Houston’s State Rep. Garnet Coleman applauds Prop. 8 decision

State Rep. Garnet Coleman

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, took to his blog today to applaud yesterday’s decision by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring Proposition 8  unconstitutional (Prop. 8, passed in 2008, prohibited marriage equality in California):

“Yesterday’s 9th Circuit decision, just like the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, is a stepping stone on the path to marriage equality for all. As Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the opinion, ‘Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.’ The same holds true for the marriage equality ban in Texas. That is why I continue to fight for marriage equality and continue to file the repeal of the ban of same sex marriage. Denying gay couples the right to marry is unconstitutional and a blatant denial of human rights. “

Coleman has a long history of filing pro-LGBT legislation in the Texas House. Last year he introduced historic legislation that, had it passed, would have called for a state-wide vote to repeal the section of Texas’ constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage, so he’s no stranger to the battle for marriage equality.

Coleman is seeking re-election to his District 147 seat. He will face long-time local LGBT activist Ray Hill in the Democratic Primary. No republican candidate has filed for the seat.

Read Coleman’s full statement on his blog.

—  admin

Mike Signorile on heeding the lesson of the path traveled to DADT repeal

Michelangelo Signorile has a good clip up from his show, “Celebrate DADT Repeal, But Heed the Lesson,” where a listener from Oklahoma made the argument that Obama’s original plan (repeal of DADT via Congress) was what he wanted and eventually what was accomplished, despite calls from certain quarters for him not to appeal the ruling of Circuit Court Judge Virginia Phillips. Mike:

I took the opportunity to discuss why, though this is a big victory for the President, it only happened because of those activists — including grass roots activists and bloggers – putting the pressure on (I’ve posted a video from the segment below). Even Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Senator Levin, just a week before the vote, was pointing to the president’s foot-dragging, about which the Human Rights Campaign, throughout the year, was refusing to criticize the White House.

In the end, through a series of fateful events — from Harry Reid pulling the government spending bill, clearing the schedule, to Senators Lieberman and Collins creating a stand-alone bill — “don’t ask, don’t tell” passed. In addition to fate and timing, it was because DADT repeal took on a life of it’s own thanks to activists’ relentless pressure, disrupting the president’s events, protesting Congressional leaders. It’s not a coincidence that other promises made by the president, where there was much less pressure from the left early on, didn’t pan out. And that’s the lesson of the DADT repeal saga for the LGBT movement and for all progressives.

While things worked out positively (thank you Mr. President), it’s quite interesting that the revisionist history is already being created, where activists “hated” the President, criticizing the administration’s every move and that somehow bloggers were obstructionists. That sounds more like apologist mewling rather than actually reading the archives to see that the call was for the President that the promises the President made, along with his repeated statements to hold him accountable, was all that was going on.

Now admittedly, there was way more rancor here in the comments than in any posts I wrote on DADT, but usually those get conflated with my own opinions on things. Yeah, we were all very tough on the administration, but was there any time where I said he 1) needed to lose in 2012 or 2) needed a primary challenger? No. The fact is I simply wanted promises made to be kept. The Cheetos-PJ wearing crowd pointed out the strategy flops, the foot-dragging and the very real contentious, even combative nature of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs any time a DADT question was asked. Bloggers didn’t make that up.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

SU explains the path forward on Defense Authorization and DADT

Alex Nicholson explains the process and the players if the DADT language is going to pass “this year”:


—  admin

Judge Officially Denies Stay on DADT Injunction as White House Continues Down Muddled Path


It's official. Federal District Judge Virginia Phillips has rejected the government's request for a stay on the injunction she issued barring enforcement of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Obama's position on the policy at today's press briefing.

Gibbs seemed vague, at best, in explaining the administration's path on the issue, considering there isn't one. You can read most of the transcript of the relevant questioning, here.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

DADT faces unclear path in Senate, could die without action soon

This is not good. Not good at all.

There’s a reason why Servicemember United’s Alex Nicholson raised concerns about moving the Defense Authorization bill last week. There’s a reason why SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis raised concerns about moving the Defense Authorization bill today. There’s no clear path to get that Defense bill to the floor. And, the compromise DADT repeal legislation is included in that Defense bill.

Kerry Eleveld reports that the key decision about moving forward now rests with Majority Leader Harry Reid:

Fearful that delaying action on “don’t ask, don’t tell” until after the midterms could potentially kill the measure for the year, repeal advocates are pushing Senate majority leader Harry Reid to schedule a Senate floor vote on the defense funding bill in September.

“I’m a little anxious,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “The reality is the number of legislative days in this Congress are rapidly dwindling, and we need to see that the defense authorization bill up on the Senate floor in September.”

When Congress returns to Washington next week, the Senate will have until October 8 when they leave for the midterms to take the crucial vote on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains the provision to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

But one political operative and repeal advocate noted the bill will be competing for attention with new legislation Democrats are pushing that would provide tax breaks for businesses.

“The Democrats are trying to figure out what they can effectively do in those four weeks to distinguish themselves from Republicans before the midterm elections,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The tax cut issue may provide that contrast.”

The source wagered that if the Senate floor vote does not take place before the midterms, the defense funding bill would have a “50-50” shot of passing before the end of this Congress. If it is not finalized by year’s end, the repeal effort will die.

You read that right. Despite all the promise, the repeal effort could die.

That’s why SLDN is ready to turn up the heat:

But if Sarvis does not see such a commitment soon, he said, SLDN will take the fight to Reid’s home turf in order to lobby for action.

“We’ll take it to Nevada or Arizona or wherever we need to go to get the job done,” he said.

Also, HRC’s Fred Sainz isn’t quite accurate about this:

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said the Senate has no reason to shy away from addressing “don’t ask, don’t tell” politically because House members who voted for repeal have not been targeted on the issue.

“We have yet to see even one member where the fact that they voted for repeal is being used against them in their reelection battle,” Sainz said

One member has been targeted with a DADT ad. That would be Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Family Research Council put an ad on the air in Nevada aimed at Reid — on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. What a coincidence, huh? When this ad appeared on August 26th, I wrote:

My guess is that, given the timing, FRC’s ad is not so much about the Senate campaign. It’s more about trying to make Reid delay consideration of the Defense Authorization bill, which currently includes the DADT repeal legislation. As we noted earlier today, Republicans want to push this issue into the lame duck session in order to kill it. FRC is hoping this ad psyches out Harry Reid. I can’t imagine it will work.

I’m starting to wonder if that ad had more of an impact than I initially imagined.

Repealing DADT is as close to a political no-brainer as exists. There’s huge public support. There’s bipartisan support. The Cheney’s support it. Only among the professional Democrats in DC is it viewed as a political liability.

Not passing the compromise DADT language will become a political liability for those responsible. Promises were made. Promises better be kept.


—  John Wright

The Advocate interviews Ken Mehlman; what is the political path forward?

Kerry Eleveld landed an interview with the freshly self-outed former head of the RNC and Bush 2004 campaign Ken Mehlman and she gets down to brass tacks about his personal life in the closet and his professional participation in the fight to socially demonize and legally demean LGBTs. I’ll share a couple of questions; it’s a lengthy interview worth the click.

There’s a lot of gays and lesbians and other people who are still angry about the 2004 election and the fact that that those 11 amendments were on the ballot. Is there anything that you would like to say about that in particular?

Look, I have a lot of friends who ask questions and who are angry about it. I understand that folks are angry, I don’t know that you can change the past. As I’ve said, one thing I regret a lot is the fact that I wasn’t in the position I am today where I was comfortable with this part of my life, where I was able to be an advocate against that [strategy] and able to be someone who argued against it. I can’t change that – it is something I wish I could and I can only try to be helpful in the future.

But I understand the anger and I talk to friends about it – it’s something that I hear from a number of friends.

As the strategy developed, did it ever make you uncomfortable?


There were a lot of people, including people that supported the [Federal Marriage Amendment], for example, that worried about this being divisive.

I obviously found it particularly challenging to deal with and, because I wasn’t in the place I am today where I’m comfortable with this part of my life, it was really hard and it was particularly hard because there was really nobody who knew this about me and so there was no one I could even talk to about it. So it was a period that I’m very glad is over.

It’s not clear to me that he realizes the depth of destruction he caused in 2004 that we are now fighting back from.

Kerry also asks Mehlman about his general gay conservative philosophy (the “not a single issue” matter), and the direction of the GOP.

I think like a lot of people, there are a lot issues that are important to me – free enterprise and lower taxes and less regulation, a strong national defense, education reform, immigration reform – these are all things that are important to me. [Marriage equality] is also an issue that’s important to me, but I’m someone that tries to find the totality of the issues and support candidates based on the totality of the issues.

…And from the perspective of, what I care the most about, first, and second of all, someone who’s trying to build support in the party for these issues – or at least discourage opposition – I think that’s a good thing.

That was an unsurprising answer. He — and we — have to reckon with a slice of the LGBT population that may in fact weigh party over equality in their support for candidates in some cases. How do we handle that reality? As we noted yesterday, Mehlman still opened his wallet this year for anti-gay pols. The natural follow up to Kerry’s question is whether he would change his mind in the future and weigh equality issues with more importance when an virulently anti-gay pol comes knocking for dough. Only time will tell.

For another take on this, I point you to Steven Petrow, the past president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, who has a piece up at Huff Po, “In Defense of Ken Mehlman: Former GOP Chair is no Roy Cohn.” An excerpt is below the fold, as well as my thoughts.

It’s hardly ever easy for any of us to take those steps, especially because of the contributions of people like Mehlman to the anti-gay chorus of the previous decade. But Mehlman had to know that his coming out would be front page news and fuel the cable news cycle for what I’m sure will be days. To say that his coming out is harder than most is not true, but it certainly is more public and he is certainly being more vilified than any other gay person who has come out in recent times.

What disturbs me most thought is the rage being unleashed by some members of the LGBT community against him. One blogger called him “a piece of human garbage. Another says he is “so digging [the] rage over this vile POS. Keep it up!” he implores. For a community that well knows the power and danger of hate and it’s connection to violence, how can we condone this kind of “discourse”? We can’t. We don’t need to support him. We don’t need to forgive him. But we do need to have some empathy and understanding of the closet he has just left. It’s a closet every LGBT person knows all too well.

I understand the rage, but I also can find the empathy in this story. My initial reaction was more of amusement at first (his poorly kept secret), then anger at his ability to coast out of the closet on the backs of the work of people he worked to oppress now that the Prop 8 ruling has cleared the way for him. I think had my moment of cynicism of course, speculating that Mehlman had to come out, given the AFER fundraiser, so the timing made this “debut” was just as political as any other act he’s participated in.

But as I’m not prone to holding on to rage for long (ask my wife; I don’t really “rage”, I quickly go into problem solving mode), I finally settled into a more pragmatic position of “what comes next” because I’ve long discussed here about the need for both parties to court the LGBT vote. That’s the reality when you see how spineless and pickpockety the Dems have become, thinking there was no where else for us to go. This is not to say the GOP is now welcoming with open arms, but that time is not far away.

So I understand the rage that is expressed in the wake of the news, but if Mehlman is to atone, we have to ask ourselves what is the marker for him to get a passing grade when you cannot change what has transpired? What will constitute falling short of that? He’s not going to become a progressive, nor should expect that.

We are eventually going to have to agree to disagree with members of our community as individuals when it comes to policy that may or may not intersect with equality issues from different places on the political spectrum. I find it a fascinating area to contemplate as the long view.

The caveat: we’re not there yet. We need full equality now. There is much to be done, and we need to have begin that dialogue about the political gulf now — and continue it even after full equality is reached.


Here are other random thoughts after my last post.

On finding out Mehlman’s and AFER’s position on ENDA: If we are to extend the libertarian conservative line of thinking shown by counsel Ted Olsen regarding marriage, it’s not a given that Mehlman or Olsen would necessarily support ENDA. On the other hand, they could align with the constitutional notion that discrimination is wrong. But asking the question in my mind is necessary.

On holding the media accountable for its role in shielding Mehlman. As the whitewashing of Ken Mehlman’s past professional role in the oppression of LGBTs begins (do they think our memories are that short?), this is relevant. It is as important as the political nightmare Mehlman perpetrated back in the day, because it could have been stopped if the MSM didn’t have the homophobic notion that 1) being gay and hypocritically hurting the LGBT movement is not a story and 2) believing that reporting on someone’s sexual orientation is wrong ONLY if you are LGBT.

It’s assumed in the MSM that one is heterosexual — and that is never off the table when wives and children are routinely brought up in reporting. The result is that one is left with the impression that there is something unseemly about being gay. If exposed, Mehlman would likely not have been able to be the architect of a political war that resulted in 11 state amendments passing in 2004 and fomenting rank bigotry that hurt so many.

And there’s no one I know who believes that Mehlman just came to the realization that he was gay. That whopper was not even worth telling in the PR story that rolled out.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright