Despite spending four years at the school himself, Mitt Romney slammed President Obama today for spending “too much time” at Harvard, where the president went to law school. And while Romney has twice as many degrees as Obama and an extra year at the school under his belt, this is not the first time Romney has attacked the president for attending the elite Massachusetts university.
But Romney wasn’t always so down on his alma mater. He used to brag about his tenure there regularly, and so did his wife, Ann:
MITT ROMNEY: Harvard has a terrific program, they call it the joint degree program. … You can apply to the business school and the law school. You can get into both. You can take five years of educational training in four years.
ANN ROMNEY:He graduated from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, that he went to at the same time. It takes also a great mental capacity to do that kind of thing.
Watch a compilation:
Romney did not forget he went to Harvard. The jab exposes what seems to be a deliberate strategy of taking Romney’s biggest weakness and used them to attack Obama. Just this week, he’s accused Obama of being out of touch and a flip flopper, two of the biggest narratives against Romney. But rarely are they so transparently and audaciously hypocritical as the Harvard line.
The National Organization for Marriage continues to pretend the release of its damning race-baiting confidential memos last week is not a big deal, but it is now outraged that one of its tax returns was leaked, revealing that Mitt Romney had secretly given the group $10,000 to advocate for Proposition 8 in 2008. Today, NOM’s Brian Brown demanded a federal investigation of the Human Rights Campaign and the Internal Revenue Service for the memo getting out:
BROWN: It appears that someone with either the IRS or the HRC may have committed a federal crime by illegally obtaining and then releasing a confidential tax return of the National Organization for Marriage. It’s clear that the tax return was stolen, either from NOM or from the government. The Huffington Post article says that HRC claimed they received the document from a ‘whistleblower.’ But the term ‘whistleblower’ is completely inapt. We’re talking about a criminal who has stolen confidential tax return information. We demand to know who this criminal is, whether they work for the HRC or the IRS, and how they obtained confidential tax information filed only with the US government.
“Inapt” has become NOM’s go-to word for trying to play the victim — that and “vituperative.” Both Brown and Maggie Gallagher used the same outside-the-vernacular rhetoric last week in an attempt to distance the organization from its race-baiting tactics, so its use here is conspicuous.
At question is whether or not Romney’s gift to the organization was properly disclosed. As Sam Stein pointed out when breaking the story at the Huffington Post, there is no documentation of Romney’s donation in either his own PAC’s records nor in NOM’s publicly disclosed 990 forms. The Romney campaign admitted the donation had come from the Alabama chapter of his Free and Strong America PAC, but NOM’s leaked IRS filing shows the donation coming from a PO Box in Belmont, Massachusetts. There is considerable reason to believe that Romney’s donation was intentionally hidden in violation of non-profit disclosure laws.
NOM is clearly trying to shift the blame to deflect any investigation into its own wrongdoing. Whistleblowers expose the illegal activity of their employers, so the evidence suggests the term is anything but “inapt.”
NOM’s Dump Starbucks campaign has only gathered 28,471 pledges, which means the Thank You Starbucks campaign has more than 22 times the amount of support. In fact, since NOM’s boycott began, Starbucks’ stock has only gone up.
Russian Anti-Propaganda Law Used To Prohibit Free Assembly |
Last month, St. Petersburg, Russia instituted a “gay propaganda” law that essentially criminalizes any public activity that promotes LGBT acceptance. That law is now being applied to prevent the group Coming Out from holding an International Day of Silence street protest in what seems to be a blatant violation of the freedom of assembly. The gay rights group has appealed the decision to a regional court and has vowed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary. Despite the ban on the rally, activists plan to protest in the center of St. Petersburg on Saturday with slogans like, “”Homophobic hatred kills teenagers!”, “Two moms is normal! Two dads is normal! Mom and dad is normal!”, and “No to silencing of hate crimes!”
The video game producer Electronic Arts (EA) has been inundated with letters from conservatives opposed to the company’s inclusion of LGBT content in recent games like Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, including threats of boycotts and accusations about pressure from LGBT organizations. Showing no signs of capitulating to their demands, EA’s vice president of corporate communications, Jeff Brown, rebuffed the complaints as well as the anti-gay harassment that has plagued gaming message boards:
BROWN: Every one of EA’s games includes ESRB content descriptors so it’s hard to believe anyone is surprised by the content. This isn’t about protecting children, it’s about political harassment.
EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT characters in our games. However, we have met with LBGT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums. In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don’t tolerate hate speech on our forums.
Unsurprisingly, one of the primary sources of the complaints is the one-man nothing-but-boycotts “group,” the Florida Family Association, which won itself national attention for its pressure to boycott advertisers on All-American Muslim last December. Most of FFA’s campaigns target LGBT-inclusive companies, and its only employee, David Caton, regularly fabricates the success of these efforts. Recently, FFA called for a boycott of EA and its subsidiary BioWare, suggesting they might add “Darth RuPaula“ — drag queen RuPaul as a sith lord — as a playable character kids could access in its games.
Not to be left out, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins also spoke out against the LGBT-inclusive game, suggesting “the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists!” (The irony is probably lost on Perkins that Emperor Palpatine and his servants were the villains in the Star Wars universe.) He called on his fellow social conservatives to add their public comments to the game’s website, the same forums Brown explained had to be managed for anti-gay hate speech.
The tactics of hate groups like FRC is to outright deny the existence of the LGBT community, as if the very reality that people are gay or bisexual is harmful to children. Perhaps Perkins or Caton can construct their own virtual reality that is straights-only, but EA should be applauded for making sure all of its players feel welcome in the gaming world.
Catholic University Stands By Drag Show, Despite Criticism |
The University of San Diego — a Catholic college — is sparking controversy after students announced they would be holding a Drag Show to celebrate equality and LGBT pride. Detractors have described the event as “perversion at its highest level” and called on the organizers to “hang themselves,” but the Catholic university is standing by the event, telling a local NBC affiliate that “it’s about equality” and they approve it. Watch a local news segment on the story:
Federal Judge Orders Court To Cover Costs Of Same-Sex Benefits |
Acting as administrator of the court’s employee dispute-resolution program, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts violated its guarantee of a “discrimination-free workplace” when it denied insurance benefits to an employee’s same-sex spouse. He could not force the court’s national office to provide the insurance directly, but did order that law clerk Christopher Nathan be reimbursed for all past and future costs for his husband’s insurance. Because of the conflict between this directive and the Defense of Marriage Act, this creates a bit of a conundrum for the court, one which will ultimately be resolved in the similar lawsuit, Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management.
Citing attacks on abortion and contraception rights, many liberals have accused Republicans of waging a “war on women.”
But in an interview with Bloomberg TV, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus dismissed these charges as entirely baseless. He comparing the “war on women” to a “war on caterpillars,” blaming the media for trumping up the supposedly fictional attacks on women’s rights:
“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “It’s a fiction.”
While his choice of comparison to caterpillars is questionable, the bigger problem with Priebus’ comments is that they completely ignore the fact that policies advanced by his party in Congress and the states are already having an effect on women’s rights and women’s health. One could take issue with calling it a “war on women,” but not the reality that conservatives are actively working to curtail women’s constitutionally guaranteed rights as much as possible in dozens of states across the country, and access to contraception in Congress.
While some conservative environmental policies may hurt caterpillars somewhere, Republican lawmakers haven’t systematically targeted the insect’s rights the way they have with women.
To dismiss and belittle this fact with a glib remark suggests Priebus is either ignorant or in denial. Given that attitude, perhaps it’s not surprising Mitt Romney is struggling to gain support from female voters.
The Obama campaign hit back at Priebus in a statement from Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter:
“Reince Priebus’ comparison of Republican attempts to limit women’s access to mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and contraception to a ‘war on caterpillars’ shows how little regard leading Republicans, including Mitt Romney, have for women’s health. … Reince Priebus’ comments today only reinforce why women simply cannot trust Mitt Romney or other leading Republicans to stand up for them.”
Malaysia Deputy Minister Says Counselors Must ‘Curb’ The Spread Of Gays |
A Deputy Prime Minister in Malaysia “told a national counseling conference yesterday that the profession was needed to ‘curb’ the ‘spread’ of LGBT groups.” “The symptoms of sexual orientation disorder like LGBT, which was previously faced by the Western society are now faced in our society also,” Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said at the opening speech of the four-day conference. “I believe that through an effective counseling approach, we will be able to curb this negative phenomenon from spreading in our community.” The government of Malaysia has undertaken a campaign to “limit” homosexuality and is training volunteers and NGOs to carry out anti-gay campaigns that it believes will rid society of social problems like “prostitution, drugs, the risk of HIV/AIDS, as well as psychological and mental disorders.”
Oklahoma Church Welcomes Gays, Speaks Out Against ‘The Cobbler Passages’ Condemning Homosexuality |
The Edmond Trinity Christian Church in Oklahoma is opening its doors to members of the gay and lesbian community, after its congregation voted unanimously “to become an Open and Affirming congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)” recognized by the Gay Lesbian and Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Alliance. Rev. Don Heath distanced himself from Christians who use certain biblical Scriptures he called “the clobber passages” to condemn homosexuality, noting that “the Bible was written by man and some passages ‘reflect the prejudice of the time’ and not necessarily the inspired Word of God.” “It’s a congregational effort rather than a hierarchy saying this is the way it has to be,” he said. 100 of the more than 3,600 Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations in the U.S. and Canada are now considered Open and Affirming congregations “and several hundred more are in the process of becoming formally recognized as such.”
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has published a peculiar appeal to gay and lesbian voters in Bay Windows, New England’s alternative newspaper serving the LGBT community. The one-term senator who is in a close race for re-election against Elizabeth Warren, highlights his support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but does not commit to advancing other equality priorities like federal employment nondiscrimination protections or marriage. “I don’t come before you with a checklist of items promising that I will be an advocate for you on each and every one of them,” Brown writes. “My opponent has already started down that road, promising to support everyone’s pet project. That’s not the way I have ever operated.”
Instead, Brown promises to get “this bad economy working again and creating jobs” — a welcome message to be sure — but one that won’t protect LGBT people from on-the-job harassment or unfair termination for being who they are. And in a community where 42 percent of LGB workers and an astonishing 90 percent of transgender workers have experienced some form of on-the-job discrimination, extending anti-discrimination protections to all is more than a mere “pet project” — it’s an outright necessity. Brown has said that “states should take care of” passing their own workplace protections, as Massachusetts has done, and refused to support a federal ban prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Confronted about his callous attitude towards LGBT priorities last month, a Brown spokesperson dismissed community concerns like marriage equality as a “social issue” and insisted that the senator is focused on the economy and job creation. But he hasn’t exactly shied away from “social” issues either. As a Massachusetts state senator, Brown voted twice in 2007 to ban same-sex marriage, opposed the right of gays and lesbians to adopt children, and even refused to participate in an “It Gets Better” video with the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. And unfortunately, his “I don’t have to worry about you” attitude is on full display in the Bay Windows editorial, as he signs off with the kind of tone-deaf nugget that shows that he truly doesn’t understand his gay and lesbian constituents: “I recognize the liberty of every citizen to live as they choose, and it is from this diversity that we derive our strength as a nation,” he writes.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s daily round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but please let us know what stories you’re following as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- Prop 8 Trial Tracker has a round-up of analysis of yesterday’s First Circuit oral arguments in the two cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.
- Police reports show that there were as many as 15 anti-gay and anti-trans crimes in Washington, DC in the month of March.
- According to the Pew Hispanic Center’s latest survey, 59 percent of of Latinos say that homosexuality should be accepted by society.
- Those advocating for North Carolina’s discriminatory Amendment One were all too proud to host an ex-gay activist who thinks homosexuality should be relegated from society the way Pluto was demoted from being a planet.
- Bent Alaska provides evidence that opponents to Anchorage’s LGBT non-discrimination protections intentionally spread false information about voter registration.
- The National Organization for Marriage spent $10,000 opposing a pro-equality Democrat in a Maryland race, but he still won with 74 percent of the vote.
- The student suing his Ohio school for the right to wear a “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe” shirt has been granted permission to wear it, but for now, only on the Day of Silence.
- A student at Fullerton Union High School in California was removed from a “Mr. Fullerton” competition on Tuesday because he said he hoped in 10 years same-sex marriage would be legal so he could marry the love of his life. The assistant principal who made the decision apologized publicly and the next morning.
- Martin Sheen defended his support for marriage equality as a Catholic, explaining “my religion’s highest standard is conscience.” Watch his riveting delivery of Ted Olson’s closing argument from the Proposition 8 trial from a recent reading of the play 8: