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The Democratic primary is complicated

But in the end, we should all support party’s candidate



Democratic Primary, gay news, Washington Blade

There are five candidates so far in the primary race: Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Over the coming months, the fight within the Democratic Party will be complicated by the fact many believe the eventual winner will have to appeal to a more moderate general electorate than those who vote in Democratic primaries. Some will call that selling out; others will call it a winning compromise.

There are five candidates so far in the primary race: Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb. Except for Webb they are on the liberal side. Currently the race is Clinton against the others. She remains far ahead in the national polls over her closest rival Sanders by about 50 percent and in the Iowa caucuses she leads Sanders by about 35 percent in the latest Iowa polling average. He is much closer in some Iowa polls and in New Hampshire. The other candidates lag far behind.

The result is Clinton and Sanders are taking the air out of the atmosphere for the other candidates who are having a hard time being heard. That may change in six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee.

The reason the primary is complicated is supporters of the leading candidates are often at each other’s throats and in most elections there is one winner and a lot of losers. In some ways this primary is different. There will be one winner but it is hoped the Democratic Party will win because of the big ideas being debated. Many believe Sanders, actually an independent running in the Democratic primary, is doing so to push some of these big ideas. He is gaining in some polls and his supporters believe he can win. The main icon of the party’s left wing is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). When she chose not to run, Martin O’Malley was setting himself up to be the most left candidate and challenger to Clinton. But when Sanders entered the race most of Warren’s supporters jumped on his bandwagon, which left little room for O’Malley.

Some don’t believe a passionate Hillary Clinton supporter like me really appreciates Sanders. I recently posted on Huffington Post where I was complimentary to Sanders but brought up some of the differences between he and Clinton on gun control and immigration. I quoted Sanders claiming he is a socialist.

As I write this, well over 3,000 people indicated they like the column but there are more 220 comments, most I assume from Sanders supporters, who have attacked me for being a phony when I said I like much of what Sanders is saying. They objected to my characterization of Clinton and Sanders having similar positions on many issues. They clearly believe Clinton is just pandering to the left rather than believing her positions.

The vitriol was interesting since it is not how Sanders is campaigning. Sanders is sticking to the issues he has fought for as an independent and articulating them well. While not believing he is the better candidate, I can still appreciate what he is saying. Therein lies the complex nature of this election.

Sanders could have run as an independent rather than in the Democratic primary. I believe he chose this route because he doesn’t want to be the next Ralph Nader turning the White House over to a Republican.

So what those 200 commenters and those supporting other candidates in the primary should accept is we will all need to come together and support whoever is the Democratic standard bearer in 2016. I believe it will be Hillary and will speak out on why it should be. I expect Sanders supporters will do the same for him and supporters of the other candidates will do that for their person.

But in doing so it is crucial to be civil to each other. We should agree if a Republican gets in the White House and nominates the next Supreme Court justices, that it will change our lives for the worse for decades. A Republican would likely reverse many of the executive orders President Obama signed on immigration and LGBT rights and reverse regulations his agencies are promulgating on environmental and health issues.

We need to come out of the Democratic primary united for whichever candidate wins or we will undermine everything we believe in and will hurt the people we all claim to be fighting for — workers, immigrants and everyday Americans. We will set back the fight for women’s rights and any chance of making progress in securing civil and human rights in both law and in the culture for all Americans.

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  1. Kyle

    July 16, 2015 at 9:18 am

    This season is much more painful to watch than I anticipated, and I blame Sanders. I don’t like Hillary at all, but I think she can win, or at least could have won had Sanders not become the charismatic figure of the left. I love Sanders’s ideas in general, but because he’s entered the race, he’s poised to become this season’s Nader. If he wins the nomination, he won’t win the presidency. If he doesn’t win the nomination, he’ll either run as an independent, or – if he chooses to stay out – his fans will stay home on election day. Either way, the Republicans win. I’m much more pessimistic about this election than I expected to be at this point. Thanks, Sanders!

  2. Brian's Ions

    July 20, 2015 at 7:31 am

    GOP-linked pollster Frank Luntz just warned that Donald Trump has the money and very probably the personal drive this cycle to run as a third party candidate. That would be akin to Ross Perot’s prez candidacy in 1992.

    Perot ended up pulling a lot more votes from incumbent Bush 41– and the nation’s first Clinton was elected president. Who says lightning can’t strike twice?

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The future of lesbian bars

Resolve to support our queer spaces in 2022



lockdown zone, gay news, Washington Blade

This New Year, I hope you wish for more lesbian bars across the country. The story of lesbian bars in the U.S. has been slightly tragic of late: as of January 2021, there were only 15 clubs or bars dedicated to queer women across the country. 

That’s right—only 15. Across all 50 states. 

In Washington, D.C., my hometown, A League of Her Own stands out as the only lesbian bar in the city, dedicated to queer women. Located in Adams Morgan, A League of Her Own, also known as ALOHO, is a small mecca for queer ladies to pass through, socialize, and flirt. ALOHO is a chic gathering point for all queer folk, with posters of softball players dotting the walls and gender neutral signs lying about. 

Several years ago, another lesbian bar called Phase 1 existed in Southeast, where queer women could slam eight balls in pool games and engage in raunchy yet ever-so-hot jello wrestling competitions. 

Unfortunately, Phase 1 shut its doors in 2016. 

So what explains the closure of so many lesbian bars, while bars for gay men continue to flourish? Perhaps many queer women view gay bars as a space for their own as well, whereas gay men view lesbian bars as less of a place for them to socialize. 

Either way, we need to give support to lesbian bars now more than ever. Tokens of support can take many forms. 

For one, make sure to socialize in spaces dedicated to queer ladies. There are three lesbian bars in New York City: Cubbyhole (281 W. 12th St.), Gingers in Brooklyn (363 5th Ave.), and Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St.). Next time you visit the Big Apple, make sure to give these three spots some love. Maybe drag your experimenting bi friend to these locations. Or your pansexual roommate. 

Back in D.C., you can buy unisex shirts in A League of Her Own’s merchandise store, available online. 

Proceeds will go toward funding the bar, and making sure it stays afloat, especially during this COVID economy. 

Most of all, I hope you encourage your queer lady friends to keep on frequenting queer lady destinations. After all, there is only one thing that will keep lesbian bars afloat—and that is attendance. 

I, for one, will be frequenting many lesbian destinations this new year.  

Isaac Amend is a Yale graduate and participated in National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ documentary. He also is a member of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, and contributes regularly to the Blade. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @isaacamend.

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Breaking barriers as an out trans ‘Jeopardy’ champion

Amy Schneider’s run inspires us all



Amy Schneider (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television)

“When was the last time anybody said ‘wow!’” a friend asked me.

I couldn’t remember the last time anyone I know (including me) had any “Wow!” moments. Until I heard about trans woman and software engineering manager Amy Schneider’s 29-game winning streak on “Jeopardy.”

You wouldn’t think anything could dispel our COVID exhaustion and political divisiveness. Yet, news about a champion on “Jeopardy,” a quiz show that has been on TV since 1964, has broken through our gloom.

In our culture, there are few things that everyone loves. But, “Jeopardy” is beloved by many, from theater geeks to 80-year-old sports nuts. A progressive friend was over the moon when his brother was a “Jeopardy” contestant. A buddy, a hetero (non-Trump) Republican, is a “Jeopardy” fanatic and a gay librarian pal is a “Jeopardy” freak.

Many of us daydream about being on “Jeopardy.” But we know that we wouldn’t have a chance on this legendary quiz show with its deceptively simple format: You give the answer to the (often incredibly hard) clues in the form of a question. You have to have a strategic military commander’s and a world-class athlete’s coordination: so you can press the buzzer to answer the clue.

The game’s categories run the gamut from opera to mountain ranges. Most of us, mere mortals, would be lucky to know even one category in the first round of the game. Let alone in the “Double Jeopardy” round or the “Final Jeopardy” clue. I might jump on clues about Katharine Hepburn movies or M&Ms. But that would be it for me.

It’s exciting to watch a “Jeopardy” contestant become a long-running champion. You marvel at the player’s intelligence, endurance, and nerve. It’s thrilling when the contestant on a winning-streak is part of your community.

Many of us LGBTQ “Jeopardy” fans are thrilled by Schneider’s record-setting winning streak. As I write this, Schneider has won more than $1 million in 29 games of “Jeopardy.” She is the fifth millionaire in “Jeopardy” history, and only the fourth player to reach this milestone in the regular season. She has won more than any other female “Jeopardy” contestant.

Schneider, like so many of us, doesn’t want to be defined by her gender identity or sexuality. Schneider’s life is multi-faceted; she has many interests. Schneider lives with her girlfriend Genevieve. They have a cat named Meep.

Yet, Schneider doesn’t want to hide that she’s trans. On “Jeopardy,” Schneider brilliantly dealt with this dilemma. She didn’t make a big deal about being out. She just wore the trans Pride flag pin.

“It was something that I wanted to get out there and to show my pride in while not making it the focus of what I was doing there,” Schneider told the New York Times. “Because I was just there to answer trivia questions and win money.”

As a cisgender lesbian, I can’t speak to how Schneider’s record-setting “Jeopardy” streak feels to transgender people.

But, as a trans ally, I’m cheering for Schneider. Kudos for her bravery! At a time when many states are passing anti-trans laws, it takes guts to be out on TV and the Internet.

Few things are as mainstream as “Jeopardy.” I bet that many “Jeopardy” viewers who are frightened at the idea of trans people, will become more comfortable with transgender people after watching Schneider on the popular quiz show. Because folks on TV come into our living and bedrooms and we feel as if we know them after watching them for a while.

“Amy looks like everybody else,” my neighbor said when I told her Schneider was trans. “She doesn’t act odd. She’s not strange.”

Transgender people encounter violence and discrimination in everything from housing to health care to employment.

I know Schneider’s “Jeopardy” triumph won’t end transphobia. But her winning streak will go a long way toward jumpstarting a change in hearts and minds.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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SCARY: Tucker Carlson now the conscience of GOP

Cruz bows down, kisses ring of Fox host



Tucker Carlson (Screen capture via Fox on YouTube)

The Republican Party has sunk to a new low, hard to do, when a sleazebag like Tucker Carlson is now their conscience. Seeing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) groveling before him is laughable, disgusting, and frightening all at the same time. 

As reported in Rolling Stone, Cruz said, “We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.” Then “Cruz was lambasted by Tucker Carlson that night, prompting him to hop on Carlson’s show Thursday and beg for forgiveness. “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz said before Carlson cut him off and said he didn’t believe him. Cruz took it up a notch, stammering through an absurd bit about how he wasn’t talking about the “patriots across the country supporting President Trump,” only those who assaulted police officers, and that he’s always described anyone who assaults a cop as a terrorist.

Carlson has made a career of being a pompous commentator. Interestingly he worked at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC, before finally landing at Fox in 2009. According to his Wikipedia page he went to Trinity College where he earned a bachelor’s degree and Carlson’s Trinity yearbook describes him as a member of the “Dan White Society,” an apparent reference to the American political assassin who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. After college, Carlson tried to join the CIA, but his application was denied, after which he decided to pursue a career in journalism with the encouragement of his father, who advised him that “they’ll take anybody.” Reading this clearly raised my opinion of the CIA and based on what we see in some media today I agree with Carlson’s father on his view of journalism. 

When you have a moment of silence in the House of Representatives to honor those who lost their lives on Jan. 6 and only two Republicans show up, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and her father Dick Cheney, the former vice president, one understands the influence Carlson has on the GOP. The rest were afraid of being criticized on-air by him or lambasted by Trump. 

Dick Cheney remarked on the GOP, “It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.” He spoke to ABC News saying, “I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” 

There is a leadership void in the Republican Party today. Their so-called leaders are afraid to say what they think if it differs in any way from Trumpism or Carlson’s view of the world, which requires total fealty to Trump. He found a home on Fox where he can lie with impunity and have millions believe his lies. 

President Biden said, in what many think was the best speech of his presidency so far, these people are “holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.” He went on to say, “For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.” 

Tucker Carlson and his ilk have never bothered to answer a question the president threw at them, which is how they can accept all their down ballot victories, governors, and members of Congress, which occurred on the same ballots, cast by the same people, on the same day, as those for president. Of course, Carlson has no need to make sense, tell the truth, or speak rationally because of his platform on Fox, which doesn’t require that.

My question is whether Carlson is as dumb as he makes himself sound or is he brilliant and this is all a big act? Either way the acolytes that follow Trump don’t seem to care and are bowing down to Carlson’s big audience. It’s as if he can tell any Republican senator or congressperson, or Republican candidate for those jobs, to just ‘bend over and take it’ and they do. All we can do is mourn for the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower. Non-Trumpers will have to work hard and speak out if they ever want to resurrect a GOP that can be respected.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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