Local Briefs

CCGLA surveys candidates, sets meet-and-greet events

As municipal elections approach, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance has sent an online survey to city council, school board and mayoral candidates in Allen, Frisco, Plano and McKinney, and “meet-and-greet” sessions for candidates are planned in Frisco, Plano and McKinney in April.

The organization will also create and distribute a voters’ guide.

The Plano “meet-and-greet” will be held on Friday, April 8, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at a private residence. For more information, go online to CCGLA.org.

Results of CCGLA’s candidate surveys will be posted on the CCGLA website prior to each event. The events are informal, non-partisan, and all candidates are invited.

Oak Cliff Earth Day to feature vendors, info booths and more

Oak Cliff Earth Day, which has become the largest all-volunteer-run Earth Day since it started five years ago, will be held on Sunday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Cliff Park, located at the intersection of Colorado Street and Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff.

There is no charge to attend the event, which will include art, food, plants and other environmentally-friendly products available for purchase.

There will also be educational booths on topics such as how to save energy and clean up the environment, along with locally-grown honey, animals to adopt and native plants for gardens.

Parking at the park is limited, however, free parking is available at Methodist Hospital, in Lot 10 only, located at 1400 S. Beckley Ave. across from the hospital entrance on Beckley Ave. Methodist Hospital is providing a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the event.

Participants are also encouraged to take DART to the event or walk or ride a bicycle. There are a number of bike racks, funded by Oak Cliff Earth Day, at the park.

Mayoral candidates to speak Sunday on animal issues in Dallas

Dallas’ mayoral candidates will participate in a forum on animal issues in the city of Dallas on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Central Dallas Library, 1515 Young St., in downtown Dallas. The Metroplex Animal Coalition is sponsoring the forum, with is free and open to the public. Journalist Larry Powell with Urban Animal magazine will moderate.

The mayoral candidates are former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, Councilman Ron Natinsky, real estate consultant Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and Dallas homeless czar.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Rep. Marc Veasey again files bill seeking study of hate crimes act but says it’s ‘not going anywhere’

For the third consecutive legislative session, State Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, filed legislation last week calling for a study on the implementation of Texas’ hate crimes statute.

Veasey wants to know why, despite thousands of hate crimes reported to law enforcement since the statute was passed in 2001, only about a dozen cases have been prosecuted in court as hate crimes. If you’ll remember, the statute covers “sexual preference” but not gender identity.

In an interview the other day with KXAN (video above), Veasey cited homophobia as one of the reasons why the statute isn’t being used:

While Veasey understands that it’s hard to prosecute hate crimes he believes there’s another, underlying reason why prosecutors are rarely using the law.

“You have some people on the right that have said that it is a bill that protects gays and so they are against it for that reason,” Veasey said.

And Veasey told The Star-Telegram that the outcome of this year’s elections means the bill is likely doomed again in next year’s session, which begins in January.

“I’m going to try it, but quite frankly it’s not going anywhere,” Veasey said. “A lot of these folks that got elected were elected on opposition to the president and probably feel that being for anything pro-civil rights would hurt them in their political careers.”

Wait a second, is Veasey suggesting they’re going to completely ignore this memo?

—  John Wright

Kerry Eleveld’s take on Obama and the elections

From Kerry Eleveld in the Advocate:

The turnout and voting patterns were a symptom of the fact that during his first two years in office, President Barack Obama and his White House delivered nothing short of a true progressive’s most fiendish nightmare: He governed from the middle but failed to enlist enough GOP help to tag them with partial responsibility. Then he simultaneously left the substance of his centrist policies to be framed by the right, who naturally painted his initiatives as dangerously liberal and even socialist in nature.

The result of that toxic formula is that progressives didn’t get much of they wanted and yet the population as a whole has been left to believe that America has jumped off the liberal deep end.

In short, Obama didn’t govern as a progressive but was painted as one. Therefore, progressives didn’t get what they voted for and yet the rest of the country was led to believe the “progressive” agenda had pushed us down a dark path to nowhere.

Here’s lesson 1: If you’re going to let yourself be characterized as a liberal, you damn well better be one; otherwise the base that elected you won’t turn up at the polls to get your back once you’ve given a bad name to everything they believed in but never actually got.

Now, one could argue that getting military leaders on board with repeal was a smart idea, but one would be hard-pressed to find the genius in letting the top brass set their own time line when everybody knew there would only be two years to pound this through with unprecedented Democratic majorities. (Remember, with the White House’s blessing, the Pentagon arbitrarily chose the date for release of its study to be December 1, comfortably after the midterms yet close enough to year’s end to almost surely doom a vote. How different would this look, for instance, if they had taken six months to study repeal and released their report in August?)

If you have been listening closely, President Barack Obama is already laying the groundwork for dropping blame at the feet of Republicans if the National Defense Authorization Act fails (let’s keep in mind that charming and arm-twisting politicians from across the aisle is part of the legislative process and, so far, the White House and Senate Democratic leadership have expended almost no political capital to advance the NDAA bill with DADT attached).
Also, when outlining his priorities this week for the lame-duck session, the president made no mention of the defense funding bill, nor did press secretary Robert Gibbs. Any chance this sounds familiar? Gibbs was having the same issue last month. When left to his own devices to list lame-duck priorities, guess what never came up: the NDAA.

Now that House control has switched hands, it’s perhaps a positive that our national progressive organizations can go back to demonizing the GOP — it’s really the only thing they know how to do. But while they are busy doing that, let’s remember that Democrats had full run of Washington for two years and their only LGBT accomplishment looks to be the hate-crimes law.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Query • 11.05.10

How will Tuesday’s elections affect the LGBT community?

………………………….

Karen McCrocklin — “Now, more then ever, we need to make progress personal. Changing hearts and minds is the most effective on a one-to-one basis. Whatever the political climate, we can continue to create change by living openly, authentically and unapologetically.”

Jade Esteban Estrada — “Many LGBT community members will step up and see how easy it is to lose our recent gains and will become more passionate in their leadership, visibility and activism. I believe it will stir the pot and get them more involved.”

Wendy North — “It will make people either move to Canada or get working to effect change. Write opinions to the paper, social media or tell everyone you know how you feel. Change happens slowly. Start now!”

Terry Loftis — “Nationally things will move forward albeit probably at a slower pace than before. I don’t think the American public see our efforts as the big threat.”

…………………………

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Lending a Hand in Pro-Equality Elections in Wisconsin

The following post comes from Deputy Legislative Director David Stacy. David is just one of 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

Since landing on the ground in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, I’ve been going full speed on volunteer recruitment for Get Out The Vote efforts.  Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), one of only 14 Senators to vote against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – and with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, endorsed marriage equality before any other Senator was willing to – is in a dogfight with a first-time candidate who thinks “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is working well.

The University of Wisconsin, Madison campus of more than 40,000 students and the state capital, Madison, will be critical for Feingold to secure the votes he needs to win the race.

Feingiold has been campaigning hard across the state and today he was in Madison.  I joined him for a walk-through of the Madison Area Technical College campus.  He was incredibly well received by the crowd.  One of the cafeteria workers was so excited she covered herself with about 10 Feingold stickers, from head to toe.

Wisconsin has other races that are important to the LGBT community. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), one of only three openly gay Members of Congress, is also on the ballot.  While favored to win, she is campaigning hard and working to turn out the vote to pro-equality candidates throughout the state.

This year, Wisconsin has continued to be the battleground that it was in previous election cycles.  The choices for Wisconisn voters are clear.

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Feingold Senate Committee and Tammy Baldwin for Congress


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

The Dallas Police Department makes national news for its crackdown on a gay bathhouse

The Dallas Police Department has officially made national news for its raid 10 days ago of The Club Dallas, the gay bathhouse in Deep Ellum, which resulted in 11 arrests on charges including public lewdness and indecent exposure.

Towleroad, Queerty and Joe.My.God., which could easily be called “the big three” of national gay news blogs, have all posted items about the raid. Their posts are for the most part straightforward, but Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God. raises a good question: “Interesting that this took place weeks before an election, eh?”

Instant Tea has long heard that these types of vice operations tend to occur shortly before elections, but we’re still not quite sure why. Presumably the incumbents want to show that they’re tough on crime and extra-tough on sex-related offenses. But city elections aren’t until May. Do you mean to tell us that this raid was designed to help Gov. Rick Perry?

Here’s another good question to ask now that the story has made national news: Does publicity about the raid help or hurt Dallas? Discuss.

UPDATE: Not sure why it didn’t occur to us before, but of course the Dallas County district attorney is up for re-election in November. Is it at all possible that Craig Watkins was behind this raid?

—  John Wright

HRC Members Prepare Weekend Canvass in New York Prior to Rapidly Approaching Elections

The following is from HRC Field Fellow Errin E. Doyle

With only eighteen days until the New York state Senate general election, the stamina surrounding Tim Kennedy’s candidacy in the 58th district is increasing.  The energy continues to grow. New and old faces show up daily to help phone bank and canvass the doors of fellow western New Yorkers, deliver literature and yard signs and assist in the numerous other facets of Kennedy’s campaign.  There is a strong HRC presence that helps steer the campaign’s progress, making everyone on board feel like a family.

Thanks to the fact that the Buffalo Bills had the weekend off this Sunday, the opportunity to run a huge canvass on Sunday presented itself. (In Buffalo, there is nothing more sacred than when the Bills play Sunday; it is the only time we don’t engage in voter contact.) I’ve been working alongside fellow HRC member Nicole Jowsey to coordinate volunteers and prepare for a weekend of voter contact for Kennedy, a fair-minded proponent of equality and our endorsed candidate for the New York state Senate.  With the pressure building as voting day approaches, there is much work and excitement in getting Kennedy’s message for change out to voters in his district.

If you’re in the western New York area and interested in meeting other HRC members and volunteering on a strong, pro-equality campaign, please contact Regional Field Organizer David Contreras Turley at 202.330.3790 for more information.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Fierce advocate on DADT and elections: ‘Let’s repeal in an orderly way’; voter apathy ‘inexcusable’

Update (by Autumn) below the fold.


Thanks to Rolling Stone, which, unlike the LGBT press, got to interview the President about LGBT rights (specifically DADT), we have yet another sterling example of fierce advocacy.

We’re just impatient; it’s too much to ask to have repealed DADT within two years. Well, crap, he hasn’t done any of the big ticket items HE promised.

Now he’s making it clear the only way the discharges will stop is the slow-walk through Congress — and he’s likely about to lose control of the House, so progress will come to a screeching halt thanks to his lack of pressure on The Hill this year, a Congress without a spine, and Robert Gates running the decision making process. (The Wonk Room):

The DADT remark came as Obama was stressing his administration’s accomplishments in its first two years in office and showing frustration over the lack of credit he has received. “I’ve been here two years, guys. And one of the things that I just try to remember is that if we have accomplished 70 percent of what we committed to in the campaign, historic legislation, and we’ve got 30 percent of it undone – well, that’s what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six,” Obama said. He did not directly say how he would meet his administration’s promise to end DADT before the end of the year, but signaled that it should be done in an “orderly” way:
OBAMA: Understandably, everybody has a great sense of urgency about these issues. But one of the things that I constantly want to counsel my friends is to keep the long view in mind. On social issues, something like “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Here, I’ve got the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff both committed to changing the policy. That’s a big deal.

ROLLING STONE: You get credit for that.

OBAMA: Now, I am also the commander in chief of an armed forces that is in the midst of one war and wrapping up another one. So I don’t think it’s too much to ask, to say “Let’s do this in an orderly way” – to ensure, by the way, that gays and lesbians who are serving honorably in our armed forces aren’t subject to harassment and bullying and a whole bunch of other stuff once we implement the policy. I use that as an example because on each of these areas, even those where we did not get some grand legislative victory, we have made progress. We have moved in the right direction.

All I can say is Obama’s doing an incredible job of motivating his base to go to the polls, don’t you think?

We’re just the messengers, peeps. Anyone out there that is going to blame the media or blogs for people staying home needs to look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A must-read if you want to catch up on DADT news (the good and the bad) – hop over to The Progress Report.

***

And if the above wasn’t bad enough, take a look at what else President Obama said about his base. Incredible political strategy – lecture and admonish it for being unenthusiastic and unhappy with his administration and Congress. Gee why would the Base think this way?

Obama: Democratic voter apathy ‘inexcusable’

The president has been telling Democrats to “wake up” and recognize that he and the Democratic-run Congress have delivered on promises, from a new health care law to tougher rules for Wall Street to more aid for college students. Obama wants disenchanted supporters to see that Republican wins in November would undermine the ability of Democrats to get the unfinished business done, from climate change legislation to allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

What emerges in the magazine story is a stern, lecturing tone from Obama.

It comes mainly at the end of the interview. Obama had wrapped the lengthy Q-and-A session, according to the magazine, but then returned unprompted to make one more impassioned point and unleash on the enthusiasm gap. He portrayed a clear choice between an administration that despite some warts has helped advance its agenda, and a Republican Party that would offer disastrous policies for the economy and civil liberties.

“The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible,” he said in the interview. He said Democrats should be thinking about what’s at stake this election “if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years.”

The frustrating and pathetic thing about this whining is that, at least here at the Blend, there has never been a call to stay at home, it’s been the opposite — give as generously as possible to pro-equality candidates, donate your time to canvass for them or promote them (as we do with liveblogs and interviews), and to show up to vote for them.

What we have said is no money to the Dem machine that turns around and funds the election of Blue Dogs that end up “No” votes on our issues.  That gAyTM is closed.

And that does not mean zero criticism if we’re looking at performance and promises. I think a person on Twitter yesterday put it quite succinctly, if tartly:

@mystic23 another thing, Dems – just cause I’m angry @ Dems doesn’t mean I won’t vote for Dems in Nov. FU for telling me not to be angry.

Update and commentary by Autumn:

Visce President Biden joins in on “motivating” the Democratic base. From MSNBC‘s Biden tells Obama’s core supporters to “buck up”:

Vice President Joe Biden told disaffected liberals within his own Democratic Party on Monday to “buck up” and “stop whining” ahead of November 2 congressional elections in which Republicans are trying to regain control of Congress.

…During a political appearance in New Hampshire, Biden directed comments at members of his own party’s base constituency who feel that Obama has not delivered on promises since coming to power in January 2009.

According to Politico, Biden said they should “stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives” — referring to Republican candidates trying to take control of the House of Representatives and Senate from the Democrats.

“So those who … didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s time to just buck up here, understand that we can make things better, continue to move forward, but not yield the playing field to those folks who are against everything that we stand for in terms of the initiatives we put forward,” Biden said later on Monday during an interview on the MSNBC cable TV channel…

The MSNBC video of Vice President Biden telling Democrats to “buck up” (via the YouTubes):

Damn skippy. With statements from President Obama telling us progressives that our alleged “apathetic” feelings about voting are “inexcusable,” and Vice President Biden telling us progressives that we need to “stop whining” and “buck up” — Is it any wonder many progressives like me aren’t very enthused to vote this November?

I didn’t vote against the other guys in 2008; I voted for candidates that I thought were going to boldly follow though with their campaign promises. I voted for President Obama and Vice President Biden in part because Presidential Candidate Obama said he was going to be a “fierce advocate” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. If the best the cowardly Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House can offer us is “we’re better than the other guys,” I know my motivation level is going to be low. If they’re going to insult my intelligence by telling me I should be more motivated to vote — even though the Democrats didn’t live up to their campaign promises — I’m even less motivated. I’m sharply angry at beltway Democrats, not apathetic in the slightest.

Oh, I’ll vote this coming November as I was already planning to do, but I’m not excited at all to vote like I was in 2008 — not by a long shot.


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Gary Bauer at the Values Voter Summit compares 2010 elections to overthrowing 9/11 hijackers

I don’t understand how Gary Bauer can bleat over-the-top crap like this and think he’s going to appeal to the mainstream. This garbage not only exploits 9/11, it’s batsh*t insane. Amanda Terkel at HuffPo:

At Friday’s conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., speakers like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) urged attendees to turn out and vote in November in order to elect more conservatives to office. But the most extreme call came from onetime presidential candidate Gary Bauer, now the president of the right-wing group American Values, who equated the importance of turning out in November to defeating the 9/11 hijackers:

BAUER: From the cell phone calls that were made and the tapes that we have [from 9/11], we know that those passengers went to the back of the plane. Being good Americans, they started a debate. “Well,” some of them said, “we need to get back to our seats. We can’t do anything about this. You don’t fight hijackers. The plane will land. And then there will be negotiations. We’ll get out of here.” Other people said, “No, no, the country is under attack. We’ve got to fight.” And you know what they did? Nobody won the debate! So somebody said, “Let’s vote.”

That’s what we’re going to do in 45 days, right? We’re going to vote. If you get up that morning and you’re tired, you’re sick, it’s raining — remember these Americans on the plane. They voted to fight back. So they made weapons with whatever they can — leftover utensils from breakfast. The flight attendant was still alive; she boiled the water for the coffee. That was going to be her weapon. They took the drink cart, used it as a battering ram. They ran down the aisle of that plane, throwing the water, fighting as hard as they could, into the teeth of men armed with box cutters!

They brought that plane down. They spared this country more pain, more sorrow, more deaths. God bless them! Don’t forget them!

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

NY Primary Elections Tomorrow – Support Sens. That Support Us

The following is from HRC Regional Field Director Sultan Shakir:

For the past few months, I’ve been working across the state of New York, talking with our members in targeted state Senate districts about our Campaign for New York Marriage. The goals of the campaign are focused; to defeat state senators who voted against marriage and to elect candidates who support equality.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting up with state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (Queens) who was hard at work in Bay Terrace campaigning for re-election.  Stavisky, who was a co-sponsor of the marriage equality bill, is running a solid campaign for re-election.

It’s been amazing to see the growth in excitement and activism since 2007 when I worked with our members to help elect Craig Johnson on Long Island in his special election.  From that tipping-point race to tomorrow’s primary, our members have been out in force helping to elect candidates who support equality.  Thank you to all of our members who are helping to advance equality and here’s to victory!


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright