John Boehner criticized for giving space to anti-gay group

john-boehner-speech

House Speaker John Boehner

Gay-rights groups challenged House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, after he secured meeting space in the U.S. Capitol to a group that strongly supports Russia’s laws against “homosexual propoganda.”

The Huffington Post reported Friday Boehner granted meeting space for the World Congress of Families after Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., canceled the group’s reserved space in a Senate office building because of its anti-gay views.

“Speaker Boehner’s embrace of these ambassadors of hate is shameful and despicable. These individuals have supported the subhuman treatment of LGBT people around the world, and now they want to do the same here,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin  in a statement. “The fact that the Speaker would welcome a panelist who praised Uganda’s proposal to sentence gay people to death should shock the conscience of all Americans.”

The Illinois-based WCF supported laws in Russia and Ukraine that ban the “promotion of homosexuality” — essentially a gag rule on any LGBT rights advocacy. WCF President Brian Brown testified before a committee of Russia’s parliament in support of a law banning gay couples and single people in countries that allow marriage equality to adopt Russian orphans.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement that providing space for the WCF event did not suggest the speaker is necessarily in support of their views.

—  Steve Ramos

With AIDS funding at risk, Boehner triples budget to defend DOMA

Today I got an “action alert” email from AIDS United and AIDS Interfaith Network, urging me to call my senators and representatives today and urge them to vote against any legislation that would create drastic cuts in federal funds for “essential programs” for people with HIV/AIDS.

House Speaker John Boehner

The email noted that a special congressional committee is working right now on a plan to reduce the deficit, and that cuts to programs like Medicaid, Medicare, Ryan White CARE Act, food stamp programs and unemployment benefits could be on the chopping block. “Cutting these programs will make things worse, not better. People will be hurt and access to life-saving HIV care will be lost,” the email said.

I found the email in the inbox about the same time I found an email from the National Minority AIDS Council pointing out that less than a week after the House Appropriations Committee proposed slashing funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention by $32.7 million, and cutting the Prevention and Public Health Fund by an amazing $1 billion, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has tripled the House’s budget for defending the Defense of Marriage Act, legislation that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even though performed in jurisdictions that do legally recognize them.

Back in March, Boehner decided that the House of Representatives, under Republican control, would hire a law firm to defend DOMA in court, originally budgeting President Obama had announced in February that he was instructing the Justice Department to no longer defend the law in court, because at least part of DOMA — the part which denies legal federal recognition and benefits to same-sex couples who have been married in jurisdictions with gay marriage is legally recognized — is unconstitutional under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

That decision came after federal district judges had declared DOMA unconstitutional in two separate lawsuits.

It’s bad enough that Boehner and the Republicans in the House feel the need to spend up to $750,000, as per the initial agreement, to hire someone to defend such an unjust law in the first place. Doing so while at the same time threatening to force the country to default on its debts instead raising the debt ceiling was unconscionable. And now, as thebudget crunch continues and Tea Party Republicans continue to complain about the country’s debt and refuse to consider revenue increases, Boehner and his merry band have decided to up the limit they will pay Kircher to defend DOMA to $1.5 million.

Daniel C. Montoya, deputy executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council, said: “I urge Speaker Boehner to reconsider his decision. 56,000 Americans are infected with HIV each year. More than half of those were among gay and bisexual men. Spending taxpayer money to delegitimize relationships that have been shown to promote healthier lifestyles is antithetical to American values, contrary to the conservative belief in limited government and detrimental to public health. In this time of fiscal and economic strife, certainly the Speaker and his colleagues can find better ways to spend this money.”

Montoya also suggested that Boehner’s decision raises “serious questions about his purported commitment to fiscal responsibility.” Yeah, ya think? If you agree and want to express your opinion to your representatives in Congress, you can call, toll free, 1-888-907- 1485.

—  admin

Tom Leppert now in minority of Republicans who will only tolerate ‘homosexuals’ if they’re single

Tom Leppert fraternizes with the queers in Dallas.

A poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling shows that a majority of Republicans nationwide — 51 percent — now support either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples. As Public Policy Polling notes in a blog post about the results, the percentage of Republicans who support same-sex relationship recognition is higher than the percentage — 45 percent — who approve of DOMA-loving House Speaker John Boehner’s job performance. Unfortunately, in the region identified as the South, which presumably includes Texas, 55 percent of Republicans still oppose any form of relationship recognition. And among self-identified Tea Party voters, 57 percent oppose relationship recognition. Which probably explains two-timin’ Tom Leppert’s decision to come out against both marriage and civil unions on his Senate campaign website. Speaking of that, here’s our latest idea for a Leppert campaign slogan: “I may have had a gay chief of staff as Dallas mayor, but by God he was single!” If that leads to follow-up questions, Leppert can simply say it was before he gained the courage to be open and honest about his tea-bagging.

—  John Wright

Sacrificial goats must keep fighting

The right wing scapegoats LGBTs, sacrificing our rights on their altar of power. The goats have to keep fighting back if we want equality

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

Land of the free and home of the brave? Maybe not. Just look at all the issues being flogged both in the legislature and in the press. All are to try to stifle the freedom of LGBT people.

• DOMA: The cynically named “Defense of Marriage Act” which has nothing to do with defending marriage and everything to do with denying rights to LGBT couples.

Worse, even though the president said it is unconstitutional, the GOP, lead by House Speaker John Boehner, wants to spend $500,000 of our dollars to defend a bill the Department of Justice sees as indefensible.

• Special Rights for Gays: This is a catch phrase being used again and again by the right wing to somehow try to justify discrimination in just about any way possible.

For example in many states if you are a landlord, you are not allowed to deny someone the right to rent an apartment — but only if they are listed as a protected class. That’s how the law works in this screwy society.

So, if I am a member of a racial minority, a woman or disabled, I can seek legal recourse against the landlord. Because LGBT people are not included in that list in most states, we have no recourse.

In the eyes of the right wing, granting us the same rights as any other minority is “special rights.” Worse still is the fact that we are denied rights in our relationships that other Americans get simply because they are straight.

• Hate Crimes: The right fights tooth and nail to keep LGBT people from being included in hate crimes legislation wherever it is proposed. Just as bad, some have even tried to dissect us and include gays and lesbians while leaving transgender folks out.

To add LGBT people to the list of victims of hate crimes apparently denies the far right their freedom to hate whoever they want.

• Ex-Gay Therapy: This discredited practice still gets funding and support from fundamentalist churches and right-wing organizations that are actively working to “cure” gays and lesbians. Our lives have been compared to the problem with “second-hand smoke” and devalued by rhetoric from the right.

They spread the lie that our sexual orientation is a choice, and therefore something we can change at will.

This list could go on and on, but the point is that for some reason the conservatives are spending huge piles of cash to actively deny us the rights and privileges they enjoy. Why do they spend so much of their time and energy working to take away rights from us?

Politically, it is an easy talking point. The right has found that anti-LGBT rhetoric can whip a crowd into a frenzy faster than talking about real issues. In the world of media image, nothing is as valued by the right as a cheering crowd and a sound bite on TV or radio.

Economically, LGBT issues can make a quick buck for the right wing. Whether it is raising funds to “defeat the gay agenda” or funds to “rescue the poor sinners from the gay lifestyle,” donations flow when the anti-LGBT rhetoric rings out.

And psychologically, it’s an easy hot button. The whole existence of LGBT people makes many heterosexuals nervous. I am not a psychologist, but I would lay odds that for many there are insecurities around their own sexual orientation that drives this.

The mere fact that the “gay panic” defense works in the judicial system as an excuse for assault and murder points to this as an underlying problem.

But I suspect the real reason the right has seized on LGBT rights as their favorite topic is more troubling: It’s what I call the “bogie man” factor.

Fear is a very good motivator. Just look at how we Americans cheerfully gave up our privacy rights after 9/11. We were afraid and we were told giving up our privacy would get us security.

The results are still very much open for debate.

Meanwhile politicians, pundits and clergy have found their available list of “bogie men” dwindling. Back in the 1950s, communists were the enemy and the cause of every ill under the sun. In the ’60s “hippies” were looked on as the root cause of problems.

In the last decade, “terrorists” became the main thing to fear, though it was a thinly disguised version of xenophobia and racism.

Now, one of the only things to fear is us, the LGBTS. We have become the bogie man for the current crop of fear mongers. We are being pointed to as the root of many of societies ills — and that is scapegoating, plain and simple.

Scapegoats are an easy way to explain complex problems, and in a world of 20-second sound bites, they are all too tempting for politicians, pundits and clergy to ignore.

Well, it’s time we goats stopped behaving like sheep and started butting our heads up against the people who would deny us our rights. If we do not continue to push back, we will continue to have our rights sacrificed on the alter of politics. And this goat is not ready for that.

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

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: House to spend $500K or more on DOMA defense; majority back gay marriage

Timothy O’Hare

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Dallas Morning News (paid subscription required) has an extensive recap in today’s edition of the controversy over a Gay Straight Alliance at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton. As we’ve reported, bigoted Farmers Branch Mayor Timothy O’Hare railed against the GSA on Twitter, but O’Hare has since removed those posts from his account and didn’t respond to The DMN’s request for comment. O’Hare wasn’t the only one who spoke out against the GSA, though: school board candidate Randy Schackmann reportedly issued a statement calling the GSA an “agenda-driven, politically motivated, lifestyle-focused” group and said its presence amounts to “an assault by school leadership” on residents. As we’ve noted, the GSA was allowed to form and has been meeting, but The DMN story does shed some light on the difficulties faced by students wanting to start GSAs in North Texas. It also ends with a priceless quote from the R.L. Turner GSA’s 18-year-old president, Arafel Bruce, who was asked by the newspaper whether the GSA has an agenda to promote homosexuality: “I’m sorry. I’m trying not to laugh,” she said.

