LGBT vote a ‘key factor’ in Obama win

The LGBT vote was a key factor in President Barack Obama’s victory on Tuesday, according to an analysis by UCLA’s Williams Institute:

In a contest of razor-thin margins, the 4.5 million votes cast by the LGBT population was a critical component of the president’s winning coalition. …

“In this close election, data suggest that the overwhelming LGBT support for President Obama constitutes a key factor in his victory,” said Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates.

It’s an outcome that Gates predicted in a Gallup Special Report last month:

A new Gallup Report finds that 71% of LGBT Americans who are registered voters support President Obama for reelection, while 22% support Governor Mitt Romney. From June to September, non-LGBT registered voters preferred Romney to Obama by one percentage point, 47% to 46%. However, when LGBT voters are added to electorate, Obama moves slightly ahead of Romney (47% to 45%).  These findings suggest that the highly Democratic vote of the LGBT population could be enough to swing a very close election toward Obama.

—  John Wright

SEE: Actor Elias Taylorson transforms himself into the Presidential candidates

Well, it’s Election Day. You’re probably trying to decide between voting for Obama or Romney (though I suspect most of you have already decided pretty easily). But to be fair, you don’t need to vote for either — you could  just vote for Elias Taylorson.

Taylorson is a local actor and theater entrepreneur who, even since he was confined to home temporarily following a childhood head injury, has entertained himself by playing dress-up in the mirror. (Well, he is an actor.) As a kid, it was cottonball wigs, flesh-toned Band-Aids to create saggy eyes and eye-pencil moustaches … plus plenty of mugging for the camera. Over the years, he says, he has continued to mug, but the process has become more formalized.

“The technique is just makeup and hair pieces — I don’t rely on Photoshop face morphing,” he explains. “I take the photo myself standing in front of my bathroom mirror.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Richard Grenell, gay former Romney campaign spokesman, visits Dallas

grenell

Richard Grenell

While serving as a spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, Richard Grenell attempted to get his partner’s name listed in the U.N.’s “blue book” directory.

Grenell, who’s openly gay, said his request went all the way to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s top attorney, who stalled for years before denying it and citing the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the policy was changed in 2010, and same-sex partners can now be listed in the U.N. directory, an official in the office of the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. confirmed this week.

But Grenell, who said he didn’t know whether the policy had been changed, just laughed when asked whether it could convince him to vote for Obama on Nov. 6.

“We have an administration that just lied to us on Libya,” Grenell said. “I fear for every gay person’s safety if we allow this administration to continue their weak national security record.”

The response is hardly surprising from Grenell, a gay Republican who is perhaps best known in the LGBT community for his brief stint earlier this year as a national security spokesman for Mitt Romney’s campaign. Grenell resigned from the position a few weeks after being appointed in a firestorm of controversy over his sexual orientation.

Grenell, who’ll keynote Metroplex Republicans’ Grand Ol’ Party on Saturday, talked about that episode and more in an interview with Dallas Voice this week.

—  John Wright

Stonewall Dems to host watch party for 1st presidential debate at Pekers

Schlein.Rob

Rob Schlein, president of Metroplex Republicans, says he believes Romney will win the debate because Obama is not prepared.

The first debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney — which some are calling a make or break moment for the GOP nominee — is Wednesday night in Denver. And the focus of the 90-minute affair will be domestic policy, meaning there’s a decent chance moderator Jim Lehrer will ask a question about marriage equality or some other LGBT issue. Either way, local gay Democrats plan to gather at Pekers on Oak Lawn Avenue for a watch party. From the Facebook page:

FREE EVENT — You know you’re going to watch the Debate between Pres. Barack Obama and that other guy… so why not enjoy it with other progressives and help us cheer President Obama FORWARD!

The watch party will be at Pecker’s 2615 Oak Lawn Dallas, TX 75219. The debate begins at 8CST. We will have some Obama merchandise for donations and a great time will be had by all!

For more questions please contact info@Stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org.

On the gay GOP side, Metroplex Republicans President Rob Schlein said he’s planning to watch the debate at home. Thomas Purdy, president of Log Cabin Republicans Dallas, couldn’t immediately be reached.

“Do I think it’s make or break? I think [Romney is] going to do just fine, and I think it’ll help him a lot,” Schlein told Instant Tea on Monday. “I don’t think Obama’s prepared. He has not done his debate prep, because he thinks he’s all that.”

Sounds like it’s on.

—  John Wright

Should Mayor Mike Rawlings be booed during Sunday’s gay Pride parade?

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings breaks me off some beads during last year’s gay Pride parade.

In an op-ed in today’s Dallas Voice, GetEQUAL’s Daniel Cates notes that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings gave $2,500 to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“Yes, this is a man who maintains that he is a proponent of equality, yet his only recent campaign contributions have been to Tom Leppert ($1,000) and Mitt Romney ($2,500),” Cates writes. “You heard that right: Mike Rawlings, ‘believer’ in equal rights, wants Mitt Romney, a man who would roll back almost every civil rights gain the LGBT community has made, to be president of the United States. Weren’t we just upset with Chick-Fil-A for making donations to bigots? Where is their Pride float?”

According to Open Secrets, a website that tracks campaign contributions, Rawlings gave $2,500 to Romney on May 16, 2011, shortly before he was elected mayor, and he gave $1,000 to Leppert on June 21, 2011, three days after he defeated David Kunkle in a runoff. According to Open Secrets, those are Rawlings’ only two campaign contributions for the 2012 election cycle.

Although I had been aware of these contributions by Rawlings for some time, I got to thinking about them recently during the Democratic National Convention.

—  John Wright

ABC lists Irving-based Gold’s Gym alongside Chick-fil-A for political views

The recent Chick-fil-A controversy has sparked responses from both sides but also a closer evaluation of other companies’ views – and political contributions.

ABC News highlighted several companies that have given to anti-gay organizations and political foundations.

Gold’s Gym International CEO and President Robert Rowling donated more than $1 million to American Crossroads, an organization started by GOP political strategists including Karl Rove and a super PAC backing Mitt Romney.

Gold’s is a subsidiary of private Texas-based TRT Holdings, which also owns Omni Hotels. Omni is one of the few major hotel chains that doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits to its employees throughout the U.S.

Omni’s Dallas convention center hotel offered DP benefits after the issue was raised by Dallas Voice and Mayor Tom Leppert convinced the company to do so, even though it hadn’t been considered as part of the operating agreement between the city and the hotel.

Direct-sells company Amway is also under pressure from the gay community after LGBT activist Fred Karger obtained the company’s president’s tax records revealing that he’d donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund. Karger called for a boycott of Amway last Thursday.

—  Dallasvoice

Karger tops Paul in Puerto Rico primary

Fred Karger

Although Mitt Romney won Saturday’s Puerto Rico primary with more than 80 percent of the vote, gay candidate Fred Karger out-polled Ron Paul.

Karger received 1.43 percent of the vote, while Paul received 1.22 percent.

In his third primary appearance, this is the first time Karger received more votes than one of the top-tier candidates.

“We spent the past six days campaigning hard in Puerto Rico and it worked,” Karger wrote in a campaign email. “Ron Paul has been in all 20 debates, raised $35 million and has 80 percent name identification, and it looks like we beat him with our message of jobs now, moderation and inclusion.”

Santorum, who said last week that if Puerto Ricans want to be Americans, they should learn English, received 8 percent of the vote. Karger ran TV commercials in Spanish. So some Puerto Rico Republicans are so extreme they would rather vote for a candidate who tells them to change their native, local language than for someone who is gay and moderate on all other issues.

Fewer than 100,000 people are registered as Republicans in Puerto Rico, but 20 delegates were at stake. With more than 50 percent of the votes, Romney gets all of the delegates.

From here, Karger next competes in the April 3 Maryland primary. He also will appear on the ballot in his home-state California primary on June 5.

Later that month he will be one of five candidates on the June 26 Utah ballot. He credits his inclusion there as a result of the work of Utah Log Cabin. Results of that primary will be interesting in the state with the largest Mormon population. After that church funded much of the support for Prop 8 in California that stopped same-sex marriage, Karger started the website Top 10 Craziest Mormon Beliefs.

—  David Taffet

Efforts to resurrect local gay Catholic group are misguided

Article on fledgling Dignity Dallas chapter raises questions about why LGBT people would want to be part of a faith that doesn’t accept them

The Feb. 17 Dallas Voice informed us, under the eyebrow “Spirituality,” that some locals are working to re-establish the LGBT Catholic organization, Dignity Dallas.

This is so weird it ranks right up there with Rick Santorum’s assertion that, if one of his daughters was raped and impregnated, he would advise her to make the best of a bad situation.

It ranks right alongside Mitt Romney’s sacred underpants, Newt Gingrich’s moon base and Ron Paul’s un-conservative earmarks.

I do not know Jim Davis, and perhaps he is a very nice man. Certainly, he seems sincere in wanting to re-establish a local branch of Dignity since he is willing to be quoted saying, “I want my name out there.”

Out where? The Catholic Church does not recognize Dignity’s existence. It certainly does not recognize Dignity’s value. The DV article reports that, according to DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke, the group is “still a place to take refuge from the mounting attacks by bishops and the pope.”

Well, isn’t that the problem? Hey, people, the church does not want you. It thinks your sexuality, gender identity and/or gender expression is a choice. It thinks you should turn straight. It thinks you should be celibate. It thinks you should at the very least keep your mouth shut. Not to mention other parts of your anatomy.

Here is some of what the church has to say about LGBT people:

According to published reports, on Oct. 31, 1986, under Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) made public a “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.”

In the letter, he calls homosexuality “a more or less strong tendency … toward an intrinsic moral evil” and “an objective disorder.”

In other words, not only is homosexual activity wrong, but homosexuality itself is wrong. Evil. Disordered. Wrong.

Googling for items related to Catholic positions on homosexuality is fascinating and terrifying. For example, it is fascinating to note the many references to the Book of Genesis and its “creation” of Adam and Eve and their “union” as the basis for heterosexuality and hetero-only marriage. (There is no mention of who wrote the book, though many Catholics and other religions believe it was dictated by God.)

But it is terrifying to read the November 2000 “Statement” issued by the Catholic Medical Association. The statement lists “considerations” — the first being all the bad childhood experiences it alleges turned some of us away from the path of righteousness, including not enough rough-and-tumble play for boys. In a sort of footnote to the list, it alleges that adult women are turned to homosexuality by having an abortion. That’s a new one on me and perhaps on you as well.

The statement then makes “recommendations,” which include this questionable gem: “The priest … is in a unique position to provide specific spiritual assistance to those experiencing same-sex attraction.” Is this a joke? I’m not going there.

In any case, the Catholic Medical Association statement was issued years after the American Psychological Association changed its retrograde position and stated: “The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity.”

I have nothing against the Roman Catholic Church — nothing against any Abrahamic faith. I simply do not believe the practitioners should be passing judgment on all of us or meddling with marriage and abortion and contraception and military service and workplace rights and intimate relationships among members of our community.

And yet they do, or they try very hard to. So why would any LGBT seek to dignify such patriarchal, paternalistic views? It’s a puzzle.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to editor@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

A disgraced Perry returns to Texas

Governor finally bows out of GOP race, but only after making mockery of himself and our state

Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry

After months of holding their breaths in dread of what Rick Perry might do or say next on the national stage, Texans are now witnessing the ignominious return of their governor to the state.

Everyone knew Perry would eventually be on his way back, but clarity suddenly and inexplicably has also come to the befuddled candidate earlier than expected. Just two days before the South Carolina primary Perry announced Thursday, Jan. 19 at a press conference he was finally giving up his fruitless bid for the presidency. “There is no viable path forward for me in the 2012 campaign,” he said to a national audience that undoubtedly chanted back to the television screen, “It’s about time!”

When Perry gets back to the $10,000-per-month rented house afforded him by state taxpayers, he will be regarded by most Texans in a vastly different light from when he left after announcing his presidential political ambitions in August. Once the pride and joy of conservatives here, Perry had fallen to third in his home state behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic group that polled 559 Texas Republican primary voters Jan. 12-15.

The same poll results suggest that for once Republicans and Democrats agree strongly on something — Perry has fractured the state’s image with a multitude of missteps and misstatements that often bordered on the surreal. Of Republican voters 39 percent said they viewed Perry’s candidacy as having cast the state in a negative light, in comparison to 13 percent that viewed it as a positive, according to the poll.

In contrast Texas Congressman Ron Paul, whose libertarian philosophy led to his being pegged as a “fringe” candidate by the media, fared much better than Perry. Only 28 percent of Republican voters said Paul’s candidacy has hurt the state’s image, while 19 percent said it was an enhancement.

As a practical matter, the poll results only confirm what had already become obvious to many people who were accustomed to hearing strong support for Perry during casual political debates. The most ardent of former Perry supporters apparently are too embarrassed to speak up for him anymore. Many people clearly are wondering how Perry’s inability to think and talk at the same time had gone undetected for so long before God told him to run for president.

Even prominent gay Dallas Republican Rob Schlein — who vowed early on he would vote for Perry if he was the Republican nominee for president regardless of the governor’s legendary anti-gay rhetoric — took to bashing Perry on Facebook because of the candidate’s poor performances. The loss of support from Schlein — who recently vowed he would vote for the ultra-conservative Rick Santorum if he becomes the nominee — illustrates just how far Perry’s political fortunes have sunk.

To make the situation even more annoying, Perry’s candidacy has cost Texas taxpayers quite a bit of money for his protection while on the campaign trail. Security costs for Perry incurred by the Texas Department of Public Safety amounted to about $400,000 per month, according to a Texas Tribune examination of the agency’s records.

David-Webb

David Webb | The Rare Reporter

The financial analysis would suggest that Perry’s decision to continue on with his presidential campaign after coming in fifth place in the Iowa caucus cost Texans another needless several hundred thousand dollars in security costs. His resolve to proceed in New Hampshire and South Carolina after strongly hinting following the Iowa thrashing that he was about to give up and head home left many Texans bewildered.

In Perry’s campaign speeches he pointed toward the South Carolina primary as the deal-breaker for him if he could not get the state’s conservative religious voters behind him.

Presumably it finally dawned on Perry that he was in store for another humiliating failure, seeing as how he was in last place in the polls with only about 6 percent supporting him, after the conservative religious establishment decided in a meeting in Texas last weekend to throw its support behind Rick Santorum.

In making the announcement he would drop out of the race and that he would endorse Newt Gingrich, Perry said, “I know when it is time to make a strategic retreat.” That was a statement that many will likely view as humorous, given the governor’s apparent long delay in coming to that realization.

In fairness to the governor, it’s no doubt a difficult task for a political candidate who has never before lost an election to return home in disgrace. It doesn’t help matters much that while Perry was on the campaign trail a gay former Texas legislator, Glen Maxey, published a book with anonymous sources claiming the governor is a closeted hypocrite who engaged in a past secret homosexual life. The governor’s campaign denounced the book as a pack of lies, but the publication of a book expanding on the rumors that have plagued him for six years must at the very least be frustrating — even if they possibly did happen to be true.

As the longest-serving governor in Texas history with 11 years under his cowboy buckle belt, Perry destroyed his reputation as a strong governor on the presidential campaign trail. He went from double-digit frontrunner status ahead of Mitt Romney — the likely nominee barring a new surge by one of the other three candidates in the up-and-down race — to last place.

Ever the optimist, Perry declared with his wife and son by his side that he wasn’t disenchanted and he wasn’t discouraged to be packing up and heading home. He declared that he felt rewarded for having followed the “calling” to run for president. “And this I know, I’m not done fighting for the cause of conservatism,” Perry said. “As a matter of fact, I have just begun to fight.”

It appeared that at the end of the announcement Perry was again drifting off into that mindset that got him into the race in the first place. It was unclear where Perry planned to wage that fight now that his campaign is over, but he assured viewers, “Things are going to be good no matter what I do.”

Maybe he was referring to the luxury in which he and wife Anita undoubtedly will be living for the rest of their lives, because it’s not likely to be a continuation of his successful political career.  Or maybe he is hoping for some sort of political appointment or an opportunity from the business leaders he has courted as governor.

One thing is for sure, the “God and Country,” Bible-thumping proclamations that kept winning Perry re-elections to the governor’s office failed him on the national stage for president, and it’s a pretty good bet that it will never again serve him quite as well in Texas politics. And it’s a good thing for the governor that he became wealthy as a career office-holder because his political eulogy is now being drafted by pundits nationwide.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has reported on LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. Email him at
davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

The anti-Romney won’t be anointed in Brenham

Mitt Romney

UPDATE: In a surprise move, the group meeting in Brehnam has voted to get behind Rick Santorum.

Last week we told you how leaders from the religious right planned to gather in Brenham, Texas, this weekend and attempt to unite behind a more socially conservative (and non-Mormon) alternative to Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential race. Well, it turns out they’ve given up on reaching a consensus until after the South Carolina and Florida primaries. The New York Times reports:

Scores of politically influential evangelicals plan to attend the meeting, but the original dream of coalescing around one candidate of the religious right — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Rick Perry — is unrealistic for now, several leaders said in interviews this week. If one of those candidates surges in South Carolina, or in the Florida primary on Jan. 31, pressure will grow on the others to step back, the leaders said.

“Any talk of winnowing out the field is premature until after South Carolina,” said Richard Land, the president of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. “The best thing that can happen for social conservatives is for one candidate to get a very clear mandate from South Carolina voters. If that happens, you might be able to get a consensus that makes a difference.”

—  John Wright