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Biden, Ryan offer contrasting views on role of faith

No. 2 on party tickets draw contrast in vice presidential debate



Paul Ryan, Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States of America, Republican, Democrat, gay news, Washington Blade, election 2012
Paul Ryan, Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States of America, Republican, Democrat, gay news, Washington Blade, election 2012

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Vice President Joseph Biden (Washington Blade file photos by Michael Key)

The vice presidential candidates sparred during a debate Thursday over issues ranging from foreign affairs to the economy, and took very different views on the role their faith plays in their duties as public officials.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said his Catholic faith is inseparable from the decisions he makes while in office under questioning from moderator Martha Raddatz on how his religion guides his pro-life views.

“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith,” Ryan said. “Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life.

Vice President Joseph Biden similarly talked about the importance of religion in his life — saying he’s been a practicing Catholic all his life and his religion has informed his social views — but he went on to say he’s pro-choice and wouldn’t impose his religion on others who may not share his views.

“But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman,” Biden said.

It’s these views on religion that could help explain why they hold opposing views on same-sex marriage, which is opposed by the Catholic Church. Biden came out for marriage equality in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” while Ryan opposes same-sex marriage and voted twice for a U.S. constitutional amendment that would ban it throughout the country.

Adam Bink, who’s gay and director of online programs for the Courage Campaign, said the candidate’s opposing views on the way religion affects their public duties should concern LGBT Americans — particularly with several cases related to marriage pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“For anyone concerned about LGBT equality, the bottom line was Rep. Ryan saying he can’t separate his faith from the way he serves in public office, and Vice President Biden saying ‘I accept the church’s doctrine in my personal life, but I refuse to impose that on others,'” Bink said. “With the Supreme Court considering whether to take cases on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, I know who I want advising the next president on judicial nominees.”

But no explicit mention of LGBT issues was made during the 90-minute debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky., where the terrorism attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the best way to end the war in Afghanistan and managing the fiscal affairs of the U.S. government took up large portions of the evening.

The murder of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, during the attacks in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 led the evening. Ryan was critical of the lack of Marines guarding the consulate at the time of the attack, but Biden retorted that Ryan wanted to cut embassy security by $300 million as part of the budget he proposed as House Budget Committee chair. Biden also criticized the Republican ticket for politicizing the tragedy by issuing a statement critical of the Obama administration on the night of the attack and calling a news conference, saying, “That’s not presidential leadership.”

Biden and Ryan also offered a clear distinction on the war in Afghanistan, which Raddatz noted has taken the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members. Biden said the Obama administration would for sure pull out troops in 2014, but Ryan said a Romney administration wants to remove the U.S. military at that time only if conditions on the ground permit it.

Ryan was vague about the conditions that would be necessary for withdrawal and criticized Biden for having such a hard and fast timeline. Biden replied that 49 allied countries have agreed to the U.S. proposed timetable for leaving the country in 2014.

At one point when Biden and Ryan were sparring over government revenue, Biden took issue with Ryan saying a Republican White House could balance the budget by finding $5 trillion in tax loopholes while still offering a 20 percent tax cut, saying “Not mathematically possible.” When Ryan retorted President Kennedy lowered taxes and increased growth, Biden replied, “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy” — recalling an infamous line that Democrat Lloyd Bentsen used against Republican Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice presidential debate.

Views on who won the vice presidential debate were more mixed than last week when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was declared the winner because he seemed more energized in taking on President Obama, but the general consensus was Biden was more effective. A CBS News poll found 50 percent of undecided voters believed Biden won while 31 percent said victory belonged to Ryan. However, a CNN poll of those who watched the debate revealed 48 percent gave the victory to Ryan, compared to 44 percent who thought Biden came out on top.

The strongest sentiment after the debate was that Raddatz was effective as moderator because she pressed candidates to clarify their views and challenged them as they answered questions.

LGBT groups on the right and left issued statements following the debate backing up whichever candidate their organization has been supporting over the course of the campaign.

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, drew on a favorite word of Biden’s during the debate — “malarkey” — as he praised Biden for making an exceptional case for the administration’s domestic and foreign policy record.

“Joe Biden wasn’t having any of the Romney-Ryan malarkey tonight,” Davis said. “From the start, it was evident that Paul Ryan was going to follow Mitt  Romney’s lead and say whatever it takes to get elected. Ryan misled Americans on the unemployment rate and refused to give specifics on the Romney-Ryan tax plan that would significantly increase the tax burden on the middle class.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, carried the Republican talking point for the evening that Biden was inappropriately smirking and laughing at remarks he deemed inaccurate from Ryan.

“Not only did Biden laugh his way through a discussion over their failed economic record, he also laughed his way through a discussion of this administration’s failed foreign policy in a dangerous world,” LaSalvia said. “Paul Ryan made it clear how seriously the Romney/Ryan administration would take America’s leadership in the world and in protecting Americans at home and abroad.”

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  1. Peter Rosenstein

    October 12, 2012 at 11:11 am

    LaSalvia said, “Paul Ryan made it clear how seriously the Romney/Ryan administration would take America’s leadership in the world and in protecting Americans at home and abroad.”

    The problem with this statement is that Mr. Ryan offered nothing new or different from the Obama foreign policy. He did say he might not pull our troops out of Afghanistan in 2014 that it ‘depended’ and when moderator Raddatz gave him multiple opportunities to say what it depended on he couldn’t answer. He also had nothing new to add to how he would handle the Syrain situation or the Iranian situation. When he was asked if he would go to war or put boots on the ground in either case he wouldn’t answer.

    When pressed three times by Raddatz for some specifics on how the Romney/Ryan budget plan to cut taxes by 20% across th board added up he didn’t provide any. Their plan to balance the budget is either non-existant or a secret.

    Yes Biden may have smiled or grimmaced a little too often but it was hard not to laugh at the nonsense that Ryan was spouting.

    • chris c

      October 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Biden was a grinnin idiot!

  2. brian

    October 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Views on who won the vice presidential debate were more mixed than last week when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was declared the winner because he seemed more energized in taking on President Obama, but the general consensus was Biden was more effective.

    It is a strategic blunder not to repeatedly highlight Romney’s most obvious Achilles’ heel– a lifetime record of chronic, notorious political lies and flip-flops– and likewise, Ryan’s more recent flip-flops from his own most outrageous, extreme positions. Romney and Ryan are both vulnerable to a fundamental implied character issue– that is, their integrity and their honesty with the American people as candidates for the nation’s highest offices.

    Yet President Obama– and even VP Biden on Thursday night– missed repeated debate opportunities to quote specific flip-flops, available on video or audio recording (easily available to the press), of Romney’s and/or Ryan’s.

    “But Governor, on [cite date] at [location] you said, [quote– or even, just accurately paraphrase him]. So which Mitt Romney do you expect the American people to believe?” That can even become a devastating question for the rest of the campaign.

    That’s simple stuff. It’s not hard to do at all. Identify the top issues likely to come up in the debate. Then identify the time and place of specific recorded quotes contrary to Romney/Ryan’s ‘current’ position on said issues. Provide those details to the president on easy-to-grab 3×5 cards so he can BRIEFLY cite each issue contradiction detail as it may come up. Then use the tag line. The Prez can even hold up the 3×5 cards… to show he has a veritable “stack of Romney flip-flops” in front of him. In any event, the news media will quickly find supporting videos or audio tapes and run them on their own.

    That’s what happened when the secret “47% tape” seriously moved the needle toward Obama last month– because it revealed, with exquisite simplicity, the Romney/Ryan campaign’s dishonesty and political hypocrisy. We have Jimmy Carter’s grandson and Mother Jones’ David Corn to thank for that.

    So where is Team Obama’s opposition research? It is pretty late in the game.

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U.S. Catholic theologians call for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

Joint statement says church teachings support equality



More than 750 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators, and writers released a joint statement on Sept. 14 expressing strong support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

The six-page theological statement, “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination,” was scheduled to be published along with the names of its 759 signatories as a four-page advertisement on Sept. 17 in the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper widely read by Catholic clergy and laypeople.

The statement was initiated by New Ways Ministry, a Mount Rainier, Md., based Catholic group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people within the church and society at large.

“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people,” the statement says. “We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated,’” it says.

“We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality,” the statement adds.

The statement notes that its signers recognize that a “great debate” is currently taking place within the Catholic Church about whether same-gender relationships and transgender identities should be condoned or supported.

“That is a vital discussion for the future of Catholicism, and one to which we are whole-heartedly committed,” the statement continues. “What we are saying in this statement, however, is relatively independent of that debate, and the endorsers of this statement may hold varied, and even opposing, opinions on sexual and gender matters,” it says.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, said his organization and the signers of the statement feel the issue of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people can and should be supported by Catholic leaders and the church itself even if some are not yet ready to support same-sex marriage and sexual and gender identity matters.

“LGBTQ non-discrimination is being debated at all levels in our society, and the Catholic perspective on this is often misrepresented, even by some church leaders,” DeBernardo said. “Catholics who have studied and reflected deeply on this topic agree that non-discrimination is the most authentic Catholic position,” he said. 

DeBernardo said those who helped draft the statement decided it would be best to limit it to a theological appeal and argument for LGBTQ equality and non-discrimination and not to call for passage of specific legislation such as the Equality Act, the national LGBTQ civil rights bill pending in the U.S. Congress.

The Equality Act calls for amending existing federal civil rights laws to add nondiscrimination language protecting LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. The U.S. House approved the legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it.

“We wanted this to be a theological statement, not a political statement,” DeBernardo said.

He said organizers of the project to prepare the statement plan to send it, among other places, to the Vatican in Rome and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has expressed opposition to the Equality Act.

Among the key signers of the statement were 242 administrators, faculty, and staff from Sacred Heart University, a Catholic college in Bridgeport, Conn. New Ways Ministries says the statement was circulated by the school’s administration and eight of its top leaders, including President John Petillo, are among the signers.

Some of the prominent writers who signed the statement include Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking;” Richard Rodriquez, author of “Hunger of Memory;” Gary Wills, author of “Lincoln at Gettysburg;” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”

The full text of the statement and its list of signatories can be accessed at the New Ways Ministry website.

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Activists reflect on Black Trans Lives Matter movement resurgence

Blade speaks with Alex Santiago, Jasmyne Cannick



An I Am Human Foundation billboard along Atlanta's Downtown Connector expressway on Feb. 22, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The world came to a standstill last year as a video surfaced online that showed then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. The video went viral and sparked numerous protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S. and around the world as many people felt it a potent time to relay their frustrations with and to their governments.

For the LGBTQ community, these protests brought to light the need for human rights for transgender individuals as the murders of people like Tony McDade in Florida and Nina Pop in Missouri reawakened the flame within the Black Trans Lives Matter movement.

A tribute to Tony McDade in downtown Asheville, N.C., in June 2020. McDade was a Black transgender man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 27, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Washington Blade more than a year later spoke with Alex Santiago, executive director of the I Am Human Foundation in Atlanta, and Jasmyne Cannick, a Democratic political strategist and journalist in Los Angeles, to reflect on last year’s Black Trans Lives Matter movement, how far it has come, and what’s in store for the future. 

Uplifting voices often silenced

Participating in the Black Lives Matter protests was an easy decision for Santiago. He is a member of the Legendary House of Garcon, a ballroom house headquartered in D.C. 

Although the house is composed mostly of LGBTQ members, Santiago still felt the need to center trans voices and experiences by visually representing them during Black Lives Matter marches. 

“[I decided that] when I go I’m going to have signs that say ‘Black Trans Lives Matter.’ After talking to a couple of the people in the house, they said it was a great idea. So, they got these t-shirts made that incorporated the trans colors [baby blue, baby pink and white],” says Santiago.

Out of the 250 people in the Legendary House of Garcon, 175 showed up to D.C. from other states to march in solidarity with Black trans people. Santiago says that from what he was told, his was the largest group of activists representing Black trans lives at protests. 

“At first I thought people were going to look at us crazy, like, ‘Why are you separating yourselves or being exclusive?’. But, we got a great response from the general population that was there that day. It was a good day,” says Santiago.

Cannick, who was in Los Angeles during the protests, lent her efforts to platforming pertinent issues. She identifies herself as an ally and a “friend” to the LGBTQ community. 

“I’m active in the LA community and everybody knows me. So, whenever something happens, someone is hurt, someone is killed or someone needs to get the word out about something that’s going on particularly as it relates to the trans community, I’m always asked to get involved, and I do,” says Cannick. 

Over the past year, she reported on multiple LGBTQ issues including the trial of Ed Buck, a Democratic political fundraiser who was convicted in the deaths of two gay Black men who he injected with methamphetamine in exchange for sex.

What happened to the BTLM movement and what needs to change?

The nature of many social movements is that as the intense emotion surrounding them fades, people’s fervor for change wanes as well. This is especially true with allies who are not directly linked to the cause.

“Fatigue and frustration at the relatively slow pace of change to a growing backlash on the right against efforts to call out systemic racism and white privilege — has led to a decline in white support for the Black Lives Matter movement since last spring, when white support for social justice was at its peak,” US News reports about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cannick believes this is the same for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. She says Americans allow the media to dictate how it behaves and responds to issues. Thus, when stories “fall out of our media cycles … they fall out of our memories.”

“I think that’s not going to change, and that’s a psychological thing, until we learn how to not let the media necessarily dictate our issues,” says Cannick. 

She suggests that individuals remain plugged into their communities by “doing anything to make sure they keep up with an issue” including following the “right people” on social media and setting up Google alerts for any breaking news. 

Jasmyne Cannick (Photo courtesy of Jasmyne Cannick)

Santiago also echoes Cannick’s sentiments. 

“We wait until something happens before we do something. And, I don’t want to be retroactive; I want to be proactive. I want people to see me when things are going well [and when they’re not going well],” says Santiago. 

Upon returning to his home in Atlanta after the D.C. protests, Santiago contacted a billboard installation company and paid for a billboard labelled, “Black Trans Lives Matter” to be displayed on University Avenue near downtown Atlanta. He says that the billboards got attention and helped to spread much-needed awareness. Following this success, he is now in the process of installing a new billboard labelled, “Black, Trans and Visible. My life Matters.”

“Unless you’re in people’s faces or something drastic happens, people forget. Unless you’re living it, people forget,” says Santiago.

As time progresses, both Santiago and Cannick nest hope for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. However, this hope can only persist when crucial steps are taken to ensure Black trans individuals around the country are protected, most importantly through legislation.

The New York Times reports there are close to 1,000 elected LGBTQ officials in the U.S., with at least one in each state except Mississippi. 

“We need to have more legislation. We need more voices in power like the council Biden has right now,” says Santiago. 

“You know that [Biden] has a lot of trans people and Black trans people [involved], and a part of that’s a positive step in the right direction, but we need that times 10,” says Santiago.

He believes that political representation should extend to local governance where ordinary Black trans individuals can be trained to assume leadership roles. 

Cannick’s focus is on the Black community. 

“[Trans women] are usually murdered by Black men. If we ever expect that to change, we need to start talking about that,” says Cannick.

She’s open to having conversations that put people, including her as a cis-identifying woman, in uncomfortable and awkward spaces. 

She hosts a podcast titled “Str8 No Chaser” and recently aired an episode, “Why Are Black Men Killing Trans Women,” where she discussed with three Black trans women about the gender and sexuality dynamics within the Black community and their perils. 

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Evangelical Lutheran Church installs first Trans prelate

The bishop will lead one of the church’s 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.



The Rev. Megan Rohrer (Photo Credit: Vince Donovan)

SAN FRANCISCO – The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer was installed as the first openly transgender bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Saturday, in services held at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. The presiding bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton, led the installation ceremony.

“My call is to be up to the same messy, loving things I was up to before,” Rohrer told those gathered in the cathedral. “But mostly, if you’ll let me, and I think you will, my hope is to love you and beyond that, to love what you love.”

The bishop will lead one of the church’s 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.

Rohrer, who uses the pronouns they/them, was elected to serve as bishop after the retirement of their predecessor. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota native had moved to the Golden State to pursue master and doctoral degrees at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. In 2010, they became one of seven openly out LGBTQ pastors accepted by the Evangelical Lutheran church after it allowed ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships.

The bishop and their spouse are raising two children and prior to installation, Rohrer was pastor of the Grace Lutheran Church and served as a chaplain coordinator for the city of San Francisco’s police department. Rohrer has assisted in ministering to the city’s homeless and LGTBQ community for a number of years.

“I step into this role because a diverse community of Lutherans in Northern California and Nevada prayerfully and thoughtfully voted to do a historic thing,” Rohrer said in a statement. “My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward.”

The synod Rohrer leads is part of the largest Christian denominations in the United States with about 3.3 million members.

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