Bob Garon — the 63-year-old gay Vietnam veteran who confronted Mitt Romney over gay marriage in New Hampshire on Monday — appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews this evening and challenged the former governor’s understanding of the Constitution. Romney, who supports a federal constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, had told Garon that “at the time the Constitution was written, it was pretty clear that marriage was between a man and a woman.” Garon said he was “dumbfounded” by Romney’s interpretation of the founding document:
MATTHEWS: Most people recognize that the Constitution has taken different meanings over the years because times have changed. I mean, there is no reference to an air force, for instance, in the Constitution….Were you surprised he took that sort of old, conservative argument, oh, that’s not the way Franklin looked at it? And by the way, we have no idea how they actually looked at it. What did you make of that?
GARON: Well, I was very surprised. First, I’m not a professor of the Constitution. I didn’t know he was either. I didn’t know the Constitution makes it clear what a marriage was between a man or a woman. There is nowhere in the Constitution that I can remember that it says anything about that and here is a man that plans to be in the White House and apparently he doesn’t know about the Constitution either. I was dumbfounded. I just don’t know where he came up with that kind of information.
While running for Senate in 1994, Romney himself argued that same-sex marriage is “a state issue as you know – the authorization of marriage on a same-sex basis falls under state jurisdiction.”
Putin To Be Confronted Over Russia’s Anti-Gay Proposals |
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, has promised to raise concerns over Russia’s anti-gay laws with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tomorrow at the EU-Russia summit. Ashton made the pledge after receiving a petition from AllOut.org with 246,245 signatures from around the world calling on lawmakers in St. Petersburg to abandon legislation that would outlaw so-called “gay propaganda.” The bill, which has passed first reading and is being advanced by Putin’s United Russia party, would fine groups or individuals who promote homosexuality, pedophilia, or transgenderism to minors and could serve as a model for a federal ban. Two other regions in Russia have adopted similar measures.
Study: More Gays Appear In Ads, Link Material Consumption To Self-Worth |
The number of “gays depicted in advertising has soared,” according to a new study from the University of Miami School of Communication and published in the Journal of Advertising by assistant professor Wan-Hsiu “Sunny” Tsai. The research notes that “Ikea was one of the first companies to have an American commercial that depicted two gay men shopping for a dining table together” in 1994, and today “gays and lesbians appear frequently in products that tend to experiment with edgy and unconventional imagery, such as fashion, design and alcohol.” The study explored how gay-themed commercials informed and shaped personal identities and found that “Gay men accepted the perception of ‘higher disposable income of gay male households’ and transformed material consumption into a definition of self-worth.”
The Florida Family Association (FFA) has attracted national attention this week for convincing Lowe’s and other companies to drop its advertising on the acclaimed new TLC reality show, All-American Muslim. Claiming a membership of 35,000 individuals, FFA’s only paid staff member is its president, David Caton, and it is not affiliated with any national organizations.
FFA is an organization devoted to manufacturing faux outrage. Here is an extensive — though likely quite incomplete — list of the organization’s attention-grabbing complaints over recent years:
Protests annual “Gay Days” at Walt Disney World: Everyyear, FFA objects to Walt Disney World’s “Gay Days,” when gay and lesbian people create visibility for themselves throughout the theme park. Disney does not officially sanction the event, but FFA calls on followers to complain to Disney officials that it takes place. This year, the organization even paid to have a banner flown over the Interstate 4 corridor warning travelers that Gay Day was that weekend.
Protested “Godless” Family Guy: FFA objects to Family Guy‘s “Godless, Christian bashing and depraved content” and has targeted advertisers such as Chrysler, General Mills, and others.
Claimed Modern Family “degrades marriage”: In 2009, the FFA complained about Toys R Us advertising on the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom Modern Family because it “degrades marriage and promotes same-sex couples and gay adoption.”
Objected to Miss Universe Pageant’s HIV/AIDS advocacy: The 2009 Miss Universe pageant included a discussion on HIV/AIDS advocacy and peer education. The Florida Family Association joined other conservative groups in protesting that messages other than “abstinence only” were presented and objected to the contestants competing to inflate condoms as balloons, targeting Jet Blue, BSC Swimwear, Farouk Systems Group, Diamond Nexus Labs, and Nina Footwear for sponsoring the pageant.
Decried LGBT non-discrimination ordinances: Numerous Florida municipalities have passed non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but the FFA firmly opposes them, often spreading harmful lies about LGBT people in the process. In 2009, the FFA said that Tampa’s new gender identity protections would allow “cross-dressing males to patronize women’s restrooms.” Responding to a similar bill in Gainesville in 2008, Caton called it “absolutely atrocious” that children would be exposed to the “social engineering” of respecting transgender people.
Americans across the country are voicing their concerns with Lowe’s prejudice. Religious advocates and even entertainers including Kal Penn, Russell Simmons, and Mia Farrow are urging a boycott of the company. So incensed over Loew’s “un-American” and “naked religious bigotry,” California state Sen. Ted Lieu (D) is boycotting the company and is looking into (unlikely) legal ramifications of Lowe’s decision:
“Lowe’s is engaged in religious discrimination… it is utter nonsense, it is religious bigotry, and I’m just stunned that Lowe’s pulled their advertising,” he said. “Those views from the Florida Family Association are completely bigoted.” [...]
“If the show was called All-American Asian, or All-American Jew or All-American Latino, don’t you think the outcry would be a lot different? For some reason, people seem to think that it’s okay to discriminate against Muslim-Americans, and I’m just trying to say, ‘no, it’s not,’” he said.
Other lawmakers, including Muslim pioneers, are equally disgusted with the company:
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN): One of two Muslim House representatives, Ellison blasted Lowe’s for choosing “to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the creed of The First Amendment.” He added, “Corporate America needs to take a stand against these anti-Muslim fringe groups and stand up for what is right because this is what it means to be an America.”
Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN): Also a Muslim representative, Carson said Lowe’s decision “runs contrary to our American ideal of combating expressions of hate and division while defending those oppressed by intolerance.”
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): A strong advocate against religious discrimination and the representative of the town in which the series is filmed, Conyers demanded the Lowe’s “unequivocally apologize to the Muslim and Arab American community and strongly repudiate the intolerant messages espoused by anti-Muslim groups.”
State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI): The first Muslim elected to the Michigan legislature, Tlaib wrote Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock, “I told them I was extremely disappointed that you give credibility to these hate groups.”
Hip Hop mogul (and Buddhist) Russell Simmons purchased ad time during this week’s episode of “All-American Muslim” to counter Loew’s. In doing so, ad time for this Sunday’s show is “now sold out.” The computer hacking group Anonymous also contributed to the effort by “working through 15 layers of security to breach its website,” forcing FFA to shut it down Monday night.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council has published a full list of companies that FFA claims it persuaded to pull ads from the show. The list includes Airborne Vitamin, Bare Escentuals, Campbell’s Soup, Capital One, Cotton, Inc., Dell computers, Estee Lauder, Gap, Good Year, Hershey Kisses, Ikea, JC Penny, Kayak.com, McDonald’s, Nationwide Insurance, Old Navy, Pier One, Radio Shack, Sears, T-Mobil, Volkswagen, Wal-Mart, and Whirlpool. Click here to see the full list.
Today on the House floor, Connecticut Rep. Chris Murphy (D) joined these lawmakers in their outrage. Noting that FFA’s “anti-Muslim bigotry is not new,” he blasted Loew’s, a “fortune 100 company,” for “endorsing this nonsense.” “This is a major American company rubberstamping basic, foundational bigotry,” he said. Watch it:
Facing a lawsuit from students alleging that it does not properly respond to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District is considering a new curriculum policy that would allow staff to discuss sexual orientation as a “controversial topic.” At last night’s school board meeting, pro-bullying conservatives opposed any change to the school’s “neutrality policy,” which prohibits teachers from discussing issues of sexual orientation.
The anti-gay group opposing the change is the ”Parents Action League,” led by the Minnesota Family Council’s Barb Anderson,who regularly supports various anti-gay hate groups. The theme of their message: don’t let children learn that being gay is okay.
Anderson decried the possibility of “homosexual propaganda flooding the classroom,” reducing all LGBT identities to mere behavior:
ANDERSON: There is no other group that continually seeks to force their way into the school curriculum in every subject matter and every grade level to normalize their unhealthy and unnatural behavior.
She was joined by Janet Boynes, a friend of the Bachmanns and self-proclaimed “ex-gay” ministry leader who admitted in her own book she’s bisexual. It’s worth noting that Anderson is also vice president of Boynes’ ex-gay ministry. Boynes unsurprisingly promoted her ex-gay junk science and joined Anderson in condemning gay identities as a “destructive lifestyle,” opposing “any acceptance of this behavior.”
BOYNES: I am a former lesbian. Gay advocates often compare this issue to race and say that homosexuality is who they are and that they are born that way. There’s no scientific evidence to prove that… There are thousands of us who are former homosexuals have left behind this destructive lifestyle. I can assure you, gay activists will continue to use the curriculum as a means to force an acceptance of this behavior on kids and this school district.
Another member of Anderson’s Parents Action League, Lori Thompson, complained the school might lose its reputation for “protecting” kids from learning that gay people exist:
THOMPSON: We were a model for the nation in protecting kids from classroom homosexual propaganda… The gay activists now have it all and the school board will have to deal with the fallout on many levels as you watch how they will weave this topic throughout the curriculum at all grade levels all at the expense of the children. What a shame.
Activists trying to improve the climate for LGBT students at Anoka-Hennepin argued that the new policy still falls short of providing the affirmation and support that LGBT students need to feel safe. Tammy Aaberg has been an outspoken advocate against the school’s policies since her son Justin committed suicide last year after enduring relentless bullying. She said that rather than treat issues of gender and sexuality as “controversial,” the school should “recognize, validate and support all students for who they are as a person.”
Watch a local news report of last night’s meeting from KARE 11:
The board will likely vote on the issue in late January.
Sen. James Inhofe Addresses GOP’s Concerns About Bestiality |
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) sought to assuage conservatives worried that the National Defense Authorization Act would lift the ban against bestiality in the military, telling a group at the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce Monday that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell allowed gays to “go in the military, go wide open, and use that for their agenda” but that bestiality had not been legalized. “When you go out and talk to people on the street, they’ll tell you, ‘Oh, they’ve legalized bestiality,’ … but that hasn’t changed,” he said. Last night, the House and Senate have reached a compromise on the that eliminated several anti-gay provisions but also removed a Senate amendment dropping anti-sodomy provisions from the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Yesterday, 63-year-old gay veteran Bob Garon met Mitt Romney during a campaign stop at Chez Vachon restaurant in Manchester and asked the former governor if he would overturn New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law. Romney said that he would, adding that he supports a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Garon replied, “It’s good to know how you feel, that you do not believe everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights.” He later told reporters, “Absolutely I was definitely offended [by Romney's response].”
This morning, the Vietnam vet appeared on MSNBC with Thomas Roberts and confessed that he “didn’t expect the answer that I got”:
GARON: I thought he would be a little more diplomatic in his answer….What I didn’t expect from Mr. Romney is how confrontational he was and argumentative. I wasn’t there for a debate with him, I just wanted him to answer the question and my question was really hoping that if he gets into the White House that he would be in support of the benefits entitled to veterans and their spouses. Currently they’re not. [...]
I probably won’t see [benefits extended to gay and lesbian couples] in my lifetime and my partner probably won’t see it in his lifetime. However, I do believe the country will eventually recognize same-sex marriage on the federal level so that at least we can have our Constitutional rights. I mean, if my husband was a female, she would be entitled to all the benefits and currently he is not. And I don’t see why. Why on earth is he not entitled to the same benefits that if my partner was a female? It just makes no sense to me.
Same-sex couples are currently denied federal benefits by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama has stopped defending the measure in court and has endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act — which seeks to repeal the law. That bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in November.
Ghana Hopes ‘Incidence Of Homosexuality Will Be A Thing Of The Past’ |
The Ghana Ministry’s HIV/AIDS Secretariat “has trained teachers to educate students about homosexuality and its ‘adverse consequences‘ including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases,” LGBT Asylum News reports. “We are very optimistic that things will change and the incidence of homosexuality in the country will be a thing of the past,” Education Ministry Public Relations Officer Paul Krampah told the Accra Mail. Earlier this year, Ghana issued a directive allowing police to arrest people suspected to be gay or lesbian and legislators “began discussions last month on strengthening legal sanctions against gay people.”
Openly-Gay Bishop Gene Robinson Condemns Perry’s ‘War On Religion’ Ad |
Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, is speaking out against Rick Perry’s infamous “war on religion” ad in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “Christians everywhere should be alarmed that a candidate for our nation’s highest office would play fast and loose with both the Constitution and our men and women in uniform,” he writes. “It would be simply pathetic that Gov. Perry would do so in an effort to entice conservative voters, if it weren’t such an abuse of religion and a violation of the Constitution.”
Last night, Senate Republicans blocked the confirmation of Mari Carmen Aponte, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to El Salvador in a vote of 49 to 37. Aponte has served as ambassador since September 2010 as a recess appointee.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) led the Republican campaign against the lawyer and Hispanic activist, raising questions “over unfounded rumors that her boyfriend of years ago was a Cuban spy” and her support for Salvadorean President Mauricio Funes’ Decree 56, “which prohibits all forms of discrimination by the government of El Salvador on the basis of sexual orientation or identity.” On June 28, Aponte penned an op-ed praising the Funes’ directive, writing, “No one should be subjected to aggression because of who he is or who he loves. Homophobia and brutal hostility are often based on lack of understanding about what it truly means to be gay or transgender. To avoid negative perceptions, we must work together with education and support for those facing those who promote hatred.” Anti-gay groups in El Salvador and DeMint objected to the sentiment:
DEMINT: Ms. Aponte has enflamed tensions in the same country she should be improving diplomatic relations. Her decision to publish an opinion piece hostile to the culture of El Salvadorians present even more doubts about her fitness for the job. This op-ed upset a large number of community and pro-life groups in El Salvador who were insulted by Ms. Aponte’s rhetoric. A coalition of more than three dozen groups has since written the Senate asking its members to oppose Ms. Aponte’s confirmation. I quote from their letter in which they wrote, “we respectfully request that Ms. Aponte be removed from post as soon as possible so that El Salvador may enjoy the benefits of having a person as a government representative of your nobile country.”
As Aponte explained, “The OpEd reflects the policies of the Obama administration, the Salvadorean government and sixty-three other countries,” she said to La Prensa, “It was not drafted as an insult to anyone.” But during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in November, DeMint took it upon himself to “apologize” to the groups “on behalf of the United States and reassure them that most Americans share their values.”
Anti-Gay Amendments Dropped From Defense Bill |
The House and Senate have reached a compromise on the National Defense Authorization Act that includes dropping both anti-gay provisions from the bill. Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s (R-MO) amendment had “reaffirmed” the Defense of Marriage Act as applicable throughout the Department of Defense, while Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) would have prohibited military chaplains from performing same-sex marriages. However, lawmakers also removed a Senate amendment dropping anti-sodomy provisions from the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but let us know what you’re checking out as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.