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Gay donor cuts off Dems over immigration bill

Lewis, Bastian split on donation decisions after gay exclusion

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Jonathan Lewis, gay news, Washington Blade
Jonathan Lewis, gay news, Washington Blade

Jonathan Lewis (Photo courtesy of Paul Yandura)

Prominent gay Democratic Party donor Jonathan Lewis is pledging to cut off funds to the party over his disappointment that bi-national same-sex couples were excluded from the immigration reform bill.

In a statement provided to the Washington Blade on Tuesday, the Miami-based philanthropist said he’s turning off the tap for Democrats and urging others to do the same over the immigration issue and President Obama’s reluctance to issue an executive order barring LGBT workplace discrimination.

“During the immigration reform debate Senate Democrats had the opportunity to reverse some of the harm caused by DOMA and they buckled under pressure, essentially taking LGBT families for granted,” Lewis said. “With the president failing to deliver on his promised federal contractor executive order and with Senate Democrats caving to Republican threats, now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our friends’ actions and deeds align with their rhetoric — I will be withholding my donation and asking all of my friends and family members to do the same until such time.”

Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) withheld from the committee amendments that would allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency along the lines of the Uniting American Families Act after Democrats on the committee — Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) — said they couldn’t vote for the measures out of fear of losing Republican support for the larger bill.

Lewis, who provided money to fund LGBT groups such as Freedom to Work and GetEQUAL, provided the maximum amount of $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee and the maximum amount of $2,500 to President Obama’s re-election campaign in the last election cycle. His fortune comes from his family, founders of Progressive Insurance.

Neither the White House nor the DNC responded to a request for comment on Lewis’ statement.

Lewis’ statement to the Blade builds off an op-ed piece he published on the same day in The Huffington Post, titled “No More Excuses: Mr. President,” in which he calls on Obama to issue the executive order barring federal contractors from engaging in LGBT workplace discrimination as a way to make amends for the absence of UAFA in immigration reform.

The op-ed and the statement to the Blade come on the eve of the annual LGBT DNC gala held in New York City. This year, first lady Michelle Obama and gay NBA player Jason Collins are set to headline the event while “Love Song” singer Sara Bareilles will perform as the musical guest. It remains to be seen whether Lewis’ statements will have any impact on the funds that the DNC raises at the event.

But the anger at Senate Democrats isn’t universal among LGBT donors. Bruce Bastian, a gay Utah-based philanthropist known for his support of the Human Rights Campaign, told the Blade via email he blames Republicans for the exclusion of UAFA from immigration reform and said his donations to Democrats will continue to flow.

“Like most if not all LGBT Americans, I am very disappointed that Republicans continue to define our relationships as ‘less’ than straight couples and have derailed the Uniting American Families amendment,” Bastian said. “But this is not the time to pull back in support of any kind. We are moving in the right direction. Those who do not want us to have full equality will continue to try to stop our momentum. I will continue to fight them with my time, effort and money.”

Still, one LGBT advocacy group that worked to include UAFA is saying Lewis’ sentiment is shared by others who’ve supported the Democratic Party.

Steve Ralls, a spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said he’s heard from Democratic donors that they’re “rethinking the political contributions and priorities” following the exclusion of the amendment for gay couples from immigration reform, although he wasn’t immediately able to provide names.

“I can assure you that in private conversations, significant Democratic donors have had with our executive director and with other people working on this said they were very disappointed in what happened last week, and they’re looking at where they invest their donations moving forward,” Ralls said.

Ralls further pointed to the comments on Schumer’s Facebook page expressing anger over his refusal to back UAFA as part of immigration reform — along with warnings not to attend New York City Pride — as evidence this anger is felt not just by donors, but the LGBT community at large.

“There is palpable anger among the LGBT community in social media, in conversations that we’ve had with supporters,” Ralls said. “I do think there will be a political price for senators to pay.”

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Rebecca Juro

    May 29, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Kudos to Jonathan Lewis for using his influence as a major political donor to fight for LGBT rights other than marriage, marriage, marriage. If other major LGBT donors to the Democratic Party followed the example of this true progressive our whole community would be a lot better off. HRC Executive Board, are you paying attention?

  2. Helen Helen

    May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    hi

    • Helen Helen

      May 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      my classmate's mother makes $76/hr on the laptop. She has been fired from work for 9 months but last month her income was $16510 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Here's the site to read more… http://www.Taz1.cℴm

  3. Dan Downing

    May 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Time to flex some muscle, not only withhold contributions, but also let them know you won't vote for them. Time to stick it to DIFI and those other cowardly democrats. If we supported an independent could they actually win?

  4. Dan Downing

    May 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Perhaps it’s time to yank all support from the HRC, their stupidity in thinking that we are so special as to deserve a place in the presidential cabinet simply because we are gay, we make up < 5% of the population. Time to get real, don't support stupidity.

  5. Chad Mick

    May 29, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    He's a complete idiot if he thinks LGBT-inclusive immigration legislation would pass. The GOP made it crystal clear that they would block that from happening. It's as if people forget that the Dems don't have the needed numbers to just pass something without cooperation from Republicans. Personally, I'd rather SOME immigration legislation get passed (even if it, unfortunately, isn't LGBT-inclusive) than none.

    • Will Kohl

      May 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      And what if that happens EVERYTIME that there's a piece of LGBT legislation in a bigger bill. Are we going to be so noble when its cut out every time to appease the Republicans.

    • Jerry Blackburn

      May 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      As a gay white male, I agree Chad. I'm happy that immigration reform passed for those who it will help, and if past is prologue, then the lgbt will be included soon. http://occupyyourlocalmedia.com/2012/05/15/the-truth-about-obama-and-the-gays/

  6. Chris

    May 30, 2013 at 4:17 am

    CHILD BYE!!! Who does this Man thinks he’s hurting? Romney and Patrick Mara would have Oh passed so many things for the gays by now…LOL ! Simply atrocious. As if his donations are going to hurt them? Trust in the long run the only ones who will be hurting is The LGBTQ Community!

  7. Jerry Blackburn

    May 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Democrats, especially Obama, have done everything imaginable to push through our gay agenda. And if we don't get 100,000% of everything we demand, we pack our toys up and go home. REAL MATURE
    http://occupyyourlocalmedia.com/2012/05/15/the-truth-about-obama-and-the-gays/

    • Rebecca Juro

      May 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Everything imaginable? You're joking, right? Despite running on fighting for ENDA in '08 (see his Nov. '07 op-ed for LGBT media on the topic here: http://www.bilerico.com/2007/11/a_call_for_full_equality.php ), Obama has done nothing, zip, zero, to help protect our jobs.

      Let's not forget that we've been waiting for Democrats to find the spine to fight for and pass a law protecting LGBT workplace rights for over 40 years now.

      Let's also not forget that when they actually had the best chance in nearly a generation to get ENDA passed, in the 111th Congress, the Democrats couldn't be bothered to bring the bill up for a vote in either house and the White House remained silent throughout.

      Just how much longer do you think we should be willing to wait for Obama and the Democrats to get their act together? I don't know about you, but I'd like my basic civil rights as an American citizen while I'm still young enough to enjoy them.

      It's time to stop accepting excuses from these people and start demanding results.

    • Cade Cannon

      May 30, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Obama has done the bare minimum and he had to be hag ridden to do that. The Democrats are insipid. We are always calling conservatives, "stupid" "rednecks" and "inbreds," but all of the Democrats who are so smart are always good at rationalizing their own futility. Meanwhile Eric Holder and Obama have not had to evolve on extending the Patriot Act, surveillance for citizens, faculty e-mails, harassing AP reporters for violating the Espionage Act………Yeah, this is a lack of will and fortitude. ALL of the advances for equal protection of gay citizens have been because of gay advocates, who won't get their names in the papers….you know, the people we call shrill and ungrateful because they won't sit down and just be satisfied that our "allies" are impotent.

      • Chris

        May 31, 2013 at 12:58 am

        THE BARE MINIMUM????? I get some of you white gays will NEVER credit him NEVER. If you think Hillary will be any better I have the next winning lottery ticket for you!

    • Kurt Vorndran

      May 31, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      "We are always calling …" I don't call other human beings those things and nor does any decent Democrat. The Democratic Party I know stands up for less formally educated Americans, laborers and the disadvantaged. If those are terms you use towards other people, I think you also might be better off outside the Democratic Party.

  8. Robert Starkey

    May 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    I totally disagree with this strategy. It's called cutting off the nose to spite the face. Put the blame on our broken political system and Republican obstructionists, not our allies. Just what would this out of touch Gay donor have them do? Do we believe Gay rights are more important than the rights of others? Ask any older African American about the process. It take patience, perseverance, compassion and intelligence. I do not expect my Hispanic friends to wait longer because of homophobia on the right. We should be gracious as we plan our strategy for inclusion at a later date. That date will not come if we throw the baby out with the bathwater. In the bigger picture, the only important thing is winning big in 2014. Nothing else!

  9. Robert Starkey

    May 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    P.S.
    This is one more example of why we need to get money out of politics!

  10. Kurt

    May 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I can’t imagine better news than Jonathan Lewis and the other self-centered supermillionaires exiting from the Democratic Party. They represent nothing but their fat checkbooks and fatter egos. Maybe he will now use his money to join the opera board where he can meet some divas equal to his self-image. Good-bye Jonathan!!

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Biden’s update to HIV strategy hailed for recognizing racism as health issue

New blueprint outlines plan from 2022 to 2025

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Biden's update to the National HIV Strategy outlines plan for HIV from 2022 to 2025.

A recent update to the National HIV Strategy by the Biden administration is getting good reviews from advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS, who are praising the new blueprint for recognizing challenges in the epidemic and racism as a public health issue.

Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV & Hepatitis Policy Institute and member of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, assessed the update as “very, very positive,” saying it built on components of a previous iteration of the strategy issued during the Trump administration and made new ones.

“I think the community is extremely pleased,” Schmid said. “There’s a new component…racism is a public health issue. So, all these positive — the disparities, which is just so big. Anytime you’re addressing HIV, you’re always addressing disparities.”

Schmid also said the updated blueprint — which articulates a plan from 2022 through 2025 and was issued last week to coincide with the first World AIDS Day during the Biden administration — makes outreach to the private sector.

“I think that’s good because it’s the people who influence society like technology companies, people who have high gay and bisexual employees, like [the] travel industry, get them all involved,” Schmid said. “So, and that, I think should help with the stigma.”

Schmid also hailed the strategy for its promotion of the Affordable Care Act as a tool to fight HIV/AIDS, which he said was absent in the iteration of the report under former President Trump.

President Biden, in remarks on World AIDS Day last week before advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the East Room the White House, said the uptrend strategy is “a roadmap for how we’re going to put our foot on the gas and accelerate our efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by the year 2030.”

“That’s the goal,” Biden added. “And it centers on the kind of innovative, community solutions — community-driven solutions that we know will work.”

Consistent with his administration’s stated commitment to racial equity and recognizing disparities among diverse groups, including LGBTQ people, Biden said the plan ensures “the latest advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment are available to everyone, regardless of their age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or other factors.”

“Critically, this strategy takes on racial and gender disparities in our health system that for much too long have affected HIV outcomes in our country — to ensure that our national response is a truly equitable response,” Biden said.

The updated blueprint is the fourth iteration of the National HIV Strategy, which was first issued during the Obama administration, then updated during the Obama years and again during the Trump administration before the Biden administration unveiled the version last week.

The 93-page strategy makes recognition of racism as a public health issue a key component of the plan to fight HIV/AIDS, calling it a “serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans.”

“Racism is not only the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but also the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where they play, and where they gather as a community,” the strategy says. “Over generations, these structural inequities have resulted in racial and ethnic health disparities that are severe, far-reaching, and unacceptable.”

Data shows racial disparities remain a significant obstacle in thwarting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, new HIV infections in the United States declined by 8 percent between 2015 and 2019, with much of the progress due to larger declines among young gay and bisexual men in recent years.

But although HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men have dropped 33 percent overall, with declines in young men among all races, the CDC finds “African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos continue to be severely and disproportionately affected.”

A senior Biden administration official, speaking last week on background in a conference call with reporters to promote the HIV strategy, said in response to a question from the Washington Blade the recognition of racism “as a serious public health threat” was a key difference from previous iterations of the blueprint.

“There are several updates in this,” the official said. “And some of those new features or new areas of focus have come about from both community input as well as sitting down with our federal partners and thinking about also the priorities of this administration, where there is a focus on equity, there is a focus on addressing stigma and discrimination and ensuring that also marginalized populations have access to healthcare, and that we are also working to ensure that the voices of those with lived experience are part of our response.”

Jennifer Kates, director of global health & HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the recognition of social and racial disparities is a key component of the updated strategy.

“One area in which the updated strategy stakes out new and stronger ground is in its explicit focus on the social/structural determinants of health,” Kates said. “The strategy doesn’t just mention them but seeks to address them through a variety of objectives. This is a departure and an important one.”

Kates, however,.cautioned: “Of course, the devil will be in the details and there will always be a tension between what the federal government itself can do and the power that state and local jurisdictions actually have.”

One aspect of note during Biden’s remarks on World AIDS Day was his articulation of 2030 as the target date to beat HIV, with the goal of reducing new infection rates by 90 percent in that year. That 2030 goal was established by health officials during the Trump administration, but Biden had campaigned on 2025 — much to the skepticism of some observers.

The Department of Health & Human Services, in response an inquiry from the Blade on whether a decision was made to forgo 2025 and stick with 2030 as the target date, deferred comment to the White House, which didn’t immediately respond.

Schmid, who was among those during the election who expressed skepticism of the 2025 target date, said he spoke to the White House after an initial Blade report on the changed target date and was told the administration determined 2025 was “not feasible.”

“That was a campaign statement,” Schmid said. “I said then that it was not realistic, and I think others agreed with me particularly because of COVID, and we were during the campaign, but he said it and sometimes people say things during the campaign that they might not always live up to because it was unrealistic.”

Schmid, however, downplayed the importance of Biden articulating a different target date to beat HIV/AIDS compared to the one he promised during the presidential campaign, saying the initial date had demonstrated his “strong commitment” on the issue.

Now that the Biden administration has issued the new strategy, the work turns toward implementation, which would mean acting on the blueprint in conjunction with the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative already underway.

Schmid said the next step in the process is making sure funding is robust, HIV testing continues despite the coronavirus pandemic — and working to make PrEP more accessible.

Key to the effort, Schmid said, would be new legislation introduced before Congress to set up a national PrEP program, one introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), another by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and another by Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.). Those bills, Schmid said, would ensure the uninsured have access to PrEP and health plans cover them without cost.

“I’ve been focusing a lot on that,” Schmid said. “It would be great to get the administration’s support for these as well, and money in the budget to implement these national PrEP programs.”

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Bob Dole dies at 98; anti-LGBTQ record is part of his legacy

Opposition to LGBTQ rights a part of former Senate majority leader’s legacy

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U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) via 60 Minutes archival interview with Steve Kroft 1993 (Screenshot YouTube)

In a tweet Sunday morning the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced the death of former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) at the age of 98. Reaction was immediate from longtime friends, political allies of the Senator and others including President Biden who served with him in the U.S. Senate.

In a statement released by the White House, the president said of his friend and former Senate colleague; “Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves. […] Bob was a man to be admired by Americans. He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor. May God bless him, and may our nation draw upon his legacy of decency, dignity, good humor, and patriotism for all time.”

The tributes to Dole that poured in Sunday from every segment of government, political, public and personal reflected his lifelong career of public service to Americans including his championing the rights of disabled Americans playing a key role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. Dole himself was disabled, having been grievously wounded in combat while serving in the U.S. Army in the Italian campaign during World War II.

Dole earned two Purple Hearts and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service, but doctors weren’t sure he’d survive. He was hospitalized for three years. He suffered infections, grueling therapy, several operations and in one instance developed a blood clot that nearly killed him.

He spent the rest of his life struggling with disabilities caused by his war injuries, most noticeably loss of the use of his right arm.

After his recovery and convalescence he enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson on the GI Bill, and later transferred to Washburn University in his home state of Kansas. He graduated in 1952.

After college and while still in law school, Dole became active in local politics in his hometown of Russell, Kan. In his first run for elected office he won a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. He served from 1951 to 1953 until he ran and was elected Russell County Attorney. He remained in that position until 1961, when he was first elected to Congress as a Republican.

In what he later said publicly were the two most important votes while serving in Congress, in 1964 he voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act, and in 1965 voted in favor of the Voting Rights Act.

During the turbulent era of the 1960’s marked by the Civil Rights movement and opposition to America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict, Dole ran for the U.S. Senate in 1969 and was was elected after defeating his fellow Republican, former Kansas Gov. Bill Avery, in the primary race.

From Jan. 3, 1969, until his departure from the Senate on June 11, 1996, Dole built a career that established his place as a power broker and deal maker in Republican politics with considerable influence across both parties garnering the respect of Democratic leaders including the late-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

In the early 1970s, Dole served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973 including during the 1972 election and Watergate break-in and he resided at the Watergate apartments at the time of the break-in.

An ardent supporter of then-President Richard Nixon, Dole stood by him during the Watergate scandal often clashing with other Republicans leaders who ultimately convinced Nixon to resign the office. In later years Dole still praised Nixon’s record as president, serving as a eulogist at the former president’s state funeral in 1994.

In a commentary for Politico magazine on April 27, 2017, Dole wrote; “I can say with confidence that the beginning of the 21st century is still the Age of Nixon; we’re still living in a world he played a role in shaping. Though our country has changed in many ways in the 43 years since Nixon’s resignation and 23 years since his death, the basic domestic policies and international order that he brought to fruition remain in place.”

While Dole was often seen as a moderate by some, in practice he was a hard nosed partisan Republican sometimes echoing Nixon’s attack impulses. In 1976, then-President Gerald Ford selected him as his running mate at the Republican National Convention.

During the Ford-Dole campaign run he blamed the deaths and injuries of 1.7 million American soldiers on “Democrat wars,” and derided the Democratic Party challenger, Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, as no more than a “Southern-fried McGovern.”

“I figured up the other day, if we added up the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans, enough to fill the city of Detroit,” Dole said.

In a bit of political irony, he had partnered with U.S. Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), who Nixon defeated in a landslide election in 1972, to help pass legislation making food stamps more accessible.

In 1980 he made a run for the White House on his own, ultimately deciding to withdraw after a poor showing in the Republican primary in New Hampshire against former California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Dole was re-elected to his third term as senator that year.

Dole went on to serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 1981 to 1985, and in November of 1984, he was elected Senate majority leader. He then made another attempt for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, during that campaign his reputation as a political hardliner was cemented during an interview with then-NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

Dole exploded in apparent anger over a question posed about a television advert being run by the campaign of then Vice President George H.W. Bush, his Republican challenger for the nomination, that accused Dole of “straddling” on taxes. He snapped at Brokaw, saying Bush should “stop lying about my record.” He beat Bush in Iowa, but fell short again in New Hampshire and again he withdrew from the race.

During that campaign, the New York Times reported Dole strongly disagreed today with Congressman Jack Kemp on AIDS testing and urged that the issue of AIDS be kept out of the 1988 presidential race.

”To try to make this a Democratic or Republican issue is a loser,” said Dole. ”It’s a loser for the people involved, and it’s a loser for the people we’re trying to protect.”

On Feb. 22, 1989, during the session of the 101st Congress, the Hate Crimes Statistics Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It had previously been introduced in the 99th and 100th Congresses. The act would require the Justice Department to collect and publish data about crimes motivated by hatred based on race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Then on June 27, 1989, the House passed the act by a 368-47 vote. It moved on to the Senate where as the then-minority leader, Dole signed on as a co-sponsor.

On Feb. 8, 1990,  the Senate passed the Act by a 92-4 vote and sent it to President George H.W. Bush who signed the bill into law on April 23, 1990.

The 1994 mid-term elections gave Republicans control of both the Senate and the House, mainly due to the fallout from President Bill Clinton’s policies and Dole became the senate majority leader for a second time.

Dole again decided to make another run for the presidency in 1995 and it was in the lead-in to that campaign his anti-LGBTQ positions on military service by gay and lesbians and same-sex marriage became clear.

In the Fall of 1995, Dole returned a $1,000 dollar campaign contribution from the Log Cabin Club, a pro-gay Republican organization that is now known as Log Cabin Republicans. That caused Congress’ only openly gay Republican member, U.S. Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Wis.), to castigate Dole publicly in a letter that read; “One need not be anti-gay just to prove you are pro-family,” Gunderson wrote. “I know of no gay Republican (and frankly few gay Democrats) who seek any special class or privileges. All we seek is the end to blatant discrimination in America.”

Dole’s campaign returned the money, saying the Republican presidential contender was “100 percent” opposed to the Log Cabin Club’s agenda.

Gunderson, in his letter, also noted he had supported Dole’s past presidential efforts and had endorsed him before being asked. When first told of the donation controversy, Gunderson said he assumed his friends had mistaken Dole’s campaign for that of “other decidedly bigoted candidates. I was embarrassed to learn I was wrong,” he said.

Gunderson questioned whether Dole would reject the support of anyone who was gay. “If this is so, do you intend to now reject my support and request those on your staff who happen to be gay to resign?”

Eight months later in early May of 1996, in an effort to shore up support of his campaign from the Christian conservative movement within the Republican party, Dole signed on as the first co-sponsor of the Senate version of the Defense of Marriage Act. The legislation barred federal benefits for same-sex couples while allowing states the right to refuse recognition of such marriages that are recognized in other states.

In no small bit of irony one of the responses to Dole’s actions came from the Log Cabin Republicans. “The intolerant wing of the Republican Party is rearing it’s ugly head again,” said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. “What Dole is missing here is that he already has deep support among religious conservatives. There is a growing perception of the GOP Congress as intolerant, and Dole’s action yesterday only enhances such a view.”

Dole’s position on same-sex marriage was later derided by the Human Rights Campaign in an advert campaign, run only in the San Diego market during the GOP convention, that took aim at prominent Republicans who opposed same-sex marriages, but whose own marriages were not always accepted by mainstream society.

The HRC ads called out presidential nominee Dole and other Republicans for “wasting our time” and “trying to score political points by attacking gay Americans.”

One spot featured pictures of Dole with Elizabeth, his second wife, and U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) with his Asian American wife, Wendy. The ad notes that divorced people and couples of different ethnicities have not always been accepted wholly by society.

In the discussions and the political back and forth leading up to what ultimately became the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military, colloquially referred to as “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell,” “Serving is not a right,” Dole said. “It is a privilege in the United States. And there are certain restrictions.”

Dole, who had resigned from the Senate on June 11, 1996 to run his presidential campaign lost that fall. Clinton who was an incumbent, won in a 379–159 Electoral College landslide, capturing 49.2 percent of the vote against Dole’s 40.7 percent and Ross Perot’s 8.4 percent.

Dole at age 73 was the last World War II veteran to have been the presidential nominee of a major party. In 1997, months after losing the election Dole was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Clinton.

“Through it, we honor not just his individual achievement but his clear embodiment in the common values and beliefs that join us as a people,” Clinton said. “Values and beliefs that he has spent his life advancing. Sen. Dole, a grateful nation presents this award, with respect for the example you have set for Americans today and for Americans and generations yet to come.”

In the years that followed his political career Dole served as national chairman of the World War II Memorial raising funds for its construction. He was a popular spokesperson for Viagra, Visa, Dunkin’ Donuts and along with pop singer, Britney Spears, Pepsi-Cola. He continued to speak out for disabled Americans, and also established The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, housed on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kan.

In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed him to help lead a bipartisan commission to investigate a neglect scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Then alongside his wife Elizabeth Dole, in 2012, established the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, which is designed to empower, support and honor the nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers.

Despite his many accomplishments, in 2014 he still attacked the rights of LGBTQ Americans to be married. Dole suggested that fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, didn’t support ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because Portman, who had a gay son, had come out in favor of gay marriage, the Daily Beast and other media outlets reported in July of 2014.

Dole also supported former President Donald Trump and endorsed Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 campaigns. In an interview with USA Today conducted for his 98th Birthday, Dole said he was “Trumped out”, and that Trump had lost the 2020 election despite his claims to the contrary. “He lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, Dole stated, adding that Trump “never had one bit of fraud in all those lawsuits he filed and statements he made.”

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

60 Minutes Archive: Bob Dole (Steve Kroft, 1993)

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Victory Fund honors Maine House speaker at D.C. conference

Ryan Fecteau is gay Catholic University alum

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Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau accepts the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award at the Victory Fund International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 4, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Victory Fund on Saturday honored Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau on the last day of its International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C.

Fecteau — an openly gay Catholic University of America alum — won a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 2014. He became the chamber’s speaker in 2020.

“Hate and intolerance will not derail us,” said Fecteau after Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith presented him with the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award, which is named after U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). “Our community will not be intimidated.”

The Victory Fund on Friday honored Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila, a gay man who is living with HIV. The organization at its 30th anniversary gala on Saturday honored former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and former Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

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