RNC’s New Glass Headquarters

It’s old news by now, but the Republican National Committee sent an early Valentine’s Day present to Senator Reid earlier this month in the form of a research paper titled “Who is Harry Reid?” The collection of quotes is valid, but some of the attacks hit a little too close to home for the Grand Old Party.

One section accuses the venerable Nevadan of being “out of touch with mainstream America” because he lives in a $750,000 condo in the Ritz Carlton in Foggy Bottom. Problem is, they’re not looking in the mirror too closely: Reid’s counterpart on the right owns a multi-million dollar home in Washington and commutes to work on a private family jet.

There’s nothing wrong with Frist’s wealth, or with Reid’s $.75 million condo. But if the RNC is going to make arguments, at least make ones that hold water. Errr, Evian.

Tragedy in Journalism

Although I’m giving his column more attention that it deserves, Guy Adams writes a guest column for RenewAmerica.com that completely misstates the law for what can only be described as deplorable scare tactics.

Now, I have no problem with sensible arguments against anything. Although I might disagree with them, there are certainly sensible arguments to make against non-discrimination laws – they were made in the 60′s and they’re still rational (albeit wrong) today. Mr. Adams uses none of these.

He writes about the “Tragedy in Illinois,” the passage of a non-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. He blames the Democrats for the law (rightly so, although I think the other side calls it “thanks”) and suggests that if you’ve ever voted for one, you’ve likely been kept up at night by the cries of murdered babies.

Insomnia aside, he gets back on track (I use the term loosely) by noting:

“If company has fifteen or more employees, they will now be compelled by law to hire a representative percentage of gays, just like they must hire a representative percentage of minorities. This includes CHURCH employees. Wicked, truly wicked.”

I can only say that this is completely invalid. Yes, the law applies only to businesses with 15 employees or more. But no where in Illinois law are you required to hire minorities. Granted, you can’t NOT hire someone simply because they are black, handicapped or gay, but you’re not required to seek them out to fill out your stable.

Mr. Adams suggests that the law would include church employees. Another completely invalid claim; the Illinois law exempts churches, although those of the Christian variety should already practice non-discrimination, it’s an important facet of the faith.

Overall, it’s the same law that’s been passed by fourteen other states, and protects gay Illinoians from being fired for a personal trait over which they have no control.

In truth, the only Illinois protected class that exists based on a choice is the only one Mr. Adams would likely fight for: religion.

“Let he who is without sin…”

The Los Angeles Times reports this week that parents at an Orange County Catholic School are threatening to remove their kids from the school if the two sons of a gay couple aren’t kicked out. The school stands behind its decision to enroll the kids, and the parents of the controversial enrollees haven’t issued any statements to the press. That fact, however, didn’t stop parent Monica Sii from suggesting that the “boys are being used as pawns by these men to further their agenda.”

None of this is surprising. Not in the least. Nor is the parents’ desire to require not only that all students, but all parents follow the strict guidelines of the church. The problem, as with every “the Bible says so” argument, comes in the details. Enacting such a pledge would require the removal of any students whose parents have ever divorced, used contraception, engaged in oral sex… the list goes on.

Now, aside from the divorce issue, the others can’t be as readily proven as the simple fact that a kid has two dads. So basically we end up with a pledge that kicks out a few kids and requires a whole herd of parents to swear they don’t engage in un-Catholic behavior in the bedroom – because what parent really wants to tell their kids that they have to switch schools because daddy wears a rubber?

Greetings from the Heartland

After a long sabbatical from writing, my warm wishes to everyone for the holiday season. See you all in the New Year, thanks for reading. -DA

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

It’s too much of a stretch to compare circa 1960 attitudes about blacks to circa 2004 attitudes about gays and lesbians, right? It is.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that during campaign 2004, Republicans targeted their campaign advertising where it impacted most – makes sense, right? Right. Republicans are smart about stuff like that. The report goes on to list the top shows among Republicans. Near the top of the list and especially popular with Republican women – is the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace.”

It’s far too overboard to say something like “they’re good enough to entertain us, just don’t ask for rights,” or “they’re funny to laugh at, just don’t love each other PLEASE.” Far too overboard, right?

Forget I said anything.

Mainstream media: Cheryl who?

