A debate watcher’s guide to batshit-crazy Republicans!

Jones, Arnold WayneNow that Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race — technically, he has “suspended” his campaign, sort of the way a cattle rustler gets “suspended” from committing larceny by a vigilante posse — many gay Texans are probably scratching their Stetsons with quizzical looks on their faces wondering, “Garsh … who can I vote for now?!” Fear not, Log Cabinites! I have prepared this handy-dandy voters’ guide to help you navigate the remaining slate of GOP candidates, in more-or-less descending order of incompetence, ignorance and hate-mongering (including his or Carly’s current rounded average ranking in the polls according to RealClearPolitics.com). Keep it close as you watch the presidential debates on CNN tonight. It’s educational and fun!

Ted Cruz (7 percent) and Mike Huckabee (4 percent). No, these aren’t the same person, they just seem like it because they share the same batshit-crazy ideas. Both are fundamentalist Christians, and both foolishly cleave to their skewed understanding of the Bible, the role of religion in American politics and, frankly, our constitutional structure. Huckabee is slightly more of a dolt than Cruz, but when you factor in that the Canadian-born Cruz is a lawyer whereas Huckabee just a hick from the sticks and an ordained preacher, you can forgive the ignorant redneck slightly more. Both think that Kim Davis had a right not to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Both, surprisingly, think that the Dred Scott decision — which was overturned by an amendment to the Constitution — is still good law and it’s just that no one enforces it. Both are more loyal to God than to their oaths, logic or humanity as a whole. They are homophobic demons who, if there were a God, would have been struck down by lightning years ago for perverting Her message.

Ben Carson (18 percent). Ben Carson was a pioneering surgeon at separating conjoined twins, but that seems to be where his educational achievements and intellectual pursuits end as well. He is a climate-change denier. He does not believe in the “myth” of evolution and has no reason to doubt the earth is as old as the Bible says. (Carbon dating is irrelevant, according to Carson, cuz God could make anything as old as He wanted.) He takes the “political” position that homosexuality is a sin, and suggested that prison “makes” people gay. He’s compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, and had to apologize for it. He’s black, but thinks “Black Lives Matters” is divisive. He wants a flat tax and to abolish the I.R.S. (How you collect even flat taxes without the I.R.S.? Not sure.) As a non-politician, Carson is ignorant of the world as a whole, admittedly lacking familiarity with such issues as Israeli political parties and NATO members. I somehow doubt he could find Canadian-born Ted Cruz’s homeland on a map if we spotted him Mexico and the U.S. Short course: He’s a kook.

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Donald Trump (29 percent). At his appearance in Dallas Monday (in a not-sold-out American Airlines Center, not that he’ll ‘fess up to that), Trump rambled on and on with drivel and self-aggrandizing statements about football, himself and himself again. Because Trump is not a politician and has never been elected to any office, he thinks broad-stroke ideas about “jobs” and “immigration” substitute for specifics. So, for instance, he wants to fight immigration by building a 2,000-mile-long wall on the southern U.S. border and “making Mexico pay for it.” (How you force a foreign country to pay for an infrastructure program on your own soil he’s vague about.) He also promises to increase American jobs … but won’t say how. (He’s knows he can’t just say “You’re fired!” to the elderly and children, right?) He has a foolproof plan to combat ISIS, but will only share it if we elect him. (Gee, you’d think he’d want to prevent genocide ASAP; guess not.)  He will consider shutting down the U.S. government in its entirety to prevent Planned Parenthood from getting any federal funding. For the record, PP gets about $550 million in public monies; the 16-day 2013 government shutdown cost the economy $24 billion, or about 44 times as much as PP gets, according to S&P. (Anyone who would spend $24 billion to save $550 million shows exactly why he’s forced so many of his companies into bankruptcy.) He also devolves to ad hominen insults against others, from attacking Carly Fiorina’s face and John McCain’s war record. His statements about gay issues aren’t the worst among the Republican slate, actually — he acts resigned to SCOTUS’ marriage equality ruling, if not enthusiastic about it — but his overall incompetence, abrasiveness and arrogance make him the most likely to ruin America in the long run. America isn’t a business you leverage — it’s a nation of people whom you serve. Folks like Trump don’t get that.

Carly Fiorina (4 percent). The best thing Fiorina has going for her? Being the undeserved target of The Donald’s jackass-fueled vitriol. (Vitriol! Regular Unleaded and Premium available as your local KKK fill-up station!) Worst thing about her? Literally every other fact of her life. Just as Carson is the GOP’s “black friend,” Carly is their “girlfriend,” the one woman in a lineup larger than the Miss American pageant who proves Republicans have nothing against chicks. What they don’t have is any skill in picking a good one. (Possible reason: All qualified women are too smart to be members of the Republican party.) Fiorina is a failed candidate for public office, and was a disaster as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, eventually getting fired for virtually running the tech giant into the ground. I, for one, am not a fan of the “business folks can be good chief executives of the nation” line of reasoning, but if it were true, don’t you want one who actually did a good job? Romney’s business background makes her look like a schoolchild with a lemonade stand at the North Pole.  She’s anti-choice, anti-marriage equality, was pro-Prop 8 and pro-gun nuttery.

Rick Santorum (1 percent). He’s just as much a fundamentalist, just as crazy, as Mike and Canadian-born Ted, but because he’s barely even alive in the polls, he’s less of threat to sanity. On the plus side, his name is a synonym for sloppy, dirty gay sex. Oh, and he’s anti-abortion but his wife had an abortion. So he’s also a hypocrite. Sound familiar?

Bobby Jindal (n/a). Another non-entity from a political standpoint, he’s anti-immigration even though his parents were immigrants; he’s a fundamentalist about Christianity, even though he converted to the faith as an adult. He’s one of the worst state executives in the country, ruining his state’s economy, then doubling down to welcome homophobic groups to his state just as Ohio was backing off from their ill-fated effort at institutionalized hatred. He’s not just a nut — he’s a coconut. If he weren’t such a blip in the polls, he’d probably be higher on this list.

Rand Paul (3 percent). Another doctor-who-seems-to-know-nothing, Paul was a darling until his overwrought devotion to libertarianism got him in hot water with the GOP faithful. He’s actually said we don’t need the EPA or the Clean Water Act because the environment has never been better in 50 years … right, because that’s when we passed the EPA and Clean Water Act. Like all doctrinaire goofballs, he can’t see the error of his logic. But at least he didn’t run to Kentucky to embrace Kim Davis … and he’s from Kentucky.

Marco Rubio (6 percent). This sad wannabe looks like what the GOP thinks voters want, sort of the way Steve Guttenberg became a movie star. No one really thinks he’s qualified, but he’s young and attractive and speaks Spanish (but won’t because “Immigrants!”) and so will give the Republicans someone to hold up to voters younger than Chuck Norris to support. Trouble is, no one in the base feels that way, so while Rubio might stand a chance in the general, he’s a non-starter in the primaries. He’s also not very bright, so far as I see. He’s pro-life (i.e., anti-choice), opposes equal pay for women, has voted against raising the debt limit, was pro-DOMA and basically stands as a party-line hack.

Lindsey Graham (n/a). I do declare! This closet case has only two saving graces: First, even South Carolina Republicans can’t put him on the polls, and second, he’s close friends with Joe Biden. Frankly, I’d like to see a face-off between Biden and Graham in the general. At least it would appear civilized.

Scott Walker (4 percent). His greatest claim to fame is surviving a recall election and demonizing unions and teachers, but ever since he actually started running for president, this cheesehead has been virtually irrelevant on the national scene. He’s not even doing all that well in Iowa, which is right next door to his state. He’s just the latest example of a small-state governor with a national profile who thinks popularity at home translates into higher national office. Ummm, he’s wrong.

Jeb! (8 percent). Since the B in Jeb stands for Bush, he doesn’t get a last name. But he also hasn’t earned the exclamation point. He’s the tone-deaf zero of the pack, the slow-witted assistant high school principal who believes the kids think he’s cool, even though they know he’s a tool. With Colbert last week, he acted like he was on the edge politically when he said, “I don’t think Obama has bad motives.” Whoa! Imagine! He flirts with alienating his base by assuming our president wants to do a good job! If that doubles for “moderate” in the GOP, you see why Jeb doesn’t generate as much support even in his party as “undecided.” Like his brother, I think he’s actually a good guy who is so desperate to be president as a kind of birthright, he’ll betray every instinct he has to win. Oh, and his handling of the Terri Schiavo incident also makes him a total dick. That’s someone you can’t trust.

Chris Christie (2 percent). Even I was surprised that Christie managed to appear so near the “top” of my “not the worst candidate” list, but given the clown car that is the GOP slate, that’s like saying, “which rusty knife do you want plunged into your eye?” He’s a typical Jersey politician, an opportunist who, more than anyone aside Trump, “tells it like it is” but who is actually quite dangerous. He’s not an enemy to, for instance, the gay community, but he’ll never be a reliable friend. He’s comfortable wadded in scandal. He’s the Bill Clinton of the GOP, and I mean that in the worst possible way.

John Kasich (3 percent). I have very little respect for someone who will attend a gay wedding and then come out against it “officially,” as this man did. But considering that he has experience in Congress and as a chief executive, he’s got the political chops and the history that make him, at a minimum, qualified. Which is more than you can say about every other person in the debate.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘The Normal Heart’ at Stages Repertory Theatre

The Normal HeartLarry Kramer is so well-known for his tireless AIDS activism (and for being a general son-of-a-b*tch) that people forget that he is, in fact, a writer. Kramer’s magnum opus, The Normal Heart, is more than just the semi-autobiographical tale of a firebrand activist struggling during the early days of what what would become the AIDS crisis. It’s a masterpiece of language – an exploration of what pulls people out of their everyday lives and into advocacy.

Stages Repertory Theatre presents a staged reading of The Normal Heart Monday, November 28, from 7:30-9:30 pm. Tickets are $25 with proceeds benefiting the University of Houston LGBT Resource Center.

The Normal Heart centers on the relationship between Ned Weeks, a thinly-veiled stand-in for Kramer, and his brother Ben. It’s the early eighties and a mysterious illness, spoken of only in hushed tones as the “gay plague,” is ravaging the gay men of New York. Ned is desperate to fund an organization to care for the sick and fight for support from the city, but when he turns to his brother for financial help the unspoken homophobia that has long strained their relationship springs to the surface.

Meanwhile Ned’s organization has ousted him as a leader in favor of a less controversial (but closeted) candidate after Ned’s confrontational style alienates members of the mayor’s staff. Ned’s friend, a wheel-chair-bound doctor who knows more about the illness than anyone else, also finds herself thrust into the role of activist when the scope of the impending pandemic becomes clear.

Brimming with questions of how to balance confronting power with gaining power, the role of friendship and love in creating change, and the ever tenuous relationships between LGBT people and their families, The Normal Heart is just as relevant today as when it premiered in 1985.

For reservations to the staged reading call 713-522-2204.

—  admin

NY marriage a success; RI civil unions not so much

Speaker of Rhode Island House of Representatives Gordon D. Fox

In Dallas and cities across Texas, marriage equality marches and demonstrations will be held this weekend. The Dallas march takes place at 4:30 p.m. at Founder’s Square outside the County Records Building in Downtown Dallas.

This year one state — New York — has legalized same-sex marriage and two — Rhode Island and Illinois — have legalized civil unions.

Marriage in New York has been a success. Since the law began effective in July, one in five marriages — 20 percent — have been gay or lesbian couples.

The civil union laws? Not so much. In Illinois, 1,600 couples have taken advantage of civil unions since it went into effect on June 1. In Rhode Island, just 14 couples.

A number of reasons for the lack of enthusiasm for civil unions in Rhode Island include the proximity to states with full marriage and disappointment that the openly gay Speaker of the state House of Representatives, Gordon Fox, couldn’t deliver marriage equality.

Nowhere in the state is anyone more than 20 miles from either Connecticut or Massachusetts, both marriage equality states. And Vermont, New Hampshire and New York are short drives. So why settle for second class?

Even given Rhode Island’s small population, the rate is 10 times lower than other states that began offering civil unions. And the Illinois law does not have the number of exemptions where the civil unions can be disregarded as the Rhode Island law.

The Rhode Island law puts those who married elsewhere into the same position as Texans who marry elsewhere. The civil union law prohibits divorce. So while the state won’t recognize their marriages, it insists that couples who split remain married.

—  David Taffet

M Crowd’s Ray Washburne supports a Republican (but NOT Rick Perry) for president

Ray Washburne, who runs M Crowd Restaurant Group — the Dallas-based company that owns Mi Cocina, Taco Diner and other eateries — was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today, talking about his fundraising for GOP candidates. Seems Washburne was an early supporter of Tim Pawlenty for president, and was disappointed when he dropped out. That meant Washburne had to refocus his fundraising efforts on another candidate, and naturally he chose … Mitt Romney. Yep, not Rick Perry, for whom he has been an ardent monetary supporter as Texas governor. Seems that even a Texas Republican who would benefit having another Texan in the White House, and one he has endorsed in the past, thinks Perry isn’t qualified for the job. You can listen to the audio here.

Now to me, that’s the story — it’s what I intended to blog about as soon as the audio came available. But waiting in my inbox when I arrived at work was an email from a gay Dallasite, encouraging gays not to patronize any of the M Crowd restos.”Before you spend another dime at Mi Concina, Taco Diner or the Mercury you may want to reconsider where you[r] money is going and it’s going to candidates that support anti-gay causes.”

I can’t say I fully agree with my friend on this point. I don’t think giving money to any Republican candidate is, by nature, supporting anti-gay causes. Does Mitt Romney favor same-sex marriage? He most certainly does not — he’s said as much. You know who else has said he does not support same-sex marriage? Barack Obama, who has also made that bias perfectly clear. So, as far as same-sex marriage goes, Romney and Obama seem identical. That does not, of course, mean that Obama is more hostile to gay causes in general, or that Romney is a good candidate for gay voters; it just means that if donating money to a Republican means that your business is “anti-gay” …. well, I think there are a lot of restaurants in town gays might have to boycott.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

More on marriage in New York

Same-sex couples in New York were allowed to start applying for marriage licenses on Wednesday, July 6.

But those who applied for a license on the first day in New York City had to decide who was going to be the bride and who was going to be the groom. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the forms corrected overnight, according to ABC News.

The forms now read: “Bride/Groom/Spouse A” and “Bride/Groom/Spouse B.”

On July 24, Bloomberg will preside over the wedding of two of his aides — John Feinblatt, his chief policy adviser, and Jonathan Mintz, the commissioner for consumer affairs. Feinblatt and Mintz have been together 14 years and have two young daughters. The wedding will be at Gracie Mansion, the official mayor’s residence, according to the New York Times.

Elsewhere in the city, the Bishop Nicholas DiMarzioof of Brooklyn banned lawmakers who voted for marriage equality from Catholic churches and schools. He called the law that allows more people to get married, “another nail in the coffin of marriage.”

The bishop said no gifts from those lawmakers would be accepted and reportedly returned a $50 check sent by one legislator in honor of a student.

New York City tourism officials, on the other hand, are rolling out a new I Love NY campaign dubbed NYC I DO with hotel and wedding packages. They expect to add $142 million to the city economy and another $40 million to the rest of the state.

Tax officials say that couples with a joint income of $65,000 or less will pay less in state income tax. Couples with higher incomes may pay more.

Those who marry and work in New York will be able to get health insurance through their employers, if their employers don’t already provide coverage.

According to the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York has 1,324 state-offered rights and responsibilities that go with marriage — including the right to divorce and receive alimony.

The first day for marriage equality in New York is a Sunday and many state judges will be on hand to perform ceremonies and waive the state’s 24-hour waiting period between when a license is issued and when a wedding can be performed.

If any of our readers are planning to go to New York to get married this summer, let us know. We’d love to hear about your plans.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Gates may certify DADT repeal this month; GOP debate touches on LGBT issues

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Associated Press he may certify the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” before stepping down at the end of this month, which could allow the ban on open service to end sometime in September. Gates said he will certify DADT repeal this month only if all of the service chiefs recommend it. If not, it will be left to his successor, Leon Panetta.

2. Republican presidential candidates responded to questions about both same-sex marriage and DADT repeal during their debate Monday night in New Hampshire. Watch their responses below, but here’s our takeaway: If Texas Gov. Rick Perry decides to seek the GOP nomination, he’ll have a hard time setting himself apart from other major candidates based on his anti-gay views.

3. What’s with the straight men posing as lesbians in the blogosphere?

—  John Wright