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RNC 2012: Ryan praises Romney as ‘defender of marriage’

Vice presidential hopeful bashes Obama, appeals to younger voters

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Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan addresses the Republican National Convention (Blade photo by Michael Key)

TAMPA, Fla. — Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan devoted a key speech Wednesday evening to attacking the current administration while praising Mitt Romney and his record as a “defender of marriage.”

During his address before the Republican National Convention, Ryan brought up marriage while explaining Republican presidential nominee Romney’s dedication to his faith, saying, “Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best.”

Although Ryan never explicitly mentioned marriage rights for gay couples in his remarks, Romney’s opposition to marriage equality is well known. In addition to speaking out against same-sex marriage — as well as civil unions — over the course of the Republican primary season, Romney was recently revealed to have donated $10,000 to efforts to pass California’s Proposition 8 in 2008 through a political action committee.

The records of the two candidates on the Republican ticket aligned. Romney backs a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country; Ryan voted for such an amendment in 2004 and 2006. Similarly, Romney has criticized the Obama administration for no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court while Ryan voted to reaffirm the anti-gay law on the House floor.

But the remarks on marriage were a small portion of a speech largely devoted to blaming President Obama for the economic problems facing the country and saying Romney’s experience as governor of Massachusetts and an entrepreneur at Bain Capital is the medicine needed to cure the nation of its ailments.

Responding to attacks from the Obama campaign depicting Romney as a ruthless venture capitalist who terminated positions and sent jobs overseas, Ryan said Romney helped start companies and restructure failing ones, adding, “By the way, being successful in business – that’s a good thing.”

“Mitt has not only succeeded, but succeeded where others could not,” Ryan said. “He turned around the Olympics at a time when a great institution was collapsing under the weight of bad management, overspending, and corruption – sounds familiar, doesn’t it?”

Ryan, a seven-term member of Congress who chairs the House Budget Committee, also appeared to defend his own record by saying his ticket would “protect and strengthen” Medicare while Obama’s policies — particularly the health care reform law — have threatened it. As a member of House Republican leadership, Ryan has proposed budget plans that would zero out funding for Medicare in favor of vouchers with private companies.

“Even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money,” Ryan said. “So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”

Ryan, 42 and the first person belonging to Generation X to run on a major party presidential ticket, also seemed to attempt to reach out to younger voters. Ryan said he was urged to play music proposed by Romney at campaign rallies, but replied, “I hope it’s not a deal-breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC, and ends with Zeppelin.”

This outreach to younger voters played out as part of the general theme of the economic malaise impacting those who may have voted for Obama.

“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life,” Ryan said. “Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. And I hope you understand this too, if you’re feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you.”

Delegates at the Republican National Convention cheer on Paul Ryan (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ryan was well-received by the audience. Those in attendance at the Republican convention shouted in excitement when he talked about the path Romney has pledged to take the country and weren’t shy about offering boos when Ryan talked about the purported dangers of health care reform.

Political observers generally agreed Ryan’s speech positioned him in the vice presidential nominee’s traditional role as “attack dog” for the candidate at the top of the ticket. Meanwhile, LGBT political organizations responded to Ryan’s speech in accordance with their own views.

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, honed in on Ryan’s mention of Romney as a “defender of marriage” as a reason why the LGBT community should be wary of the Republican presidential ticket.

“Paul Ryan’s dog-whistle reference to Mitt Romney as a ‘defender of marriage’ is as cheap as it is transparent,” Davis said. “I can think of about 18,000 marriages Mitt Romney actively worked to destroy when he donated more than $10,000 to the Prop 8 campaign in California. Sadly, that was only the tip of the iceberg of lies and half-truths that riddled Ryan’s speech tonight.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud, said Ryan “delivered a stirring speech” demonstrating his knowledge that the greatest issue facing all voters — gay or straight — is the state of the economy.

“Whether you are gay or straight, you deserve an administration that will tackle this issue and an administration that has a plan to grow our economy and create jobs,” LaSalvia said.

Additionally, LaSalvia said he’s spoken with Ryan and believes the vice presidential candidate knows the challenges facing the gay community.

“I have sat in Paul Ryan’s congressional office and talked to him about the special challenges that face gay people and gay couples in this country and how his plans to reform Social Security, Medicare, health care and our tax code would actually help gay Americans,” LaSalvia said. “I can tell you first hand that Paul Ryan gets it when it comes to dealing with the challenges that face the gay community.”

Ryan voted in favor of a sexual orientation-only version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in Congress.

As with the speeches on Tuesday night, the remarks from other speakers onstage at the Republican convention largely avoided social issues or matters directly affecting the LGBT community, but instead focused on the economy, health care reform and taking Obama to task for his remarks that individuals “didn’t build” their businesses because they had help from others in society.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (Blade photo by Michael Key)

But that wasn’t the case across the board. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a TV personality on Fox News, criticized Obama for supporting marriage equality, saying it’s evidence he doesn’t adhere to his faith.

“Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb, and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls health care,” Huckabee said.

Another high-profile speech came Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and secretary of state under the Bush administration.

Rice never mentioned the Obama administration by name even as she said Romney and Ryan understand the importance of the United States having a leadership role in foreign affairs.

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (Blade photo by Michael Key)

“But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos — or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum,” Rice said. “My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.”

LaSalvia made a special note of Rice’s speech in his statement following the night’s speeches, saying she gave a “powerful and optimistic speech.”

“She spoke eloquently about the best our country has to offer – to each other, to the world,” LaSalvia said. “She gave a speech that reminded many of those in the convention hall of the great speeches of former President Ronald Reagan.”

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Florida

Miami hotel liquor license may be revoked over a drag show

State’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco targets business

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Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Miami. (Photo by dennizn/Bigstock)

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is in the process of revoking the Hyatt Regency Miami’s alcohol license after the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation determined that the hotel’s affiliated James L. Knight Center had hosted “A Drag Queen Christmas” performed Dec. 27 with minors present in the audience.

The Knight Center is a major South Florida venue and has previously hosted the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants. The venue’s main room can seat 4,600 people.

This is the third time the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, which operates under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, has targeted a business that hosted a drag show.

A popular restaurant and pub in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood is also under threat of losing its liquor license. The R House identifies itself on its Facebook page as “the proud home of South Florida’s most popular weekend drag brunches.”

The July 2022 complaint filed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation asks for a final order that the R House restaurant is a declared a public nuisance and has its liquor license revoked. 

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the complaint was issued after a video of a recent performance at the bar’s drag brunch went viral. A topless drag queen wearing lingerie stuffed with money can be seen in the video attempting to dance with a young girl, who the DPBR estimates is “between three and five years old.” Twitter account “Libs of Tik Tok” originally found the footage on Tik Tok, posted by a user who wrote, “Children belong at drag shows!!!! Children deserve to see fun and expression & freedom.”

In late December “A Drag Queen Christmas” was hosted by the Orlando non-profit Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation on Dec. 28, filing a complaint alleging that children under age 18 were allowed to attend.

The complaint against the Orlando Philharmonic alleged the foundation violated Florida law in allowing for a person to “commit lewd or lascivious exhibition” in the presence of an individual who is less than 16 years old.

In this latest targeting of the show, which is a holiday-themed drag show that tours in 36 different cities and features stars from the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Insider webzine journalist Kimberly Leonard reported that the DeSantis administration officials accused the Knight Center of several violations, including a prohibition of “lascivious exhibition” before people younger than 16, mirroring the December complaint against the Orlando Philharmonic.

The department’s complaint said performers engaged in “acts of simulated sexual activity, and lewd, vulgar, and indecent displays” that included:

  • Performers forcibly penetrating or rubbing exposed prosthetic female breasts against faces of audience members
  • Intentionally exposing performers’ prosthetic female breasts and genitalia to the audience
  • Intentionally exposing performers’ buttocks to the audience
  • Simulating masturbation through performers’ digitally penetrating prosthetic female genital
  • Graphic depictions of childbirth and/or abortion

Hyatt Regency Miami is allowed to keep selling alcohol until the department makes a final decision. The business has 21 days to request a hearing, Beth Pannell, spokeswoman for the department, told Insider.

Regulators had warned the facility to change how it marketed the show before it went live, according to a copy of the letter included in the complaint. The letter accused the marketers of putting on a performance that constitutes “public nuisances, lewd activity, and disorderly conduct” when minors are present.

News of this latest action was first reported by far-right conservative internet based outlet Florida’s Voice.

As more and more Republican states target drag shows, in just the past few weeks, Tennessee became the first to ban adult performances, including drag, from public spaces such as parks and schools. 

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U.S. Military/Pentagon

New VA mission statement recognizes commitment to all veterans

‘To fulfill [Lincoln’s] promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military & for their families, caregivers, & survivors’

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VA Secretary Denis McDonough. (Screenshot/YouTube)

In a speech delivered Thursday at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA), located at the main entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in suburban Virginia, VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced the Department of Veterans Affairs has issued an updated version of its 1959 mission statement.

The new mission statement is: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”

As the VA secretary commenced his remarks, he honored several notable women in the audience including Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, the assistant secretary of veterans affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs.

Fulton, is a 1980 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., which was the Academy’s first class to admit women. She is an out lesbian and served as a founding board member of Knights Out, the organization of LGBTQ West Point graduates, and later worked with OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBTQ military members and SPARTA, an LGBTQ military group advocating for transgender military service.

“Whenever any veteran, family member, caregiver, or survivor walks by a VA facility, we want them to see themselves in the mission statement on the outside of the building,” said Secretary McDonough. “We are here to serve all veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors — and now, our mission statement reflects exactly that.”

In crafting the new mission statement, VA surveyed roughly 30,000 Veterans. Among veterans surveyed, the new version of VA’s mission statement was chosen over the current version by every age group; by men and by women; by LGBTQ+ veterans; and by white, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans.

In addition to two rounds of surveys, VA conducted dozens of small-group engagements with veterans to understand what was most important to them in a VA mission statement, then incorporated that feedback into quantitative research. The new mission statement reflects that VA serves all of the heroes who have served our country, regardless of their race, gender, background, sexual orientation, religion, zip code or identity.

The previous mission statement was: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.” The previous mission statement is posted in roughly 50 percent of VA’s facilities. Over the coming months, VA’s new mission statement will replace the previous version.

VA announces new mission statement, recognizing sacred commitment to serve all who served:

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Michigan

Mich. governor signs statewide LGBTQ rights law

‘Bigotry is bad for business’

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 16, 2023, signed an LGBTQ rights bill into law. (Photo courtesy of Whitmer's office)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act on Thursday, which expands basic protections for the LGBTQ community.

The measure, Senate Bill 4, was sponsored by openly gay state Sen. Jeremy Moss who less than a year previously had been shot down by the Republican majority as he attempted to have a non-binding resolution to recognize “Pride Month” adopted by the Senate.

In her signing remarks, Whitmer noted: “In the words of Detroit native Lizzo, it’s about damn time! Bigotry is bad for business. Come to Michigan, you will be respected and protected under the law.”

“As Equality Michigan celebrates this historic step forward, we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Generations of activists have inspired us to fight for justice and equality for all LGBTQ+ Michiganders, and our community has been working to update our state’s civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in every single legislative session since Elliott-Larsen was first adopted,” Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott said in a statement. “We applaud Gov. Whitmer for signing this bill into law, and are humbled by this pro-equality legislature that made amending ELCRA a top priority. Senator Jeremy Moss and Rep. Jason Hoskins introduced this legislation and championed it all the way through to the finish line.” 

“The victory we have today in Michigan is a great one, but it’s also one we don’t take lightly at this moment. Let it not be lost on us that this privilege, however hard-earned, is a unique one that exists amid a nationwide political assault on LGBTQ+ people, especially trans and non-binary youth, and their families,” added Knott. “There are over 400 anti-trans bills moving across state legislatures in the US, twice the amount introduced last year.”

“This bill being signed into law is a beacon of hope and sends a powerful message of acceptance to LGBTQ people across the nation. At the Trevor Project, we work every day to protect the lives of LGBTQ youth, and days like today prove that in generations to come, both their legal and lived equality will no longer be fodder for political debate,” said Troy Stevenson, director of state advocacy campaigns for the Trevor Project. “Our research shows that having at least one accepting adult can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt among LGBTQ young people by 40 percent. We applaud the elected leaders, advocates and Gov. Whitmer for making this a reality, and affirming the dignity and rights of LGBTQ Michiganders by codifying these protections into law.”

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