New poll shows majority of Americans oppose Boy Scouts’ ban on gays

BoyScouts_Blog

In a new Washington Post and ABC News poll, a majority of respondents favor the Boy Scouts’ proposed resolution to admit gay Scouts but not leaders.

Meanwhile, of the 1,008 adults surveyed from May 1 to 5, 63 percent support admitting gay Scouts while 56 percent of respondents oppose continuing to ban gay Scout leaders.

The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality founder, said the results are encouraging and the group will work with supporters over the next two weeks before 1,400 members of the BSA’s national council vote on the compromise.

“Today’s Washington Post/ABC News poll demonstrates that there is overwhelming support in this country for the Boy Scouts of America’s effort to end discrimination within its organization. 63 percent of adults agree with Scouts for Equality that it is time that all scouts be treated as equal,” Wahls said in a statement. “This is why over the next two weeks leading up to the historic vote on May 23rd, we will work with our partners and over 11,000 members to do everything we can to make this a reality. The poll also demonstrates that the majority of Americans agree that while is this is a critical step, this fight cannot and will not end until every scout, scout leader and parent are welcome making BSA the strongest it has ever been.”

The poll also found 68 percent of people support NBA star Jason Collins’ decision to come out. And 55 percent support allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

—  Anna Waugh

How the Cathedral of Hope saved a black church that nearly became a martyr for marriage equality

The Rev. Jo Hudson

In today’s Voice we have a column by local leatherman and regular contributor Hardy Haberman about the straight pastor of a predominantly African-American church in St. Paul, Minn., whose support for marriage equality cost him 72 percent of his flock and now poses a financial threat to the very survival of his congregation.

Haberman focuses on how the pastor, the Rev. Oliver White of Grace Community United Church, did the right thing regardless of the potential consequences when he voted in favor of a resolution supporting marriage equality at a United Church of Christ meeting in 2005.

Haberman reports that he got wind of White’s predicament when his own pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson at Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas, issued an appeal on behalf of Grace Community UCC during a recent service.

On Thursday, Religion News Service and the Washington Post picked up this same story, shedding some light on the ensuing response from Haberman’s fellow worshippers at the Cathedral.

Turns out, although White sent letters seeking financial assistance to 40 UCC congregations across the country, he got only three responses — one for $500, one for $600 and “a miracle donation from Dallas.” The donation from the Cathedral, raised during two services on the same Sunday, totaled $15,000 and has allowed Grace Community UCC to keep its doors open, at least for now.

The Cathedral, commonly referred to as the world’s largest gay church, also happens to be UCC’s fourth-largest congregation.

Below is a snippet from the WaPo piece, which you can and should read in its entirety by going here:

—  John Wright

With their golden boy Rick Perry in trouble, anti-gay leaders to gather again in Texas

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Rick Santorum

Back in August, hundreds of evangelical leaders, including the likes of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, gathered on a ranch west of Austin to meet with Gov. Rick Perry, who had just launched his campaign for president and appeared to be their golden boy.

Five months later, after Perry’s fifth-place finish in Iowa, many of those same leaders will gather again next weekend on a ranch in Brenham, Texas — halfway between Austin and Houston — to decide whether they can unite behind another candidate in the GOP presidential race whose name isn’t Mitt Romney. And this time, Perry isn’t invited. The Christian Post reports:

An invitation that was sent on Wednesday read in part, “You and your spouse are cordially invited to a private meeting with national conservative leaders of faith at the ranch of Paul and Nancy Pressler near Brenham, Texas with the purpose of attempting to unite and come to a consensus on which Republican presidential candidate to support or which not to support.”

The group of evangelicals includes Don Wildmon, the former chairman of the American Family Association and a supporter of Newt Gingrich, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, and Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson.

“Yes, I received the invitation but I have decided not to attend,” said one prominent conservative leader who asked not to be identified.

“I know what they’re trying to accomplish but I don’t think anything is going to come out of it. There will be lots of discussion about [Rick] Santorum’s candidacy and even some who are going will advocate for [Newt] Gingrich and maybe a few who have holds that Perry can catch a second wind. But I just don’t see the group reaching a consensus,” he added.

Perry is polling at just 1 percent in New Hampshire, where he hasn’t campaigned, and 5 percent in South Carolina, where he plans to focus his efforts leading up to the Palmetto State’s Jan. 21 primary. According to The Washington Post, social conservatives fear that having too many right-wing candidates in the race will splinter the evangelical vote, allowing Romney to pull away. But it’s unlikely they’ll try to force anyone out until after South Carolina:

In an interview Friday with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Richard Land, a prominent Christian conservative and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said that social conservative leaders are increasingly enthusiastic about Santorum — but they’re worried that his candidacy could face the same fate as Huckabee’s 2008 bid, which faltered in South Carolina as social conservatives splintered between the former Arkansas governor and former senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), allowing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to eke out a win.

“We don’t want to make the same mistake this time that we made with Huckabee in 2008,” Land said. “People didn’t rally around Huckabee as the social conservative alternative because they didn’t think he could win until it was too late, and McCain had the nomination sewed up.”

He noted that if one combined the vote totals of Santorum, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), “you would’ve out-voted Romney two-to-one in Iowa.”

“But because of the division among the conservative candidates, there is real concern that Romney will win without having to face one concentrated effort of a conservative challenger,” he said.

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Maryland marriage bill dead for the year

An Associated Press article posted online by The Washington Post is saying that the decision in the Maryland House of Delegates today send to send the Civil Marriage Protection Act back to the House Judiciary Committee has effectively killed the legislation for this year.

According to the article, supporters chose to send the bill back to committee rather than take a final vote because they did not believe they had the 71 votes necessary to pass the measure. House Speaker Michael Busch said supporters will try again next year.

Marriage equality opponents, of course, claimed the outcome as a victory.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Valentine’s Day recap edition

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. THE GOOD: Legislators in Washington state and Colorado were struck by Cupid’s arrow, as they introduced bills Monday to legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, respectively. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that 24 Maryland senators have now said publicly that they’ll support pending marriage equality legislation, giving the bill the votes it needs to pass by the slimmest of margins.

2. THE BAD: The Indiana House was scheduled to vote Monday on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the measure, which is expected to pass, was postponed because some lawmakers who want to go on record supporting the ban were absent. Meanwhile, lawmakers in New Hampshire are moving forward with hearings on a proposed repeal of same-sex marriage, despite polls showing a majority of residents oppose the repeal. And, in Chicago, six activists were arrested when they refused to leave a marriage bureau after a same-sex couple was denied a license.

3. THE UGLY: If you want to get really angry, or need a reminder as to what the struggle for equality is all about, watch the above video of police in Lima, Peru, using violence to break up a Valentine’s Day “Kisses Against Homophobia” demonstration that took place Saturday. According to Living in Peru, one activist needed 10 stitches to the back of her head.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Pentagon to unveil DADT plan; Ugandan gay activist David Kato laid to rest

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Pentagon will roll out its plan today for the training and rules changes needed to implement a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” The training is expected to take three months, meaning full implementation of repeal could come sometime this summer. No word on whether the Pentagon plan includes ending attempts to collect money from people like Army Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged under DADT and recently received a bill saying he owed $2,500 for unfinished service. Needless to say, Choi told the Pentagon to suck it.

2. Murdered gay rights activist David Kato was laid to rest in Uganda. Sadly, a pastor preaching at the service at one point told homosexuals to repent, before being cut off by mourners and replaced. And unbelievably, Ugandan police say they don’t believe Kato’s status as a gay rights activist had anything to do with his murder. Police say they believe theft was the motive despite witness accounts that someone came into Kato’s house and beat him to death with a hammer before leaving. Above is a report from CNN on Kato’s murder.

3. The Washington Post claims the Republican Party is moving to the left on gay rights. While we don’t dispute this assertion entirely, we’d like to point out that two of their five examples involve Texas GOP lawmakers pandering for votes and money, then promptly remaining as anti-gay ever by voting against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Reid sets DADT vote for Saturday

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will hold a cloture vote on the standalone measure to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” on Saturday, Think Progress’ The Wonk Room reports. Above is video of Reid filing for cloture on the DADT bill tonight after he abruptly pulled an omnibus spending bill off the floor due to a lack of votes. From The Wonk Room:

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent argued that this is the best case scenario for repealing the policy since “[i]f Reid waits until New START is done before holding the vote on DADT, Senators could start going home once the treaty is resolved, dooming DADT repeal.” “By contrast, if the DADT repeal vote is done first, no Senator will leave Washington before START is resolved. So doing DADT repeal first doesn’t imperil START.”

To contact your senator, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

—  John Wright

DADT update: House voted expected today; poll shows 77% back repeal; Dan Choi hospitalized

Lt. Dan Choi

• A House vote on the new plan for repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” is expected today, and debate could begin as early as 10 a.m. Dallas time. You can watch the proceedings live on the CSPAN website.

• A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows the highest public support in history for repealing DADT, at 77 percent. The support cuts across political and ideological lines. For more, go here.

• Leading DADT repeal advocate Lt. Dan Choi has been hospitalized and is receiving mental health treatment at a Veterans Administration facility. Choi, who was involuntarily admitted to the hospital on Friday, said in an e-mail to bloggers that his mental breakdown was  fueled in part by the “betrayals felt last Thursday,” when the Senate blocked DADT repeal. Read more here.

—  John Wright

Report: Gay Dallas couple’s Skype wedding declared invalid by District of Columbia

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

We’ve got a message in to Mark Reed-Walkup to try to confirm what we just read at TBD.com, which is reporting that Reed-Walkup’s recent Skype wedding has been declared invalid by the District of Columbia.

If you’ll remember, Reed-Walkup and his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, were married in October in a ceremony that was held in Dallas but officiated via Skype from D.C. Reed-Walkup told us previously that officials in D.C. had found nothing in the law that would prohibit such an e-marriage, but apparently they’ve change their minds. Amanda Hess reports at TBD.com:

On Oct. 10, Mark Reed and Dante Walkup made history by marrying in D.C. (where same-sex marriage is legal) at a ceremony in Texas (where it isn’t). The arrangement took some technological finesse: As Reed and Walkup exchanged vows in a Dallas hotel, D.C. marriage officiant Sheila Alexander-Reid oversaw the ceremony from the District, linking up with the couple online via Skype. The “e-marriage” inspired coverage in the Washington Post, CNN, and Time magazine. Now, it’s caught the attention of the D.C. marriage bureau.

“The D.C. marriage bureau kicked back the certificate we had filed,” Alexander-Reid told me today. Alexander-Reid says that she and the couple both received letters from D.C. Superior Court stating that it had determined the marriage license filed following the Skype ceremony to be invalid.

“The return is invalid because it has come to the attention of the court that the subject contracting parties to the marriage and you, the officiant, did not all personally participate in a marriage ceremony performed within the jurisdictional and territorial limits of the District of Columbia,” the letter reads. Alexander-Reid also received a fresh marriage license from the court. Alexander-Reid could use it to re-officiate a Reed-Walkup ceremony, should they choose to marry again in D.C., this time “with all parties . . . in physical attendance.”

UPDATE: Reed-Walkup reports via text message that he’ll call Instant Tea back as soon as he’s done with a CNN interview.

—  John Wright

Leaked study results support DADT repeal

FUTURE MILITARY | Members of a Dallas-area Jr. ROTC group march in formation, carrying U.S. flags, during Dallas’ annual Veterans Day Parade Thursday morning, Nov. 11. According to information leaked to The Washington Post earlier this week, a Pentagon report studying attitudes of current members of the military, a large majority don’t believe repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would harm military readiness. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

Repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” poses only minimal risk to current war efforts, according to results from a 370-page Pentagon study that were leaked to the Washington Post.

According to an article published on the Post’s website late Wednesday, sources said the study results indicate more than 70 percent of 400,000 servicemembers and 150,000 military spouses surveyed said the effect of DADT repeal would be positive, mixed or nonexistent. The survey found that a majority had no strong objections, though a significant minority is opposed. But the study’s authors reportedly concluded that objections to serving alongside openly gay colleagues would drop over time. And it says that servicemembers who object to sharing a room or shower with openly gay troops should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Openly gay Air Force veteran David Guy-Gainer of Forest Hill called the report “a Veterans Day gift” for LGBT current and former servicemembers.

Guy-Gainer is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant and a board member for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. He had just returned from a Veterans Day breakfast in Tarrant County when he spoke to Dallas Voice on Thursday, Nov. 11.

“I am thrilled. It’s wonderful. I can’t think of a better gift for Veterans Day,” he said.

The story was published just hours after the Obama administration filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that the military be allowed to continue enforcing DADT while a lower court ruling declaring the policy unconstitutional makes its way through the appeals process.

Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal argued that the stay is necessary because the injunction would cause “the government the kind of irreparable injury that routinely forms the basis for a stay pending appeal.”

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction against enforcement of DADT last month in the wake of her earlier ruling, in a case brought by Log Cabin Republicans, that DADT is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of Phillips’ injunction, and Log Cabin Republicans appealed that stay to the Supreme Court.

The Post article is based on information provided to the newspaper from two people “familiar with a draft of the report,” according to reporters Ed O’Keefe and Greg Jaffe. The sources are not identified in the article. Asked if the reporters could convey a request from Keen News for follow-up, O’Keefe said Thursday morning that the sources “insisted we not contact them again.”

The report will almost certainly affect the momentum for repealing DADT during the lame-duck Congress, as the potential for breaking a Republican-led filibuster hinges largely on 10 senators who said in September that they did not want to vote on the issue until the Pentagon study was available. The study is due to President Barack Obama by Dec. 1.

“These results confirm what those of us who actually know the modern military, especially the rank and file troops, have said all along: The men and women of America’s armed forces are professionals who are capable of handling this policy change,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army Human Intelligence Collector who was discharged under the law in 2002. “In light of these findings, as well as the Secretary of Defense’s recent call for Senate action on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ during the lame duck session, there is no longer any excuse for failing to bring the defense authorization bill back up during the first week of the post-election legislative session.”

Aubrey Sarvis, exeutive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said servicemembers who were polled for the study reflect how most Americans feel about open service — ”It’s no big deal, let’s move on and get the job done.”

“The military has a proud tradition of adjusting to change and becoming stronger for it. Ending ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ will be no different,” Sarvis said. “It’s clear a majority of Americans in both the military and civilian spheres agree that ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ is outdated and should go. Congress needs to catch up and the Senate should immediately act on repeal when it returns to Washington next week. No one should be surprised if a vocal minority, for a short window, might object, as a minority did when segregation in the ranks ended and women were admitted to the service academies. In the military you get over your objections or you get out.”

The Post said its sources provided details about “a draft” of the study that was distributed late last week to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, and leaders — both civilian and uniformed — of the four military branches.

The study reportedly does not recommend any significant changes to military housing or benefits, saying that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits recognition of same-sex spouses.

Although many political observers have suggested there is little to no chance that the lame-duck Congress will pass a defense authorization bill this year with the DADT repeal language intact, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Washington Blade this week that “Democrats are going to try very hard” to do so.

And in a telephone conference call with reporters Wednesday, Winnie Stachelberg, a key participant in meetings with the White House on the issue, said she thinks the strong statements from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer in recent days have help put the repeal effort “in a solid position” during the lame-duck session of Congress.

Stachelberg, who is a vice president at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said pro-repeal activists need to focus on 10 senators who indicated during debate in September that they wanted to hear from the Pentagon study before taking a position on repeal. Those 10 include Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, John McCain of Arizona, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Olympia Snowe of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio. They also include Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia, as well as two senators who will not take their seats until the new Congress convenes in January — Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, whose election is still pending, and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

The Human Rights Campaign also launched a grassroots campaign Monday to put pressure on senators from eight key states to support breaking the filibuster on DADT. Those states are Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

The House passed DADT repeal language in its version of the FY 2011 defense authorization bill last May, but the Senate was unable to take up a similar version of the bill in September when Republicans led a filibuster aimed primarily at DADT repeal.

Some unsourced reports suggested last week that Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a supporter of repeal, was discussing with Sen. McCain the possibility of stripping DADT repeal from the bill. But neither senator confirmed that report and, with unsourced reports, it’s hard to know what is really being discussed and what is simply a rumor being spread by one side or the other to create an appearance of inevitability to advance their own interests.

Stachelberg said Wednesday she believes the only real objections surrounding DADT repeal now are ones over procedure — how and when to repeal it, not substance. But she acknowledged that Congress must vote repeal this year because “next year would be very grim.”

Copyright ©2010 Keen News Service. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

—  John Wright