November 25, 2015 at 4:14 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Shame on gay, bi lawmakers
Syrian refugees, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Last week, 47 Democrats in the House voted to suspend the plan put forth by President Obama to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States in fiscal year 2016. They joined 242 Republicans in voting for the bill.

While it is disappointing to see Republicans voting against allowing refugees into the country they do represent the party of exclusion. Their leading candidate for president suggested we make Muslim Americans register like Hitler and his Nazis made the Jews do in Germany. He wants to kick 11 million people out of the country. So, while reprehensible, their votes were expected. I am less sanguine about Democrats voting for this and totally unwilling to accept explanations from gay and bi Democratic members of Congress Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) for their votes in favor of this bill. They voted to protect their own asses in the next election and should find it difficult to look in the mirror today.

For Maloney, this isn’t the first time he has voted with Republicans. According to the Gay City News, “On September 30, 2013 in the decisive vote, Maloney, who is gay, was one of nine Democrats who defected, voting with the Republicans on the bill that has essentially left the government without the money needed to keep it running. Its doors have been shuttered ever since.”

In talking about Sinema’s vote, radio host Michelangelo Signorile wrote, “She is the worst: She was actually an attorney for an Iraqi refugee in ’07, arguing that his vetting was taking too long, over 2 years, discriminated against based on his nationality. Now she votes this way. She’s a total fraud.”

The question we must ask is whether these members of Congress crossed the line in giving up principle to save their seats. Our nation was built on the backs of immigrants. My parents were immigrants. The debate on whether to welcome immigrants and refugees brings out the best and the worst in the people of our nation. The votes cast by Maloney, Sinema and Polis are simply playing into the worst and pandering to fear. This is not a vote they will be proud of.

As gay and bisexual individuals they should only look at the discrimination their brothers and sisters have faced both here and around the world to know this is wrong. History informs them as homosexuals they could have been rounded up with the Jews in Nazi Germany, made to wear identifying symbols, and put to death. Would they have voted to delay applications by their brothers and sisters in the LGBT community from getting into the United Sates as refugees at that time? Shame if their answer is yes. Unnecessarily delaying refugees who are escaping persecution is what they voted for. They need only look back a relatively few years to when we wrongly interred Japanese Americans based on fear, and then Joseph McCarthy trying to imprison communists and kick every gay person out of government to realize how wrong their votes were. They wouldn’t be in Congress were it not for the brave people who stood on principle and fought those policies.

Sinema said of her vote, “The Islamic State is a legitimate, immediate threat to the United States. Congress and the administration have a duty to keep our country safe from terrorism, and this legislation provides an added level of security to our robust refugee vetting process.” She must know that’s not an acceptable excuse for doing the wrong thing.

These three members of Congress should have listened to Hillary Clinton, who said, “We cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and humanitarian obligations. Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every single Syrian refugee – that is just not who we are. We are better than that.”

Delaying for years accepting those wanting to take refuge in our country will do nothing to make us safer and only gives in to terrorists who want these refugees to have nowhere to turn.


Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist.

  • Peter, that’s utter nonsense and foreign policy naiveté– mostly by the same crowd that brought us decades of conservative Republican rule. That’s was the result after a previous Dem president– blinded by similar naiveté– was rejected by millions of Democrats.

    Thoughtful and courageous Democrats in a 21st Century Congress– whether straight or LGBT– have no obligation to clean up the mess created by the mostly failed Syrian/ Daesh/ ISIS policies of Obama and his duplicitous, second-term national “security” sycophants.

    No Democrat should be complicit in returning the party of FDR, Truman, JFK and the Clintons to a party modeled after the notorious appeasement of Brit, Neville Chamberlain.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. And try to learn something from history. The slaughter in Paris changed everything. Now we know Obama and his WH intentionally misled and lied to us when they said they were going to “degrade and destroy” Daesh (ISIS).

    Sooner or later, the American people know when they are being lied to by their president. Obama has apparently surrounded himself with second-term, self-serving appeasement specialists– some counseling him, apparently, with skewed intel he wants to hear. The polls after Paris, bear out Americans’ sudden mistrust in Obama, too.

    No matter their political party identification, Americans will not tolerate any president who treats his/her presidential oath to ‘protect and defend’ so recklessly.

    National leaders ought examine issues with perspective and thoughtful triage– especially when such issues are causally linked to the national security of American non-combatants and that of their allies. That’s precisely what the 47 Democrats in the House did. That was good for America– and the viability of progressive causes.

    If another terrorist slaughter happens in the United States within the next eleven months, who wants to bet the farm that American voters won’t blame Obama and the the Democratic Party? So… given the self-righteous ideologues among us, perhaps Americans of all stripes cannot elect Hillary Clinton president fast enough to avoid another 1980 watershed-election disaster.

    Now lets think about how a President Trump, Carson, Cruz or Rubio– with a friendly congress— will impact LGBT civil rights in such a scenario.

  • I agree with Peter. The key point is that these lawmakers did not even try to make the case that the current extensive screening procedures are lacking. It was merely a spineless political decision, motivated perhaps by the prospect of unhinged denunciations such as those by “Brian’s Ions” on this page. As I pointed out last week, while Republican demagogues were stoking fear, racism, and xenophobia over the Paris attacks, President Obama’s Pentagon was quietly taking out Daesh leaders in Libya and Syria. This is no time to trash our own values. The notion that Obama is an appeaser just because he does not rush to bounce rocks in the Mideast flies in the face of his actual hawkishness, getting bin Laden and degrading Al Qaeda. The fact that his toolbox includes diplomacy just means he is a responsible grownup. Shame on us if we are willing to repeat the sins of the past (turning away Jewish refugees before WWII, interning Japanese Americans) in response to the latest challenge. We are stronger and better than that. We need to keep our heads AND our values.

    • Rick, I think you have a fundamental lack of understanding of both America’s national security requisites, as well as the fundamental military strategy and tactics needed to be brought against the civilized world’s newest enemy — Daesh (aka, ISIS, ISIL).

      But seriously, Rick, do you really think “getting bin Laden” and “degrading AQ” is a sign of Obama’s “hawkishness?” I can’t believe your understanding of national security is that seemingly facile.

      I can’t believe you want the president to keep his head in the sand over Daesh’s killer terrorist training bases in Iraq and Syria.

      BTW, is anyone in the world– besides Obama and his dubious national security ‘experts’– using the acronym, ISIL? Perhaps it is the PR-driven acronym Obama is touting so as to take the focus off Dash’s terrorist successes in Syria and Iraq– and his failure to stop it.

      In any event, it is time to have a full national debate on the long-term military response required against a proven threat to our lives and freedom– and that of our allies.
      **The notion that Obama is an appeaser just because he does not rush to bounce rocks in the Mideast flies in the face of his actual hawkishness, getting bin Laden and degrading Al Qaeda.**

      • Brian, what qualifies you to tell me what I don’t understand? Excuse me, but if the President were as hapless as you pretend, there is a long list of military actions that he has taken that he would not have. There is nothing smart about denying him any credit whatsoever and painting a caricature. The Republicans’ eagerness to rush into another ground war shows a refusal to learn any lessons. But again, as I noted in my column last week, the President killed Daesh leaders in Libya and Syria right around the time of the Paris attacks. His actions count for more than his critics’ aggressive talk. And your refusal to give him a shred of credit speaks more loudly than your patronizing tone.

  • as a gay man I see no reason to take in more refugees. there is no way to really prove the vast majority of refugee claims. the passport system across the region is open to bribes. this isn’t our battle, and the establishment needs to stop guilt tripping us to taking a loaded gun to the head. shame on the blade for shaming these members of congress.

    • SW, thanks for that evidence-free rant. Taking in refugees is not about “a gun to the head.” There is an elaborate screening process, and that is not erased just because you lie about it. And to say “this isn’t our battle” after America’s large role in destabilizing the Mideast is, as the Brits say, gobsmacking. You are the one who should be ashamed, though it is clear that you practice the familiar art of covering your utter selfishness with fake indignation.

      • That is not fair, Rick. SW expressed an opinion that differs with your own. That does not mean SW is lying or is being intntionally untruthful.

        I happen to agree with quite a lot of SW’s comment. Does that make me a liar, too?

        • Brian, I’d rather submit a collection of your many over-the-top online comments to a team of psychologists and get their opinion.

          • So if Blade readers choose to comment here and disagree with a paid Blade contributor, they should expect to have their personal integrity impugned– and/or their mental health questioned?

            Point taken, Rick.

          • Brian, you consistently rant as if there is never any nuance. I question your reasonableness, not your integrity.

          • Now you are sounding like a Donald Trump denial.

            Rick, it is pretty obvious you claimed SW was “lying” and you intentionally questioned my mental health.

            We’ve been disagreeing about one issue or another for quite some years, now. So I certainly don’t need an apology for your personal attacks.

            But casual Blade readers don’t deserve to have their heads torn off because they dare to disagree with an opinion author here.

            Most readers recognize ad hominem attacks as an inability to make cogent, credible arguments. That appears to be the case here.

            Ad hominems aside– and regarding the national security issues tangental to Peter’s opinion piece– do you really think your comments here rank among your best work?

          • Ah such hubris.. And you’re a psychologist now!

          • Nope, I never said I was a psychologist. BTW, “unhinged” is not a clinical expression. Sure, it is harsh, but I think it is more than justified by this pseudonymous commenter’s recent record. I have work to do, so I am disengaging now.

          • More screaming, less thinking for this guy!

          • You discredit yourself with this nonsense. There is no screaming. We are disagreeing. If you are right, focus on the substance. Your posturing and putdowns prove nothing and you know it.

          • You repeatedly labelled those you disagreed with as being crazy and mentally deficient. Over and over again for pages. That isn’t debating. Again, I have to wonder where you went to school if you are going to insist on conflating reasonable debate with whatever it is you think you are doing.

            Your arguments lack logical structure… I actually had to take logic for my degree. I feel like it is worth it to this discussion to know how you conditioned your mind during your educational years. These inadequacies seem to be a mixture of pedagogical and motivational issues.

          • You don’t get to take the high ground after you repeated over the top comments. Just stop. You’ve shown yourself and lost.

          • so… you admit to sitting around and stalking this guy’s comments? That’s mature. Who needs the mental help now? It takes a special kind of person to flip out and stalk people for commenting on their articles. Jesus, every other line from you is an accusation that someone is crazy or insane…. you don’t get to point those fingers for too long before they point back at you. /micdrop lols

          • Participating in a discussion forum is stalking? Okay….

          • Making a collection of comments of somebody I disagree with and submitting them to a private psychologist (who isn’t on the forum) doesn’t sound like things I do *in* a discussion forum. Do I need to learn something?

          • collecting that information, and returning it to third party sources, and then following up with it was what I was saying was unhinged. you love your straw man arguments.

      • So you didn’t really have an additional point? If your argument is that their civilization is collapsing then the burden of proof is on you to show that we can accept their government’s documentation. Out screening process is irrelevant and multiple European police departments have said as much. You shouldn’t confuse your ignorance with a categorical lack of evidence. The middle East has been in turmoil since Islam began. This is a fact. Anything the west has done has been to manage it. Ignorant much?

        Your attitude smacks of some second rate educational institution.

    • Well to be fair to the Blade, this was Peter Rosenstein’s personal OPINION piece– thoughtfully stated, as usual– and terribly mistaken, IMHO– as is also somewhat usual.
      Still, I think yours is just as reasonable a national security question to be debated and fully discussed in congress — as any of the dubious, self-serving excuses the Obama and Kerry have been trotting out since the Paris attacks.

      Let Obama set-up safe and no-fly zones FIRST– with a serious, credible CAP i(combat air patrols) northern Syria to protect those refugees to come– before we accept the refugees from Obama’s “pretend war” against Daesh terrorists.

      • There is no reason to link acceptance of the refugees to our military operations. Considering we have bombed the hell out of Daesh targets, the notion that the war against them is “pretend” is absurd, even if we concede your reflexive dismissiveness (which I do not).

  • Shouting yeah or nay regarding a tiny ten thousand Syrian refugees is a red herring. It is an intentional political distraction — to be sure, touted by *SOME* demagogues of both parties. But not all. There are legitimate security concerns and questions.

    That includes most of the GOP’s nutty/bigoted presidential field— but sadly, now, even our commander-in chief, President Obama, is joining the spectacle.

    But why? That’s unseemly for any lame duck president.

    TWO reasons for Obama’s latest PR distraction from his failed, misleading Syrian policy are kinda obvious…

    (1) Obama does not want to have to answer to Americans for why he did not rally our allies– like a YEAR ago– for a refugee safe zone in northern Syria, backed up by a *no-fly zone* and US/NATO allies CAP of same? Or why Obama and Kerry chose to secretly put Daesh’s killers on the back burner.

    (2) President Obama knows full well there are 4 MILLION Syrian refugees in addition to the 10,000– and that figure is exploding by the day. Who seriously believes Obama won’t be asking Americans to foot even more of the bill for his military failures? The slaughter of innocents in Paris has pulled the curtain back on Obama’s claim to be degrading “ISIL” terrorists.

    Most Americans know now that it was Obama’s misleading, duplicitous policies and terms-of-engagement restrictions— especially in Syria— that have created this refugee mess.

    Democrats in the Congress of the United States are not stupid. Most of them know how incompetent and school-yard naivé it is for the Obama Administration to allow Daesh’s invaders to use their conquered resources and civil infrastructure to wage war against America and its allies.

    Democrats were absolutely correct to join in a bi-partisan effort to slam the brakes on the Obama Administration’s prevarications regarding their pretend-war against Daesh’s killers.

    The White House needs to stop its unbelievable smoke-screens (and its disgraceful holiday political pandering). American know a self-serving, excuse distraction when they see it.

    It is time for the president to ask for some bi-partisan national security help— and congressional support— along with military operations advice from grown-ups. The president and Secretary Kerry ought rally all our allies in the effort, as well.

    What’s quite troubling is that it appears Obama/Kerry have not done so because they think Americans don’t simply give a hoot about terrorism coming to American cities as it did to Paris.

    • Brian, these outpourings from your Obama Derangement Syndrome are no more convincing than the first time you wrote them. The notion that Obama and Kerry don’t think Americans care about terrorism is an absurdity even from the viewpoint of hating Obama. Try to be more plausible.

      • Its amusing how you blast people for being mentally unhinged, and yet your opening statements are meant to demoralize people using offensive language.

        Furthermore, you frequently claim your opponents don’t support their arguments, but when they do, you revert to personal attacks. You aren’t very good at this. I become increasingly curious about your degree…

  • Peter Rosentein is a Democrat first and foremost and a gay man only as a distant consideration. What he advocates may help bring in more voters for the Democrat Party, power being the only thing that really animates the passions of leaders in the party who long ago became haters of America and Americans. This reckless contempt for the security of Americans should be condemned. I applaud the gay and Lesbian Democrats in Congress who said no to Obama. They are the real heroes and heroines.

    Let’s not forget the consequences of what Peter wishes to accomplish. Muslims throw gay people off tall buildings on just the rumor they are gay. Gay men and women are brutally sodomized and assassinated, beheaded, burned in cages. Are these the kinds of people we want to bring to America unveiled? Surveys of the refugees have found that 13% of them are ISIS sympathizers. Out of 10,000, that would be 1,300. Do we really need more terrorists and terrorist supporters in our nation? This way lies national suicide for America and more people who despise gay people. But, hey, let’s not stand in the way of the power mad Democrat leaders and activists from further consolidating their stranglehold on the levers of power. After all, that is what matters most to them.

    • Dear Cotton and other hotheads: there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, of which only a tiny fraction are like Daesh. Treating all Muslims like terrorists makes no more sense than treating all white Christians like the Klan, or (going back in history) the Crusaders. I don’t know where you got your stats, but there has been overwhelming condemnation of Daesh by Muslims across the world. Painting a dire caricature is dishonest, reckless, and counterproductive. Again, there are extensive screening procedures already in place. You should be more concerned about the more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually in this country, in particular the mass killings in schools and churches by white guys. If you don’t care about domestic terrorism, the suspicion arises that your purported concern for the foreign kind, which poses a lesser risk, is just a cover for racism, xenophobia and religious bigotry.

      • Rick Rosendall: Talk about hotheads. You seem to spend all your waking hours trashing people who disagree with you. You can’t let any post stand without an attack from you. How much are you paid by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Democratic Party to perform this campaign of disinformation and propaganda?

        • I am prepared to let my work be judged against yours. The Muslim Brotherhood? Really? So you just disregard out of hand the evidence that domestic terrorism is a bigger problem in America than foreign terrorism. That’s a more whopping piece of propaganda than anything else on this page.

          • Domestic terrorism? LOL. The few mass shootings have been by lone individuals with mental problems… many have been prescribed anti depressants and other psychiatric meds that are known to cause violent outbursts. So you are comparing about 30-40 random individuals with mental problems (over the last decade) to the 10% of the global 1.1 billion population of muslims that currently wants to destroy America (according to dozens or reputable polling agencies).

            You must have gone far in math.

          • Your 10 percent Muslim figure is pulled out of where? I have not made statistical claims about mass shootings in general. But several incidents have involved shooters (generally white men) targeting groups that have been demonized by right-wing politicians and media. There is a double standard here. Foreign terrorists are called terrorists, but domestic ones are just loners with mental problems.

          • “But several incidents have involved shooters (generally white men)
            targeting groups that have been demonized by right-wing politicians and

            All mental disorders draw on popular cultural elements. Shame on your for trying to twist that into political organization. You should know the difference. If you don’t, then your frankly too stupid to debate with.

      • Statistics say otherwise. I’m guessing your degree didn’t require math?

        Also… Calling everybody else deranged and hotheaded every other post kinda makes the label lose its value… For everyone except you.

        • About the stats you are simply lying. Making smug comments proves nothing. Speaking of bad stats, two people doesn’t constitute “everybody else” outside the hothouse environment of the pajamahedeen in a comment section. If you think your selfish views are representative, suit yourself.

          • There are plenty of Pew studies on Muslims and their desire for social systems that are incomparable with western life. Do you dispute these facts, loudmouth?

            Furthermore, the government is here to provide safety to the people.

            If you really wanted to help the Syrians, you would go to Syria and work for peace. What you want is to be completely lazy and make our soldiers and police officers and women bear the risk of your edgy internet “generosity”.

          • I have criticized Muslim fanatics. I just don’t make the false generalizations you do, nor do I apply a double standard to Christianist extremists.

          • Someone that models their life after Christ will help the poor and encourage mercy to those who have failed various social standards in life. Someone who models their life on Mohammad will rape and torture people that are not Muslim. Sure, not all Christians follow Christ and not all Muslims follow Mohammad, the point is when they do, Christians fast and pray, and Muslims explode and torture. There are centuries of evidence for this.

    • Rick, you are off-subject again, aren’t you? This is more relevant to Peter’s opinion piece here…

      *Obama Seeks to Reassure Skeptical Public on ISIS Fight*
      By Peter Baker / Nov. 25, 2015
      …Although he once enjoyed the benefit of the doubt as the nation’s commander in chief, he does not anymore. His response to the Paris attacks has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike. New polls show that most of the American public has lost confidence in Mr. Obama’s handling of the terrorist threat.

      Sixty-six percent of Americans in a new CBS News survey said the president has no clear road map for combating the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL. Just 36 percent approved of his overall handling of terrorism, an all-time low for Mr. Obama on an issue that once earned him some of his highest ratings…

  • This excerpt (below) from *The Hill* today further supports some of SW’s commentary (also below). And that is irrespective of whether one supports or opposes a greater projection of U.S. national security assets in Syria and Iraq against Daesh/ISIS– i.e., military/intelligence, economic and diplomatic.

    The fact is our national and homeland security should always be a matter of bipartisan concern. This who try to pigeonhole positions as either “hawkish” or “doves” are uninformed.

    What is irrefutable, is that President Obama’s confusing policy and feckless military actions– for over a year– against Daesh in northern Syria and Iraq– utterly failed to protect Daesh’s murderous slaughter of 130 Parisians and the serious injury of over 100 others.

    That’s a failure alarm bell most Americans correctly recognize.

    47 courageous Democrats in the House rightfully opposed Obama’s strange and now-suspicious rush — in the wake of the Paris terror attacks — to open American doors to Syrian refugees. Maybe they have been given pause by the thoughtful Democrats– with unquestionable national security, intelligence and/or homeland security expertise– like Dianne Feinstein and Mark Warner. Both have voiced grave concern over Obama’s ineffective approach to Daesh’s terrorism.

    Congressional leaders have been joined by the voices of many Obama and Bush national/ homeland security and intelligence experts as well… Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, Michael Hayden, Mike Morrell and others.

    When this commander-in-chief– with little or no foreign policy, executive or command experience, prior to his arrival in the Oval Office– gets leadership warning signals from people of this calibre. of both parties, he ought drop his political pretentiousness and pay attention.


    By Christina Marcos
    President Obama is standing by his plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. next year.

    However, FBI Director James Comey acknowledged in a hearing last month that certain “gaps” remain in screening refugees coming from war-torn Syria.

    Forty-seven Democrats defied President Obama’s veto threat last week and voted with all but two Republicans in favor of the refugee certification bill. The showing from Democrats secured a veto-proof majority based on the number of lawmakers voting that day.

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