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Peter D. Rosenstein: Obama: LGBT Civil and Human Rights
April 12, 2012 17:35:00
'... When it comes to the LGBT community and our civil and human rights, it is sometimes hard to know what to make of President Obama.
On Wednesday afternoon the White House summoned representatives of the LGBT community to a meeting with Presidential Counselor Valerie Jarrett and other administration officials to tell them that the president was not going to add five simple words, "sexual orientation and gender identity," to an executive order that has been issued for nearly 71 years to prevent discrimination by federal contractors. One would think that shouldn't be such a difficult thing to do. Yet for some reason the Obama White House is agonizing over it.
It is not hard to understand why to some it appears that we have a president who, though always talking the talk, doesn't always walk the walk. We have a president who has undeniably done more for the LGBT community in his administration than any president before. This includes hiring more members of the LGBT community in his administration, signing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and fighting and winning the the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military and fight and die for their country.
But despite these great strides for which we must thank him, he can't seem to summon the courage to make what many would consider the simpler gut choices. These would include his ability to guarantee, with the stroke of a pen, that there will be no more discrimination by federal contractors against the LGBT community, and to finally say he has fully "evolved" and supports civil marriage equality.
The funny thing about his positions on these two issues is that they both seem to backtrack from positions he has taken before. He was for civil marriage equality when he ran for the state legislature in Illinois, according to his signed response to a candidate questionnaire. In a 2010 interview that appeared in The Advocate, in response to a question on ENDA, he said, "Before I answer that question, let me just say there are still a lot of things we can do administratively even if we don't pass things legislatively. So my ability to make sure that the federal government is an employer that treats gays and lesbians fairly, that's something I can do, and sets a model for folks across the board." It is not too much to assume that when the federal government hires a contractor to do something, they are the employer, and this fairness he committed to should apply.
But on Wednesday afternoon he clearly said that that was not the case. In comments after the meeting, some of the leaders of the LGBT community who attended seemed to accept it as a fait accompli when told that the president was not going to sign the executive order guaranteeing an end to discrimination against the LGBT community by federal contractors before the election. The result of that decision is that he opted to continue the state of affairs whereby members of the community can simply be fired for who they are. They continue to have no right to sue under Title VII, which gives others the right to protection from discrimination by federal contractors based on religion, gender, or race.
There will be those in the LGBT community and other Obama supporters who will say, "Don't rock the boat on these issues. Don't attack the president, and just go along with what he and his political advisors think is the best political move, and then hope that once he is reelected, he will come around. Accept a wink and a nod to the future." While that may sound good to some, what does it mean to the person who will lose his or her job without recourse because Obama won't act? What does it mean to the LGBT family whose breadwinner could end up without a job and without health insurance after being fired for just being who he or she is? What does it say about our lobbyists and spokespeople if they just accept that wink and nod and stop fighting for our full civil and human rights for the next seven months, until the election is over, and hope the president will win? Will they all agree to stop taking a salary for the next seven months while they stop fighting on these issues? Will they give up their health insurance if even one person is fired because this executive order hasn't be signed because they gave up fighting for it?
I know this is a conundrum for some. But it can't be a conundrum for anyone who believes that everyone in our nation deserves to have their full civil and human rights, for anyone who believes that when we are not all equal, no one is really equal.
We have only one choice in the upcoming election, and that is to vote for President Obama if we care abut the civil and human rights of the LGBT community. The Republican Party has made it clear that they would like to see many of the rights we have won rescinded. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to press as hard as we can to gain our full civil and human rights, and that means not taking a seven-month hiatus in that fight ...'
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Amanda Terkel: Mitt Romney's Women Surrogates Voted Against Pay Equity Enforcement, Blasted Feminism
The Huffington Post | April 11, 2012 15:43:55
WASHINGTON -- In recent days, Mitt Romney's campaign has been trying to squash the perception that he's bad with the ladies.
It's been bringing out everyone from Ann Romney -- who insists that her husband really isn't "stiff" when you "unzip him" -- to other prominent Republican women. All are trying to make the case that the former Massachusetts governor will look out for women's rights if elected president.
But the records of some of these surrogates seem to undermine the campaign's message.
The campaign stumbled for a moment during a Wednesday call with reporters, when a Romney aide was unable to answer whether the former governor supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Obama signed the measure into law in 2009 and considers it one of the keynote achievements of his presidency. The law provides women with more legal channels to pursue receiving equal pay for equal work. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul later clarified that Romney "supports pay equity and is not looking to change current law."
But two of his surrogates did vote against the legislation in Congress. On Wednesday, the campaign sent out statements from Republican Reps. Mary Bono Mack of California and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, blaming women's jobs losses on Obama's policies. But both women voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act as well as the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act.
A March 29 Wisconsin Women for Romney call with reporters featured Wisconsin state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and conservative activist Bay Buchanan. Darling was a cosponsor of legislation repealing her state's 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which was designed to deter employers from discriminating against certain groups by granting workers more avenues for pressing charges. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) quietly signed the bill into law last week.
Buchanan has railed against feminism, stating in 1999 that the movement has hurt women. She blamed the high number of divorces, single-parent households and teen suicides on feminism in part.
"If the movement is about helping women, if it is moving them in a better direction, women have not done that well," Buchanan said then. "This is not a good direction for the nation to be taking."
And on Fox News on Monday night, Romney surrogate South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) was totally off-message, saying, "There is no war on women. Women are doing well."
The Romney campaign is claiming that women account for more than 92 percent of jobs lost under Obama, but Politifact rated that statement as "mostly false." The Romney campaign is now disputing this characterization.
Sam Stein: Rick Santorum Drops Out: GOP Presidential Candidate Suspends 2012 Campaign (VIDEO)
A surprise decision Tuesday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) announced that he is suspending his presidential campaign, all but putting an end to the Republican primary.
"We made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds, and we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting," Santorum said during an address in Gettysburg, Pa.
During his 14-minute speech, Santorum notably did not endorse Mitt Romney.
The Pennsylvania Republican had taken a break from the campaign trail for several days to tend to his ailing daughter, Bella. He had pledged to continue campaigning through the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. But the combination of his daughter's sickness and recent poll numbers showing him possibly losing his home state apparently prompted the early departure.
According to Yahoo! News, Santorum called Romney earlier in the day to inform him of his decision to suspend his campaign. The former senator also made a call to campaign operatives to relay his decision.
Santorum's decision removes any lingering doubt that Romney will end up the Republican presidential nominee. The former Massachusetts governor held a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead prior to Santorum's departure, though his campaign was planning on spending between one and two million dollars against Santorum in Pennsylvania.
UPDATE: 2:35 p.m. -- RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has responded to Santorum's decision:
"Today, Senator Santorum has made a commendable decision. He has decided to put his country, party, and desire to defeat President Obama ahead of any personal ambition. I applaud his decision and congratulate him on the campaign he has run."
The Romney campaign has also released a statement:
"Senator Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran. He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation. We both recognize that what is most important is putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity."
Newt Gingrich weighed in during a press conference on Tuesday:
"I think it makes it clearer that there's a conservative, named Newt Gingrich, and there's Mitt Romney," he said, according to Justin Sink of The Hill. "I have a great, great respect for how hard Rick worked, he was the personification of courage."
UPDATE 3:10 p.m. -- Shortly after the senator finished speaking, Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley explained the decision in a short phone interview with the Huffington Post. The senator came to the conclusion that he should suspend his campaign last night, Gidley said, noting that while his decision was largely driven by concerns over Bella's illness, there were political factors as well.
Cash was always a problem, though Gidley said that the campaign was "okay with money." Gingrich's presence in the primary also presented obstacles.
"We needed Newt to step aside a long time ago," Gidley had told MSNBC earlier.
But one of the lesser-discussed concerns was the structure of Texas' primary. Santorum had been pushing to have delegates assigned on a winner-take-all basis, but it increasingly appeared that his demands would not be met.
"Texas had to be winner take all," said Gidley. "That would have been very, very helpful. Obviously, that is 155 delegates sitting on the table, and we know there have been some ... within the conservative movement trying to get that accomplished. But that was becoming increasingly difficult."
Asked how much should be read into the absence of Romney's name from Santorum's speech, Gidley replied: "nothing."
"Governor Romney has called Rick and asked for a meeting to discuss an endorsement," he explained, "but we will see how that goes in the next couple days."
UPDATE 4:20 p.m. -- Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has issued a statement on Santorum's move:
“It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney finally was able to grind down his opponents under an avalanche of negative ads. But neither he nor his special interest allies will be able to buy the presidency with their negative attacks. The more the American people see of Mitt Romney, the less they like him and the less they trust him. While calling himself the ‘ideal candidate’ for the Tea Party, he has promised to return to the same policies that created the economic crisis and has alienated women, middle class families, and Hispanic Americans. Americans value a President who will fight every day to rebuild an economy in which hard work will pay, responsibility is rewarded and everyone plays by the same rules. And that President is Barack Obama.
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Suddenly, someone made that decision. Perhaps it was not the right moment. Very hard indeed, but emotional to them ... We didn't thought the race was over yet. Great respect ...'
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