Anti-gay bills dead or stalled in Iowa

Newt Gingrich

It appears that Republican efforts to force a referendum to appeal that state’s same-sex marriage equality law are dead, at least for the time being — as are a couple of other anti-gay measures.

The Des Moines Register reports that one of two resolutions being considered that would have put same-sex marriage to a referendum vote has died, and the second has stalled. A resolution that had been passed by the Republican-controlled House is effectively dead after Democrats in the Senate chose not to advance it.

A bill that would have allowed businesses to deny services or public accommodations to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs has failed, as has a second measure that would have prohibited country recorders from giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a referendum could be held on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

Three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of a unanimous ruling in 2009 that overturned the gay marriage ban in Iowa were ousted in recall election efforts last November. A small group of Iowa House Republicans is calling for the other four justices to be impeached. They have not yet filed any articles of impeachment, the Register reports, but that could happen at any time.

In related news, other sources — including TPMMuckraker.com — are reporting that Republican former Congressman Newt Gingrich, himself a veritable bastion of traditional marriage values, helped get the justice recall effort jump-started last year in Iowa by rounding up about $200,000 to help Iowa For Freedom campaign for the recall.

Gingrich, by the way, is on his third marriage. He left his first wife for his mistress when his first wife was hospitalized and fighting for her life against cancer. Then he married the mistress, only to cheat on her with another women to whom he is now married. Gingrich is also contemplating a run for the White House in 2012; he launched a website to “test the waters” Thursday.

—  admin

Palin says rhetoric not to blame for Arizona shootings, but recent history suggests otherwise

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin

Within hours of the Saturday, Jan. 8, shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 14 — including the gunman’s apparent primary target, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — wounded, a nationwide discussion — perhaps “argument” is a better word — had begun over the role that extreme political rhetoric had played in the massacre. And one of the first names to pop up in that discussion was that of Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan governor and former vice presidential candidate turned rightwing political pundit and reality TV star.

Giffords was one of the Democratic members of Congress who, in a campaign flyer posted on Palin’s website, had been “targeted” for defeat by Republicans in last November’s elections. The flyer included a graphic of a map with the “targeted’ districts marked by gunsights. That flyer along with Palin’s “don’t retreat, reload” comment, along with Nevada rightwinger Sharon Angle’s “Second Amendment remedies” comment, have gotten a lot of play in the days since the shootings.

Palin’s people took the flyer off the website within hours of the shooting, but it wasn’t until today that Palin herself spoke up, releasing a video in which she declares that political rhetoric had nothing to do with the shootings in Arizona  and decrying the “irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame” for the massacre to her and other rightwing pundits. The responsibility, Palin declared, lies solely with the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner.

Since we don’t know yet — and really may never know — what prompted this young man to open fire at Giffords and the others on Saturday, I find myself agreeing with Palin, at least a little. Let’s get our facts straight, so to speak, before we start laying blame.

—  admin

Out musician Bradford Cox leads Deerhunter to the Granada tonight

Bradford Cox in a dress is always a possibility

Last November, Atlas Sound was scheduled for a show at Hailey’s and then canceled. Hopefully, this won’t happen twice. Atlas Sound, aka Bradford Cox, is the gay frontman for the psychedelia-gazing punk band Deerhunter. They’ve come off their self-imposed hiatus that began in 2008 to record their fourth album, Halcyon Digest, which dropped in September. OK, that’s more a break than hiatus.

They made a splash out of Atlanta with their 2005 debut album Turn It Up Faggot — which was “an insult that Cox claimed was often thrown at the band during their gigs,” according to AllMusic — and then released the brilliant Microcastle/Weird Era Continued album two years ago.

Cox has Marfan Syndrome, which elongates his limbs making for quite an impression. At 6 feet, 4 inches, his skinny arms and legs make him look larger than life in an awkward way (and in the occasional onstage frock or dress), but that’s far from the point of Cox or Deerhunter even. As musicians, they have created some challenging and trippy music and their live show reputation borders on amazing.

Check them out at their Loft concert a year ago in the video below.

DEETS: With Best Coast (yes!), Sonny and the Sunsets and Casino Vs. Japan at the Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave . 8 p.m. $18. GranadaTheater.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Texas AG Greg Abbott argues that he can’t be sued for discriminating against gay employees

Greg Abbott

Last November we reported on a lawsuit filed by Vic Gardner of Tyler, who alleges that he was forced out of his job with the state attorney general’s office for being gay.

Jason C.N. Smith of Fort Worth, who’s representing Gardner in his suit against a former supervisor and AG Greg Abbott, reports that the case is set for a hearing in an Austin district court next Tuesday.

Smith said the AG’s office has field a motion seeking to dismiss the case, on grounds that Abbott can’t be sued for damages for discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

Although Texas has no statute prohibiting anti-gay job discrimination, courts have held that gay and lesbian government employees are protected by constitutional principles such as privacy and equal protection, Smith said. Still, he said it’s possible that Abbott would appeal the case all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.

“My hope is that the Texas Supreme Court would follow the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court and hold that gays are protected under the constitution,” Smith said. “I think certainly the law is very clear. It’s just a matter of whether they’re going to play politics with the gay community.

“Greg Abbott’s record both as a Supreme Court justice and as Texas attorney general, he’s not one who’s embraced giving everyone equal rights, so it doesn’t surprise me that he doesn’t s think folks who are fired because they’re gay should be able to recover damages,” Smith added.

Garder, who’d worked for the AG’s child support division for about three years, says he resigned after repeatedly being unfairly disciplined. Despite Gardner’s above-average job performance, according to the lawsuit, Gardner’s supervisor had directed him to “not be so out.”

Gardner is seeking reinstatement to a similar position and back pay, as well as a declaration by the AG’s office that he was discriminated against and a pledge not to do so going forward.

A spokesman for Abbott’s office has declined to comment on the case.

—  John Wright

A perfect example of the politics of fear: California Sen. Roy Ashburn apologizes for anti-gay votes

Sen. Roy Ashburn

California State Sen. Roy Ashburn isn’t really someone to point to as a role model when it comes to proud gay men. He was deeply closeted most of his life, and spent his time as a senator diligently voting against anything even remotely gay positive, including his vote last November against establishing an annual Harvey Milk Day in honor of the murdered gay rights activist. And in 2005, he not only voted against same-sex marriage in California, he organized an anti-gay-marriage rally.

But then this past March 10, Ashburn’s house of cards came tumbling down: He was stopped as he left a well-known gay bar, with a man in the car with him, and arrested for DWI.

So Ashburn owned up and came out. He admitted, he is gay. But he still defended his anti-gay votes, saying that he was following the wishes of the constituents in his district.

Now, though, the senator — in his final term — has taken yet another step forward: He has apologized for his anti-gay votes in a blog post on GayPolitics.com. He said:

“I am sincerely sorry for the votes I cast and the actions I took that harmed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Just as important to me, I am sorry for not stepping forward and speaking up as an elected official on behalf of equal treatment for all people.”

And why, you may ask, did he vote against the best interests of himself and his community for so long? He has an answer:

“I chose to conceal who I truly am and to then actually vote against the best interests of people like me. All this was done because I was afraid — terrified, really — that somehow I would be revealed as gay.”

He was afraid. He was afraid because he lived with a secret. He lived, as a transgender friend of mine described it, “stealth.” What better example could anyone ask for of the dangers of living in the closet?

He may have not come out all that willingly, but now that he is out, Roy Ashburn is changing his tune — and his politics. And he is calling on his party — the Republican Party — to change its politics, too:

“We stand for equality as well as opportunity. We stand for individuals living their lives without fear or limits imposed by a powerful government. We stand for a government of limited powers over citizens, including not being involved in the private lives of people. These tenets of Republican ideology call for bold action by our party when confronted with the real-life issues of discrimination against LGBT people.

“I am no longer willing, nor able to remain silent in the face of unequal and hurtful treatment of my community. It may have taken me a strange, incoherent and long path to get here, but this is where I find myself as a gay Republican senator. It’s time for Republicans to find our way and fight for equal treatment for all people, especially the freedom to be unique and have our rights acknowledged and protected.”

OK, so while his life up until this year isn’t role-model material, it looks like Ashburn is moving in that direction. I just wish it wasn’t his last term in the California Senate. And I hope his GOP colleagues will listen to him.

—  admin