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Victory Fund’s dangerous endorsement

Support for Tisei over pro-LGBT Dem incumbent a major mistake

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Richard Tisei, Republican, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade
Richard Tisei, Republican, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Republican Richard Tisei is challenging a pro-LGBT Democrat for Congress in Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of Tisei).

By JOE RACALTO

 

Recently, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed former Massachusetts Republican Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, who is openly gay, for Congress. Although I applaud Tisei — and all LGBT political candidates who run for public office — this endorsement is not justified and sets a dangerous precedent.

Tisei’s opponent, Democratic Rep. John Tierney, has been a staunch champion for LGBT rights — even when it wasn’t popular. He backed marriage equality in Massachusetts, despite the criticism. He has supported the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act; he was a strong and early supporter of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and he has a HRC score of 100 percent in the 112th Congress.

Tierney’s support for LGBT causes is clean, clear and perfect.

And, Congressman Tierney will do one thing Tisei will not do — vote for Leader Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House.

It is no secret that Speaker John Boehner does not support ENDA, claiming it is not necessary. Nor is it a secret that the GOP continues to block or stall every single LGBT advancement at all levels, and in all parts of the country. Given the recent events in Arizona, ENDA is needed now more than ever and if Democrats were in control, ENDA would be the law of the land. Make no mistake, Tisei’s potential vote for Boehner would be a vote to further delay justice for LGBT Americans who face employment discrimination.

Torey Carter, COO of the Victory Fund, said Tisei’s election to Congress would “shatter a glass ceiling for the Republican Party” and “further the dialogue within the GOP about LGBT issues.”  With all due respect to Carter, at what cost and at whose expense? Should those who fight for LGBT rights have to sit by and wait for the Republicans to understand? Additionally, in order to “further” one must “start.” They have had 40 years to start the dialogue and who is gullible enough to believe Tisei can help them with that process?

This country has moved on and the election of Tisei over Rep. Tierney would represent a major setback for LGBT Americans. We must never, ever turn our backs on those who have championed our causes, like Tierney, simply to “shatter glass” or “further dialogue (within the GOP)” or whatever other reason the Victory Fund uses to describe this dangerous endorsement.

Joe Racalto is president of Giesta Racalto, LLC. He served as former Rep. Barney Frank’s senior policy adviser and is a board member at Freedom to Work.

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44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. Timothy Kincaid

    March 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Partisan hack

  2. Kevin Ivers

    March 4, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Given that the analysis is unanimous among all observers on both sides that the Democrats have zero chance of retaking the House, this hack would have a non-partisan gay organization *oppose* a gay candidate that is 100% right on all gay issues and has an excellent chance of winning? Barney is gone, but his hackey echo still reverberates.

  3. Eric

    March 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Are you fucking people retarded? You’re bitching about how Tisei won’t vote for Pelosi? How about promoting LGBT causes instead of being a bunch of whiny liberal ass fucks who bitch about things online, yet don’t do anything to change the world.

    • Stephen Clark

      March 5, 2014 at 8:27 am

      How does installing John Boehner as Speaker–who will do the bidding of bigots and block every single piece of gay rights legislation–promote LGBT causes? And, for that matter, how does turning the word r*t*rded into a slur advance them either?

  4. Matthew

    March 5, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Pelosi opposed confirming the judge who overturned Prop 8.

  5. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Joe is exactly right. Attacking him as a "hack" proves it.

    When in 2016 or 2018 or 2020 or 2022, Democrats would have a chance of retaking the House, except for that gay Republican incumbent, Kevin's smug little excuse won't work.

    Those urging support for a candidate solely because he is gay are movement dinosaurs. That attitude failed in the case of Christine Quinn, and it should fail here.

    The wise vote is for the straight ally who WON'T vote to sabotage our entire legislative agenda on day one by installing a bigot-coddling Speaker. The Tisei drones who care only about his sexual orientation have no cogent response to that disqualifying fact. "But he likes boys" is one of the more vapid arguments imaginable for choosing a member of Congress.

