Monday, October 31, 2011

Will Allegations of Inappropriate Conduct Derail the Cain Juggernaut?

Will allegations of inappropriate conduct against two former female National Restaurant Association staffers derail Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s improbable campaign?

Politico reported late on Sunday, Oct. 30, that the women accepted five figure settlements from the lobbying group in the 1990s after they complained that Cain, who was then the head of the trade association, had demonstrated inappropriate behavior towards them. Sources whom Politico did not identify said the reported incidents included sexually suggestive conversations that took place at conferences, at association events and in the organization’s offices and inappropriate physical gestures that made the women uncomfortable.

Cain topped a new poll of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers that the Des Moines Register released on Saturday, Oct. 29. These reported allegations come on the heels of the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO’s controversial comments on immigration and the release of an unconventional campaign video that features his campaign manager smoking a cigarette.

“Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, Inside the Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain,” the Cain campaign told Politico in a statement. “Sadly, we’ve seen this movie played out before – a prominent conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics.”

Presidential campaigns are certainly not for the faint of heart, but will these reported allegations prove the straw that broke the Cain juggernaut’s back?

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Perry Backs Efforts to Repeal N.H. Marriage Equality Law

Speaking at Cornerstone Action's annual banquet in Manchester, N.H., on Friday, Oct. 28, Texas Gov. Rick Perry applauded lawmakers who back the repeal of New Hampshire's marriage equality law.

"As conservatives we believe in the sanctity of life. We believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage," said Perry, as reported by the Concord Monitor. "I applaud those legislators in New Hampshire who are working to defend marriage as an institution between one man and one woman, realizing that children need to be raised in a loving home by a mother and a father."

Perry made the remarks three days after the House Judiciary Committee recommended repealing the state's marriage equality law. A recent University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll found the majority of New Hampshire voters oppose any effort to repeal the statute, but legislators are poised to debate the issue early next year--the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary is likely to take place on Jan. 10.

Only four percent of Republican primary voters would vote for Perry, according to a UNH Survey Center/WMUR poll conducted earlier this month.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Gillibrand Introduces Bill to Ban Discrimination Against Prospective LGBT Adoptive and Foster Parents

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday, Oct. 28, introduced a bill that would prevent any agency that receives federal funding from disqualifying prospective adoptive or foster parents solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

“New York is a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and sets a great example for the rest of the country,” said Gillibrand in a statement that announced the introduction of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. She pointed out that New York increased its pool of prospective foster parents by 128,000 when the state eliminated all LGBT-specific barriers.

"This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families,” added Gillibrand.

Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and Michigan currently bar same-sex couples from adopting children, while six others prohibit gay and lesbian parents from adopting their partner's children. Gillibrand points out that more than two dozen other states do not specifically address treatment of prospective LGBT foster and adoptive parents.

“We must support all qualified adults who are interested in providing a nurturing, adoptive home—regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation," said Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs for the Child Welfare League of America. "Having a real life, caring parent is incredibly important for ensuring a child’s success. Sen. Gillibrand’s bill represents progress for these children whose goal is to simply be loved.”

Vincent Gray and Amy Winehouse Yuck It Up at High Heel Race

It was quite a scene at the 25th annual High Heel Race in Dupont Circle on Tuesday, Oct. 25, when D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray yucked it up with the late Amy Winehouse.

Gray literally stopped in his tracks when he spotted the troubled British chanteuse—who was actually Queen Bambi—amid the throngs of people who had descended upon on 17th Street. Gray posed for pictures with Winehouse, who suddenly died in August from alcohol poisoning, as onlookers reveled in the spontaneous spectacle.

This chance encounter undoubtedly provided a welcome reprieve from the series of damaging revelations and headlines that continue to threaten to derail the Gray administration.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gay Servicemembers Challenge DOMA in Federal Court

A group of gay and lesbian servicemembers filed a lawsuit challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act in federal court in Boston on Thursday, Oct. 27.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Chadbourne and Parke held a press conference with the six active duty servicemembers and two veterans at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs argue that DOMA forces the military to deny their spouses access to bases, burial rights at national cemeteries and other benefits that heterosexual servicemembers' spouses automatically receive.

"The case we are bringing today is about one thing, plain and simple: It’s about justice for gay and lesbian servicemembers and their families," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "These couples are in long-term, committed and legally recognized marriages and the military shouldn’t be forced to turn their back on them because the federal government refuses to recognize their families."

The repeal of the Pentagon's ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers became official on Sept. 20.

The Obama administration announced earlier this year that it would no longer defend DOMA in federal court, but House Republicans continue to back the Clinton-era law. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin debate on a DOMA repeal bill on Nov. 3.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Campaign Fleece for All

It is undoubtedly campaign season when presidential candidates begin to offer fleece to anyone who supports their White House aspirations.

"As the sun begins to set earlier and the air has that wonderful autumn crisp in it, our campaign would like to offer you an exclusive way to show your support," wrote Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in a fundraising appeal that her campaign sent to supporters earlier today in which she blasts President Barack Obama over the country's sluggish economy. "We have designed a 'Bachmann for President' fleece jacket to offer you as special gift if you make a donation of $75 or more to my campaign today. This is an exclusive fleece you can wear throughout the fall to show you stand for constitutional conservative values and support our campaign for president."

Not to be outdone by the Tea Party firebrand, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign is offering "an official Romney 2012 fleece pullover" to anyone who donates $60 or more to the campaign.

"Support Mitt in style while you're out at campaign rallies, phone banks, or watching the debates," wrote Zac Moffatt, digital director of the Romney campaign, in a pitch to supporters earlier on Wednesday, Oct. 26. "Remember that all purchases from the store are also donations to the campaign. So not only can you wear your support on your sleeve, but you'll also help provide the much-needed resources to defeat Obama and his failed policies in 2012."

With snow expected to fall across most of New Hampshire on Thursday, Oct. 27, these pullovers and jackets could quite possibly prove more than a seasonal gimmick to pad campaign coffers. The first-in-the-nation presidential primary is less than three months away for anyone who's counting!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

N.H. Legislative Panel Recommends Repeal of Marriage Equality Law

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee voted 11-6 on Tuesday, Oct. 25, to recommend repealing the state's marriage equality law.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in the Granite State since Jan. 2010. State Rep. David Bates (R-Windham)'s bill would ban same-sex marriages in New Hampshire, but the measure would allow unmarried adults to enter into a civil union. A University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll conducted between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2 found that 62 percent of voters oppose efforts to repeal the state's marriage equality law. Eighty-one percent of respondents said nuptials for gays and lesbians in New Hampshire have not impacted their life.

"It is astounding that Republican legislators would repeal New Hampshire's marriage equality law when not only do 60 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose the repeal, likely Republican presidential primary voters oppose repeal as well," New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley told Boy in Bushwick after the committee's vote. "The out of state radical agenda of Speaker Bill O'Brien has already made this legislature the most unpopular in New Hampshire history, playing games with thousands of families in New Hampshire is certainly not a popular path to take."

Maryland AG: Marriage Equality Bill Will Pass in 2012

Speaking at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 25, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler predicted a marriage equality bill will pass in the state Legislature next year.

Gansler spoke at CAP after the think tank and other LGBT and progressive organizations released a report on the impact of social and legal inequalities on children with LGBT parents.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obama Announces Total Troop Withdrawl from Iraq

President Barack Obama announced on Friday, Oct. 21, that the last American combat troops in Iraq will leave the country by the end of the year.

"I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," said Obama in the White House briefing room, as reported by the Associated Press. "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over."

Obama in Aug. 2010 officially declared an end to U.S. combat in Iraq. More than 4,400 American servicemembers have lost their lives in the country since the war began in March 2003.

"I applaud President Obama for a promise kept," said California Sen. Barbara Boxer. "Today is a day to honor our troops and our military families who have sacrificed so much over the last nine years to give the Iraqi people a chance at a better future. It is now up to the Iraqis to secure their country and provide opportunity for all their people."

Obama's Approval Rating Slips to Historic Low

A new Gallup poll shows that President Barack Obama's approval rating has fallen to 41 percent.

This figure is the average approval rating from Gallup Daily tracking polls from July 20 through Oct. 19--Congress agreed to raise the country's debt ceiling in early August, while Standard and Poor's downgraded the United States' credit rating a few days later. Persistent high unemployment rates and ongoing wrangling over the economy and Obama's new jobs bill further polarized an already angry electorate going into the 2012 election cycle.

The only president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to have had a lower job approval rating at this point in his presidency was Jimmy Carter. His job approval rating averaged only 31.4 percent between July 20 and Oct. 19, 1979.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gillibrand Stumps for Giffords’ Reelection Campaign

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand describes Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as a “fighter who gets things done” in a fundraising pitch she sent on behalf of her close friend’s re-election campaign on Thursday, Oct. 20.

“Watching Gabby triumph over adversity has given me the strength and courage to keep up the fight in Washington,” said Gillibrand, referring to Giffords’ remarkable recovery after Jared Lee Loughner allegedly shot her in the head outside a Tucson supermarket in January. The massacre left six people dead and Giffords and 13 others wounded.

“We need Gabby in Congress, not only because she's a fighter who gets things done, but because she is a unique leader who can help bridge the divide that has fractured our nation for far too long,” added Gillibrand.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Republican Presidential Candidate Threatens to Boycott Florida Orange Juice Over Primary Date

Long-shot Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger is threatening to boycott Florida orange juice if the state does not reschedule its GOP primary.

"Voters need time during the coming months to fully vet all eleven serious Republican Presidential candidates," said Karger in a letter he sent to Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Dean Cannon and Secretary of State Kurt Browning on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Florida officials threw the Republican presidential nomination process into disarray earlier this month when they announced that they would hold the state's primary on Jan. 31. Nevada Republicans announced that they will hold their caucuses on Jan. 14, while New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said last week that he could not rule out a December primary.

"Florida would potentially rob American voters of two months of campaigning which only helps the frontrunner," said Karger, who described Florida's move as "ill-conceived" and "un-American." "As one of these candidates for president, I cannot sit idly by while the state of Florida threatens the entire selection process.

Gays and lesbians were among those who boycotted Florida orange juice after Anita Bryant successfully led an effort to repeal then-Dade County's anti-discrimination ordinance in 1977. "I was involved in the Anita Bryant inspired Florida Orange Juice Boycott in 1978, and am keenly aware of the economic pressure that boycotts wield," said Karger.

Karger said he will officially launch the boycott if Florida officials do not reschedule the primary by Nov. 1.

Poll: 64 Percent of Americans Blame Washington for Bad Economy

Following last night's Republican kerfuffle in the desert, a new poll finds Americans are more than twice as likely to blame Washington for the country's economic problems than Wall Street.

Sixty-four percent of Americans who responded to the Gallup/USA Today poll on Oct. 15-16 said they blame the federal government for the country's sluggish economy. Only 30 percent of respondents said financial institutions on Wall Street are to blame.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Does the Occupy Movement Have Clearly Defined Goals?

Does the Occupy movement have clearly defined goals?

I continuously asked myself this question as I walked around the Occupy Boston encampment on the Greenway outside South Station on Monday, Oct. 17. The anger and frustration towards Wall Street, corporate America, the federal government, the police and even the media was certainly palpable. Occupy Boston organizers have even begun to organize General Assemblies and caucuses that clearly indicate they have no intentions of leaving Dewey Square. As impressive as these efforts are, the question remains whether they are enough to effectively captivate an angry electorate ahead of the 2012 elections?

Sixty-three percent of respondents to a Gallup poll conducted over the past weekend said they did not know enough about the Occupy movement to say whether they approved or disapproved of its goals. Another 55 percent said they did not know enough about the Occupy movement to say whether they approved or disapproved of the way the protests are being conducted. The poll further indicates that only 56 percent of Americans are following the Occupy movement closely.

Occupiers certainly have justifiable grievances against corporate greed and the political system that continues to disenfranchise the vast majority of Americans. The democratic traditions upon which this country was built continues to allow the Occupy protestors to air them, but it remains to be seen whether the movement will achieve more than providing a colorful snapshot du jour of an increasingly frustrated, angry and polarized country.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Postcards from Occupy Boston

A week after Boston police arrested more than 140 Occupy Boston protesters, dozens of tents remain in the Greenway near Dewey Square adjacent to South Station.

Boston is among the dozens of cities around the world in which protesters remain encamped as part of the Occupy movement. Others include New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and London.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Poll: Most N.H. Voters Oppose Efforts to Repeal Marriage Equality Law

A new poll indicates the vast majority of New Hampshire voters support the state's marriage equality law.

Sixty-two percent of respondents who participated in a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll conducted between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2 said they oppose efforts to repeal the law. Forty-four percent of New Hampshire voters are more likely to vote against a candidate who supports repealing the statute, while 47 percent of respondents said marriage equality has had no impact on New Hampshire. Eighty-one percent of respondents said nuptials for gays and lesbians in the Granite State have not impacted their life.

State lawmakers are poised to debate the issue in January, which could potentially coincide with the presidential primary. Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in New Hampshire since Jan. 2010.

A poll in February also found the majority of New Hampshire voters support marriage equality.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Hampshire Officials Considering December Primary

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said on Wednesday, Oct. 12, that the Granite State could hold its primary as early as Dec. 6 if Nevada Republicans do not agree to hold their caucuses on or after Jan. 17.

New Hampshire law requires that the state to hold its primary at least seven days before other state. Nevada Republicans announced last Wednesday that they will hold their caucuses on Jan. 14. This move prompted Iowa Republicans to announce that they could potentially hold their caucuses before the end of the year.

"The dates of Tuesday, December 13th, and Tuesday, December 6th are realistic options, and we have logistics in place to make either date happen if needed," said Gardner in his strongly worded statement. "Candidates have been campaigning here, and elsewhere, for months, and it is about time we begin the next stage of the presidential nominating process."

Frank Kameny Passes Away

Longtime LGBT activist Frank Kameny passed away in his Washington, D.C., home late on Tuesday, Oct. 11. He was 86.

Metroweekly reported that Kameny, who founded the Mattachine Society of Washington in 1961 after he was fired from his job at the Army Map Service four years earlier, passed away in his sleep.

“Frank Kameny led an extraordinary life marked by heroic activism that set a path for the modern LGBT civil rights movement," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "From his early days fighting institutionalized discrimination in the federal workforce, Dr. Kameny taught us all that 'Gay is Good.' As we say goodbye to this trailblazer on National Coming Out Day, we remember the remarkable power we all have to change the world by living our lives like Frank--openly, honestly and authentically.”

Gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank mourned Kameny in a statement he released earlier on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

“The death of Frank Kameny is a very sad day for those who believe that all people in this country should be treated fairly. No one in our history had a longer record of commitment to and leadership of the fight for civil rights for all. When he was himself the victim of discrimination decades ago, unlike almost every other victim of the homophobia that then pervaded the country, Frank Kameny fought back. His courageous, creative assault on bigotry is one of the rocks on which the movement for LGBT rights is founded, and the successes we have had in recent times owe a great deal to him," he said. “All of us who are continuing the fight will remain indebted to him, inspired by him, and regretful that we will no longer have the benefit of his advice, his encouragement, and perhaps most importantly, his impatience.”

Congressional Job Approval Once Again Drops to Historical Low

This headline should not surprise anybody.

A new Gallup poll indicates Congressional job approval has dropped to a historically low 13 percent. Only 14 percent of Republicans and Democrats approve this Congress, while Congressional job approval among independents was 13 percent. Only eight percent of respondents 55 and older said they back Congress.

Gallup recorded the same dismal statistics in August and again in Dec. 2010.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chris Christie Endorses Mitt Romney

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie officially endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president at a press conference in Hanover, N.H., earlier on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Christie, who announced last week that he would not seek the presidency in 2012, endorsed Romney hours before Dartmouth College will host the latest Republican presidential debate.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed Romney last month after he ended his campaign following a disappointing showing in the Iowa Straw Poll in August.

Postcards from the Occupy DC Protest

The U.S. Capitol provided an arguably appropriate backdrop for the Occupy DC protesters who remained camped out across from the Wilson Building in downtown Washington, D.C., on Monday, Oct. 10.

Those with whom this reporter spoke had no expectations that Congress or President Barack Obama would take their message seriously--they contend that they continue to contribute to the country's ongoing economic malaise and increasing socioeconomic inequalities.

Do Occupy DC and other protests that have sprung up across the country in recent weeks provide a zeitgeist of angry American voters ahead of the 2012 elections?

Romney Peppered with Marriage Questions at N.H. Town Hall

Those pesky New Hampshire voters peppered former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with questions about marriage for same-sex couples during a town hall in Hopkinton late on Monday, Oct. 10.

ABC News reported that Romney tried to dodge a question from a woman who said she was raised by two men and was offended by his assertion that children fare better when they are raised by man and a woman. “That’s really offensive to me and I just want to know why you feel it is not right for my dads to be able to walk down the aisle,” the woman reportedly said before a clearly uncomfortable Romney immediately sought to move onto another question.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in New Hampshire since Jan. 1, 2010, but Republican lawmakers are poised to try and repeal the law that Gov. John Lynch signed in 2009.

Lynch announced last month that he would not seek re-election.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Philadelphia Mayor Speaks Outside Country's Oldest Continuously Operating LGBT Bookstore

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was among those on hand to officially unveil a historical marker in front of Giovanni's Room on Sunday, Oct. 9.

Giovanni's Room, which opened in 1973, is the country's oldest continuously operating LGBT bookstore. The ceremony coincided with Philadelphia's annual OutFest.

Protesters Camp Out at Philadelphia City Hall

Protesters remained camped out on the plaza around Philadelphia City Hall on Saturday, Oct. 8, in response to what they say is corporate greed on Wall Street and the politicians in Washington, D.C., who they maintain continue to support it.

The Occupy Philadelphia protest is among a series of actions that have sprung up in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and other cities in recent weeks.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Postcards from the Brandywine Valley

I am sitting in the dining room at the Inn at Whitewing Farm in West Chester, Pa., awaiting breakfast with my fellow travel writers on a crisp early October morning.

Here are a few snapshots of the trip.

Lily pads on display at Longwood Gardens.

Mushroom-shaped bread at 1906 at Longwood Gardens.

The Inn at Whitewing Farm late on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nevada Republicans Schedule Jan. 14 Caucuses

A couple of headlines grabbed my attention earlier this morning at Union Station while waiting for my train to Philadelphia.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio bluntly said at a political forum here in Washington, D.C., late on Wednesday, Oct. 4, that he would not seek the Republican vice presidential nomination in 2012. The Associated Press quoted the Cuban American lawmaker as saying he did not run for the Senate "to have a launching pad for another job."

In other news, Nevada Republicans announced late on Wednesday that they will hold their caucuses on Jan. 14. This move could prompt New Hampshire officials to schedule the first-in-the-nation primary as early as Jan. 3, while Iowa Republicans could hold their first-in-the-nation caucuses before the end of the year.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs Dies

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away earlier today in his California home. He was 56.

"The world has lost a visionary," said President Barack Obama in a statement that the White House released shortly after news of Jobs' death broke. "There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Steve’s wife Laurene, his family, and all those who loved him."

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were among those who mourned Jobs on their social media networks and in statements.

“I send my deepest condolences to Steve Jobs’ family and friends on this devastating loss," said California Sen. Barbara Boxer. "Steve Jobs was a California icon who embodied Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial spirit of creativity and optimism. By revolutionizing communications, he touched the lives of billions of people around the world. He will be sorely missed.”

Sarah Palin Says She Will Not Run for President

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told radio host Mark Levin earlier on Wednesday, Oct. 5, that she will not run for president.

"I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for President of the United States," said the former vice presidential nominee. "As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order."

Palin's announcement comes a day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he will not enter the race. A CBS News poll that was released earlier this week found that only 23 percent of Republican primary voters would have welcomed a Palin presidential campaign.

Illinois Congressmembers to Hold DOMA Hearing in Chicago

Three Illinois congressmembers are scheduled to hold a hearing at Chicago City Hall on Friday, Oct. 7, on the impact of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on same-sex couples.

Congressmen Mike Quigley and Luis V. Gutierrez and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky are expected to hear testimony from four gay and lesbian couples and two legal experts. The hearing will take place a week after House Republicans tripled the cap on the amount of money a private lawyer can receive for defending DOMA. The Obama administration announced in February that it would no longer defend the Clinton-era statute in federal court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its own hearing on DOMA in July.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Video: DNC Chair Speaks at Fundraiser for LGBT Immigrants

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke at an Immigration Equality fundraiser in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, discussed the prospects of the Uniting American Families Act and the White House's LGBT-specific accomplishments since President Barack Obama took office. She also cited Anthony Makk and Bradford Wells, a bi-national gay couple from San Francisco who faces separation because Makk faces deportation back to his native Australia, in her speech.

Following her speech, Wasserman Schultz conceded that she is not confident that UAFA would become law before the end of this Congress. She also blasted Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for asserting that homosexuality is a choice during his appearance on "The View" earlier in the day.

DNC Chair Blasts Cain for Asserting Homosexuality Is A Choice

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Tuesday, Oct. 4, blasted Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for asserting during an appearance on "The View" earlier in the day that homosexuality is a choice

"It’s shockingly out of touch and insensitive for him to suggest—outdated, ancient—and sends a terrible message to gay kids, to gay Americans that somehow they should be treated differently and that we don’t recognize that sexuality is simply a matter of the way you were born," said the Florida congresswoman after she spoke at an Immigration Equality fundraiser in Washington, D.C.

Wasserman Schultz conceded that she had not heard that Cain had made the assertion until this reporter asked her to comment on it.

"I totally disagree with Herman Cain," she said. "Homosexuality is not a choice, it is something that occurs through birth. It’s hereditary."

House Republicans Triple DOMA Defense Cost Cap

Democrats blasted House Republican leaders on Tuesday, Oct. 4, for tripling the cap on the amount of taxpayer money a private lawyer they hire to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act can receive.

Paul Clement would not have been paid more than $500,000 for defending DOMA under the original contract into which House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders had entered. The cap has now been raised to $1.5 million.

“News of the increased payments to DOMA attorneys reached me today, ironically, during a Republican-chaired hearing on a Balanced Budget Amendment, in which Republicans were addressing the apparent need to cut Social Security benefits and programs for the poor,” said New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “Clearly, discriminating against LGBT Americans is a greater priority for them than providing for the welfare of seniors or children.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders joined LGBT rights groups that blasted the increase as hypocritical.

“There seems to be no limit to how much taxpayer money the House Republican leadership is willing to spend to keep this discriminatory law on the books,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “At a time when budgeting is the watchword in Washington, Americans will be rightly aghast at this boondoggle for right-wing lawyers.”

Can Chris Christie Save the GOP?

Can New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie save the Republican Party?

The sharp-tongued former federal prosecutor has repeatedly said he has no intentions to run for president, but speculation continues to rage as to whether Christie will seek the Republican nomination in 2012. It is clear that Republicans are desperate for someone who is arguably more electable than Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann or even Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to enter the race. Christie is expected to (once again) announce his intentions by the end of the week. Will Republican operatives and donors who remain lukewarm over the current field of candidates be disappointed?

Probably, but things could potentially change faster than Snooki can make headlines for her boardwalk exploits. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Attend Fundraiser for LGBT Immigrants’ Rights Organization

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is among those who are expected to attend a fundraiser for an LGBT immigrants’ rights organization in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Schultz is among the 123 co-sponsors of the Uniting American Families Act, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow American citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration purposes. New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced UAFA in April.

Rick Perry’s Race Problem

Texas Gov. Rick Perry remains on the offensive after the Washington Post reported on Sunday, Oct. 2, that a rock at the entrance of a hunting camp that both he and his father once leased contained a racial slur. Perry’s campaign moved quickly to downplay the article, but Herman Cain described the offensive sign as “a sign of insensitivity” during an interview with Christiane Amanpour on “This Week.”

Presidential hopefuls subject themselves to an exceedingly harsh spotlight that often exploits unflattering details of their personal lives—news of then-presidential candidate George W. Bush’s 1976 arrest for driving under the influence near his parents’ vacation home in Maine broke less than a week before the 2000 presidential election is one of the myriad of notable examples of this predictable phenomenon. Race and politics remain a combustible mix in this country. The question remains, however, whether this controversy will prove more than another tempest in a highly polarized tea pot.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Video: Obama Speaks at LGBT Rights Group's Annual Dinner

President Barack Obama touted his administration's LGBT-specific accomplishments at the Human Rights Campaign's annual National Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Obama cited the federal hate crimes bill, the executive order that mandates any hospital that receives Medicare and Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights for same-sex partners of their patients, the administration's opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act and the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' during his 20 minute speech.

Obama also criticized Republican presidential candidates who remained silent when a gay soldier in Iraq who asked a question about 'don't ask, don't tell' during a Sept. 22 debate in Florida was booed.

"We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders--one of whom could end up being the president of the United States--being silent when an American soldier is booed," said Obama to applause. "We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be commander-in-chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient."