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Super Tuesday could bring more confusion to GOP race

High stakes as 437 delegates up for grabs next week



The winding road of the Republican presidential primary race continues next week as GOP voters in 10 states weigh in on who should be their standard-bearer heading into November.

A strong showing by any GOP candidate on Super Tuesday — when 437 delegates are up for grabs — could push someone from the race.

If former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who regained his position as front-runner after wins in Arizona and Michigan this week, does well in the contests, it could mean the end of the game for one or more of his remaining opponents: former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

The states holding contests on Super Tuesday are: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

Super Tuesday comes on the heels of another important contest on Saturday: the Washington State caucuses, where 43 delegates are in play. On Tuesday, Wyoming will also begin its caucuses, but that process will continue throughout the week and the results won’t be known until Saturday.

But it appears that Super Tuesday will not be a cakewalk for Romney, after he only eked out a three-point win over Santorum in his home state of Michigan.

Dan Pinello, who’s gay and a government professor at the City University of New York, said he thinks the outcome of the contests will be “muddled” and won’t leave a clear Republican front-runner in their aftermath.

“It’s going to be a mix of wins by various candidates,” Pinello said. “I don’t think the field is going to be any clearer after Tuesday than it is before, quite frankly. I anticipate that all four candidates will also continue regardless of what happens on Tuesday.”

Hastings Wyman, who’s also gay and editor of the Southern Political Report, said Santorum may continue to show strength in several southern states.

“I think he has a good shot in Oklahoma, possibly in Tennessee, possibly in Georgia,” Wyman said. “The only one I would give him a good shot in is probably Oklahoma.”

In Ohio, Santorum could show that his campaign continues to have life. According to a poll published Tuesday by the University of Cincinnati, Santorum leads Romney by 11 percentage points among Republican primary voters.

Wyman said the race in Georgia is important for Gingrich because if he doesn’t win there, which is his home state, it will likely be the end of his campaign.

“It’s very hard to predict what he’ll do, but I think it’ll be very hard from him to stay in if he doesn’t carry Georgia,” Wyman said. “He’s working very hard down there. He’s touring the state, he’s speaking to these mega churches, he’s treating it like Romney was treating Michigan.”

Gingrich seems poised to capture the state. A poll published Monday by Survey USA found him leading there with 39 percent of support among Republican voters. Santorum follows at 24 percent, while Romney comes in at 23 percent.

The contest in Virginia will also be of special interest because it’s awarding a large number of delegates, 46, and because only two candidates will be on the ballot: Romney and Paul.

Wyman said Republicans unhappy with Romney may vote for Paul in an effort to prolong the Republican primary season and prevent Romney from claiming the nomination. Virginia has an open primary, which means Democrats can come to the polls.

“It would not surprise me if a lot of the people who vote for Santorum or Gingrich would get out the vote for Paul just to slow down Romney,” Wyman said.

David Lampo, a gay Republican activist from Alexandria, Va., said he’s voting for Paul in the primary not as a protest vote, but because of the candidate’s libertarian views.

“I’m a longtime libertarian, so of course he appeals to me,” Lampo said. “Not the greatest messenger, but he has reintroduced libertarianism to millions of Americans, particularly a whole new generation of young voters. And he even runs competitively with President Obama in many polls.”

As a U.S. House member, Paul was among the Republicans who voted for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and against a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the candidate has also been a strong supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Lampo said Paul has been “a bit uneven” on LGBT issues, but “shines” compared to the other Republican presidential candidates.

CUNY’s Pinello said Paul may have “a few good showings” in Super Tuesday, but expressed doubt the candidate would be able to prevail in any states next week.

“I don’t know that he’ll win any states, but he will have good enough showings to argue that his effort isn’t necessarily doomed, at least from his perspective,” Pinello said. “His supporters are so gung-ho that it doesn’t really make a difference that he hasn’t won any states outright.”

Even if Romney builds off his wins in Michigan and Arizona by sweeping the contests on Super Tuesday, whether Santorum or Gingrich will drop out immediately remains unclear.

Wyman said the Romney alternatives may see if they can win a brokered convention when Republicans gather in Tampa later this year to anoint their nominee.

In that case, delegates wouldn’t be able to settle on a nominee during the ballot round and would have to negotiate through political horse-trading to settle on a candidate.

“If they can all stay in and keep their delegates at least on the first ballot — I think most states require that — then they might possibly be able to keep Romney from winning on the first ballot and maybe create some opportunity for somebody else,” Wyman said.

Pinello said the prospects of a brokered convention in Tampa are diminished now that Romney has pulled off a win — albeit a narrow one — in his home state of Michigan this week, but such an outcome could still be possible.

“If the current polling data nationally show that Obama has a lead, although not large, but nonetheless a lead, over all four of the current Republican candidates,” Pinello said. “So the party leadership across the nation that may be wishing for a Jeb Bush or a Chris Christie or someone else be their champion and save the day, but I don’t think that’s likely at all.”

Whether the GOP candidates will draw on anti-gay rhetoric to win support from Republican voters prior to Super Tuesday also remains to be seen.

Wyman said “you might see some” campaigning directed against the LGBT community in the Super Tuesday states as the candidates jockey for support among conservative voters.

“They’ve all been pretty stalwart in their opposition to anything gay,” Wyman said. “Every now and then one of them will act a little bit liberal and say, ‘I don’t believe in discrimination,’ but they do. Ultimately, they side with the religious right on most gay issues.”

Pinello expressed doubt that Romney would draw on anti-gay attacks, saying the candidate would instead opt to focus on economic issues, but couldn’t say the same about Santorum.

“He had that confrontation before the New Hampshire with college students over same-sex marriage,” Pinello said. “A lot of commentators said that had been a mistake by him in terms of allowing the issue to drift away from economic issues, but he doesn’t seem concerned by that. He’s happy to be the stalwart on social issues.”

Pinello said if the candidates want to talk about social issues, the would be more inclined hot button topics other than LGBT rights, such as a abortion and the Obama administration’s rule providing contraception to women.

The candidates’ positions on LGBT issues are already well-known. Each of the Republican candidates who’ve won primaries — Romney, Santorum and Gingrich — has signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage vowing to back a Federal Marriage Amendment, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a commission on “religious liberty” to investigate the harassment of same-sex marriage supporters.

Santorum has gone further by saying he’d restore “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president, and Gingrich has said he’d order an “extensive review” of going back to the policy.

As candidates campaign in Tennessee, they may want to weigh in on state pending legislation commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would prohibit discussion about homosexuality in schools from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Chris Sanders, chair of the Nashville Committee for the Tennessee Equality Project, said polls are showing Santorum has strength in Tennessee and his views are in synch with what’s happening in the legislature.

“Given the fact that he has been so explicitly anti-equality, it’s just another index that we’ve got a lot of work to do in Tennessee,” Sanders said.

Sanders dismissed the idea that Santorum or other candidates would explicitly mention state legislative issues, such as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” but said “the anti-equality candidates will find very hospitable ground for themselves here.”

The Washington State caucuses on Saturday could also draw anti-gay sentiments from the candidates because Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this month signed marriage equality into law, and anti-gay forces are at work to collect the 120,577 signatures needed by June 6 to put the law before voters in November.

Santorum made his opposition to the marriage law a cornerstone of his campaign in Washington State. On the same day the marriage law was signed, Santorum held a campaign rally in the state, saying Gregoire’s signature “isn’t the last word” on marriage as he called on supporters to bring the measure to the polls.

For his part, Gingrich took a softer approach to Washington — as well as the expected legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland — by saying last week these states were going about it “the right way” by using the legislative process instead of the courts, even though he personally opposes same-sex marriage.

“I think at least they’re doing it the right way, which is going through voters, giving them a chance to vote and not having a handful of judges arbitrarily impose their will,” Gingrich said.

The candidate’s statement contradicts his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment, which, if passed, would abrogate all laws allowing same-sex marriage, including those passed by state legislatures.

Romney has yet to address specifically the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington, but Pinello doubted the candidate will talk about the issue ahead of Saturday.

“He is really trying to focus on economic issues, single-mindedly,” Pinello said. “I don’t think he would initiate any conversation. He can’t necessarily avoid a question that might come up if one were posed, but I’m sure it will be a short answer, and then he’d jump back to some economic issue.”

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  1. Chris Sanders

    March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    My title is chair of the Nashville Committee for the Tennessee Equality Project. We don’t have a national board. But good piece. Thanks.

  2. Christopher London

    March 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Mitt Romney’s marginal victory in his native state of Michigan is truly an embarrassment. Fact is that he may have marginally won the popular vote but he lost a majorit of its counties. The Manchurian Mormon Madoff, Wall Street’s Robot backed by Wall Streetr. RNC establishment, Bain & Clear Channel is a a man with all the advantages, connections, boots on the ground, money in the bank and a $55 million negative attack machine delivering assaults on would be challengers unable to defend themselves, trying to position himself as some sort of ‘comeback kid’. It is but just one more fiction in the arsenal of the Romney Con. Rommey was as much the comeback kid or underdog in Michigan as I was upon returm to my mothers dinner table to get fed after going to the bath room. Romney getting excited about his win in Michigan is akin to knocking over your mother, father, brothers, sisters and grandparents grandmother with a barrage of negative ads to make sure that they vote for you in your own house over an ice pick wielding Jason Voorhees. Turns out that your little brother’s late vote gives you the 3% edge over Voorhees and then you rise triumphantly.Romney has checkbook character — money talks and bullshit walks they say. But, after all these years, that an educated guy with Romney’s looks and $250 million dollars in the bank with billionaire financed PACS dismantling his challengers, it is still not bought the hollow plastic man a soul or a personality. Romney and his team are proud to win ugly. They have no vision to lead the nation or to win the nomination other than crush, kill, destroy and lie with abandon. This is Romney’s version of America. Maybe if this guy had a drink once, lost his job, got knocked to the canvass or saw how the other half lived, he would not act like the proverbial douche and tool that he is.

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Does a potential overturn of Roe imperil LGBTQ rights?

Some fear that Obergefell marriage decision could fall



Protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1. (Photo by Cathy Renna)

The oral arguments before the justices of the United States Supreme Court had barely ended in the case brought by the state of Mississippi defending its law banning abortion after 15 weeks, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, when alarms were set off in legal circles as some argued that Obergefell v. Hodges — the same-sex marriage decision — would be in danger should the high court rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler, appearing on NPR’s ‘Heard on All Things Considered,’ told host Mary Louise Kelly that there was a basis for concern over whether the court would actually overrule its precedents in other cases based on the questions and statements raised during the hearing by the conservative members of the court.

Asked by Kelly if she saw a legal door opening Ziegler affirmed that she did. Kelly then asked her, “Them taking up cases to do with that. What about same-sex marriage?”

Ziegler answered, “Yeah, same-sex marriage is definitely a candidate. Justices Alito and Thomas have in passing mentioned in dicta that they think it might be worth revisiting Obergefell v. Hodges – the same-sex marriage decision.

“And I think it’s fair to say that in the sort of panoply of culture war issues, that rights for same-sex couples and sexual orientation are still among the most contested, even though certainly same-sex marriage is more subtle than it was and than abortion was.

“I think that certainly the sort of balance between LGBTIQ rights and religious liberty writ large is a very much alive issue, and I think some states may try to test the boundaries with Obergefell, particularly knowing that they have a few justices potentially willing to go there with them.”

As almost if to underscore the point raised by Ziegler during the hearing, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor pointed out that the high court has taken and “discerned” certain rights in cases from the Constitution.

Along with abortion, the court has “recognized them in terms of the religion parents will teach their children. We’ve recognized it in their ability to educate at home if they choose,” Sotomayor said. “We have recognized that sense of privacy in people’s choices about whether to use contraception or not. We’ve recognized it in their right to choose who they’re going to marry.”

In following up the cases cited by Justice Sotomayor, Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, who was defending the state’s abortion law, whether a decision in his favor would affect the legal precedents in those cases cited by Justice Sotomayor.

In his answer to Justice Barrett, the state’s Solicitor General said cases involving contraception, same-sex marriage and sodomy wouldn’t be called into question because they involve “clear rules that have engendered strong reliance interests and that have not produced negative consequences or all the many other negative stare decisis considerations we pointed out.”

However, Lambda Legal Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director, Sharon McGowan had a different take and interpreted remarks by Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to mean that the decisions in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized private sexual intimacy between same-sex couples, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down remaining bans on the freedom of same-sex couples to marry, would actually justify overturning Roe v. Wade.

In a publicly released media statement McGowan noted: “During today’s argument, Justice Kavanaugh suggested that two key Supreme Court decisions protecting LGBTQ civil rights—Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges—support overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

‘To that we say, NOT IN OUR NAME. LGBTQ people need abortions. Just as important, those landmark LGBTQ decisions EXPANDED individual liberty, not the opposite. They reflected the growing societal understanding of our common humanity and equality under law.

“Just as the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education rejected the lie of ‘separate but equal,’ the Supreme Court’s decisions in Lawrence and Obergefell appropriately overruled precedent where it was clear that, as was true with regard to race, our ancestors failed properly to acknowledge that gender and sexual orientation must not be barriers to our ability to live, love, and thrive free of governmental oppression. … 

“These landmark LGBTQ cases, which Lambda Legal litigated and won, and on which we rely today to protect our community’s civil rights, were built directly on the foundation of Casey and Roe. Our interests in equal dignity, autonomy, and liberty are shared, intertwined, and fundamental.” 

On Sunday, the Blade spoke with Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national LGBTQ+ legal organization that represented three same-sex couples from Tennessee, whose case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court along with Obergefell and two other cases.

Minter is urging caution in how people interpret the court arguments and remarks made by the justices.

“We should be cautious about taking the bait from anti-LGBTQ groups who falsely argue that if the Supreme Court reverses or undermines Roe v. Wade, they are likely to reverse or undermine Obergefell or Lawrence. In fact, that is highly unlikely, as the argument in Dobbs itself showed,” he said.

“The only reason Justice Kavanaugh mentioned Obergefell and Lawrence, along with Brown v. Board of Education, was to cite them as examples of cases in which the Supreme Court clearly did the right thing. All of those decisions rely at least as strongly on equal protection as on fundamental rights, and even this extremely conservative Supreme Court has not questioned the foundational role of equal protection in our nation’s constitutional law,” Minter stressed.

During an interview with Bloomberg magazine, David Cortman, of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist hate group, said “two things in particular distinguish abortion from those other privacy rights: the right to life and the states’ interest in protecting a child.”

Cortman, whose group urged the justices to allow states to ban same-sex marriages, said those other rights may be just as wrong as the right to an abortion. “But the fundamental interest in life that’s at issue in abortion means those other rights are probably not in any real danger of being overturned.”

But Cortman is of the opinion that there is little impetus among the court’s conservatives to take up challenges to those cases.

However, the fact that the six to three makeup of the high court with a conservative majority has progressives clamoring for the public to pay closer attention and be more proactively engaged.

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, in an emailed statement to the Blade underscored those concerns:

“Reports and analysis coming out of Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization are extremely disturbing and represent a threat to our individual constitutional rights to privacy and autonomy. There is no ‘middle ground’ on what the Constitution guarantees and what was decided decades ago with the Roe v Wade decision. 

“This is about liberty, equality, and the rule of law, not the political or partisan views of those sitting on the bench. The unprecedented decision to remove a constitutional right recognized by the Supreme Court 50 years ago would set back civil rights by decades. ….

“Abortion access is essential, and a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. Bans on abortion are deeply racist and profoundly sexist – the harshest impacts fall on Black and Brown women and pregnant people and on our families and communities.

“If you think this decision will not affect you, think again: a wrong decision by the Supreme Court means you, too, will lose your bodily autonomy, your ability to own your own personal and community power. This is not just about abortion; it is about controlling bodies based on someone else determining your worthiness. This is a racial justice issue. This is a women’s issue. It is an LGBTQ issue. It is a civil rights issue. These are our fundamental rights that are at stake.”

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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



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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Matthew Shepard honored at National Cathedral

Daylong services held to mark his 45th birthday



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.

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