Last October, a parent at Watauga High School in Boone, North Carolina asked the local school board to remove Isabel Allende’s internationally-renowned The House of the Spirits from the curriculum. After making its way through a multi-step county review process, last week the school board voted 3-2 to uphold the teaching of the book.
The fight to keep the book in the curriculum was backed by many supporters – including the author herself. In a letter to the Watauga County Board of Education, Isabel Allende wrote,
Banning books is a common practice in police states, Like Cuba or North Korea…but I did not expect it in our democracy.
PFAW Foundation president Michael Keegan also spoke out against censorship to the school board. In his letter, Keegan wrote:
We trust that as educators you will uphold the right of all students in Watauga County to receive a competitive, rigorous education free from censorship. While individual parents have every right to decline reading material for their own children, they should not be allowed to censor the curricula for all students in the county.
The House of the Spirits is not the first book PFAW Foundation has fought to protect. In addition to speaking out about Allende’s novel, in the past year PFAW Foundation has advocated against censorship attempts aimed at Invisible Man, Neverwhere, and The Bluest Eye.
Today House Republicans led by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) voted to delay the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. In case you haven’t been keeping track, this is the House GOP’s 50th vote to dismantle Obamacare.
In a speech last week at a DNC event, President Obama joked,
“You know what they say: 50th time is the charm. Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote, you will win a prize. Maybe if you buy 50 repeal votes, you get one free.”
On Monday, in the wake of Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto her state’s anti-gay “freedom to discriminate” bill, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed that we are continually asked to believe the “new, no-nonsense Republican Party” has finally taken to heart the “dangers of embracing extremism.” However, he writes:
“…there seems to be a Grand Canyon-like gap between what everyone knows the Republican Party should do and what they actually do. Time after time, we see that they just can't help themselves. We all know the embarrassing, crazy uncle who shows up at the family reunion. It seems like all of those crazy uncles have now banded together to control the Republican Party.”
And with their 50th vote to undermine Obamacare, it seems pretty clear that the Republican Party isn’t going to be able to rein in those crazy uncles anytime soon.
Amid Congressional hearings and an unending stream of pointed fingers, what is the real takeaway from the unfolding IRS mess? United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard has the answer, arguing that our country needs to rethink the role of corporate money in our elections by passing a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision.
In an In These Times article Tuesday, Gerard called for such an amendment, writing that
“while every politician in Washington is cursing the carbuncle, hardly one has complained of the cancer killing the patient. Allowing unlimited, unaccounted-for corporate spending in elections is a malignancy threatening the life of the republic.”
PFAW President Michael Keegan has also spoken out about the danger of allowing the IRS misdeeds to be held up as an example of the perils of oversight writ large.
In a Huffington Post piece last week, he noted,
“The danger of this frame is that it will discourage the IRS from fully investigating all nonprofit groups spending money to influence elections. And it will distract from the core problem behind the IRS's mess: the post-Citizens United explosion of undisclosed electoral spending.”
As both writers remind us, the IRS should never base its work on the political leanings of applicant groups. But where our real focus should lie in this national dialogue is on how to strengthen transparency and accountability in all electoral spending.
Americans of all political stripes should be outraged at the recent revelation that the Tea Party was unfairly targeted by the IRS before last year's election. The IRS should never base its decisions on political preferences or ideological code words, regardless of what bureaucratic challenges it may face. But the lesson that the right is drawing from the IRS's misdeeds -- the lesson that threatens to dominate the public conversation about the news -- is wrong.
We're seeing a knee-jerk reaction, particularly from the Tea Party and their allies in Congress, that is threatening to turn the IRS's mistakes into an indictment of "big government" writ large. Some are already trying to tie the scandal to the Right's favorite target, Obamacare, and to the Benghazi conspiracy theory.
The danger of this frame is that it will discourage the IRS from fully investigating all nonprofit groups spending money to influence elections. And it will distract from the core problem behind the IRS's mess: the post-Citizens United explosion of undisclosed electoral spending.
Before the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, only a limited number of nonprofit 501c(4) groups could spend money to influence elections -- those who did not take contributions from corporations or unions. But Citizens United lifted restrictions on corporate spending in elections, setting the stage for individuals and companies to funnel unlimited money through all corporations, including c(4)s and super PACs in an effort to help elect the candidates of their choice. Spending by c(4)s has exploded since Citizens United, since the decision allowed any c(4) nonprofit corporation that didn't spend the majority of its money on electoral work to run ads and campaign for and against candidates. And c(4)s, as long as they follow this rule, don't have to disclose their donors under the laws currently in place.
The IRS, then, was forced to play a new and critical role in policing this onslaught of electoral spending. IRS officials clearly made poor choices in how to confront this sudden sea change and those mistakes should be investigated and properly addressed. But strong oversight of this new wave of spending remains critically important and clearlywithin the IRS's purview.
If we let understandable concerns about bad decisions by the IRS lead to weakening of campaign finance oversight, our democracy will be the worse off for it. Instead, we should insist that the government strengthen its oversight of electoral spending -- equally across the political spectrum. We should pass strong disclosure laws that cover all political spenders, including c(4)s. And we should redouble our efforts to overturn Citizens United by constitutional amendment and reel back the flood of corporate money that led the IRS to be in this business in the first place.
This week, NBA center Jason Collins made history when he became the first active player in a major men’s pro sports league to come out as gay. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos aired yesterday on Good Morning America, Collins reflected that “when you finally get to that point of acceptance, there’s nothing more beautiful.” Collins has demonstrated his commitment to being open about who he is – and in doing so, has become a role model to all who are struggling to accept themselves.
Today People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan sent Collins a letter of congratulations and support:
Becoming the first active player in a major men’s pro sports league to come out as gay could not have been an easy decision. You said yourself that if you had your way, “someone else would have already done this” – but you were the one to take this step, and we’re grateful for your courage.
The majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people report experiencing harassment at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and the need for supportive LGBT role models has never been greater. At this moment, no one can know the full effects of your decision to come out, but what I do know is that it will change the lives of so many others who are struggling to accept who they are.
On behalf of People For the American Way’s staff, board, and members all across the country, congratulations. We are with you.
With best regards,
Michael B. Keegan
President, People For the American Way
Last night, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan joined Rev. Al Sharpton and David Brock of Media Matters to discuss Bill O’Reilly’s most recent delusional outburst and the GOP’s reality problem. Watch:
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when Republicans started complaining that President Obama's second inaugural address was too "partisan" and lacked "outreach" across the aisle. But who was left out? What did they find "partisan"? The acknowledgement of climate science? The idea that women should receive equal pay for equal work? The nod to civil rights struggles of our past and present? The hope that no American will have to wait in hours-long lines to vote? The defense of the existence of a social safety net? The determination to offer support to the victims of a historic storm and to find real answers to the epidemic of mass shootings? In the not-too-distant past, none of these would have raised eyebrows except on the very, very far right. But I guess that's the point: what was once the radical fringe is now in control of the Grand Old Party.
In many ways, Monday's inauguration ceremony was a Tea Party Republican's nightmare-come-true. The openly gay poet. The Spanish sprinkled into the benediction. The one-two-three punch of "Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall." It was the embodiment of all that the far right has tried to wall itself off from as the country begins to include more and more of the real America in its democracy.
What would have pleased this faction, short of winning the presidential election? I imagine they would have preferred a paean to the America of their imaginations -- where the founders were flawless and prescient about the right to bear assault weapons and the Constitution was delivered, amendments included, directly from God; where there are no gay people or only silent ones, where the world is not getting warmer; where there have been no struggles in the process of forging a more perfect union. This, of course, would have been its very own kind of political statement -- and one that was just rejected by the majority of American voters.
If embracing America as it is rather than as a shimmery vision of what it never was constitutes partisanship, and if it turns off people who cling to that dishonest vision, let's have more of it.
To: Interested Parties
From: Michael Keegan, President, People For the American Way
Date: November 7, 2012
Re: PFAW and the Latino Vote
It was always clear that Latino voters would be a crucial voting bloc in this year’s campaign. Yet many pundits, analysts and Republican politicians continually downplayed and undersold the potential impact of Latino voters using a variety of excuses: turnout will be low; Latinos will come around to Republican ideas on job creation; Latinos weren't paying attention to the Republican primary debates; maybe right-wing social issues might somehow become appealing by November. While we’re still poring over the election returns, it’s clear that, if anything, the impact of Latino voters’ support for progressive candidates exceeded almost everyone's expectations.
With an eye towards expanding the progressive base as well as immediate electoral impact, this year People For the American Way undertook a first of its kind, comprehensive plan to get out the vote and communicate with Latino voters in six key swing states about Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda, as well as the GOP’s extreme and offensive rhetoric about the Latino community. With a combination of Spanish language television ads, Spanish language radio ads, internet ads and direct mail in both English and Spanish (see links below), we reached out to voters in two states with large Latino populations--Nevada and Colorado--as well as four other states where rapid population growth has put Latinos in a position to play kingmaker in a close race--Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Virginia.
These states represented crucial battlegrounds in the presidential election and in some cases (Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin and Virginia) were also home to important Senate races.
The results were easy to see. In Colorado, where PFAW’s program had a significant footprint, 74% of Latinos supported the President, compared to only 61% four years ago. That increase offset a sizable decline in support from Anglo voters. Nationwide, Latino turnout also increased, with important increases in key states like Nevada, where the Latino share of the electorate increased four points—with a 45 point margin, 69 to 24%, for President Obama.
In states with smaller Latino populations, Latinos routinely delivered lopsided support to the President. In Virginia, the President won the Latino vote by 32 points (64-33%), in North Carolina by 31 (65-34%), and in Wisconsin by 37 (67-30%). In Virginia and Wisconsin in particular, Latino support also propelled Democratic Senate Candidates to victory—Tammy Baldwin won Latinos by 29 points (63-34%) while Tim Kaine won by 24 (62-38%).
The impact of the Latino vote, however, can’t be measured only in the results it yields in a single election, and history has shown that when Republicans alienate Latino voters they suffer the consequences for years. In 1994, California Governor Pete Wilson hitched his reelection campaign to the controversial, anti-immigrant Proposition 187. His gambit was successful in the short term—the governor was reelected and the initiative passed—but disastrous in the long run. By demonizing Latinos repeatedly on the campaign trail, Wilson permanently alienated the state’s fastest growing group. Since that time, Republicans have been rendered for the foreseeable future a permanent minority party in the state. In 1996 the first election after 187, Bill Clinton became the first Democratic presidential nominee in decades to win a clear majority in the state, and since then no other Democratic nominee has failed to do the same. Wilson’s exploitation effectively destroyed the GOP’s future in California.
In many key swing states, the Latino population is growing at a stunning pace, turning GOP bastions into swing states and swing states eventually into solid blue states. In Virginia, for instance, Latinos currently account for 7.9% of the population but have grown 91% in the last decade. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that in 2008 Virginia supported a Democrat for President for the first time since 1964 and did the same yesterday. In Wisconsin, Latinos account for 5.9% of the population, but have grown 74% in the same period. Perhaps most impressively, Latinos make up 8.4% of North Carolina’s population, but have grown a stunning 111% in ten years. None of these trends are likely to slow any time soon. If Latino power is the leading demographic story of 2012, it’s only a precursor to the impacts the nation will see in four, eight or twelve years.
This doesn’t bode well for Republican candidates in the future, nor can the GOP sidestep this challenge simply by toning down the rhetoric, focusing on social issues they hope will divide or reversing the party’s rigid opposition to meaningful immigration reform. It’s clear that the Republican dogma that any government action constitutes a giveaway that need to be eliminated runs counter to many of the concerns of the Latino community.
Until Republicans rethink their approach to government from the ground up and overcome their temptation to demonize Latinos and immigrants for short term gain, this toxic mix will lead the GOP to many future deserved defeats at the polls.
You can see samples of PFAW’s work below.
Losing the Latino vote "spells doom for us." - Mitt Romney, April 15, 2012
"Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community." - President Obama, October 26, 201 2
At last, bipartisan agreement! You don't need a degree in political science to know this: demonizing and alienating the fastest-growing group in the country is no way to build long-term political success. Pair that with the fact that demonizing any group of Americans is un-American and just plain wrong. But in recent years, Republicans, and especially party standard-bearer Mitt Romney, just haven't been able to help themselves. In an effort to win over a shrinking and increasingly extreme base, Romney and team have sold their souls to get the Republican presidential nomination. And they went so far to do it that even their famous etch-a-sketch won't be able to erase their positions.
As Mitt Romney knows, the slipping support of the GOP among Latinos is no mystery. We've seen this movie before, in 1994, when Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson pushed anti-immigrant smears to promote California's anti-immigrant Prop 187 which in turn buoyed his own tough re-election campaign. It worked in the short term - both the ballot measure and Gov. Wilson won handily - but what a long term price to pay as California became solidly blue for the foreseeable future.
We're now seeing what happened in California at a national scale. Harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric helped Romney win the Republican primary. But in the general election, it may well be his downfall.
In case you tuned out Romney's appeals to the anti-immigrant Right during the primaries, here's a quick recap. He ran ads specifically criticizing Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court justice. He says he'd veto the DREAM Act , a rare immigration provision with overwhelming bipartisan support. He took on anti-immigrant leader Kris Kobach, architect of the draconian anti-immigrant measures in Arizona and Alabama as an adviser , then said his immigration plan was to force undocumented immigrants to"self-deport." He even endorsed Iowa Rep. Steve King, who suggested building an electric fence at the Mexican border, comparing immigrants to "livestock" and "dogs." Romney's new attempts to appeal to Latino voters are clearly empty - he's already promised the Right that he will use their anti-immigrant rhetoric whenever it's convenient and shut down any reasonable attempts at immigration reform.
If President Obama wins reelection, however, we have a real chance for real immigration reform. He told the Des Moines Register last week that if reelected he will work to achieve immigration reform next year. Beyond incremental steps like his institution of part of the DREAM Act by executive order, real comprehensive immigration reform would finally ease the uncertainty of millions of immigrants and the businesses that hire them. It's something that George W. Bush and John McCain wanted before it was thwarted by extremists in their own party. It's something that Mitt Romney clearly won't even try.
If President Obama wins, and especially when he wins with the help of Latino voters turned off by the GOP's anti-immigrant politics, he will have a strong mandate to create clear and lasting immigration reform. And Republicans will have to think twice before hitching their futures on the politics of demonization and exclusion. Whereas George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004 and John McCain 31 percent in 2008, Mitt Romney is polling at just 21 percent among Latinos. That's no coincidence.
My group, People For the American Way, has been working to make sure that the GOP's anti-Latino policies and rhetoric are front and center during the presidential election. We're running a comprehensive campaign aimed at the large Latino populations in Nevada and Colorado and the rapidly growing Latino populations in Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia, and North Carolina. In each of those states, we're strategically targeting Latino voters with TV and radio ads, direct mail, internet ads and phone banking to make sure they hear the GOP's message about their community. In Colorado, we're going up against Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS , which knows just as well as Romney that the loss of Latino voters "spells doom" for Republicans. In all of these states, higher turnout among Latinos motivated by Mitt Romney's attacks could swing critical electoral votes.
This is a battle where the right thing to do and the politically smart thing to do are one and the same. Republicans have embraced racially-charged attacks against Latinos, pushing English-only laws,attempting to legalize racial profiling by immigration enforcement, dehumanizing immigrants, and even attacking the first Latina Supreme Court justice for talking about her heritage. They deserve to lose the votes of Latinos and others for it. This presidential election is a choice between right-wing scare tactics-- the last resort of those fighting to return to an imaginary America of the past-- and policies that embrace and celebrate our growing Latino population as an integral part of what is the real America.
Washington, DC – People For the American Way today urged schools to withstand pressure from the anti-gay American Family Association to drop out of an anti-bullying day organized by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The AFA has been pressuring schools to drop out of the October 30 Mix It Up Day, in which children will be encouraged to sit with someone they don’t normally talk to at lunch, according to the New York Times. The AFA, which regularly pushes harmful anti-gay myths, claims that the anti-bullying day is meant to “promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools.”
“The American Family Association makes life harder for LGBT young people by pushing harmful myths and extreme anti-gay rhetoric,” said Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way. “Now, they’re stepping in to stop a program meant to combat bullying –including the bullying of LGBT and LGBT-perceived kids – in schools. Whatever our disagreements, we should at least be able to agree that encouraging kids to put aside prejudices and talk to each other is a good thing. That the AFA is now attacking a simple anti-bullying program because of fear of ‘homosexual indoctrination’ shows just how blinding their rage against gays and lesbians has become.”
