A beer by any other name…

On the long list of ridiculous Texas laws the alcoholic beverage code would have to take up about half the space (although that whole “no marriage equality” thing is pretty far up there), but it seems like at least a part of our antiquated system of booze laws is getting an update. Under current state law “beer” can contain no more than 4% alcohol by volume, anything greater and it must be labeled as “ale” or “malt liquor.” If a recent ruling by US District Court Judge Sam Sparks holds that’s about to change.

A group of brewers sued the state arguing that the current restrictions violated their free speech. The judge agreed, and in a hilarious ruling poked fun at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for thinking they can redefine words by legislative fiat, and gave a shout-out to Austin’s annual bat festival.  From Austin360.com:

“TABC’s argument, combined with artful legislative drafting, could be used to justify any restrictions on commercial speech. For instance, Texas would likely face no (legal) obstacle if it wished to pass a law defining the word ‘milk’ to mean ‘a nocturnal flying mammal that eats insects and employs echolocation.’ Under TABC’s logic, Texas would then be authorized to prohibit use of the word ‘milk’ by producers of a certain liquid dairy product, but also to require Austin promoters to advertise the famous annual ‘Milk Festival’ on the Congress Avenue Bridge.”

 

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Book investigates Rick Perry gay rumors

Glen Maxey

Glen Maxey

Glen Maxey, the only out LGBT person to serve in the Texas Legislature, has just released a new book “Head Figure Head: The Search for the Hidden Life of Rick Perry” investigating rumors that Texas governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry has a history of sexual tryst with men. Maxey used relationships built during his decades of experience in Austin as a legislative aide, state representative and lobbyist to track down the first hand accounts of men who have claimed sexual relationships with Perry contained in the book.

“Head Figure Head” is only available in e-book form via Amazon at this time. A quick e-flip through the pages promises an exciting read.

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Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

In NH, House GOP’s ‘legislative agenda will not include repealing gay marriage’

Interesting development from the Granite State, which I first saw via Joe.My.God:

The House Republican’s legislative agenda will not include repealing gay marriage.

House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that jobs and the economy will be the top priorities that Republicans will use as their scorecard to measure themselves by for the next two years.

This is fascinating, if it proves to be true. As Joe says:

Stand by for NOM’s hissy fit.

This sure gives all those anti-gay GOP presidential hopefuls something to talk about. Good thing Fred Karger is campaigning in New Hampshire to provide some sanity.




AMERICAblog Gay

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For Blenders’ consideration: GOProud Unveils 2011 Legislative Agenda

This just landed in my inbox. Submitted without comment, save I don't see anything that will help prevent discrimination against LGBTs in states where there are no state-level ENDAs or general anti-discrimination laws. You think the free market will fix the problems in those states? That seems more than a tad out of touch for those of us in “fly-over country.” Anyway, I'm sure you will have plenty to say about it.

Today GOProud, the only national organization representing gay conservatives and their allies, unveiled their 2011 Legislative Agenda. “Historic wins by conservatives last November mean new opportunities to move forward on critical legislative priorities,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director. “The stale failed big government agenda of the gay left is dead. Now is the time for the gay community and those who care about gay people to embrace conservative solutions to the challenges facing gay and lesbian families.”

In these past mid-terms, according to exit polls, 31% of self-identified gays and lesbians voted Republican. “The gay left would have you believe that gay conservatives don’t exist. The truth is that almost a third of self-identified gay voters cast ballots for Republican candidates for Congress in the mid-terms,” continued LaSalvia. “This should be a wake-up call for the out-of-touch so-called leadership of Gay, Inc. in Washington, D.C., which has become little more than a subsidiary of the Democratic Party. Your agenda has not only been rejected by the American people, it has been rejected by a substantial and growing portion of the gay community.”

…“It is time for a new approach for the gay community, which is why GOProud is unveiling our 2011 legislative agenda,” said Christopher R. Barron, Chairman of the Board. “We believe that this agenda offers common-sense conservative solutions that will improve the lives of all Americans, but especially gay and lesbian Americans.”

…“Our agenda is simple. We reject the big government approach of every other national gay organization,” said Barron. “We aren’t looking for special treatment or special carve outs for gay people – we support conservative legislative solutions that will help all American families – and that includes gay and lesbian families.”

“Our agenda is unlike that of any other national gay organization. We are unabashedly conservative and committed to the conservative movement. We look forward to convincing more Americans – gay and straight – of the need for real conservative policy solutions in the months and years ahead,” concluded Barron.

GOProud’s Conservative Agenda

The so-called “gay agenda” is defined by the left through a narrow prism of legislative goals.  In contrast to the approach of the left, GOProud’s agenda emphasizes conservative and libertarian principles that will improve the daily lives of all Americans, but especially gay and lesbian Americans. 

 

1 – TAX REFORM

 – We support replacing the current tax code with the Fair Tax.  Until then, we support death tax repeal; domestic partner tax equity; cuts in the capital gains and corporate tax rates to jump start our economy and create jobs; and a fairer, flatter and substantially simpler tax code. 

 

2 – HEALTHCARE REFORM

 – Free market healthcare reform.  Allow for the purchase of insurance across state lines – expanding access to domestic partner benefits; emphasizing individual ownership of healthcare insurance – such a shift would prevent discriminatory practices by an employer or the government.

 

3 – SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM

 – The only way to permanent solvency in the Social Security system is through the creation of inheritable personal savings accounts.  Personal savings accounts would give gay and lesbian couples the same opportunity to leave their accounts to their spouse as their straight counterparts. 

 

4 – RESPECTING THE PROPER ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY 

 

5 – HOLDING THE LINE ON SPENDING

 – Standing up for all tax payers against wasteful and unnecessary spending to protect future generations from the mounting federal debt.

 

6 – FIGHTING GLOBAL EXTREMISTS

 – Standing strong against radical regimes that refuse to recognize the basic human rights of gays and lesbians, women and religious minorities.

 

7 – DEFENDING OUR CONSTITUTION

 – Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment.  Marriage should be a question for the states.  A federal constitutional amendment on marriage would be an unprecedented federal power grab from the states.

 

8 – ENCOURAGING COMMUNITY ENTREPRENEURSHIP

 – Package of free market reforms to encourage and support small businesses and entrepreneurship.  Such reforms would create jobs for all Americans – including gay Americans.

 

9 – REVITALIZING OUR COMMUNITIES

 – A package of urban related reforms; expanding historic tax preservation credits; support for school choice.

 

10 – DEFENDING OUR COMMUNITY

 – Protecting 2nd amendment rights.

  

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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For Iowa’s House GOP, legislative gay-bashing is top priority

Des Moines Register took a look at what issues will be hot, warm and cold in the upcoming session of the Iowa legislature. Same-sex marriage rates a “warm” — meaning “One chamber likely to approve it, but not enough enthusiasm yet in both chambers to make passage likely.”

Here’s the analysis:

Expect fiery rhetoric as Republicans call for the Legislature to begin the multiyear process that would lead to a statewide vote on same-sex marriage. The House will pass such a resolution “sooner rather than later,” said House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, the Republican who decides when votes take place. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat, has vowed to block a Senate vote on the grounds that discrimination doesn’t belong in the Iowa Constitution. Opponents of same-sex marriage, such as Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Indianola, hope to force a vote to suspend Senate rules and ask lawmakers to override Gronstal. It’s not known whether such parliamentary maneuvering would succeed, or, if a vote is taken, whether enough Democrats from conservative districts would join Republicans for approval.

That same Linda Upmeyer also hypocritically told the Register that the GOP leaders were going to focus on jobs:

Leaders of both parties will struggle to keep lawmakers’ attention on helping unemployed Iowans.

“We told the people of Iowa that we were going to focus on jobs and the economy. We’re going to do that,” said House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner.

Politicians always speak out of both sides of their mouth. One usually doesn’t see it in the same article. But, that’s what Upmeyer did. She said the focus was on jobs — with that one big caveat: Legislative gay-bashing is really a top priority.

Senate Democrats want to stay focused on jobs:

With a slim edge in the Iowa Senate, Democrats intend to keep up the “we’re focused on jobs” mantra to avoid the social issues if they can. But certain bills could be used as bargaining chips to preserve Democrat-treasured programs such as state-funded preschool and health care for children.

How sick is that? The GOPers could use health care for kids as a bargaining chip. Wow.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Two sides of the same coin: Dan Choi, White House’s Brian Bond on DADT legislative repeal

It’s been a long historic day and the reactions have run the gamut from “you know it played out just as the President planned” (the brilliant 12 dimensional chess strategy meme), to “HRC claiming any responsibility for this is BS” to “it couldn’t be done without “X” (as in there’s a single reason for DADT’s legislative repeal).

As always, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I’m not sure why any one faction has to “claim” victory — that seems very Beltway, as opposed to the big picture that there was a win today, one with an incomplete asterisk next to it.

A promise to repeal the discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is exactly that – repealing the impact of the policy itself. That was made quite clear — from SLDN’s cautionary warning to service members not to come out yet, to HRC’s victory post saying the same thing.

Here are two examples of viewing the glass of pre-victory from today. First, Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement at the White House (a.k.a. the “LGBT liaison”) has a post up: “Ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

Today, I had one of those “once in a lifetime” moments.  As I sat in the Senate Gallery with my bosses, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Tina Tchen, I saw history being made as the US Senate voted 65 to 31 to pass the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.  I am proud of the many leaders in Congress and all those who have worked to put an end to DADT.  And I’m proud of the President for his leadership on this issue.   It has been a long time getting here and it has been a struggle – but as the President has said many times, “Change isn’t easy.” But today we took a huge step forward to set right a wrong.

Last December about this time, I was at a small event in the Roosevelt Room.  The President was just getting ready to leave for the Christmas Holiday.  He walked over to me and without missing a beat, put his hand on my shoulder, and I will never forget what he said to me – unsolicited — “We are going to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  We have a little bit of work to do still, but we are going to get it done.”  A month later, in his first State of the Union Address, the President said, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.  It’s the right thing to do.”

Now I am sure that there will be many stories written about what happened and how we got here, but for me, the key part of the story that I will never forget is that commitment from the President.   Nor will I ever forget the brave men and women who have served with distinction who also happen to be gay or lesbian.  Throughout the course of this effort, I have been privileged to meet some amazing heroes who just wanted to serve their country.  I will carry their stories with me for the rest of my life.

Dan Choi (who is out of the hospital and received his Blend “get well card” today), has a piece up at Huff Po — “Congress Repeals DADT” — and strikes a different tone.

No revolution towards justice ever went backwards. To all the supporters of equality and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s death, I am so grateful. The road has not been easy. We have learned many important lessons about social justice, movements, supporting each other, and speaking out against discrimination.

The mission is not finished; it has only just begun. The most critical mission is supporting and encouraging closeted soldiers to finally access their full integrity, dignity, and humanity. This mission is in keeping with the first lessons learned at West Point or basic training. As the legislation signals a new chapter in our journey, we can be sure that our work has only begun. I call on all soldiers to gain the courage to come out. First come out to yourselves, then tell your trusted friends and family. Tell everyone who you trust and who deserves nothing less than truth. Stop hating yourselves as your country has signaled for so long. Furthermore, your coming out is not for you. It is for all those who come after. Military service is not about rank, pension or paycheck. Climbing the ladder is shameful without true purity of service and I applaud those who give up the superficial artifacts of career in favor of complete integrity and justice.

…President Obama, you are not off the hook. The compromise bill passed today puts the moral imperative squarely on your desk. Sign an executive order instituting a full non-discrimination policy throughout the military. If you do not, if you drag your feet and politicize this with your theoretical calculations as you have these past two years, you will be guilty of abetting those who loudly proclaim homophobia from their platforms and pulpits. Provide them no shelter or safe haven. Institute justice now.

Both points of view are personal, both stem from resolve to see equality happen, but there is no black and white to the struggle for equality, it involves many political shades of gray. For those who are so motivated by being “right” or on top politically, they don’t want to see that there are many routes to success along the way, that the spectrum of ideas and tactics were responsible for today’s step, not in spite of one viewpoint or another. That’s pretty disappointing, but not unexpected. There are many battles ahead, perhaps people can get their heads together after popping the champagne corks this evening.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Last Best Chance Option Surfaces for DADT Legislative Repeal This Year

Today a new bipartisan proposal emerged under the leadership of Sens. Lieberman and Collins to pass repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a stand-alone piece of legislation.  The news comes from a bipartisan group of Senators after today’s failed vote to proceed to debate on the National Defense Authorization Act.  Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:

“There has always been strong support in the Senate for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and in recent days it’s become clear that support reaches far beyond 60 votes.  The issue has been the procedure by which the defense bill would be considered and given that no agreement was in place before today’s vote on the motion to proceed, that effort was doomed to failure.

“Thankfully a bipartisan group of Senators has committed to finding an alternative method of achieving repeal.  We encourage all Senators to expeditiously take up this bill and pass it quickly so that the military has the power to implement a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

“The fight for open service has had many twists and turns but until ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is left in the dustbin of history we will never give up the fight.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Sec Def Gates pushes for legislative DADT repeal because it will give the Pentagon ‘flexibility’

Right: a conversation about the absurdity.



Number one, it’s hard to take anything Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says regarding repeal at this point, since he’s been part of the foot-dragging maneuvers to begin with. Number two, for him to cite legislative repeal as giving the military more “flexibility” in handling implementation of repeal only raises more questions about what the Pentagon’s “needs” are related to rollout.  (The Advocate):

In making his case, Gates referenced a two-week period in October when the Pentagon went through “four different policy changes” after a federal judge issued an injunction on the law and then denied a stay request until she was overruled by a higher court.

“So I, I think we have the least flexibility – we have the least opportunity to do this intelligently and carefully and with the kind of preparation that is necessary, if the courts take this action as opposed to there being legislation,” Gates concluded.

What does he mean? What flexibility in implementation and preparation would be hampered by the courts? Does he want to leave asinine ideas like separate-but-equal quarters on the table for the homophobes in the ranks at the Pentagon’s disposal? Left alone, Gates’s remarks leave much to be desired (and that’s being charitable).
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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President at today’s presser – DADT legislative action ‘potentially during the lame duck session’

Don’t hold your breath on that one. Haven’t we been led down paths that lead to a steep drop off of a cliff for the last two years? Today the President held a news conference, mostly to address questions in the aftermath of the Dem disaster at the polls last night.

There was one question asked by CNN’s Ed Henry about DADT repeal that generated more smoke and mirrors from President Obama — and notice he didn’t address the loaded issue in the last sentence of Henry’s question.

Ed Henry: Just on a policy front, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is something that you promised to end. And when you had 60 votes and 59 votes in the Senate — it’s a tough issue — you haven’t been able to do it. Do you now have to tell your liberal base that with maybe 52 or 53 votes in the Senate, you’re just not going to be able to get it done in the next two years?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me take the second issue first. I’ve been a strong believer in the notion that if somebody is willing to serve in our military, in uniform, putting their lives on the line for our security, that they should not be prevented from doing so because of their sexual orientation. And since there’s been a lot of discussion about polls over the last 48 hours, I think it’s worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel the same way. It’s the right thing to do.

Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I’ve said that making this change needs to be done in an orderly fashion. I’ve worked with the Pentagon, worked with Secretary Gates, worked with Admiral Mullen to make sure that we are looking at this in a systemic way that maintains good order and discipline, but that we need to change this policy.

There’s going to be a review that comes out at the beginning of the month that will have surveyed attitudes and opinions within the armed forces. I will expect that Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen will have something to say about that review. I will look at it very carefully. But that will give us time to act in — potentially during the lame duck session to change this policy.

Keep in mind we’ve got a bunch of court cases that are out there as well. And something that would be very disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion is if we’ve got this issue bouncing around in the courts, as it already has over the last several weeks, where the Pentagon and the chain of command doesn’t know at any given time what rules they’re working under.

We need to provide certainty and it’s time for us to move this policy forward. And this should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue, as I said, where you’ve got a sizable portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated fairly and equally.

Yes, well potentially, I could win the lottery, but the above statement is practically meaningless. It would have been enlightening to hear President Obama address the demoralized base, particularly those LGBTs who advocated for action in the first two years, knowing that midterms would suck all the air out of “change.” But of course, those who “knew better” kept telling us that…

It’s only been ____ months since he’s been in office; he has a lot on his plate.

It was the excuse to give him a pass. And when it dragged on and the warning signs were there that nothing would be done in 2010 because of WH fear about its political miscalculations, and worse, that it relied on HRC (which was banking on a Hillary win, for good or ill) as the main representative of “the LGBT community.” And this administration’s fumbling communications style (as in none, or dodging), has made it clear it was getting bad advice.

Anyway, today’s presser just sounds like more of the same. I don’t think the ass-kicking last night has changed things one iota for the relationship between the LGBT community and this administration. It remains to be seen whether the WH feels it has any justification for coming to the LGBT community for $upport for 2012.

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Reaction from SLDN:

Statement from Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“When asked about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ today,  the President was right to focus on the lame duck session in the Senate as the best place to get repeal this year. If the President, Senator Majority Leader Reid, and Secretary Gates are aligned and determined to see the defense bill move this year the chances are good repeal can still happen, but they will need several Republican senators to join them. Clearly a bipartisan vote will be needed to take up the bill in the Senate and to ensure final passage this year.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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