As a sidebar to the resignation/firing of HRC Executive Director Cheryl Jacques, it is certainly worth noting that while her counterpart over at the NAACP also stepped down this week under far less dramatic circumstances, the media paid little attention to the ouster of the woman at the helm of the nation’s largest gay rights organization.

With so much of the attention of the media and the candidates on gay rights in 2004, doesn’t it make sense to cover post-election axings?

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Turn out the rights, the party’s over

Turn out the rights, the party’s over

The dawn of a second term for President Bush comes as another executive term sunsets this week.

On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign acknowledged that the beltway rumors were true: Executive Director Cheryl Jacques had been fired at an emergency board meeting Monday night. Critics have cited Jacques’ decidedly partisan “George W. Bush: You’re Fired!” campaign as part of the reason for her dismissal, rightly noting that the strategy didn’t leave the HRC anywhere to go when the President was re-elected.

Jacques’ ouster won’t immediately bring back the moderate gravitas the origination has built up over the past years, but it will likely send a message to friendly Republicans on the Hill that they have seen the light.

The HRC has been an effective lobbying organization for many years – and especially so over the past half decade because of their acknowledgement of the importance of moderate Republicans to their cause. While HRC supporters characterize their shift to the left in the past years as a natural shift in strategy, the numbers tell a different story. In the 107th Congress, the HRC asked Members of Congress to sign a pledge that they wouldn’t discriminate in their offices on the basis of sexual orientation; 68 out of 100 Senators signed.

In the 108th, however, the HRC broadened their pledge to include gender identity. While transgendered individuals are certainly worthy of protection – and no less worthy than gays and lesbians – the concept of a protected class for transgendered folks isn’t as bipartisanly supported; this year, the HRC lost 46 of its previous pledges.

Many say this is progress, but in a town where politics is perception, the perception of progress is slipping.

Unfazed by irony, the right seeks help from activist judges

The United States Supreme Court today announced they will not hear a challenge to the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. With right-wing groups on record deriding the Supremes as “activist” for striking sodomy laws from the books in 2003, the challenge was nonetheless filed by religious conservative group Liberty Counsel on behalf of the Vice President of Catholic Action League.

The decision by the SCOTUS not to interfere was far from a surprise, and neither is the religious right’s decision to cross their own picket lines to seek help from “activist judges.” While their communal rant against judges who they feel cross the line between judiciary and legislative continues, the Liberty Counsel is trying their opponent’s tactics on for size; the boys and girls at the Supreme Court aren’t biting, however.

This will certainly add fuel to the claim that “liberal activist judges” are to blame for the nation’s ills. With the outlook for a legislative ban on gay marriage in Massachusetts looking worse in the aftermath of election 2004, however, the religious right might need to start preparing some “liberal activist legislators” spin.

When we said “big tent,” we didn’t mean you.

It seems that for some Republicans, the 2004 sweep of victories has meant that the formerly much-revered “big tent” just doesn’t quite need to be that big.

Moderate Arlen Specter felt the singe of the right’s fire and brimstone after his ill-advised shot across the conservative bow earlier this month asking the President to be mindful not to appoint judges who would “change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Religious rights groups like the American Family Association fired back with grassroots alerts urging conservative-minded Senators to vote against Specter for the Judiciary Chair slot. Whether these campaigns are successful or not will be determined in the coming days as Congress returns to work this week to stop-gap fund the government through January.

If Specter is ousted as Chair, the religious right’s grip on the GOP gets stronger, and the GOP campaign message gets altered: It’s a big tent, but if you don’t agree with the President on hot button Bible issues, it’s not big enough for you.

Activist judges should stop actively judging

Outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft railed against “activist judges” last week during his first post-resignation public appearance. The conservative stalwart warned judges who, in his opinion, are “second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war.”

The term “activist judges” has become synonymous in right-wing circles with all things liberal and wrong with the world. Add in the fact that questioning the President and/or the war was considered “un-American” by rabid Bushies even before George W received his mandate from the masses, and Ashcroft’s got a double shot of conservative rally juice.

Thankfully, Ashcroft is no longer the sitting Attorney General, so it’s a moot point to say that his call for a blanket judicial “pass” on all war-related decisions made by the Bush Administration is not only reckless but also flies in the face of the balance of powers.

I’m guessing those “activist” judges wouldn’t have listened to him, anyway; giving the right-wing “activist” activists yet another reason to assert they should be stripped of their power to judge.