Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What Motivates HRC's Incredibly Low Bar?


Tuesday morning MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald tweeted "Another big endorsement: @HRC for HRC. Not huge surprise, but helps undercut Sanders' claim that he's been strong on gay rights longer." No, not much of a surprise at all-- the least grassroots, most Beltway Establishment gay insider group endorses the Establishment candidate! As for undercutting Bernie's claim that he's been strong on gay rights longer, well, only in the minds of shallow, lazy corporate media hacks who missed the journalism class on context.

HRC, a gay white male lobbying group in Washington, never does anything to ruffle the feathers of the Democratic establishment. Like Hillary Clinton, they even backed Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont. Last cycle they backed Republican Susan Collins against same-sex marriage campaigner Shenna Bellows. When I was president of Reprise Records, HRC gave me an award for "Workplace Equality Innovation," which I chopped up with an ax when they endorsed Lieberman.

In endorsing her Monday, HRC noted that "She has stood with us, and now it's our turn." Except she didn't. Always the good little careerist, she wasn't only not a leader on contentious LGBT issues, she was an opponent. How many times did she mouth the right wing bromide about how "marriage is for one man and one woman?" She aggressively and opportunistically opposed same-sex marriage until the end of 2013. What a leader! Last June, PolitiFact looked at Hillary's record of opposition to marriage equality.
Hillary Clinton would face questions about same-sex marriage starting with her 2000 campaign for Senate. Let’s look at the highlights of her statements between 1999 and 2015 in a timeline:

December 1999: Clinton told a group of gay contributors at a fundraiser that she was against the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy signed by her husband.

The New York Times reported that Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said she supported the Defense of Marriage Act but added that "same-sex unions should be recognized and that same-sex unions should be entitled to all the rights and privileges that every other American gets."

January 2000: At a news conference in White Plains, Clinton said, "Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman. But I also believe that people in committed gay marriages, as they believe them to be, should be given rights under the law that recognize and respect their relationship."

April 2000: Clinton again expressed support for civil unions. "I have supported the kind of rights and responsibilities that are being extended to gay couples in Vermont," she said.

July 2004: Clinton spoke on the Senate floor against a proposed federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage. (The amendment ultimately failed.) Though she opposed it, she said that she believed that marriage was "a sacred bond between a man and a woman."

However, she said she took "umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage, or to the fundamental bedrock principle that exists between a man and a woman."

October 2006: Clinton told a group of gay elected officials that she would support same-sex marriage in New York if a future governor and Legislature chose to enact such a law.

"I support states making the decision," she said.

As a 2008 presidential candidate

In 2007, all the presidential contenders except for longshot candidates-- both Democrats and GOP-- were against same-sex marriage, the New York Times reported. So were the majority of Americans, polls showed.

May 2007: In a questionnaire for the Human Rights Campaign in 2007, Clinton backed away from the Defense of Marriage Act:

"I support repealing the provision of DOMA that may prohibit the federal government from providing benefits to people in states that recognize same-sex marriage."

In response to a question about whether marriage should be made legally available to two committed adults of the same sex, Clinton marked that she was "opposed" though she stated she supported civil unions.

August 2007: In a Democratic primary debate sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and LOGO Network (a gay-oriented TV station) Clinton was asked "What is at the heart of your opposition to same-sex marriage?"

Clinton replied: "Well, I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions. You know, it’s a personal position. How we get to full equality is the debate we’re having, and I am absolutely in favor of civil unions with full equality of benefits, rights, and privileges."

As a 2016 presidential candidate

As Clinton got ready for her second presidential bid, she again modified her position.

March 2013: After leaving her position as secretary of state, she announced her support for same-sex marriage in a video with the Human Rights Campaign on March 18, 2013.

...Our conclusion

Clinton opposed same-sex marriage as a candidate for the Senate, while in office as a senator, and while running for president in 2008. She expressed her support for civil unions starting in 2000 and for the rights’ of states to set their own laws in favor of same-sex marriage in 2006.

As polls showed that a majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage, Clinton’s views changed, too. She announced her support for same-sex marriage in March 2013.

It’s up to voters to decide how they feel about her changed stance, but on same-sex marriage we give Clinton a Full Flop.
So... much better than Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee or Marco Rubio, who are competing for the homophobe of the year? Of course she is-- much better. But right now we should be comparing her to Bernie. And his record on LGBT equality is not really something that had to evolve or be poll-tested. Right after being elected mayor of Burlington he backed the city's first-ever Pride Parade (1983) and then signed the city's first ordinance banning housing discrimination. In 1996 when Hillary was pushing the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, only 67 congressman voted against it, Sanders being one of them. It's good that Hillary has evolved-- on LBGT issues and almost every other progressive issue-- but she followed, dragging her feet, while Bernie led. It makes a difference.

And on another topic, this was nice to see when I woke up this morning. Please share it with anyone you know in Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and... well anyone who votes in Democratic primaries.

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At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're deliberately omitting material to smear Hillary unfairly.

As a senator from New York Hillary marched in numerous gay pride parades:

In 2003--the year before George W. Bush was reelected & won in part via his vicious opposition to gay rights & had anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments on the ballots in numerous states --Hillary had the following exchange with CBS' John Roberts

ROBERTS: One of the big social issues that may rise to the surface next year [in 2004] is this idea of gay marriage. You've said that you're in favor of civil unions. Are you still opposed to gay marriage?
CLINTON: I am, you know, for many reasons. I think that the vast majority of Americans find that to be something they can't agree with. But I think most Americans are fair. And if they believe that people in committed relationships want to share their lives and, not only that, have the same rights that I do in my marriage, to decide who I want to inherit my property or visit me in a hospital, I think that most Americans would think that that's fair and that should be done.
ROBERTS: Would you be opposed to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?
CLINTON: Yes, I think that would be a terrible step backwards. It would be the first time we've ever amended the Constitution to deny rights to people. And I think that should be left to the states.

When the 2008 Democratic primary began there were two & only two states that had same-sex marriage: MA & CT. Due to DOMA gay couples in these states only had state level rights & benefits--no federal. There were also some states with civil unions e.g. Vermont & Wisconsin, where LGB couples got partially to full equal treatment at the state level but not at the federal level.

Both Hillary & Obama were against same-sex marriage. HOWEVER, both of them also took stances on DOMA.

Hillary only campaigned on repealing Section (III) i.e. Hillary wanted the federal government to treat same-sex couples in MA & CT just like straight couples in MA & CT.

Obama wanted both sections of DOMA repealed which was a bit more expansive than Hillary because that would mean that a gay couple who got married in MA or CT and then moved to NY or OH would still get full federal benefits.

As soon as Hillary become secretary of state in 2009 she ordered that the state department provide equal benefits to gay couples working for the state department.

In 2011 as secretary of state Hillary gave a speech in Geneva, Switzerland before the UN where she stated that gay rights are human rights & human rights are gay rights.

We know from just-released-in-December-of-2015-Hillary-emails that in 2012 when the Maryland state legislature was considering legalizing gay marriage that both Clintons were lobbying Democrats in the legislature to make sure that the marriage bill would be passed

In 2012 Bill did a robocall against the anti-gay marriage amendment to the North Carolina constitution that was up for a vote:

There are many, many reasons why we should support Bernie over Hilary--I do!!--but LGB rights & trans rights are not one of the those reasons.

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before Bill was in office the military had a blanket ban on gays in the military. At recruitment stations they would ask if you were LGBT & if you said 'yes' you were turned away & if you lied & were discovered to be LGBT you were discharged.

Before Bill, there were no LGBT anti-discrimination protections in the federal gov't or postal service AND open homosexuals were banned from accessing classified information if they worked for the federal government--if you wanted to rise through the ranks in the executive branch--which means accessing classified information sometimes-- you would have to lie about your sexual orientation.

Back in 1992 when Bill ran for the presidency only 29% of Americans supported same-sex marriage according to Gallup

In his 1992 presidential campaign Bill campaigned on allowing LGB (though not T) people to openly serve in the military. This was not a popular position--only 43% of the American populace supported the idea.

In 1993 Bill tried to fulfill his campaign promise of letting LGB people serve openly in the military, but the push back was hard. Pretty much the entire GOP was against the idea as well as a huge chunk of the Democratic party. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, but the bulk of the party was not with Bill on this issue.

Eventually Bill was able to reach a compromise between the total exclusion of LGB people from the military and allowing them to serve openly--'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'--you can join the militarily if you're LGB but you have to stay closeted.

Then came the 1994 midterm election which was like the 2010 election for Obama only far worse for Democrats--the GOP swept the gubernatorial elections, made massive inroads in state legislatures, & flipped BOTH the House & the Senate.

In 1995 Bill issued an executive order allowing for openly LGBT people access classified government information for the first time.

In 1996, when he was campaign for reelection Bill signed DOMA--the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA had two substantive parts: Section (II) stated that if any state legalized same-sex marriage that no other state would have to recognize marriages performed in that state and Section (III) stated that for all federal purposes e.g. taxes, inheritance, immigration etc, the federal government would only recognize heterosexual marriages as marriages even if an American state or a non-American country had same-sex marriage.

The was a purely calculated political move on Bill's part to help him win reelection & statements by Bill & Hillary that Bill signed DOMA to avoid an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment are lies. I think both of them are deeply ashamed of this. It 100% true that if Bill had vetoed DOMA his veto would have been overridden as DOMA passed both houses of Congress with veto-proof margins--hell not only veto-proof but but like 80% of all members in both chambers voted to make sure LGB people would be second-class citizens.

Could Bill have gotten reelected in 1996 if he had done the morally courageous thing & vetoed DOMA? I honestly have no idea, but I'm inclined to be pessimistic & think that it could have cost him the election. However, I think the more important question is 'Was DOMA a cost worth getting for Bill being reelected?' I think the answer is 'yes' both as a general point & definitely 'yes' when it comes to LGB concerns.

In 1997 Bill issued an executive order that made it illegal for someone who works in the federal government or the postal service to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell, Sanders has been an LGBT rights champion for decades, but if you just focus on marriage equality he's little better than Hillary.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people are allowed to change their mind or to come around on issues they might have once felt about differently. Have we all supported gay marriage throughout our lives or have we come to accept it and support it through the evolution of our lives? I know that my views on many topics have changed over the years, and I do not expect anyone else to be so perfect that they have always felt just one way their entire life about any issue.

At 7:05 PM, Anonymous wjbill said...

These big organizations are way too money concerned. I remember the Sierra Club did the same thing to Ms Bellows and I have never given them a dime since. I guess the contributions from the non money'd class is not that important and/or they know people just don't pay attention.


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