Report from today’s NYU Law’s panel: ‘Are Conservatives the Most Effective LGBT Advocates?’

Scott Blair, an AMERICAblog reader and NYU Law student, last wrote to us from Miami, where he was attending Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association Annual Meeting. Today, he attened a panel at NYU’s Law School titled, “The Log Cabin Republicans’ Victory Against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: Are Conservatives the Most Effective LGBT Advocates?” The event was held in collaboration with NYU OutLaw. They had quite a panel. Here’s Scott’s report:

Today, NYU Law had a panel on DADT, Log Cabin Republicans v. The United States, and the state of the repeal of DADT after the Republican-led filibuster. Speaking at the panel were Richard Socarides, Bill Clinton’s LGBT advisor, R. Clarke Cooper, the Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, and Aaron Tax, the Legal Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The panel was moderated by Kenji Yoshino, a professor of Constitutional Law at the NYU School of Law.

Oddly, the panel didn’t focus so much on the legal strategy and prospects at the 9th Circuit and Supreme court of Log Cabin Republicans, but rather on how we ended up with no legislative repeal in site. The panel began with a discussion from Richard about how we ended up with DADT, and putting the failure of Clinton’s plan to let gays and lesbians serve openly in historic perspective. Even into George H.W. bush’s presidency, being gay was a possible security risk; no major countries let gays and lesbians serve openly; and the Democratic Chair of the Armed Services Committee, along with Colin Powell, came out forcefully opposed to the repeal, hosting a meeting of the Armed Services Committee in a submarine’s quarters to illustrate how gays would have to share bunk beds with straights. The media remained stuck on the issue, and Clinton, seeking a victory, worked with Barney Frank and others to come up with “Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.”

There was an interesting remark from Richard about Clinton’s claim a few months back that he was told by Powell that DADT would let gay servicemen attend pride parades, live with a partner, etc. so long as they weren’t out at work. Quoting Richard, “That’s an example of all of us remembering what we want to remember. There’s a lot more to it.” As Kenji pointed out, immediately after DADT was passed, expulsions of gay and lesbians skyrocketed.

The panel then turned to Aaron discussing the law’s consequences, the extent of which may be unknown to even many proponents of repeal. Among SLDN’s clients have been a soldier who told his father he was gay, who then reported it to the military to get him discharged; people who told friends or family members they were gay before joining the military, and have it reach an enemy in the chain of command. Among the absurdities: a man who was threatened with discharge because he had a photograph with his arm around another man in his locker. The military stopped pursuing his discharge when he informed them it was a family photo with his cousin.

Clarke Cooper then talked about his experience on the case, which actually began
back in 2004, and then it moved onto his view of the Log Cabin Republicans. Given the fact that every single Republican filibustered the Defense Authorization bill which said that DADT would be repealed if the Joint Chiefs and the President sign on, there was a bit of flack from the audience about why they were pushing for more Republicans in Congress given their uniform opposition to gay rights. Cooper claimed that there were Republicans onboard for pushing for repeal, but Harry Reid’s procedural shenanigans made them all fall in line with the party and if it’s voted on after the elections it would get Republican support.

(I will say he isn’t the only person to make this claim. Servicemembers United made a similar claim in the period immediately before and after the failed vote.)

More interesting was the claim that when the Log Cabins lobbied for DADT’s repeal, they were often told by Republican Congressmen that they were the first people to visit and actually lobby for the repeal. I suspect this isn’t true, given what I know of SLDN, but it was worth mentioning. He was honest that the Republicans are less gay-friendly than the Democrats (to put it mildly), but I am sympathetic by the idea that if no one is pushing for gay rights in the GOP, then they will never change. I’d be more sympathetic if even “pro-gay” Republicans like Snowe and Brown didn’t vote against gay rights, but take it for what it’s worth. And more compelling is that the RNC has asked the Log Cabins to run campaign ads for GOP candidates in New York state, and that, compared to in the early 1990s, people are actively seeking their endorsements. And Cooper certainly had a point when he said whether you like it or not, the Democrats will not pass any legislation without some GOP support.

Ultimately, though, everyone at the panel was convinced that the Log Cabin Republicans’ victory has helped to keep the prospect of repeal alive. The sky hasn’t fallen since the repeal was issued, and despite the Pentagon’s claims, repeal won’t entail a host of new regulations and a new problem for the school. As Aaron Tax said, “all the repeal will do is not fire people for being gay.”


—  admin

SU and SLDN on today’s DADT ruling

The Servicemember groups weigh in.

Alex Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United, who played a key role in the Log Cabin case:

“This order from Judge Phillips is another historic and courageous step in the right direction, a step that Congress has been noticeably slow in taking,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans. “While this is certainly news to be celebrated, we would also advise caution in advance of a potential stay from the Ninth Circuit. If the appellate court wishes to put itself on the right side of history, however, it will allow this sound and long-over due decision to remain in effect.”

SLDN’s Legal Director Aaron Tax

“We applaud Judge Phillips for putting an immediate stop to all investigations and discharges under this unconstitutional law. As explained by the judge, this order applies across the military. This order bars the Department of Defense from enforcing or applying the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law against any person under its command. We have clients under investigation and facing discharge right now. We’ll be monitoring each case over the coming days. This order will likely be appealed by the Justice Department and brought to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit where her decision may well be reversed. The law still has a chance of being repealed in the lame duck session of Congress. Service members must proceed safely and should not come out at this time. Anyone in the armed forces with questions or concerns should call our hotline.”


—  John Wright

At Today’s Teabagger Rally In DC

More photos at Talking Points Memo.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Someday, putting gays’ basic rights to ballot will be an editorial dealbreaker. Today’s not the day

It’s just a week and change away From D.C.’s 9/14 primaries, so more Washington Post endorsements have rolled in. Including this one:

In Ward 5, first-term council member Harry Thomas Jr. is facing challenges from Kenyan McDuffie, Delano Hunter and Tracey D. Turner. With the notable exception of the courage he showed in voting for marriage equality, Mr. Thomas has been a major disappointment. He pretty much defined his role as trying to stop anything — no matter how sensible — sought by the mayor. He led the effort to prevent school facilities chief Allen Y. Lew from overseeing park projects and has been the union’s main champion in trying to thwart needed reforms in the schools and government workforce. Particularly distasteful was how he allowed racial demagoguery to derail the nomination of Ximena Hartsock as parks director.

Both Mr. Hunter, a community organizer with Brookland Manor, and Mr. McDuffie, a lawyer who worked in the Justice Department civil rights division, are better alternatives. We give the edge to Mr. Hunter, an engaging newcomer who is running a grass-roots campaign. He has an intimate knowledge of the needs of the ward and has smart ideas on how to tackle issues such as truancy and joblessness. Mr. Hunter is not a supporter of marriage equality, but he is not the homophobe his critics make him out to be, but rather someone who thinks there is a way to provide equality for gays while respecting the beliefs of religious groups. He said he would not seek to change the law.

D.C. Council endorsements [WaPo]

You remember Delano Hunter, right? Ya know, he’s the guy who the National Organization for Marriage is proudly featuring in these crude mailers:

Delano Hunter


Oh, and Hunter was also at NOM’s recent Summer Marriage Tour stop in D.C., as a show of support for an event where “let the people vote” was the rally cry of the day. Because “our values” in NOM speak means a D.C. where every citizen gets a chance to utilize that whole “speak now or forever hold your peace” line against any gay person’s marital union (although we don’t see peace-holding in the cards, even if they should lose a vote).

So no, sorry WaPo. Failing to support marriage equality and acting as “the people” are owed a right to vote on civil rights may not be deal breakers for your editorial board’s prevailing voices. And earning NOM’s backing might strike you as just another political point. However, these are matters that go well beyond matrimony, stretching firmly into the realms of constitutional fairness, respect for minority populations, principles in the face of politics, and just plain human respect! Whether or not Mr. Hunter fits into a contrived “homophobe” box is not the issue here. But as for whether or not he understands that we all share this country and its set of civil laws, and that those same laws should not be rolled back by (typically faith-based) majority whims? That’s kind of a big deal.

**More from a trio of D.C. locals:

Chris Geidner: Post Endorses NOM’s Nom in Ward 5 Council Race [Poliglot]

First, the Post ed board has steadily supported marriage equality in the past. That’s why it makes no sense to laud Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. for courage in voting for the marriage bill, then go on to laud Hunter for being “someone who thinks there is a way to provide equality for gays while respecting the beliefs of religious groups.

Adam Bink: Muddying the waters on equality [Open Left]

Now, it may not matter to the Washington Post who Hunter chooses to pal around with, but it does to the LGBT community. NOM has chosen Hunter to be its shining example of how to defeat pro-marriage incumbents.

Joe Sudbay: Wash. Post endorsed NOM-backed candidate for City Council [AmericaBlog]

Good As You

—  John Wright

Today’s Joe Farah Cry for Help: Homocon represents GOP ‘appeasement of the open celebration of sin’


Am I the only one willing to stand up for marriage as an institution of one man and one woman?

Am I the only one willing to stand up for a U.S. military unencumbered by perverse social experiments?

Am I the only one willing to stand up for liberty as a gift of God?

— WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah, continuing his public psychological meltdown in today’s column, “The homo con continues

Ah, I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning. It appears that poor Joseph Farah believes he stands alone in fighting the Homosexual Agenda these days. The level of desperation and flop sweat makes for excellent blogging opportunities here at the Blend, but I can’t help feeling that we’re really watching someone mentally unravel over the political changes afoot.

In yet another column (it’s up to a near daily e-blast or WND editorial at this point), Joseph Farah attacks GOProud, blaming the gay conservative organization for: 1) convincing Ann Coulter to come to HOMOCON; 2) having the gathering hosted at PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s house (he’s a libertarian, btw); 3) apparently “pro-gay brainwashing” a bunch of prominent conservatives to attend.

