HRC got its hands last night on a December 2009 National Organization for Marriage strategy document, which was unsealed in connection to NOM’s court challenge to Maine’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
The most explosive revelation in the document is NOM’s explicit plan to drive a wedge between the gay community and blacks and Latinos. But another part of their effort to recruit “hearts and minds” to the anti-marriage cause is also startling. Not only did NOM propose to document anti-gay “victims” of gay rights with emotional videos– a plan they implemented with a set of glossy films in upstate New York, for instance – they proposed to hire a staff member at $50,000 a year “to identify children of gay parents willing to speak on camera”:
Did NOM end up hiring someone to find children of gay parents who they could portray as “victims”? If so, it seems that a year’s worth of full-time work didn’t turn up a single child of gay parents who was willing to be portrayed as a “victim” of marriage equality.
The Senate today voted overwhelmingly to confirm two nominees to federal district courts, Gina Groh of West Virginia and Michael Fitzgerald of California’s Central District. Both nominees had been waiting over four months - Groh more than five - for votes from the full Senate, despite having received unanimous approval from the Judiciary Committee. They were the first nominees to receive votes as part of a Senate deal to move forward on 14 of 22 deliberately stalled judicial nominations.
Fitzgerald becomes the fourth openly gay person ever confirmed to the federal bench, the third during the Obama administration.
Marge Baker of People For the American Way issued the following statement:
“Because of today’s confirmation votes, people of West Virginia and Southern California will have a smoother path to justice as they seek their day in court. Votes like these should be the norm, not the exception. Judges Groh and Fitzgerald are both exceptionally qualified and enjoyed unanimous bipartisan support from the Judiciary Committee. It is absurd that they had to wait months simply to receive an easy and overwhelming confirmation vote.
“It is even more absurd that a deal had to be cut before Senate Republicans would even consider these nominees. That qualified and uncontroversial nominees like Groh and Fitzgerald are met with months-long filibusters is proof that the Senate GOP is more interested in creating gridlock than in doing its job.
“While President Obama’s judicial nominees have met with unprecedented obstruction, they have also been unprecedented in their diversity. For the first time in history, nearly half of this president’s confirmed nominees to the federal courts have been women. He has also nominated more people of color to the bench than any previous president and has nominated more openly gay people than all of his predecessors combined.
“The confirmations of Groh and Fitzgerald are the latest step forward in the president’s effort to put qualified, diverse judges in our federal courts – progress that has too often been stalled by GOP obstruction.”
On Meet the Press yesterday, David Gregory questioned GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum about the social issues – opposition to reproductive choice and gay rights – on which he has built his career. Stunningly, Santorum denied that he has focused on social issues and claimed, “There’s no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.”
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: It's so funny. I get the question all the time. Why are you talking so much about these social issues, as they, as, as people ask about me about the social issues. MR. GREGORY: Senator, no, wait a minute.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the... MR. GREGORY: You talk about this stuff every week. And by the way, it's not just in this campaign. FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: No, I talk about, I talk... MR. GREGORY: Sir, in this campaign you talk about it. And I've gone back years when you've been in public life and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life. So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it's not just about the press. FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, they, they are deeply held views, but they're not what I dominantly talk about, David. You're taking things that over a course of a 20-year career and pulling out quotes from difference speeches on, on issues that are fairly tangential, not what people care about mostly in America, and saying, "Oh, he wants to impose those values." Look at my record. I've never wanted to impose any of the things that you've just talked about. These are, these are my personal held religious beliefs, and in many forums that I, that, that are, in fact, religious, because I do speak in front of church groups and I do speak in these areas, I do talk about them. But there's no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.
This is, of course, a bunch of baloney. While Santorum has spent a lot of time in his presidential campaign talking up regressive tax policies, irresponsible deregulation and anti-environmentalism, the core of his brand has always been social conservatism. His campaign has consistently and explicitly distinguished his anti-choice, anti-gay record with Mitt Romney’s in order to successfully appeal to culture-warring voters.
Santorum has also never shied away from wanting to “impose” his far-right values on the rest of the country. In a 2005 interview with NPR, for instance, he railed against the libertarian wing of the Republican party, saying, “They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world.”
Santorum’s interview on Meet the Press is far from the first time he’s claimed that he’s not overly interested in social issues. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch found a speech he gave in 2008 in which he claimed that it’s liberals who have made sex an issue on the campaign trail. For liberals, he said, politics “comes down to sex” and that the Democratic Party has become “the party of Woodstock.”:
And it’s just insidious. And it’s most of the time focused on the sexual issues. If you’re a hard-core free-market guy, they’re not going to call you “zealous”. They’re not going to call you “ultra-conservative”. They’re not going to do that to you.
It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.
Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.
All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.
The Senate is currently tied up by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has blocked action on a major transportation bill and the confirmation of an urgent judicial nomination. While it’s stalled, the Senate has the perfect opportunity to take up a Valentine’s Day-appropriate bill: the Respect for Marriage Act.
The Respect For Marriage Act, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would repeal the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” which requires the federal government to discriminate against same-sex married couples. DOMA makes a lot of things harder for gay and lesbian married couples – including the denial of military spousal benefits to married gay and lesbian members of the armed forces and the denial of Social Security benefits to the same-sex spouse of a deceased person.
DOMA also tears married couples apart. U.S. citizens married to someone of the same sex can’t sponsor their spouses for citizenship – leading to heartbreaking separations. The Huffington Post interviewed one such couple, U.S. citizen Kelli Ryan and her wife Lucy Truman, a British citizen, who are publicly petitioning the government for a green card for Truman:
"We really simply want to be treated fairly and equally," Ryan, who was born in the United States, said on a call with reporters Thursday. "I feel as an American citizen that I should be able to have the same rights as all other American citizens and I should not be forced to choose between my country and my family."
Asked by Maddow why animus toward gay rights is still so mainstream in Republican politics, Olson gave a defense of marriage equality as a conservative value – one that he says more and more American conservatives are embracing:
Maddow: Why do you think it is that hostility to gay rights is still something that is still so utterly mainstream and expected of both mainstream politicians and mainstream institutions in conservative politics today?
Olson: I don’t know the answer to your question, Rachel, but I think that it’s terribly unfortunate. Marriage is a conservative value. Not that conservatives own it or liberals own it, but the loving relationship between individuals that want to be respected by their society and treated as equals is a conservative value. It involves liberty and privacy and association and identity.
Marriage is the building block of our society. Young people get it. Older people are still getting it. But all of the polls are changing. People more and more are understanding that these are American citizens, these are our brothers and our sisters, we have got to treat them right and we’ve got to treat them decency, and we’ve got to give them the same freedom and justice that we give to other people. More and more people in America are understanding that. I’m pleased to say that more and more Republicans are understanding that.
I’m sad to say – it makes me sad to say – that Republicans haven’t fully understood it. But I think that they will come, and every time that David Boies and I have a chance to address this question, we believe that we’re converting more people, and persuading more people that this is the right thing. It is not a liberal or conservative issue, or Republican or Democrats. When David Boies and I came together on this, our mission was to persuade the American people that this is an issue of American justice, American freedom, American equality. These are the principles, all men are created equal in this country, we have got to get there.
Earlier this month, a coalition of health and education groups released new recommended guidelines for sex education in schools, which address topics including sexual orientation, birth control and bullying. The non-binding recommendations have not, unsurprisingly, been popular among the talking heads of the Religious Right.
Cushman: The important things for parents to understand is that these standards are supposed to start in kindergarten so at the elementary level students are going to start to be taught to ‘identify different types of family structures.’
Cushman: And then demonstrate respect for these different types of families. That’s basically codes for, ‘We’re going to teach your kids about same-sex marriage and homosexual relationships and this is an option worthy of being embraced just like heterosexual marriages and relationships.’ Not only are they going to be willing to embrace it but they’re going to respect it and they’re going to get that down by the second grade. So they will need to start that probably around kindergarten so they’ll have it down in their heads by second grade. That’s just one example of them dealing with the homosexuality topic.
Mefferd: Well and in most states we don’t have same-sex marriage, so why the need for that?
Cushman: Right, it’s totally undemocratic.
Mefferd and Cushman went on to discuss the recommendations for older students, including discussions of the proper use of contraception, which Cushman claims were designed by “left-wing, casual-sex activist groups,” and are not intended to promote public health.
As for the inclusion of discussions about bullying, Cushman insists bullying prevention is a Trojan Horse for gay rights groups: “They do have this agenda of inserting homosexuality promotion under the category of bullying and this is one way they go about that with these sexuality standards.”
Mefferd: I thought the whole purpose of sex-ed originally was to tell kids the birds and the bees, but now it’s flat-out indoctrination.
Cushman: Right, if you look at the material that the groups who did these standards put out it’s all about students’ sexual rights, their rights. The emphasis is not on prevention, avoiding disease and harm, it’s about ‘Oh let’s just reduce the risk, what are their rights?’ Its activism, it’s not about health. That’s why we shouldn’t just surrender our schools to left-wing, casual-sex activist groups.
Mefferd: I agree. I’m sure from what I read there’s this aspect of bullying. They love throwing that around, ‘We need to deal with the bullying issue and the gay bullying issue,’ even though bullying has been around since time immemorial for kids, from kids, for all sorts of reasons, not just the homosexual issue. But do they talk much about that? Are they framing it in terms of, ‘We got to talk about this stuff to stop the gay bullying’?
Cushman: Yes they do. In fact, I found that very interesting that they were titled sexually standards but they address bullying. I thought, now we’re just saying that bullying is sexualized now.
Cushman: I really think that bullying should be its own category, not in sex-education. Bullying should be addressed as prevention, protecting all students no matter how they identify because they’re human beings, as I’ve explained many times before. So yeah, I found that an interesting part that they’re trying to mix those two, sex-education and bullying. But I think the reason they are mixing them is because they do have this agenda of inserting homosexuality promotion under the category of bullying and this is one way they go about that with these sexuality standards.
Steve Baldwin, the former executive director of the Council for National Policy, an influential conservative policy group founded by Tim LaHaye, went on the Steve Deace show yesterday to discuss why he thinks a President Romney would be disastrous for the country and the Republican Party. Baldwin’s major gripe is his dubious claim that Romney was “obsessed” with gay rights as governor of Massachusetts.
Baldwin expressed frustration that Romney has been given a “free pass” by conservative media, which he chalked up to “conflicts of interest” in the right-wing press. Among those he claimed are biased towards Romney is the publisher of the far-right Human Events, whom he identified as a “homosexual who likes Romney.” Although he didn’t name names on the show, Baldwin has previously asserted that Jeff Carneal, president of Human Events' publisher, is an “avowed homosexual” who has supported pro-equality causes.
But Baldwin’s gay-baiting did not end with his attack on conservative media. He let loose on Romney’s tepid pro-gay rights record as governor of Massachusetts, saying, “His whole administration was characterized by an almost obsessive devotion to the homosexual agenda.” Romney, he fumes, was involved in “gay proclamations, gay dances, gay proms, gay assemblies, gay this, gay that,” adding obliquely, “You gotta start wondering here.”
Baldwin: Our conservative media won’t write negative stories about Romney. They won’t even investigate him. I’ve submitted story after story to National Review, to Human Events, to American Spectator, and every once in a while they’ll do a story with a few negative things about Romney, but a full-scale investigative piece about Romney has not appeared in most of the conservative movement’s media. And you’ll find out there’s conflicts of interests, you’ll find out National Review endorsed Romney last year, they like him this year. You’ll find out that the chairman of Regnery Gateway, that publishes Human Events, is a homosexual who likes Romney. You find out these editors have various biases. And as a result, they have collectively, along with talk radio I have to add – Sean Hannity likes Romney, a lot of our radio talk show hosts have been very hands off when it comes to Romney’s record, even though they have all been briefed and all been given information about Romney’s background. Coulter and other national columnists and Hannity and even Mark Levin say very little about Romney’s record and refuse to dig into it. So you hear nothing from our own media, so the mainstream media, they’re too lazy to dig up the stories. And so as a result, Romney’s getting a free pass here.
Deace: Does Mitt Romney have a history of supporting homosexual issues beyond the gay scoutmasters thing that we saw from 1994? What did he do in Massachusetts when he was governor?
Baldwin: Oh my goodness. Gay proclamations, gay dances, gay proms, gay assemblies, gay this, gay that. He had an entire commission called the Governor’s Commission, which served at his own discretion, and they funded gay events and programs in the schools. He promoted all kinds of laws, rules, internal, a lot of internal things, like his department of social services awarded Family of the Year, Parents of the Year, to a gay couple. He appointed homosexual leaders to key positions throughout his administration. I mean, his whole administration was characterized by a an almost obsessive devotion to the homosexual agenda. I would venture to say that Mitt Romney was the most aggressive pro-gay governor in American history, either party. Period. I mean Amy Contrada wrote a thousand page book documenting hundreds of actions by this man to advance the homosexual agenda. Hundreds. He was obsessed with it. You gotta start wondering here.
In a welcome move for equality, the New York Senate passed a bill granting full marriage equality to all New Yorkers. The legislation makes New York the sixth and largest state where same-sex couples can marry.
As states and school districts work to stem a tide of anti-gay bullying in American school, the pro-bullying Religious Right is leading concerted efforts to stop programs that seek to protect LGBT youth from bullying.
The Census Bureau reported this week that in completing the 2010 Census, it will 'edit' the data from same-sex couples who accurately report that they are legally married, and that it will instead re-classify them as "unmarried partners," the same procedure used by the Bureau during the 2000 census, when no states yet recognized same-sex couples as legally married.
This weekend, The New York Times reported that Senator McCain said flatly that he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. "I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption."
The Supreme Court of California ruled that the state Constitution requires that all citizens be allowed equal marriage rights. People For the American Way Foundation President Kathryn Kolbert said, “This is a proud day for all Californians. No one should be excluded from marriage simply because they are gay or lesbian. Giving all people the freedom to marry is the American way.
What would the actual impact be on Americans' rights and freedoms if the views of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas become the majority views on the Supreme Court? This report examines Scalia's and Thomas's opinions to answer that question, focusing on cases in which Scalia and Thomas have been in the minority on the Court, and the answer is nothing short of chilling.