Another misstep for Perry’s campaign

 

Hateful bigotry of Texas governor’s presidential campaign ad is surpassed only by its asininity

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Just when I thought the 2012 Rick Perry for President campaign couldn’t get any nuttier, guess what? Yep, it managed to get sillier with the release of Gov. Perry’s campaign video attacking openly gay and lesbian members of the U.S. Armed Services.

Never mind that in the video dubbed “Strong” Perry is wearing the same type of tan Carhartt ranch coat actor Heath Ledger wore in the gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, and that the video’s musical score was inspired by gay American composer Aaron Copland. The message is ridiculous, and the video’s distinction of registering more than half a million “dislikes” (646,000 dislikes to 20,000 likes) is probably attributable as much to its asininity as its hateful bigotry.

Facing the camera, against a wooded backdrop that conjures images of the big gay movie’s outdoor scenes, Perry declares that he is not “ashamed to admit” he is a Christian.

“You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that something is wrong when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas and pray in schools,” he declares.

Perry adds that as president he would “end Obama’s war on religion” and “fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”

Aside from the imagery and the music of the video making Perry and his campaign staff again look like fools, the idea that openly gay and lesbian members of the military somehow undermine Christianity is ludicrous. Or are children supposed to resent gay and lesbian soldiers because they get to go off and fight wars while they are stuck at school, unable to pray out loud?

I doubt that it will come as a shock to Perry, his staff, the voting public or even school children that there are openly gay and lesbian people working in every level of local, state and federal government and private business — even churches — without harm to Christianity. Yet for some reason they expect everyone to swallow the notion that openly gay and lesbian members of the military will put the nation under the control of pagans.

What about openly gay and lesbian soldiers who observe Christianity by going to church, reading their Bibles and praying? Are they to be the demise of their own religion?

And do U.S. citizens who are Jewish or members of other faiths matter at all to Perry and his campaign staff? Under the Perry plan, are the children of those citizens to be indoctrinated into Christianity?

As to Perry’s promise in the video’s closing, it would be news to everybody if it were learned President Obama had declared a war on religion. Those laws regulating Christmas displays and school prayer were put in motion decades ago, a long time before Obama ever thought about running for political office.

Open prayer in school was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962 when Perry was in grade school. Surely he remembers.

Ultimately, I can’t imagine many people viewing the overturn of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which was supported by a majority of the American public, enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama, as an assault on Christianity.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week that Obama was probably not aware of the Perry campaign video claiming he had declared war on Christianity, but regardless the president is proud of his support of LGBT issues.

The video looks like evidence of the Perry campaign’s desperation following the governor’s disintegration in national polls since his announcement in August he would run for president. Perry dropped from a double-digit front leader status to 5 percent following a series of debate missteps and disastrous public appearances that showed him to be outmatched on the debate stage by every other Republican in the campaign.

A new American Research Poll shows Perry now has 13 percentage points in Iowa, the first primary state. But he still is in back of the pack, far behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

Regardless of where Perry goes in the polls, I’m confident he will again sabotage himself in some manner, unless he has an undercover gay or lesbian person on his campaign staff doing it for him.

Speaking of which, after Perry’s anti-gay ad was released, leaders from the gay Republican group GOProud outed one of the campaign’s consultants as gay. It was later learned that the consultant, Tony Fabrizio, had written an email prior to the ad’s release calling it “nuts.”

But aside from that effort and the obvious aspect of Fabrizio being a traitor who apparently has sacrificed the LGBT community to make a few bucks for himself, he doesn’t appear to have been doing a good job of using his expertise as a gay man to help Perry navigate difficult waters. Who will ever forget the image of Perry deep-throating a corn dog at an Iowa state fair while Romney graciously nibbled on his?

What were they thinking when they handed a corn dog to Perry, who has been fighting rumors that he is secretly gay for years?

In fact, a common question today is, “How did he ever go so far in Texas politics?”

There is only one group of people — other than personal friends, relatives and other beneficiaries of the governor’s influence as an elected official — to whom Perry still appeals: That is conservative Christians who put their religious beliefs ahead of every other consideration, regardless of whose rights get trampled upon in the process.

No wonder Perry released such a video and continues to offer it on his campaign website, but I don’t think there are enough of them to vote him into office.

Many people who started off supporting Perry have now fled from his camp, saying that his performance as a presidential candidate has brought about a national embarrassment. The worst part of it is that there is no telling what Perry and his campaign will do next. But it’s bound to be a dilly.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. Contact him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com or http://therarereporter.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: ‘Fist Me This Christmas’

This has been up on YouTube for several years and received more than half a million views. But we’ve never seen it before, so we thought maybe you hadn’t either. And even if you have, sometimes we all need a quick reminder about what’s really important around the holidays. Merry Fist-mas!

