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Gingrich comes from behind to win S.C. primary

Win means three contests have gone to different candidates

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Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich pulled a surprise win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, throwing off expectations for the race for the GOP nomination.

Media outlets projected Gingrich would win the primary immediately upon close of the polls at 7 pm. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Gingrich captured 40.8 percent of the vote, or 243,153 of the total votes cases in the election. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in a distant second with 27.8 percent.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum was in third place with 17 percent of the vote. Coming in fourth was Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) with 13 percent.

In victory speech in South Carolina, Gingrich said he was seeking broad support for his campaign as he took a dig at President Obama.

“We want to run not a Republican campaign; we want to run an American campaign,” Gingrich said. “This is the most important election of our lifetime. If Barack Obama can get re-elected after this disaster — right — just think of how radical he would be in a second term.”

Immediately following Gingrich’s remarks on Obama, an audience member shouted, “No more years!”

Gingrich also alluded to Romney’s campaign without mentioning the former Massachusetts governor, saying, “We don’t have the kind of money that at least one of the candidates has.” According to the latest reports, Romney has raised $32.2 million, while Gingrich has raised only $2.9 million.

“But we do have ideas, and we do have people,” Gingrich said. “And we proved here in South Carolina that people power with the right ideas beats big money, and with your help, we’re going to prove it again in Florida.”

In his speech following the results, Santorum said his campaign was about importance of families, marriage and mothers and fathers. The candidate has been vocal about his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“If we are not the party that stands up to the truth about the importance of marriage, the importance of families, the importance of fatherhood and motherhood, the importance of those values of instilling of virtues in the next generation of children with faith, then we a party that no longer has a heart, and we not a party that’s going to be a majority party in this country,” Santorum said.

Earlier this week, Romney was polling ahead of other Republicans in the Palmetto State by double-digits and observers predicted he’d win the primary. But polls on Friday began showing Gingrich was ahead, leading to the win for the candidate.

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said Gingrich’s win in South Carolina demonstrates the Republican Party is reluctant to embrace Romney as their standard-bearer.

“The GOP base south of the Mason-Dixon line has never been all that fond of Mitt Romney, but the fact that South Carolina voters gave such a lopsided victory to an ethically challenged, twice divorced, serial philanderer who resigned his last position of power in disgrace is just breathtaking,” Davis said. “Republican voters are starting to see Romney for what he really is: a corporate raider who has no core values of his own and will say anything to get himself elected. The not-Romney wing of the Republican party hasn’t won yet, but they struck a major blow tonight in the Palmetto State.”

Gingrich won the primary after Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the race Thursday and threw his support behind the former U.S. House speaker. Perry was only polling in the single digits in South Carolina, but the shifted support from Perry to Gingrich likely contributed to the outcome of the contest.

Chris Barron, chief strategist for the gay conservative group GOProud, congratulated Gingrich and attributed his win to the candidate steering clear of negative attacks on Romney’s business career.

“It is clear that Speaker Gingrich’s poll numbers improved dramatically once he ended his unnecessary and unproductive attacks on Governor Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital,” Barron said. “As conservatives we should make it clear that we are the champions of free enterprise.”

The Gingrich win is likely troubling for Romney, who earlier this week was seen as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. That mantle was taken from him after a recount of the Iowa caucus revealed this week that Santorum had actually won there by 34 votes.

Gingrich faces obstacles to clamping down the Republican nomination, including his admitted marital infidelities.Earlier this week, Marianne Gingrich, the candidate’s second wife, said during an ABC News interview Gingrich wanted an open relationship during the marriage. The candidate later divorced her and married his current and third wife, Callista Gingrich, with whom he was having affair while in his second marriage.

Additionally, although Gingrich has been seen as an alternative to the more moderate Romney, socially conservative, evangelical leaders threw their support behind Santorum during a meeting in Texas last week.

The thrice-married Gingrich is an opponent of same-sex marriage and signed a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage committing himself upon election as president to backing a Federal Marriage Amendment, defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establishing a presidential commission on “religious liberty.”

Brian Brown, NOM’s president, congratulated Gingrich for his victory and noted each of the winners so far in the Republican presidential primaries adhere to the organization’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Paul hasn’t signed NOM’s pledge.

“NOM congratulates Newt Gingrich on his impressive come-from-behind victory in South Carolina,” Brown said. “We have had three different victors in state contests thus far — Rick Santorum in Iowa, Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and now Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. What all these states have in common is that they have picked candidates who have signed NOM’s Marriage Pledge They are all winners and NOM supports each of them.”

Romney also continues to lead in the national polls. A Gallup poll published Friday gave him a 10-point lead over Gingrich. However, the lead Romney enjoys has been diminished from the standing he enjoyed earlier this week, when he had a 23-point lead over both Gingrich and Santorum.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said the Florida Republican primary — set to take place Jan. 31 — will be a “greater mark” of who Republicans want to rally around as their nominee.

“Like all Republicans during primary season, Log Cabin Republicans, including our members in the Palmetto state, have differing views of who should be our nominee,” Cooper said “Unlike South Carolina, the demographics of Florida provide an electorate closer to what the nominee will face in the November general election.”

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. laurelboy2

    January 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Good for Newt. We need someone to kick some butt in this country.

  2. Matthias Klein

    January 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    LESSON Learned from SC: Do not underestimate the folly of voters

    – how easily they are moved by shrewd 30seconds/30minute ads and 30minute debate performances. SuperPacs seem to have changed outcome results by 10% to 20% as seen in Iowa against Newt Ginrich and in South Carolina in favor of Newt Ginrich.
    – how easily they can forget former convictions: The Tea party was against the Washington establishment. Mr Washington, Newt Gingrich, won. Christian conservatives focus on family values and Mr Ginrich wins although he has the wildest past in this respect .
    – how difficult it is for them to follow wisdom. Anger is not a good advisor for reasonable decicions.

    Watch: German preacher’s thoughts on 2012
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpLYq525SpM

  3. I'm Just Sayin'

    January 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Actually Cooper is not entirely correct about the Florida demographic being more reflective of what the GOP nominee will face in the general election. Yes, the state as whole is more diverse than South Carolina, but Florida is a closed primary (only registered republicans can vote). In other words you had to be a registered republican on January 3, 2012 in order to vote in the primary on January 31, 2012.

    So it is likely that the voters will again be far more conservative than the nation as a whole since independents and moderate democrats cannot participate. Plus you have some very distinct lines of demarkation with the Red Neck Riviera in the Panhandle which plays a lot like South Carolina, the I-4 corridor which plays Midwestern and South Florida which is wealthy snowbirds and middle-class hispanics with with divergent interests. In addition Florida has had open voting for the past several days and some 200,000 ballots have been cast before the most recent debate performances, change of fortunes in Iowa and the Romney tax debacle. So you have a big chunk of under-informed ballots already cast.

    Clearly Romney must win Florida or people will stop whispering about his electability and start openly discussing it. Gingrich only need come in a close second since no one expects him to win the state given Romney’s early start and resource advantage.

    I can see how Gingrich is a problem for Cooper and an LCR Board desperate to get a candidate that they can endorse so they don’t have to sit on the sidelines. Then again should LCR really be buying into Romney’s “I’ll do gays no harm” mantra? Can they be certain with his track record that he won’t change his mind should his political fortunes demand it? Perhaps its time for LCR to re-examine the whole idea of party affiliation? Why not show yourselves a little respect by stop kissing GOP butt and rebrand yourself Log Cabin Conservatives?

  4. Austin Hoffman

    January 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    heck ya!! GO NEWT!!! ….i just realized how big of a BOSS Newt is…. and i quote:
    “Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear cut idea about America’s enemies…KILL THEM”
    LOL…come on, he sounds like the ex–cali governator/terminator .. I LOVE IT!
    video:
    http://www.peeje.com/newt-gingrich-americans-want-paychecks-212/

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Minnesota

Minnesota middle school principal ousted for displaying Pride flag

Critics ramped up attacks on the career educator- some compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students

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Screenshot via Marshall Public Schools, YouTube Channel

MARSHALL, Mn. — A former middle school principal in Minnesota who lost her job after displaying a Pride flag alleges in a federal lawsuit that the school system retaliated against her for supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Mary Kay Thomas filed the complaint against Marshall Public Schools in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota Tuesday after anti-LGBTQ+ middle school staff, parents, students and local clergy began efforts to remove the Pride flag that she put up in her middle school’s cafeteria in 2020 as a part of an inclusiveness effort.

According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been a teacher and principal for more than three decades with a long track record of success. She held the principal position at Marshall Middle School for 15 years, receiving contract renewals, pay raises and praise for her performance.

“But when Thomas decided to display an LGBTQ Pride Flag in the school cafeteria in early 2020, everything changed,” reads the complaint. 

Thomas refused to take down the Pride flag as critics ramped up attacks on the career educator. The lawsuit alleges that some even compared her to the Devil after publicly associating with LGBTQ+ people and students. 

“Sadly, the Marshall School District has sided with these critics,” her lawyers wrote. 

What followed was an “escalating series of adverse actions” taken by the Marshall School District, said the lawsuit. She claims that the school targeted her by threatening her employment, conducting a “bad-faith” investigation, putting her on indefinite involuntary leave, suspending her without pay and putting a notice of deficiency in her personnel file. 

The complaint says that the deficiencies were “false, distorted, and/or related to Thomas’s association with members of the LGBTQ community.”

Thomas also claims that the District attempted to get her to quit by removing her as principal and assigning her to a “demeaning ‘special projects’ position.”

At one point, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams, who is named as a defendant in the case, told Thomas he could “make this all go away” if she stepped down, according to the complaint. 

The school removed the Pride flag in August 2021 after settling a lawsuit brought by residents who opposed it. 

The Blade reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response. However, according to the Marshall Independent, Williams did release a statement on the matter. 

“Marshall Public Schools is committed to the education of every child and has strong policies and practices in place against discrimination, against both students and staff members. The school district is committed to creating a respectful, inclusive, and safe learning and working environment for students, staff and our families,” Williams said. “While the school cannot comment about the specific allegations made in the complaint, the school district strongly denies any allegation of discriminatory conduct. The school will vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

In addition, Thomas alleges that she resisted unwanted sexual advancements from school board member Bill Swope. She claims she told Williams about the sexual harassment.

As of Thursday, the school has not filed a response, and no hearing has been scheduled yet. 

Thomas is seeking a jury trial, damages and reinstatement as principal of Marshall Middle School.

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National

Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday

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Matthew Shepard, gay news, Washington Blade
Matthew Shepard Thanksgiving and Celebration at the National Cathedral in 2018. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The parents of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a 1998 hate crime that drew international attention to anti-LGBTQ violence, were among those attending a day of religious services commemorating Shepard’s 45th birthday on Wednesday at the Washington National Cathedral.

The services, which the Cathedral organized in partnership with the Matthew Shepard Foundation, included tributes to Shepard at the Cathedral’s St. Joseph’s Chapel, where his remains were interred in a ceremony in 2018.  

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, said at the time of Shepard’s interment.

“In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,” Hollerith said.

The first of the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard began at 7 a.m. with prayers, scripture readings, and music led by the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan. The service was live streamed on YouTube.

An online, all-day service was also held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Cathedral officials said was intended to “connect people around the world to honor Shepard and the LGBTQ community and pray for a more just world.”

The Shepard services concluded with a 5:30 p.m. in-person remembrance of Shepard in the Cathedral’s Nave, its main worship space. Among those attending were Shepard’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, who have said they created the Matthew Shepard Foundation to continue their son’s support for equality for all.

A statement released by the Cathedral says a bronze plaque honoring Matthew Shepard was installed in St. Joseph’s Chapel to mark his final resting place at the time Shepard was interred there in 2018. 
Following the Cathedral’s Dec. 1 services for Shepard, the Adams Morgan gay bar Pitchers hosted a reception for Dennis and Judy Shepard, according to Pitchers’ owner David Perruzza.

One of the two men charged with Shepard’s murder, Russell Henderson, pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for him. The second of the two men charged, Aaron McKinney, was convicted of the murder following a lengthy jury trial.

Prosecutors said McKinney repeatedly and fatally struck Shepard in the head with the barrel of a handgun after he and Henderson tied Shepard to a wooden fence in a remote field outside Laramie, Wy., on Oct. 6, 1998. Police and prosecutors presented evidence at McKinney’s trial that McKinney and Henderson met Shepard at a bar in Laramie on that day and lured him into their car, where they drove him to the field where authorities said McKinney fatally assaulted him.

Shepard died six days later at a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was taken after being found unconscious while still tied to the fence.

In a dramatic courtroom scene following the jury’s guilty verdict for McKinney, Dennis Shepard urged the judge to spare McKinney’s life by not handing down a death sentence. He said that out of compassion and in honor of his son’s life, McKinney should be allowed to live. The judge sentenced McKinney to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the same sentence given to Henderson.

(VIDEO COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL VIA YOUTUBE)
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National

‘Very familiar’: Mark Glaze’s story brings into focus mental health for gay men

Experts see common story as LGBTQ people enter middle age

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Mark Glaze's death by suicide is bringing into focus mental health issues faced by gay men.

The death by suicide at age 51 of Mark Glaze, a gun reform advocate who was close to many in D.C.’s LGBTQ community, is striking a chord with observers who see his struggles with mental health and alcoholism as reflective of issues facing many gay men as they enter middle age.

Glaze’s story resonates even though much of the attention on mental health issues in the LGBTQ community is devoted to LGBTQ youth going through the coming out process and transgender people who face disproportionate violence and discrimination within the LGBTQ community in addition to a growing focus on LGBTQ seniors entering later stages of life.

Randy Pumphrey, senior director of behavioral health for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, said Glaze’s story was “very familiar” as a tale of mental health issues facing gay men in the middle stage of life.

“You’re talking about a gay-identified man who is in his 50s, somebody who has struggled with alcohol misuse — or maybe abuse or dependence— and also depression,” Pumphrey said. “I think that there has always been a higher incidence of suicide for men in general in their middle age 50 and above, but this increases when you’re talking about gay men, and also if you’re talking about gay men who suffer with mental health issues, or substance use disorder issues.”

Several sources close to Glaze said his death did not come as a surprise. His family has been open about his death by suicide last month while he was in jail after allegedly fleeing the scene of a car accident in Pennsylvania and a long history of depression and alcoholism.

Pumphrey said Glaze’s situation coping with mental health issues as well as the consequences for his role in the accident, were reflective of someone who might “begin to perceive that this is an issue that they can’t get away from, or the consequences they can’t get away from exposure and that can lead somebody to a fatal outcome.”

“My experience is that there have been gay men that I have worked with over the years — particularly in their 50s and early 60s — it’s taken them a long time to recognize the severity of the problem, whether it’s their depression or their substance abuse, and then they find themselves in a very precarious situation because of shame, and so they may not necessarily seek help even though they need help.”

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health found the prevalence of depression among gay men is three times higher than the general adult population, which means they are a subgroup at high risk for suicide.

The study found “scant research exists about gay men’s health beyond sexual health issues,” most often with HIV, which means issues related to depression and suicidality “are poorly understood.”

“Gay men’s health has often been defined by sexual practices, and poorly understood are the intersections of gay men’s physical and mental health with social determinants of health including ethnicity, locale, education level and socioeconomic status,” the study says.

The study acknowledged being male itself is one factor incorporated in addressing mental health issues in this subgroup because “regardless of sexual orientation, men can be reluctant to seek help for mental health problems.” Another study quoted in the report found 23 percent, less than one quarter of gay men, who attempted suicide sought mental health or medical treatment.

In addition to mental health issues facing gay men in Glaze’s age group, others saw his situation as a common story in the culture of Washington, which is notorious for celebrating and prioritizing success with little tolerance for personal setbacks.

In the case of Glaze, who had sparred on Fox News with Tucker Carlson as executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety, the threat of exposure and threat to his career may have seemed overwhelmingly daunting.

Steven Fisher, who knew Glaze since the 1990s and worked with him at the D.C.-based Raben Group, said one factor that contributed to Glaze’s condition was “he could only see upward in terms of his career trajectory.”

“We saw that in him and it had me very concerned because I felt like he might end up in a place that wasn’t good once he left Everytown, and that’s tragically and sadly what happened,” Fisher said. “I think he just had trouble adjusting to what is usually a roller coaster ride, I think, in people’s careers, especially in the D.C. world.”

Along with Glaze, Fisher has worked on gun issues for Everytown, which has been a client of his since 2015 after he worked for them in 2012 after the Newtown shooting.

Compounding the challenges that Glaze faced is a culture among many gay men focused on sexuality, which prioritizes youth and appearance and presents problems as those qualities start fading when men enter middle age.

Fisher said another factor in Glaze’s condition was social media, pointing out public perception about his identity was important to him.

“If you look at his social media — I think this is instructive to the rest of us — a lot of the comments are about how Mark was so good looking and he was charming, and he was so smart and so funny,” Fisher said. “That’s all true, and that’s why he was very appealing to many people, but those qualities don’t really tell you everything about a person. In fact, one could argue they’re superficial in a way, and people have to remember people are more complicated than what you see on social media.”

One issue for gay men facing mental health issues as they enter middle age is they don’t have the same resources as those available to LGBTQ youth, who have been more of a focus in terms of mental health issues in the LGBTQ community.

Among the leading organizations for LGBTQ youth is the Trevor Project, which has resources and a hotline for LGBTQ youth facing mental health crises.

Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, said his organization would be receptive to an older LGBTQ person who calls the hotline, but ultimately would refer that person elsewhere.

“If an LGBTQ person above the age of 25 reaches out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services for support and expresses suicidal thoughts, our counselors will listen, actively and with empathy, and work with them to de-escalate and form a safety plan, like any other contact,” Wong said. “However, our organization has remained youth-centric since its founding and our volunteer crisis counselors are specifically trained with younger LGBTQ people in mind.”

Much attention is focused on the coming out process for LGBTQ people, a time that can upend close relationships — as well as reaffirm them — and a process more commonly associated with youth.

Ilan Meyer, senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said data is scant about suicide rates among LGBTQ people, but information on suicide attempts shows they tend to be at a heightened rate for LGBTQ people as they go through the coming out process.

“What we do know is that there is a connection with the coming out period at whatever age coming out happens,” Meyer said. “And so, we see a proximity to coming out whatever age that happened, we see the suicide attempts proceeding and after that.”

Suicide attempts, Meyer said, are much higher for LGBTQ people than the population at large. The self-reported rate of suicide attempts in the U.S. population as a whole, Meyer said, is 2.4 percent, but that figure changes to 20 to 30 percent among LGBTQ youth, which about to 10 to 15 times greater.

Black and Latino people, Meyer said, have been less likely to make suicide attempts in their lifetimes, although he added that may be changing in recent years.

With the primary focus on mental health issues elsewhere in the LGBTQ community, Glaze’s death raises questions about whether sufficient resources are available to people in his demographic, or whether individuals are willing to seek out care options that are available.

Meyer said whether the resources for suicidal ideologies among LGBTQ people are sufficient and what more could be done “is the the million-dollar question.”

“It’s definitely not determined by just mental health,” Meyer said. “So many people have depression, but they don’t attempt suicide. And so, then the difficult thing is to find the right moment to intervene and what that intervention should be.”

Meyer said much of the focus on mental health is on a person’s last moments before making a suicide attempt, such as making suicide hotlines readily available, but some of the stressors he sees “are more chronic, ongoing things related to homophobia and the kind of experience that LGBT people have as they come to terms to realize their sexual identity.”

Pumphrey said another factor in mental health issues not to be underestimated for almost two years now is “dealing with the COVID and loneliness epidemic,” which appears to have no immediate end in sight with the emergence of the Omnicron variant.

“There was always this piece of sometimes the experience of being in your 50s and early 60s…we talk about the invisibility factor,” Pumphrey said. “But when there’s just this sense of being disconnected from community, especially in the early days of the pandemic, and kind of being locked down, I think that just raised the risk.”

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