Hutchison, against DADT before she was for it, has long history of opposing gays in military

That’s right, the GOP senator from Dallas who says she’ll vote against the standalone bill to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” actually opposed the policy when it was enacted 17 years ago.

That’s because she supported the outright ban on gays in the military — open or not — that was in place before DADT.

In fact, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sparked controversy when her opposition to DADT was featured in a letter promoting a campaign fundraiser in October 1993, according to Dallas Morning News archives. Hutchison was first elected to the Senate in 1992.

“We are well-aware of the tremendous benefits of the Clinton presidency,” the fundraising letter from the Hutchison campaign said. “We get to enjoy such benefits as socialized medicine, gays in the military (not to mention every other government post available), a weakened defense, and if you are a member of the ‘rich’ or the dead, fantastic retroactive tax increases.”

The letter was roundly critcized by LGBT groups, according to a DMN article dated Oct. 28, 1993:

“If she’s sanctioning that kind of tripe, then there are a lot of Texans that can find a lot of reasons not to support her,” said Paul von Wupperfield of Austin, state president of Log Cabin Republicans of Texas.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean going out and supporting a liberal Democrat. But there are a lot of options, including sitting on your hands,” he said.

Deb Elder, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said Ms. Hutchison’s fund-raisers should be working to recruit supporters, not alienate them.

“It’s really sad that neither the political office nor the people heading up her fund-raising campaign are astute enough or respectful enough of the American public to understand that it’s not wise to say some people are equal and some aren’t,” she said.

As the above flier indicates, a protest is planned outside Hutchison’s Dallas office next week in response to her opposition to DADT repeal.

—  John Wright

Emmer concedes; Target doesn’t

Target Retail StoreRepublican Tom Emmer finally conceded defeat to Democrat Mark Dayton in the Minnesota governor’s race. Although behind by 9,000 votes, the homophobic Emmer still thought he should have won.

The race gained national attention when Target and Best Buy made substantial donations to a PAC that supported Emmer. Although they claimed they supported Emmer for his position on lower taxes, LGBT groups jumped on the candidate’s extreme anti-gay views. He called one person who called for death to gays “a nice guy,” for example.

Target has refused to budge on its position, however. The Human Rights Campaign spoke to representatives of the company over the summer to encourage them to make equal donations to LGBT groups. Negotiations broke down and the company has not responded or supported LGBT groups in any significant way since then.

HRC’s rating of Target in the Corporate Equality Index was lowered from 100 percent to 85 percent in the latest listing.

—  David Taffet

Reid pledges lame duck vote on DADT repeal

President urges Levin to bring DADT repeal back, but Levin wants to see results of Pentagon study first

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” will return to the Senate floor following the Thanksgiving recess, but whether repeal advocates can muster the 60 votes needed to overcome an expected Republican-led filibuster of the measure is another question.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, confirmed Wednesday, Nov. 17, that he will bring DADT repeal back to the floor as part of the National Defense Authorization Act during the lame-duck session of Congress.

“During the work period following the Thanksgiving holidays, I will bring the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, including a repeal of ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’” Reid said in a statement. “Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces. We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so.”

Reid’s announcement came on the heels of a meeting about DADT repeal involving representatives from national LGBT groups, along with top officials from the White House and the majority leader’s office.

“The officials told the groups that Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the National Defense Authorization Act — the bill to which ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ repeal is attached — to the floor in the lame duck session after the Thanksgiving recess,” read a joint statement from the Human Rights Campaign, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Center For American Progress. “Further the majority leader and the president made clear their opposition to removing the DADT provision from the NDAA. Information on the exact timing and procedural conditions will be announced by the Majority Leader’s office.”

Those who met with representatives from the three groups were Jim Messina, deputy White House chief of staff; Phil Schiliro, White House director of legislative affairs; Chris Kang, special assistant to the president for legislative affairs; Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; David Krone, chief of staff to Reid; and Serena Hoy, senior counsel to Reid.

Reid also said Wednesday that he plans to introduce the Dream Act, a controversial immigration reform measure, as a separate bill this time. Some Senators who voted to block debate on the NDAA in September cited their opposition to the Dream Act, which had been attached to the bill along with DADT repeal.

Also Wednesday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama had contacted Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, to urge him to move forward with DADT repeal.

“Today, President Obama called Chairman Levin to reiterate his commitment on keeping the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in the National Defense Authorization Act, and the need for the Senate to pass this legislation during the lame duck,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said in a statement. “The president’s call follows the outreach over the past week by the White House to dozens of senators from both sides of the aisle on this issue.”

Levin said in a statement that he wants to await the results of a Pentagon study on DADT repeal, which are due Dec. 1, before moving forward. Some Senators have said they will not vote to repeal the 17-year-old ban on open service until they can review the study results.

“I will work hard to overcome the filibuster so that ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ is repealed and the NDAA  — which is critical to our national security and the well-being of our troops — is adopted,” Levin said. “I have asked Senator Reid to make his motion to bring up the matter after my committee and the public have received the defense department’s report and following the hearings that I plan to hold on the matter, which should take place during the first few days of December.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Senate to take up DADT repeal in December

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” will return to the Senate floor following the Thanksgiving recess, but whether repeal advocates can muster the 60 votes needed to overcome an expected Republican-led filibuster of the measure is another question.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, confirmed Wednesday, Nov. 17, that he will bring DADT repeal back to the floor as part of the National Defense Authorization Act during the lame-duck session of Congress.

“During the work period following the Thanksgiving holidays, I will bring the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, including a repeal of ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’” Reid said in a statement. “Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces. We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so.”

Reid’s announcement came on the heels of a meeting about DADT repeal involving representatives from national LGBT groups, along with top officials from the White House and the majority leader’s office.

“The officials told the groups that Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the National Defense Authorization Act — the bill to which ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ repeal is attached — to the floor in the lame duck session after the Thanksgiving recess,” read a joint statement from the Human Rights Campaign, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Center For American Progress. “Further the majority leader and the president made clear their opposition to removing the DADT provision from the NDAA. Information on the exact timing and procedural conditions will be announced by the Majority Leader’s office.”

Those who met with representatives from the three groups were Jim Messina, deputy White House chief of staff; Phil Schiliro, White House director of legislative affairs; Chris Kang, special assistant to the president for legislative affairs; Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; David Krone, chief of staff to Reid; and Serena Hoy, senior counsel to Reid.

Reid also said Wednesday that he plans to introduce the Dream Act, a controversial immigration reform measure, as a separate bill this time. Some Senators who voted to block debate on the NDAA in September cited their opposition to the Dream Act, which had been attached to the bill along with DADT repeal.

Also Wednesday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama had contacted Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, to urge him to move forward with DADT repeal.

“Today, President Obama called Chairman Levin to reiterate his commitment on keeping the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in the National Defense Authorization Act, and the need for the Senate to pass this legislation during the lame duck,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said in a statement. “The president’s call follows the outreach over the past week by the White House to dozens of senators from both sides of the aisle on this issue.”

Levin said in a statement that he wants to await the results of a Pentagon study on DADT repeal, which are due Dec. 1, before moving forward. Some Senators have said they will not vote to repeal the 17-year-old ban on open service until they can review the study results.

“I will work hard to overcome the filibuster so that ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ is repealed and the NDAA  — which is critical to our national security and the well-being of our troops — is adopted,” Levin said. “I have asked Senator Reid to make his motion to bring up the matter after my committee and the public have received the defense department’s report and following the hearings that I plan to hold on the matter, which should take place during the first few days of December.”

—  John Wright

Mormon church says HRC statement about its stance on homosexuality ‘can’t be taken seriously’

Earlier today the Human Rights Campaign issued a press release suggesting that the Mormon church no longer considers same-sex attraction sinful.

But the Mormon church swiftly responded by saying HRC’s statement “mischaracterizes the church’s position” and “can’t be taken seriously.”

The HRC press release came in response to recent changes to the Church Handbook of Instructions. The handbook contains guidelines used by leaders in dealing with members, and the new version softened language related to gays.

The headline of HRC’s press release said, “Mormon Church: Same-Sex Attraction is Normal,” followed by a sub-headline saying, “New Church policy removes same-sex attraction from ‘list of sins.’” The HRC press release went on to suggest that recent advocacy by HRC and other LGBT groups was partly responsible for the changes.

The Mormon church responded by saying, “The HRC press release mischaracterizes the Church’s position and can’t be taken seriously,” according to Steve Rothhaus at The Miami Herald.

The statement about HRC’s press release followed an earlier blog post in which the church slammed a Salt Lake City TV station for its report about the changes to the handbook. The church suggested that the TV station’s report was an example of the type of irresponsible journalism that’s becoming more common because of changes brought on by the Internet.

So here now is Instant Tea’s official, on-the-record response:

“The Mormon church says HRC can’t be taken seriously, and while we’re not here to defend HRC, we’d like to warn LGBT youth that the Mormon church should never, ever be taken seriously. It’s like a really bad joke. And while the church laments changes in journalism, we’re busy lamenting the church’s total disregard for the constitutional principle of separation between church and state.”

Let’s see if they respond.

—  John Wright

More bad news from Election Night: 3 Iowa judges who backed marriage equality are defeated

Tena Callahan

Among the Democrats in Dallas County who hung on to their seats on Tuesday was State District Family Court Judge Tena Callahan, who in 2009 boldly declared Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Callahan defeated Republican opponent Julie Reedy by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, and her landmark decision didn’t appear to have hurt her at all at the polls.

However, the news was not so good for three Supreme Court judges in Iowa who ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2009. The three were all defeated in retention elections on Tuesday, after being targeted by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

NOM spent $600,000 on TV ads and a 45-county bus tour targeting the Iowa justices. Despite their defeat, though, LGBT groups noted that same-sex marriage remains legal in Iowa.

“By their own admission, NOM’s Iowa strategy was about sending a warning shot to judges nationwide,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “NOM and its secret donors will continue to target judges around the country if they rule in favor of marriage equality and will foster an anti-gay, hostile environment in the process.”

Lambda Legal, which brought the lawsuit that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, had this to say about the result:

“Let’s be clear about what happened in Iowa and what didn’t happen: Three skilled jurists lost their jobs, but the Court’s ruling in the case allowing same-sex couples to marry is still the law of the land, enshrined in the Iowa Constitution. Same-sex couples continue to marry in Iowa. Antigay groups have lost on the big issue — equality — and they are attacking our courts for protecting it.

“This spiteful campaign is a wake-up call to future voters who must resist attempts to politicize the courts. It is the responsibility of us all to protect the system of checks and balances that defines our democracy, and it continues to be our responsibility at Lambda Legal to make our case for equality, not just before judges, but in the court of public opinion.

“We are angry, but we also take the long view: The Iowa Supreme Court delivered justice that will outlast this political fight by upholding the Iowa Constitution’s guarantee of equality for all Iowans. Seven jurists were posed a question by people who had been denied basic fairness guaranteed by the state constitution. The judges did their jobs with integrity – as they must.

“But the result in Iowa shines a light on a dangerous agenda to undermine the democratic system of checks and balances that has served us well for over 200 years. If an embattled judiciary were to lose its ability to protect our laws and constitution with impartiality, that would be a tragic loss for our country. We can’t let that happen.”

—  John Wright

Is DISD refusing to protect gay kids from bullying?

We’ve been told repeatedly in recent weeks that DISD’s board of trustees planned to put off a vote on a new bullying policy until officials could further discuss whether it should enumerate specific categories of students who would be protected, including those who are targeted based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

So it comes as quite a surprise that this Thursday’s board agenda includes an item calling for approval, on second reading, of the same non-inclusive bullying policy that was initially proposed by the DISD administration. If you’ll recall, the non-inclusive policy prompted objections from LGBT groups, and at least two DISD trustees responded by saying they’d propose a substitute that enumerates specific protections.

We’ve got calls in to district spokesman Jon Dahlander, as well as trustees Bernadette Nutall and Lew Blackburn, to find out what’s going on. But for the record, Rafael McDonnell at Resource Center Dallas is concerned:

“We’re disappointed,” he said. “Based on the conversations with several board members, this proposed policy doesn’t reflect the information we gave them and how they responded to us.”

McDonnell notes that the only apparent change in the proposed policy since it was first introduced is the addition of the following paragraph at the very top:

—  John Wright

Southern Baptist leader says divorce rates, not gay marriage, should be primary concern

Albert Mohler

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Last week Mohler wrote on his website, “When the Christian right was organized in the 1970s and galvanized in the 1980s, the issues of abortion and homosexuality were front and center. Where was divorce?”

He calls divorce a “tragedy that affects far more families than the more ‘hot button’ issues” such as same-sex marriage. While LGBT groups have been wondering for years how marriage equality affects anyone else at all, it is amazing for someone who is so prominent in the religious right to admit that anything else might be more important. For the first time, there is an admission that maybe they should be watching what they do before criticizing everyone else.

Mohler even admitted that evangelical Christians divorce at a higher rate than the rest of the general population. However, he didn’t go so far as to admit that the lowest divorce rate is among gays and lesbians who have married.

In fact, the lowest divorce rate is in Massachusetts. Other states with low divorce rates are Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York — the states that allow same-sex marriage or recognize marriages performed elsewhere.

The states with the highest divorce rates are all red. Nevada, famous for honoring the sanctity of marriage with its drive-thru wedding chapels, also tops the list for drive-thru divorces. The rest of the states topping the divorce list are all in the Bible Belt.

Texas tops the list of states with the highest number of residents who’ve been married three or more times.

Mohler said, “Our credibility on the issue of marriage is significantly discounted by our acceptance of divorce. To our shame, the culture war is not the only place that an honest confrontation with the divorce culture is missing.”

I doubt anything will happen as a result of Mohler’s self-reflective column, though. It’s so much easier to bully others.

—  David Taffet

Lesbians on the lam, but not a perfect love story

I was looking through LGBT-related news from around the Internet on Wednesday morning when this headline from the New Zealand news site TVNX caught my attention: “Indonesian lesbian frees underage lover.”

My imagination immediately conjured up images of the lesbian Butch and Sundance, the teenage Thelma and Louise, only with a happier ending. We all like to root for the underdogs, and I immediately started envisioning these two young lesbians on the run, so much in love they were willing to risk it all to be together. I imagined LGBT groups from around the world banding together to spirit them away from the oppressive anti-gay forces that would keep them apart, to a place of freedom.

Then I read the story.

Here are the basics: a 15-year-old Indonesian girl identified as Tn had been placed, by her father, in protective custody with the National Commission for Child Protection in East Jakarta. The father wanted to “cure” his daughter of her homosexuality. Then the girl’s lover, a 26-year-old taekwondo teacher identified as Sj, showed up and busted the teenager out of protective custody, and the two went on the lam.

The story points out that the jailbreak happened on Sept. 17, “the first day of the Islamic Eid ul Fitri celebrations.” I didn’t know what that was, so I looked it up and discovered that it was the festival celebrating the end of the 30 days of dawn-to-dusk fasting that takes place during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. I am not sure why that info was included.

The story says police are investigating.

Needless to say, the facts of the story quickly put to rest my “lesbian lovers on the run” romantic movie ideas. I mean the “cruel father who imprisons his daughter to ‘cure’ her lesbianism” would be an integral part of the plot of such a movie. But I really don’t find anything romantic about a 26-year-old dating a 15-year-old, regardless of the genders involved.

—  admin

It’s official in Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez signs gay marriage bill into law

Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez, signed into law on Wednesday a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. From the Associated Press:

“Today we are a society that is a little more egalitarian than last week,” Fernandez said at the signing ceremony.

Representatives of groups for gays and lesbians cheered, crying out “Equality, equality!”

The law, which was approved by the Senate last week following earlier endorsement by the lower house, grants same-sex couples the full legal protections and responsibilities that marriage gives to heterosexual couples, including the ability to inherit property and to jointly adopt children.

Washington-based LGBT leader Bob Witeck happened to be in Argentina for Wednesday’s ceremony. Via Rex Wockner, here’s a portion of Witeck’s report:

In her office, after her official act was complete, she was captivating, dramatic, ebullient, intense and embracing — still touched by the poignancy of the signing ceremony itself.  After she signed the legislation in the public space downstairs, we witnessed hundreds of the attendees inside the room and outside as well, begin to press forward to touch her, hug her, hand her flowers, seek photos with her — in a throbbing human crush that probably mirrors the passionate nature of Argentinian public life most of us merely know from history or films. It was a scene of such emotion that as a lifelong resident of Washington DC, I cannot imagine any such event resembling this scene taking place in the White House or in many executive mansions — and simply because of the risk of physical harm alone to the President or others in the pushing, pressing and jubilant crowd on the floor.

Witeck points us to this Spanish-language blog that has posted a three-part video of the ceremony. We’ve posted the final segment above.

—  admin