The Supreme Court Is at Stake: Why the Presidential Election Matters

Judith McDaniel | Truthout | May 15, 2016

The US Supreme Court in Washington, April 4, 2016. (Photo: Zach Gibson / The New York Times)A US Supreme Court for the few or the many? Not voting gives your voice to others to decide. (Photo: Zach Gibson / The New York Times)


It is no secret that the makeup of the US Supreme Court will be a major issue as the fall election campaigns unfold. And yet, many voters will choose not to vote. “It’s too much effort. I forgot to register when I moved. My vote won’t matter.”

I’ve heard every excuse, but whatever the reason, not voting gives power to others to make decisions that do in fact affect most of our lives.

Examples? Here are some cases and issues to watch.

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Gene Elder’s June Pride Deep Thoughts from the HAPPY Foundation

Gene Elder, the Archives Director of the HAPPY Foundation, muses on what happens when the unmovable (religious fundamentalism) meets the unstoppable (the LGBT movement). (Photo by Sam Sanchez)

Gene Elder, the Archives Director of the HAPPY Foundation, muses on what happens when the unmovable (religious fundamentalism) meets the unstoppable (the LGBT movement). (Photo by Sam Sanchez)

Gene Elder’s June Pride Deep Thoughts from the HAPPY Foundation (Dog-gone-it! Because people like me.)

1) What happens when the unmovable meets the unstoppable? I predict it’s not a pretty picture. That is how I view the conflict between the religious fundamentalists and the GayBLT community. The rest of us are in the path of a huge explosion. For the past 32 years (at least)–1973 was when the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality was not a mental illness–we have all been on the edge of our seats waiting to see how the story line would miraculously change into something else altogether. First it was just letting guys dance with guys and women dance with women. Throw in a little cross-dressing and kissing. We thought that was liberation.

Now after Anita Bryant, Harvey Milk, AIDS with explicit sex talk, NEA art funding, Patricia Warren’s novel The Front Runner, the closet, outing and Michealangelo Signorile, the Names Quilt, Cleve Jones, San Francisco Gay Pride Parades, Dykes on Bikes, June Pride Month, Kate Clinton, Margaret Cho, Fred Phelps “Hates FAGS,” politics, murders, Matthew Shepard, Teena Brandon, getting fired from our jobs,  HRC, GLADD, Lambda everything, the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Washington D.C and other marches, family and hospital visitation problems, drag shows, Divine, RuPaul, FTM, GWM, the gay men’s chorus, Angels In America, Brokeback Mountain, The L Word, Queer as Folk, homophobia, newspaper headlines, the Log Cabin Republicans, Stonewall Democrats, Boy Scouts, Nancy Russell, Margarethe Cammermeyer, Toby Johnson, Martina Navratilova, Elton John, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Ellen DeGeneres, pink triangles, gay Christians, rainbows, Exodus International the ex-gay movement, Les Ballets Trockadero, the arts, the opera, the theater, Broadway, Hollywood, John Waters, the entire world, Iceland and their openly lesbian prime minister, Ireland, and then on to transgender issues with Men’s rooms (?) and Women’s rooms (?) and the pubic toilet confusion, Hedwig and the Angry Inch,  gay marriage and in which state?  I mean even the Supreme Court had to get into the act. And then there is the Pope and wellllllll we know what showed up in the Catholic Church, Non-Discrimination Ordinances. And now Bruce Jenner. It really makes one “a little light in the loafers.”

2)  Gay Christians???? How did they get in here? I will tell you how. Over the years I asked many gay men and women about their religion background. And they revealed they had been raised as Baptists, Jews, Catholics, Methodists (me), Presbyterian, Protestant, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, Lutheran, Holly Rollers, Unitarian, etc. They came from every religion. And the gay atheists were the most fun because they had studied and understood the Bible better than the fundamentalists because they had to always argue the finer points.

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Election night serves up few LGBT gains

 | Metro Weekly | November 5, 2014

Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol - Credit: Phil Roeder/flickr

For LGBT candidates, election night 2014 proved not to be election night 2012. Two years ago, when President Barack Obama handily won a second term, LGBT candidates across the country soared to victory. The number of LGB members of Congress nearly doubled, and Tammy Baldwin was elected the openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.

That wasn’t the case Tuesday night, when LGBT non-incumbents suffered defeats nationwide and Republicans with anti-LGBT views made historic gains in both houses of Congress.

Among the most prominent defeats was in Maine, where outgoing Rep. Mike Michaud (D) came up short in his attempt to unseat Gov. Paul LePage (R). LePage defeated Michaud by about 20,000 votes with 64 percent of precincts reporting. Eliot Cutler, the independent candidate who urged supporters to “vote your conscience” shortly before Election Day but did not formally drop out of the race, garnered about 40,000 votes — many of which observers believe would have otherwise gone to Michaud. Michaud, who came out last November, would have become the first openly gay governor in the nation’s history.

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Tim Cook and the End of Gay Rights as a Wedge Issue

Richard Socarides | The New Yorker | Reader Supported News | October 30, 2014

n Thursday morning, the head of one of the world’s most admired companies, Tim Cook, of Apple, announced that he is gay. Although not entirely a surprise, Cook had guarded his privacy. As he put it in a piece for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” adding pointedly and poignantly, “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” Cook instantly became the most prominent openly gay C.E.O. in history.

Cook’s announcement is one of many signs that gay rights is no longer an automatic wedge issue in American culture and politics. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court declined to review appellate court rulings that overturned gay-marriage bans, a move that brought marriage equality to more than a dozen new states. The news has been almost all good (with some notable exceptions, such as the continuing discrimination in Africa and other parts of the world). But, historically, an intense news focus on gay rights and same-sex marriage has usually been followed by some sort of backlash, often felt during national elections. For example, in 2004, President George W. Bush won reëlection at least in part because his political operatives drew conservative voters to the polls in swing states by placing gay marriage on the ballot in the form of state constitutional amendments. Further back, President Bill Clinton, during his 1996 reëlection campaign, was so worried about being portrayed as favoring marriage rights for gays that he signed the Republican-sponsored Defense of Marriage Act. (I was an adviser to Clinton at the time.) That same year, his opponent, Senator Bob Dole, returned a contribution from a gay Republican group because he did not want to be seen as linked to its agenda. And, in 2008, then Senator Barack Obama walked back his previous support for marriage equality in order to run for President as a candidate opposed to gay marriage. It took him until May of 2012 to publicly say that he personally supported marriage equality, in an announcement whose timing was forced by Joe Biden. Even then, Obama was said to be taking a big risk.

Not this year. When I asked Steve Elmendorf, a longtime Democratic strategist and former senior congressional aide, where the issue of gay marriage was playing in this year’s midterm elections, he replied, “Frankly, nowhere.” Fred Sainz, the communications director for the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay-rights organization, answered the same question by saying, “Exactly the way we want it.”

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Wendy Davis: The gay interview



DAVID TAFFET  | Staff Writer | Dallas Voice | June 13, 2014

In her first interview with the gay press, state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrat nominee for governor, affirmed her support for marriage equality, employment and housing nondiscrimination, and said she would like to strengthen the bullying bill she shepherded through the Senate Education Committee.

Connecting with the LGBT community is a priority for the Davis campaign, but some have criticized her avoiding gay issues, even when addressing LGBT groups. During the campaign, she has attended a number of events with the LGBT community and fundraisers thrown by community members. She mentioned Black Tie Dinner, in particular. “What a special night that was,” she said. But despite a spirited reception from the audience, during her brief address to one of the largest fundraisers in the nation for LGBT groups, Davis neglected to use the term “gay,” “LGBT,” “marriage equality” and the like. Similar omissions were noted when she spoke at several high-dollar private fundraisers.

And while she hasn’t been silent on gay issues — Davis called on Abbott to stop defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage during her endorsement interview with the San Antonio Express-News in February — she hasn’t addressed that issue directly with her LGBT audiences. When her campaign contacted Dallas Voice about her first one-on-one interview with a gay media outlet, they said Pride month was a good time to do that, and that Davis wanted to make her positions clear on a number of issues affecting the LGBT community.

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Sen. Edward Markey Proposes Making Gay Rights A Foreign Policy Priority

Carlos Santoscoy | On Top Magazine | June 13, 2014

Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey on Friday introduced legislation which would make LGBT rights a foreign policy priority for the United States.

Markey, a Democrat, introduced his legislation during a noontime press conference in Boston.

Twenty-four Senators have signed on as co-sponsors to Markey’s International Human Rights Defense Act, which if approved would “direct the Department of State to make preventing and responding to discrimination and violence against the LGBT community a foreign policy priority and devise a global strategy to achieve those goals [by] establishing a position in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for coordinating that effort.”

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Jan Brewer: A Profile in Courage

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

Charles Pierce | Esquire | Reader Supported News | March 27, 2014

o, it appears that Governor Jan Brewer boldly stepped up last night and declined to let the bigotry of her state’s legislature demolish her state’s image and its tourist economy simultaneously.

“To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes,” she said. “However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want. “Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination.”

Not everyone agrees with the decision, of course. Over at Tiger Beat On The Potomac, Rich (Sparkle Pants) Lowry would like you to know that there was absolutely nothing anti-gay about the bill, and he cites among the misinformed, “influential liberal pundit Kirsten Powers,” whereupon the gods on Olympus laughed so loud and long that there were 40 days of rain in Sparta.

The question isn’t whether businesses run by people opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds should provide their services for gay weddings; it is whether they should be compelled to by government. The critics of the much-maligned Arizona bill pride themselves on their live-and-let-live open-mindedness, but they are highly moralistic in their support of gay marriage, judgmental of those who oppose it and tolerant of only one point of view on the issue – their own. For them, someone else’s conscience is only a speed bump on the road to progress. It’s get with the program, your religious beliefs be damned.

And this in a column that calls other people hysterical.

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Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Jared Polis, Reintroduce Anti-Bullying Bill

Sergio N. Candido | South Florida Gay News | April 19, 2013


Just in time for National Day of Silence (today), Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Colorado Democrat Jared Polis have reintroduce a bill that would prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools nationwide.

Just in time for National Day of Silence, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Colorado Democrat Jared Polis have reintroduce a bill that would prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools nationwide.

The legislators announced they introduced the bill, named the Student Non-Discrimination Act, on April 18, one day before National Day of Silence.

DOS is a national day of observance that takes place every year since 1996 to to protest the bullying and harassment of LGBT teens. The event was started by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and takes place every April.

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Get Equal: It’s Time to Come Out!

More than 267,000 undocumented immigrants in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ. Over 40,000 same-sex binational couples need legal protections so that their families can remain together. Thousands of transgender immigrants and asylum-seekers fall prey each year to abuse and confusion within the immigration detention system. And many DREAM Act-eligible young people have come out of the closet as both undocumented and queer — making immigration reform and a clear, direct pathway to citizenship not just an LGBTQ issue, but a moral imperative.
As final negotiations in the Senate heat up and our elected representatives decide to what extent they should include LGBTQ immigrants in the final bill, we need to do everything possible to push key decision-makers to write an inclusive and progressive bill. Our families, our neighbors, our friends, and our community need you more than ever!
Tomorrow (Wednesday), there is a huge national push for immigration reform and we need you to participate in two ways:
First, there are events all over the country — go to an event near you! Click here to see all the details and find an event in your area!
Second, share our LGBT-inclusive immigration reform graphic on your Facebook profile! Just click on the image below to share the graphic and/or post it as your profile pic:
The next few days and weeks are crucial to ensuring that this once-in-a-generation bill is fully inclusive of LGBTQ immigrants — please help us push an inclusive bill over the finish line!!
¡Sí se puede!
Felipe Matos, Co-Director
GetEQUAL icon

Are We Making Progress on Gay and Lesbian Issues?

 | Huffington Post | April 9, 2013

Progress on social issues, like beauty in the stereotypical phrase, is in the eye of the beholder.

One has only to think of Malcolm X’s response, when asked in early 1964 about whether there had been progress in race relations in the United States.

Speaking for the first time after his 90-day ban following his comments on President Kennedy’s assassination, he responded as follows:

I will never say that progress is being made. If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out three inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, there’s no progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made, and they haven’t even begun to pull the knife out, much less try and heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.

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