  6. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Tisei's claim to support any gay issue is illusory and dissembling when he will vote on day one to ensure that not a single one of them ever gets a floor vote in the House.

  7. Kevin Ivers

    March 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Stephen Clark: Keep lying about me to support your incredibly weak arguments. I'm really enjoying your nonsense. Next to nothing you wrote about me is true, and when a person has to lie to support his arguments, I guess we all know how solid those arguments are.

  8. Kevin Ivers

    March 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    So it's not vapid to vote blindly for a party 100% of the time forever and not for the candidate in each case, nor to vote for the openly gay candidate who is 100% on every issue? What planet are you on? And keep trying to make this about anyone other than Richard Tisei. Keep maligning the people who dare to not toe your line, that's a really respectable way to bolster your arguments.

  9. Peter Rosenstein

    March 5, 2014 at 9:33 am

    The Victory Fund is bi-partisan or with the ridiculous early endorsement of Independent Catania in DC- ridiculous because the endorsement came before he even decides to run- now at least tri-partisan. I accept that they endorse gay candidates but clearly when they endorse someone like Tisei it puts them at the risk of losing support from many of their stalwart members. I remember how long it took for the HRC to recover from their endorsement of Al D’Amato.

    I think that this column is right on the mark. Electing Tisei won’t move forward the LGBT agenda in Congress and may in fact keep it from moving forward for a longer period of time.

    That being said I will still attend the Victory Fund brunch in DC while I make the decision to not support Tisei. I have other issues with the Victory Fund and they are that when they decide not to endorse a gay candidate they totally abandon them and don’t find a way to let people know about other LGBT candidates who are running. That doesn’t help our community build a bench for the future.

    We have seen that being a member of the LGBT community no longer guarantees you that the community will vote for you. That was clearly shown in New York last year with the defeat of Christine Quinn. It will happen again this year with candidates like Tisei and Catania (if he runs) losing much of the LGBT vote because their opponents are just as good on LGBT issues and may be perceived by the electorate as better on other issues. That may actually be a good thing as our advocacy has moved the nation forward on our issues and the Victory Fund can legitimately claim some credit for that.

    As the LGBT community becomes more sophisticated in their voting decisions we will still need organizations like the Victory Fund but they may find that they will have to modify their criteria for endorsements and give more publicity to those LGBT candidates they don’t endorse if they want to continue to find the level of support they now have.

  10. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Ah, Kevin Ivers, you're knocking down a straw man. I have plenty of experience working with pro-gay Republican employers. And I don't have any trouble voting for pro-gay Republican political candidates. In fact, I have done so. I voted for Governor Pataki in New York. And I voted for George Ryan for governor of Illinois in 1998 when he reached out to gay voters when the Democratic nominee was wallowing in anti-gay crud. The difference, Kevin, is that those Republicans were running for offices in which they did not have to sabotage the entire legislative agenda of our movement as their first act in office.

    I won't even mind supporting a Republican nominee for a legislative seat when the day arrives when putting the GOP in charge of a legislative chamber won't result in sabotaging the entire legislative agenda of our movement. Still, however, the congressional Republican caucus is utterly subservient to the most bigoted elements of your party. They fought gay-inclusive provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. They fought gay-inclusive provisions of the immigration reform bill. And Speaker Boehner has made clear that he has no intention of ever allowing a floor vote on ENDA.

    You can spew all the hot bile you want at me, and you can set up and knock down straw men all day long. None of that will address the real problem, which is that your party remains in the complete thrall of bigots, so putting them in charge of most any legislative chamber in the country kills all prospects for moving our legislation. That you lack the emotional capacity to grapple honestly with that problem is a topic for you and your therapist. It isn't my problem.

  11. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    When Kevin Ivers has nothing to say he resorts to personal invective and cocky snark. Run along, Kevin. You're a gay Republican shill and have been for years.

  12. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    When Kevin Ivers has nothing to say he resorts to personal invective and cocky snark. Run along, Kevin. You're a gay Republican shill and have been for years.

  13. David Lampo

    March 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    What a pathetic partisan hack you are. God forbid America's other major party should become gay friendly as well. Stop putting your party's interest above equality, because that's what you're doing.

  14. David Lampo

    March 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    What a pathetic partisan hack you are. God forbid America's other major party should become gay friendly as well. Stop putting your party's interest above equality, because that's what you're doing.

  15. David Lampo

    March 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Stephen Clark It doesn't occur to you that elected gay Republicans talking to the leadership and fellow members might result in the party changing its stance? Wasn't that part of the process of changing the Democratic Party? Republicans will hold the House for the foreseeable future, and yet you would rather have a Democrat in those two seats rather than pro-gay Republicans who can help change the terms of the debate in the party. Amazing.

  16. Kevin Ivers

    March 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Stephen Clark: Besides spelling my name correctly, and being close to right about my past employment at LCR (eight and a half years, but why split hairs) and my party affiliation years ago, everything else you've written here about me is a lie, not just inaccurate. That is "hot bile" and "invective" and "cocky snark" to point that out, and then you go further in personalizing this about me and my alleged mental illness or what have you? Keep going, honey. You're really doing your arguments about Richard Tisei a lot of justice. Just keep going, write another four or five posts here along the same line, and keep lying and personalizing it and talking about yourself (trust me, nobody cares…). It doesn't change the fact that Richard Tisei deserves to win, he deserved the Victory Fund's support, the Victory Fund will continue to support him, and frankly, all your angry attempts to change the subject aren't really the least bit relevant to those facts. (And to Tim Kincaid and David Lampo: isn't it funny, if you change a couple of the nouns a little bit this guy could be one of those wacked-out fundamentalist right-wing GOP activists having this exact same conversation with us about Richard, am I right?)

  17. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    My goodness, I've activated the whole smug gay Republican propaganda machine. Yes,David Lampo, that has occurred to me because I'm not stupid, so spare me your little sighing condescension performance, okay, Sparky? First, your forecast beyond 2014 is your own convenient wishful thinking. More to the point, sorry, dear, but I find it preposterous to suggest that electing Tisei will do a damn thing to sever the bigots from their control of the GOP congressional agenda. I find that as laughable as the idea that the far left was going to accomplish anything by throwing away their votes on Ralph Nader. The GOP is nowhere close to being trusted in charge of the agenda in most any legislative chamber.

  18. Kevin Ivers

    March 5, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Wow, this guy is not only paranoid, but he's flailing.

  19. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    More smug snark, hot bile, and personal invective from Kevin Ivers. And still no coherent argument. I never said you were effective as a shill, Kevin. The retreat into the abstract assertion of "deserving" to win is telling.

  20. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    When America's other major party becomes gay friendly enough, we can safely put gay Republicans in Congress. Not before.

  21. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Haha! Poor Kevin Ivers. All snark, no brain. What a perfect fit for the Log Cabin Republicans.

  22. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    If Richard Tisei puts the gay community above his party, let him pledge that he will never cast the deciding vote to put a GOP Speaker in charge of the House agenda. No? I thought not. Party first; gay second.

  23. John Tobias

    March 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Uhh, isn't putting gay Republicans in Congress the kind of true indicator that the party is in fact becoming more gay friendly?? …. and my very safe bet is that there is no way the Republican party will ever become gay friendly "enough" for rabid, irrational partisans like the author to ever support any gay Republicans in any circumstance.

  24. John Tobias

    March 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Uhh, isn't putting gay Republicans in Congress the kind of true indicator that the party is in fact becoming more gay friendly?? …. and my very safe bet is that there is no way the Republican party will ever become gay friendly "enough" for rabid, irrational partisans like the author to ever support any gay Republicans in any circumstance.

  25. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Speaking of "rabid, irrational partisans," let me quote John Tobias himself in reference to George H.W. Bush: "That's our 41!! …. love that man!" No credibility as a non-partisan arbiter of gay interests.

    Despite running the risk of validating the other party's "war on women" meme, blocking reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because the bill contained gay-inclusive provisions made it quite abundantly clear that congressional Republicans remain thoroughly in the thrall of bigots.

    How's that floor vote on ENDA coming?

  26. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    And, for the record, John Tobias, I'll gladly rescind any gay rights objection to Richard Tisei the day Boehner allows a vote on ENDA.

  27. John Tobias

    March 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    So, let me make sure I understand your position, Stephen. You apparently would like ENDA to pass, as would I, but yet you are unwilling to support Tisei and others who vote for ENDA and, even more importantly, help persuade their Republican colleagues to support gay rights issues! And, since it's unlikely that the Democrats will re-take Congress any time soon, you are willing to sacrifice ENDA just to sustain your Dems-only myopia, correct??

  28. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    No, John Tobias, my position is that you are a "rabid, irrational partisan." Proof of that, in fact, is that you can't even respond to a counterargument without assuming the other person is a "rabid, irrational partisan." I have no Dems-only myopia, dear. In fact, I detest it in Barney Frank and have a long history of saying so. I spent much of the period from 2009 to early 2012 vigorously attacking Democrats, which is more than I can say for gay Republicans toward George "Federal Marriage Amendment" Bush when he was in power. What I saw was a lot of cowering and selling out. And I saw it again last year when "unskewed polls" brought fantasies of gay Republican jobs in a Romney administration. Thank god he's nowhere near the federal response to Windsor right now!

    Now spare me your intelligence-insulting spin. You should have spent another hour trying to trump up something better. ENDA is dead and will remain dead for the foreseeable future–sacrificed by conniving Dems in 2010–as long as your party has control of the congressional agenda because your party is in the complete thrall of bigots and won't be freeing itself of them "any time soon." Your suggestion that Richard Tisei will slip on some superhero outfit and remake the House Republican caucus is preposterous. But you have to assert it, no matter how absurd, because it's the only way you can avoid confronting the reality that his very election will help to ensure that he never gets to vote on ENDA.

    You want me to vote for a pro-gay Republican governor? I've done that repeatedly. What I won't be doing is stupidly handing the legislative agenda to a party that is so in the thrall of bigots that it fights even domestic violence legislation because it has "the gay" in it.

  29. Tim Rosenberger

    March 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I find some fault with the content of this article, but I find major fault with the three line long sentence with which it ends. #smallersentences

  30. Lindsay Horikoshi

    March 5, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    #EnglishMajorProblems

  31. Stephen Clark

    March 5, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Gay Republicans are way ahead of themselves. Instead of trying to elect gay Republicans in Democratic congressional districts, it would appear that they have enormous work to do among their OWN fellow partisans. Get to work, boys. Gay Democrats have pushed our party to evolve. Have at it with yours: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/03/05/the-morning-plum-why-gop-wont-evolve-on-gay-marriage/

  32. David Lampo

    March 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Stephen Clark It should be obvious that putting gay Republicans in the House is exactly the way to change the party and get that vote you refer to. To ask that snarky question about ENDA when you in fact oppose any effort to get gay Republicans into office really kind of exposes what your priority really is, and it's not expanding gay rights.

  33. Stephen Clark

    March 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    No, David Lampo, it's actually you and your buddies here who are such partisan hacks that you lack the capacity to step outside your cartoonish perspective, in which everyone either agrees with you or must be a partisan hack.

    I understand that you want the path to ENDA to run through the House Republican Conference. I think that's a sad gay Republican delusion. I also understand that your only mode of "debate" is to try to shout down anybody who questions you and to try to divert attention from your own partisan hackery by accusing others of it.

    You're running to a Democratic district to try to get an instantly marginalized gay Republican into the House GOP Conference to create some illusion of progress. Meanwhile, yesterday's ABC/WP makes clear the stark depth of your failure to change attitudes in your own party. Until you do that, contriving to stick a gay Republican in the Conference won't change a damn thing.

    I disagree with you. Quit the tantrum, grow the fuck up, and get over it.

  34. David L Martin

    March 6, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    As a long time supporter and contributor to the Victory Fund and to many out candidates, I am disappointed that the Victory Fund has chosen not to support Representative Tierney who has actively demonstrated his support for glbt equality time and time again. As the aurhor notes the Republican Party has had many opportunities to support glbt equality over the last 40 years but has consistently failed to do so. Time for me to re-think my support of the Victory Fund when they make decisions that seem so short-sighted and harmful to the glbt community.

  35. John Tobias

    March 6, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Now, who exactly is throwing the tantrum here?? Neither David nor I felt the need to resort to vulgarity and rudeness.

  36. Stephen Clark

    March 6, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    John Tobias, take your faux outrage over to Fox News. And read your comment history, you rabid, irrational hypocrite.

  37. Jason Jordan

    March 9, 2014 at 3:48 am

    I think the point is to question: What strategic sense does it make for Victory to replace a 9 term Senior Democrat with a proven national record on LGBT issues with a Freshman Republican who will have no power as a junior member of a committee, no pull to change his party's thinking, and hasn't proven whether LGBT rights or his party comes first (keep in mind, how easy it was to vote for marriage equality in MA with such huge Democratic Majorities. What he does without is anyone's guess.) Unless it's purely a PR move to attract gay Republicans this weakens Victory's position on all fronts, and no one wants to see that happen including the author.

  38. Jason Jordan

    March 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Reading some of these comments I can't help but be stunned by the shameless contradiction going on. Gay Republicans calling the author a partisan hack? You folks are so partisan that you blindly follow a party that at best isn't listening to a word you say, and at worst would sooner string you up from a high tree than let you marry the person you love. If defending that isn't partisan hackery then I don't know what is.

  39. Tom Lang

    March 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Has anyone checked out Richard Tisei’s Facebook page? He was posting photos of himself with Ronald Reagan, lauding Reagan as his inspiration and hero. This is the same Richard Tisei who as a MA voted AGAINST HIV funding and gay adoption when we needed his vote. When I personally asked his “why?”, his only excuse to me was “I wasn’t ‘gay’ back then.” And let me tell you this about the marriage equality fight in MA. Tisei was a ghost. I was pushing and trying to educate the Republicans. Tisei was publicly “in the closet” and non existent in the process. We needed him. The vote switches with Republican leges had nothing to do with Tisei. I learned just the other day that even fellow senator Jarret Barrios(R) sent a gay state trooper to talk to Tisei to educate him about gay people. That was in 2005. I have no problem with Tisei taking on Tierney in a forum about other issues, but Tisei now becoming a Gay spokesperson and receiving funding from Victory Fund–pure bullshit!!

  40. David Lampo

    March 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Voting for a straight ally in a minority caucus that already supports gay rights has no value whatsoever. Now you may think having a gay Republican in that seat will contribute little or nothing to the cause, but his presence can having nothing but positive effects on his fellow Republicans on gay issues.

  41. David Lampo

    March 12, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Perhaps that the real fear here: not concern for gay rights as much as for the potential for pro-gay Republicans peeling off support from people who typically vote Democrat. People who like the party's economic message but not its social issues message. Indeed, Democrats should feel threatened by such candidates. Perhaps, however, you should just be honest about your real reasons for opposing such candidates.

  42. Stephen Clark

    March 12, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Ah, David Lampo, the one-trick prick, spits forth his only talking point again. You either agree with him, or you're a party hack. LOL! Standard Republican tactic: Accuse your critic of being what you manifestly are yourself. Thank goodness Lampo didn't get his way in 2012, or else President Romney would be aggressively fighting Windsor right now. You see, Lampo is the Party-first hack with such self-loathing that he doesn't think he deserves equal rights. I have no use for sellouts who won't utter a peep of criticism toward their party but attack other gays who readily criticize theirs. You're a pathetic caricature, Lampo. Your party despises you. Try more therapy.

  43. Stephen Clark

    March 13, 2014 at 5:40 am

    David Lampo. Despised so much, in fact, that your party twists itself into knots of incoherent gibberish to despise you. http://www.oregonrepublicanparty.org/republican-family-values

    Yeah, sticking a gay Republican from a Democratic district into the House GOP Conference will *transform* it! (rolls eyes.)

    We know what your game is, hack. You think you can curry favor with the bigots in your party by offering to deliver them Democratic districts with gay snake-oil salesmen like Richard ("I support [never allowing the House to vote on] ENDA") Tisei. It's just a variation on the pathetic effort to get the bigots in your party to pat you on the head by bashing other gays. The thing is, they despise you only one iota less than they despise the rest of us. See Richard Grenell's welcome.

    So instead of sitting around rephrasing your one attack line, go try to flip a state party or two. No, no, your goal is to ingratiate yourselves with bigots, not to actually produce gay rights progress. Republican hack first; gay a distant second. GOP version of Barney Frank. The gay credibility of gay Republicans died with the endorsement of Mitt "FMA" Romney, as plenty of us warned at the time that it would. When forced to choose gay or Republican, we saw what the choice was.

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Opinions

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal serves as a guide for enacting equality legislation

Equality Act supporters should take cues from Senate moderates

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Equality legislation is close to passing in Congress, but close isn’t good enough. “Close” won’t change anything for the LGBTQ Americans who face discrimination every day. Senate Democrats and Republicans must make a push to negotiate. With a reach on both sides to find common ground, we can move equality legislation from “close” to “done deal.”

Some Democrats are waiting for the filibuster to end—despite clear evidence that they lack the votes to end it. Some Republicans are practicing a tried-and-true brand of obstructionism. To break this deadlock, we should look to the successful, bipartisan repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) as a guide.

The DADT repeal is the single reference point for LGBTQ advocates for overcoming the Senate filibuster. Other victories have been in the courts; notably, the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision that made gay marriage legal nationwide.

Before Obergefell, advocates had success in the state legislatures. I worked on campaigns for the freedom to marry in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and elsewhere, finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans who thought it was impossible to negotiate on marriage. Eventually, enough people from both parties came together to pass marriage laws in a majority of states.

Working together at the state level is one thing. Congress is another.

Despite Democrats’ control of the White House, Senate and House, negotiations are failing at the federal level. So, we lets look to ancient history—the 2010 repeal of DADT—for guidance on reaching 60 votes in the Senate.

The most important lesson from the DADT repeal is that Senate moderates must champion the cause and lead negotiations. The more partisan figures on both sides need to step back. Overcoming the filibuster is a job for moderates, not ideologues.

As it happens, the hero of the DADT repeal is still a senator and can help. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine led the negotiations on DADT repeal.

Senator Collins supports the Equality Act in principle and even sponsored a version of the bill in past. However, the current version is too extreme for Sen. Collins, as a result, she has withdrawn as a co-sponsor. The current bill has also foundered with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, another important figure in the repeal of DADT.

The fact that moderate, pro-LGBTQ senators are unable to back the current version of the Equality Act should send a clear message to Democrats that we need to make reasonable changes to the bill. So far, the message is being ignored.

On the Democratic side, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman was essential to the repeal of DADT. There certainly were passionate, liberal Democrats who could have asserted themselves during the debate. But then, the bill would have taken longer to pass, or even might have failed.

The lesson is clear. Listen to the moderates. Let them lead this charge.

Another important lesson from the repeal of DADT is to be flexible in the legislative strategy. DADT repeal was originally an amendment to a large defense authorization bill. Rather than give up, Collins and Lieberman fought and saved DADT repeal from defeat by pulling out key provisions they knew could pass on their own and making them a standalone measure. Repeal passed with bipartisan support.

The current version of the Equality Act tries to do too much. That’s why it can’t win support from moderate Republicans who have legitimate concerns the bill might suppress free speech or shut down religious charities.  

Over 60 senators can agree on the basic premise of the Equality Act. They would gladly vote to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing, and public accommodations, so long as the law didn’t intrude on the First Amendment.

If the far left believes that our country has too much religious liberty, they can deal with that in future legislation. But so long as we have a filibuster—and, there’s no indication it will end any time soon—the Equality Act needs to reflect our society’s current views on religious liberty.  

The DADT repeal passed with 65 votes in the Senate, overcoming the filibuster. Let’s replicate that victory by using the same playbook. Moderates: Take the lead.

Tyler Deaton is the senior advisor to the American Unity Fund, a conservative nonprofit organization working to advance LGBTQ freedom and religious freedom

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Commentary

LGBTQ people are being hunted down in Afghanistan

Homosexuality punishable by death under Taliban Sharia law interpretation

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Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

Kabul was known as one of the few “liberal” cities in Afghanistan. The word liberal is in quotation marks, and inflected, because it is liberal compared to the rest of the country. Now that the Taliban has taken over, most people who expressed themselves differently and openly are forced to adhere to Sharia law, completely change their ways, hide their identity, or be killed.

The U.S. State Department reported in 2020 that even before the Taliban took power in August, LGBTQ people in Afghanistan faced “discrimination, assault and rape” and “homosexuality was widely seen as taboo and indecent.” Laws against lesbian, gay and transgender people made their existence illegal and punishable by up to two years in jail. Those laws were not always enforced, but they did leave LGBTQ people at risk of extortion and abuse by authorities, as reported by the U.K. government.

Even with the discrimination and abuse, LGBTQ people still had a sliver of space in society. Nemat Sadat, an LGBTQ Afghan author living in the United States said that gay, lesbian and transgender people helped the country’s cultural life develop since the Taliban’s last rule 20 years ago. But, most of these people built their lives quietly.

Now with the Taliban regime, their sliver of space in society is gone, there is no room to live quietly as an openly LGBTQ person. Under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law, homosexuality is punished by death.

In an interview with Reuters, Waheedullah Hashimi, a top decision maker for the Taliban said, “there will be no democratic system at all because it does not have a base in our country,” and continued to say, “what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.”

One source spoke to a 20-year-old university student who is lesbian in Afghanistan. Her family accepted her as a lesbian, but now the new Taliban leadership has put the lives of all of her family at risk. There is a new surge of violence against any lesbian, gay and transgender people. This includes anyone speculated of being lesbian, gay, or trans, and those who support them.

This young lesbian woman has gone into hiding. She is part of hundreds of LGBTQ people in Afghanistan who are pleading with advocates and organizations outside Afghanistan for help to escape the Taliban tyranny.

Nemat Sadat shares stories of lesbian, gay and trans people in hiding. He shared a story of a gay man who watched from his hiding place in the ceiling as Taliban fighters beat the friend who refused to disclose his location.  

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan fear the risk of being arrested, beaten and killed. The Taliban made it clear that it is enforcing its strict religious laws against Afghanistan’s LGBTQ citizens. In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, one Taliban judge said there were only two punishments for homosexuality: “stoning or being crushed under a wall.”

LGBTQ people in Afghanistan are reporting that their friends, partners and members of their community are being attacked and raped. They also stated that Islamic fundamentalists and riotous groups are encouraged by the new tyranny and are on the hunt for LGBTQ people.

Another source shared that a gay man was targeted for his sexuality and then raped by his male attackers. That is a terrible paradox. He was raped by his male attackers, who criminalizing him for having same sex relations.

LGBTQ people are in hiding, desperately trying to get out of the country, and trying to erase any proof of their queer identity.

They feel abandoned by the international LGBTQ community. The Taliban is proving that the Western nations have normalized relations to their government. The Taliban and their supporters see this a proof of their victory. This leaves LGBTQ people defeated and fearing torture and death.

The U.S. government and other Western countries evacuated many people out of Afghanistan, including journalists, women’s rights activists and those who worked with foreigners. But, LGBTQ activists said that nothing has been done for them. A source says about her situation, “we will definitely be killed. We are asking to be evacuated immediately from Afghanistan.” To date, no safe route has been found.

Even underground measures to help LGBTQ people are challenging and near impossible. The Rainbow Railroad is a non-governmental organization helping LGBTQ people around the world escape persecution. Executive Director Kimahli Powell said evacuating LGBTQ people from Afghanistan is especially hard as they are often alone, in hiding, and unable to contact each other. If routes to get them out is nearly impossible, that still means those routes are somewhat possible. As difficult as it may be, we must find pathways to save these people and get them out.

The Taliban regime has established itself, knowing with certainty that the world will stand aside, albeit condemning and protesting, but not intervening. This is empowering jihadists across the world, especially in the Middle East. The Taliban has many allies and admirers, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. 

The leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, travelled from Palestinian territories to meet with Taliban leaders in Qatar. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a history of ties to the Taliban, even with radicals joining each other’s organizations. Very public statements of congratulations were made between leaders of the Taliban, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and all with full Iranian support.

The increase in brazen forcefulness of these groups reaches beyond Afghanistan, and spreads to the lands dominated by other similar groups. This causes an escalation of the threats to anyone who opposes Sharia law or who lives differently than what Sharia law allows. LGBTQ people in these lands are in peril. 

If we do not help LGBTQ people in Afghanistan, the lives of LGBTQ people under other similar tyrannies face increased uncertainty and danger.

Since posting this video, I have been receiving direct messages from LGBTQ people in hiding in Afghanistan, and those who are seeking to be evacuated. They all share harrowing experiences of being attacked, raped, and threatened by Taliban, Islamic State and bullying groups.

Yuval David is an innovative actor, host and filmmaker with a creative mantra to entertain, uplift and inspire. He is a captivating performer and compelling storyteller who uses his platform for sharing narratives that affect social change, specifically on behalf of highly respected U.S. and international organizations that raise awareness for the marginalized and under-represented, inspired by his LGBTQ+ and Jewish identity, and his Israeli-American roots.

He can be reached through social media

YouTube.com/YuvalDavid

Instagram.com/Yuval_David_

Facebook.com/YuvalDavid

Twitter.com/YuvalDavid

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Proposed zoning code changes will harm Rehoboth

Public hearing to take place on Oct. 15

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Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

As a former city commissioner for nine of the past 15 years, I have seen a lot of changes in the laws and decisions governing the city of Rehoboth Beach. Like most things in life, some have been good and some have been not so good. The ones that have been good for the city plan for the future. The ones that have been bad for the city try to hold on to the past. The city of Rehoboth Beach has been a magnet for tourists for a long time and that has not changed, nor can it be changed. Trying to stifle our business community will not decrease the numbers that come to our city but will only frustrate our residents and visitors by putting into place ordinances that will promote the construction of buildings that lack functional architectural creativity. Worse, discouraging business innovation will drive businesses to Route 1, resulting in vacant storefronts along our commercial streets that will ultimately increase costs to residents in terms of higher taxes, provision of basic services, and increased utility fees. 

On Oct. 15, a public hearing will be held regarding patchwork changes to the zoning code. The proposed changes have been put forth as “clarifications”. They are NOT clarifications but changes that will change the downtown commercial districts for generations to come. And not in a good way. 

This may seem like an over-reaction but truly it is not. Not to over-simplify, but the basic zoning code that applies to commercial buildings allows for construction of a building from lot line to lot line with a maximum height of 42 feet. The proposed changes/clarifications would count interior courtyards and elevator shafts. These changes do not change the bulk of a building but could very well disincentivize desired architectural enhancements, such as balconies and courtyards. In this day and age of COVID, open space should be promoted not penalized. Why would we stifle architects with ideas for buildings that embrace creative use of a parcel of land? The effect of the proposed changes on the new hotel projects that are currently being designed warrants involvement by everyone who wants to make sure that Rehoboth Avenue does not end up showcasing buildings with zero architectural interest. 

It is important to remember that the one square mile of the city of Rehoboth Beach is not a suburban community, nor is it a retirement community. It is a city that hosts tens of thousands of visitors eight to nine months a year with a vibrant restaurant scene, beach and boardwalk, farmers market, recreational dock, and hopefully one day a performing arts center. What can you do? Send an email by Oct. 15 to [email protected], asking the mayor and city commissioners to pause making these patchwork changes to the city code, changes that will have negative unintended consequences for years to come. Ask them to do what was programmed in the budget over a year ago—to hire a zoning expert to look holistically at the city ordinances and make practical, coordinated changes that incentivize development that sustains the aesthetics and prosperity of our town. 

Pat Coluzzi is a former city commissioner for the city of Rehoboth Beach.

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