Clinton, Trump big Super Tuesday winners

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service


Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s march to the Democratic presidential nomination was strengthened by southern state primaries. Rubio’s prospects for winning the Republican nomination appeared to be slipping away quickly. Meanwhile, the battle for the Republican nomination has turned into an ugly war of insults that threatens to tear the party apart.

Clinton emerged the victor in South Carolina last Saturday and in seven out of 11 Democratic contests March 1, as she trounced U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton won Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and — the only non-southern state — Massachusetts.

Sanders won in Oklahoma and in three non-southern states — Vermont, Colorado and Minnesota.

In the five-man Republican field, real estate mogul Donald Trump also won eight out of 11 contests, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz won two, and Rubio won one.

LGBT Democrats appeared to be solidly behind Clinton in all nine of the southern states and split in the other primary/caucus states. While there was no exit poll data available regarding the LGBT vote, the positions of LGBT community and Democratic leaders showed a pattern similar to that in South Carolina: solidly for Clinton.

In South Carolina, all the visible support in the LGBT community was behind Clinton, a phenomenon similar to that of the African American vote (84 percent of which went to Clinton).

The South Carolina Equality Coalition endorsed Clinton, and about 200 people attended its fundraiser for her February 25. SCEC also organized a door-to-door canvas to get out the vote on primary day and urged LGBT people to show their support for Clinton outside CNN’s Democratic town hall February 23. Clinton gave the keynote address at the SCEC’s annual dinner last November.

Coalition Chair Malissa Burnette, one of the attorneys for plaintiffs in South Carolina’s marriage equality case, said she supported Clinton because Clinton really understands LGBT issues and has “concrete plans” to address them.

Burnette said she saw no organized LGBT support for Sanders, and this reporter found only one activist to say that, if he was “pressed to pick,” he would “probably” support Sanders.

Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, a non-profit group working for LGBT equality, said the Human Rights Campaign “came into South Carolina with a huge effort to get out the LGBT vote for Clinton.”

I haven’t seen any LGBT organizational endorsement or push for Sanders,” he said. The AFFA, as a a 501(c)(3), cannot make endorsements.

Linda Ketner, who made a strong bid for a Congressional seat in South Carolina in 2008 and is a co-founder of AFFA and the SC Equality Coalition, said she thinks Clinton and Sanders are “equal in terms of support of and for our community.” But she added that Clinton “would have a better chance of moving pro LGBT legislation through an obdurate Congress” than Sanders.

That pattern of solid LGBT support appeared to hold up in Georgia and Virginia, too. In Virginia, openly gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin and longtime openly gay elected official Jay Fisette of Arlington said they were supporting Clinton.

I have always liked Hillary. She is strong, capable and experienced and I think she would be excellent President and commander-in-chief,” said Fisette. “I do believe she’s been unfairly attacked in the past by Republicans who have attempted to preemptively damage her. Bernie has had an illustrious career and continues to make a difference, yet as an elected official, I also value pragmatism and comprise balanced with progressive values. That’s Hillary.”

In Georgia, a Feb. 11 survey of nearly 700 readers of the LGBT news organization Georgia Voice found 54 percent supported Clinton, 40.5 percent for Sanders, and 5.5. percent for others. The paper reported that state LGBT leaders supporting Clinton include State Rep. Karla Drenner, Georgia Equality Chair Glen Paul Freedoman and Georgia Stonewall Democrats Chair Colton Griffin.

In Texas, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed Clinton. So did openly LGBT state Reps. Mary Gonzalez and Celia Israel.

There was less information about communities in non-southern states, but in Minnesota, openly gay state Rep. Karen Clark endorsed Sanders early on and introduced him to a rally in Minneapolis last May. And openly gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado endorsed Clinton, but Sanders took that state.


Gay Republicans consider Rubio

LGBT Republicans appeared to be moving toward Rubio last week, but it’s unclear whether Rubio’s record — winning only one out of 15 primary or caucus contests during the past month — will sustain his bid for the nomination.

As president of the national Log Cabin Republicans group, Gregory Angelo declined to comment on what’s happening in the primaries.

“We have individual members supporting — and in many cases, volunteering for — all of the candidates still in the race.

Former Log Cabin President Rich Tafel doesn’t claim to have “the pulse” of the LGBT Republican community, but he said he’s met “a few” who support Trump.

“My guess is there is deeper support for Trump among many who do not articulate it,” said Tafel. In fact, Angelo has, in a number of interviews with mainstream media, has described Trump as “the most pro-gay” candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination.

But overall, Tafel said his “sense” of things is that “the establishment gays in D.C. have shifted to Rubio” since former Florida Governor Jeb Bush pulled out of the campaign after the February 20 South Carolina GOP primary.

Mimi Planas, president of Log Cabin in Miami, said she, too, believes “most Gay Republicans are leaning towards Marco Rubio” now, though she said “a few” are leaning towards Trump. And Paul Singer, the head of American United political action committee that supports candidates who support marriage for same-sex couples, is reportedly set to be named Rubio’s national finance chairman.

In Dallas, Metroplex Republicans chair Rob Shlein is supporting Trump. Log Cabin Dallas doesn’t endorse in primary races.

Combat among the five Republican candidates intensified significantly following the South Carolina primary. First, they traded insults during a nationally televised debate on CNN — Trump deriding Rubio for having “problems with your credit cards;” Rubio calling Trump a “con artist” and accusing him of hiring illegal workers; and Cruz hammering home the point that Trump has given thousands of dollars to “open border politicians.”

The following day, in front of a campaign audience in Dallas, Rubio claimed that, backstage at the debate the night before, Trump was having such a “meltdown” he needed a full-length mirror “maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.” Trump, at his own event, splashed a bottle of water across the stage to demonstrate how Rubio “sweats … like he had just jumped into a swimming pool with his clothes on.”

There was some talk of issues by Republicans.

Ohio Governor John Kasich set himself apart from the four other Republican presidential hopefuls during the February 25 debate in Houston. He was asked whether he would stand up for business vendors who cite their religious beliefs to justify refusing service to same-sex couples. He reiterated that he does not “favor” same-sex marriage and believes religious institutions “should be able to practice the religion that they believe in.”

But look, the court has ruled and I’ve moved on,” said Kasich. “And what I’ve said…is — Look, where does it end?” said Kasich. “If you’re in the business of selling things, if you’re not going to sell to somebody you don’t agree with — OK, ‘Today, I’m not going to sell to somebody who’s gay and tomorrow maybe I won’t sell to somebody who’s divorced.’

If you’re in the business of commerce, conduct commerce,” said Kasich. “That’s my view. And if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, say a prayer for them when they leave [the shop] and hope they change their behavior.”

Those remarks, said Tafel, won over at least some LGBT Republicans.

The primary action moves now to five other states this weekend — Maine, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Nebraska. And next Tuesday, March 8, voting takes place in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho, and Hawaii.

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  David Taffet

Trump finally disavows KKK

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service

Donald Trump

Republican front-runner Donald Trump

The issue arose in response to a call from the Anti-Defamation League on February 25, asking that Trump “distance himself from white nationalist and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, as well as other white supremacists, and publicly condemn their racism.” ADL noted that, while Duke “did not explicitly endorse” Trump, he encouraged listeners to his radio program to volunteer for the Trump campaign. And ADL said a white supremacist political action committee was using robocalls in some states to urge “Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump.”

At a press conference on Friday, Feb. 26, a reporter asked Trump about the “endorsement” of Duke, and Trump quickly “disavowed” it.

That same day, Trump was confronted with the KKK issue again.

At a large campaign rally in Oklahoma City, Trump supporters drew the candidate’s attention to a man wearing a tee-shirt that said “KKK endorses Trump.”

According to KOCO-News in Oklahoma City, the man was originally seated onstage behind Trump, and the crowd erupted when he hoisted a sign that said “Islamaphobia is not the answer.” The man then removed his jacket, revealing a tee-shirt with a yellow star taped to it and a hand-written message, “KKK endorses Trump.” The crowd appeared to be startled and unhappy about the man’s presence, then seemed to laugh, and eventually began chanting “U.S.A.”

Trump turned to see what was happening and waited, looking occasionally at the man who smiled, waved to Trump, and appeared to say something. Trump watched as someone squatting in front of the man spoke to him. Then Trump walked back to the microphone.

You see,” he said, “in the good ole days, law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this. A lot quicker. In the good ole days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast. But today, everybody’s politically correct. Our country’s going to hell with being politically correct.” According to various reports, the man was eventually escorted out of the arena by police.

The KKK issue escalated dramatically on a CNN program Sunday, when State of the Union host Jake Tapper asked Trump for his response to the ADL’s call for him to disavow the “endorsement” of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and other white supremacy groups. Trump said he didn’t want to “condemn a group that I know nothing about.”

Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump told Tapper. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.”

The KKK’s history of hostility to African Americans is well-documented. Less well known is its hostility toward gays.

According to several news and educational sources, the KKK is a fragmented collection of groups, with more than 100 KKK separate organizations across 26 states, north and south, including Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and New York.

Klan literature and propaganda is rabidly homophobic and encourages violence against gays and lesbians,” says a 2006 paper from the Law Enforcement Executive Forum, published by the University of Houston.

Individual KKK groups have their own websites, some of which express their hatred for gays. For instance, the current website of the “White Knights” in North Carolina states, “We hate drugs, homosexuality, abortion and race-mixing… .”

Earlier this month, David Duke’s website claimed Rubio attended “homosexual meet-up affairs” — or “foam parties” — in Florida.

In a March 1 posting, Duke reiterated that “the KKK did not endorse Donald Trump.” Duke said he personally offered two reasons to vote for Trump: One, because the policies of other candidates would lead to war with Russia. And two, because Trump’s commitment “to secure our border.”

Duke was a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1989-1992, but in 1988, he ran as a minor candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. The Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes him as “the most recognizable figure of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Klan leader and now international spokesman for Holocaust denial… .” His involvement in white supremacist activities began at 14 and he founded the “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” in 1974.

It wasn’t just Duke and the KKK’s widespread notoriety that spelled trouble for Trump. It was also a number of instances in which Trump was already on record as criticizing Duke. For instance, in August of last year, Trump told NBC News that he “certainly wouldn’t want” Duke’s endorsement and that he would repudiate it “if it would make you feel better.”

Trump’s opponents for the nomination immediately lashed out at Trump’s failure to immediately and unequivocally disavow any acceptance of support from Duke or the KKK. Rubio said Republicans “cannot be the party that nominates someone who refuses to condemn white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan.” Cruz’s criticism was more narrowly couched, saying, “racism is wrong.” The most strongly critical candidate, Ohio Governor John Kasich, said “Hate groups have no place in America.”

By Monday, Trump suggested that he didn’t disavow Duke or the KKK because he didn’t fully hear Tapper’s question. He said CNN had given him a “bad earpiece” for the interview and he could “hardly hear” what Tapper was asking.

But even before the KKK signals of support for Trump, the threat of a Trump nomination loomed large for the GOP. The New York Times reported Saturday that colleagues of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said McConnell vowed the party would “drop him like a hot rock” if Trump wins the Republican presidential nomination. By Tuesday, McConnell made a public statement that Trump’s position on the KKK controversy “is not the view of Republicans.”

I think it’s very important that the American people understand that the Republican Party condemns in the strongest possible language David Duke, the KKK, and everything they stand for,” said McConnell.

And Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly read a statement, too, saying, “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on prejudices.”

On Tuesday, ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos asked Trump if he was ready to make a “clear and unequivocal statement renouncing support of all white supremacists?”

Of course I am. Of course I am.” said Trump. “There’s nobody who’s done so much for equality as I have.”

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  David Taffet

Marco Rubio raising money for group that tries to turn gay people straight


Sen. Marc Rubio, R-Fla.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible presidential candidate in 2016, will deliver the keynote address at the annual fundraiser for the Florida Family Policy Council, a prominent social conservative organization that promotes discredited “conversion therapy” to help LGBT individuals become straight, Salon reported.

The Nov. 16 fundraising dinner honors Mat Staver, an ardent anti-gay activist who is suing New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie for signing a law banning gay-to-straight conversion therapy and has said that teaching gay rights in school is tantamount to “sexual assault.”

John Stemberger, the Florida Family Policy Council’s president, also is an anti-gay activist. He is chairman of Trail Life, the “moral alternative” to the Boy Scouts of America, which recently lifted its ban on gay Scouts. Trail Life won’t accept openly gay boys as members, but offers counseling services to youth who suffer from “gender confusion.”

“We’re not going to tolerate somebody who’s, you know, here and queer, loud and proud, all of that nonsense,” Stemberger told social-conservative radio host Janet Mefferd.

Staver also has a history of making incendiary claims about gays. In June, he claimed the passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers form discriminating against LGBT employees and applicants, would “result in significant damage and even death of some of the individuals.”

After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June, Staver suggested the decision would bring the nation closer to “the realm of rebellion.”

—  Steve Ramos

Charlie Crist Lashes Out Against Less Orange Extremists Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio

Charlie Crist has one more week to find out whether Floridians will let him replace the title "Gov." with "Sen." Running as an independent candidate (find him on Line 9 on your ballot, all the way at the "bottom"), he is now free to (read: forced to) take on establishment Republicans so he can nudge in between the Dems and GOP. How to do so? Assault the Tea Party "extremism" where "Roe v. Wade is overturned and being moderate is a curse." You can do this by not voting for Sarah Palin in Florida, apparently. And be sure to on this video in the space below, because Mr. Crist's campaign has disabled comments on the YouTube page, lest you get any silly ideas.

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