Democrats ratify most pro-LGBT platform ever


Delegates to the Democratic National Convention meet at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25. (Michael Key/Washington Blade)

‘It says we’re welcome, we’re going to make life better’


CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Courtesy of National Gay Media Association


PHILADELPHIA — Democrats ratified a party platform late Monday, July 25, that is being called the most LGBT-inclusive in history and a unifying document after a bitter primary.

As convention chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, presided, delegates at the Democratic National Convention approved the platform by voice vote. Although loud “nays” were heard, the overwhelming “yays” in favor of the platform carried the day.

Jessica Frisco, a Manhattan-based delegate pledged to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said having LGBT inclusion in the Democratic Party “has always been really important to me.”

“Not that it’s become less of a priority, but I think the Democrats have always been pretty progressive on the issue, at least in recent years, and you know, it’s been Democrats that have been supporting that type of legislation in contrast to Republicans,” she said. “I guess I wasn’t really surprised to see that that was a big part of the platform and I wouldn’t be surprised to know that everyone in the Democratic Party supports that.”

The 55-page document has a specific LGBT plank titled “Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights” and includes LGBT references in planks throughout the document.

The LGBT plank endorses LGBT comprehensive non-discrimination legislation (although it doesn’t explicitly address the Equality Act by name), condemns violence against transgender people, endorses the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage and repudiates state laws seeking to undermine LGBT rights.

“Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people — like other Americans — have the right to marry the person they love,” the platform says. “But there is still much work to be done. LGBT kids continue to be bullied at school, restaurants can refuse to serve transgender people and same-sex couples are at risk of being evicted from their homes. That is unacceptable and must change.”

In contrast, the platform adopted last week at the Republican National Convention seeks to reverse the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, indicates supports for widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy and supports state anti-trans bathroom laws.

Matt Hughes, a 25-year-old delegate from Chapel Hill, N.C., pledged to Hillary Clinton, said the LGBT inclusion is important to him both as a Democrat and a gay man.

“For me as a Democrat, it’s important, but also as a gay man that we have these ideals in our party’s platform about non-discrimination in terms of employment and transgender rights and really everything,” Hughes said, “especially when you compare and contrast it to the Republican Party platform that was passed last week, which is definitely the most anti-LGBT platform that the Republican Party has ever put forward.”

Hughes said he helped draft a North Carolina platform that included similar language, which he said is important because of the recently enacted House Bill 2 in the state. That law bars pro-LGBT city ordinances and prohibits transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity.

“That language says to me that for the second time in four years, that on LGBT issues, North Carolina is on the wrong side of not just fairness and equality, but also just the wrong side of history,” Hughes said. “And I think that the Democrats have always stood up for the marginalized and oppressed in our communities, and so having language that is so strongly in favor of rights for our transgender brothers, I think, is very important.”

Other language throughout the document recognizes immigration detention for LGBT people who sought refuge in the United States “can be unacceptably dangerous.” Referencing the recent end to the ban on transgender military service and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, the platform says the U.S. military is stronger with people of different “sexual orientations and gender identities.”

Delegates ratified the platform after the full platform committee reviewed and made changes to the document during a meeting earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.

During the meeting, the committee enhanced the LGBT language further by adding a plank insisting LGBT rights should be part of U.S. foreign policy. The language was based on Clinton’s 2011 speech in Geneva where she declared, “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

Mara Keisling, a D.C.-based transgender advocate and member of the platform committee, called the platform “the most progressive platform on LGBT and trans rights in the history of the United States.”

“It says we’re welcome; it says we’re going to make life better to make lots of different marginalized people whether it’s supporting the people of Puerto Rico, people with disabilities or people facing environment racism or LGBT people,” Keisling said. “We’re going to work together and we’re going to make things better for everybody.”

Although Keisling acknowledged the platform is “symbolic,” she said that symbolism can be a “big thing” to leverage change.

“It’s just symbolic, but it gives us a hook, it again starts getting more and more people thinking about transgender and LGBT people and thinking about do they support or do they not support us, and it gets some of our issues in front of people who maybe wouldn’t have seen it before,” Keisling said.

In 2012, the platform for the first time endorsed marriage equality in addition to other language rejecting the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act and endorsing a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but the 2016 document exceeds those milestones.

Marveling at the Democratic Party’s progression on LGBT inclusion in its platforms was Diego Sanchez, a D.C.-based transgender advocate in attendance at the convention and in 2008 the first openly transgender member of the platform committee. He wasn’t a member in 2016.

