Poll watchers: There are some rules (and the DOJ will be watching, too)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who, with his fellow Texas Republicans, has tried continually to suppress voter turnout among groups the GOP thinks will vote against them — on Monday issued an opinion warning election officials that “poll watchers” have certain rights and that if an election official tries to interfere with those rights, that official can face Class A misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Election officials cannot block official poll watchers from observing and inspecting voting equipment or the interaction between voters and poll workers. Poll watchers also may accompany election officials as they deliver records to vote counters.

But as the Austin American-Stateman points out, those poll watchers have some very strict rules governing what they CAN’T do, too:

“State law also forbids poll watchers from speaking to voters.
“To serve, poll watchers must be assigned to a specific precinct and must present a certificate signed by the campaign or party official who appointed them. No more than two watchers can represent each political party or candidate at a polling site, and observers can serve only in the county in which they are registered to vote.
“The Texas Secretary of State’s office also warns poll watchers that they must stay silent on issues of voter identification.
“Under an order by a federal judge, Texans who do not have a government-issued photo ID can show other documents Tuesday — such as a bank statement or utility bill — if they fill out and sign a declaration indicating why they couldn’t acquire a government ID, such as a lack of transportation, disability or theft. Poll watchers and election workers cannot question the truthfulness of the declaration, the agency said.”

Paxton’s opinion came in response to a request filed back in September by Llano County D.A. Wiley McAfee, and amid expectations that there will certainly be “poll watchers” at some polling places following Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election is rigged and urging his followers to “monitor” polling places to guard against voter fraud. Many non-Trumpettes, of course, understand that the Widespread Voter Fraud Boogeyman is about as real as aliens and Bigfoot, and believe that a more likely scenario is that alt-right white supremacist Trumpettes are going to show up to try and intimidate certain voters into not casting their ballots.

With all the accusations flying back and forth, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice will be deploying more than 500 people to 67 different jurisdictions in 28 states today to monitor polls during the general election, CBS News reports. Those 67 jurisdictions include Dallas County, Harris County and Waller County in Texas.

—  Tammye Nash

White nationalist Trump supporter gay-baits candidate in Utah

evan-mcmullin-400pts

Evan McMullin

Evan McMullin isn’t gay (as far as we know). But his mom and her wife are. And Evan, a Mormon,  says that while he believes in the “sanctity of traditional marriage,” he loves and respects his mother. That may not seem like any big news, except that McMullin is running as an independent candidate for president, and it looks like it is possible that he might win Utah’s electoral college ballots.

Apparently that’s got Donald Trump and his supporters in a bit of an uproar. (I can’t vouch for this site, but I’m including the link for the screencaps of Tweets included in it and the vitriol in the comments, both of which support the idea of “an uproar.”)

McMullin was formerly chief policy director for the House Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has also been a CIA operations officer, a volunteer refugee resettlement officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan, as well as an investment banker. For many of the folks in Utah — and Mormons elsewhere, supposedly — he is a better choice for president than either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.

And the Trump camp is taking McMullin seriously enough that Trump supporter William Johnson of California this week unleashed a barrage of robo-calls lambasting McMullin’s relationship with his lesbian mother and suggesting that the independent candidate is, himself, “a closet homosexual.”

The robo-call says: “Hello, My name is William Johnson. I am a farmer and a white nationalist. I make this call against Evan McMullin and in support of Donald Trump. Evan McMullin is an open borders, amnesty supporter. Evan has two mommies. His mother is a lesbian, married to another woman. Evan is okay with that. Indeed Evan supports the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn’t even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual. Don’t vote for Evan McMullin. Vote for Donald Trump. He will respect all women and be a president we can all be proud of.”

The robo-calls supposedly cost Johnson $2,000 and will go out to 193,000 households in Utah between Monday night, Oct 31, when they started, and Wednesday night, Nov. 2.

When Daily Beast asked him to back up his claims, Johnson responded via email: “Wikipedia tells his story [about his mother]. Also, if you Google him, it readily comes up. I said that ‘I think he is a closet homosexual.’ Calling someone a homosexual is no longer defamation. Also, he is a public figure. Word on the street is that he is gay.”

So. Here at Dallas Voice, we are not surprised to see a Trump supporter trying to gay-bait another candidate. In fact, after lo these many years, we aren’t surprised to see any Republican candidate or their surrogate trying to gay-bait another candidate. What bothers me, though, is the fact that this guy is SO VERY PROUD TO CALL HIMSELF A WHITE NATIONALIST, and that’s not making headlines!

(In case you aren’t sure, Mirriam-Webster defines “white nationalist” as: “one of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation.”)

Johnson isn’t trying to hide the fact that he is a racist bigot. I mean, he starts out his damn robo-call describing himself as a “farmer and a white nationalist.” And this isn’t the first time. In February, he paid for robo-calls on Trump’s behalf in Vermont and Minnesota urging voters not to vote for “a Cuban” (Marco Rubio) and to not be afraid of being called racist and to protect against the “gradual genocide of the white race” by electing Trump.

According to information published by Daily Beast, in September 2015, Johnson, as leader of the American Freedom Party, donated $250 to the Trump campaign, and shortly after established the American National Super PAC to start making robo-calls supporting Trump in Iowa. Then when asked about the contribution at a town hall in New Hampshire, Trump told the questioner “Don’t be so angry about it,” and said his campaign would return the donation. And they did return it.

BUT ….

The Trump campaign has not returned the two donations, totaling $1,500, that Johnson made to Trump in June this year. And Johnson told Daily Beast he believes he has actually donated more than that — close to the $2,500 limit.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks on Monday told CNN the Trump campaign “strongly condemn[s] this rhetoric and these activities of which we have no knowledge.”

—  Tammye Nash

SCOTUS, LGBT rights make the final presidential debate

Clinton.Trump

Clinton, Trump — not surprisingly — take different stances on who should be appointed to the Supreme Court

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

In the first few minutes of the third and final presidential debate of 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reiterated she would appoint justices that would preserve marriage equality. And Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reiterated his promise to nominate conservative justices, but he did not specify, as he has in the past, that his nominees would be in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

U.S. Supreme Court appointments was the first of several issues raised by Fox News moderator Chris Wallace Wednesday night, Cot. 19, at the nationally televised debate in Las Vegas. Among the other topics addressed, sometimes brought up by the candidates themselves, were the attack on Pulse, the LGBT nightclub in Orlando, and the acceptance of donations by the Clinton Foundation from countries where gays are executed.

Democratic activist Richard Socarides said the contrast between the two candidates on the Supreme Court is paramount.

“Now we know, we must elect Hillary Clinton to protect a Supreme Court majority for civil rights, but also to protect our very democracy,” Socarides said. “The choice could not be more clear.”

Log Cabin Republicans national president Gregory Angelo said the most poignant moment was when Trump challenged Clinton to return donations to the Clinton Foundation that have come from countries that persecute gays.

“Trump directly confronted Hillary Clinton on her hypocrisy in being in favor of LGBT equality but accepting money from countries with horrendous records on LGBT equality,” Angelo said. “Hillary Clinton never answered that question. She never said whether she would return those monies.”

The Clinton Foundation issue came up when Wallace asked Clinton whether, as secretary of state, she gave “special access” to donors to the foundation. Clinton answered, “Everything I did as secretary of state was in furtherance of our country’s interests and our values.”

She praised the Clinton Foundation for making it possible “for 11 million people around the world with HIV/AIDS to afford treatment.”

Trump called the Clinton Foundation a “criminal enterprise” and said it had taken money from donors in countries “that push gays off buildings.”

“These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money,” said Trump. “So I’d like to ask you right now: Why don’t you give back the money that you have taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money?”

Clinton responded that she would be “happy to compare what we do with the Trump Foundation, which took money from other people and bought a six-foot portrait of Donald.” She noted that 90 percent of the Clinton Foundation’s money was spent on providing HIV treatments around the world.

Socarides called Trump’s challenge a “ludicrous idea.”

“Would he like to try to get the HIV drugs back?” Socarides demanded.

On the first question of the evening, about the Supreme Court, both Clinton and Trump responded with positions they have already fairly well established.

Clinton said, “We need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in the country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system.”

“I have major disagreements with my opponent about these issues and others that will be before the Supreme Court,” Clinton continued, “but I feel that, at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of people in the workplace, that we stand up and basically say the Supreme Court should represent all of us.

“That’s how I see the court,” she said. “And the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans, and I look forward to having that opportunity.

“I would hope that the Senate would do its job and confirm the nominee that President Obama has sent to them,” Clinton concluded. “That’s the way the Constitution fundamentally should operate. The president nominates and then the Senate advises and consents or not. But they go forward with the process.”

Trump agreed it is “so imperative that we have the right justices” but disagreed on just the right justices might be.

“Something happened recently where Justice Ginsburg made some very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent, and she was forced to apologize and apologize she did. But these were statements that should never ever have been made,” said Trump.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton, said in an interview in July that she “can’t imagine” what the court or the country would be like under a President Trump. She speculated that, if her late husband were alive, he would want to move to New Zealand if Trump became president.

Ginsberg later expressed regret for making those remarks, adding, “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.”

Trump added that the country needs a Supreme Court that “is going to uphold the Second Amendment and all amendments, but the Second Amendment, which is under absolute siege.

“I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint — and I’ve named 20 of them — the justices that I’m going to appoint will be pro-life, they will have a conservative bent, they will be protecting the Second Amendment, they are great scholars in all cases, and they’re people of tremendous respect,” said Trump.

“They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted,” he continued. “And I believe that’s very, very important. I don’t think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear. It’s all about the Constitution of — and so important, the Constitution the way it was meant to be and those are the people that I will appoint.”

In defending her idea for a no-fly zone in Syria, Clinton said she thinks the plan would save lives of Syrians. She then referred to Trump’s earlier remarks that stopping Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. would “stop radical Islamic terrorism in this country. .. The killer of the dozens of people at the nightclub in Orlando, the Pulse nightclub, was born in Queens, the same place Donald was born,” she noted.

In one of the most memorable moments of the 90-minute event, Wallace pointedly asked Trump about statements he has been making during the past two weeks, claiming the election is “rigged” against him.

“I want to ask you here on this stage tonight,” Wallace said, “… will you absolutely accept the result of this election?”

Trump balked: “I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I will look at it at the time.”

Wallace pressed again: “Sir, there is a tradition in this country … the peaceful transition of power. And that no matter how hard fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but the loser concedes to the winner and the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?”

“What I’m saying is I’ll tell you at the time,” Trump answered. “I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?”

Former Log Cabin President Rich Tafel said he thought Trump’s comment that he may not accept the results of the election is “a threat to our democracy,” adding, “I’m hoping Trump loses badly.”

A CNN instant poll following the debate settled some suspense Wednesday night: 52 percent said Clinton “won” the debate, while 39 percent said Trump did.

© 2016 by Keen News Service

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Democrats ratify most pro-LGBT platform ever

web.Stronger_Together_(c)_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key

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

Clinton pays unexpected visit to Pulse, meets with victims, families

Screen shot 2016-07-22 at 3.34.27 PM

Tweet by NPR’s Tamara Keith showing Hillary Clinton talking to first responders outside Pulse nightclub during an unannounced visit to Orlando Friday, July 22.

With the start of the Democratic National Convention just a few days away — and with just about the whole country anxiously waiting for her to announce her choice of a running mate — presumptive Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton instead chose to make an unannounced visit Friday, July 22, to Orlando where she met privately with survivors and families of victims of the June 12 mass shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse, according to The New Civil Rights Movement and other sources.