2. Five hundred and twenty dollars per hour, and up to $500,000 total, unless the cap is raised by written agreement. That’s how much Speaker John Boehner and the House GOP will pay attorney Paul Clement and his firm, King & Spalding, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign is continuing its assault against King & Spalding — which, by the way, has an office in Houston but not Dallas — for taking the case.

3. Yet another poll has shown that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. A CNN poll released Tuesday found that 51 percent believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. However, the poll found that seven of 10 Republicans are opposed to same-sex marriage.

 

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: House taps former Bush SG to defend DOMA; gay blog Queerty shuts down

Paul Clement

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. House Republicans tapped former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who served for three years during the Bush administration, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. And Speaker John Boehner wants to divert money from the Justice Department to pay Clement, a partner at Atlanta-based King & Spalding whose services won’t come cheap (he reportedly earns more than $5 million a year). Clement, representing the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, has already filed a motion to intervene in one of the cases challenging the constitutionality of DOMA.

2. The gay blog Queerty has shut down. We’ll miss Queerty’s snarky headlines and irreverent prose as much as anyone, but we won’t miss the blog stealing our original content without crediting us.

3. A bill that would bar transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex is again on the Texas Senate’s intent calendar for today. That means if you haven’t already contacted Senate Democrats and asked them to vote against SB 723, you should do so now (contact info  is here). Meanwhile, LGBT advocates will again be speaking during today’s meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court to call on the court to add gender identity to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. We’re headed downtown and will have a report later.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Boehner defends House hearing on ‘defending marriage’; civil unions in Delaware

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A U.S. House subcommittee is holding a hearing this morning on “defending marriage.” Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday defended the hearing as a “legitimate” use of government resources. Those scheduled to testify include anti-gay activist Maggie Gallagher, chair of the National Organization for Marriage.

2. The Delaware House on Thursday voted 26-15 to approve a measure that would legalize civil unions. The bill, which already cleared the Senate, now goes to Gov. Jack Markell, who has said he will sign it. Delaware would be the eighth state to allow civil unions or domestic partnerships.

3. Today is the Day of Silence.

—  John Wright

Lawmakers to file DOMA repeal Wednesday

Federal District Judge Joseph Tauro in Massachusetts has ruled — in two separate cases, no less — that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

President Barack Obama has said that DOMA is unconstitutional and the Justice Department, under his administration, will no longer defend it in court.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has said that the House of Representatives will defend DOMA in court since the Obama administration won’t.

And now, a group of five U.S. senators is set to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA.

Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Christopher Coons of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut will officially announce their DOMA repeal bill in a press conference at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday in the Senate Office Building.

Of course, with Republicans in charge of the House already having announced their plans to defend DOMA in court, and a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, it’s not likely that Obama will get to keep his campaign promise this year. Still, it’s nice to know DOMA repeal is still on the agenda.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: NY marriage equality, Bullying, Defending DOMA

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Joel Burns

1. Marriage equality moved a step closer in New York yesterday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with supporters. Bills have passed the Assembly three times but failed in the Senate. Five senators who voted against lost reelection in the last election. The measure will be reintroduced later this session.

2. A White House conference on bullying gets underway at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns is there. The president will announce a new website called Stop Bullying to help combat the problem.

3. House Speaker John Boehner announced today that the House of Representative’s counsel will defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The Washington Post reported that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that defending the law would be lengthy and expensive.

 

—  David Taffet

Boehner says House will defend DOMA

Speaker John Boehner

Republican Speaker John Boehner says House leaders will appoint a lawyer to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, in the wake of President Barack Obama’s decision to no longer do so.

“It is regrettable that the Obama administration has opened this divisive issue at a time when Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy,” Boehner said in a statement. “The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts — not by the president unilaterally — and this action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi promptly issued a statement responding to Boehner’s decision.

“Aside from standing up for a discriminatory law and failing to focus on jobs and the economy, this action places Republicans squarely on the wrong side of history and progress,” Pelosi said in her statement. “In addition, this decision will burden the staff and monetary resources of the Office of the General Counsel, and given the complexity of these cases and the number of courts involved, it is likely this will cost the House hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

“This is nothing more than a distraction from our most pressing challenges, and Speaker Boehner should follow his own advice and work with Democrats to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and responsibly reduce the deficit,” Pelosi said.

 

—  John Wright