Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

Archives – February, 2010

Not Just A Word…

by Brian Leubitz

When it comes to marriage, the word itself is a powerful validation of our relationships. But, when it comes to the law, there’s a lot more than just that. In fact, there’s over 1,000 federal rights bestowed by a marriage that isn’t covered under the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”  And as one of those who is in one of the marriages covered by DOMA, let me tell you, it is a huge headache come tax time.  But, you don’t need to take my word for it, here’s a story from the New York Times website:

Gay couples have complicated financial lives, and preparing tax returns is no exception.

Since the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, gay couples who are living in states that do recognize their various legal unions must still file separate federal returns. That requires more record-keeping and planning than their heterosexual counterparts — and oftentimes, gay couples will have to pay more to an accountant to prepare their returns.

To just file my taxes, I have to first create a tax return as an individual for the federal government. As far as they concerned, my husband is a stranger under the law.  So, after I submit that tax return, I then have to create a fake federal tax return to file, pretending that I actually filed as married.  I then have to add my state tax return and then ship that whole thing off to the Franchise Tax Board.

Of course, that’s far from it. Along the way of that process, I have to deal with pitfalls, strange questions that aren’t answered by TurboTax or any major tax software, and then try to find answers online or from a friend who has some history with tax law. Not only is it offensive to be denied the name marriage, it’s also expensive and headache producing.

While the Prop 8 folks argue extensive their tired old theories, there is no excuse for this federal discrimination. DOMA must be repealed. Completely. Marriage is a function of state law, and the federal government should recognize all marriages ordained by the state.  Furthermore, the federal government, even if it isn’t so “brave” as to call marriage “marriage” for everybody, at least need to recognize unions that already exist.

Back in November, we got something of a jolt of good news when the federal health care bill included a provision that would treat health benefits for married couples and same-sex partners the same under tax law. That would make health insurance affordable for many more same-sex couples. As you know, legislation is very chaotic, and that’s especially the case for the health care legislation.  We’ll see if that provision remains in any bill that emerges from Congress, but such a provision would be a great first step in the right direction.

Marriage is a critical word. But, there’s so much more substance behind that word. We need to ensure that we get both the word and the substance.

112 Comments February 22, 2010

CPAC Membership Not That Into the Fight Against Equality

by Brian Leubitz

We’ve been doing some coverage of the big conservative shindig, CPAC, over the last few days. From the right-wing leadership, you get garbage like their crazy statements about don’t ask don’t tell that imply that American troops are less professional than many Europeans.  And then, of course, you have this idiot.

But, when it comes down to it, the grassroots of the conservative movement seems to have bigger concerns on their plate. In the annual straw poll, which is traditionally a big focus of the media for the presidential implications, only 1% of the audience said that they consider “stopping gay marriage” to be one of their top two priorities.

While the leadership of the anti-marriage movement has forced the Republican party and the conservative organizations to be zealots on this issue, it just doesn’t rank to most Americans.  This is the truly one of the most right wing groups in the country that we are talking about here, and they simply don’t care about “stopping gay marriage.”

Of course, some of the marriage people are upset because Ron Paul, the libertarian anti-government Congressman from Texas was out in force at this straw poll. They point to club-packing of sorts by Paul and his supporters, but more critically, they point to this figure as evidence showing this was an outlier:

Granted, students comprised 48 percent of the sample — how else could Paul have won? — but that might be less significant as evidence that the poll’s an outlier than as evidence that it may not be such an outlier a few years from now. (More than half the votes cast in the poll were by those 25 years old or younger.) (Hot Air)

This was a voting body made up of the future of the conservative movement, such as it is.  I’ll leave the other political ramifications of the CPAC conference for other blogs.  But the future, for at least marriage equality, holds great promise.

176 Comments February 21, 2010

Hate the Act, Denigrate the Actor

by Brian Leubitz

I have always found “hate the sin, love the sinner” to be one of the more demeaning slurs against the LGBT community. While the anti-gay folks like to consider this very thoughtful, it is belittling of our lives and how we choose to live them. It invalidates our entire lives as the sum total of our “sin.”

As luck (or a conference organizer with a sense of humor) would have it, GOProud’s booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference is located two booths down from the National Organization for Marriage — opposite-sex marriage, that is. When CNN started shooting a story on the gay Republican group’s experience at CPAC on Thursday, the NOM delegation sent someone over to shake hands, suggest a beer summit, and smile for the cameras.

After the CNN segment ran Friday, however, NOM, under pressure, felt compelled to blast out a statement that fell well short of an invitation to guzzle some suds. “We welcome everyone’s right to participate in the democratic process, but we have a message for GOProud on marriage: If you try to elect pro-gay-marriage Republicans, we will Dede Scozzafava them. The majority of Americans, and the vast majority of Republicans, support marriage as the union of husband and wife, and NOM is here to make sure these voters and their voices are heard loud and clear,” the statement reads.

Say it to our faces, GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia said. We’re standing right next to you.

Maggie Gallagher  and NOM like to pretend that they are very thoughtful and considerate. At debates, she likes to say that if they could get in a room, they would be able to solve this issue. But when you consider that Gallagher and her ilk thinks that our whole community is nothing but a bunch of sinners. And as soon as she can talk about you behind your back, she will.

The heart of the matter is that the rights of our community should not be judged based upon what Maggie thinks or believes, but only based upon the law and full equality under said law.

224 Comments February 20, 2010

Oh, the Lengths They Will Go

by Brian Leubitz

Sometimes, you must simply sit back and marvel at the homophobia. I mean, really, sit back and marvel.  I mean, I wouldn’t have thought of this little gem to teach hatred:

A Ugandan pastor is showing gay pornography at church to try to garner support for a proposed law that would impose the death penalty for some gays.

Martin Ssempa showed the videos to some 100 adults during a church service Wednesday in Uganda’s capital.

He says he plans to show the films regularly to educate churchgoers on gay sex and also plans to show the videos to parliamentarians. He says some churchgoers cried after watching the videos, which he said he downloaded from the Internet. (AP)

Interesting that at the same time he showed the gay porn he didn’t go ahead and show any straight porn.  Porn is porn folks. It’s gritty, it can be messy, but honestly, isn’t that the point? Gay porn is no more representative of gay relationships than straight porn is of straight relationships.

UPDATE: Martin Ssempa is closely connected to Rick Warren, the Orange County preacher who gave the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration. (h/t Andrea in the comments)

But there’s more than one way to demonize. Remember how I mentioned the Cato Institute’s Forum on whether there is a place for the LGBT community within the conservative movement? Well, if one Ryan Sorba has anything to say about it, the answer is a definitive no.

While I wouldn’t want to be caught at a convention such as CPAC, I understand that there are a few members of the LGBT community who would like to share in the conservative movement’s big love-in. Well, I wish them the best, but nobody should be the subject of this kind of abuse. These are sincere (I assume) conservatives who simply disagree with you on an issue of social conservatism. Defining a person by one act, one relationship, or one aspect of who they are is an affront to both morality and common decency.

And so to the gentleman who made Sorba’s “enemies list.” Savor it, being on that list certainly can’t hurt.

171 Comments February 19, 2010

CPAC and the Gays

By Julia Rosen

The far right is holding their annual conference called CPAC. They are perhaps best known for their straw poll of presidential contenders to get a sense of how the conservative base feels at the moment. The event is packed with speeches and vendors. And yes, the homos have been a topic of conversation.

HRC managed to grab this video of a press conference about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

It’s hard to pick the most ourageous moment of that press conference. Is it Elaine Donnelly saying Admiral Mullen let down the troops? No, though I do love that she is wearing a rainbow pin. What about Tom Minnery from Focus on the Family calling the potential repeal of DADT a “social engineering debacle” and claiming that it will result in a bunch of “severely disappointed gay men”. To which I say: what about the lesbians? Or Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council who said this was not an issue of “two men or two women holding hands in camouflage”. Huh?

An even bigger head-scratcher was David Keene from the American Conservative Union to tried to draw analogy to health care reform and wall street reform, claiming that people who don’t know anything about the military are “telling us how it ought to be run.” This comes of course from a guy who has absolutely no military experience himself and has been a political hack nearly his whole life. Penny Nance of the Concerned Women of American thinks that repealing DADT means Obama is not serious about the War on Terror!!!

Last but not least is Admiral James “Ace” Lyons (ret.) who incredibly starts talking about 19th century history, claiming that there were so many gays in the military that mothers tried to keep their sons out of the service “rampant” he says, just “rampant”. That’s not something I ever learned in history class. My favorite part is when he starts comparing gays to “drug pushers”. Yes, really.

But this video is not all of the fun to be had at CPAC, when it comes to the gays. A new group GOProud (get it, they are Republicans who haven’t let their fellow party members make them hate themselves) signed up for a table, causing the Liberty Council (Jerry Falwell’s group) to throw a hissy fit and threaten to pull out. CPAC called their bluff. GOProud came and so did the Liberty Council. Mother Jones has the full story, but this was my favorite bit.

GOProud already sports 2,000 members and is apparently growing. Its CPAC booth, separated by a single table from the National Organization for Marriage, the anti-gay marriage group, drew some curious looks from conference attendees, but LaSalvia says people had been friendly.

I wonder if Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown’s heads exploded, when they saw their neighbors.

215 Comments February 18, 2010

On What Politics Could Be

by Brian Leubitz

I’m something of a leftist, just read my writing at Calitics, and you’ll set that pretty clearly. However, I am a big fan of (small “d”) democracy, more than I am of any political party or movement. Democracy has its fair share of problems, many of which stem from too much private money sloshing around the system, but all in all, it’s a pretty good system. Or perhaps I should let Sir Winson Churchill put it more cynically. “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

So, it is with that I turn my attention to the Cato Institute’s Forum on whether there is a place for the LGBT community within the conservative movement. The headline of the act was a Maggie Gallagher vs. Andrew Sullivan battle royale. And I’ll get to that at some point, but my point here is a different one. Check out the audio of the at TheNewCivilRightsMovement, and pay particular attention to the first speaker.

He is British MP Nick Herbert. And earlier this year, he was “civilly partnered” in Britain. But what would be unthinkable here in America, is the fact that he is a Tory, a member of Britain’s Conservative Party. Herbert isn’t the only prominent gay Tory MP to “marry”; earlier this year MP Alan Duncan “married” his long-time partner.  And Herbert believes that the Tories are rapidly becoming as welcoming to the LGBT community as the Labour Party.

‘For the modern Conservative Party, embracing gay equality is neither a temporary phenomenon, nor an agenda which can be reversed.’

[MP Nick Herbert’s] words follow the recent apology by David Cameron over Section 28, the controversial law, passed by the Conservative government in 1988, which banned local councils from promoting homosexuality.

The Tory leader insisted that his party had “changed,” and now believed that homosexual men and women, and civil partnerships between same sex couples, were of equal value to heterosexual relationships and marriages. (Telegraph)

In fact, if the Tories fare well in the next elections for Parliament, which it is looking very likely, there will be more LGBT MPs from the Conservative Party than from the Labour Party.  That is not to say that the Tories don’t have a ways to go on rights for LGBTs in Britain, but they are miles ahead of both the Democratic and Republican parties here in the States.  And frankly, for a nation that once prided itself on producing a melting pot where all were welcome, that is rather disappointing.

Of course, at the same time, the quotes around marry are both demeaning and offensive. And here, neither the Labour or Conservative parties could go that final step to marriage. It is discriminatory and offensive, but as a practical matter, in the UK, gay “married” partners have the same rights as straight married partners.  Minus the air quotes.

The LGBT community will be far better served when one party doesn’t try to suck votes by simply grandstanding to ignorance, and we can support them based on more than a handful of issues. But, there is a threshold question of whether we are respected as human beings. And as long as the LGBT is not respected in one party or another, I suspect a vast majority of votes will continue to stay in one column.

202 Comments February 18, 2010

Next page Previous page