Sponsors for the Homocon event now include:

  • Conservative Political Action Conference director Lisa DePasquale;
  • Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, who sits on GOProud’s board;
  • John Hawkins of Right Wing News;
  • Fox News contributor Margaret Hoover;
  • Craig Engle, former general counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Suffice it to say, I told you so.

I told you this event was aptly named. It literally represents the homo conning of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

Now, Joe, all of the above people are attending and sponsoring of their own free will, so I presume that they want to be there, not jawboning with you about The Homosexual Agenda taking over the Republican party. I would, however, assume that they are thumbing their noses at your Bedroom Peeping Agenda.

Farah is really pissed at Coulter – she’s apparently earned as special place in Joe’s Hell; look at the path of social destruction he now applies to her (keyboard alert);

When I said Ann Coulter was giving validation to this group, this is what I meant. She has opened the floodgates for participation and support for a group that favors:

  • liberty-destroying hate-crimes legislation;
  • same-sex marriage;
  • open homosexuality in the U.S. military;
  • special government perks for homosexuals.

I’m trying to figure out what these special government perks are. Do you all have any ideas about that? Free toasters? Babies to eat? WTF?

The vast Farah ego that is now being crushed by rejection from these conservatives has him claiming “last man standing” status to save society – with his “Taking America Back National Conference.” Do I hear a plea for attendee$? Pull out the tiny violin…

We are witnessing the destruction of Washington’s conservative establishment before our eyes.

And what a time for capitulation – on the very brink of the biggest electoral mid-term congressional victory in modern American history!

Again, I repeat: I’m not seeing anyone of prominence in the Republican Party or the conservative movement standing up to this wholesale retreat on some fundamental conservative issues.

This kind of appeasement of the open celebration of sin represents the camel’s nose under the “big tent” that some conservatives and Republicans are so hell-bent on building.

There is a way that every non-celebrity conservative and Republican who recognizes this capitulation by the conservative establishment in Washington for what it is can stand up and be counted.

Join me in Miami for what has been planned as an alternative to this kind of surrender – the “Taking America Back National Conference” Sept. 16-18.

Stand up proudly for marriage, freedom and national security with me.

Here are the high-caliber people who will stand up proudly with Joe. I’m not seeing the future of the GOP in this crowd.


* WND’s Farah obsesses over GOProud’s ‘infiltration and subversion of the conservative movement’

* Mike Signorile interviews WND’s Farah – on Coulter’s ‘betrayal’: ‘My Eyes Have Been Opened’

* Coulter on fundie Take Back America confab: ‘They’re a bunch of fake Christians’

* WorldNetDaily’s Farah in complete meltdown as high-profile conservatives ’embrace the homos’
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

AFER statement on today’s ruling: ‘we are confident that we will continue to prevail’

There were lots of post-decision reactions today. But, I think this one is important. It’s the full press release from the Americans Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that brought the Prop. 8 lawsuit:

The Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, who last week rendered a sweeping decision striking down California’s Proposition 8 as an unconstitutional violation of the rights of gay and lesbian citizens to due process and equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment, today denied the proponents’ motion to stay that decision pending a full resolution of the merits on appeal, instead granting only a short stay until August 18, 2010 “solely in order to permit the court of appeals to consider the issue in an orderly manner.” This means that unless the Court’s decision is stayed by a higher court, Californians who were denied equality by Proposition 8 will soon, and once again, enjoy their fundamental right to marry. Today’s order can be found here:

“The overwhelming evidence at trial established beyond any doubt that Proposition 8 denies gay men and lesbians the fundamental right to marry and treats them unequally, without any rational basis for doing so, and that it causes them irreparable and immediate harm,” said Theodore B. Olson, who together with David Boies led the legal team in this lawsuit. “The Court’s decision today recognizes that there is no reason to delay allowing gay men and lesbians to enjoy the same rights that virtually all other citizens already enjoy.”

“The unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 is comprehensively and unequivocally demonstrated by the Court’s 136-page ruling, and so we are confident that we will continue to prevail,” said Chad Griffin, the Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. “Our nation was founded on the principle that every American is equal in the eyes of the law. This case is about affirming that principle.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights and plaintiffs Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo challenged Proposition 8 in federal court for violating the U.S. Constitution. After a three-week trial (including the testimony of 17 plaintiffs’ witnesses, among them the foremost experts on the relevant issues, and thousands of pages of documents and a wealth of other evidence) the Court ruled last Wednesday, August 4, that Proposition 8 violated the rights to equal protection under the law and due process that the U.S. Constitution guarantees to every American.

With AFER’s team. led by Olson and Boies, leading the way, I am confident we will continue to prevail, too.


—  John Wright

What’s your news? Reactions and Celebratiosn to Today’s Decision.

Don't be stupid. Upload from that smartphone. for photos.

Reactions and celebrations to today's decision:

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright