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Archive for April, 2012

from NPR.

Ben Church and other opponents of a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage voice their opposition at a rally in Raleigh, N.C., on March 15.

North Carolina is the only Southern state without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But that could change next month.

On May 8, voters will decide whether to change the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Leading Republican lawmakers think it’s one of the most important issues facing voters.

But some conservatives worry that the measure goes too far.

John Hood runs a well-known conservative think tank in Raleigh. His views aren’t usually adopted by liberal groups, but the other day, an anti-amendment volunteer handed Hood a fluorescent-colored flyer to read.

“It says that some North Carolina conservatives like John Hood of the John Locke Foundation say the amendment is too extreme. They say its wording harms the rights of too many people. Well, it’s an accurate quote,” he says, adding with a laugh: “I’m not used to being accurately quoted!”

Hood, a registered independent, thinks lawmakers wasted their time bringing the amendment before voters. A state law already bans same-sex marriage. He says he understands some conservatives want to provide an additional safeguard for traditional marriage with an amendment.

“But then there’s a group of people that I would be in the camp of who do care about marriage as an issue, but simply don’t think the possibility that other people will get married is a threat,” he says. “It seems to me that the real threat to marriage [is] straight people getting divorced or never getting married in the first place.”

Hood isn’t the only conservative to speak out against the measure. Many prominent Republicans across the state have, too. A survey from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-based firm, shows 54 percent of North Carolinians support the amendment, though the margin has narrowed.

Republican legislative leaders say the numbers show voters do not support same-sex marriage.

“That is not a good environment to raise children,” says Paul Stam, the measure’s biggest champion. “It doesn’t mean that every child raised in that environment will have trouble.”

Stam, the majority leader in the North Carolina House of Representatives, believes children born outside traditional marriages face great social and economic hurdles. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ developmentally or emotionally from children with heterosexual parents.

Stam knows his stance may alienate some voters. “It probably will push away 1 or 2 percent,” he says. “On the other hand, it probably will gather more than that from Democrats and independents. So to the extent that there’s a reordering, it doesn’t hurt our party.”

Read the full article from NPR.

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from The New York Times. By R. Clarke Cooper.

Republicans, gay and straight, are united in the belief that strong families are critical to a free society. We recognize that governments respect marriage because of its vital role in fostering greater liberty and independence, thereby lessoning dependency on the state. Unfortunately, this principle is undermined by the exclusion of same-sex couples from legal recognition as devoted parents and committed, loving partners.

Log Cabin Republicans are committed to advocating for legislation to strengthen American families. I personally strive to secure the freedom to marry because I am a Christian and a family values conservative, not in spite of being one. Yes, Log Cabin’s work is about equality, but it’s also about commitment. In an ironic twist, gay and lesbian Americans are among the strongest promoters of conservative family values today.

Fellow marriage equality advocates boldly speak for the importance of commitment and taking responsibility for each other in an era when cohabitation and divorce are commonplace. While too often, fatherhood amounts to paying child support, gay couples are fighting hard for the ability to adopt children in need of homes. Where groups like the National Organization for Marriage contend marriage is about (exclusively procreative) sex, gay couples are reminding America that family means much more than that.

The legislative reforms sought by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are not intended to secure special rights or tear down social institutions. We seek only the ability to build lives together for richer or poorer (without unjust taxation tilting the scale toward poverty), to care for our loved ones in sickness and in health (through equal access to health care and without suffering from a “domestic partner penalty”), and to be by our partner’s side until death (without the fear that the absence of a marriage license would add complications and heartache).

The importance of marriage and family in American law derives not from mere tradition or the honor rightly given to these institutions by various religions. As conservatives, we believe in the ties that bind us, that society is stronger when we make vows to each other. My ability to be a responsible, contributing member of society and committing to raise a family with a spouse is not defined by my sexual orientation. The prayer I make in my local Episcopal parish and the pledge I recite in my Masonic lodge are not predicated by my sexual orientation. There is nothing about being gay that makes my prayer, pledge or even a marriage vow mean any less.

Read the article from The New York Times.

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from The Guardian, written by Fred Karger.

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Photograph: Marvin Gentry/Reuters

Mitt Romney should disavow the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) pledge that he signed last summer and immediately repudiate the unethical and potentially illegal activities of the group, which endorsed him this week.

With the recent release of confidential documents, we now have the proof that NOM is an unethical and deceitful operation. Earlier this month, as part of a two-and-a-half-year money laundering investigation of the NOM by the state ethics commission and attorney general of Maine, a federal judge unsealed scathing documents that had been subpoenaed from NOM.

The NOM documents discuss detailed campaign strategy and the millions of dollars to be spent in upcoming gay marriage battles in Maine, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Washington, DC. The documents discuss and budget $3m to make sure that the Republican nominee for president in 2012 is in lockstep with NOM in opposing marriage equality. That is how the “marriage pledge” signed by Mitt Romney came about.

The NOM marriage pledge states:

• Support and send to states a federal marriage amendment.
• Defend the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) in court.
• Appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.
• Support legislation that would return to the people of DC their right to vote for marriage.

Ron Paul and I remain the only two active candidates who refused to sign NOM’s marriage pledge. I filed the original sworn complaint with the Maine ethics commission on 24 August 2009 accusing NOM of money laundering in its campaign to overturn Maine’s recently passed marriage equality law. In the final two and a half months of this long and hard-fought campaign for the Republican nomination for president, let’s work together toward equality for all Americans.

Read the article from The Guardian.

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from Politico.

Romney’s stance puts him in a tough spot between key donors and his party’s base. | AP Photo

Mitt Romney’s opposition to gay marriage, which helped endear him to conservative activists during the dog days of the presidential primary, puts him at odds with three of his most prominent donors, all of whom helped fund a successful effort to legalize same-sex nuptials in New York last year.

Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Cliff Asness — three hedge fund managers and major players in donor circles — each cut six-figure checks toward the landmark effort to legalize gay marriage in New York.

Singer, the intensely-private head of Elliott Associates, has been especially active in donating to groups aimed at legalizing gay marriage in different states over the last five years, concurrent with his rise as one of the Republican party’s mot prominent bundlers and donors to party committees. According to a recent New York Times story, Singer has donated $8 million to pro-gay marriage efforts since 2007.

He’s also helped raise more than $1 million for Romney’s campaign, as well as donated another $1 million to the super PAC supporting the all-but-assured Republican nominee.

The New York moneymen and some other Republican movers-and-shakers — such as former George W. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, who came out two years ago and is now raising money from a broad swath of donors to push for gay marriage but who hasn’t made a presidential campaign endorsement — are at odds with Romney, who signed a pledge proffered by the conservative National Organization for Marriage promising to, among other things, support “sending a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.”

Officials at NOM endorsed Romney Wednesday morning, within hours of Rick Santorum’s departure from the race. And while both political sides agree that the general election will most likely hinge almost exclusively on the economy, Romney’s position on gay marriage puts him in a difficult spot between some key donors and his party’s base.

It also puts Romney at odds with where the general electorate has been heading on the issue — in 2004, a majority of the country did not want to see gay marriage legalized. But in a Washington Post/ABC News poll last month, 52 percent of voters said it should be legal, while 43 percent said it should be illegal. Once seen as strictly a side issue, gay marriage has become much more central to the political conversation over the last few years.

Donors, as one Republican insider put it, are “often a reflection of where the public attitudes are,” if not indicative of the opinions of the base of either party.

Romney’s divide from some of his donors could become a point of tension if President Barack Obama vocalizes support for same-sex marriage, as a number of gay activists are urging him to do before the November election. Right now, Romney and Obama both oppose gay marriage; the president has said his views are “evolving,”

“Mitt Romney is where President Obama is on this issue,” a Republican backer of the likely nominee said.

Read the article from Politico.

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from The New York Times.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing New York’s marriage-equality bill into law. State Senator Jim Alesi, far right, is the lone Republican present. (PHOTO CREDIT: Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times)

At the end of January, New York’s Conservative Party, the most influential of the minor parties that complicate the state’s politics, celebrated its 50th anniversary at a Holiday Inn near the Albany airport, a vast and dingy venue that reminded me of athlete housing left over from the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Politicians like former Gov. George Pataki, who owed his election to the Conservatives, came to pay homage to the party for its record of steering the state’s politics to the right.

But one calamity darkened the mood of nostalgia and self-congratulation: the passage last summer of a law legalizing same-sex marriage. For many New Yorkers, the June 24 marriage vote was a rare moment of goosebump drama from a capital better known for tedious dysfunction. For the Conservatives, and in particular for Mike Long, the ex-marine who has been the party’s chairman for nearly half of its history, the vote was a triple humiliation.

It was, first, a defining triumph for the state’s ambitious new Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo. Second, it was an abandonment by Republican leaders, who had invoked party discipline to kill similar legislation in 2009. This time the Republican leaders publicly opposed gay marriage, but knowing that both public opinion and lobbying muscle were coalescing on the other side, they freed their members to vote as they wished. And that led to what was, for Mike Long, an unforgivable betrayal. All four of the Republican senators who voted for the bill and provided the necessary margin for it to pass had been elected with the Conservative endorsement, a prize for which opposition to gay marriage was an essential litmus test. Two of those wayward senators would not have won their seats without the Conservative boost.

Try as they might to explain away the defections — perhaps it was the lure of money from gay hedge-fund billionaires, or some devilish deal with Cuomo — the Conservatives feared that this defeat, if not punished, could mean an ominous loss of influence.

The four Republican apostates now had targets on their backs.

…Like New York’s Conservatives, the national lobbies for and against marriage equality see the fate of these four New York Republicans as bearing heavily on their future influence in states where marriage is still undecided. If marriage supporters can’t protect their friends, if opponents can’t mete out punishment to the defectors, who will pay attention to them next time?

“The price is going to be paid by turncoats like Grisanti and the rest,” declared Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, who claims to have $2 million earmarked for the defeat of the New York Four.

So far, the most significant N.O.M. reprisals in New York have been billboards briefly erected in the four districts, with a menacing but oddly nonspecific message addressed to each senator: “You’re Next.” When I asked Conservative politicians in New York what part the national lobby would play, most tended to agree with Thomas D. Cook, chairman of the Monroe County party organization: “I think they’re full of smoke.”

…If the experience of New York’s Republican dissenters teaches us anything, it is how quickly the political tide is turning, how quickly the “untraditional” is becoming normal. Is it moving quickly enough that the Supreme Court, where the issue may be headed via a California test case, will decide the country is ready to accept gay marriage as a constitutional right? Quickly enough that the issue could be an asset, or at least not a liability, if Cuomo runs for president in 2016? Neither would surprise me. At the very least, voting for gay marriage, even if you are a Republican politician from the heartland, is not the risk it would have been just a couple of years ago. The four defectors aren’t guaranteed re-election. But if they lose, it is likely to be in spite of their marriage vote, not because of it.

Read the full article from The New York Times.

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from The Des Moines Register.

Letter writer Ryan Mehaffy was surprised at the support he received when he introduced a pro-equality plank in support of same-sex civil marriage in Iowa at his Republican county convention (“Republicans Should Back Same-Sex Marriage,” March 27 letter).

The support doesn’t surprise me because of what I have learned meeting weekly with a small group of elderly people. Most of them are well over 70 years old, and all but one, so far as I can determine, are Republicans. We were discussing same-sex marriage recently, and I was amazed to learn that all but one of these seniors were in favor of allowing same-sex marriage.

If a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa ever comes to a vote of the people, a safe majority, including many Republicans, will have seen that allowing these marriages is an act of simple justice, and the ban will be defeated.

— David Leonard, Waukee

Read the article from The Des Moines Register.

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from The Des Moines Register, written by Jeff Angelo.

Jeff Angelo, Ames, chairman, Iowa Republicans for Freedom

April 3, 2009, marks the anniversary of a great day in Iowa’s history, the day the Iowa Supreme Court recognized the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry people of the same gender. On this day, the government took a step towards individual freedom, and a step back from big government intrusion.

I was a proud Iowan that day, and I am still proud of my state that continues to recognize that two loving and committed people who want to create a family should be free to do so without our government limiting them.

The most recent poll now shows that a majority of Iowans disapprove of a constitutional amendment that would ban marriage for gay and lesbian couples in our state. This is in keeping with the cultural values for which Iowans are known. We are welcoming and inclusive.

As a proud evangelical Republican who supports marriage for gay and lesbian couples, I am troubled by recent events that have come to light with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Last week Maine courts unsealed NOM internal documents showing that the organization actively sought to create a divide between African Americans, Latinos and gay and lesbian Americans, all in an effort to shift public opinion against marriage for these couples.

It is disturbing that an out-of-state group intended to pour money into Iowa with the single-minded purpose of dividing Iowans against one another and reversing the majority view for raw political gain. It especially disturbed me that the documents detailed a strategy to leverage minority groups against gay people in an attempt to reverse acceptance of civil marriage among adults pledging to live monogamous lives with each other and create stable families.

It is clear that we are moving public opinion on this issue. From Republican legislators in New York, New Hampshire and others, we are seeing more support for marriage equality from conservatives.

Last month Bob Vander Plaats and the head of NOM filled the Capitol for a rally. They turned in roughly 25,000 signatures, representing less than 1 percent of the state’s population. At the rally, they claimed to be the voice of the people of Iowa. But I can tell you that, as an evangelical conservative, Vander Plaats and NOM do not speak for me. In fact, they do not speak for a lot of the conservatives I know.

There are many voters and politicians in Iowa who do not want to see our government overreaching and telling loving and committed couples who they can and cannot marry. It’s time for Iowa Republicans to take back their party from these well-funded groups that wish to plunge the GOP into the kind of disharmony that we see nationwide.

— Jeff Angelo, Ames, chairman, Iowa Republicans for Freedom

Read the article from The Des Moines Register.

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