In Albany, hey, you never know

December 21, 2010 at 11:30 am 60 comments

By Adam Bink

Last week, our friends at Freedom to Marry published their “top 10 moments” for marriage in 2010. It’s a healthy list. All told, there were some strides forward.

I’ve been thinking, too, about strides backwards. I would count losing control of the Minnesota legislature to anti-equality Republicans while electing (narrowly) Mark Dayton as governor. We had a real shot at making Minnesota one of the next states to move on this issue.

The one that comes up the most, and the one I want to write about, is the New York State Senate. I had worked on the fight to pass a marriage bill through the State Senate in December 2009, a fight we lost for a variety of reasons. I’d count losing Democratic, pro-equality control of the New York State Senate this year as a step backward. But as I engage in conversations with colleagues in our movement, as well as friends loosely observing the process, I’ve noticed a resignation that marriage is off the table for the next two years.

Boy, has that death been exaggerated.

Some simple reasons why:

  • Despite losing three Democratic incumbents who voted for the marriage bill, we actually knocked off several incumbents who voted against it through a combination of winning primaries, open seats and close general elections. All told, five new pro-equality members (all Democrats), who either have voted for the bill while in the Assembly or stated they will support it during the campaign, will enter the chamber. Which means a net pick up of two, bringing the number of publicly pro-equality members from 24 to 26 (it takes 32 to pass a bill). We’ll need to  hold a few of them to their words, but it was a small, positive step forward.
  • Winning 6 more is a tough slog, but it ain’t unheard of. It’s no secret there are a few Republicans and at least on Democrat who privately pledged to support the bill if it got the requisite number to pass, some of whom are still in the chamber. And as time has shown, some people just come around naturally on their own. The campaign to persuade these members to come out publicly begins now, but we’re not talking about changing the minds of six people- we’re talking about changing the minds of a few, and instilling some courage in others. Again, that ain’t easy in politics, but it isn’t impossible.
  • It also helps that our community, through the work of community activists, HRC, Fight Back NY and Empire State Pride Agenda, targeted several folks who voted against the marriage bill for defeat and made headlines. Our efforts definitely weren’t the turning point in a race like Monserrate’s (best known for slashing his girlfriend’s face), who was already on his way out, but in a place like my home turf of Buffalo, where Tim Kennedy was elected in a tough race over Assemblyman Jack Quinn III, the money and mobilization made a difference.
  • I don’t buy the “Republicans now control the chamber, all is lost” argument. After the 2006 election, Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer faced a Republican State Senate with 34 Republican-held seats and 28 Democratic-held seats (32 are needed for majority control). In January, just around the time he took office, he got Republican State  Senator Michael Balboni from Nassau County to take a position as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety in his administration, then campaigned hard for the Democrat running to replace him, Nassau County legislator Craig Johnson. Johnson won. Now there were 29 Democratic-held seats. Later that year, Republican State Senator Jim Wright from the North County region of the state decided to resign to become a lobbyist. A special election was held in February 2008, which Democratic Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine won. 30 Democratic seats, and the Republicans started to sweat over their majority. Sure, Aubertine ended up voting against the marriage bill (and lost his seat last month), but the point is that Democrats came very close to obtaining a majority and therefore control over the agenda.
  • Another case in point: last year, the infamous “coup“, in which four Democrats decided to switch parties in exchange for more power under Republican leadership- and ended up shutting down the chamber as the battle raged in court for over a month- nearly handed over control of a 32-30 Democratic State Senate to the Republicans.
  • Republican State Senator Thomas Morahan from Rockland County died of leukemia on July 12, 2010, during a chamber that was closely divided, 32-30. Had he been a Democrat and a quick special election occurred that ended up with a Republican being elected, it might have thrown control of the chamber back into question.

