Federal Marriage Amendment reintroduced with strong Texas support

Johnson

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, one of four Dallas congressmen supporting the anti-gay marriage amendment.

UPDATE: Congressman Tom Latham’s office called this morning to say his name never should have been on the bill. Placing his name on the bill was a staff member’s mistake and it was withdrawn as soon as the mistake was discovered.

ORIGINAL POST: Since part of the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down, the Federal Marriage Amendment has re-emerged but appears to have little chance of passage at this time.

In the House of Representatives, one Democrat and 38 Republicans, including eight from Texas, have co-sponsored a House Joint Resolution proposing an amendment that would enshrine marriage in the Constitution as between one man and one woman.

Texas has twice as many co-sponsors of the bill as the next closest state, North Carolina, with four. The Democratic co-sponsor is Nick Rahall of West Virginia.

Four of the Texas Republicans are from the Dallas area — Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano, Rep. Joe Barton of Arlington, Rep. Kenny Marchant of Coppell and Rep. Ralph Hall of Rockwall.

Other Texas representatives co-sponsoring the resolution are Rep. Steve Stockman, Rep. John Carter and perennial crackpot Rep. Louie Gohmert.

Since its introduction, the resolution has already lost one co-sponsor, Tom Latham, R-Iowa,, but picked up Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, this week. Latham’s state has marriage equality.

The only current co-sponsor from a state with same-sex marriage is Rep. Andy Harris, R-Maryland.

No women co-sponsored the resolution. Only one co-sponsor is under 40 and all are white men.

Each house of Congress would have to pass the proposed amendment by a two-thirds vote before going to state legislatures where it would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. More than a quarter of the states have marriage equality.

FMA was first proposed in 2002 and last failed in the House of Representative in 2006.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Gov. Rick Perry tries to mislead Iowa voters about gay adoption in Texas

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Saturday told the audience at a right-wing presidential forum in Iowa that same-sex couples are barred from adopting children in Texas, according to On Top Magazine.

But Perry’s statement was at best misleading and, at worst, an outright lie designed to pander to socially conservative voters.

At the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Perry and other presidential candidates were asked what they would do to help faith-based adoption agencies “which are being run out of business because they will only place children in homes headed by mothers and fathers and they will not place those children in homes headed by same-sex couples.”

Perry responded: “Obviously I think it is an issue you can address at the federal level, and passing a federal marriage amendment is one of the ways to do that, but until that does pass, as in the state of Texas, a gay couple cannot adopt a child in the state of Texas, so the states have the ability again, until there is a federal marriage amendment that clearly states that marriage is between one man and one woman and in that as well you cannot adopt a child unless it is one man and one woman.”

Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said in most jurisdictions in Texas, it’s true that gay couples can’t adopt “as a couple” due to the state’s defense of marriage act. However, in most jurisdictions, gay couples can adopt the a child separately, which is effectively the same thing, Smith said.

Unlike in states such as Utah and, until recently, Florida, Texas has no ban on gay adoption, Smith said. And, a non-biological mother who is the lesbian partner of a biological mother can typically obtain a second-parent adoption in Texas, Smith said.

“It’s not black and white,” he said. “It’s factually inaccurate to say there’s a ban on gay people adopting. It is a function of which family law judge people go to, but in virtually all jurisdictions, gay couples can adopt. Unfortunately they’re required to do it in two separate transactions, where each individual person has an adoption transaction. It’s also true that under the current statute, the supplemental birth certificate of an adopted child only has one parent’s name on it if the parents are of the same gender. That’s something we’ve been trying to change and will continue to try and change.”

Smith said while Texas legislators unsuccessfully attempted to ban gay foster-parenting in 2005, there has never been a bill to ban gay adoption.

“I think it was an attempt at a bravado comment — ‘In Texas, we don’t let the gays do anything’ — that was kind of the point,” Smith said, adding he thinks the entire forum was “an exercise in pandering” for all the candidates.

“What they’re attempting to do is to make something controversial that’s only controversial in their little mind-sphere,” Smith said. “There’s over 30 years of longitudinal studies that show sexual orientation is not a determining factor in whether a person is or is not a good parent. They’re trying to say that gay people can’t be good parents. There simply is not evidence to speak to that.”

Watch video of Perry’s response below.

—  John Wright

Why I will vote Republican in 2012

If LGBTs really want to win equality, we must back the candidates that will help our pocketbooks, even if they take anti-LGBT positions

Robert Schlein
Special Contributor

I always give a five-minute speech at our monthly Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas meetings, and I was recently reviewing some of my remarks from July, 2008, when I asked the question, “What political price would my critics pay to resolve all of their gay civil rights issues? Would they accept any political doctrine, if it was bundled with promises of improvement in gay civil liberties?”

I said to our group that I didn’t want an America that looks like Europe: one that can’t generate enough jobs for its younger workforce, whose immigration policies have created many social ills and whose government-controlled socialized medicine results in less availability of care for all, and with the best care for only those who can afford to travel to another country.

America answered that question in 2008 — and unfortunately got it wrong. While the LGBT community finally secured some victories, what we got in exchange was bigger government, bigger debt and a much-worsened economy.

ObamaCare is an impending disaster that threatens our quality and availability of health care. The economy is stagnating because Obama and his administration seem to know little about capitalism or how to inspire confidence among those with cash to invest.

So again I ponder my question from 2008, because we Republicans will likely have a GOP candidate for president that saber-rattles his or her threat for a federal marriage amendment, or the reinstatement of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to placate the social conservatives.

Let’s be realistic, we Republicans need SoCons to win elections.

However, despite this pressure, our next Republican president will more than likely follow through instead on fiscal efforts to repeal ObamaCare, neuter the EPA’s hard work to shut down power plants that will severely hamper our economy (many in Texas), allow us to explore for oil domestically, steer us to a more balanced budget and get rid of the Dodd-Frank Banking bill that has caused cash-for-title loan stores to spring up like Texas ragweed.

For those who are upset at Rick Perry’s decision to sign the National Organization of Marriage’s pledge to move forward on an amendment to the Constitution, I say I’m willing to pay that price — a danger, in my view, that is as exaggerated as the reported threat of Hurricane Irene — in exchange for fiscal conservatism that is more likely to win the day and return us to prosperity.

After all, the process for amending the Constitution of the United States is so burdensome and so difficult, it seems to me the pledge to NOM is as empty as most men’s promises to stay monogamous until “death do us part.”

That said, I don’t believe that Rick Perry is our party’s best hope to beat Obama.

In the swing states that really matter — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania — Mitt Romney, who has never been a great friend of Log Cabin’s, polls better. He’s one of them, and his dad was a very, very popular Michigan governor.

And if Jon Huntsman can organize some support he would be a brilliant choice, too.

But, we don’t get to decide in isolation who our nominee will be. By the time the candidates reach Texas, we will likely have our winner.

And, if that winner is Rick Perry, he can count on my vote and my vocal support.

We say in Log Cabin that “inclusion wins,” and we appreciate and welcome those with ideas that differ from our own.

All we can do is to try to elect people that can win who are most compatible with our views, and try to exert influence on those who differ, who do win.

For the LGBT community, economic power is the most liberating one. Paying your debts down, burning up your mortgage and having, pardon my language, some “screw  you” money in the bank — that stands the best chance to obtain the equality we seek.

For if it weren’t for a handful of very wealthy billionaires in New York who were with us, their Republican senate majority leader would have never passed gay marriage in that state.

Let me be clear on this: It wasn’t just Log Cabin. It wasn’t just the Human Rights Campaign.  It was former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlmen, PayPal founder Peter Thiel and their very rich allies that really got this done!

Because, at the end of the day, money is power. And we need to vote on the party that will best give us a chance to prosper, to accumulate wealth and, hence, all the power we need to accomplish our goals.

Obama has shown that he does not stand with those who seek economic prosperity and to accumulate wealth, and for this reason I will vote Republican —  even if Rick Perry is our nominee. And I hope you will, too.

Rob Schlein is president of the LGBT Republican group Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas Log Cabin President Rob Schlein explains why he’d support Gov. Rick Perry for president

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob Schlein
Rob Schlein

A few weeks back we reported that Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, plans to support Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president if he’s the Republican nominee — despite Perry’s anti-gay record.

Schlein says he used his regular remarks at the start of Log Cabin’s monthly meeting Monday night to explain why. Below is a transcript:

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Spokesman confirms that Gov. Perry supports Federal Marriage Amendment

Even though Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, has not declared his candidacy, a new Gallup poll puts him in a statistical tie with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry confirmed that the likely GOP presidential candidate supports a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Social conservatives have criticized Perry for saying last week that he’s “fine” with New York’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage because it’s a states’ rights issue. On Tuesday spokesman Mark Miner defended the governor’s anti-marriage-equality record. Meanwhile, even though he hasn’t yet entered the race, Perry is polling just two points behind frontrunner Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, putting them in a statistical tie. 

2. An anti-gay group has been cleared to gather signatures for a referendum seeking to overturn California’s new law requiring schools to teach the contributions of LGBT people in social studies lessons, The New York Times reports. Senate Bill SB 48 was signed into law last month and is the first of its kind in the nation. The anti-gay group, called Stop SB48, will need to gather 504,760 by Oct. 12 to get the referendum on the ballot.

3. Only about 30 percent of workers in the U.S. have access to health benefits for same-sex partners, according to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It marks the first time that the bureau’s National Compensation Survey has included data on DP benefits. While encouraging, these data show that 70 percent of employees still do not have access to health care benefits for same-sex partners,” said Williams Institute Executive Director Brad Sears. “And while the report leaves out federal employees, including over 2 million civilian employees, they are currently also not provided health benefits for same-sex partners.”

—  John Wright

Cornyn to seek ‘common ground’ with Log Cabin — 6 weeks before the Nov. mid-term elections

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who famously compared gays to “box turtles” in the draft of a 2004 speech, now says he wants to find common ground with LGBT Republicans.

Cornyn, who happens to be chair of the GOP’s Senate campaign committee, reportedly plans to visit a Log Cabin Republicans reception before the group’s national dinner in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22, about six weeks before the critical mid-term elections. From the Standard-Times of San Angelo:

“Some things we won’t agree on,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said. “But I think it’s always better to talk and then try find those things we can agree on rather than just assume there’s no common ground whatsoever.”

Cornyn said same-sex marriage is “absolutely” one of those things he and LCR members don’t agree on, but he’s happy to talk to them.

“I don’t want people to misunderstand and think that I don’t respect the dignity of every human being regardless of sexual orientation,” Cornyn said.

We’re sure some will try to argue this is a sign of progress, but we mustn’t forget Cornyn’s strong support for a federal marriage amendment, his vote against hate crimes last year, his stated opposition to DADT repeal, and his all-but-certain vote against ENDA if it ever reaches the Senate floor. Cornyn has received a zero on every Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard since he took office.

So, until Cornyn puts his votes where his mouth is — and he very well might get a chance when DADT repeal comes to the Senate floor the same month he’s slated to visit Log Cabin — we see this visit as nothing more than pandering for votes and money from gay Republicans across the country. When the GOP platform in your home state calls for imprisoning gays, where can the common ground possibly be?

—  John Wright