Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

AUDIO: Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos on gay Democrats

Dan Ramos on Stonewall Democrats, homosexuality by gharman

Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, has been doing a great job keeping us posted on the Dan Ramos situation. If you’ll remember, Ramos is the chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party who recently compared gay Democrats to “termites” and the “fuckin’ Nazi Party.” Just today, the San Antonio Current posted some audio from the interview in which Ramos’ originally made his anti-gay comments — in response to Ramos’ allegations that the newspaper misrepresented what he said. Also, after the jump are several statements condemning Ramos forwarded by Graney over the last few days, including from state representatives, a Congressman, the San Antonio mayor and the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats.

—  John Wright

If a Congressman ‘bulldozes away’ ‘screaming, profane gays’ and no one’s there to film it…

…does it still make a sound?

We ask, because there’s no record of the following recount actually happening. Not from Iowa’s mainstream press. Not from bloggers. Not from YouTubers who filmed the events. Not even, up to this point, from anyone in the conservative movement — a movement filled with folks who LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to exploit any and every chance to make gays look aggressive.

But leave it to Congressman Steve King (Very Far R-Iowa) to all of a sudden remember some sort of militant, radical, profane gay aggression that’s gone wholly unreported for a matter of months:

REP. STEVE KING: “I went on the judge bus tour with the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council, and I climbed off of that bus into the heart of the screaming, profane gays that met us at nearly every stop, and I took them on directly, and in some cases actually — not direct violence, but physical. Yeah, so, and then, I went back down and sat down in the radio studio —

POLITICAL CORRECTION: “You were physically — they, like, physically tried to —”

KING: “Well here’s the extent of it. They get right in your face and they scream profanities right at you. And you have to stand there and deliver it. I finally, as my voice gave out, I turned it over to Connie Mackie who is a verbal pugilist of the first order, and they even crowded tight around her, so I turned my back to them and just, I backed up into them. I kept bulldozing them away from Connie Mackie because they were so intimidating and so threatening and so profane.

Rep. Steve King Proudly Recalls Confronting “Screaming, Profane Gays” [Political Correction]

(H/t: AKSARBENT)

So produce a tape, Congressman! And by “produce,” we don’t mean commission the firm that did NOM’s “Gathering Storm” ad to CGI some “intimidating, threatening, profane” gays into stock video of a rally. We mean “produce” as in cough up the tape. As in show us where any of this happened. Because we know people who were there on the ground in Iowa — and none of them saw anything even close to resembling an altercation.

So seriously, dude: Show us some documentation of how you boldly saved Connie Mackie from the de facto burning building that is the equality movement. Until you can, we’re gonna stick with our own memories from this tragically misguided tour:






Good As You

—  David Taffet

Congressman Introduces Bill Against Gay Families

CongressmanRandyForbesx390 (US House) | Advocate.comA House Republican from Virginia has introduced a bill that would require federal agencies and contractors to describe parents as “mother” and “father” on official documents.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

Ohio Congressman Targets D.C. Marriage Equality

JIM JORDAN X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMSocial conservatives in Congress may push to roll back marriage rights for same-sex couples in Washington, D.C.  
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr again calls for repeal of DOMA, endorses marriage equality

NOTE FROM PAM: This is the first of two reports for the Blend by Tony Varona, Professor of Law and the Academic Dean of American University’s Washington College of Law (right). He contacted me a few weeks ago because he was invited to participate in a symposium on marriage equality and religion at St. John’s Law School, held this past weekend. As a reader and fan of the Blend he wanted to contribute an account of the event from his unique perspective. This report on the views of by former Congressman Barr, the lead sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, provides a window into the former Republican’s viewpoint and current legal status of the Act.


Having already called for the repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act when he ran for president in 2008 as the Libertarian Party nominee, Bob Barr returned to the topic of DOMA’s dysfunctions during an extensive lunchtime address at the November 12th symposium entitled “Legal, Secular, and Religious Perspectives on Marriage Equality/Marriage Protection/Same-Sex Marriage” at St. John’s University School of Law in New York City. Barr, who was the lead author and lead sponsor of DOMA when he served as the Congressman from the seventh district in Georgia, characterized DOMA as an example of excessive government control of private relationships. Barr said:
The federal government has no business whatsoever defining social, personal relationships other than those perhaps that relate specifically to an enumerated proper function of the government. For example, [with] the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, one can say that at least the issue of homosexual activity or homosexual persons in the military falls within the ambit of a legitimate government concern. [The issue of gays in the military] falls into a very different category than something that ought to be defined as that large universe of policy decisions left by the Tenth Amendment to the people of the states, and that is where the issue of marriage always resided until recent decades.

Barr decried how DOMA has “morphed into” a significant barrier for the recognition of same-sex marriage among the states and a model for states’ own versions of DOMA, when, according to him, its principal purpose was much more modest and narrow. He said:

Here we had a piece of federal legislation that said for federal law purposes only,…this is what marriage means, reflecting the vast majority of Members of Congress representing the vast majority of people in the country at the time in 1996. A lawful union of one man and one woman. Yet what happened is rather than simply provide a shield for purposes of distributing federal moneys pursuant to that definition, the Defense of Marriage Act over the intervening years has been used as a club to force states not to adopt any definition of marriage other than the one that is supposed to apply just for federal law purposes.

Barr’s remarks glossed over the fact that DOMA’s Section 2 specifically addresses — and has very much influenced — state definitions of marriage by prescribing that no state “shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding” of any other state that recognizes a same-sex relationship as a marriage. DOMA’s purposes were thus not as narrow as Barr recalled. Nevertheless, he views DOMA’s restrictive anti-gay definition of marriage as another example of excessive federal government control over our lives, and an “effort by government to control individual liberty” on par with “how fast you can go on the freeway, to what the fill capacity in the toilet in the restroom is, to what kind of a bulb you can use in a lamp, and to what doc you can go to and what you can be treated for.”

Speaking in favor of the right of same-sex couples to marry, Barr said that marriage equality “is an issue of individual liberty” and “fundamental freedom.” He observed that “back in the 1850s” marriage “was considered for what it truly is — a personal relationship, a contract between two individuals.” It was, according to Barr, only “after the regulatory state began to take hold that government realized that [the regulation of marriage] was another way to control people.”

The chances for DOMA’s repeal dimmed considerably with the Republican takeover of Congress. A judicial overturning of DOMA’s Section 3, which defines “marriage” for federal purposes as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” would be more likely to happen sooner. Judge Joseph Tauro of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on July 8th ruled in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional because it lacked a rational basis. He separately ruled that DOMA’s Section 3 violated the Spending Clause and the Tenth Amendment in the partner case of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Just last month, the Obama Administration filed an appeal to the decisions. For more information on the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders’ (GLAD’s) extraordinary legal work in bringing these lawsuits, click here.

***

Professor Tony Varona teaches Contracts, Administrative Law, Media Law, and Introduction to Public Law. Before joining the WCL faculty, he was an associate professor of law at Pace Law School in New York. Before that, he served as general counsel and legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization. He built HRC’s legal department, directed its legislative and regulatory lawyering and appellate amicus work, launched national law fellow and pro bono attorney programs, and served as counsel to HRC’s board of directors and the organization’s corporate, educational, and media initiatives.

Professor Varona taught as an adjunct law professor for three years at Georgetown University, and served as a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. He serves on the board of directors of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and is a member of the Society of American Law Teachers and the Hispanic Bar Association of Washington. He has served on the boards of the Human Rights Campaign and the Alliance for Justice, was on the New York Advisory Board for the American Constitution Society, was founding chairperson of the AIDS Action Council’s Legal Advisory Board, and served as a member of the Judicial Selection Steering Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.



Professor Varona’s second report will be equally interesting – a first-person account of serving on a panel at this symposium with the grande dame of discrimination, Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Careful which film icons you invoke, Congressman King

At yesterday’s Judge Bus stop in Winterset, IA, Congressman Steve King is quoted as saying:

John Wayne would want you to vote NO” (on retaining Iowa’s pro-equality judges) [SOURCE]

But here’s the thing: The late John Wayne is also on record saying of Native Americans:

Our so called stealing of this country was just a question of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.” [Playboy, 1971]

And saying of African-Americans:

I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.



It’s not my judgment. The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically. But some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven’t passed the tests and don’t have the requisite background” [Playboy, 1971]

So while he was a good actor, American icon, and native Iowan, we think we’d be careful about playing the “John Wayne would’ve...” game. It’s likely that time did evolve his views up until the time of his 1979 death. It’s possible that these quotes don’t reveal what was truly in his heart. But the archived record is the archived record. The raised questions would seem to more fully embolden the side that is seeking minority protection, not modern day limitation.




Good As You

—  admin

Congressman’s office reaches out to gay couple separated by immigration law

Aurelio Tolentino, left, and his partner, Roi Whaley

On Friday, we posted this blog about Roi Whaley and his partner, Aurelio Tolentino. Just to catch you up Tolentino, a registered nurse from the Philipines, had come to the U.S. on a work visa and met Whaley in a support group for people with HIV. When he applied for his green card, the federal government learned Tolentino had HIV and, under a policy that has since been revoked by President Barack Obama, officials told Aurelio he would have to leave the country.

Tolentino applied for asylum, since he had already faced violence in his home country because of his sexual orientation and would probably face more if he went back. But that was denied. So he went to Canada to stay with his mother and applied for asylum there. That, too, was denied and he now faces the prospect of having to return to the Philipines. And at the same time, Whaley has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is visiting Tolentino in Canada this month, but unless something changes, it will likely be the last time the two partners are able to see each other.

Whaley, with the assistance of Immigration Equality, had asked his congressman, Democrat Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., for help in getting a humanitarian parole that would allow T0lentino back into the U.S. to be with Whaley in his final months. But Taylor’s office had refused.

That seems to have changed now. Steve Ralls with Immigration Equality called me this morning to let me know that after we posted the earlier blog about the couple’s plight, Taylor’s office has reached out to Whaley to try and help.

“We heard from Taylor’s office today (Tuesday, Sept. 7). He has reached out to Roi and said they want to work with him to see how they can best help him,” Ralls said. “We hope that [Taylor] will work with Roi’s attorney here at Immigration Equality on finding a way for Aurelio to be here in this country with Roi. It is a very positive step forward.”

Of course, if Whaley and Tolentino had been able to be legally married, or even if the U.S. had dropped its antiquated rule on allowing HIV-positive immigrants and visitors into the country earlier, this wouldn’t be such a problem. But for now, let’s just hope that Taylor and Immigration Equality can find a way for these two people who love each other to be together when they need each other most.

—  admin

Peru jumps on South American equality bandwagon with proposed civil union law

Jose Vargas

A congressman from the ruling party in Peru will introduce a civil union bill in the legislature, according to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

The bill would give same-sex couples the same economic rights as married opposite-sex couples but would not allow them to adopt.

The bill will be introduced by José Vargas of the APRA ruling party, but he will do so as an individual, not on behalf of his party in, to avoid jeopardizing the current government. He urged support from all political sides.

According to the website Living In Peru, the gay movement in Lima was surprised about the legislation and said Vargas acted on his own without consulting them. The community fears a civil union law could prevent marriage equality in the future.

Last week Argentina legalized same-sex marriage. Uruguay began debating upgrading its civil union law to marriage. A marriage law was introduced in the legislature in Paraguay, and Chile began debating civil unions.

Translation assistance by Miguel Flores.

—  David Taffet