May 19, 2010
Another anti-gay, Christianity-professing, marriage-defending GOP politician has an affair and resigns in disgrace
The San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reports:
Rep. Mark Souder, R-Indiana, an outspoken “family values” politician who has consistently voted against LGBT issues, has resigned his seat a week after winning his Republican primary seeking re-election.
After callers began bombarding his office with accusations that he was having an affair with a staffer, Souder admitted that he was unfaithful to his wife and announced his “retirement.”
Souder, 59, held a hasty news conference in Fort Wayne, Ind., today to make his tearful confession. He noted that he has “sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff.”
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Michael Cole, a spokesman with the Human Rights Campaign, noted how Souder was anti-gay.
“Rep. Souder proves once again that it’s not LGBT people who are the threat to ‘family values.’ The good citizens of Indiana would be well served to elect a successor who in both word and deed more closely mirror their own values of equality and respect for all people.”
Cole said Souder has the distinction of scoring a zero on every single Human Rights Campaign scorecard since entering Congress in 1995. He has consistently voted against equal employment protections, common-sense hate crimes laws, increases in HIV/AIDS funding and providing any measure of equality to same-sex couples.
Joe Sudbay of AMERICAblog also blasted Souder.
"Souder has long been a crusader in the House against same-sex marriage. This year, he signed an amicus brief in a case against D.C.'s new marriage law,” Sudbay wrote.
“He also stated, 'I'm a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third,'" he wrote.
May 18, 2010
Walter Dellinger on Kagan, gays, and the military
Dellinger explains why Kagan is not anti-military.
Portugal to become sixth European nation to grant marriage equality
The BCC reports:
Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva says he will sign a law legalising same-sex marriage passed by parliament earlier this year.
The law had been fiercely opposed by conservatives in the Catholic country.
The ratification will make Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage after Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The announcement comes days after Pope Benedict, on a visit to Portugal, told pilgrims they should oppose the law.
Portugal's Constitutional Court validated the bill last month.
May 17, 2010
Questions about military ban and sexuality dominate key senators' discussion of Kagan
The chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee discussed the Kagan Supreme Court nomination on ABC's "This Week" yesterday with host Jake Tapper, and much of the discussion was about Harvard law school's policy refusing to allow the military to recruit students because the military discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Republican Jeff Sessions thought it was a big deal:
SESSIONS: I have great concerns about that. That went on for a number of years. It was a national issue. People still remember the debate about it. She -- she reversed the policy. When she became dean, they were allowing the military to come back on campus and had been for a couple of years.
TAPPER: But they were always on campus, right? They just weren't using the Office of Career Services.
SESSIONS: Well, look, yeah, this is no little bitty matter, Jake. She would not let them come to the area that does the recruiting on the campus. They had to meet with some student veterans. And this is not acceptable. It was a big error. It was a national debate. Finally, we passed the Solomon amendment. They really didn't comply with it. Eventually, she joined a brief to try to overturn the Solomon amendment, which was eventually rejected 8-0 by the United States Supreme Court, and she was not in compliance with the law at various points in her tenure, and it was because of a deep personal belief she had that this policy, which was Congress and President Clinton's policy--
Chairman Patrick Leahy countered by sidestepping the gay issue and focusing on Kagan's general attitude toward the military:
LEAHY: Well, this is like in Shakespeare, sound and fury signifying nothing. She -- the recruiters were always on the Harvard campus. She's shown her respect for the veterans there. She every year on Veterans Day, she had a dinner for all the veterans and their families who were there at Harvard. Recruiting went on at Harvard every single day throughout the time she was-- she was there. She was trying to follow Harvard's policy. She was also trying to make sure that students who wanted to go in the military could.
Scott Brown, who is a Republican U.S. senator and a member of the Active Reserves -- he's still in the military -- he met with her and left and said he thought she had high respect for our men and women in uniform, and he had no qualms about that.
Tapper also asked about the amicus brief Kagan had joined challenging the policy:
TAPPER: Well, let's talk about the legal aspect of it, because Chairman Leahy, Senator Sessions points out that when she was dean, she joined a friend of the court brief suing the Pentagon effectively, challenging this law, and it was rejected. That point of view and the friend of the court brief were rejected 8 to nothing by the Supreme Court. That includes Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Stevens saying Elena Kagan, you're wrong, your side is wrong. Now, it was just a friend of the court brief, but doesn't that unanimous verdict basically show that Kagan was expressing her political beliefs and not looking at the rule of law?
LEAHY: You know, if we had -- if we said that any lawyer who ever filed a brief at the Supreme Court, that they couldn't serve on the Supreme Court because the case lost, half the members who are on the Supreme Court today would not be on the Supreme Court.
She stated a position. She challenged the law. The law was upheld, and she said we will follow the law at Harvard. I don't know what else you could ask for.
Finally, Tapper asked about Kagan's sexuality:
TAPPER: I want to move on to another matter. When -- during the Bork hearings, Robert Bork, Senator Sessions, was asked about his personal views of God, whether or not he believed in God. A lot of people thought those questions went too far. In the last few -- in the last week, we were told by the White House that after a blog post went up at CBSnews.com that incorrectly said that Elena Kagan was not straight -- and again, that is not true -- but Elena Kagan went to the White House, said this is not true, I am straight. How far is too far when looking into a nominee's personal life?
SESSIONS: I think you've got to be careful about that. I don't believe that is a fundamental judgment call on whether a person can be a good judge or not. We need to know how able they are to ascertain the real legal issues in a case and deciding it fairly and justly. Will they restrain their personal political views and follow the law faithfully and serve under the Constitution? That's the fundamental test in personal integrity. So those are questions that go to the heart of whether a person will be an able judge or not.
Religious right leader caught with male prostitute has played roles in legal battles over marriage, Boy Scouts, and adoption
Columnist Frank Rich reports in Sunday's NYT that George Rekers -- the Baptist minister, proponent of gay "cures," and cohort of fellow Christian right leader James Dobson who was recently exposed for having rented a 20-year-old male prostitute to accompany him on an overseas trip -- has played key roles in recent state legal battles over adoption, the Boy Scouts, and same-sex marriage:
No less destructive [than the quack treatments promoted by organizations with which Rekers is affiliated] has been Rekers’s role in maintaining the draconian Florida law prohibiting adoptions by gay couples and individuals, a relic of the Anita Bryant era. When the law was challenged in court two years ago, the state Attorney General Bill McCollum personally intervened to enlist Rekers as an expert witness to uphold it. Rekers charged $120,000 for his services — a taxpayers’ expenditure now becoming an issue in the Florida gubernatorial race, where McCollum is a Republican candidate to succeed Charlie Crist. A Miami judge ruled Florida’s law unconstitutional, and even now McCollum is appealing that decision.
Rekers was also an expert witness in a similar court case in Arkansas in 2004. That anti-gay-adoption law was also ruled unconstitutional. (His bill there was $200,000, but he settled for $60,000.) In 1998 Rekers was hired as an expert witness by the Boy Scouts to uphold its gay ban in a case before the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission. And then there’s Rekers’s cameo in the current Proposition 8 trial in California: one of his homophobic screeds can be found in the bibliography for the “expert report” by David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values, the star witness for the anti-same-sex-marriage forces.