This is what I hate about the political right

Nobody is innocent. The Democrats have their talking points just like the GOP. Both use sleazy tactics and push-polling and have corrupt members of their caucuses. But I am not talking about every instance, just one from this morning.

I often receive press releases from Hamilton Strategies, a right-wing publicity organization that spews hateful e-mails attacking President Barack Obama and others in the Democratic Party on a regular basis. Today’s, though, was especially offensive. Here it is (bold mine):

President Obama’s visits to the countries of India and Indonesia have amplified the already existing controversy regarding the president’s Muslim loyalty. As America undergoes vital political changes, devastating unemployment, moral corruption, and economic decline, citizens show concern over the president’s prevailing desire to travel to express Muslim sympathy before attending to the blatant needs of his own country’s citizens.   In light of confusing policies and messages that seem to undermine our country’s Christian heritage, the intellectual exploration of apologetics is necessary to bring into focus the infallible truths of God’s Word, and for Christians in this society to know how to respond to and live out their faith in culturally shifting times.

OK, for a second let’s overlook the confounding grammar and poor sentence construction. (“[P]revailing desire to travel to express Muslim sympathy”? What does that even mean?) What this press release says is, “We still think Obama is a Muslim, and his going to Indonesia is a betrayal of good Americans, i.e., Christians.”

It’s well-established that Obama is not a Muslim, and the craven mention of “already existing controversy” over his “Muslim loyalty” merely intentionally stirs up falsehood as a means of race- or religion-baiting. Pretending that a settled fact remains an unknown factor in someone’s honesty is base, evil and a lie. (Don’t Christians believe in not telling lies?) Going further to act as if our country’s “Christian heritage” warrants attacks on anyone who is not Christian is not only anti-American, it’s untrue.

But what really bothers me is this: Where are the principled people on the right condemning these lies, this divisiveness, this cultivated animosity against other races, ethnicities and religions? Does Hamilton Strategies really speak to your beliefs, Newt? Or yours, Sarah? Do you, as leaders of your party, honestly agree that there is a “controversy” over Obama’s religion, or that visiting a country of another religion is a betrayal of our citizens? Do you, Mitt, think that only mainstream Christian thought can find a place in our nation’s governance and dealings with other countries — because your religion is hardly mainstream.

If you are not decrying such hate speech, such lies, such misinformation, which you know to be all these things, how can you claim to be leaders? How can you wonder why some Dems and moderates refuse to listen to any of your ideas because you cannot be trusted to stand up on principle? I’m no fan of Obama, but I don’t appreciate anyone who lies and uses religion as a cudgel to do it. Shame on Hamilton Strategies. Shame on Newt and Sarah and Mitt. And shame on anyone who would prefer to be on the right than in the right.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sally Kern supporter now calling her transgender opponent a ‘he’ instead of ‘a confused it’

Brittany Novotny

The Oklahoman reports that a right-wing group backing anti-gay State Rep. Sally Kern, which previously referred to Kern’s transgender opponent Brittany Novotny as “a confused it,” is now referring to Novotny as a “he.”

Charlie Meadows is chairman of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee:

Meadows in an e-mail he sent out Tuesday, talks about an invitation he extended to Novotny, the Democratic candidate in the House District 84 race, which covers western Oklahoma City and the Bethany area, to attend his group’s weekly meeting.

“Hopefully Brittany will decide to attend,” Meadows wrote. “If he wants to talk about issues, we will do that.

“If … Brittany is a conservative, is he confused? After all, if he is a conservative, why is he a member of the liberal Democratic Party?”

Meadows, who earlier called Novotny a “confused it,” said he now refers to Novotny as a male because he believes Novotny still has the DNA makeup of a male.

“That’s a more accurate description,” he said.

Novotny said: “He’s free to call me what he wants. I’m comfortable with who I am.

Novotny has declined Meadows’ invitation to appear at an OCPAC meeting alongside a representative from the extremist John Birch Society. Instead, she has proposed a town hall where both she and Kern could appear and answer questions for voters from the district. Not surprisingly, Meadows has declined Novotny’s invitation to help put together the town hall, citing his busy schedule, according to an e-mail exchange posted on Novotny’s website:

I have significant events on October 8th, 9th, 12th and the 26th which all will require a fair amount of my time in planning and attendence,” Meadows wrote. “In addition, I will be out of state for a few days in October. I simply don’t have the time to be part of this effort.”

—  John Wright

Come out, if not for yourself, for youth

Living in the closet may be good for your pocketbook. But it can be hell on your mental state, the lives of those around you and the future of the LGBT youth who are watching you for clues on how to live

Ken Mehlman
Ken Mehlman

Seems like we have been hearing a lot about people coming out lately. The most notable so far was Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican Party. His announcement was not very surprising since there had been rumors floating since he stepped down from his job with the GOP. But it did cause a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth on both sides of the political aisle.

The folks on the left were outraged that he sought forgiveness, and the folks on the right were outraged … in general.

What his media event makes clear is the value and hazards of being “out.”

For Mehlman, his closet existence gave him free reign to work with homophobic bigots with impunity. He could walk the halls of power in the GOP, aiding his party and candidates in their systematic oppression of LGBT Americans and still get to go home and have sex with men.

The down side of that is now that he has come out, he has absolutely no “street cred” in the LGBT political scene and even less with the right wing.

That brings me to the whole process of coming out.

For me, it happened at least three times. First when I was 18, and having sex with a couple of high school friends. I finally got the nerve to tell my family and pretty much got a

“That’s nice,” and a pat on the head.

My mother was going through a lot at that period in her life so she just might not have understood what I was telling her.

The second time I came out was with my girlfriend. That’s right, girlfriend.

She and I had been living together for a while and I told her that I really liked having sex with men. Hey, it was 1971! She didn’t like that kind of competition. So I moved out, but in true ’70s fashion, we remained friends.

Shortly after, I came out again to my mother — and this time it took. She was a bit upset that she would not have grandchildren, but being the good Jewish mother, she promptly started trying to hook me up with her gay friends. Not a pleasant experience!

From that point on, I was never really in the closet again. The good thing about that is I rarely had to worry about keeping stories straight (pardon the pun) and didn’t need a beard. I could participate in political activism and actually work to achieve my own freedom and equality.

Moreover, contrary to common wisdom at the time, being out never hurt my career; I managed to do that independent of my sexuality.

When I see stories like Mr. Mehlman’s, I have a certain amount of sympathy. I understand how scary life outside the closet can be, yet I also know the insidious damage that being closeted can cause.

Had I stayed in my closet any longer, I might have gotten married and had children. Coming out after starting a family really hurts everyone; I know this from the experience of friends.

Staying in the closet may seem like a good career move. But aside from money, how soul crushing is it to have to hide who you are every day with your peers? It can’t be easy, and because of that I find it hard to be completely unsympathetic to Mehlman’s plight.

But I do understand why he is not being welcomed with open arms by the LGBT community.

If anything, his story should serve as an example of how not to come out of the closet. Waiting so late in your career and life makes it more difficult. What’s worse, it sets a bad example for young people who might look up to you.

What? Bad example? I sound like my mother, and occasionally that is a good thing.

Whether we know it or not, every one of us is constantly influencing the younger people around us. When we act in a manner that is patently duplicitous and self-serving, they notice.

It sends a message that it’s OK to lie and cheat in pursuit of your career or whatever other goal you have in mind.

That means there will be a whole generation of LGBT Americans who decide the closet is OK so long as you profit from it.

Whether we like it or not, all of us in the LGBT community have kids. They might not be biological family, but when they come into the community they look for role models — and we are what they see.

You don’t have to be rich or connected or politically astute or in a position of authority; they will find you. They watch how people who are already out manage their lives, and they model their own behavior on that example.

If that makes you nervous, that’s a good thing. Being conscious of how we live our lives can often make us examine our choices and our behavior. We don’t all have to be paragons of correctness and we don’t have to be in-your-face activists. We just need to be authentic in our loves and that means being who we are. It means being out.

So if you are out already, I salute you. Coming out is scary, difficult, joyous and liberating. It is a rite of passage to wholeness.

If you are struggling with the closet door, there are plenty of folks who can help you. Your actions, your example, might just save someone from the despair of living a lie.
Set an example for someone. Let them know it’s OK to be LGBT — or whoever they are. If you don’t do it for yourself, at least do it for our kids.


Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Because gay Pride wouldn’t be gay Pride unless the MCC offended some right-wing motorists

Dallas Pride must be getting close, because the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas has again taken out billboards on area interstates saying — as The 33 News puts it in the above report — that “Jesus loves gays!”

This year’s billboards went up last week along Interstate 35, one near Walnut Hill and one near Regal Row. One billboard says, “Jesus affirmed a gay couple” and the other says, “The early church welcomed a gay man.”

Last year the MCC church took out similar billboards on Interstate 30 as part of the “Why Would We?” campaign.

“We knew that they were provocative and we went with a billboard that would be provocative in order to get dialogue,” MCC Pastor Colleen Darraugh explains. “If it’s not, people don’t talk about it.”

One woman tells The 33: “I don’t think it should be on a billboard. I think that if people have opinions they should keep them within their circles.”

But our new BFF Debbie Clark gets the last word: “In today’s world it’s accepted, and if people don’t accept it, I think something’s wrong with them.”

—  John Wright

Right-wing headline of the day

We swear we don’t make this stuff up, and in this case, we can’t help but wonder whether it was intentional. Below is a screen grab of a report about last week’s gay divorce ruling from the website of the right-wing Republic Broadcasting Network. If you don’t believe us, go here. But be careful, Republic Broadcasting “received publicity in the news after one of its broadcasters was revealed to be a leader in the Guardians of the Free Republics, a Sovereign Citizen-affiliated group that had sent threatening letters to all 50 United States governors,” according to Wikipedia.

—  John Wright

Despite apology Target controversy continues

According to the Chicago Tribune, the controversy revolving around Target’s $150,000 contribution to a PAC that supported a virulently anti-gay candidate continues.

In West Hollywood, this weekend, activists plan a day of buying and returning items to the local Target. Each return costs the company $3.

Human Rights Campaign is negotiating with the company to make an equal donation to an LGBT group. They are backed by members of the San Francisco city council. Target has proposed building two stores in that city. The commissioners are holding up approval of zoning for the stores.

In July, Target hired Matt Zabel, right-wing Senator John Thune’s long-time chief of staff to be their government affairs director. The next week, Target made their donation.

When the LGBT community objected, the company took notice. The Chicago newspaper notes that gays are among Target’s most loyal clientele.

Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s CEO, has apologized for the donation promoting the candidacy of the anti-gay candidate for governor of Minnesota, the company’s home state. He said in the future political donations would be reviewed and approved by their board. But the hiring of a partisan figure like Zabel says more about where the company stands than a make-up donation that HRC might extract from the company.

—  David Taffet