John Cornyn to vote for DADT repeal?

Sen. John Cornyn

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s decision to accept an award from Log Cabin Republicans — the gay GOP group — in October was likely designed primarily to drum up votes and money in advance of the November mid-terms. And it may even have worked. But who knows, maybe we’ve also been a little too hard on our junior senator. Maybe, just maybe (but we doubt it), Cornyn is starting to warm up to the gays. And could you really blame him after Log Cabin sang “Happy Birthday” to his freakin’ wife?

Anyhow, we can’t seem to get a response from Cornyn’s spokesman, Kevin McLaughlin, about where he stands on standalone legislation to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” which is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate on Saturday. But we do know that Cornyn DID NOT VOTE last week when the Senate blocked a Defense Authorization bill that contained DADT repeal. McLaughlin won’t tell us why Cornyn didn’t vote or where he may have been (at the dentist?), and now we can’t help but wonder: Was he trying to avoid the issue? Does he have mixed feelings about DADT repeal? Is he even a potential yes vote on Saturday? Yeah, right.

Obviously Cornyn is aware of polls showing that nearly eight in 10 Americans support DADT repeal. And given recent polling numbers from Texas on other LGBT issues, we doubt support for repeal is much lower here, even though some might have you believe that.

A while back, McLaughlin issued a statement saying Cornyn felt there were more important priorities for the lame duck session than repealing DADT. Note that the statement didn’t say outright that Cornyn opposes repeal:

“There are a handful of time sensitive issues that must be addressed during lame duck,” the statement said. “A continuing resolution to fund the government, the medicare reimbursement rate also known as the ‘doc fix,’ and preventing every American from incurring a massive tax increase on the first of the year just to name a few. Sen. Cornyn believes these things should be the focus of the lame duck session.”

Two of the issues mentioned in Cornyn’s statement — Bush-era tax cuts and the “doc fix” — have now passed the Senate. Meanwhile, the omnibus spending bill containing government funding was abruptly pulled from the floor last night due to opposition over earmarks ($16 million worth of which were inserted by Cornyn). Now, the Senate is expected to vote today on a short-term resolution that would fund the government until Feb. 18.

In June, Cornyn said he didn’t believe the Senate should act on DADT repeal until the Pentagon study was complete. Then, after the study was released and showed strong support for DADT repeal, he issued the above statement. So, we’re just wondering, what will be his new excuse? At least his counterpart, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, has the guts to take a position and state it for the record.

—  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

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

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