What’s Brewing: Santorum compares marriage to a napkin; Bachmann likes pro-slavery books

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Rick Santorum

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Anti-gay GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Monday compared marriage to a napkin to explain his opposition to same-sex marriage. And no, we’re not kidding. It’s perhaps the most ridiculous anti-marriage analogy since Texas Sen. John Cornyn hatched his box turtle. Watch video of Santorum’s remarks below.

2. Meanwhile, ThinkProgress revealed that a book saying blacks were better off under slavery once appeared on GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s “must-read” list. Is it any wonder that Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be considered a frontrunner if and when he enters the race? Who wouldn’t be? Too bad my puppy is a Democrat.

3. A gay couple is suing a California amusement park for allegedly displaying a photo, taken of them riding a roller coaster, with “Were [sic] Fags!” written on it.

—  John Wright

WATCH: The DOMA debate 15 years before Sen. Cornyn skipped Wednesday’s hearing on repeal

Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee, skipped Wednesday’s hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act.

ThinkProgress has posted the below compilation of some of the hateful comments made on the House floor during debate of the Defense of Marriage Act before it was passed in 1996. The point is to highlight the sea change that has taken place in America since then on LGBT equality and same-sex marriage — which is underscored by the reluctance among Republicans today to use it as a wedge issue. On Wednesday, ThinkProgress notes, only two Republican senators showed up for the committee hearing on the repeal of DOMA, and only one spoke up against the Respect for Marriage Act.  One of those who spoke in support of DOMA 15 years ago, as shown in the video, was Texas Congressman Tom DeLay, then the GOP whip, who warned that “attacks on the institution of marriage will only take us further down the road of social deterioration.” Fast forward to Wednesday, when one of the GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who didn’t show up for the hearing was Texas’ John Cornyn, who once suggested in the draft of a speech that same-sex marriage would lead to man-box turtle marriage. Things have indeed changed, even in Texas.

—  John Wright

Why Planned Parenthood funding is LGBT issue

Agency under attack by right wing is about more than abortions

Phyllis Guest

PHYLLIS GUEST | Contributing columnist

Bernard Baruch said it first in the 1940s; Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger shortened it in the 1970s, and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan phrased it most succinctly in the 1980s: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Apparently, many Americans have not heard — or have not agreed with — that simple statement.

Consider, for example, current efforts in Washington, D.C., and nationwide to defund Planned Parenthood.

The efforts made news when, on April 8, Arizona Republican Jon Kyle announced on the floor of the Senate that abortions comprise “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

The organization countered that abortions are only 3 percent of the organization’s services. Kyle’s staff asserted that his remark “was not intended to be a factual statement” and then edited the Congressional Record to say that abortion is simply “what Planned Parenthood does.”

Back in Austin for Easter recess, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas picked up Kyle’s theme. On April 20, Cornyn assured The Texas Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw that “he’s been told 98 percent of the services Planned Parenthood offers to pregnant women are abortion-related.” His staff added that the senator would not join “the nickel tour at any Planned Parenthood centers.”

Take that, you sinners.

In fact, the latest figures — from 2010 — show that Planned Parenthood of North Texas provided 6,000 abortions, 43,000 pap smears and many more thousands of low-cost screenings for cancer and other deadly ailments.

In addition, PPNT provides sexual and general health services for men and women for modest, fixed charges.

So why should any of this interest those of us in the local LGBTQA community? Think children’s well-being, sex education and tax rates. All are intertwined.

Start with the well-being of children. On April 7, State Attorney General Greg Abbott and former first lady Laura Bush announced an effort to recruit more volunteers for the Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. Their plea is urgent — because Texas now has 42,000 children in its foster care system. Those 42,000 children were unwanted at birth or have been abused or abandoned since.

Many Texas politicians consider members of our community who might like to foster or adopt them unworthy. Yet few if any of our oh-so-righteous pols have stepped up to adopt or even advocate for these children.

Next, consider sex — sex education, that is.

In Texas, most notably in the public schools, sex ed is either all about abstinence or altogether absent. Thus, countless Texans lack basic information on contraceptive options. They cannot choose the best protection for themselves and their partners.

Small wonder Texas has so many teenage mothers and leads the nation in teens with two or more offspring. Rates of sexually transmitted diseases among young Texans also are startlingly high — and even higher among some minority groups.

Our state’s macho tradition may even encourage unprotected sex.

Finally, take the issue of how tax dollars are spent in Texas.

Unless conservatives come up with enlightened ways to lift “the least of these our brethren” out of poverty, which they seem disinclined to do, some tax dollars will go towards basic services for the poor.

An estimated 60 percent of Texas mothers are so impoverished that physicians and hospitals must compete for scarce Medicaid dollars to fund prenatal care and delivery. Many families rely on the state’s meager Temporary Assistance to Needy Families — about $260 a month — for basic foodstuffs. Texas public schools provide lunch and often breakfast so children will not spend the day hungry and go home ill.

Keep in mind that Planned Parenthood, now almost a century old:

• Is prohibited by law from using tax dollars to fund abortions. Of course, money is fungible, but Congress never provides more than one-third of the dollars needed to give all low-income and uninsured persons access to contraceptives and sexual health care. There is no tax money to free up for abortions. Support for Planned Parenthood Surgical Health Services, the separate entity that performs abortions in North Texas, comes entirely from patient fees and private donations.

• Provides services without discrimination to persons of all races and ethnicities, young and old, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Here in North Texas, Planned Parenthood works with other nonprofits, including those most closely associated with the LGBT community, to assure the availability of confidential, low-cost testing and expert counseling for HIV/AIDS as well as all other STDs.

• Furnishes important support to LGBTs who are parents, parents of LGBT children, and LGBT children of all ages. For example, a recent workshop in Fort Worth was entitled “LGBT Issues — You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers.” Leading the workshop was a facilitator with an master’s degree in social work and years of experience spent teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on sexual health.

So an argument in support of Planned Parenthood is not an argument for abortion. It is simply an argument against ignorance.

Phyllis Guest lives in Dallas and is an activist on LGBT and other progressive issues.

—  John Wright

John Cornyn calls DADT repeal ‘a disgrace’

John Cornyn, shown wearing his favorite hat, is a disgrace to Texas.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn thinks it’s a disgrace that gay servicemembers will no longer have to lie about who they are. Cornyn, perhaps best known to the LGBT community for equating us to “box turtles,” further cemented his legacy as an anti-gay bigot when he twice voted against repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” today — then released the below statement calling the measure’s passage “a disgrace.” If there was ever any doubt that Cornyn was blatantly pandering when he accepted an award from Log Cabin Republicans earlier this year, it was thoroughly erased today. This man is not, nor will he ever be, our friend. Here’s his statement:

“With three of the four military service chiefs expressing clear reservations over the proposed repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, today’s vote shows blatant disregard for the opinions of those who know our military best. With our troops engaged in combat overseas, now is not the time to increase the level of stress on our Armed Forces through such a dramatic policy change. It is a disgrace that this latest item from the liberal legislative wish-list is being jammed through at the expense of military readiness.”

For the record, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also twice voted against DADT repeal today. Here’s her statement:

“After speaking with military personnel and former leaders of our armed services, I remain very concerned about how repealing this policy could negatively impact unit cohesion and overall troop readiness – especially during a time of war. Therefore, I did not support a repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”

—  John Wright

John Cornyn to vote for DADT repeal?

Sen. John Cornyn

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s decision to accept an award from Log Cabin Republicans — the gay GOP group — in October was likely designed primarily to drum up votes and money in advance of the November mid-terms. And it may even have worked. But who knows, maybe we’ve also been a little too hard on our junior senator. Maybe, just maybe (but we doubt it), Cornyn is starting to warm up to the gays. And could you really blame him after Log Cabin sang “Happy Birthday” to his freakin’ wife?

Anyhow, we can’t seem to get a response from Cornyn’s spokesman, Kevin McLaughlin, about where he stands on standalone legislation to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” which is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate on Saturday. But we do know that Cornyn DID NOT VOTE last week when the Senate blocked a Defense Authorization bill that contained DADT repeal. McLaughlin won’t tell us why Cornyn didn’t vote or where he may have been (at the dentist?), and now we can’t help but wonder: Was he trying to avoid the issue? Does he have mixed feelings about DADT repeal? Is he even a potential yes vote on Saturday? Yeah, right.

Obviously Cornyn is aware of polls showing that nearly eight in 10 Americans support DADT repeal. And given recent polling numbers from Texas on other LGBT issues, we doubt support for repeal is much lower here, even though some might have you believe that.

A while back, McLaughlin issued a statement saying Cornyn felt there were more important priorities for the lame duck session than repealing DADT. Note that the statement didn’t say outright that Cornyn opposes repeal:

“There are a handful of time sensitive issues that must be addressed during lame duck,” the statement said. “A continuing resolution to fund the government, the medicare reimbursement rate also known as the ‘doc fix,’ and preventing every American from incurring a massive tax increase on the first of the year just to name a few. Sen. Cornyn believes these things should be the focus of the lame duck session.”

Two of the issues mentioned in Cornyn’s statement — Bush-era tax cuts and the “doc fix” — have now passed the Senate. Meanwhile, the omnibus spending bill containing government funding was abruptly pulled from the floor last night due to opposition over earmarks ($16 million worth of which were inserted by Cornyn). Now, the Senate is expected to vote today on a short-term resolution that would fund the government until Feb. 18.

In June, Cornyn said he didn’t believe the Senate should act on DADT repeal until the Pentagon study was complete. Then, after the study was released and showed strong support for DADT repeal, he issued the above statement. So, we’re just wondering, what will be his new excuse? At least his counterpart, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, has the guts to take a position and state it for the record.

—  John Wright

Texas senators go quiet on DADT repeal

Dallas Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, left, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Dave Guy-Gainer, a local board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, reported Monday night:

“Well I tried again to meet with Senator Hutchison or her staff. The Dallas number rang busy all day Friday. So, I tried their fax and it went thru. I proposed an establish communications’ meeting with myself and four other, major Dallas leaders. It’s Monday nite and I didn’t hear squat back. Guess she isn’t interested in representing us at all.”

Dallas Voice also contacted the offices of both Hutchison and Sen. John Cornyn on Monday to find out where they stand on the standalone measure to repeal DADT. But as of this morning, we had received no response — not even from Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin, who normally at least acknowledges our existence. After all, dealing with the media is part of McLaughlin’s taxpayer-funded job.

We also never heard back from McLaughlin about why Cornyn missed last week’s failed cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Act, to which DADT repeal was attached. (Hutchison voted against closure, joining the Republican filibuster that blocked the bill.)

This morning we contacted Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, to find out whether he’d had any contact with the two senators’ offices about DADT repeal.

Schlein said he has not but is pretty sure they will vote against it.

“I am going to say that I wouldn’t suspect that they would support it, just because that’s been their history,” Schlein said. “I really don’t know, but it won’t surprise me if they both vote against it. You’ve got to remember that part of the senators’ job is to vote their constituency. I know the polls show the majority of the nation supports repeal, but I’m sure that in Texas, the numbers are a little bit different.”

Schlein added that their votes aren’t really that important, because there’s enough Republican support to pass DADT repeal in the Senate. He again blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, for failing to pass DADT repeal sooner.

“The more interesting question is, will Reid put the bill on the floor without sabotaging it?” Schlein said. “If the process is right, if Reid doesn’t play any more games and he doesn’t attach any unrelated amendments like the DREAM Act, I think it will pass.”

If you’d like to try to contact the senators yourself, Hutchison is at 202-224-5922 and Cornyn is at 202-224-2934.

—  John Wright

SHOCKER: With Pentagon study complete, Sen. Cornyn has new excuse for opposing DADT repeal

Sen. John Cornyn

With the Pentagon study on repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” to be released today, we inquired of Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s office whether he believes it would now be prudent to move forward on this issue during the lame duck session of Congress. After all, Cornyn told us in June he didn’t believe Congress should act on DADT repeal until the study was complete.

Here’s the response we received moments ago from Cornyn spokesman Kevin McClaughlin:

“There are a handful of time sensitive issues that must be addressed during lame duck. A continuing resolution to fund the government, the medicare reimbursement rate also known as the ‘doc fix,’ and preventing every American from incurring a massive tax increase on the first of the year just to name a few. Sen. Cornyn believes these things should be the focus of the lame duck session.’

So there you have it. Repealing a discriminatory policy that hurts the military and is opposed by the vast majority of Americans is simply not a priority for our junior senator, who by every indication will be joining his party’s filibuster of the Defense spending bill to which the DADT amendment is attached. A better question at this point would probably be whether Cornyn will introduce toxic anti-gay amendments to the Defense bill if Democrats can overcome the filibuster — such as a measure to overturn same-sex marriage in D.C. If you’ll remember, this is what Cornyn tried to do with health care reform.

We still haven’t heard back on a similar inquiry to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office, but don’t get your hopes up.

—  John Wright

Fort Worth PFLAG member responds to Cornyn’s ‘insulting and degrading’ form letter about DADT

Sen. John Cornyn

So you’ve been a good gay and contacted your senators about repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.” But chances are if you live in Texas you’re not going to be satisfied with their response. You could write them back, but what happens when you just receive the same bullshit form letter response again? This is precisely the dilemma faced by Russell Brown, who contacted us this morning to say that he’s none too happy with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn:

“As a member of Ft Worth PFLAG, I have enrolled to receive e-mail alerts from a couple groups,” Brown wrote to Instant Tea. “I signed an online petition and filled out an on-line request forwarded to my congressional representatives favoring the repeal of DADT. I received e-mail form letters and I felt the one received from Sen. Cornyn’s office was insulting and degrading to our gay servicemen and women. I was angered enough that I wrote a two-page letter back to Sen. Cornyn refuting comments he made in his e-mail. I thought it was a good letter. Yesterday in the mail, I received a letter response from Sen. Cornyn’s office thanking me for contacting his office and reiterating the same insulting and degrading message — word for word — that I had received from him earlier by e-mail. Now, I’m even more incensed!”

We sympathize with you, Mr. Brown, and it’s nice to know we have allies like you. We don’t have a solution, but at the very least, we thought we’d go ahead and publish your letter to Cornyn here. Read it below, followed by the form letter.

—  John Wright

Log Cabin to hold 2011 convention in Dallas

Rudy Oeftering, from left, Rob Schlein and R. Clarke Cooper show off Schlein’s Texas State Flag this morning outside DV offices.

We were lucky enough to receive a visit this morning from R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans National, who was accompanied to Dallas Voice offices by local gay GOP’ers Rob Schlein and Rudy Oeftering.

Cooper was in town for the Grand Ol’ Party, the Dallas chapter’s annual fundraising dinner, over the weekend. (You can watch part of conservative author S.E. Cupp’s keynote speech below.) Also during the dinner, Schlein was presented with a Texas State Flag that was flown over the Capitol in Austin in his honor. Oeftering said he presented the flag to Schlein on behalf of State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Highland Park.

Anyhow, among other topics that were discussed in this morning’s visit, Cooper announced that Log Cabin plans to hold its national convention in Dallas next year. He said the convention will be at the Hilton Anatole in April and should draw at least several hundred poeple from across the country.

Log Cabin picked Dallas for the convention for several reasons, Cooper said. For one, Texas is “ripe for growth” for Log Cabin, and the state’s Republican delegation to Congress has room for improvement on LGBT issues. Also, two members of that delegation, Congressman Pete Sessions and Sen. John Cornyn, happen to occupy key leadership positions, heading up the Republican campaign committees for their respective chambers. Finally, several of Log Cabin’s top individual donors, as wells as its first corporate sponsor American Airlines, are based in Texas.

“The stars kind of aligned for us to be here in 2011,” Cooper said.

—  John Wright

Will Cornyn remember Log Cabin singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his wife next time he screws us?

Our first report from Wednesday night’s Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner comes from The Standard-Times of San Angelo. Anti-gay Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who accepted an award from the gay GOP group and spoke at a reception prior to the dinner, reportedly told them he was amazed at the controversy surrounding his appearance there:

“I guess perhaps it speaks to the times we find ourselves in where people are so unwilling to find grounds of commonality where we do agree despite some honest differences and firmly held differences of opinion,” Cornyn told about 60 guests at the Log Cabin Republicans Political Action Committee.

They listened, clapping enthusiastically at times, to the Senate’s chief fundraiser the day after the social conservative voted to block the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving in the military. The LCR is leading a legal fight to repeal the ban.

Cornyn also opposes same-sex marriage.

The event was closed to the press, but an audio recording showed that those attending the event sang “Happy Birthday” to Cornyn’s wife, Sandy, after he told them it was her birthday Tuesday.

“I’m sure you have made her day,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in the recording provided by an attendee of the PAC reception.

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright