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Entries in Politics (11)


Same old pig, new shade of lipstick 

With the Republican convention underway, I decided to take a few moments and familiarize myself with the party’s platform.  In the pursuit of being an informed voter, I wanted to know exactly what the Romney Ryan ticket would get me.  After all, they are “America’s Comeback Team.”

I was somewhat surprised to find that I agreed with bits and pieces of it here and there.  What I was not surprised to find was that it is still a platform that pledges more invasions into the lives of women, and discrimination against people who are not straight, married, god fearing people.

Of particular interest to me was the section entitled “Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage” which claims that marriage is in fact the “foundation of civil society.”  I would tend to disagree.  With only a handful of states recognizing same sex marriage, most of our married couples fall under the banner of traditional marriage.  I don’t find our society to be particularly civil, and what about single parents?  Don’t worry; there is something here for them as well. 

We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard…”

I am not a single parent, but if I was, that would feel like a slap in the face.  A patronizing, “we know it is hard and you are doing your best, but your best isn’t good enough” kind of statement.  Anyone else?  And what is this national standard that they are speaking of, when roughly 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.

Then there is the section on “Adoption and Foster Care” about how important this system is and that there needs to be more funding.  Where do they suggest states get help with funding and support for their foster care children?  Faith based organizations.  Is that really the best they can offer?  An additional note here, LGBT adoptive parents tend to adopt children who are harder to place with adoptive or foster families.  This includes children with mental and physical health problems.  But, LGBT families don’t fit into their definition of traditional families, so they aren’t good enough for one of the over 400,000 children that need loving homes.

I think my overall problem with the platform is not that it is discriminatory, but that for a party who claims they want limited government intervention, they are certainly sticking their hands in a lot of pots.  At least the Democrats will legislate that you have to have healthcare, and tell you to your face.  Republicans would do the same and tell you that they are actively trying to have less influence over your life.


Villains Posing as Victims

Over the course of yesterday while I was working I kept an eye on one of the most divisive issues of my generation.  Should same-sex marriage be legal?  I realize that this court case is playing out in California, but as we know, the decisions made in these courts will become precedent that could help or hinder the march toward equality throughout the country.

With all of that said, here is what I have gleaned from the events of the trial so far.  The lawyers that are arguing that same-sex marriage should be illegal really don’t have much of a leg to stand on.  They are using the same old talking points that have either been disproved (children will be harmed if they are raised by a same-sex couple) or are simply discriminatory (same-sex couples are not as good as their heterosexual counterparts).

The main problem for those standing in the way of same-sex marriage is simply that there is no good reason for keeping Lesbian and Gay couples who are in love from getting married.  From everything that NOM (National Organization for Marriage) has said so far it looks more and more like this trial is less about winning (Keeping Prop8 on the books) than it is about making noise.  NOM has already set the stage to play the part of the victim in this case, saying that the judges are biased because one of their spouses works for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and has previously worked on this case.  That is all well and good, but we all know that if the shoe was on the other foot and one of the judges had a spouse that worked for NOM, they wouldn’t be saying a word.

What this all comes down to is that NOM and its supporters will continue to undermine our constitution and try to paint themselves as victims all the way to the supreme court.

From what I have seen, I am hopeful.  The thin arguments that are being offered by opponents of same-sex marriage coupled with the strong arguments being put forth by the lawyers fighting for equality lead me to believe that equality will triumph over hatred in the end.




The Health Care Door is Open

After years of yelling and screaming it has finally happened.  A new chapter in the story of the United States of America is about to unfold.  The passage of the health care bill last night is not the end but rather the beginning of what is sure to be a great adventure.

In many ways the passage of this legislation is like coming out of the closet.  The first step is the hardest, there is never a good time to do it, but once it is done you have opened the door for conversation and progress.  The legislation that was passed last night is not perfect.  It does not go nearly far enough in my mind and goes too far in the minds of others.  What we can all agree on is that this is the beginning.  The hardest part is over.  As the Republican’s are saying, “Obama shoved this down the throats of the American people,” but sometimes that is what is needed.

The Republicans had 8 years under Bush to change health care, to start the conversation but they didn’t.  They claim they have all these great plans that were ignored yet we never saw them.  While Republicans try to tell us they were shut out of the process, there over 200 amendments from Republicans in the legislation that was passed last night.  The vote may not have been bipartisan but the legislation as much as the Republicans will try to deny it, is.

I have learned a great deal throughout the health care debate, but something that struck me the hardest came only this past weekend.  The Tea Party in all its glory is not fighting health care, they are fighting people that are not like them.  What am I talking about?  Over the weekend as house members entered the building (specifically Barney Frank and John Lewis) Tea Party protestors yelled out insults, as well as racial and homophobic slurs.  It became pretty apparent that they were no longer attacking the legislation that was up for debate; they were attacking people that were different than them.  People that they see as being a threat to their way of life.

In some ways I am glad that they have shown their true colors.  They have lost the spirit of what the original Tea Party was actually about.  Instead of attacking the government they are now attacking individuals.  I hope that voters in the coming months will see these people for who they truly are, racist bigots.  Standing up for your rights is one thing.  Degrading someone based on the color of their skin or their sexual orientation is something else entirely.

What are your thoughts?  Are you happy about this health care reform or do you think it is the end of the United States?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Related Links:

Article on Racial and Homophobic Slurs

Watch the Debate on the floor of the House (Final comments happen in the last 20 minutes)

Transcript of Pelosi's Comments


Don’t Ask Don’t Tell on the Road to Repeal?

Today in congressional hearings we heard statements from Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen and then senators were allowed to ask some questions.  After watching all 75 minutes of the hearings I can tell you that this is going to be an issue that is taken down party lines.  Without a doubt the majority of the Republicans asking questions or in some cases making statements about this issue are in favor of keeping the discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in place.  There was however what seemed to be on exception in the form of Maine’s Junior Senator Susan Collins (see clip below) who asked perhaps the best questions of anyone at the hearings.

Meanwhile Senator John McCain stood by his hate speech and waved around a document holding the signatures of over 1,000 former service members who oppose lifting the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  McCain simply ended up looking like a petulant child (see clip below), but what can we expect from someone as close-minded as this man who is happy to use members of the LGBT community to defend a country that does not accept them for who they are.

This policy is of particular importance to me as I have had many members of my family serve in the military and have friends serving now.  To the point that some of the senators made in today’s hearings about gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in foreign militaries I have an interesting inside perspective.  In 2006 while I was studying in London I had the great fortune of meeting and entering a relationship with a man who now serves in the British military as an openly gay man.  From the conversations that we have had it is for the most part a non-issue.  While he sometimes feels a bit lonely because he is the only openly gay man in his unit, his sexuality does not impact how his unit functions in the least.

There was one other moment of today’s hearings that struck me as particularly interesting and enlightening into how some of the Republican’s are approaching this issue.  From listening to Jeff Sessions the junior senator of Alabama it seemed that he was not at all concerned with the number of service members who had been discharged under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  Sessions said that the number of soldiers who have been discharged add up to a fraction of a percent.  Now, call me crazy but at a time when the United States is involved in two wars (as Senator Sessions’ colleagues pointed out numerous times) and now that we are involved in the relief effort in Haiti, wouldn’t we want as many service members as possible?  Even if we are discharging a fraction of a percent of our service members I think losing one capable soldier to this policy is one too many.

Senator Susan Collins

Senator John McCain

Senator Claire McCaskill


For an unedited version of the hearings please click here


Leading like Lincoln

I want to start off by saying that when I created this site I did not intend for it to be overly political.  In fact the goal was to get members of the LGBT community to share their story in the hopes of aiding in advancing LGBT rights through contact.  Contact in the sense that people who view the site could get many different views on life in the LGBT community and not just what is portrayed in the media.  The Lifestyle blog was a concept that my friend Brian and I came up with so that anyone could share aspects of their lifestyle with the world.  That concept remains.  Anyone who wants to blog is encouraged to contact us and we will either post a one time blog by you or will be happy to create for you an account that gives you access to blog as often as you like.

What this has turned into in very short order is what amounts to a political commentary blog.  This has happened because I am the one who has been doing the majority of the blogging and because politics is a huge part of my life, so it still is appropriate for the “Lifestyle” blog.  It will continue to be this way until others add things, but I do not want that to scare people off.  Please by all means contribute what you like when you like.  With that said here comes yet another political blog but perhaps one that is less partisan than some of my previous posts.

Yesterday President Obama ventured to the GOP retreat in Baltimore Maryland where he gave a speech and then entertained some questions from the Republicans that were present.  With no teleprompter and no notes he answered each of their questions, gave factually accurate rebuttals to their accusations and pointed out why politics the way they are being conducted cannot serve the country.

I don’t care who you are; you have to admit that it was an impressive spectacle, especially when you consider that it all played out on television.  Pundits are comparing it to Question Time that takes place in the British parliament.  For those who don’t know, Question Time is when the Prime Minister and other government ministers face parliament where they are grilled with question after question.  If you have never seen it, I highly suggest watching it.  The difference here is that Obama was only facing Republicans instead of both Democrats and Republicans.

While this is a new event in politics today, this is a page directly from Lincoln’s playbook.  President Lincoln was an excellent leader not because of what he did, but because of how he did it.

Lincoln had a very specific style and process to his leadership, mainly that he would ask someone to do something and if they didn’t he would follow up with them.  The best place to see this is in his dealings with his military officers, which parallels what Obama is doing now.  Lincoln would make a request, and if it was not completed he would go to the officer personally and speak with them, try to persuade them to do what he wanted.  In the end if they did not follow Lincoln’s orders and requests he would replace them.

Here we see Obama who has made the request that Democrats and Republicans work together to pass legislation, notably health care reform.  His request has fallen on seemingly deaf ears, so we see Obama going to the Republicans and speaking to them directly.  Obama did not make them come to him, he went to them; in terms of leadership this is a very strong move.  It shows that Obama has respect for them and appreciates their participation (or perceived participation).  If they continue to block his plans, in the Lincoln model he would fire them, but since Obama cannot do that he is framing it in a different way.

In his meeting with Republicans today Obama made it very clear that the Republicans themselves have created a noose that is getting tighter and tighter around the party.  By calling his plans socialist and over the top they have made doing business with Obama toxic for themselves.  However, Obama has set the stage so that the Republicans can either continue to block progress and make sure that nothing happens, or they can back off from their rhetoric a bit and meet him halfway to help move forward legislation to help the American People.

I think that this is great politically for Obama but more importantly for this country.  It will be interesting to see how the Republican Party responds to today’s events.  I would also like to see Obama speak in a similar manner to the Democrats, and perhaps we will see that in the coming weeks.

If you missed today’s events there are two embedded clips below.  The first is a clip of the speech that Obama gave, and the second is the question and answer session that followed.  How do you think he did?  Your comments are welcome!


A Recommended Read:

Lincoln on Leadership