“The progress has been tremendous,” Sanchez said. “In 2008, we didn’t have the word marriage by design. We were responsible for three things: Bringing in the definition of same-sex couples as families, to have gender identity included in non-discrimination and to include HIV as a domestic policy priority. We’ve come so far from that place of using language that is cautious to where we can boldly be inclusive of the entire community.”

But one proposed change that didn’t make it into the Democratic platform was changing the LGBT acronym throughout the document to LGBTQ to explicitly include people who identify as queer.

During the platform committee meeting, David Braun, a Sanders appointee from Oakland, Calif., sought the change, which platform committee chair and former Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said he would take as a request for a technical change to the document. It wasn’t immediately clear why the change wasn’t made.

Vincent Harding, a 28-year-old delegate from Austin, pledged to Clinton and chair of the Democratic Party in Travis County, said advanced LGBT-inclusive language is important because “we need to make sure we treat everyone equally.”

“The ability to love who we want to love is fundamental to all of us, so it is essential that it is part of the platform,” he said. “I don’t know what took so long, but I think things are changing and we have seen Republicans move a little bit, we’re going to keep pushing them a little bit and hopefully we won’t have the situation like we saw in Kentucky where people don’t want to grant gay marriages. Hopefully, that’ll be universal around the country and we’ll continue to move forward together.”

Chuck Rocha, a 47-year-old D.C. delegate pledged to Sanders, said the LGBT-inclusive language is “hugely important” to him because of his opposition to discrimination in all forms.

“I’m one of the only Latino delegates in the nation, the only one from D.C.,” Rocha said. “Discrimination doesn’t know a sex or a color, we shouldn’t discriminate for no reason, and everybody, no matter who they love, should be able to get married and live their lives the way they want to.”

—  Tammye Nash

Bernie to make appearance at Verizon Theatre


U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie on Saturday, Feb. 27, three days before the Texas primary.

Doors open at 12:15 p.m. Admission is first come, first served.

Warning from the campaign: 
For security reasons, please do not bring big bags and limit what you bring to small, personal items like keys and cell phones. Weapons, sharp objects, chairs, and signs or banners on sticks will not be allowed through security.

Paid on-site parking is available at $15 per vehicle.

—  David Taffet

Clinton, Trump big Super Tuesday winners

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service


Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s march to the Democratic presidential nomination was strengthened by southern state primaries. Rubio’s prospects for winning the Republican nomination appeared to be slipping away quickly. Meanwhile, the battle for the Republican nomination has turned into an ugly war of insults that threatens to tear the party apart.

Clinton emerged the victor in South Carolina last Saturday and in seven out of 11 Democratic contests March 1, as she trounced U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton won Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and — the only non-southern state — Massachusetts.

Sanders won in Oklahoma and in three non-southern states — Vermont, Colorado and Minnesota.

In the five-man Republican field, real estate mogul Donald Trump also won eight out of 11 contests, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz won two, and Rubio won one.

LGBT Democrats appeared to be solidly behind Clinton in all nine of the southern states and split in the other primary/caucus states. While there was no exit poll data available regarding the LGBT vote, the positions of LGBT community and Democratic leaders showed a pattern similar to that in South Carolina: solidly for Clinton.

In South Carolina, all the visible support in the LGBT community was behind Clinton, a phenomenon similar to that of the African American vote (84 percent of which went to Clinton).

The South Carolina Equality Coalition endorsed Clinton, and about 200 people attended its fundraiser for her February 25. SCEC also organized a door-to-door canvas to get out the vote on primary day and urged LGBT people to show their support for Clinton outside CNN’s Democratic town hall February 23. Clinton gave the keynote address at the SCEC’s annual dinner last November.

Coalition Chair Malissa Burnette, one of the attorneys for plaintiffs in South Carolina’s marriage equality case, said she supported Clinton because Clinton really understands LGBT issues and has “concrete plans” to address them.

Burnette said she saw no organized LGBT support for Sanders, and this reporter found only one activist to say that, if he was “pressed to pick,” he would “probably” support Sanders.

Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, a non-profit group working for LGBT equality, said the Human Rights Campaign “came into South Carolina with a huge effort to get out the LGBT vote for Clinton.”

I haven’t seen any LGBT organizational endorsement or push for Sanders,” he said. The AFFA, as a a 501(c)(3), cannot make endorsements.

Linda Ketner, who made a strong bid for a Congressional seat in South Carolina in 2008 and is a co-founder of AFFA and the SC Equality Coalition, said she thinks Clinton and Sanders are “equal in terms of support of and for our community.” But she added that Clinton “would have a better chance of moving pro LGBT legislation through an obdurate Congress” than Sanders.

That pattern of solid LGBT support appeared to hold up in Georgia and Virginia, too. In Virginia, openly gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin and longtime openly gay elected official Jay Fisette of Arlington said they were supporting Clinton.

I have always liked Hillary. She is strong, capable and experienced and I think she would be excellent President and commander-in-chief,” said Fisette. “I do believe she’s been unfairly attacked in the past by Republicans who have attempted to preemptively damage her. Bernie has had an illustrious career and continues to make a difference, yet as an elected official, I also value pragmatism and comprise balanced with progressive values. That’s Hillary.”

In Georgia, a Feb. 11 survey of nearly 700 readers of the LGBT news organization Georgia Voice found 54 percent supported Clinton, 40.5 percent for Sanders, and 5.5. percent for others. The paper reported that state LGBT leaders supporting Clinton include State Rep. Karla Drenner, Georgia Equality Chair Glen Paul Freedoman and Georgia Stonewall Democrats Chair Colton Griffin.

In Texas, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed Clinton. So did openly LGBT state Reps. Mary Gonzalez and Celia Israel.

There was less information about communities in non-southern states, but in Minnesota, openly gay state Rep. Karen Clark endorsed Sanders early on and introduced him to a rally in Minneapolis last May. And openly gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado endorsed Clinton, but Sanders took that state.


Gay Republicans consider Rubio

LGBT Republicans appeared to be moving toward Rubio last week, but it’s unclear whether Rubio’s record — winning only one out of 15 primary or caucus contests during the past month — will sustain his bid for the nomination.

As president of the national Log Cabin Republicans group, Gregory Angelo declined to comment on what’s happening in the primaries.

“We have individual members supporting — and in many cases, volunteering for — all of the candidates still in the race.

Former Log Cabin President Rich Tafel doesn’t claim to have “the pulse” of the LGBT Republican community, but he said he’s met “a few” who support Trump.

“My guess is there is deeper support for Trump among many who do not articulate it,” said Tafel. In fact, Angelo has, in a number of interviews with mainstream media, has described Trump as “the most pro-gay” candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination.

But overall, Tafel said his “sense” of things is that “the establishment gays in D.C. have shifted to Rubio” since former Florida Governor Jeb Bush pulled out of the campaign after the February 20 South Carolina GOP primary.

Mimi Planas, president of Log Cabin in Miami, said she, too, believes “most Gay Republicans are leaning towards Marco Rubio” now, though she said “a few” are leaning towards Trump. And Paul Singer, the head of American United political action committee that supports candidates who support marriage for same-sex couples, is reportedly set to be named Rubio’s national finance chairman.

In Dallas, Metroplex Republicans chair Rob Shlein is supporting Trump. Log Cabin Dallas doesn’t endorse in primary races.

Combat among the five Republican candidates intensified significantly following the South Carolina primary. First, they traded insults during a nationally televised debate on CNN — Trump deriding Rubio for having “problems with your credit cards;” Rubio calling Trump a “con artist” and accusing him of hiring illegal workers; and Cruz hammering home the point that Trump has given thousands of dollars to “open border politicians.”

The following day, in front of a campaign audience in Dallas, Rubio claimed that, backstage at the debate the night before, Trump was having such a “meltdown” he needed a full-length mirror “maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.” Trump, at his own event, splashed a bottle of water across the stage to demonstrate how Rubio “sweats … like he had just jumped into a swimming pool with his clothes on.”

There was some talk of issues by Republicans.

Ohio Governor John Kasich set himself apart from the four other Republican presidential hopefuls during the February 25 debate in Houston. He was asked whether he would stand up for business vendors who cite their religious beliefs to justify refusing service to same-sex couples. He reiterated that he does not “favor” same-sex marriage and believes religious institutions “should be able to practice the religion that they believe in.”

But look, the court has ruled and I’ve moved on,” said Kasich. “And what I’ve said…is — Look, where does it end?” said Kasich. “If you’re in the business of selling things, if you’re not going to sell to somebody you don’t agree with — OK, ‘Today, I’m not going to sell to somebody who’s gay and tomorrow maybe I won’t sell to somebody who’s divorced.’

If you’re in the business of commerce, conduct commerce,” said Kasich. “That’s my view. And if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, say a prayer for them when they leave [the shop] and hope they change their behavior.”

Those remarks, said Tafel, won over at least some LGBT Republicans.

The primary action moves now to five other states this weekend — Maine, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Nebraska. And next Tuesday, March 8, voting takes place in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho, and Hawaii.

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  David Taffet

End of an era: “Bernie” closing at Magnolia

We knew this day had to come eventually, but for a while it seemed like it never would. After five months, Bernie is finally going final at the Magnolia Theatre this week. Thursday’s matinee will be its last showing in Dallas.

It was always a good fit. The hilarious comedy about an actual murder in East Texas is as authentic as a Fletcher’s Corny Dog in portraying Texas characters. It opened here on May 3 — that’s the same day as The Avengers, which hasn’t been in theaters in months. Of course, The Avengers made a billion dollars; Bernie hasn’t even grossed $10 million nationwide. But think about that: Five solid months in one theater and still profitable. The Magnolia had an audience at they got it.

It was tough to get a seat sometimes, even when it played on as many as three screens, but everyone who saw it laughed at Jack Black’s surprisingly sensitive portrayal of a goofy murderer and Matthew McConaughey pre-Magic Mike as a blowhard D.A.

It’s not on multiple screens anymore, down to at most two shows a week. (It was “officially” pulled from release last Friday, though Landmark seems not to have gotten the notice.) It has already been released on Blu-ray and DVD, even. But if you missed it and would like to see it in a theater, there’s still time.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Jack Black (maybe) goes gay in “Bernie”

This Friday, the uber-Texas comedy Bernie opens in Dallas, so we thought we’d give you a look-see with this interview by contributor Chris Azzopardi with the movie’s star, Jack Black, who shares his take on the character … and the pedicure he gave co-star Shirley MacLaine.


Is Bernie Jack Black’s first gay role? As a small-town Texan teddy bear who goes off the deep end, it might be. But because the real-life man he’s playing isn’t out, we may never truly know.

Bernie is an offbeat black comedy based on a true story of a flamboyant people-pleaser who befriends the local she-devil, and then turns on her. As the titular mortician who is, as one townie calls him, “light in the loafers,” Black — known for fun-loving roles in School of Rock and Tropic Thunder, and a hilarious kidnapping cameo in last year’s The Muppets — is totally non-Black, playing Bernie Tiede with understated finesse, an effeminate lisp and an endearing touch.

We got Black on the phone for an exclusive chat about his maybe-gay turn, what he has in common with Bernie and how LGBT rights is a “no-brainer” issue for him.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

News: Polari, Carrie Fisher, Bernie Madoff, Ke$ha

 road The language Polari, which was once used by gays in the United Kingdom, might go the way of the dinosaurs.

K  road Billboard magazine celebrates Ke$ha's big year.

 road Carrie Fisher on the gay rumors surrounding John Travolta: "I mean, my feeling about John has always been that we know and we don’t care. Look, I’m sorry that he’s uncomfortable with it, and that’s all I can say. It only draws more attention to it when you make that kind of legal fuss. Just leave it be."

 road Tonsillitis shuts down the Glee set.

 road The attention-seeking Westboro Baptist Church picketed today's funeral of Elizabeth Edwards. She was eulogized by her daughter and a couple of long-time friends but not John Edwards.

 road Showgirls and Black Swan get the trailer mash-up treatment (nsfw).

 road One dead, two injured in Stockholm bombing.

 road The Thor movie trailer officially hits the Web.

Santa  road Christmas came early in Boston today: spectators were treated to runners dressed in nothing but Santa hats and speedos.

 road Chances are that Winona Ryder is not reading this right now.

 road Bernie Madoff's 46-year-old son has taken his own life – on the two year anniversary of his father's arrest.

 road Bill O'Reilly offends Barbara Walters by implying she's nothing but a celebrity journalist.

 road The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council finds that evangelical TV host Charles McVety violated broadcast code: “McVety may not like homosexuality. That is his entitlement, but to leave the totally unsubstantiated impression that gay and lesbian adults have a predilection toward young, underage people is insidious and unacceptable. In all, the Panel finds the McVety mis-characterizations as excessive, inappropriate, disparaging, and abusive.”

 road Tom Ford has no problem watching straight porn.

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Maddow On Sen. Bernie Sanders

“A super-human display of strength and endurance.”

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Movin’ Like Bernie

Just in time for Halloween is the new dance craze, the Bernie, in which one flops around like the corpse in Weekend At Bernie’s. I know people who already dance like this!

Joe. My. God.

—  admin