Tell your senators Marine Cpl. Danny Hernandez from Paradise, Texas, wants his damn job back!

Marine Cpl. Danny Hernandez

We received an e-mail on Wednesday from Cpl. Danny Hernandez, a Marine discharged under “don’t ask don’t tell” who came out to his family earlier this year by, of all things, writing an open letter to President Barack Obama. Hernandez, who’s from the small town of Paradise northwest of Fort Worth and graduated from Texas A&M University last year, now lives in Washington and is working with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Here at Instant Tea we’ve been pretty hard on Texas Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn lately, but Hernandez has a point: He says that although the two “have not been very helpful with this effort, we cannot remain complacent.”

“We cannot give up without having our voices heard,” Hernandez says. “Never in the seventeen years that this law has existed have we been so close to victory. … I hope to be wearing my uniform again soon.”

Below is Hernandez’s full e-mail including contact numbers for Hutchison and Cornyn. So what are you waiting for? You haven’t called yet?

Texas Friends and Allies –
As a Texan, an Aggie and a Marine discharged because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I am asking for your help.

Just two nights ago Senator Harry Reid announced that the vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the repeal of DADT, will be scheduled for next week. The momentum is high, but the fight is not over. We need your support.

Join Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Lady Gaga, Senator Reid, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and all of our supporters across the nation in helping repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Here’s what you can do:

Call Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
DC Office: 202-224-5922
Austin Office: 512-916-5834
San Antonio Office: 210-340-2885
Abilene Office: 325-676-2839
Dallas Office: 214-361-3500
Harlingen Office: 956-425-2253
Houston Office: 713-653-3456

Call Senator John Cornyn
DC Office: 202-224-2934
Austin Office: 512-469-6034
Houston Office: 713-572-3337
Harlingen Office: 956-423-0162
Lubbock Office: 806-472-7533
San Antonio Office: 210-224-7485
Tyler Office: 903-593-0902
Dallas Office: 972-239-1310

Tell them that as a Texan, you urge them to vote with Senator Reid and Senator Carl Levin in opposing the filibuster, defeat amendments to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments that would hinder the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

We cannot give up without having our voices heard. Never in the seventeen years that this law has existed have we been so close to victory.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I hope to be wearing my uniform again soon.

Warmly,
Danny Hernandez (former USMC Lance Corporal)

—  John Wright

Sen. John Cornyn calls Reid’s plan for vote on DADT repeal ‘cynical and politically transparent’

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told The Hill on Tuesday that he believes Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to consider a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” as part of a defense spending bill  is “a cynical and politically transparent move.”

Cornyn didn’t say whether Republican senators plan to filibuster the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act over the DADT repeal provision, or whether he would join such a blockade.

“I know that leadership is asking members about their inclination, and I don’t know that that’s been whipped yet,” he told The Hill.

A spokesman for Cornyn, who’s never cast a single vote in support of LGBT equality, told Dallas Voice in June that he would oppose the DADT repeal measure.

“Sen. Cornyn believes that readiness must remain the highest priority of our military,” Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said. “Right now, the Pentagon is studying how repealing DADT would affect military readiness, and this careful review is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Sen. Cornyn believes Congress should not to act on a possible repeal until that review has been completed.”

Cornyn has accepted an invitation to appear at the Log Cabin Republicans’ National Dinner in Washington later this month, and he has pledged to seek “common ground” with gay members of the GOP.

But if that common ground doesn’t include repealing a policy that 78 percent of Americans oppose, we’re at a loss as to where in hell it could possibly lie.

Actually, no we’re not. We’re pretty sure that by “common ground” Cornyn means “money” and “votes.” Talk about politically transparent!

—  John Wright

Right-wing group blasts Texas Sen. John Cornyn for appearing at Log Cabin Republicans dinner

Sen. John Cornyn

A while back we said we hoped Sen. John Cornyn and Congressman Pete Sessions, two anti-gay Texas Republicans, would face backlash from the religious right for pandering at a Log Cabin Republicans dinner later this month. Well, it looks like our wish is already starting to come true!

The right-wing Cambridge Theological Seminary, which claims to have hundreds of member churches in Texas, has posted an open letter to Cornyn saying it plans to oppose him in his next re-election bid and instead support a Tea Party candidate.

“John Cornyn, the junior Senator from Texas has announced that he will attend a fundraiser held by the homosexual same-sex-marriage Log Cabin Republicans, whose mission is to support ‘favored status and special rights for gay and lesbian Americans,’” the group writes. “We urge all Texans to seek his replacement immediately. If he is this bold in public, what is he behind closed doors?”

The group goes on to slam Cornyn for not even having a drop-down menu on his website devoted to “Pro-family and/or anti-same-sex causes.” The group accuses Cornyn of betraying his nation and God by supporting “sodomizing, AIDS-causing homosexuals who molest and rape little boys …”

Politics makes strange bedfellows, folks, and Instant Tea hereby announces an informal alliance with the Cambridge Theological Seminary to defeat Cornyn in 2014, albeit for opposite reasons. (Who knows, maybe they’ll even send us one of the free degrees they offer online.) Below is the e-mail the group says it sent to Cornyn.

—  John Wright

Sen. Cornyn: How could I be pandering to the gays when I’m not even up for re-election?

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, says there’s no way he could be pandering for votes and money by attending a dinner for a gay group six weeks before the mid-term elections — because he’s not even on the ballot this year.

Cornyn, who’s never before spoken to the gay press, made the statement in a direct message to Dallas Voice on Twitter on Aug. 1, two days after he was accused of pandering in a post on this blog. We didn’t notice the Twitter message in our Inbox until this week.

Cornyn has consistently voted against gay rights in the Senate, receiving a zero from the Human Rights Campaign on its Congressional Scorecard, and he’s advocated for a federal ban on gay marriage as recently as this year. Now, with the election looming, he’s agreed to speak at the National Dinner of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay GOP group.

As chair of the Senatorial Committee, Cornyn is over Republican re-election efforts this year. We suggested that he’s trying to scrounge up money and votes for Republicans from gays around the country by appearing at Log Cabin. But Cornyn seemed to have forgotten about his role as committee chair when he sent the Twitter message. He suggested that he couldn’t be pandering because he’s not up for re-election until 2014. Again, the Instant Tea post to which Cornyn was responding is here, and here’s a screen grab of his Twitter message, in which he appears to specifically address our criticism related to the timing of the dinner, which will be held Sept. 22:

We tried to send Cornyn a direct-message response, but we were unable to do so because he isn’t a follower of Dallas Voice on Twitter. So we sent him a public response requesting an interview. He has not responded.

John, if you’re reading this, we’d love to talk to you. Instant Tea is officially nonpartisan. You may get a chance to prove you’re not pandering by voting for a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which could come to the Senate floor around the same time as the Log Cabin dinner.

Until then, we’re inclined to agree with the Texas Observer, which has a post up today mentioning Cornyn’s appearance at the Log Cabin dinner. Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who’s over the House campaign committee, is also slated to appear. From the Observer:

So why would these two leading gay-rights opponents — Republicans from a state where gay people can’t even get divorced, and the governor can’t stop bashing them — attend such a function? Because their job is to raise campaign cash. While marriage might be reserved for certain people, and while gays might make a handy punching-bag when you want to throw some red meat at the hardcore right-wing folk out there, money is money. Priorities are priorities.

—  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

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison isn't saying whether she'll support DADT repeal, but we doubt it

kay-bailey-hutchison
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas

We’ve received no response from Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office to our weeks-old inquiry about whether she’ll support an amendment that would begin the process of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.” But local activist Elizabeth Parker says she did receive a response from Hutchison’s office, and she’s forwarded it along to us.

In her response to Parker, Hutchison doesn’t say whether she’ll vote for or against the amendment, which is expected to arrive on the Senate floor this summer. But Hutchison does indicate she’s concerned that “a drastic change in the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy could hurt morale, recruitment, retention, and overall combat readiness at a time when our armed forces need to maintain a strong presence at home and abroad.” Hutchison also says she wants to hear from “present and former leaders of our military how they expect this change in policy to impact the military.”

As we said before, considering her recent record on gay rights, we’re pretty sure she’ll join fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn in voting against the amendment. But local gay veteran and DADT repeal advocate Dave Gainer has cautioned us before not to give up on Hutchison just yet. So once more, if you’d like to call her office about DADT repeal, the number is 202-224-5922.

Read Hutchison’s full letter to Parker after the jump.

—  John Wright

Sen. John Cornyn's office confirms what we already knew: He won't vote for DADT repeal

In response to the inquiry I mentioned earlier, we just received a statement from Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s office. Here’s what Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said:

“Sen. Cornyn believes that readiness must remain the highest priority of our military. Right now, the Pentagon is studying how repealing DADT would affect military readiness, and this careful review is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Sen. Cornyn believes Congress should not to act on a possible repeal until that review has been completed.”

We still haven’t received a response from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office.

—  John Wright

Local gay veteran says Sen. Hutchison 'just might do the right thing' on DADT repeal

Yesterday I posted an item about an Action Alert that was issued by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, asking people to call their senators and urge them to support an amendment that would begin the process of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.” In my post, I suggested that neither of Texas’ two senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, is at all likely to support the amendment. But Dave Gainer, a board member for SLDN who lives in Tarrant County, says I shouldn’t be so pessimistic — at least not when it comes to Hutchison. In fact, Gainer says there’s hope that if she hears from enough people, Hutchison “just might do the right thing.” Here’s his message:

First, thanks for making people aware of the call to action! Many have worked hard over 17 years to make repeal happen. The next obstacle is the Senate floor vote. There are battles that will follow IF AND ONLY IF the repeal language makes it out of the Senate. While I have not met directly with our senators, I have met with their staff.  I think there is hope that Senator Hutchison just might do the right thing! After all, she represents 20 million people of which about 70 percent support repeal according to last month’s Gallup Poll http://www.gallup.com/poll/127904/Broad-Steady-Support-Openly-Gay-Service-Members.aspx#2

That’s a huge number of people! And a heck of a lot of votes. I think she needs to hear directly from her constituents should she doubt the polling numbers. I wouldn’t give up on her just yet — give her a chance to hear from all of us first! I encourage everyone to reach out to her, express their individual support and remind her that this Bill places IMPLEMENTATION of repeal back into the lap of the DOD and the White House. Congress tied their hands in 1993 and, as the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said – repeal is the right thing to do.

If no one calls from the pre-repeal side, she has no choice but listen to those who do call from the other side. Let’s give her a chance to vote from a position of knowledge. Then, if she fails, we can give up.

Dave

As I said yesterday, I’ve left messages for the press folks in both Cornyn’s and Hutchison’s offices inquiring about their positions on DADT repeal, but thus far I have received no response. The number for Cornyn’s Washington office is 202-224-2934, and the number for Hutchison’s is 202-224-5922.

—  John Wright

Call your senators about DADT repeal, even if there isn't a chance in hell they'll support it

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has issued an Action Alert calling for people to contact their senators and urge them to support the amendment that would begin the process of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.”

The 2011 defense spending bill that includes the amendment is expected to come to the floor of the Senate this summer, possibly as early as the next few weeks. Republicans are reportedly scouring for the 41 votes needed for a filibuster. There are 41 Republicans in the Senate, but two moderates are expected to support the DADT repeal plan. Which has left opponents trying to recruit a few Democrats to support a filibuster. They may also try to craft an amendment to the amendment that would significantly weaken the DADT repeal compromise.

Anyhow, for those of us in Texas, the SLDN Action Alert may seem like nothing but a call to conduct an exercise in futility. That’s because it’s highly, highly unlikely that either of our two senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, would support anything approaching a DADT repeal — or even choose not to join a filibuster of the amendment.

I’ve left messages for the press secretaries of both Cornyn and Hutchison, inquiring about the senators’ official positions on a DADT repeal, which has never before been voted on by the Senate. I’ll post their responses if and when they provide them.

In the meantime, if you really believe that it can’t hurt to try, the number for Cornyn’s Washington office is 202-224-2934, and the number for Hutchison’s 202-224-5922.

—  John Wright

Cornyn's staff is still trying to set the record straight about his 2004 'box turtle' reference

Here’s a note I received this morning from Kevin McLaughlin, communications director for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, about my post last night in which I said that Cornyn once equated gays with “box turtles.”

Hey John –

Caught your post below and just wanted to touch base with you regarding it, particularly the “box turtle” reference.

I just wanted to make sure you were aware that Sen. Cornyn never said that. I know many have claimed otherwise, but those who do so knowingly are just perpetuating a lie.

The truth is that it was written into a speech by a staffer and the Senator took it out and never said it.

I just wanted to make sure you had the facts in case you wanted to issue a clarification.

Thanks
KPM

For the record, it’s true that Cornyn dropped the “box turtle” reference from a 2004 speech to the Heritage Foundation. But the reference appeared in an advance copy of the speech that was given to The Washington Post, and the newspaper ran it. Here’s the quote:

“It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right … [N]ow you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife.”

I guess we should give Cornyn a little credit for dropping the reference from his actual speech, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been a vocal proponent of a federal marriage amendment, most recently trying to attach it to health care reform legislation. I’m also aware that he’s consistently received a score of zero on LGBT equality from the Human Rights Campaign. To elaborate on my post from last night, it appears as though Cornyn and other conservatives might not have a problem with a gay Supreme Court nominee, as long as that person doesn’t support gay rights. Indeed, conservatives are already preparing for the possibility that Solicitor General Elena Kagan will be the nominee by zeroing in on her support for gay rights. Kagan isn’t gay, but she once filed a court brief supporting law schools’ right to bar military recruiters from campus based on the discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Read more in The Advocate.

UPDATE: Since I made a clarification, I asked McLaughlin to clarify Cornyn’s remark about a gay Supreme Court nominee. Here’s what he said: Sen. Cornyn believes every nominee, for the Supreme Court or elsewhere, should be evaluated based on their qualifications for the job and a person’s sexual orientation should not disqualify someone from serving.” I’ve replied with a simple question, That’s great, but shouldn’t Sen. Cornyn then support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would essentially apply this philosophy to federal employment protections?” Stay tuned to find out what McClaughlin says.

UPDATE NO. 2: Here’s McLaughlin’s response:

“He [Cornyn] subscribes to Chief Justice Roberts’ theory, and I am paraphrasing, that the best want to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating.”

And here’s my response to him:

“Yes, but oftentimes people won’t stop discriminating unless they’re forced to. Does Sen. Cornyn propose repealing employment protections for race, religion or gender? If we simply have faith that employers will stop discriminating, why do we need any protections at all? Furthermore, if Sen. Cornyn thinks it’s best to stop discriminating, why does he want to discriminate against gays and lesbians by denying them the right to marry, or barring them from serving openly in the military?”

Let’s see how long I can keep this conversation going.

—  John Wright