Goodbye LCR; hello again Metroplex Repubs

Gay GOP group’s officers offer a reasoned response to the breakup with Log Cabin Republicans and the myths surrounding it

There are times in life when we must evaluate our relationships with others to determine mutual benefit. And so it goes for political affiliations.

Schlein.Rob

Rob Schlein

Log Cabin Republicans Dallas pondered for years whether the association with LCR was a good “marriage” for many reasons. We did not undertake this evaluation lightly or in haste.

A couple of weeks ago, we were once again at a crossroads in evaluating that relationship. We were prepared to ask the Log Cabin national board for a hearing so that we could air our grievances and long-held concerns because a clear majority of our local board wanted a resolution that would keep us under the LCR-umbrella.

Instead, they pre-empted us by abruptly “de-certifying” our group, and “re-certifying” one with leadership of their choosing. Rather than wait two months for elections (we’ve been pushing for new leaders to come forward for years) they hand-selected their new president.

Merit or not, other Log Cabin Chapters should be, and are, very alarmed at what has happened with the lack of due process.

Last week, Log Cabin Republicans headquarters issued press releases — before we received our legal notice — that resulted in media articles that were factually untrue. ”Lie” might be too strong a word to write for a political organization, but “if the shoe fits” … .

There was no due process, and no formal warnings or notifications to the members of the chapter leadership.  There was no probation period … absolutely nothing!

From Chapter of the Year in 2008 to Chapter Death Sentence in 2011, you might ask, “What happened?”

We suspect that inviting leaders from another nationally known gay conservative organization to speak to a gay Republican group was,

OefteringRudy

Rudy Oeftering

in their view, an LCR National “emergency.” If true, it would reveal a near childish jealousy.

Was it the rumor we heard about the executive director’s displeasure with the Dallas Voice op-ed stating that Gov. Rick Perry is a better choice than President Obama? Was it Rob Schlein’s interview with Michael Signorile where he made a less than artful statement regarding minority politics vs. the common good?

Or perhaps it was the failed scheme of the inexperienced LCR executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, to pin blame on the local chapter for failures with a major donor that were clearly his responsibility.

Maybe the action was to deflect attention from LCR National’s embarrassing failures and list of “no-show” speakers at the national convention held in Dallas this past spring.

We may never know the answer to these questions, since our de-chartering is yet another example of the national office’s continued bumbling. Remember: No warning, no communication, no policy, no due process — absolutely nothing!

One of our most senior board members from the de-chartered local chapter wrote an email a few days ago to all of the national Log Cabin directors. It included this sentence: “I have in front of me one of the most incomprehensible pieces of fiction I’ve ever read in the form of a letter from the National LCR attorney laying out the reasoning for our de-chartering.”  He concluded, “The actions of the board were completely out of proportion to the problem at hand and were driven by personality conflicts, continued confusion in the national office, false accusations and half-truths.”

Their silence in response has been deafening.

In some ways, the actions of Log Cabin National, while immensely hurtful, made our decisions easy. We have always been one of the largest chapters in the LCR network. At over 30 years old, we started as Metroplex Republicans, and then chose to affiliate with Log Cabin in 1995.

As in marriage, sometimes the parties need to separate. And so it is now. We have come full circle, returning to our Metroplex Republicans roots. But in dropping the association with Log Cabin, we will have opportunity to reach further into the Dallas County party to affect positive change.

While a new Log Cabin chapter was technically chartered, it appears that even to the shell leadership, what comes next is hazy. Some feel the Log Cabin label is important, and may transition their membership to the infant chapter. Many are already suggesting reconciliation.

What is certain is that all are welcome to enjoy the continuity and quality of programming we have had in place for many years, formerly as Log Cabin and now as Metroplex Republicans.

Our years of experience have taught us what it takes in organization, dedication and quality programs for any volunteer organization to succeed. We have everything we need to grow and prosper.

We see the events of last week as an opportunity to reach more Republicans in Dallas. We intend to include Republicans of all varieties and will reach out to all non-traditional Republican allies. We believe correctly defined conservative principals benefit all and oppose the “gimme mine” politics of political sub-grouping at the expense of liberty and freedom.

Our next functions include a Preview Social for the Grand Ol’ Party on Oct. 22, the regular monthly meeting on Oct. 24, and the Grand Ol’ Party on Nov. 5.   Please visit our website, MetroplexRepublicans.com, for details and to sign up on our email list.

Robert Schlein is president and Rudy Oeftering is vice president of Metroplex Republicans, formerly known as the “original” Log Cabin Dallas Chapter.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

BREAKING: Government to request stay of injunction halting enfocement of DADT

The U.S. Department of Justice was expected to ask a federal judge on Thursday afternoon to allow the military to continue enforcing “don’t ask don’t tell” pending the government’s appeal of a September ruling declaring the policy unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction Tuesday, Oct. 12 ordering the Department of Defense to halt enforcement of DADT worldwide. In September, Phillips ruled that DADT violates servicemembers’ constitutional rights to free speech and due process.

The DOJ plans to appeal Phillips’ ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and on Thursday government lawyers were expected to request a stay of the injunction pending the appeal, according to The Advocate. The appeal must be filed within 60 days.

If Phillips doesn’t grant their request for a stay, DOJ attorneys likely will ask for an emergency stay from the appeals court.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Judge orders military to halt enforcement of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

A federal judge in California has issued an injunction halting enforcement of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

Judge Virginia Phillips on Tuesday ordered the U.S. military “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced” under DADT.

Phillips previously ruled that DADT violates servicemembers’ rights to due process and free speech. However, she delayed issuing an injunction in the lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

The Department of Justice now has 60 days to appeal the decision but has not said whether it will do so. In the meantime, the DOJ could also seek a stay of the decision from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. DOJ has no obligation to appeal the ruling and could simply allow it to stand.

“This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans. “While this is certainly news to be celebrated, we would also advise caution in advance of a potential stay from the Ninth Circuit. If the appellate court wishes to put itself on the right side of history, however, it will allow this sound and long-over due decision to remain in effect.”

Christian Berle, acting executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said in the wake of Phillips’ initial ruling, the injunction was the “only reasonable solution.”

“These soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our Constitution,” Berle said. “It is imperative that their constitutional freedoms be protected as well. This decision is also a victory for all who support a strong national defense. No longer will our military be compelled to discharge servicemembers with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination. The United States is stronger because of this injunction, and Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have brought the case that made it possible.”

Dan Woods, one of the attorneys representing Log Cabin, said he was “extremely pleased” with the injunction.

“The order represents a complete and total victory for Log Cabin Republicans and reaffirms the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians in the military who are fighting and dying for our country,” Woods said.

Other statements on Tuesday’s order:

Aaron Tax, legal director, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

“We applaud Judge Phillips for putting an immediate stop to all investigations and discharges under this unconstitutional law. As explained by the judge, this order applies across the military. This order bars the Department of Defense from enforcing or applying the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law against any person under its command. We have clients under investigation and facing discharge right now. We’ll be monitoring each case over the coming days. This order will likely be appealed by the Justice Department and brought to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit where her decision may well be reversed. The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress. Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time. Anyone in the armed forces with questions or concerns should call our hotline.”

—  John Wright

Appeals court grants stay of Prop 8 ruling

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an order Monday granting Yes on 8’s request for a stay of Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The appeals court panel also ordered, without being asked, that Yes on 8’s appeal of Walker’s ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger be addressed by the court on an expedited basis.

The panel said it would hear arguments on appeal during the week of Dec. 6, as well as arguments concerning whether Yes on 8 has legal standing to press the appeal.

The two-page order is a disappointment to many same-sex couples in California who were hoping that they would be able to obtain marriage licenses as soon as Judge Walker’s stay expired — at 5 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday.

“We are very gratified that the Ninth Circuit has recognized the importance and pressing nature of this case and the need to resolve it as quickly as possible by issuing this extremely expedited briefing schedule,” said Ted Olson, one of the lead attorneys for plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8.

Olson, one of the most prominent conservative attorneys in the country, launched the high-profile challenge of California’s voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage with liberal attorney icon David Boies. Walker, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Northern California (San Francisco), heard three weeks of testimony by the plaintiffs and Proposition 8 supporters in January.

In a dramatic 136-page ruling on Aug. 4, Walker declared the same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Walker agreed to stay — or delay enforcement — of his decision until Aug. 18, giving the 9th Circuit time to decide whether to grant a more extended appeal.

Evan Wolfson, who was a lead attorney on the first same-sex marriage case — in Hawaii in 1996 — called the 9th Circuit panel’s decision to continue Walker’s stay “disappointing.”

“But there are many twists in the road to justice,” said Wolfson, “and we are encouraged by the court’s setting a fast pace for the appeal, revealing that the judges understand how important a quick end to the exclusion from marriage is to gay couples, their loved ones, and all Americans who believe in equality under the law.”

The 9th Circuit panel includes two Clinton appointees — Judges Sidney Thomas and Michael Hawkins — and one Reagan appointee, Edward Leavey.

The panel set Sept. 17 as the date Yes on 8’s initial argument brief is due.

The response brief from the Ted Olson-David Boies legal team challenging Proposition 8 is due Oct. 18. And Yes on 8 may reply to plaintiffs’ brief by Nov. 1.

Monday’s order means the same-sex marriage ban will stay intact at least until December, when the 9th Circuit will hear arguments on both the issue of Yes on 8’s standing to appeal and, perhaps, on the merits of Walker’s decision.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, where U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro ruled — in two separate cases — July 9 that the ban on federal benefits to same-sex couples is unconstitutional, the clock is still ticking down the 60 days the U.S. Department of Justice has to appeal the decisions to the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

© 2010 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Iran’s deadly ‘Bizarro World’

The use of the Bible to defend laws in the United States could be as dangerous as the use of the Qur’an in the Iranian theocracy

EXECUTION
EXECUTION | Iranians Mahmoud Asqari and Ayad Marhouni were hanged in Justice Square in Mashhad, Iran, in 2005, after being convicted of sodomy. (Iranian Students News Agency)

In the Bizarro World, everything is well, bizarre! The planet is a cube; everything ugly is beautiful; everything is sort of the opposite of Earth.

Welcome to Iran!

In the real world, when a person is accused of a crime, evidence is presented to support the charge. Some sort of due process is used to deal out justice.

In the Bizarro World of Iran, not so much.

Take the case of Ebrahim Hamidi. He was arrested two years ago in Iran and charged with “lavat” (sodomy), a crime that is punishable by death.

Hamidi and three friends were involved in a fight with members of another family. Part of the charges leveled against them were that they had assaulted a man and attempted to abuse him sexually.

After three days of alleged torture, Hamidi confessed, and his three friends were released in exchange for their testimony against him.

It might sound like a pretty ordinary assault and attempted rape case — but for the fact that the alleged victim admitted he fabricated the charges under pressure from his family.

In the real world, that would most likely result in the charges being dropped and Hamidi being set free.

But remember, we are in the Bizarro World of Iran.

Hamidi sits awaiting execution for homosexual acts, even though he is heterosexual and from the testimony of the victim, innocent.

Why? Well, it seems there is a bizarre legal loophole that allows something called a “judge’s knowledge” to bear weight in a case where there is no supporting evidence, and the judge says, “Hang him.”

Here in the real world his defense lawyer would be throwing out every legal motion in the book to stop this miscarriage of justice. In Bizarro World the defendant has no lawyer, at least not any more.

His attorney, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, is no longer in Iran. He was forced to flee the country to live in permanent exile in Norway because of his human rights advocacy.

His wife was arrested and held in solitary confinement just to drive home the message. She has since been released now that Mostafaei is out of the country.

You see, in Bizarro World, lawyers like Mostafaei, credited with saving at least 50 people from execution during his career, are not welcome. He defends children and women against harsh punishments that include the medieval practices of stoning and public whipping.

Sounds strange and outlandish, but it’s true.

Iran is a country that is, in effect, a theocracy. The laws are adaptations of Shari’ah, the Islamic legal tradition that includes the Qesas law, or “eye for an eye.”

These traditions were augmented with loopholes like the one allowing judges to use circumstantial evidence and just plain intuition in deciding life or death matters.

It is not a happy place for many people — and LGBT citizens in particular. There is a lesson in this sad and strange tale, and that is the explicit warning against theocratic justice.

If you don’t see any reason to fear this kind of problem back here in the United States, you must be familiar with neither the Bible nor the make up of our highest courts. The legacy of the Bush years still haunts us and will for many years.
And that “eye for an eye” thing is a direct quote from both the Qur’an and the Bible.

Our founding fathers were some pretty sharp cookies, and when they consciously shied away from any kind of state religion, they did so because of the immense potential for abuse that they saw in theocracy.

That wisdom is under constant attack by the right wing revisionists who would have us believe we are a Christian nation. Those same voices warn against the evils of Islam and the draconian Shari’ah Law, yet if given a chance they would impose the same kind of restrictions. They would just give them a different name.

The story of Ebrahim Hamidi is a cautionary tale, and it is one we should take note of, leastwise we might slip into the “underverse” and end up in a Bizarro World of our own.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas