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

Carson says Constitution protects ‘everybody regardless of their sexual orientation’

Current GOP frontrunner says in debate that even though he opposes marriage equality he is not a homophobe

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service

lisakeen@mac.com

bencarson

Dr. Ben Carson

The Republican presidential field’s current frontrunner Ben Carson said Wednesday night, Oct. 28, he is not a homophobe and believes “our Constitution protects everybody regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Carson made the remark in response to a question from a CNBC debate questioner Wednesday night, during the third Republican presidential debate.

CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla noted that the national warehouse chain Costco has been identified as one of the most gay friendly employers in the country. Carson had served on the Costco board of directors for more than 16 years when he stepped down in May of this year, when he announced his campaign for president.

Quintanilla asked Carson whether his being on the Costco board ran counter to his views on homosexuality.

“Well, obviously, you don’t understand my views on homosexuality,” said Carson. “I believe our Constitution protects everybody, regardless of their sexual orientation or any other aspect. I also believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. And there is no reason you can’t be perfectly fair to the gay community.

“They shouldn’t automatically assume that because you believe marriage is one man and one woman that that you are a homophobe,” he continued. “This is one of the myths that the left perpetuates on our society. This is how they frighten people and get people to shut up. That’s what the PC culture is all about. And it’s destroying this nation. The fact of the matter is we the American people are not each other’s enemies. It’s those people who are trying to divide us that are the enemies.”

Rich Tafel, a longtime Republican gay activist and former head of the national Log Cabin Republican group, said he thinks Carson’s response “might mark the end of the culture war against gays in politics.”

“Given the opportunity to distance himself from Costco or corporations that have been champions for gay rights, he mumbled that he believed that marriage is between a man and women, but then went onto an impassioned defense of gay people deserving freedom and that he’s not a homophobe,” said Tafel. “When you consider he’s probably the most far right candidate on social issues who early in the campaign made a comment about gay being a choice (prison as proof) he’s come a long way.

Essentially,” Tafel said, “it marks the moment where in a race for everyone to get to the far right, gay issues aren’t the ones you grab onto (unlike the 1990s). Also, the fact that he shares the lead with Trump who has gone out of his way to be gay supportive despite running a populist campaign. Bottom line, we win!”

The question to Carson was the only question of the evening that touched on any LGBT-specific issue. The rest of the prime-time debate and an earlier debate with low-polling candidates were focused on a wide range of issues and on exploring the viability of certain candidates and their comments against each other.

Carson has in recent days begun polling in first place in at least some polls asking how Republican primary votes nationwide are leaning. A CBS/New York Times poll taken Oct. 21-25 found 26 percent of 575 Republican primary voters support Carson, 22 percent support Donald Trump, and single-digits support the other 13 GOP candidates still hoping to win the nomination.

At the beginning of October, Trump was in the lead with 27 percent, followed by Carson with 21.

Over the years, Carson has made a number of statements that question his commitment to fairness for the gay community. He has equated marriage for same-sex couples with bestiality, said prison proves sexual orientation is a choice, and said he believes allowing same-sex couples to marry is equivalent to tossing the “word of God … into the garbage.”

In his closing remarks, Carson reiterated this theme of rejecting “political correctness,” a buzzword Carson uses to refer to criticisms of candidates who oppose equal protection for LGBT people and other minorities.

© 2015 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  Tammye Nash

Election 2014: Second (and last) gubernatorial debate is tonight

DavisAbbottSplit_jpg_800x1000_q100Tonight is the last night voters can see the two candidates for Texas governor spar before the November 4 election.

State sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Attorney General Greg Abbott will debate live at KERA’s studios in Dallas It will be broadcast tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. on television, radio and online.

KERA is co-producing the debate with NBC 5, KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News.

The full list of channels hosting the debate is here. Both the Davis and Abbott campaigns are hosting their own watch parties. pre-debate phone banking and watch parties. You can check out the Davis events here.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas County Democratic Party are hosting a watch party at the Angelika Theater, 5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230, 7-9:30 p.m.

Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats are also hosting a watch party at Tommy’s Hamburgers, 2455 Forest Park Blvd., at 7:30 p.m.

I can’t find a lot of specific listings for Abbott watch parties, but I confirmed with the Dallas County Republican Party about at least one party hosted by the Abbott campaign. Details are here.

It will also be live streamed. A Spanish-language translation of the debate will be streamed online at Telemundo39.com.

Viewers are encouraged to also submit questions via Twitter @keranews using #texasdebates. I’ll probably also be having fun on Twitter as well. You can follow me @james4texas. Feel free to join in. (I also tweet a lot about traffic, the arts and cultural life if #texasdebates aren’t of interest to you.)

—  James Russell

Election 2014: Lt. Gov. debate tonight

Patrick_LVdP_copy_jpg_800x1000_q100Tonight Texans will have their one and only chance tonight to watch lieutenant governor candidates Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick debate. Sponsored by Austin’s KLRU-TV and the Texas Tribune, the televised duel begins at 7 p.m. and will last one hour.

The Dallas County Democrats are hosting a phone bank and watch party at their headquarters, 4209 Parry Avenue, from 6-8 p.m. More information can be found here. Check out the Van de Putte campaign website for additional information.

The Dan Patrick campaign is hosting a phone bank and watch party at the Dallas County Republican Party Victory Center, 9669 N. Central Expressway Ste. 100. Also check out the Patrick campaign website for additional information.

The debate will also be livestreamed. You may watch it here.

—  James Russell

Watch Tuesday’s debate with Stonewall Democrats or Log Cabin Republicans

Both Log Cabin Republicans and Stonewall Democrats are planning watch parties for the town hall-format presidential debate on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Log Cabin will join Dallas County Young Republicans at Stoneleigh P, 2626 Maple Ave. at 8 p.m.

Stonewall Democrats begin the evening with their general meeting at Ojeda’s on Maple Avenue at 6 p.m. Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs will speak on the upcoming bond election, and Denise Rodriguez will represent Planned Parenthood PAC.

At 7:30 p.m., the group moves to Woody’s on Cedar Springs Road for its debate watch party.

On Oct. 18, Stonewall is staffing an Obama phone bank at Dallas Democratic Party headquarters, 4209 Parry St.

Stonewall will host its third debate watch party at the Texas Theatre on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff on Oct. 22, the day early voting begins.

The Texas Democratic Party announced a partnership with Stonewall Democrats of Texas called “Come Out and Vote.” Launched on National Coming Out Day, Come Out and Vote encourages members of the LGBT community to early-vote on Oct. 27.

“This is another way for the LGBT community and its allies to celebrate and exhibit their strength and pride by engaging in the voting process,” Jacob Limon, Texas Democratic Party deputy executive director, wrote in a press release.

 

—  David Taffet

Rev. Amy Delong, tried by Methodists for being a lesbian, to preach at Bering Memorial Methodist Church

Rev. Amy DeLong

Paperwork can be the bane of any job. For Rev. Amy Delong a simple annual report catapulted her into the maelstrom of the United Methodist Church’s debate on accepting LGBT people. DeLong visits Houston’s Bering Memorial United Methodist Church (1440 Harold) on Sunday, Feb. 12 to preach at both the 8:30 and 10:50 service.

In 2009 DeLong was approached by two women who wanted to get married. After conducting premarital counseling with the couple Delong agreed to perform the ceremony. As a clergy person, DeLong was required to report on her activities at the end of the year, including any weddings she had performed. She knew that the Methodist Church did not allow same-sex marriage but thought “I don’t know if anybody even reads these.” Boy, was she wrong!

With-in three days she was hauled into the her boss’s (the bishop) office. DeLong’s relationship with her partner Val was well known to her colleagues. “I’ve never had a bishop or a leader in the church or a pastor who didn’t know that I was gay,” says DeLong. “Everyone knows Val.” But the church was determined now to make an example of her, and DeLon’s relationship would now be an issue.

In 2011 DeLong was tried in the church’s court with violating the Methodist “Book of Discipline” by being in a same-sex relationship and by performing a same-sex wedding. During the trial she refused to answer pointed questions about her and her partner’s sex life. “No heterosexual couples are ever asked if they
still engage in genital contact in their marriages,” says DeLong. That refusal left the court with no evidence against her on the first charge.

She was convicted of performing the wedding and suspended from ministry for 20 days. The court also required DeLong to work with a group of ministers to prepare a statement on how to “help resolve issues that harm the clergy covenant, create an advesarial spirit or lead to future trails.” “This sentence is complicated,” says DeLong. “It doesn’t lend itself well to media soundbites. So a lot of folks have been saying to me ‘I can’t tell, is this penalty good?'” DeLong responds with a resounding “Yes!” Saying that she welcomes the opportunity to write, teach and study on a topic dear to her heart.

DeLong recalls that during that initial meeting in the bishop’s office one of the bishop’s assistants referred to her as a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” To which she responded “Val and I aren’t practicing any more… we are pretty good at it by now.” The assistant laughed. More than anything that is the impression one gets of DeLong: someone with a lot of humor and aplomb who is unwilling to back down from a fight for justice.

After the jump watch a clip of DeLong talking about her experience.

—  admin

“Defining Marriage: A Debate!” at U of H tomorrow

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

One day we will get to the point where an University inviting guests to debate marriage equality will be greeted with the same scorn that an on-campus debate on women’s suffrage or whether or not African-Americans are 3/5 of a person would engender, but that day is not today. Just in time for the expected U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling on Prop. 8  tomorrow, Feb. 7, the Federalist Society and Outlaw at the University of Houston present “Defining Marriage: A Debate!” at noon in the Bates Law Building room 109.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, will be on hand to defend the continued prohibition against marriage equality. Mitchell Katine, who served as local counsel in Lawrence v. Texas (the Supreme Court case declaring Texas’ law against “homosexual conduct” unconstitutional) will defend marriage as a civil right, constitutionally guaranteed by equal protection under the law.

As a bonus the first 70 attendees to arrive will receive a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich and waffle fries, because we like our civil rights debated with a side of irony.

After the jump get a sneak peak at the kind of keen logical arguments to be expected from Dr. Morse:

—  admin

Gary Johnson slams both Obama and Santorum on gay rights, will appear in Grapevine in Feb.

Gary Johnson

For those who’ve been watching the GOP presidential debates on TV and wishing they could attend one in person, here’s your chance. Well, sorta. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Texas Libertarian Party will host a presidential debate in Grapevine on Feb. 25. The debate is open to the public, and among the candidates who’ve confirmed their participation is former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Johnson dropped out of the Republican race last month and filed as a libertarian. And, unlike some other so-called libertarians who are still seeking the GOP nomination, Johnson actually supports same-sex marriage. In fact, Johnson sent out a press release just the other day in which he managed to slam both President Barack Obama and anti-gay GOP candidate Rick Santorum for their positions on LGBT equality (alas, “at least [Santorum] is consistent”). We’re not sure why Johnson left out Ron Paul, but here’s an excerpt:

“Rick Santorum’s position is unconstitutional. The Constitution requires that all citizens be treated equally and makes no reference to gender in assuring those equal rights,” said Johnson. “By any fair measure, equal access to marriage for all Americans is a right — guaranteed by the Constitution. Senator Santorum’s claim that legally recognizing gay marriage would be no different than legalizing polygamy, child molestation or bestiality is repugnant and insulting to millions of gay Americans,” said the former New Mexico Governor.

Johnson had equally harsh criticism for President Barack Obama. “The New York Times reports that while President Obama gives lip service to gay equality, the President will not support gay marriage before the election because of the opposition of African Americans, as reflected in his polling, and the need to assure maximum support from African American voters in November,” said Johnson. “Instead the President sends out surrogates to imply that he will support gay marriage in a second term.

“President Obama did the same kind of dance around the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. He promised to repeal it in his campaign, then dragged his feet on repealing it as President, even sending the Justice Department’s lawyers into court to defend it. Then when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was finally repealed by Congress, he claimed victory and a promise fulfilled.

“As for Rick Santorum, at least he is consistent. He not only opposed the repeal of DADT, he has promised to return our military to the Dark Ages and reinstate it, and claims that repealing such a discriminatory policy has somehow been ‘detrimental’ to gays.

“I, for one, am tired of seeing candidates for president – including the President himself, play political games with people’s lives and happiness. Perhaps it’s time for a president who leads based upon principle instead of polls,” he said.

—  John Wright

Will this debate sink Perry’s presidential hopes?

Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry came out of the gate strong when he jumped into the race to become the Republican nominee for president in 2012. How could he not? He had that great hair, and that supposed good ol’ Texas boy charm on his side, not to mention the prayers of all those people who attended The Response in August. He was riding high, jumping to the tops of the polls and apparently leaving folks like Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann in the dust.

And then he opened his mouth and talked. And things started going downhill fast.

Perry’s troubles started with the Republican debates. At the first one, on Sept. 7, he was taken to task for calling Social Security “a ponzi scheme” and for his controversial executive order requiring schoolgirls to be vaccinated against HPV. And while the audience applauded when Perry said he doesn’t lose sleep over executions in Texas, there were plenty of people who found that statement appalling.

And things got worse at the Sept. 22 debate, from which Perry came away looking “shell shocked,” according to the Huffington Post, after other candidates, like nutball Rick Santorum, attacked him for being too lenient on immigration policies.

And now, as Perry prepares for his third debate tonight in New Hampshire, sponsored by Bloomberg News and The Washington Post, some folks — like MSNBC — are calling this “do or die time” for him. This MSNBC report shows that Romney has regained the lead in the polls, holding a precarious three-point lead over Herman Cain in Iowa and a robust 30-point advantage over the other candidates in New Hampshire, the sites of the earliest primaries, according to the most recent NBC News-Marist polls

And where is Perry? In Iowa, he is tied for fourth place with Bachmann, with 10 percent each, behind his fellow Texan, Ron Paul who has 11 percent. And in New Hampshire, where Romney leads with 44 percent and Cain and Paul are tied for second with 13 percent each, Perry scraped in 6 percent for fourth place, barely beating out Jon Huntsman, who had 5 percent.

Poor Rick — he went from the top of the heap to scraping the bottom of the barrel in just a little more than two months. Talk about your monumental flame-out! I guess that means that it takes more than a pretty face and good hair to win the presidency — and the support of rabid right-wingers like the Rev. Robert Jeffress. And I guess that means we’ll probably have to keep putting up with Perry here in Texas until at least 2014.

—  admin