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Reporters grill Carney on marriage, Prop 8 ruling

No comment on court decision; no update on Obama’s marriage views

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced a flurry of questions Tuesday about President Obama’s evolving position on same-sex marriage and his reaction to the court decision that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

In response to the questioning, Carney said he didn’t have a comment on the decision, although he noted the president has “long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts that deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples.”

A total of six news outlets asked Carney about marriage and the Proposition 8 decision: Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, NBC News, the Huffington Post, American Urban Radio and the Washington Blade.

Under questioning from the Blade, Carney dodged an inquiry about whether Obama — who came out against Prop 8 when it was on the ballot in 2008 and called it “unnecessary” — also believes the measure is unconstitutional.

“I’m not going to comment on litigation particularly as here where we are not party to it, but the president’s positions on these issues writ large are well known, and he’s long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny right and benefits to same-sex couples,” Carney said.

Pressed by the Blade further on whether Obama’s lack of support for marriage equality but opposition to “divisive and discriminatory” efforts such as Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriage, represents an inconsistency, Carney said he didn’t have an update on the president’s position on same-sex marriage, but explained the distinction.

“I can tell you that divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits is something this president has long opposed,” Carney said. “And I think that’s an important point to make. These are proactive and deliberate efforts to deny benefits and to be discriminatory.”

Asked by NBC News whether the Ninth Circuit court decision will inform Obama’s evolution on marriage, Carney said the ruling had come out too recently for him to provide an answer.

“The decision was made within the hour before I came out here, so I haven’t had that conversation,” Carney said.

American Urban Radio pressed Carney further about when Obama’s evolution would come to an end and whether that would take place before June or the general election. Carney, however, said he doesn’t “have a timetable.”

“As the president discussed when he answered this question a while back, this is a process that involves his faith and the way he views these issues,” Carney said.

Asked whether he’s had conversations with members of the LGBT community on this issue, Carney said he isn’t aware of any talks.

“The president has a lot of conversations with a lot of people, and I can’t say one way or the other whether or not he’s had that discussion with anybody,” Carney said. “He may have, but I’m not aware of it.”

Meanwhile, GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney condemned the Prop 8 court ruling.

“Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage,” Romney’s statement said. “This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said Romney was issuing a “kneejerk” reaction to the ruling.

“In a time when conservatives agree that the institution of marriage is in need of support, Republicans should celebrate gay and lesbian Americans embracing the ideals of marriage and creating families,” Cooper said. “Gov. Romney’s comments attacking the court for striking down Proposition 8 reflect an unfortunate kneejerk opposition to expanding liberty and a poorly calculated political effort to appeal to a shrinking base of primary voters opposed to marriage equality.”

A transcript of the exchange between reporters and Carney on the marriage issue follows:

Reuters: Does the White House have a reaction to the appeals court ruling on California’s gay marriage ban?

Jay Carney: I don’t have a comment on litigation in general, and this litigation, to which we are not a party. Beyond that, I can say that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts that deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples.

Washington Blade: I just want to follow up on the Prop 8 ruling. Back in 2008, candidate Obama came out against Proposition 8 when it was on the ballot, calling it “unnecessary.” I’m just wondering if the president shares the belief that the measure is also unconstitutional.

Carney: Well, again, I’m not going to comment on litigation particularly as here where we are not party to it, but the president’s positions on these issues writ large are well known, and he’s long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. But I don’t have anything more for you on that.

Blade: I want to follow up really quickly on that, though. You said the president opposes “divisive and discriminatory” efforts against same-sex couples, but the effort here — the issue in question is marriage, so isn’t it inconsistent for the president to not support same-sex marriage and also to be against such measures?

Carney: Well, I don’t have any update for you on that particular issue in regards to the president’s views. I can tell you that divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits is something this president has long opposed. And I think that’s an important point to make. These are proactive and deliberate efforts to deny benefits and to be discriminatory.

Wall Street Journal: On Proposition 8, just in general, is it still the president’s view that same-sex marriage is an issue that should be decided by the states — each individual state?

Carney: However you might want to tease out an evolutionary position on this —

Journal: I’m just asking you what his position is. Has his position changed that states should make these decisions?

Carney: I have no announcement of any changes.

Journal: Given that that is his latest position that states should make the decision, why would he not be supportive of California making the decision through the vote of Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage?

Carney: Well, because he opposes divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. Again, I’m not commenting on specific litigation. I’m talking about his general opposition.

Journal: All sorts of states have banned same-sex marriage. Are all of those divisive and discriminatory as well?

Carney: I can’t at this moment stand here and analyze each one. I can just tell you the president’s long opposition to divisive and discriminatory efforts — you know his position. You know where it stands now with the issue of same-sex marriage, so I really don’t have much to add on it.

Journal: But there’s a fundamental inconsistency. Correct me if I’m wrong. If he says on one hand, it’s up to the state to decide, but those states who decide that they’re against it are divisive and discriminatory. So, I just wanted you correct me if I’m missing something.

Carney: Well, again I’m not offering a blanket. I’m talking about general efforts that are divisive and discriminatory. I’m not making an assessment on specific states or state laws.

Journal: How is this not just complete hypocrisy if he’s saying that it’s up to states to decide, but he won’t back a state that does make the decision?

Carney: Laura, I’m not going to comment on specific litigation or a specific state. I can say the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny right and benefits to same-sex couples, and his overall record on the issue of LGBT rights is well known and is one that he’s very proud of.

NBC News: I want to try just one more on Proposition 8. How does today’s ruling on Proposition 8 inform the president’s view on same-sex marriage, which he said is evolving?

Carney: I just don’t have anything to add about that. The decision was made within the hour before I came out here, so I haven’t had that conversation.

NBC News: Without getting into the decision

Carney: I don’t know. You’re asking me how his view is changed by this decision. I don’t know.

Huffington Post: I’m just curious how the president can be proactively against divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny people civil rights and not proactively be for the concept of marriage equality?

Carney: Sam, I totally appreciate the question. But I’m not here to announce a new position.

Huffington Post: I want just to illuminate the current position a little bit better.

Carney: Again, I would refer you to the comments the president had made on this issue. I don’t have any changes to provide to you.

American Urban Radio: When will we have a firm decision on this evolution? You have strong groups, groups that have strong thoughts and convictions on this, LGBT groups, you have religious groups, you have civil rights groups and so many others. Will we see a decision by June or before the general election on his evolution and his mindset on this?

Carney: I just don’t have a timetable to provide to you, April. I appreciate the question. As the president discussed when he answered this question a while back, this is a process that involves his faith and the way he views these issues. And as he said, and I won’t go beyond that, his views are evolving. But I don’t have an end point to announce to you or a date certain to tell you that he’ll have to say about that issue.

American Urban Radio: He has strong support from the LGBT community. Is he in consultation with many members of the community about this evolving mindset? When is the last time

Carney: The president has a lot of conversations with a lot of people, and I can’t say one way or the other whether or not he’s had that discussion with anybody. He may have, but I’m not aware of it.

Watch the video of the Blade’s questioning with Carney here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFsxzw3-GfA

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. anthonyjj

    February 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    This guy is Obama’s spokesperson? Doesn’t he have any additional information to offer? I imagine as part of his job he would be in close contact with the President and have more than one liners to offer about his current and past positions on issues. This guy is a complete waste of taxpayers $$

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Texas

Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott signs anti-Trans youth sports bill

“Despite the powerful testimony of trans kids & adults- the emails to the Governor to veto this harmful piece of legislation it is now law”

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Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott (Blade file screenshot)

AUSTIN – Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Monday H.B. 25, an anti-Transgender youth sports bill banning Trans K-12 student-athletes from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. 

H.B. 25 is the 9th statewide bill signed into law this year banning transgender youth from participating in school sports and the 10th in the country. This bill also comes during a year when Texas lawmakers have proposed nearly 70 anti-LGBTQ bills, including more than 40 bills that specifically target transgender and nonbinary youth — far more than any other state.

“We are devastated at the passage of this bill. Despite the powerful testimony of trans kids and adults, families and advocates, and the many emails and calls our community placed to the Governor’s office to veto this harmful piece of legislation it is now law,” Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said.

“Most immediately, our focus is our community and integrating concepts of healing justice to provide advocates who have already been harmed by this bill with spaces to refill their cup and unpack the acute trauma caused by these legislative sessions. Our organizations will also begin to shift focus to electing pro-equality lawmakers who understand our issues and prioritize representing the vast majority of Texans who firmly believe that discrimination against trans and LGB+ people is wrong,” he added.

Earlier this month, the Texas state government was criticized for removing web pages with resources for LGBTQ youth, including information about The Trevor Project’s crisis services. The Trevor Project the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people.

“Transgender and nonbinary youth are already at higher risk for poor mental health and suicide because of bullying, discrimination, and rejection. This misguided legislation will only make matters worse,” Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

To every trans Texan who may be feeling hurt and attacked by this legislation and months of ugly political debate — please know that you are valid, and you are deserving of equal opportunity, dignity and respect. The Trevor Project is here for you 24/7 if you ever need support, and we will continue fighting alongside a broad coalition of advocates to challenge this law,” Paley said.

********************

Additional resources:

Research consistently demonstrates that transgender and nonbinary youth face unique mental health challenges and an elevated risk for bullying and suicide risk compared to their peers.  

  • The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide. 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health. 
  • A newly published research brief on “Bullying and Suicide Risk among LGBTQ Youth,” found that 61% of transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) students reported being bullied either in-person or electronically in the past year, compared to 45% of cisgender LGBQ students. TGNB students who were bullied in the past year reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who were not. And TGNB students who said their school was LGBTQ-affirming reported significantly lower rates of being bullied (55%) compared to those in schools that weren’t LGBTQ-affirming (65%).
  • A 2020 peer-reviewed study found that transgender and nonbinary youth who report experiencing discrimination based on their gender identity had more than double the odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not experience discrimination based on their gender identity.
  • Trevor’s research has also found that a majority of LGBTQ young people (68%) had never participated in sports for a school or community league or club — with many citing fear of bullying and discrimination as a key factor for not participating.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

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National

Ohio high school cancels play with Gay character after Pastor complains

The School’s fall production of “She Kills Monsters” was scheduled to open in less than one month until the play was canceled

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Hillsboro High School (Screenshot via Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO-TV)

HILLSBORO, Oh. — A Southwest Ohio high school’s play was abruptly canceled after Jeff Lyle, a local pastor from Good News Gathering, complained of a gay character. 

Hillsboro High School’s fall production of “She Kills Monsters” was scheduled to open in less than one month, until students learned the play would be canceled last week, reports Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate WCPO

The story follows a high school senior as she learns about her late sister’s life. It is implied throughout the play that her sister is gay, according to the news station.

The play’s cancellation comes a week after Lyle, a long-time voice of the anti-LGBTQ+ religious-right in Ohio, and a group of parents confronted the production’s directors at a meeting, according to Cincinnati CBS affiliate Local 12. Lyle denies pressuring school officials, but tells WCPO he supports the decision.

“From a Biblical worldview this play is inappropriate for a number of reasons, e.g. sexual innuendo, implied sexual activity between unmarried persons, repeated use of foul language including taking the Lord’s name in vain,” Lyle said. 

Some families say they believe Lyle did influence the school’s decision. 

“I think that’s wrong,” Jon Polstra, a father of one of the actors, told WCPO. “All they would have had to do if they objected to something in the play was not go to the play.”

In a statement to Local 12, Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis said the play was canceled because it “was not appropriate for our K-12 audience.”

The Lexington Herald Leader reports that the school planned to perform a version intended for audiences as young as 11 years old. 

Students were “devastated” and “blindsided” by the news, according to WCPO. 

“It felt like we had just been told, ‘Screw off and your lives don’t matter,'” Christopher Cronan, a Hillsboro High student, said. “I am openly bisexual in that school and I have faced a lot of homophobia there, but I never expected them to cancel a play for a fictional character.”

Cronan’s father, Ryan, also voiced his frustration. 

“They want to say the town is just not ready, but how are you not ready? It’s 2021,” Ryan Cronan said.

Students have started a GoFundMe in hopes of putting on the production at a community theater in 2022.

“If we do raise enough money, I am going to be genuinely happy for a very long time, because that means people do care,” Cronan told WCPO.

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Utah

VIDEO: Utah deal promoted as national model for LGBTQ rights, religious liberty

Data finds state has 2nd highest support for LGBTQ rights

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(Screen capture via YouTube)

A new video from the premier LGBTQ group in Utah, challenging the idea LGBTQ rights must be at odds with religious liberty, promotes an agreement reached in the state as a potential model to achieve a long sought-after update to civil rights law at the federal level.

The video, published Friday by Equality Utah, focuses on a 2015 agreement in Utah between the supporters of LGBTQ rights and the Mormon Church to enact a compromise acceptable to both sides. The agreement by those two sides led to an LGBTQ civil rights law in the state, which has Republican control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, says in the video dialogue is key to achieving meaningful success, whether its among the people of Utah, a state legislature or lawmakers in Congress.

“When you are working with LGBT rights in a state like Utah, and you want to advance legal equality, you can’t do it without working with Republicans, with conservative, with people of faith,” Williams says.

Williams, speaking with the Washington Blade over a Zoom call, said the main audience for the video is people on “the center right and the center left” willing to listen to other side when it comes to LGBTQ rights and religious liberty.

“People that have the courage to reach out to each other, and sit down across from each other and say, ‘Hey look, let’s hammer this out,” Williams said. “That’s who my audience is.”

Not only did Utah enact non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, but the state under a Republican governor administratively banned widely discredited conversion therapy for youth. When lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban transgender youth from competing in school sports, the proposal was scuttled when Gov. Spencer Cox (whom Williams called a “super Mormon”) said he’d veto it after it came to his desk.

Marina Gomberg, a former board for Equality Utah, is another voice in the video seeking dispel the narrative religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are in conflict.

“in order to protect LGBTQ people, we don have to deny religious liberty, and in order to provide protections for religious liberties, we don’t have to deny LGBTQ people,” Gomberg says. “The idea that we do is a fallacy that Utah has dismantled.”

In July, new polling demonstrated the surprisingly the Utah, despite being a conservative state, has the second highest percentage of state population in support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The data Public Religion Research Institute from 77 percent of Utah residents support LGBTQ people, which is just behind New Hampshire at 81 percent.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the pro-LGBTQ American Unity Fund, said the Utah agreement demonstrates the possibility of reaching an agreement at the federal level once “second order” issues are put into perspective.

“The first order question has to be how are we winning the culture,” Deaton said. “Do people even want to pass the bill? And if they do, you then figure out the details.”

The American Unity Fund has helped promote as a path forward for LGBTQ non-discrimination at the federal level the Fairness for For All Act, legislation seeking to reach a middle ground on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Polling earlier this year found 57 percent of the American public back a bipartisan solution in Congress to advance LGBTQ civil rights.

Supporters of the Equality Act, the more established vehicle for LGBTQ rights before Congress, say the Fairness for For All Act would give too many carve-out for LGBTQ rights in the name of religious freedom. The Equality Act, however, is all but dead in Congress and has shown no movement in the U.S. Senate.

Skeptics of the Utah law would point out the law doesn’t address public accommodations, one of the more challenging aspects in the fight for LGBTQ rights and one or remaining gaps in civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County. As a result, it’s perfectly legal in Utah for a business owner to discriminate against LGBTQ coming as patrons.

Williams, however, shrugged off the idea the lack of public accommodations protections in Utah make the agreement in the state makes it any less of a model, making the case the spirit behind the deal is what matters.

“I think copying and pasting Utah’s law doesn’t work for lots of reasons,” Wililams said. “What’s most important is a model of collaboration because when you are sitting around the table with each other — Democrats and Republicans, LGBTQ people and people of faith — that’s when the transformation happens. That is when the mutual respect is really forged.”

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