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Ron Paul’s heartless stance on health care



Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul apparently learned nothing from the death of his 2008 campaign chairman, a gay man named Kent Snyder.

Snyder, 49, died of pneumonia in 2008. He was uninsured and left about $400,000 in unpaid medical bills to his surviving mother. Paul was criticized at the time for failing to offer his campaign staffers medical insurance. The Blade covered the story extensively back then and interviewed Paul about it. His lame defense was that no campaign offered health insurance, a false claim — Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s campaigns all offered health insurance to staff.

At last week’s Tea Party debate, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Paul what should happen to an uninsured 30-year-old man who needed six months of hospitalization.

“In a society that you accept socialism and welfarism, he expects the government to take care of him … he should assume responsibility for himself,” came Paul’s heartless response.

Blitzer replied, “Are you saying society should just let him die?”

In response, the bloodthirsty, unsympathetic crowd yelled, “Yeah!”

You’d think that the death of a trusted campaign aide — who Paul said was instrumental in helping him decide to run in 2008 — would prompt some soul-searching and deeper thinking about the state of America’s health care system. But obviously that’s not the case for Paul, who happens to be a medical doctor.

The full 2008 Blade story is re-posted below:


Ron Paul supporters mourn death of gay campaign chair

With no health insurance, Snyder leaves $400K in hospital bills



Activists belonging to the libertarian wing of the Republican Party continue to mourn the loss of Kent Snyder, a 49-year-old gay political operative credited with propelling the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) into a national, grassroots movement that raised more than $35 million.

Snyder, who served as Paul’s campaign chair, died of pneumonia on June 26 after being hospitalized for about two months and after running up medical bills exceeding $400,000, according to friends and family members, who said he did not have health insurance.

Gay staffers from the Paul campaign, some speaking on condition that they not be identified, said they learned about Snyder’s unpaid medical bills from a web site created by his friends that calls on Paul supporters to contribute to a special fund to help Snyder’s family pay the bills, which come mostly from a two-month hospitalization. So far, the site ( has raised about $32,000.

“I can’t believe he didn’t have health insurance,” said one political activist who read about Snyder’s unpaid medical bills in a story published last month in the Wall Street Journal. “I can’t believe that Ron Paul didn’t give him health insurance,” said the activist, who asked not to be identified.

The Journal story did not identify Snyder as gay; a Washington Post obituary reported Snyder died of viral pneumonia but did not mention his sexual orientation.

Craig Max, a D.C. gay Republican activist who sought to become a Ron Paul delegate to the Republican National Convention, said news of Snyder’s death and his lack of health insurance has triggered a behind-the-scenes debate among Paul supporters and libertarian activists over whether or not the Paul campaign should have provided health insurance to its staff.

Among the points raised, according to Max and others involved in the Paul campaign, is the fact that Paul is a practicing physician. Some of the Paul supporters are asking why a medical doctor, whose campaign raised $35 million in contributions, chose not to offer health insurance for his staff.

When asked at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday about concerns raised by critics that his presidential campaign did not provide employee health insurance, Paul said only that he doesn’t believe any political campaigns offer health insurance.

“I don’t know of any campaign that has health insurance for temporary and other employees,” he said. “I’ve never had it and I’ve been in this business for 30 years. I don’t know any campaign that does.”

At least three gay Paul supporters said it was well known among Paul campaign insiders that Snyder was gay. Although Snyder shunned the public spotlight, activists and political operatives working on the campaigns of rival GOP presidential candidates, including officials with the McCain campaign, recognized Snyder’s efforts in building a major campaign operation for Paul, Paul’s gay supporters said.

“As far as his being out, I don’t think that he was ever in or anything like that,” said Jesse Benton, who served as communications director for the Paul presidential campaign. “But his romantic life was just not something that was discussed. He was the boss and that was that.”

Benton said Snyder confided in him that he had a chronic blood disorder. He said that Snyder told him the name of the disorder but Benton said he does not remember it.

“To my knowledge, Kent did not have HIV,” Benton said. “He expressed to me a couple of times what his blood disorder was, but I believe [the HIV speculation] to just be a rumor.”

Benton said it was Snyder himself who made the decision not to provide health insurance to the campaign staff.

“Kent Snyder as the chairman of the campaign ran the business operation,” Benton said. “So it was his decision as to what would be offered to employees.”

Benton said Snyder’s decision was not unusual in the realm of political campaigns.

“As a general practice, virtually no political campaigns offer health insurance,” Benton said. “It’s just not done. A campaign is a temporary organization that could disband at any minute.”

But gay Democratic activist and political consultant Steve Elmendorf disputes Benton’s assessment, saying that in recent years, a growing number of campaigns have begun providing health insurance to paid staffers, with the campaigns of Democratic candidates offering medical coverage in greater numbers than Republican candidates.

Jordan Lieberman, publisher of Campaigns and Elections’ Politics Magazine, which is considered an authority on American political campaigns, said that in the recent past, health insurance was almost never offered by campaigns operated by either Republicans or Democrats. Now, Lieberman said, the trend among larger campaigns, especially presidential campaigns, is to offer health insurance benefits.

Spokespersons for the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain said both campaigns provide full health insurance coverage to their paid staff. A spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign said Clinton also provided health insurance coverage to campaign staffers before she ended her campaign in early June.

On his own web site, Paul called Snyder’s death a “great loss” to the libertarian movement.

“Kent poured every ounce of his being into our fight for freedom,” Paul said. “He will always hold a place in my heart and in the hearts of my family. We deeply mourn his loss.”

Paul praised Snyder for playing a key role in advancing libertarian causes and noted that Snyder began his association with him in 1987, when he worked on Paul’s first run for president.

“Over the next 20 years, we worked together on countless projects in the name of freedom,” Paul said. “It was Kent, more than anyone else, who urged me to run again for president” in 2008.

Gay libertarian activists have praised Paul for his longstanding views calling for all Americans to be free from government intrusion into their private lives through laws and regulations. Paul voted against a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

But according to a scorecard on the voting records of members of Congress on gay-related issues, Paul voted against the interests of gays on all issues other than the marriage amendment. In the Human Rights Campaign scorecard for the 109th Congress (2005-2006), the latest scorecard that the group has issued, Paul received a score of 38 on a scale from 0 to 100. According to HRC, Paul received a score of 25 for the 108th Congress (2003-2004) and a 0 in the 107th Congress (2000-2002).

Similar to most libertarians, Paul opposed bills like the Employment Non- Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and a hate crimes bill, which would authorize the federal government to prosecute anti-gay hate crimes, on grounds that such legislation improperly expands government powers.

Liberal blogger Rob Kall, in a July 5 posting on, called Kent Snyder’s death and his unpaid medical bills an ironic twist to Snyder’s libertarian philosophy.

“What a testament to the libertarian creed, which abhors the idea of universal health care,” Kall wrote. “This loyal, passionate man who died too young left his family a debt of $400,000 in medical bills,” he said. “Sadly, the libertarian heart apparently does not include health care.”

Benton and others who knew Snyder said he gave up a lucrative career as a telecommunications industry executive to work for one of Paul’s libertarian organizations before becoming the head of the Paul for president campaign. Benton said Snyder’s friends and associates from the campaign are now especially concerned that Snyder’s unpaid medical bills could adversely impact Snyder’s mother.

“I do know that Kent was an extremely proud man and he was basically financially supporting his mother and allowing her to live in a property he owned,” Benton said. “As someone who respected him very much — he had a lot of people who respected him a lot — we all know that he would turn over in his grave if his mother has to leave that property.

“So it was important for us to do what we could,” Benton said. “And I’m not a wealthy man but I made a small contribution, Dr. Paul has made a personal contribution, and a lot of the campaign staff have given what they could,” he said, referring to the special fund to help pay off Snyder’s medical bills.




Trans rights have reached a crisis point

We should fear DeSantis more than Trump



Michael Knowles speaks at CPAC. (Screen capture via Vimeo)

Trans rights have reached a crisis point. There’s no other way to say it. 

On March 4, CPAC speaker Michael Knowles plainly stated that “if [transgenderism] is false, then for the good of society, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely – the whole preposterous ideology.”

To liken transness as a mere ideology is problematic on many different counts, but that paled in comparison to Knowles’s need for us to be eradicated. Eradication rhetoric is a genocidal tool, to ask and plead for an entire subpopulation to go away in one fell swoop is murderous and brutal. Genocides begin with this kind of rhetoric, then escalate to dangerous politicians being elected to office, then escalate even more to harsh policy, then escalate yet again when those harsh policies force humans to have to do many things — be locked in a cage, move out of the country, or even detransition, in this case. 

Look no further than what happened at the southern border during Trump’s years in office, when images of migrants and their children surfaced at maximum security facilities, lying on the floor with nothing but a meager blanket and barbed wire surrounding their bodies. 

Indeed, a lot of the CPAC conference was dedicated to engaging in these culture wars — but Knowles’s statement of eradication goes beyond the normal cultural bickering. This is why trans politics are at a dangerous turning point. 

Adding to this chaos are bathroom bills and sports policies that prevent trans high schoolers from accessing the bathroom they need, or playing on the right side of their sports team. 

In conversations with professionals, academics, and friends, I like to mention the fact that Republicans take peoples’ rights away when they notice that those people have gained more freedom. Think of it this way: when I was in high school, in 2010, far fewer trans people were out with their identities. Transness didn’t take a center stage in culture — be it on the left or on the right. And as a result, trans students were only attacked by bullies and in locker rooms, not by state politicians. 

But the rise of Gen Z has witnessed many high schoolers now flouting gender norms, going by nonbinary pronouns, and being proud of their gender variance. Moreover, society is filled with many more trans models and celebrities. When our presence becomes celebrated and known, Republicans will then take the necessary tools to push us back into the closet. 

What’s adding to the concern is the rise of smarter Republican candidates for the 2024 election who have exactly the same feelings of Trump but with higher intellects. Ron DeSantis is an example of a presidential contender who mirrors Trump’s bigotry and policies but is far more targeted and intelligent in his approach to public speaking and politics. Indeed, Democrats should be more afraid of DeSantis than of Trump. 

On an end note, I like to summon an old saying by the late Martin Luther King. “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” No matter how much cruelty Republicans will put us through, they won’t succeed in the long run. More and more of society is catching up to the fact that trans people deserve respect and fairness. There will come a day when we have to sigh less and less about the state of our rights. 

Isaac Amend (he/him/his) is a trans man and young professional in the D.C. area. He was featured on National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ in 2017 as a student at Yale University. Amend is also on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Find him on Instagram @isaacamend.

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The ‘Find Out’ generation: A new generation for a new America

We are willing to face down the forces of status quo



(Photo by Ben Gingell/Bigstock)

In an op-ed I wrote in April entitled “On Gun Violence, the New Generation Will Not Be Silenced,” I wrote about Tennessee State Representative Justin Thomas and Justin Pearson being expelled from the Tennessee Legislature.

Since then, both have been reinstated by local county governing boards that sent them back to the legislature unanimously. Let’s recall they and the remaining legislator Gloria Johnson’s “crime,” was deciding enough was enough by protesting against gun violence on the legislative floor. The national support they have received since then has been enormous. 

Similarly, in Montana, Zooey Zephyr, the first transgender legislator there, was silenced by the Republican majority legislature there, being censured (prevented from public speaking) for saying there would be “blood on the hands” of members that voted on an anti-trans piece of legislation.

Zephyr and the “Tennessee Three,” as they’ve come to be called, are part of a new generation of leaders in America, or the “find out” generation that won’t settle for business as usual and are willing to face down the forces of status quo that want to maintain a system built on White supremacy and assimilation. 

They follow a lineage of resistance of those willing to cause “good trouble,” as the late Congressman John Lewis once said. As the former head of the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee in the 60s, Lewis was arrested multiple times and was part of the Tennessee sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville. (He would later, in 2016, bring Congressional House proceedings to a halt in a protest against gun violence.)

Justin Jones himself has been arrested 13 times for non-violent protest and jokes that one of the reasons he ran for the state legislature is that “members of the Tennessee Legislature can’t be arrested,” which is true, at least while in session. But Justin’s arrests are part of the tradition of the civil rights movement in the South. Tennessee was indeed the home resistance. 

In May of 1960, over 150 students were arrested by the police for attempting to desegregate lunch counters in downtown Nashville. During the trial, the students, including Diane Nash, were defended by a group of 13 lawyers, headed by Z. Alexander Looby, a Black lawyer from the British West Indies, whose house was later bombed by segregationists. Looby and his wife were thankfully unharmed.

Later that day, 3,000 protesters marched to Nashville City Hall to confront Mayor Ben West to demand something be done about the violence. He agreed the lunch counters should be desegregated but that it should be up to the store managers.

The city later reached an agreement to desegregate numerous stores before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited desegregation altogether. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. later came to Nashville, saying he “did not come to bring inspiration, but to find it.” 

Meanwhile, in Montana, Zooey Zephyr, the first transgender state legislator in Montana, follows in the footsteps of early LGBT activists/officeholders like the late Harvey Milk of San Francisco. Zephyr’s courageous stance against a majority of the legislature who voted for an anti-trans bill prohibiting gender-affirming healthcare for minors resulted in Zephyr being censured and prohibited from giving speeches on the House floor. Since then, there has been a tremendous national backlash against such fascist tactics both there and in Tennessee. 

As we look ahead to Junteenth and Pride next month, Jones, Pearson, and Zephyr are visible symbols of the rise of a new generation coming up, the “find out” generation that refuses to accept the status quo and who is willing to put everything on the line to face injustice in the name of service to their communities.

Whether it is gun violence, housing, or hate, leadership like this will create the multigenerational, intersectional leadership we need at the local, state, and federal levels in the Halls of Congress to bring about solutions to the issues we have been facing. To create a new America that works for everyone. And I’m here for it. 

A millennial based in Los Angeles, Steve Dunwoody is a veteran, college educator, and community advocate.

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Pride month should be every month

Let’s not keep supportive CEOs and LGBTQ police out of our parades



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

I find it interesting we celebrate our Pride only one month a year. I take pride in being gay all year long. I am not opposed to celebrations in June; parades and festivals are great fun. I appreciate Capital Pride naming me a Pride Hero in 2016. Those magnetic signs decorating the convertible I rode in, now adorn my refrigerator. But for me Pride in being gay is something I have all year long.

It took me many years to feel that way. I was 34 when I finally came out, sharing who I was with others. One of the factors keeping me in the closet as a young person was the desire to run for public office. That wasn’t possible as an openly gay man, even where I grew up in New York City. It was only moving to Washington, D.C., away from family and childhood friends, that finally focused me on my true self, allowing me to come to grips with who I was, a gay man.

In 1978, D.C. was a place people could feel comfortable taking those first steps toward coming out. Many people were away from their family and old friends, ready to take a step into their own reality. You could go to a bar like Rascals in Dupont Circle, meet congresspersons, congressional staff, government officials, non-profit and business CEOs, teachers and reporters, all still in the closet and not afraid they would be outed. Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, before AIDS, many of us were still in the closet.

Thankfully, there were some who were not. In the 1978 D.C. mayoral race, won by Marion Barry, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the gay Democratic club in D.C., played a major role in his victory. Barry openly thanked them. He was a four-term mayor who supported the LGBTQ community. It wasn’t until the end of his career, when he was a Council member from Ward 8, that he came out against gay marriage. I remember how jarring it was for so many when he stood on Freedom Plaza with some homophobic ministers, and told us he opposed our right to marry. But he was the anomaly in D.C. The work of activists over the years, I was proud to be one of them, won. The D.C. Council passed marriage equality.

In today’s troubling times the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, the African-American community, and all minorities, are at risk. With white supremacy on the rise, and anti-Semitism once again rearing its ugly head, it’s important to celebrate our Pride all year long. I want every month to be a Pride month, so people in Florida will know they cannot deprive us of our rights, or erase us from their schools. So, a young boy or girl in Mississippi or Montana, who struggle with who they are, and who they love, will be able to see they are great and loved, and can live their life fully, and safely, being their true self.

I hope by the time we celebrate World Pride in D.C. in 2025, inviting the world in to see who the United States really is, we can be proud of who we are. Today that is not the case in many ways. I want a transgender person to come to the United States for World Pride and feel comfortable, not only on the streets of D.C., but anywhere in our country. I want us to be able to show off and say, here you are safe. I want the feeling I had, as a privileged white cisgender man, coming out safely in D.C., to be the feeling everyone has. To do that we will have to fight not only homophobia, but racism, and sexism. It is all interconnected and we must recognize that and join hands, if we are to be successful. While today in D.C. we have African-American Pride, Transgender Pride, Youth Pride, and Latino Pride, maybe we can all join together for World Pride. Let us have pride in each other, as well as ourselves. Let us have that pride every month, every day, and every hour, all year long.

We can do this and still have fun in June. Let’s not keep LGBTQ police, and military, out of our parades. Let us be as proud of them, as they are of themselves. Let us invite the corporate entities that support us. I would be proud to march with Disney CEO Robert Iger. We will only make progress if we do so together.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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