Clinton also held a roundtable discussion with the victims and family members and community leaders, before visiting the site of the nightclub to pay her respects and meet with first responders.

According to a tweet by NBC News reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, staff a Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn went into a meeting at 3 p.m. expecting to hear who the candidate had chosen as VP, but were told they have to wait until “an undisclosed time” to find out that info.

Jennifer King with Associated Press Radio tweeted that after meeting with victims, families and community leaders, Clinton “is saying we need to stand united against bigotry.” BuzzFeedNews political reporter Ruby Cramer tweeted that the candidate said, “It’s still dangerous to be LGBT in America…an unfortunate fact but one that needs to be said.” And Bloomberg Politics reporter Jennifer Epstein tweeted that Clinton told those in Orlando, “I really am here to listen to what your experiences have been and wha twe do need to do together.”

—  Tammye Nash

President Obama officially endorses Hillary Clinton for president

Screen shot 2016-06-09 at 1.30.46 PM

In a video released today by the Clinton campaign, President Barack Obama endorses Hillary Clinton for president.

President Barack Obama today (Thursday, June 9) issued a ringing endorsement, via video released by the Clinton campaign, of former Secretary of State (former Senator, former First Lady) Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency. He also added praise for her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and called on voters to take a stand for “the values that make America great” and “win a brighter future for this country that we love.”

“Look, I know how hard this job can be. That’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it,” Obama said in the video. “In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. She’s got the courage, the compassion and the heart to get the job done.

“I’m with her,” the president continued, echoing Clinton supporters’ “I’m With Hillary” slogan. “I’m fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.”

Obama praised Sanders for waging a hard-fought campaign, for bringing to light important issues like economic justice and for bringing thousands of young people into the democratic process. Both Clinton and Sanders, he said “are patriots who love this country.”

Watch the complete video below.

—  Tammye Nash

Clinton, Trump big Super Tuesday winners

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service

Clinton.Hillary.Feb11

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

Trump, Clinton win; Jeb! out

Hillary

Hillary Clinton at a recent Dallas appearance

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were winners in Saturday’s primary and caucus, while Jeb! dropped out.

Trump won the South Carolina Republican primary with 32.5 percent of the vote. Marco Rubio came in second with 22.5 percent and Ted Cruz third with 22.3 percent. Trump get all 44 delegates.

Cruz’s third place finish is considered a disappointment for the candidate that appeals to Evangelicals, a strong Republican voting block in that state.

Jeb! Bush dropped out of the race after his fourth place finish. John Kasich placed fifth and Ben Carson sixth.

The Democratic primary in South Carolina is next Saturday.

In Nevada, Democrats held a caucus on Saturday, which Hillary Clinton won. Clinton, with 52.7 percent of the vote, adds 19 delegates to her count and Bernie Sanders adds 15.

The Republican caucus is on Tuesday.

Bill Clinton will be appearing in Dallas at Paul Quinn College in South Dallas on Monday, Feb. 22. Early voting in underway in the Texas primary. Primary Day in Texas is March 1, Super Tuesday.

—  David Taffet

Clinton campaign video: ‘All love is equal’

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 4.22.23 PMHillary Clinton, former First Lady, former U.S. senator, former U.S. Secretary of State and current Democratic candidate for president, today (Wednesday, June 24) unveiled a 2 1/2-minute video, called “Equality,” in which Clinton calls for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Release of the video comes just hours before the next rulings — possibly including a ruling on marriage equality — are scheduled to be released by the U.S. Supreme Court. With seven decisions expected to be released before the end of this session, the court has scheduled rulings to be announced Thursday, June 25, Friday, June 26 and Monday, June 28.

The video includes audio from Clinton’s speech earlier this month in New York, playing alongside images and audio of happy same-sex couples proposing or exchanging bows. In the speech, Clinton declares:

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct. But in fact they are one and the same. Being LGBT doesn’t make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

—  Tammye Nash

President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin