Category Archives: Politics

REPORT: Consequences Of ‘Fiscal Showdown’ Could Be Disastrous For LGBT Americans


If Congress fails to act during the lame-duck session, a series of onerous automatic federal spending cuts and tax hikes will go into effect on January 2, 2013. Failure to reach a compromise in this budget battle would be a painful pill to swallow for all Americans. But for LGBT people, failure to reach an agreement on the fiscal showdown would have particularly dire consequences.

If Congress fails to act, automatic across-the-board spending cuts will take effect under a process known as “sequestration.” Today a report released today by the Center for American Progress, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and a coalition of 23 national LGBT organizations highlights how across-the-board cuts under sequestration would reduce key federal programs and services that support the health, wellness, and livelihood of LGBT Americans and their families. For example,

  • Sequestration would hurt LGBT workers. Sequestration would threaten the employment security of LGBT workers (who continue to experience high rates of bias on the job) because federal agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would have fewer resources to investigate claims of employment discrimination.
  • Sequestration would compromise LGBT health. Cuts under sequestration would compromise the health of LGBT Americans by blocking LGBT seniors’ access to Medicare, reducing programmatic funding to health centers designed to serve the LGBT population, and impeding suicide prevention efforts aimed at helping LGBT Americans.
  • Sequestration would harm LGBT youth. Sequestration would threaten federal agencies with the removal of critical resources used to prevent bullying and school violence against LGBT youth.
  • Sequestration would exacerbate LGBT homelessness and housing discrimination. Across-the-board cuts under sequestration would limit the government’s capacity to address the high rates of homelessness among LGBT youth and to combat housing discrimination against LGBT renters, tenants, and potential homeowners.
  • Sequestration would threaten the basic safety of LGBT Americans. Sequestration would restrict available resources designed to address the disproportionate levels of abuse, harassment, and violent crime committed against LGBT individuals.

While the CAP/Task Force report only touches on how these wholesale cuts impact LGBT Americans, failure to reach a deal on the fiscal showdown also means that tax breaks for lower-income and middle class families will expire. This means most families would face a higher tax burden if Congress fails to act. This would be particularly devastating to LGBT families who on average report lower incomes than families headed by different-sex couples. These families cannot foot a higher tax bill, especially when so many of them are already on tenuous economic footing.

In the remaining days of the 112th Congress, it is imperative that our lawmakers act swiftly to protect LGBT Americans from the severe sequestration consequences to federal programs that both directly and indirectly support them and their families. This means a combination of spending cuts that inflict minimal economic harm on American families along with modest tax increases on the wealthiest two percent of Americans. Only through this combination of cuts and revenue can we put our country back on stable financial footing.

To achieve this, however, congressional Republicans must abandon their quest to hold ordinary citizens hostage in order to protect tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. For all Americans—gay or straight, transgender or not—preventing millionaires and billionaires from paying their fair share at the expense of the middle-class is not in the best interest of the country.

Congress has a little over one month to broker a compromise. For all Americans – including those that are LGBT – the clock is ticking.


How Gay Republicans Lost Dismally When 2012 Should Have Been Their Year

This really could have been the year that the Log Cabin Republicans earned some respect from the GOP, as well as from Democrats, independents and LGBT activists of all stripes. Had the group of gay Republicans not endorsed Mitt Romney, which seemed like the plan early on, they’d be winners right now in the GOP and beyond. Instead, they proved to be irrelevant.

Log Cabin came into 2011 and the presidential election cycle with a successful lawsuit, having gotten “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) ruled unconstitutional in federal court. It’s fair to say that Log Cabin’s case, in addition to full-throttle pressure from LGBT activists, helped propel the effort by the White House and Senate Democrats to make DADT repeal happen. The group created a lot of good will. It had also benefited from the 2009 formation of GOProud, the conservative, Tea Party-inspired gay group that ridiculously made Ann Coulter its honorary co-chair, heralded Donald Trump and didn’t even have a position on same-sex marriage. Next to GOProud, Log Cabin seemed reasonable.

When GOProud early on endorsed Romney, a man who backed a constitutional ban on gay marriage and had said that “it’s not right” for gays to have children, many in the LGBT community laughed it off. GOProud was like a joke, and the group, splashy as it was, had little following or influence, with a loosely organized, seemingly tiny membership.

Certainly no one thought Log Cabin would follow GOProud (which had called Log Cabin too liberal). Log Cabin had withheld a presidential endorsement in 1992, when Pat Buchanan declared a culture war at the Republican National Convention in Houston, and Log Cabin also hadn’t endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 after he came out in full support of a federal marriage amendment. For that reason it was expected that the group wouldn’t endorse a candidate in 2012 who was further to the right than Bush was on gay issues (Romney didn’t even support civil unions, whereas Bush did). Well into the fall, that seemed to be the case: Log Cabin didn’t announce an endorsement in August, as it has done during every election in which it had endorsed a candidate, and as October rolled in, it was believed that Romney wouldn’t get Log Cabin’s backing.

But two weeks before the election, Log Cabin announced that it was indeed backing Romney, just when Romney was brazenly and transparently moving to the middle, turning around on so many of his hard-right positions and wanting to convince independents and moderates that he wasn’t so harsh. An endorsement from a gay group could help in that regard. Log Cabin clearly drank the GOP Kool-Aid and thought Romney was actually going to win the election. They probably naively thought that by endorsing him, they’d have a place at the table, even though they’d backed a man who only made promises to the enemies of gay rights.

Log Cabin threw away all the good will it had built up, as LGBT Democrats, independents and even some Republicans reacted with disbelief and anger. And then Log Cabin lost big when Romney lost big. Had the group not endorsed him, not only would it have retained the respect that it had earned, but it would now have more pull within the GOP. So much of politics is about perception, and Log Cabin would be able to tell GOP leaders, in the midst of the handwringing over the party’s “demographic problem,” that had Romney backed off his harsh line on gay rights, and had Log Cabin endorsed him then, the group could have helped him win. LGBT voters made up 5 percent of the electorate and, as The New York Times notes, have “a claim on having been decisive,” with 76 percent of LGBT voters having supported President Obama.

I’m not saying that a great many of those voters would have gone for Romney if he hadn’t been so harsh on gay issues, but, again, in politics perception is reality. Log Cabin could have made that claim, and it could have been part of helping the GOP reach out now, instead of seeming irrelevant and as if its endorsement had no influence among gay voters. (George W. Bush, whom Log Cabin didn’t endorse, won more of the LGBT vote in 2004 than did the man whom the group did endorse in 2012.) The group now comes off like a bunch of hacks who took a gamble at the last minute on a deeply flawed candidate, selling their souls while getting nothing in return.

Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin is first openly gay person elected to Senate

(CNN) — Tammy Baldwin made history Tuesday night — twice. She became the first openly gay politician, and first Wisconsin woman, elected to the U.S. Senate.

The seven-term Democratic congresswoman edged past former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson in a win that advocacy groups hailed as a significant stride toward bringing diversity to the Senate.

Baldwin said she ran “to make a difference” and not to make history. But she said she hopes the Senate will be more reflective of America and the “life experience” of women.

“Having a seat at the table matters and I think we will see a Senate that is more reflective of America. We’re certainly not there yet, but this will be a change that moves us forward,” she told CNN.

“People … see our country and our states moving toward full equality in many respects,” Baldwin said. “When you have legislative bodies that look more like America, that happens.”

Baldwin was one of many successful gay and lesbian candidates in local and state races this election cycle, which also included her successor in her legislative district in Madison, state Rep. Mark Pocan. At least 118 gay and lesbian candidates won their races as of Wednesday, according to political action committee Victory Fund, which supports gay and lesbian candidates.

Political commentator Sally Kohn was ecstatic.

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“This is a big day for gay women in America, and really, for all communities who aren’t the typical straight, white, wealthy men elected to Congress,” she said.

Share your reaction to the election

There has never been an openly gay or lesbian member of the U.S. Senate, according to several LGBT advocacy groups. Baldwin is one of four openly gay House members of the 112 U.S. Congress, along with fellow Democrats Barney Frank of Massachusetts, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jared Polis of Colorado.

“For the LGBT person growing up in Wisconsin or anywhere across the country, seeing an openly gay woman who is able to rise up to become a senator in the U.S. Congress is an incredible role model,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Though Baldwin’s sexual orientation makes her victory notable, it rarely came up during the campaign, unless it was called a nonissue. The race pitted Thompson’s “conservative leadership” platform against Baldwin’s progressive agenda. Thompson, a four-time governor and secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush, said he returned to politics to make America a better place for his grandchildren.

“I wanted to so much help lead back America,” he said in his concession speech. “To be the country of growth and opportunity. To build America for future generations. I certainly didn’t need the job. And I guess I’m not going to get it.”

What started as a long shot for Baldwin eventually narrowed to a close finish, with the born-and-raised Wisconsinite capturing 51% of the vote, according to CNN projections.

“This campaign has been run on who’s the most qualified candidate and who has the best vision for the state,” Griffin said. “We’re eager to have her move from one side of the Capitol to another and take a seat in the chamber as the first openly gay person.”

Maryland, Maine approve same-sex marriage

To those watching the race, it was no surprise that Wisconsin, a state that approved a gay marriage ban six years ago, would send the first openly gay politician to the Senate. Baldwin has made no secret of her sexual orientation as she rose through local and state politics during the last two decades. When she was elected in 1998 to represent Wisconsin’s second congressional district, she was the first out candidate to be elected to the chamber, said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, a political action committee that supported LGBT candidates including Baldwin this election.

“The electorate already knew what they needed to know about her, and they continued to elect her every step of the way,” Wolfe said.

“She is a force with very deep roots in Wisconsin. She has a backbone of steel, but she’s polite and compassionate, and people enjoy their interactions with her.”

Born and raised in the Congressional district she has represented for the past decade, Baldwin’s track record reflects a commitment to LGBT issues and diversity. As a Wisconsin representative, she was a co-founder and co-chairwoman of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, leading efforts to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other civil rights initiatives. She also led successful efforts in the House in 2009 to pass expanded hate crimes legislation and was the lead author of legislation to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

“Tammy has been a driving force because of her ability to tackle issues without having to use double-speak,” Wolfe said. “Having someone like her in the Senate changes the tone and tenor of this discussion.”

Democrats keep control of Senate

Others are hopeful that more women in Congress will change the discussion of policies affecting women and families. Women in the 112th Congress made up 17% of both the Senate and the House, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

“A lot of research has shown that more women in leadership leads to better outcomes for the community,” said Tiffany Dufu, president of The White House Project, which trains women for leadership.

“We know that women in political leadership reach across the aisle more often and are inclusive when it comes to taking constituents into consideration. They care deeply not just about the outcome, but the process,” she said.

“For us, the biggest thing about Tammy Baldwin is her visibility. You can’t be what you can’t see.”