The point is that nothing is said and done in a state where State Senators get appointed to state offices and have their seats taken by pro-equality Democrats; others resign or die in office; power-hungry Senators engineer a coup; and other wily moments. So I’m not with all the naysayers who believe the issue is off the table- not only will some State Senators move our way simply because of time and pressure, but control may actually flip. And though I’m skeptical, incoming Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos did promise a vote on this issue. I’m not painting a rosy picture here- it remains an uphill battle, but in Albany, as the motto of the New York State Lotto goes, hey, you never know.

Entry filed under: Community/Meta.

Front row seat to history Golden Oldies open thread, December 21st

60 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 11:52 am

    scribin

    Reply
    • 2. Kathleen  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:05 pm

      me too.

      Reply
      • 3. Ann S.  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm

        Reply
  • 4. Bill  |  December 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

    How very sad that all this political maneuvering is necessary for human beings to be afforded very, very basic civil rights.

    It speaks volumes about how our fellow citizens view us.

    Reply
    • 5. Michelle Evans  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      I think it was on a post yesterday with video from CNN, where someone from the FRC was claiming we are out looking for “special rights.” I was very disappointed that the host, as well as the spokesperson for our side, let that statement go unchallenged. As we all know here, we are not fighting for any “special” rights, but simply equal rights. I would have hoped that would have been pointed out on the national television show, instead of letting it stand.

      Reply
  • 6. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Another disappointment was seeing the RepubliCANTs taking over both houses of the North Carolina legislature in the recent elections. That just means that we really have to mobilize even more here in North Carolina, especially since the NCGOP has already declared their intentions to force a state-level DOMA on us. This is one of those times when I am so grateful not only for my P8TT family and Courage Campaign, but also Equality NC, Pam’s House Blend, Joe.My.God., and all the rest.

    Reply
  • 7. Michelle Evans  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    This next couple of years may indeed see little movement within legislation toward marriage equality, but I feel that the next two years will see a huge movement toward equality through our court system. And in the end, that may be the best avenue, as was proven with the civil rights cases of the 1950s and 1960s.

    Reply
  • 8. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    *

    The point is that nothing is said and done in a state where State Senators get appointed to state offices and have their seats taken by pro-equality Democrats; others resign or die in office; power-hungry Senators engineer a coup; and other wily moments. So I’m not with all the naysayers who believe the issue is off the table- not only will some State Senators move our way simply because of time and pressure, but control may actually flip. And though I’m skeptical, incoming Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos did promise a vote on this issue. I’m not painting a rosy picture here- it remains an uphill battle, but in Albany, as the motto of the New York State Lotto goes, hey, you never know.

    That’s right – you never know. Who would believe 2010 would bring a gay character to the Archie comic books? I would have said never – but there is now Kevin. You just never know!

    Reply
  • 9. Straight Ally #3008  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    How did New York ever pass the law that recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriages? I’m amazed it got through the NY State Senate. That is a glimmer of hope, too.

    OT: if you’d like to raise your blood pressure, listen to Matthew Franck on NPR’s Talk of the Nation:

    http://www.npr.org/2010/12/21/132235150/the-word-hate-ends-debate-on-gay-marriage

    Reply
    • 10. adambink  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      That wasn’t an act of the legislative, it was an executive action by Governor Paterson.

      Reply
      • 11. anonygrl  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm

        And Andrew Cuomo is coming in as governor, and has said marriage equality is a priority of his. He has been very vocal in his support, and in wanting to make this not an issue he just talks about, but one he achieves.

        We shall see what he can do.

        Reply
      • 12. Straight Ally #3008  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm

        Ah, got it. Thanks for the clarification, Adam.

        Reply
  • 13. Ronnie  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    =
    <3…Ronnie

    Reply
  • 14. Sagesse  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Scribing to read later.

    Reply
  • 15. Jim  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    We at Marriage Equality NY never thought marriage was off the table. We have been fighting to put it on the table since 1998 and continue to fight to have it removed from the table once and for all with full marriage rights for all. We have our annual Marriage Equality Day on February 8, 2011 where 250 of us will travel to Albany to educate our Senators, both supporters and (until now) opponents, on why marriage matters to us and to all New Yorkers. Perhaps the mainstream gay rights groups have given up on NY for the next two years, but as a member of their board, I guarantee you MENY has not! Get on the bus and join us!

    Reply
    • 16. Kathleen  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      So glad to hear this, Jim.

      As this sign says, “This Is Not A White Flag”

      Reply
    • 17. anonygrl  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      I LIVE in Albany… and will join you. I’ll get into your website (as soon as I figure out my computer issues…) and sign up. Additionally, my landlord is a pretty cool guy and an ally, who used to be a state Assemblyman, and still has some good connections that I might be able to see if he can help with…

      Reply
      • 18. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm

        I’ll join you virtually : )

        Reply
    • 19. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm

      Jim, feel free to click on my name and get the links to our wedding videos (also on YouTube). You can take these with you in your discussions about the importance of marriage equality. We had to travel from just outside Fayetteville/Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, to Westbrook, Connecticut, in order to get married. No one should have to leave their home state to get married unless they want a “destination” wedding. This is the best we can do as far as being there with you.

      Reply
  • 20. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    OT – this is good for Obama administration, hopefully translates to a cooperative senate next year…

    —————————————-
    Breaking News Alert: New START clears key Senate hurdle; appears on course to be ratified
    December 21, 2010 3:31:21 PM
    —————————————-

    The Senate voted 67 to 28 to end debate on the New START nuclear arms pact and proceed to a final vote. As several key GOP senators
    announced their support, the treaty between the U.S. and Russia seemed all
    but certain to win the two-thirds vote necessary for ratification.

    Reply
    • 21. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      Final vote expected tomorrow.

      Reply
      • 22. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm

        tx 4 update. Such a relief to see somethings getting through the senate!

        Reply
        • 23. Michelle Evans  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:21 pm

          Yes, for the first time in a very long while, things are moving during this small window of opportunity before the next congress comes into session. Just wish that DOMA and ENDA had also been on the table to get done during this time. Then we’d really have something to cheer about.

          It has often been said that the reason Obama had his Justice Department defend DADT was to keep the pressure on for legislative repeal. In hindsight, maybe that was his reason, but we’ll probably never know. However, on the subject of DOMA, since that was not up for a vote, and is unlikely to be repealed under the Republican congress, then shouldn’t his strategy now be that he would direct his DOJ to drop any appeal efforts and just let this discriminatory law fall? This would go a long way toward telling us his real intentions for LGBT people in America.

          Reply
          • 24. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:24 pm

            You can correct me if I am wrong -. If President Obama drops the DOJ appeal efforts, then Congress can make the appeal on behalf of the government – and with a Republican Congress coming in, that might not be such a good idea.

          • 25. Kathleen  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

            It’s not automatic that Congress can appeal, but I’m told there is precedent for allowing members of Congress to do so. And it really wouldn’t matter whether it’s a Repub controlled Congress or not; I think it was individual members of Congress who were granted standing to appeal in the past.

          • 26. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm

            Also, if the appeals go all the way to SCOTUS and the rulings continue to find DOMA unconstitutional, doesn’t that mean the possibility of more people being able to reap the benefits?

          • 27. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

            @Kathleen – would that mean it would be better for President Obama to drop the appeal?

          • 28. Michelle Evans  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm

            I’ve always thought it was disingenuous of Obama to be saying he was against DOMA, DADT, etc, but then have his DOJ fight these battles in court to attempt to keep them on the books. This is the same as here in California where the Governator and AG said they could not defend something so obviously unconstitutional.

            If someone in congress wanted to step up and do the appeal, then that may be their legal right to do so, but at least Obama could hold his head up to the American people and say that he would not personally have anything to do with keeping this garbage on the books. Instead, his DOJ fights things like DOMA, and uses exactly the same arguments that people like NOM, the FRC, etc, all use to say they are right to discriminate. I would be ashamed to be Obama and have that sort of historical record on what he has told his DOJ to do.

          • 29. Kathleen  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm

            LLB, the point I was making was just that someone in Congress would likely be able to defend the law so that, even in a Dem controlled Congress, I’m sure there would be someone who’d want to do so.

            As to whether Obama should have appealed the Mass rulings, I’ve thought about this a lot and I haven’t really formed a strong opinion one way or the other. I do think that if they hadn’t, it’s likely members of Congress would have been allowed to appeal it. And this is one law that seems it’s going to have to go to SCOTUS unless it’s repealed in the meantime.

            Unlike, Prop 8, this is a nationwide law that, at the moment, is only unconstitutional in the state of Mass. There’s going to have to be federal consistency on this at some point.

          • 30. Straight Ally #3008  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm

            I would like to see Louie Gohmert make the appeal on behalf of the government. >;-)

          • 31. Tasty Salamanders  |  December 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm

            I thought the DOMA ruling only effected Massachusetts, therefore wouldn’t it be in our interest to let the appeal continue to higher courts?
            Plus if Obama thinks that DOMA is unconstitutional (I can’t ever recall him saying so though) then that would mean he believes it would lose and thus secure it’s appeal at a higher court.

          • 32. Gray Coyote  |  December 27, 2010 at 10:31 am

            LLB, this is not true:

            Raines v. Byrd

  • 33. Rhie  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Watching

    Reply
  • 34. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Rep. Frank gets emotional at DADT repeal signing

    In a scene reminiscent of incoming House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) recent tearful episodes, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was overcome with emotion on Tuesday during a signing ceremony for the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which prevents gay men and women from serving in the military.

    Standing to the left of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Frank could be seen holding back tears as he hugged Pelosi before she sat down to sign the bill before a packed auditorium in the Capitol Visitor Center.

    Joining Frank and Pelosi on stage was Rep. Patrick Murhpy (D-Pa.), who originally introduced the stand-alone repeal bill in the House, as well as three members of the Armed Forces who were discharged under the policy, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Stacy Vasquez, Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, and Air Force Maj. Mike Almy.

    Frank, who is openly gay, has advocated strongly for the repeal of the 17 year-old policy. Repeal became a reality this past Sunday when a stand-alone bill passed the Senate. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation on Wednesday.

    Source: http://washingtonscene.thehill.com/in-the-know/36-news/7595-frank-gets-emotional-at-dadt-repeal-signing-

    Reply
    • 35. Kathleen  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

      Just seeing that picture of Rep Frank made me teary.

      Reply
    • 36. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      At least Barney was man enough to get emotional about something that will improve the lives of so many of our military personnel and their families, unless John Boehner who is so self-centered that the only thing he gets emotional about is not being allowed to help turn this country into a hate-filled, bigoted theocracy that supports and encourages the misuse of the Bible to back up legal issues.

      Reply
      • 37. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

        I can’t wait for the day that the light goes on over some of their bigoted heads when they realize we are all the same as them. Most of us are just regular boring people – nothing special here – move on.

        Sorry for the rant some of what I have read on the internet today and yesterday about what gay soldiers ‘might do’ is beyond comprehension.

        Reply
        • 38. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

          Perhaps I should save this – and the letter I received in the mail from Sen. Jon Kyle – for Festivus!

          Reply
          • 39. bJason  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

            YES! The airing of grievances!! There should be an app for that.

          • 40. bJason  |  December 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm

            In fact, let’s all join in a Festivus Miracle!

            Join Feed Equality in a Face Book Festivus Event!

            Come one, come all!!

            http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=154308824617409

          • 41. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 5:09 pm

            I have accepted the invitation and will certainly look for a pole…hmmm.

        • 42. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

          I can understand completely. And what really makes it even worse is that most of what they are saying the LGBT service members will do is the very stuff they would do themselves if they were only adult enough to admit it to themselves. I really wish they would all just come out and admit to themselves and to the rest of the world exactly who and what they are, and stop beating us over the head and trying to kill us because of their jealousy of us. And yes, they are jealous of us, because we have learned how to love ourselves for who and what we are, we have come to the realization that we are all G-d’s children and are worthy of love, respect, dignity, and the basic civil and human rights that belong to everyone, while they still feel so unworthy of these same basic rights of humanity that the only way they can make themselves feel worth anything is to demonize and denigrate those of us who are happy and comfortable in our own skins.

          Reply
  • 43. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    ACLU threatens to sue over Marshall’s bill banning gays from Va. National Guard

    The ACLU of Virginia threatened Tuesday to file suit if Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William)’s proposed bill banning gays from openly serving in the Virginia National Guard becomes law next year.

    “Not only is Delegate Marshall’s proposal an affront to gay men and lesbians throughout the state but it will surely be ruled unconstitutional before it is ever implemented,” the group’s executive director Kent Willis said.

    The U.S. Senate voted to end the 17-year-old federal ”don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy this weekend, days after the House approved a repeal. President Obama has said he will sign the bill.

    “Delegate Marshall is outflanked on this one and would only be wasting taxpayers’ dollars and the General Assembly’s time by pushing this legislation,” Willis said.

    The ACLU faxed a letter to Marshall Tuesday.

    More: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/12/aclu_threatens_to_sue_marshall.html

    Reply
  • 44. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Really – what positions do they need to explain before the vote?

    Gay rights in focus before UN vote
    The United States has moved to restore a reference to sexual orientation that was dropped amid much controversy last month from a U.N. General Assembly resolution opposing the unjustified killing of minority groups.

    The United States has moved to restore a reference to sexual orientation that was dropped amid much controversy last month from a U.N. General Assembly resolution opposing the unjustified killing of minority groups.

    The removal of the reference, done at the committee level last month, alarmed human rights advocates who said gay people are among minority groups that need special protection from extrajudicial and other unjustified killings.

    Speakers on both sides of the issue were explaining their positions before issuing a final vote on Tuesday.

    Source: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/12/aclu_threatens_to_sue_marshall.html

    Reply
    • 45. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm

      YES!

      BREAKING NEWS: U.N. says it’s not OK to kill people because they are gay

      The United Nations General Assembly just voted on a crucial resolution on extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings that, for the first time, includes explicit language protecting LGBT people.

      This resolution urges member states to thoroughly and promptly investigate all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, even on the basis of sexual orientation.

      The vote was 93-55 with 27 abstentions.

      The opposition mostly came from Arab and African nations where human rights are limited.

      Last month, a General Assembly resolution opposed the unjustified killing of minority groups, including the LGBT community. It drew widespread criticism, and the United States lead the effort to amend the resolution.

      Source: http://sdgln.com/news/2010/12/21/breaking-news-un-says-it-s-not-ok-kill-people-because-they-are-gay

      Reply
      • 46. Kathleen  |  December 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

        Great news!

        Reply
        • 47. Bob  |  December 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm

          really really great,,,, I highly recommend people to track back and read the full speach by Susan Rice,,,, she gave that speach on Dec 10th, just read what she said about the movement for human rights for LGBT folks in America,,,,,prior to DADT repeal,,, while it was in the works…. great letter,,, keep those feet to the fire…..

          Reply
      • 48. Bob  |  December 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm

        YES for the United Nations General Assembly,,,,,,and their stance for including sexual orientation as grounds for protection under human rights…….

        That was my plea to the senators I called,, the United States was in violation of human rights, whef!!!! they just nipped that one in the bud,, and just in the nick of time……

        And so right that the Rainbow People should seek protection under the United Nations….. that’s where to place our request for civil rights for alll LGBT people….

        woot woot woot,,,,,, everyone circulate this among the anti right wing religious bigots……..

        Reply
  • 49. bJason  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    What time is the signing ceremony tomorrow morning? Does anyone know if it will be televised? I can’t be there (thanks for the invitation, anyway, CC :) ) but want to watch.

    Reply
    • 50. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm

      I think the official signing is at 9:15 am ET

      Reply
      • 51. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

        The White House has announced, “On Wednesday, December 22, 2010, President Obama will sign the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law in a signing ceremony at the Department of the Interior.” Per the news advisory, the ceremony is to take place at 9:15 a.m.]

        Source: http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2010/12/gibbs-says-dadt-repeal-singing.html

        Reply
        • 52. Joel  |  December 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

          Awe, jeez. That’s 6:15 for me, not a very good time of day at all. Is CSPAN going to broadcast for sure, or just for maybe, cause dey ain’t no wey dis gey is gonna get up! I’ll set the DVR!

          Reply
          • 53. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm

            It’s not on the C-SPAN schedule yet. Considering we took over C-SPAN during the Perry trial, they might be afraid we will overload them again : )

            I would be pretty certain it will be on C-SPAN though, can’t imagine a real reason why it wouldn’t…but which channel?

  • 54. bJason  |  December 21, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks, LLB. I think I’ll troll C-Span in the morning. I have watched C-SPAN more in the last few weeks than in the rest of my life!

    Reply
  • 55. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Wonderful –

    Chris Hughes Gives $50K to GLAD

    Social networking entrepreneur Chris Hughes and his partner Sean Elderidge, the political director for Freedom to Marry, donated $50,000 as part of a matching donation campaign to raise funds for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

    The organization, also known as GLAD, is currently waging a challenge against the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the government from establishing or recognizing unions or marriages of same-sex couples.

    Hughes, who helped co-found Facebook and recently established Jumo, volunteered for GLAD while attending Harvard. The donation was one of many the couple plan to make this month — last month they announced they are matching donations until the end of the year to gay rights causes Freedom to Marry, Empire State Pride Agenda and Equality Maryland.

    Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/advocate/20101221/ts_advocate/chris_hughes_gives_50k_to_glad

    Reply
    • 56. Bob  |  December 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

      hey Chris Hughes, how bout helping us feed the messenger, a chunk of that bling bling would go to great use at Courage Campaign,,,,,,,,,,,

      Reply
  • 57. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Target Continues To Make The Political Donations They Had Previously Apologized For Making

    This past fall, mega-retailer Target caught a heap of bad publicity when it was revealed that they had made campaign donations in support of then-Minnesota gubernatorial hopeful Tom Emmer, whose hostility to the LGBT community began “with opposition to same-sex marriage and runs through to wholesale denial of equal rights and alliances with organizations whose takes on the gay community neatly align with those Ugandan madmen.” Target CEO Greg Steinhafel was forced to make an apology, and promised to begin a “review process for future political donations.”

    Over at The Awl, Abram Sauer, who covered this story thoroughly during the election season, has made a review of this review process. You’ll never guess what he found out!

    According to documents filed with the FEC in October 2010, Target continued donating to a bevy of anti-gay politicians even after Steinhafel apologized and committed to reforming the review process for future political donations. These donations even included some of the same anti-gay politicians the company had already been criticized for supporting.

    Here’s a taste of the specifics:

    After Steinhafel’s August 5 letter, Target’s Political Action Committee, helmed by the former right hand of Senator Thune, Matt Zabel, recorded $41,200 in federal election activity. Of that total, $31,200 went to anti-gay rights politicians or PACs supporting those candidates.

    Supporters of gay equality did get some money. In September, Target PAC gave $1,000 to Chuck Schumer. It also sent a whole $500 to Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Congressman that anti-gay leader Bradley Dean accuses of supporting LGBT rights as a way to bring Sharia law to America.

    But donations such as $1,000 to Kelly Ayotte (reported on September 22), who resigned her state post in protest of the legalization of gay marriage and same sex adoption, are far more the norm.

    That same day, there is a record of a donation by Target PAC to Spencer Bachus, who voted to ban same-sex adoption. Michigan’s David Camp, who, in addition to supporting a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, voted against protecting gays from job discrimination based on sexual orientation, also reported money. Through October, Target PAC thousands of dollars in donations were recorded to Michael Crapo and Dave Reichert, both supporters of anti-gay Constitutional amendments, and Rob Portman, a supporter of banning gays from adopting. Portman’s position on other gay rights won’t surprise. On October 4, a donation was reported: $2,000 to David Dreier, whose position on gay rights is quite a bit of theatre.

    More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/21/target-continues-political-donations_n_799950.html

    Reply
  • 58. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Great Commentary – wish I could post the whole article!

    The Ghost Is Slain

    Anti-gay activists have long considered 1993’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell compromise one of their most prized victories. In one fell swoop, they humiliated President Bill Clinton, flexed their political muscle, and put lesbian and gay people in their place.

    What the extremists never understood was that Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell was their movement’s death knell. This bitter fight elevated gay rights to a national issue for the first time in history. Prior to 1993, discussions about LGBT people were usually spoken in hushed tones. Suddenly, gay people were photographed on the cover of magazines, quoted in the A Section of newspapers, and interviewed on television news programs (not just the daytime talk shows). The nation was introduced to honorable role models such as Tracy Thorne, the Top Gun pilot with movie star looks, and Vietnam Bronze Star recipient Grethe Cammermeyer.

    The national March on Washington occurred at roughly the same time, offering an opportunity for thousands of people, emboldened by the gays in the military debate, to come out of the closet in a safe and inspiring atmosphere.

    Up until that moment, the public, the media, and religious institutions had decided to render gay people invisible or portrayed them as sinful circus acts. There was virtually no effort to show homosexuals as multi-dimensional people who led complete, fulfilling lives.

    The first Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell loss was actually a victory (except for the 14,000 brave gay troops who were fired) because it destroyed the taboo of homosexuality. At that moment, LGBT people became an identifiable group to mainstream Americans and were firmly ingrained in public consciousness.

    Seventeen years later, the scare tactics of the opposition were rendered ineffective because people had friends and family members who were openly gay. Even the majority of the troops said they thought they had served with gay service members.

    This time around, our gay spokespeople were seen as dignified and patriotic, while the opposition appeared freakish, paranoid, and melodramatic. America looked at our opponents and asked, “What are you so scared of? Your fears are misplaced and, quite frankly, weird.”

    There was one striking difference in this year’s tussle. In 1993, it was the politicians who were trying to get out in front of public opinion. In 2010, two-thirds of the public was squarely in favor of repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, yet many elected officials were bucking the views of their constituents to appease anti-gay special interests.

    The unsettling disconnect between the majority of Americans and some members of Congress – overwhelmingly Republican — who kowtow to hardcore litmus test voters, remains a real problem that will be exacerbated in 2011 when Republicans take over the House. Indeed, passing the bill took a massive lobbying effort, which included Washington insiders and new direct action groups. The legislation only made it through at the last possible moment – flaring tempers and fraying nerves.

    More: http://www.fcnp.com/commentary/national/8069-the-ghost-is-slain.html

    Reply
    • 59. Straight Ally #3008  |  December 21, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      Hoisted by their own petard!

      Reply
  • 60. John B.  |  December 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    One more reason for optimism, and a very big one: at least one recent poll has shown that a majority of New York state residents support same-sex marriage: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/04/20/2009-04-20_has_gay_marriage_reached_a_tipping_point_in_new_york_poll_shows_majority_approve.html

    It’s still a slim majority, but all indications are that support will continue to grow. This fact alone may help give some elected representatives the courage to support same-sex marriage in the state legislature–but especially if their constituents make sure to let them know that they support it and want their elected representatives to support it as well.

    Reply

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