repealing DADT. The above clip from the Rachel Maddow Show clearly demonstrates Murphy's passion and determination to get this done. The other clip at the end shows Murphy burying a right wing defender of DADT during Congressional hearings and is definitely worth watching. It demonstrates Murphy's ability to handle himself while under fire from the right wing. All the attributes of a good soldier are evident in the second clip. He both served and taught in the military and knows the culture and the rules inside out.

    It's my opinion that we need more straight politicians leading on gay issues. It's fine that we have Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, and now Jared Polis representing our interests as gay people in Congress, but I really think that when a straight person takes up a gay cause, it gives it much more credibility. When a gay politician is for gay rights, the sub text is that it is simply self serving for his community. When a straight person takes up gay rights, it truly becomes a civil rights/human rights issue and more people are convinced of its rightness.

    Another problem is I don't think our gay Congressional leaders push hard enough. Maybe there is a bit of self censorship going on because they don't want to be perceived simply as the "gay" Congressman. They would rather be known as the the chair of this or that committee. As a result, they don't agitate enough on our issues.

    The Civil Rights Movement did not really take off until white people began advocating for the rights of blacks as well as blacks themselves.

    This may be our turning point, as straight politicians Congressman Jerry Nadler and Senator Patrick Leahy (two others we should consider heros) have become fierce advocates for the Uniting American Families Act, the bill that would recognize gay partnerships for immigration. Now we need a straight politician to take the lead on repealing DOMA.

    Below are the co-sponsors of Congressman Murphy's DADT repeal bill. If yours is not on the list, get busy, call your Congressperson and ask him/her to co-sponsor. And don't let up until they do.

    And don't forget the clip of Murphy in action at the end.

    Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Arcuri, Michael A. [NY-24] - 3/17/2009
    Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] - 7/8/2009
    Rep Baird, Brian [WA-3] - 3/12/2009
    Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Becerra, Xavier [CA-31] - 6/16/2009
    Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Brady, Robert A. [PA-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Braley, Bruce L. [IA-1] - 6/8/2009
    Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Carnahan, Russ [MO-3] - 4/27/2009
    Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Castor, Kathy [FL-11] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Christensen, Donna M. [VI] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Cleaver, Emanuel [MO-5] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 4/27/2009
    Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] - 3/3/2009
    Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 3/6/2009
    Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] - 3/3/2009
    Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Dicks, Norman D. [WA-6] - 3/9/2009
    Rep Dingell, John D. [MI-15] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-25] - 4/2/2009
    Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Edwards, Donna F. [MD-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] - 3/6/2009
    Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Heinrich, Martin [NM-1] - 6/26/2009
    Rep Higgins, Brian [NY-27] - 4/29/2009
    Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] - 3/9/2009
    Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 3/9/2009
    Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] - 3/5/2009
    Rep Kilroy, Mary Jo [OH-15] - 3/5/2009
    Rep Klein, Ron [FL-22] - 6/9/2009
    Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 6/23/2009
    Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Levin, Sander M. [MI-12] - 7/8/2009
    Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Lujan, Ben Ray [NM-3] - 6/23/2009
    Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Massa, Eric J. J. [NY-29] - 3/23/2009
    Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 3/3/2009
    Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 3/3/2009
    Rep McMahon, Michael E. [NY-13] - 6/9/2009
    Rep Meek, Kendrick B. [FL-17] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-6] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] - 3/23/2009
    Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Murphy, Christopher S. [CT-5] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Oberstar, James L. [MN-8] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Peters, Gary C. [MI-9] - 5/13/2009
    Rep Pingree, Chellie [ME-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Quigley, Mike [IL-5] - 6/2/2009
    Rep Richardson, Laura [CA-37] - 3/17/2009
    Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-34] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Sanchez, Loretta [CA-47] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Sarbanes, John P. [MD-3] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. [PA-13] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Scott, Robert C. "Bobby" [VA-3] - 3/17/2009
    Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Sires, Albio [NJ-13] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Snyder, Vic [AR-2] - 3/12/2009
    Rep Speier, Jackie [CA-12] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Thompson, Mike [CA-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Tonko, Paul D. [NY-21] - 3/17/2009
    Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Tsongas, Niki [MA-5] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Velazquez, Nydia M. [NY-12] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Welch, Peter [VT] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 3/3/2009
    Rep Yarmuth, John A. [KY-3] - 6/9/2009

    And don't forget to watch this clip of Murphy in action.

    July 09, 2009

    GM goes beefcake gay, then pulls ad

    Posted by: Andoni



    GM developed an ad aimed at gay buyers with two hunky guys in briefs washing a Camaro (read the original story here) then without explanation while I was writing this post, pulled it from YouTube (read the subsequent story here). The ad was online, cute and entitled "Bumble Bee Boys in Briefs."

    Apparently, as the ad became more and more popular on YouTube (I would think this is the very purpose of an advertisement -- to be seen by as many people as possible), GM pulled it.

    My advice to GM: If you want to be our friend, you can't just be our friend in private, then disown us in public. Sorry it doesn't work that way. Our self esteem as a community has grown a lot since those days. If we are your friend only in private and not in front of everyone, we are not truly friends. Nice try GM, but get with the 21st Century. Meanwhile, I am not tempted to buy your products.

    P.S. Sorry for the fuzzy photo, but that's the only remnant left on the internet of the original ad where the two guys were teasing and spraying each other as the washed the car.

    UPDATE: GM explained the pulling of the ad by saying that it had not been properly vetted before posting. If all the people who were supposed to vet it had done so, it would probably never have been posted in the first place.

    July 08, 2009

    Steve Hildebrand on Obama

    Posted by: Andoni

    Hildebrand S-Photo (high res headshot)

    Steve Hildebrand may be the closest gay person to Barack Obama. He was deputy national campaign director for Obama's presidential campaign last year. In a remarkable interview with Hildebrand, Rex Wockner gets to the bottom of some of the issues LGBT Americans have been worried about vis a vis President Obama of late. After the the Department of Justice brief defending DOMA, Hildebrand went to the White House and spoke one on one with the president about the anger in the our community, LGBT issues in general and the DOJ brief in particular.

    Two items of particular note in Wockner's interview with Hildebrand are:

    1. "(Barack Obama) has told me, and he has told ... staff in the White House that pressure's a good thing, so people should continue to put pressure on him." --Steve Hildebrand

    2. "(President Obama) did not read the ... pathetic (marriage) brief in advance but he subsequently has read the brief and was not happy at all with both the direction as well as the language that was used." --Steve Hildebrand

    So all the brouhaha the LGBT community created following that "pathetic" brief was appropriate and most likely brought some results. The president thinks pressure is a good thing and apparently repsonds to it. I for one don't believe the White House cocktail party to celebrate Stonewall had been on the books for a long time. I really think the noise we made as a community had results and if we continue the pressure we will get more results. But as Hildebrand notes, we need more pressure on Congress. The president will sign all LGBT legislation that comes to his desk. But as Chris reminds us Congress initiates and passes the laws, not the president.

    Finally, Steve Hildebrand thinks that we gays are not doing as much as we could be doing to advance our cause. That will be a topic of a post in the next few days.

    In the meantime, read the Wockner interview.

    July 07, 2009

    President Palin (not an obituary)

    Posted by: Andoni


    I'm a little nervous that a lot of the liberal chattering class is proclaiming the death of Sarah Palin's political career. I'm old enough to remember a similar situation with Richard Nixon in 1962 after he told the press that they wouldn't have Nixon to kick around any more. The liberals were dancing in the streets with joy. By 1968 he was elected president.

    The short version of how Palin can be elected president is as follows. In a 2 party system, your choices are either A or B. If the public turns on candidate A (or his party), they then vote for candidate B no matter who it is. The prime example of this happening is incumbent President Herbert Hoover losing to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. The public turned on Hoover because of the economy. The Democrats could have run anyone against Hoover and would have won.

    Only two things have to fall in place for Palin to become president: 1). she gets the Republican nomination in 2012 and 2.) Barack Obama cannot turn the economy (or the unemployment rate) around and it gets worse. When the public turns on A, the only alternative in a 2 party system is B, even if B was fairly well despised at one time (Think Richard Nixon). The public has a short memory.

    Richard Nixon was much disliked by the public when he left politics in 1962. He was regarded as mean and not to be trusted ('tricky Dick"). But between 1962 and 1968 he traveled the country helping other GOP candidates raise money and win elections. The IOU's he gathered were immense. As a result he got the Republican nomination in 1968 largely due to all the favors owed him.

    Sarah Palin's popularity among the base will put her in a position to raise enormous amounts of money for other GOP candidates and help them win in Red states. The IOU's she collects could help her get the Republican nomination, just as it did Nixon. The other half of the equation of course depends on Obama's ability (or luck) in turning the economy around.

    Herbert Hoover was one of the smartest people of his day and he followed the advice of supposedly wise economic advisers .... who turned out to be wrong. As a result the public turned on Hoover and the Republicans after a 70 year dominance of the White House. Like I said, it didn't matter who the Democrats ran against Hoover, the people did not want Hoover.

    Other examples of the public turning on a party in power and choosing the other candidate are as follows: Richard Nixon (the despised) beat Lyndon Johnson's chosen successor largely because of the public's turning on the Vietnam War ...as well as the disgust over the police beatings at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. The public turned on Gerald Ford for pardoning Richard Nixon and elected a rather inexperienced, unknown Jimmy Carter in 1976. In 1980 the public turned on Jimmy Carter because of rampant inflation and the Iran hostage debacle and turned to Ronald Reagan, someone the left thought could never, ever be elected president.

    So the bottom line is the pundits don't know everything and don't have a good track record in predicting the political future. And when the public turns on the incumbent, the other person has a darn good chance of winning, no matter what their previous reputation was.

    July 02, 2009

    End 'special rights' for gays: allow them to marry

    Posted by: Andoni


    We are all familiar with the right wing mantra that gays are asking for "special rights" when in reality we are only asking for equality. Well, here's an example that turns the "special rights" argument on its head. In some situations, the very act of denying gays equal rights, actually creates "special rights" for gays, not vice versa.

    Exhibit A is Martina Navratilova. She has been in two high profile long term same sex relationships. In both relationships she went through a "marriage" ceremony with her spouse, but these marriages were not recognized by the state. In the first marriage Martina escaped the usual division of assets that heterosexual couples must endure when they split because her marriage was not recognized by the state. It appears that the same thing is happening in Martina's second "divorce." The state of Florida will not recognize her New Hampshire union. As a result, Martina will most likely once again be able to walk away from this second marriage with all her assets.

    It's possible some gays are happy with these special rights, because it indeed allows gay couples to dodge loss of assets in a divorce. However, if I were a straight person I would be quite unhappy with the special rights gays are getting in this area. I think I would come up with a bumper sticker that read:

    Stop special rights for gays: allow them to marry.

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