—  John Wright

Oak Cliff HIV doc takes over Bellos’ practice

Experienced HIV doc says denial of insurance claims forcing him to leave his Oak Lawn practice

DAVID TAFFET  |  taffet@dallasvoice.com

Bellos.Nick
Bellos.Nick

As of Dec. 15, patients of Dr. Nick Bellos will have a new primary care physician. Dr. Stockton Roberts will head the practice.

Over the last several years, Bellos, said, Blue Cross has denied or failed to pay more than half a million dollars to his practice. He said the insurance company said claims were incorrectly coded, or that they hadn’t received the claims. But the doctor said even after the coding was corrected and claims were resubmitted, Blue Cross still didn’t pay.

Unless they come to an agreement over the next few weeks, Texas Health Resources, which operates Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth and 14 other DFW area hospitals, will stop taking Blue Cross on Jan. 1, presumably for similar reasons.

In July, Bellos sold his practice to Medical Edge, a physician group in Dallas with more than 450 doctors. They take care of the business operations and pay doctors based on the profitability of the practice.

But, “It became obvious it wasn’t going to work out financially,” Bellos said.

He resigned effective Dec. 15.

Roberts has practiced in Oak Cliff for five years when he took over the practice of Dr. David Brand upon his retirement. Medical Edge also employs him.

Roberts will combine Bellos’ practice of more than 3,000 patients with his own of about 2,000 patients. Four members of Bellos’ staff will remain at the Lemmon Avenue office.

Roberts said he plans to spend most of his time in the Oak Lawn office but will continue in Oak Cliff on Fridays. He said his lease in Oak Cliff will be up at the end of January and he will decide then whether to renew it.

Roberts said Medical Edge asked him to take over Bellos’ practice because he is the only other physician in that company with an HIV practice.

“I want to make sure those with HIV are taken care of,” he said. “Nick [Bellos] will be a resource for me.”

Roberts said he hopes to add another doctor to the practice soon and is looking into ways to increase profit. He’s hoping his Oak Cliff patients will follow him to the new office.

He called his Oak Cliff practice quite diverse.

“If you don’t fit anywhere else, you fit here,” he said.

Roberts said that description fits him well, too. He was married and has three children but came out about five years ago and now has a partner. They live in Arlington. He maintains an apartment in Fort Worth near his children and practices in Dallas.

Bellos is not quite sure what his plans are. He’s considering legal action against Blue Cross.

“I want to thank all the patients who have allowed me to be part of their journey for the past 30 years,” he said. “But it’s time to open a new chapter and continue to be of help to the HIV community in another capacity.”

Because of a non-compete clause in his contract with Medical Edge, he cannot practice with patients for a year. However, he’s hoping to expand the clinical trials and research he conducts at a new location. Those on his research staff will remain with him.

As one of the most experienced HIV infectious disease physicians — having treated patients with the disease since the beginning of the epidemic — Bellos is frequently invited to speak around the world. In January, he will be speaking in Australia.

Bellos’ timing of his announcement was related to some changes in law.

On Jan. 1, several new provisions of health care reform kick in. The lifetime cap for benefits will be eliminated. Denial of insurance because of pre-existing conditions will be removed for anyone under 19 years old. That will extend to everyone in two years.

Beginning in 2011, minors can continue to be covered on their parents’ policies until age 26. Wellness screenings must be included free of charge. Deductibles are increasing and co-pays no longer count toward those deductibles.

While the goal is covering more people, insurance companies are rapidly raising rates to cover these added expenses.

Along with increased coverage, however, will come decreased payments to physicians.

Medicare payments to doctors will decrease by 25 percent, unless addressed by the end of the year. Insurance companies follow Medicare reimbursements closely.

“The ability to run an office and pay a staff is going to be difficult,” Bellos said.

Roberts believes he can turn the larger, combined practice into something profitable. He plans to add at least one more physician and keep electronic medical records. He said he’s meeting with infectious disease doctors to forge new relationships to benefit his patients.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Joel Burns live at noon on CNN

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, aka the Prince of Cowtown, will be on CNN today to talk about the “It Gets Better” speech he made Tuesday that’s gone totally super-viral since then. In case you’re wondering, at last check, the YouTube video had more than half a million views. Which is why it’s kinda hard to believe Burns has only 1,129 followers on Twitter.

UPDATE: GLAAD reports on additional appearances by Burns:

-Joel’s video was played on MSNBC last night during The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

-We’re told that earlier this morning Joel’s message was broadcast as a package piece for CBS’ The Early Show.

-At approximately 1:00 EST, Joel will be interviewed LIVE by Ali Velshi, host of CNN’s Newsroom.  We’ve been told that Joel’s video will play in its entirety (13 minutes), with a 12-20 minute interview to follow.

-At approximately 3:30 EST, Joel will be interviewed LIVE on MSNBC.

-Tonight at 10:00 EST, ABC’s 20/20 has said they will feature Joel’s video during a four-part special on bullying.

—  John Wright