Rick Perry’s broke. Whoops

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Former Gov. Rick Perry

Former Gov. Rick Perry stopped paying his staff at his national campaign headquarters in Austin and in early primary and caucus states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, The Washington Post is reporting.

According to the Post, Perry told his staff on Friday, the day after the first Republican debate, that the money has dried up.

But does the lack of money mean Perry will be the first of the — currently 18 — Republican candidates to drop out of the race? His super-PAC has plenty of money, but since a super-PAC can’t coordinate with a campaign, it had no idea about the cash flow problem at the campaign.

The super-PAC is gearing up to expand its operation, but it’s not clear if that means hiring all those campaign workers.

Either way, Perry said he’s committed to participating in the early caucuses and primaries.

In a poll by NBC/SurveyMonkey, Rick Perry remained at 2 percent support after the debate. The poll showed no one thought he did best in the debate and 2 percent thought he did worst.

—  David Taffet

Local LGBT group organizes for Bernie

Bernie

Sen. Bernie Sanders

About 25 people gathered at Resource Center on July 29 for a Bernie Sanders for President event. The local event was organized by members of the LGBT community, but attracted a mixed crowd.

At the same time, about 100,000 people participated in 3,500 similar events that took place in every state around the country.

Sanders broadcast a short speech live from a house meeting in Washington, D.C. He called this the largest online political organizing effort in history. So far, Sanders has received 325,000 contributions, more contributions from individuals than any other candidate.

He’s been attracting large crowds at events in different cities. His Dallas appearance several weeks ago attracted 7,000 people.

In his speech, he laid out his platform that includes making college tuition-free at public universities, creating a path toward citizenship for undocumented residents, raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing paid sick and vacation time to all workers. He spoke against mass incarceration and police brutality.

The event was to add volunteers to the campaign. More information is available on his website.

—  David Taffet

Clinton campaign video: ‘All love is equal’

Screen shot 2015-06-24 at 4.22.23 PMHillary Clinton, former First Lady, former U.S. senator, former U.S. Secretary of State and current Democratic candidate for president, today (Wednesday, June 24) unveiled a 2 1/2-minute video, called “Equality,” in which Clinton calls for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Release of the video comes just hours before the next rulings — possibly including a ruling on marriage equality — are scheduled to be released by the U.S. Supreme Court. With seven decisions expected to be released before the end of this session, the court has scheduled rulings to be announced Thursday, June 25, Friday, June 26 and Monday, June 28.

The video includes audio from Clinton’s speech earlier this month in New York, playing alongside images and audio of happy same-sex couples proposing or exchanging bows. In the speech, Clinton declares:

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct. But in fact they are one and the same. Being LGBT doesn’t make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

—  Tammye Nash

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Donald Trump joining 392 other candidates running for president

Head & Shoulders formal portrait of Gov. Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, faces 89 other GOP presidential contenders.

Yesterday (Monday, June 15) it was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who announced his Republican presidential campaign yesterday. Today, it’s Donald Trump – God’s candidate, evidently. They join a crowded field of candidates.

No, really. It’s packed, according to the Federal Elections Committee. 392 other candidates have filed a Form 2 statement of candidacy for 2016. One Bush already beat him, and it’s not his son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. (He finally endorsed him  at his dad’s kick-off speech yesterday in Miami.) Willita D. Bush of St. Louis, Mo., filed her form in late January. She’s mulling a Green Party run, which will for sure set her part from her far more conservative brother from another mother, Jeb. (The Green Party, for example, has long supported LGBT equality.)

Bush will be competing for the GOP nomination not only against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry but 87 other nominees from across the country.

Among them is former stripper and social conservative activist Pogo Mochello Allen-Reese of San Antonio. His 2016 campaign motto? “God, guns, gold.” (No word if he plans to campaign against marriage equality with his fellow culture warriors former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Dr. Ben Carson of Maryland, all of whom have rosy opinions on a variety of LGBT issues.)

Allen-Reese is probably the most colorful of the bunch, however. The “Patriot Prancer” recently ran for San Antonio mayor, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Should he fail to clinch the Republican presidential nominee, however, there’s a certain there’s another governing body waiting for him. It’s called the Texas Legislature. Hell, he’d give Rep. Molly White some company.

—  James Russell

Sen. Bernie Sanders announces 2016 presidential campaign

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I–Vermont.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I–Vermont, announced his campaign f0r the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination today, promising to run on a progressive economic platform.

The self-described democratic socialist is the second major Democrat to announce his candidacy following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A two-term senator, he is currently the longest serving independent in Congress and caucuses with the Democrats.

Sanders may be the answer for progressive Democrats who have long been skeptical of Clinton, the former senator, first lady and a 2008 presidential candidate and presumed frontrunner.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Sanders said he’ll campaign on progress economic and taxation policy, campaign finance reform, against a hawkish U.S. foreign policy. He also cited his opposition to free-trade agreements and vote against the Keystone XL oil pipeline to distinguish himself as independent alternative who could appeal to Democrats, Republicans and other independents.

“So to me, the question is whose views come closer to representing the vast majority of working people in this country,” Sanders said. “And you know what? I think my views do.”

While Sanders is looking to nudge Clinton the the left on these issues, LGBT issues, like same-sex marriage, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, were not mentioned in the interview. But Sanders has long been an advocate for the LGBT community throughout his fourteen years in Congress, first as a House member and now as a senator.

—  James Russell

Clinton includes gay couples in announcement video

Hillary video

Image from “Getting Started,” Clinton’s announcement video

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially launched her presidential campaign over the weekend with a video that included a gay couple. The video, “Getting Started,” was seen more than 2 million times in the first 24 hours after she announced her candidacy on Sunday, April 12.

The first minute of the video features a diverse cross-section of people including the gay couple.

“I’m getting married this summer to someone I really care about,” the voice-over says over a video of two people holding hands. The next shot shows the male couple walking hand-in-hand in a city neighborhood.

Toward the end of the video, as Clinton is asking for people to “join me on this journey,” a lesbian couple smiles and touches foreheads.

Republican Marco Rubio announced his candidacy this morning (Monday, April 13). Neither he nor the other two Republicans that have announced candidacies — Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — are as inclusive in their videos on their campaign websites.

Here’s the video:

—  David Taffet

Sen. Ted Cruz announces 2016 presidential campaign

Ted Cruz

Sen Ted Cruz, R-Cruzlandia.

Texas’ own Sen. Ted Cruz announced via Twitter at midnight he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

He is the first major candidate to announce his presidential ambitions.

He’ll kick off his campaign today at Liberty University, the evangelical Christian university founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Va.

As the Washington Post points out, Liberty is “the perfect launch pad for Cruz.” As the intellectual home of the Moral Majority, Cruz is reaching out to a key segment of the grassroots Republican vote: social conservatives. As I previously wrote, Cruz has re-introduced the State Marriage Defense Act, which would circumvent the expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning marriage equality bans.

He also plans to introduce a constitutional amendment barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage later this year.

Hopefully he’ll remember along the way, he just doesn’t capitulate to the GOP grassroots but to his home state as well.

—  James Russell

Equality California becomes first LGBT group to endorse Hillary

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Equality California has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, even though she has yet to declare her candidacy.

“We want Hillary Clinton to run and are ready to mobilize our 800,000 members to help her win,” said Equality California’s Executive Director Rick Zbur.

Citing her experience as secretary of state and as senator from New York, the organization said Clinton would be the best candidate to advance LGBT equality. In its press release, Equality California quoted Clinton when she said, “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

With 800,000 members, Equality California says it is the second largest LGBT membership organization in the U.S. Human Rights Campaign would be the only organization with more members.

—  David Taffet

20 years after the Violence Against Women Act, how far have we come?

 

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation today recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and calling “upon men and women of all ages, communities, organizations and all levels of government to work in collaboration to end violence against women.”

The proclamation comes a day after TMZ.com released video footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-girlfriend/now-wife Janay Palmer out cold in an elevator — video footage that prompted the Ravens to terminate Rice’s and prompted the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. That sounds reasonable, except that the incident back in March and in July NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell only suspended Rice for two games. (Rice was originally charged with felony assault but the charges were dropped when Palmer refused to testify against him.)

Originally, the only video footage made public showed the moments after the elevator doors opened and Rice dragged the unconscious Palmer part of the way out of the elevator and then left her laying in a heap on the floor. The video released this week by TMZ, taken by a camera inside the elevator, shows the brutal punch to the face that knocked her out.

As President Obama said in his proclamation today, it was 20 years ago that “our nation came together to declare our commitment to end violence against women.” The VAWA “created a vital network of services for victims,” expanded the number of shelters and rape crisis centers across the country, and established a national hotline, the proclamation says. The VAWA also “imrpoved our criminal justice system and provided specialized training to law enforcement … . It spurred new state laws and protections and changed the way people think about domestic abuse … .”

But watching that video of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer and considering the NFL’s initial lackluster response, it doesn’t seem like we’ve made much progress toward that goal.

Add in some statistical information, and it’s even more discouraging.

According to UNWomen.org, the website for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, a global review of available data conducted in 2013 (World Health Organization, Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women) shows that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence . But some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women have experience sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.

The UNWomen website goes on to cite The World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health, which says that in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims.

President Obama says that he was “proud to renew our pledge to our mothers and daughters by reauthorizing VAWA and extending its protections” last year. And while the VAWA has “provided hope, safety and a new chance at life for women and children across our nation,” the president acknowledges “we still have more work to do.”

“Too many women continue to live in fear in their own homes, too many victims still know the pain of abuse, and too many families have had to mourn the loss of their loved ones. It has to end — because even one is too many.”

Absolutely. But in the LGBT community we have to take it a step forward and remember that women are not the only victims of domestic violence, and men are not the only abusers.

According to a “fact sheet” published online by the Center for American Progress, 1 out of 4 to 1 out of 3 same-sex relationships has experienced domestic violence. And domestic abuse violence victims in same-sex relationships face threats that their abuser will “out” them at work or to family, some face the threat of having their children taken away, and some are even afraid of doing damage to the LGBT rights movement by admitting that domestic violence happens in our community.

These and other reasons make LGBT domestic violence victims more reluctant to report such violence to police, and leaves them feeling isolated, alone and helpless.

President Obama is right. We’ve got a long way to go. We in the LGBT community have to make sure we are part of the effort against domestic violence, not just in the country as a whole, but in our own community — our own homes — too.

—  Tammye Nash

Ask Lambda Legal: The Executive Order and You

A few details may have gotten lost in all the hoopla surrounding the executive orders President Obama signed last month prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So here’s some info from Lambda Legal that may help clear up some questions:

By Greg Nevins, counsel for Lambda Legal

Question: I work for a local social service agency and read about President Obama’s executive order protecting LGBT workers. What does this mean for me?

Answer: President Obama’s historic executive order banning employment discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors and protecting transgender federal government employees was a needed step towards equality.

The executive order will provide explicit protection against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination for millions of hard-working, tax-paying Americans, and Lambda Legal applauds President Obama for taking this important action.

The order is very important because federal statutes concerning job discrimination don’t explicitly use the words “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” This leaves vulnerable to discrimination those workers in states that don’t provide separate legal protections.

With a stroke of his pen, the president changed the legal landscape for employees of federal contractors, especially those in states without LGBT-specific protections, but also for those workers in states that already have good non-discrimination statutes, because, to use a football analogy, discrimination now doesn’t result in just a penalty but may get a contractor tossed out of the game.

One of the major advancements of equality contained in the executive order is that it also will make explicit the protection against gender identity discrimination for federal government employees. This will clarify that executive branch policies are consistent with federal court decisions and the position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Clarity and consistency about non-discrimination requirements are crucial. It is important that employees have a policy and remedy in place that protects them when they endure discrimination. But what we all really want is for the discrimination not to occur in the first place, and the executive order’s clear language furthers that goal.

Unfortunately, the order does not protect all employees of private companies and businesses, and explicit protections for LGBT workers in the private sector vary from state to state. We have increasing recognition and obvious momentum towards nationwide workplace fairness, but there is still a ways to go.

Over the last several years, the EEOC has ruled that employees alleging anti-LGBT discrimination had legitimate Title VII sex discrimination claims; similar rulings have come from federal district courts in cases involving lesbian or gay workers, and from numerous federal district and appellate courts in cases brought by transgender workers.

Additionally, 18 states, the District of Columbia, and more than  200 jurisdictions — from small towns to large cities — have inclusive non-discrimination laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

In the meantime, we are deeply grateful to President Obama for continuing his administration’s progress toward full equality for LGBT workers, and Lambda Legal will continue to fight to expand protections for LGBT employees across the country.

If you have any questions, or feel you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk by calling 1-866-542-8336 go online to www.lambdalegal.org/help.

—  Tammye Nash