Cleaning out Bush’s White House Closet

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I know a lot of people who find it nearly impossible to believe that any self-respecting LGBT person could ever actively support a Republican candidate or the Republican Party — especially here in Texas where our top GOP elected official is Gov. Rick Perry and the state GOP platform, even in its new and improved form this year, calls for reparative therapy for LGBT people and has been denounced by the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans.

But at the same time, there are LGBT people — there are two LGBT Republican groups in Dallas, Log Cabin Dallas and Metroplex Republicans — who insist its possible to be a proud LGBT person and believe in traditional Republican values. And even though many gay Republicans acknowledge that today’s GOP doesn’t necessarily adhere to traditional conservative Republican values — again, the Texas Republican Party is a prime example — they still believe the best way to change the GOP is from the inside out.

Now Politico Magazine, in its July/August issue, has published a fascinating piece by Timothy J. Berger, called “Inside George W. Bush’s Closet,” in which he talks to several gay men who worked in G.W.’s administration and on his campaign, helping to get him elected to the White House twice.

Steven Levin, who was then a 22-year-old White House advance aide, recalls for Berger the day in 2006, after he had spent a week getting things ready in Sellersburg, Ind., for a presidential visit, that President Bush spoke against an “activist court” ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, adding, “We believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, and should be defended.” The crowd loved it, but for the young gay aide, “It was like a slap in the face.”

But still, Levine stayed with Bush through the end of his term.

Then there’s Scott Evertz, Bush’s openly gay AIDS czar, who told Berger how people used to make appointments with him just so they could come by his office to pray for him.

Another gay staffer in the Bush White House estimated that there were at least 70 LGBTs on the staff then, some of them closeted, others not. And most of those who worked with or for President Bush describe him personally as a kind, thoughtful man who accepted them despite his public anti-gay statements.

It’s a really good read and it might give some folks new insight into why LGBT people worked for Bush and why so many of them are determined to stay active in the GOP. Check it out.

—  Tammye Nash

BREAKING: Texas Gov. Rick Perry to confirm he’s running for president on Saturday in S.C.

Rick Perry
Precisely one week after hosting a prayer rally funded by an anti-gay hate group, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Politico has the scoop:

Rick Perry intends to use a speech in South Carolina Saturday to make clear that he’s running for president, POLITICO has learned.

According to two sources familiar with the plan, the Texas governor will remove any doubt about his White House intentions during his appearance at a RedState conference in Charleston.

It’s uncertain whether Saturday will mark a formal declaration, but Perry’s decision to disclose his intentions the same day as the Ames straw poll–and then hours later make his first trip to New Hampshire– will send shockwaves through the race and upend whatever results come out of the straw poll.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gov. Perry’s camp prepared to address gay rumors if he runs for president

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Gov. Rick Perry’s team is prepared to address longstanding rumors that he’s gay if he jumps into the Republican presidential race, according to Politico. The story doesn’t specifically say how Perry’s team plans to address the rumors, and the fact that they’re still around after seven years — and that Politico is writing about them — would seem to indicate that their efforts haven’t been overly effective to this point. Then again, how do you prove you’re not gay, especially if you are? Perry’s top political strategist, Dave Carney, told Politico that the rumors must be false because the governor has survived several well-funded political challenges in Texas. But needless to say, there’s a monumental difference between running for governor of Texas and running for president. Dallas Voice was contacted by a reporter from the Huffington Post on Monday about the Perry gay rumors, so clearly the national media is starting to pick up on them. And Perry hasn’t even declared his candidacy yet. (Yes, that sound you hear is us licking our chops.)

2. A vote by the New York State Senate on marriage equality legislation could come at any time, as negotiations continue over language related to religious exemptions. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s marriage equality bill has already passed the state Assembly but remains one vote short of the majority needed to pass the Senate.

3. Harry Potter star Emma Watson was spotted at the Round-Up Saloon in Dallas last Thursday, according to the Round-Up’s Facebook page and now TMZ. Oddly, the TMZ report doesn’t mention the fact that the Round-Up is a gay bar. Watson, who plays Hermione Granger, reportedly is the world’s highest-paid actress.

Emma Watson dances at the Round-Up last Thursday. (Via Facebook)

 

—  John Wright

Politico says White House is signaling it may be open to punting DADT until after New Years

And that would probably kill it. Fortunately, Reid filed for cloture (to end the filibuster), and the vote should be on Saturday.

Politico:

Publicly, President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for repealing the policy this year. But the White House is quietly pushing far more aggressively for the new START treaty, signaling it may be open to punting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal until after the new year if it can get enough GOP votes on the treaty for ratification, according to several senators and Democratic aides.

“I’ve heard rumors of that, but it would be unconscionable,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a leading repeal advocate in the Senate. “It really would be immoral because we have fought hard for this for a long time. It’s wrong, and we have to change it, and we’ve got the votes. And we can’t let people run the clock out on us when we’re talking about basic American rights.”

Then there’s this:

Senate Democrats say they could not sustain the attacks from the left if they didn’t do everything in their power to push a vote on repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Others say the gay community and the Democratic base would be understanding if they couldn’t get a bill done this year.

“I have a lot of people in Nebraska who are supportive of repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ but they don’t hold against you what you can’t do,” said Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat up for reelection in 2012. “I think they’ll look and see who’s been holding it up, who’s been against it, who’s been dilatory, whos’s been obstructionist on that and other things and [they will] hold them accountable.

Trust me. If DADT isn’t repealed this year, there will be attacks and they will be sustained, and they won’t just be against Republicans. This was the President’s strategy, and the Democrats went along with it – and so did HRC. They own this baby. They didn’t do squat on ENDA or DOMA, even though they promised.

They’d better make it work.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Politico: Is the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal DOA?

After some optimism that there could be 60 votes scraped up in the Senate, here’s a more dim view of the political situation going on up on the Hill regarding DADT repeal, referring to the ability of Republican amendments to the Def Auth bill that could kill the whole thing even if that filibuster is overcome.

The window for action on reversing the ban on gays in the military is quickly closing, and the path to undoing the 17-year-old law is riddled with roadblocks: a crowded lame-duck calendar, Democratic defectors, and emboldened Republican senators who have no desire to hand a legislative victory to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

…a handful of those 60 votes come with a condition: that both Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agree to allow senators to offer amendments to and have an extensive debate on the bill.

While he fully backs the repeal, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the Armed Services Committee chairman tasked with shepherding the defense bill through the Senate, sought to tamp down Lieberman’s exuberance. Levin doesn’t want to be the first Armed Services chairman in 48 years to fail to pass a defense authorization bill, so he’s concerned about “don’t ask” bringing down his big bill.

…And if they’re given the chance to offer amendments to the defense bill, Republicans could try to insert measures unpalatable to Democrats, including a ban on sending any Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the U.S or tougher limits on the countries prisoners can be transferred to. Both proposals could win majority support in an up-or-down vote to attach them to the Senate bill, but they’d be sure to draw the ire of the Obama administration.

Among the wavering Senators mentioned in the piece regarding the vote on the overall bill — who were against it before or want an open amendments process that can still tank the whole thing — Jim Webb (D-VA), Scott Brown (R-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Lugar (IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

HRC Places Full Page DADT Repeal Ad in Politico

An HRC ad calling for a Senate vote on repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law will appear in tomorrow’s Politico, a widely-read DC political publication.  With only a few short weeks left of this Congressional work period, it’s critical that the President and the Senate

Call your Senators now and tell them you want them to vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before leaving for the campaign recess.

The full text of the open letter follows:

An Open Letter to President Obama and Members of the U.S. Senate on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal

For the past 17 years our brave men and women in uniform have been defending our liberties under the yoke of a discriminatory law that values the sacrifices of some while denigrating the service of others. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is just as wrong today as it has been since its inception, but for the first time we have a real opportunity to do something about it.

We all understand the unfortunate reality of politics is that windows of opportunity don’t come around too often. Yet we find ourselves in a unique moment of possibility. In May, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House did their duty to bolster our national security by adding language to the National Defense Authorization Act to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The last legislative step to welcoming every qualified American into our Armed Forces is now for the full Senate to pass the bill.

We’re not naïve to the limited amount of time left for the Senate to address many competing demands. But that only heightens the urgency of not letting this moment pass us by.

Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” isn’t a niche issue but rather one that affects the life of every American who looks to our military to keep us safe. It’s a law that has fired more than 14,000 otherwise qualified service members from the ranks. It’s a law that’s pushed Army medics off the field of battle and kept Arabic translators from deciphering intelligence data. And it’s a law that more than 75 percent of Americans support repealing.

Leaving the discriminatory ban on lesbian and gay service members in the dustbin of history will be a legacy of which you can all be proud. In the remaining weeks we have left in this work period, we call on you to bring up the National Defense Authorization Act, debate it and pass it with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal provision intact. Moments like this don’t come along very often and the country now looks to you to push this critical legislation over the finish line.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

What's Brewing: 5/12/10

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1. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan (above) is straight, and disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer actually might know, since he presumably tried to get in Kagan’s pants at some point when they were friends at Princeton. But are statements like the following enough to put to rest all the rumors about Kagan’s sexual orientation? “I’ve known her for most of her adult life and I know she’s straight,” said Sarah Walzer, Kagan’s roommate in law school and a close friend since then. “She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men — who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago – and she just didn’t find the right person.” More at Politico.

2. The effort to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” in 2010 isn’t dead yet. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said yesterday he’ll include the repeal in this year’s Defense Authorization bill if there are enough votes to support it, regardless of opposition from Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Levin noted that if the legislative repeal goes forward this year, it wouldn’t take effect until after a Department of Defense review is finished in December. “What we ought to do is repeal it but make the effective date after the report,” Levin said. More at Talking Points.

3. The George “Rentboy” Rekers scandal keeps getting worse for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who hired Rekers in 2007 as an expert witness to testify in support of the state’s gay adoption ban. The Miami Herald reports today that Rekers’ fee for testifying was actually doubled, meaning the state paid him a whopping total of $120,693 after he exceeded his contracted hours. Needless to say this left Rekers with plenty of cash for male prostitutes, and my only regret is that Texas AG Greg Abbott never hired him. Also yesterday, Rekers stepped down from the board of the ex-gay organization NARTH. More on that at Joe.My.God.

—  John Wright

Laura Bush says she asked George not to make gay marriage 'a significant issue'

Dallas resident and former first lady Laura Bush’s memoirs, “Spoken from the Heart,” won’t be released until next Tuesday, but The New York Times and Politico are already reporting on some of the contents. According to Mike Allen at Politico, one memorable passage appears on Page 303:

“In 2004 the social question that animated the campaign was gay marriage. Before the election season had unfolded, I had talked to George about not making gay marriage a significant issue. We have, I reminded him, a number of close friends who are gay or whose children are gay. But at that moment I could never have imagined what path this issue would take and where it would lead.”

Let’s just hope those “close friends” aren’t friends at all anymore.

—  John Wright