“The American Family Association is an extreme anti-gay group, and should be treated as such by the schools that it is attempting to pressure,” added Keegan.
People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch tracks the American Family Association’s anti-gay activities, including:
$1 Million Campaign Aimed at Latino Voters in Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia
Washington, DC – People For the American Way today launched a five-week campaign aimed at exposing Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda for Latinos, focused in the key swing states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. The first phase of the campaign, which will include over $1 million in TV, radio and direct mail outreach, starts today with a TV ad, “Somos el 47%” (“We are the 47%”), running in all three states.
“Mitt Romney and Republicans continually attack hard-working Latino families,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Unfortunately for them, Americans are paying attention. At a fundraiser in April, Romney said that losing the Latino vote ‘spells doom for us.’ He was right.”
Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia have significant and growing Latino populations. The number of Latino eligible voters has grown by 76 percent in the past decade in Virginia, by 47 percent in Ohio and by 23 percent in Wisconsin.
“The Romney agenda is bad news for Latino families, and exposing that agenda could make the difference in this election,” continued Keegan. “Our efforts this summer to highlight what was at stake for Latino voters in the Wisconsin recall elections were instrumental in flipping party control in the state Senate. We are excited to replicate and bolster that effort in three key states in the five weeks before November’s election.”
People For the American Way’s ad, “Somos el 47%,” can be viewed here.
Last week, People For the American Way Foundation launched a new report, “12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics,” which offers guidelines for policymakers and advocates seeking to bring faith into political debates.
Joining us at a launch party for the report and a discussion of the issues it raises were Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress; Sister Simone Campbell, director of the Catholic social justice group NETWORK; and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Here are some photos of the event from People For Foundation’s Dylan Hewitt:
Sister Simone Campbell talks with People For’s COO, Nick Ucci
People For President Michael Keegan, Rep. Keith Ellison, and Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery
Michael Keegan and Rep. Keith Ellison
Sister Simone Campbell and Rabbi David Saperstein
Rabbi David Saperstein
Rep. Keith Ellison and Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Conference.
Washington, DC – The proper role of religion in American politics has been the subject of vigorous – and sometimes toxic – debate for over two centuries. Today, in the midst of campaign-season claims about America’s founding as a “Christian nation” and hyperbolic rhetoric about religious persecution, People For the American Way Foundation calls for a more constructive conversation with a new report, 12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics, authored by PFAW Foundation senior fellow Peter Montgomery with a foreword by journalist Bill Moyers.
"12 Rules" takes on a number of current debates, including those over required contraception insurance coverage, marriage equality, and the role of religion in the 2012 presidential campaign. This edition builds on earlier releases of "12 Rules" in 1984 and 1994.
The full report can be found online here.
“Religious liberty is at the heart of what it means to be an American, but it is also at the center of some of our fiercest debates,” said Peter Montgomery. “How do we balance the constitutional principles of free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state when they come into tension with each other? And how can people of faith bring their religious values into the public arena without turning religion into a political club? As our religious landscape becomes increasingly diverse, it is important that we grapple with these issues in ways that are more constructive than divisive. We hope these Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics will launch many constructive conversations around these topics.”
“Our political climate is being poisoned by inflammatory charges of anti-religious and anti-Christian persecution,” said Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way Foundation. “We can look around the world to see what religious persecution looks like, and we think it’s wrong to cry wolf over political and policy disputes. We are strong advocates for First Amendment freedoms. But something can be legal without being wise. The principles in this report should be embraced by people of all religious and political beliefswho long for a more respectful and responsible debate in the public arena.”
This new edition of "12 Rules" will be launched at an event in Washington, DC featuring a discussion with Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim American elected to Congress.
Washington, DC – As Mitt Romney leaves on a six-day international trip meant to bolster his foreign policy credentials, People For the American Way is calling on him to reject recent comments by his own foreign policy adviser, John Bolton.
Yesterday during an interview with anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney, Bolton defended Rep. Michele Bachmann’s ongoing McCarthy-esque attacks on Muslim-Americans serving in the U.S. government. Bolton’s comments, first reported by PFAW’s Right Wing Watch, place him at odds with prominent Republicans including Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner, who have both repudiated Bachmann’s unfounded allegations about “deep penetration” of the U.S. government by the Muslim Brotherhood and her targeting of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin.
“Mitt Romney is traveling to Europe to prove that he has the foreign policy chops to be President,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “But first he needs to deal with a foreign policy problem of his own right here at home. Five members of Congress, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann, are targeting Muslim-American public servants in an old-fashioned witch hunt. Their dangerous and unfounded accusations are resonating halfway across around the world and undermining American diplomacy in the Middle East at a critical moment.
“Top Republicans like Speaker Boehner and Senator McCain have denounced Bachmann’s ‘dangerous’ efforts, and even her former campaign manager ripped her ‘outrageous and false charges,’” said Keegan. “Now one of Romney’s top foreign policy advisers is backing Bachmann’s witch hunt, but Romney hasn’t said a word.
“If Romney can't stand up to Michele Bachmann at home, how could he ever be a world leader?” asked Keegan. “Bachmann’s witch hunt is endangering the lives and livelihoods of hard-working Americans while undermining diplomacy abroad. Romney needs to take a stand on this basic issue at home or his foreign policy trip will be a failure before it ever gets going.”
# # #
Earlier this week, People For the American Way called on Boehner to remove Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee, where she is privy to sensitive national security information.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower-court ruling which held that Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The panel included two Republican appointees.
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation, issued the following statement:
“The First Circuit has reached the inevitable conclusion on DOMA: the arguments for such a discriminatory, hurtful law just don’t hold up. Over 16 years, DOMA has denied thousands of legally married Americans the protections and responsibilities granted to all other married couples under federal law. DOMA prevents married couples from providing for each other through Social Security; sponsoring each other for visas; helping each other with the tax benefits reserved for married couples; and prevents some service members and veterans from having their marriages recognized by the military. DOMA marginalizes a group of Americans, declares them inferior, and denies them rights granted to all others.
“ DOMA has caused real harm to Americans. A law that discriminates against a class of people just for the sake of discrimination is contrary to our principles and contrary to our laws.”
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement in response to the decision of the NAACP’s official endorsement of marriage equality this week:
“The anti-gay Right has continually tried to turn the LGBT community and the African American community against each other. The NAACP this weekend stood up and told them in no uncertain terms that their cynical wedge strategies won’t work. Many of the NAACP’s board members, including PFAW board member Julian Bond, are already powerful leaders for LGBT equality. I am heartened to see the organization, which has led the way on so many civil rights issues of our time, take this strong stand on equality for all.”
Today, Mitt Romney spokesman Richard Grenell, who is openly gay, resigned from his job on the Romney campaign. Grenell’s hiring less than two weeks ago provoked harsh criticism among Religious Right activists including the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, former FRC president Gary Bauer and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Fischer went so far as to suggest that Grenell posed a national security risk, as reported by People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch.
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, said:
“Mitt Romney is once again trying to have it both ways: claiming that he personally tolerates gays and lesbians while at the same time pandering to the anti-gay right-wing base whose intolerance is legendary. Obviously, it’s not working.
“Romney is clearly depending on Religious Right leaders to help him energize a wary base and they insist that he toe the line. But the support of those leaders comes at a price. If Romney is letting the likes of Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer dictate all his hiring decisions, he leaves no doubt as to what kind of president he would be.
“If Romney will cave to the far-right fringe on this, is there anything he won’t give them when they ask?”
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement congratulating PFAW board member Dolores Huerta, who was yesterday named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom:
“Dolores Huerta is an inspiration to all who work to make our country a fairer, freer and more just place. She has dedicated her life to fighting for the downtrodden and speaking for those whose voices are too rarely heard. Her tireless work on behalf of working people, women, immigrants, gays and lesbians and others has improved – and continues to improve -- countless lives. We are enormously grateful for the leadership and guidance she’s provided to People For the American Way, and we couldn’t be prouder for her to receive this honor.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. According to the official announcement from the White House, others to receive the honor along with Huerta include former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, singer and poet Bob Dylan, astronaut and Senator John Glenn, writer Toni Morrison, and former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
“All of us at People For the American Way congratulate Dolores Huerta on this great honor,” said Keegan. “There is no one who could be more deserving.”