President Obama set to deliver keynote at HRC dinner; Kerry introduces anti-discrimination bill

President Barack Obama, left, and Sen. John Kerry

Officials with the Human Rights Campaign announced this week that President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address at HRC’s 15th annual National Dinner on Saturday night, Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C.

This will be the president’s second time to speak at the HRC National Dinner; the first time was in 2009, less than a year after he was elected president.

HRC President Joe Solmonese praised the president’s “tremendous record of accomplishment for LGBT people,” and said that even as we celebrate the final repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the LGBT community must “redouble our efforts for the fights that remain ahead.”

In other news out of D.C., Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts today introduced legislation that would ban discrimination against LGBT people in the housing and credit markets. The Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act would amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or source of income.  It would also amend the Equal Opportunity Credit Act to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in credit decisions.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler is set to introduce the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

In a press release sent out by his office, Kerry said: “It’s hard to believe that in 2011, any law-abiding, tax-paying American who can pay the rent can’t live somewhere just because of who they are. Housing discrimination against LGBT Americans is wrong, but today in most states there isn’t a thing you can do about it. This legislation would end discrimination that continues to hurt people.”

—  admin

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

DOMA author Bob Barr to keynote Log Cabin Republicans convention in Dallas next month

Former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Georgia

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who authored the Defense of Marriage Act but has since come out in favor of its repeal, will be keynote speaker at Log Cabin Republicans’ National Convention in Dallas next month, according to a press release from the group.

The convention is set for April 28 through May 1 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, and Barr will speak at the National Dinner on April 30.

“Congressman Barr is living proof that Republicans are becoming more inclusive, and doing so for conservative reasons,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, in a press release. “As a freshman member of Congress in 1996, Barr wrote DOMA.  He has since come to the conclusion that ‘DOMA’s language reflects one-way federalism’ and that the law ‘has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions,’ contrary to the traditional Republican respect for states’ rights, and that DOMA should be repealed.

“Barr’s principled stand shows what a real evolution on marriage looks like today, and Log Cabin Republicans look forward to hearing from him on this timely issue in Dallas,” Cooper said. “As evidenced by the last election, in which gay and lesbian support for Republicans nearly doubled and independent voters helped sweep a GOP majority into office, inclusion can and does win. Log Cabin will continue to work to expand the base of the Republican Party, all the while gaining new allies in the fight for freedom.”

According to the press release, other special guests at the 2011 National Convention will include FOX News contributor Margaret Hoover and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

—  John Wright

National CoC honors North Texas business, leaders

NT gay chamber, Burns, American Airlines bring home awards

DAVID TAFFET  |  taffet@dallasvoice.com

VeddaCarranchoBurns
WINNING SMILES | North Texas Gay and Lesbian Chamber President Tony Vedda, from left,, American Airlines’ George Carancho, Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns and Burns’ husband J.D. Angle attended the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s awards dinner, where the North Texas chamber, American and Burns were all honored.

The North Texas Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns and Fort Worth-based American Airlines all brought home awards.

The NTGLCoC was named Chamber of the Year. Growth, member services and leadership development were cited as reasons for the award. NTGLCoC Board Chair Derrick Brown and President and CEO Tony Vedda were cited for their leadership.

The award had been announced earlier in the year but the award was presented at the group’s national dinner, with more than 800 people in attendance, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

“It was a very good night for North Texas,” said Vedda.

Burns won the NGLCC/American Airlines ExtrAA Mile Award. Past winners include NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and tennis legend Martina Navratalova.  The North Texas Chamber gives its own ExtrAA Mile Award and presented it to Burns earlier this year for his work following the Rainbow Lounge raid.

The national chamber presented the award to him “for courageously sharing his own struggles and desperation as a gay teen during a recent city council meeting in response to the recent epidemic of LGBT youth suicides and bullying.”

American Airlines was named Corporation of the Year by the national chamber. That award honors companies that are committed to expanding economic opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses.

“It’s well deserved,” said Vedda. “But it’s no surprise to us that they would be recognized. They received our first Corporate Ally award in 2006. We’re thrilled to have them as a major supporter of our organization since we started in 2005.”

The airline has also recently received similar awards from three other groups committed to diversity.

“American actively focuses on identifying minority, women-owned, LGBT and other diverse small businesses as potential suppliers,” said John MacLean, American Airlines vice president for purchasing and transportation. “These awards increase awareness of the importance we place on supplier diversity and our efforts to ensure that our supplier base reflects our customer base.”

Manager of Supplier Diversity and Business Strategies at American Airlines, Sherri Macko, was named Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year from Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council and Advocate of the Year by the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Texas for the second time.

Macko, who is also from the Dallas area, serves on the board of the NGLCC Procurement Council.

The local chamber is accepting nominations for the 2010 Business Excellence Awards. Those honors will be given at the North Texas Chamber’s sixth anniversary dinner in March. Rebecca Covell, who won the 2009 Business Person of the Year award, and Burns are the honorary co-chairs of the event.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Will Cornyn remember Log Cabin singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his wife next time he screws us?

Our first report from Wednesday night’s Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner comes from The Standard-Times of San Angelo. Anti-gay Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who accepted an award from the gay GOP group and spoke at a reception prior to the dinner, reportedly told them he was amazed at the controversy surrounding his appearance there:

“I guess perhaps it speaks to the times we find ourselves in where people are so unwilling to find grounds of commonality where we do agree despite some honest differences and firmly held differences of opinion,” Cornyn told about 60 guests at the Log Cabin Republicans Political Action Committee.

They listened, clapping enthusiastically at times, to the Senate’s chief fundraiser the day after the social conservative voted to block the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving in the military. The LCR is leading a legal fight to repeal the ban.

Cornyn also opposes same-sex marriage.

The event was closed to the press, but an audio recording showed that those attending the event sang “Happy Birthday” to Cornyn’s wife, Sandy, after he told them it was her birthday Tuesday.

“I’m sure you have made her day,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in the recording provided by an attendee of the PAC reception.

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright

Sessions is missing the Log Cabin dinner to discuss the importance of ‘traditional marriage’

Earlier today we wrote about how Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions had backed out of a scheduled appearance tonight at the Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner. In cancelling his appearance, Sessions cited another commitment — specifically a meeting of the House GOP Conference.

Irony of ironies, it turns out the GOP Conference will be meeting to discuss a brand new election year agenda to be unveiled Thursday that — surprise! — will include social issues and specifically a statement affirming the party’s support for “traditional marriage.”

From Politico:

House Republicans had a spirited debate behind closed doors about the degree to which social issues should be included in the new agenda, and social conservatives have been pressing for the GOP to be more explicit in putting social issues in writing on this 2010 agenda.

Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), winner of a 2012 presidential straw poll at the recent conservative Values Voters conference, led the campaign to ensure social issues would not be ignored. Some others believed that the plan should focus more narrowly on fiscal and security issues that unite a broader swath of the GOP.

The decision to at least affirm opposition to abortion and gay marriage appears to represent a compromise between the factions.

House Republicans will be able to review the new agenda this afternoon, after which they will discuss it at a conference meeting. Republican leaders will unveil it to the public Thursday morning.

Gee, we wonder which side of the “spirited debate” Sessions was on.

UPDATE: Via CBS News, below is a draft of the GOP’s new “Pledge To America”:

GOP Pledge to America

—  John Wright

Cornyn, Sessions to get awards from Log Cabin

Frankly we’re tired of talking about how the Log Cabin Republicans plan to roll out the red carpet this coming Wednesday for anti-gay Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and anti-gay Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. But as if merely inviting these two to their national dinner wasn’t bad enough, it turns out Log Cabin also plans to bestow awards upon them. Yes, you read that right — AWARDS. According to a press release on the Log Cabin website, the group will present both Cornyn and Sessions with the Barry Goldwater Award, “which recognizes leaders in the Republican Party who have served their nation with distinction in the model of the late Senator Barry Goldwater.”

Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin notes that Sen. Goldwater famously denounced “don’t ask don’t tell,” saying: “You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.” Goldwater was also supportive of his gay grandson. Cornyn and Sessions? Not so much.

Maybe if they rename it the Heidi Fleiss Award …

—  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. Cornyn: How could I be pandering to the gays when I’m not even up for re-election?

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, says there’s no way he could be pandering for votes and money by attending a dinner for a gay group six weeks before the mid-term elections — because he’s not even on the ballot this year.

Cornyn, who’s never before spoken to the gay press, made the statement in a direct message to Dallas Voice on Twitter on Aug. 1, two days after he was accused of pandering in a post on this blog. We didn’t notice the Twitter message in our Inbox until this week.

Cornyn has consistently voted against gay rights in the Senate, receiving a zero from the Human Rights Campaign on its Congressional Scorecard, and he’s advocated for a federal ban on gay marriage as recently as this year. Now, with the election looming, he’s agreed to speak at the National Dinner of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay GOP group.

As chair of the Senatorial Committee, Cornyn is over Republican re-election efforts this year. We suggested that he’s trying to scrounge up money and votes for Republicans from gays around the country by appearing at Log Cabin. But Cornyn seemed to have forgotten about his role as committee chair when he sent the Twitter message. He suggested that he couldn’t be pandering because he’s not up for re-election until 2014. Again, the Instant Tea post to which Cornyn was responding is here, and here’s a screen grab of his Twitter message, in which he appears to specifically address our criticism related to the timing of the dinner, which will be held Sept. 22:

We tried to send Cornyn a direct-message response, but we were unable to do so because he isn’t a follower of Dallas Voice on Twitter. So we sent him a public response requesting an interview. He has not responded.

John, if you’re reading this, we’d love to talk to you. Instant Tea is officially nonpartisan. You may get a chance to prove you’re not pandering by voting for a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which could come to the Senate floor around the same time as the Log Cabin dinner.

Until then, we’re inclined to agree with the Texas Observer, which has a post up today mentioning Cornyn’s appearance at the Log Cabin dinner. Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who’s over the House campaign committee, is also slated to appear. From the Observer:

So why would these two leading gay-rights opponents — Republicans from a state where gay people can’t even get divorced, and the governor can’t stop bashing them — attend such a function? Because their job is to raise campaign cash. While marriage might be reserved for certain people, and while gays might make a handy punching-bag when you want to throw some red meat at the hardcore right-wing folk out there, money is money. Priorities are priorities.

—  John Wright

Cornyn to seek ‘common ground’ with Log Cabin — 6 weeks before the Nov. mid-term elections

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who famously compared gays to “box turtles” in the draft of a 2004 speech, now says he wants to find common ground with LGBT Republicans.

Cornyn, who happens to be chair of the GOP’s Senate campaign committee, reportedly plans to visit a Log Cabin Republicans reception before the group’s national dinner in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22, about six weeks before the critical mid-term elections. From the Standard-Times of San Angelo:

“Some things we won’t agree on,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said. “But I think it’s always better to talk and then try find those things we can agree on rather than just assume there’s no common ground whatsoever.”

Cornyn said same-sex marriage is “absolutely” one of those things he and LCR members don’t agree on, but he’s happy to talk to them.

“I don’t want people to misunderstand and think that I don’t respect the dignity of every human being regardless of sexual orientation,” Cornyn said.

We’re sure some will try to argue this is a sign of progress, but we mustn’t forget Cornyn’s strong support for a federal marriage amendment, his vote against hate crimes last year, his stated opposition to DADT repeal, and his all-but-certain vote against ENDA if it ever reaches the Senate floor. Cornyn has received a zero on every Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard since he took office.

So, until Cornyn puts his votes where his mouth is — and he very well might get a chance when DADT repeal comes to the Senate floor the same month he’s slated to visit Log Cabin — we see this visit as nothing more than pandering for votes and money from gay Republicans across the country. When the GOP platform in your home state calls for imprisoning gays, where can the common ground possibly be?

—  John Wright