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Log Cabin to have say in GOP platform process

Seeks to purge anti-gay language from Republican document

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LGBT political groups are preparing for the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions as one gay GOP organization announced its involvement in the party’s platform drafting process for the first time.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said Tuesday a team from his organization will be credentialed to attend the platform committee meeting, which will take place the week of Aug. 20 in Tampa, Fla., prior to the start of the convention.

“Just looking at the 2008 document, Log Cabin has gone through and we’ve noted language in there that’s either directly unhelpful, or seen as anti-gay, and have marked it for deletion,” Cooper said. “We’ve also found language that could be strengthened to be more inclusive. That said, there’s going to be a completely new document. It’s not as if they’re taking the ’08 document and just updating it.”

Cooper said the group has already identified language in the 2008 platform that it will push to remove in the 2012 document, including language related to marriage. Under the heading “Preserving Traditional Marriage,” the 2008 platform endorses the Federal Marriage Amendment and affirms passing same-sex marriage bans through state initiatives.

Gary Howard, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, confirmed Log Cabin’s involvement in the platform process, but also said other organizations, including social conservative groups, will take part.

“As has been the practice in previous years, the Platform Committee Staff maintains an open door policy and welcomes input and suggestions from outside groups,” Howard said. “This year the staff has heard from hundreds of different groups as they presented their views on the Platform, this includes suggestions submitted by the public at-large at the gopplatform2012.com website. The Log Cabin Republicans reached out to the RNC to share their ideas as well. Additionally, the Platform Staff hosted meetings with dozens of social conservative groups to emphasize the importance of keeping the GOP’s commitment to traditional marriage.”

Log Cabin’s four-member delegation to the platform committee consists of Cooper; Casey Pick, Log Cabin’s program director; James Abbott, a trustee for Log Cabin; and Kathryn Lehman, another Log Cabin trustee. Cooper said it’s the first time Log Cabin has been directly involved in the platform drafting process.

The organization’s team will likely have its work cut out for them. The Republican Party has longstanding ties to social conservative groups like the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council, which will likely be advocating for anti-gay language as well as opposition to marriage equality.

Cooper’s announcement that Log Cabin will be involved in the platform drafting process comes on the heels of news — first reported by the Washington Blade — that the Democratic Party has adopted a marriage equality plank as part of its platform. The Democratic platform is still in a draft phase; the full platform drafting committee will meet this weekend in Detroit to hammer out a final version of the platform that will be sent to delegates at the Charlotte convention. The exact language of the marriage equality plank wasn’t immediately available.

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said the language for the Democratic platform won’t likely be made public until after the meeting in Detroit.

“The reason they’re doing that is because the platform drafting committee vote wasn’t on specific language, as I understand it, it was on just the idea of having some certain language, then they would finalize the language and it would be approved in Detroit,” Davis said. “Once it’s approved in Detroit as the official draft of the platform, it will then be adopted by the full committee at the convention. So they’ll release it once it’s an official draft. We should see it shortly after the Detroit meeting.”

Davis said he was told the LGBT language will be “relatively strong, but relatively short” and the platform itself will be relatively short — possibly just a list of bullet points. A Democratic National Committee staffer had previously told the Blade the language not only endorses marriage equality, but rejects the Defense of Marriage Act and has positive words about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Cooper said the process for drafting the Republican platform is different from the Democrats’ process. There have already been early meetings in the past few weeks in which constituent groups, including Log Cabin, have talked with the drafting team. The actual process of resolutions, amendments and language consideration happens the week of the 20th with most work happening on Aug. 20 and 21.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud, predicted he’ll “disagree” with elements of the Republican platform once it’s made public, but dismissed its significance.

“The truth of the matter is, the platform is a piece of paper,” LaSalvia said. “The platform conveys no rights and responsibilities, the platform does not have the force of law, and routinely the day after the platform is written candidates all over the country say they don’t agree with everything in the platform.”

Asked about his own political goals for the Republican convention, LaSalvia said his group has a singular focus that is shared with the other groups attending the convention: the election of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“We’re the national gay organization who’s endorsed Mitt Romney, and our goal is the goal of every organization who will be in Tampa, and that is to elect Mitt Romney as president: that’s our political goal,” LaSalvia said. “That’s the reason for this convention. The reason for this convention is nominate Mitt Romney and to help elect him president of the United States. There is no other goal.”

For the Democratic National Convention, which will take place in Charlotte, N.C., the expectations are significantly higher because the party has a tradition of LGBT-inclusivness, although some goals remain unrealized.

Jerame Davis Executive Director Stonewall Democrats, gay news, gay politics DC

National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Stonewall’s Davis said one of the goals is having the most openly LGBT delegates ever at the Democratic convention. His organization has identified more than 350 LGBT delegates to the convention, but said the DNC hasn’t released its final count. The official goal for the Democrats is 410. The Republicans don’t keep track of whether their delegates identify as LGBT.

“We’re expecting that goal to be exceeded,” Davis said. “Even if they only break the 410 mark that is the goal, it will still be a record number of delegates.”

In 2008, the total number of LGBT delegates at the convention was 277. At the time, Stonewall also counted other LGBT participants at the convention to reach an “LGBT participation” number of 359. In addition to the 277 delegates, the group counted 42 alternate delegates, 34 standing committee members and six convention pages.

This year, Stonewall is planning a presence at the two LGBT caucus meetings involving LGBT delegates on Sept. 4 and 6, but it’s not yet clear what the group’s involvement will be because the final details on the caucus meetings aren’t ironed out.

Having openly LGBT speakers is a goal that both Republicans and Democrats share, although none have been announced so far.

For the Democratic convention, Davis said he’s personally requested LGBT speakers and would like to see retiring gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) be given a slot because “it’s his last year in office and I think it would be an excellent send off.”

Frank’s office said the lawmaker has no comment on whether he’d like to address the convention during his final year in office. Other announced speakers at the convention include San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who’ll deliver the keynote address. As a U.S. Senate candidate, President Obama’s 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic convention propelled him into the national spotlight.

Openly gay speakers were given slots at the 2008 convention, including Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who’s now a U.S. Senate candidate, and Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andy Tobias.

Cooper said he’d also like to see openly gay speakers at the Republican convention, suggesting as possibilities Mary Cheney, former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe. It’s not unprecedented for a gay speaker to address the Republicans; Kolbe addressed the 2000 convention, although many in the audience bowed their heads in prayer.

Already announced speakers at the Republican convention include former Sen. Rick Santorum, who continued his record of anti-gay hostility while campaigning unsuccessfully for president.

In addition to having political goals for the conventions, these groups are also hosting parties for LGBT attendees coming to rally with their respective parties.

Stonewall has two official events during the week of the Democratic convention: a luncheon with the Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign for LGBT delegates and elected officials on Sept. 5 and another reception with Netroots Nation for which a date hasn’t yet been set, but will likely be Sept. 4.

At the Republican convention, Log Cabin is hosting four events throughout the week along with other LGBT groups: a welcome reception with the local Log Cabin on Aug. 26; an event for openly LGBT Republicans seeking political office with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund on Aug. 27; a brunch for “Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry” with the organization Freedom to Marry on Aug. 29; and a closed press event honoring congressional Republican allies of the LGBT community on Aug. 30.

GOProud will host its annual “Homocon” party on Aug. 28 at The Honey Pot.

LaSalvia said Homocon “will be a ‘who’s who’ of the conservative movement,” including pundits and political figures, although he declined to announce any names. In 2010, GOProud made headlines when it announced conservative pundit Ann Coulter, who has sometimes expressed anti-gay views, would headline its inaugural Homocon event.

The Democratic National Committee didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on plans for making the conventions more LGBT inclusive by deadline.

 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Stuart Falk

    August 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    While I can understand efforts to maintain a dialogue with the Republican Party on behalf of LGBT civil rights, I can neither condone or understand how a person or organization identifying with LGBT rights could support and vote for Mitt Romney who signed the NOM pledge (though he knew that was not necessary to win the nomination) which commits signatories to fight for “a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage, to appoint federal judges who don’t see a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and to back the Defense of Marriage Act” should they be elected to the office of the presidency.

    NOM’s pledge also requires signatories to put the existing marriage rights of gay and lesbian families in Washington, D.C., up to a popular vote, in other words, vote to overturn the laws already made in the few states that allow same-sex marriage.

    • Jayson

      August 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Stuart, Not everyone shares your views. There are those of us who feel financial security far outweighs the supposed benefit of gay marriage. While I understand you probably cannot understand that, as it is contrary to your belief, it is in fact, true.

  2. I'm just sayin

    August 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Cooper is doing his typical job of selling a whole lot of nothing – typical LCR rhetoric. What follows is the anti-gay language relating to marriage equality from the 2008 GOP Platform. It serves as a reminder that the GOP is unapologetic when it comes to denying LGBT Americans equal rights. Let’s see how much their “say” really matters or is this a classic case of “token representation.”

    “Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives… Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage.

  3. Bill Salem

    August 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I had a friend, now passed due a fatal attraction to alcohol, combined with a bad liver. My friend was a proud member of the Log Cabin Republicans. All my arguments about what seemed to be his fondest wish, namely, to be a member of a group that would have preferred him dead, seemed to drift right on past his reasoning apparatus.

    He sent large sums to the RNC, who sent him, in return, such absurdities as a copy of a photograph of Poppy and Barbara Bush dancing together. I thought it insulting that he contributed generously and received not so much as a phone call. But did he take issue with the conspicuous lack of generosity on the part of the RNC? Myself, I would have been outraged. An invitation to a dinner? Something! But no, he got bupkis and a cheap glossy for his loyalty. Even the signature was a reproduction.

    So tacky!

    For his part, he ran out to a framer and had the 2 bit (if that) pic lovingly framed.

    Along with his death-wish, he had a deep reverence for forcefully dominant males who tended to elbow their way past the social courtesies which make civilization possible. My friend’s friends tried to wake him up, but his resistance to rescue was one of his most sterling qualities.

    What little I know of Log Cabin Republicans I observed in my friend. Otherwise, I have little sympathy for those who ask for bad treatment.

  4. John Selig

    August 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I have the perfect role for the Log Cabins at the Republican Convention. They should be the “call boys” for the closeted Republican members of Congress and their staff.

  5. Hal Weiner

    August 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    You know, even an earthworm knows that the robin is its natural enemy. To be a Log Cabin Republican you first have to realize where the Republicans are gonna put that log. I am the Founding General Counsel of GAA, Inc., the Gay Activists Alliance, those wonderful little people who brought you frivolous offshoots like ACT-UP and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund ( out of our legal committee in 1974…..). Please. I was born at night but it wasn’t last night. Why are you still flirting with these idiots? Don’t you get it yet?

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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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