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Entries in gay (14)

Wednesday
Aug082012

President Obama, Mitt Romney Agree: Gay Boy Scouts OK

Saul Loeb/AFP/J.D. Pooley/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Mitt Romney have found some new common ground on an issue of gay rights.

Obama Wednesday joined Romney in publicly disagreeing with a controversial ban on gay members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the nation’s largest and most well-known youth development groups.

“The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation,” said White House spokesman Shin Inouye in a statement to the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper.

It’s the first time Obama, who was named honorary president of the BSA in 2009 -- as all U.S. Presidents have been since 1910 -- has publicly taken a position on the issue.

Romney first voiced support for gay scouts back in 1994 -- a position that his campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said remains his position today.

“I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Romney said in the video from 1994 recently re-surfaced by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.  He added at the time that he supports, “the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.”

Last month, the group affirmed its ban on openly gay scouts and leaders after a two-year review of the policy, prompting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to call on Obama to “reconsider” his honorary post.

White House press secretary Jay Carney Wednesday repeated the earlier White House statement that Obama, “opposes discrimination in all forms” including the Boy Scouts policy. But he said the president would not step down from his honorary Boy Scouts position.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

Richard Grenell, Openly Gay Romney Spokesman, Resigns from Post

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Richard Grenell, the openly gay foreign policy spokesman for the Romney campaign, resigned from his recently-appointed post on Tuesday, ABC News has confirmed.

“We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons. We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill,” Matt Rhoades, the Romney campaign manager, told ABC News.

Grenell’s resignation was first reported by the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin.

“I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman,” Grenell said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post. “While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.”

Rubin reported that Grenell made his decision “after being kept under wraps” at a time when national security issues had risen to the forefront of the campaign and after activists on the right raised questions about his sexual orientation.

But, in an interview with ABC News, a source familiar with Grenell’s departure from the Romney campaign disputed the “under wraps” suggestion.

This source said Grenell, whose hiring was first reported on April 19, had not yet started his duties as the campaign’s top national security spokesman and was in the process of moving from Los Angeles to Boston.

Tuesday would have been his first actual day on the job.

“He wasn’t under wraps; he wasn’t a spokesperson yet,” according to the individual with knowledge of Grenell’s hiring and resignation. “If he had wanted to, he would be a spokesman right now.”

Among those who called Grenell in recent days to try to persuade him not to quit: his former boss and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton; and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

The Romney campaign hired Grenell, who served as communications director at the United Nations under President Bush and worked as a spokesman for a number of prominent Republicans including George Pataki and Dave Camp, in mid-April.

Shortly after the news of his hiring broke, Grenell was criticized not for his sexual orientation but for critical remarks he’d made on Twitter about Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, Democratic women and the media. He later scrubbed the posts from his Twitter account.

But some social conservatives took issue with the Romney campaign’s hiring of an openly homosexual man.

In late April, a radio host for the American Family Association said that the hiring indicated the Romney campaign’s willingness to tell the so-called pro-family community to “drop dead.”

“The homosexual agenda represents the single greatest threat to religious liberty and freedom of association in America today,” Bryan Fischer, the director of issue analysis at the American Family Association, said in an interview with CNN last month.

Democrats, including a member of the Obama campaign team, immediately pounced on the incident as an example of the Romney campaign caving to anti-gay forces on the right.

“Today we learned that in the year 2012, a Republican nominee for President can’t have a gay person as spokesman,” the Obama campaign’s digital director, Teddy Goff, tweeted.

And Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman who is now the head of a Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action, said in an interview with ABC News that Grenell’s departure was a “show of incredible weakness on the part of Mitt Romney.”

Burton pronounced it a sign that Romney would be at the “beck and call” of whichever individuals or groups he needs to win in November.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct122011

What’d He Say? Debate Heckler on Booed Orlando Soldier

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(HANOVER, N.H.) -- Tempers flared on stage at Tuesday night’s Bloomberg/Washington Post debate, as GOP rivals bashed each other’s economic policies.  But it was Rick Santorum’s remark about fathers taking responsibility for their children that resulted in an outcry from a young man in the crowd.

A stage audience member told ABC News, “A guy stood up and he yelled, ‘Why didn’t you guys say anything when the gay soldier was booed.’  He was sitting about four rows back facing the stage.  Then he yelled the f-word.”

The commotion caused Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who was next in line to answer a question, to say, “I’m sorry, Charlie.  A little distraction.”

The interruption was in reference to last month’s debate in Orlando, when a gay soldier was booed by audience members after posing a question about ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’

In the aftermath of the Florida incident, many of the candidates told ABC News that in retrospect, someone should have stood up for the member of the military.

So far, none of the candidates have addressed Tuesday night’s disruption.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

GOP Candidates Silent after Obama Criticizes Booing of Gay Soldier

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican presidential candidates were mostly quiet Sunday after a tongue lashing from President Obama about their failure to stick up for a soldier booed at a GOP debate because he was gay.

Only Herman Cain went on the record after Obama's scathing speech before the Human Rights Campaign annual dinner.

"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," the president told the crowd in reference to a recent Republican debate.

At the debate last month, an openly gay Army soldier asked on videotape, "Do you intend to circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?"

From the audience came a couple boos, but none of the candidate said anything about them.

"I happen to think that maybe they were booing the whole 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal more so than booing that soldier," Cain told ABC's Christiane Amanpour on This Week.

Cain was referring to the policy that has been lifted allowing gay members of the military to serve openly.

But the president, in full campaign mode, went after every Republican candidate.

"We don't believe in a small America.  We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's OK 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," he told the audience Saturday night.

Right after the debate, some Republicans said they didn't hear the boos, others said they weren't given time to respond.  Cain was asked on Sunday if he now regrets not rebuking the people who booed during the debate.

"I did not have that luxury, because I was not in control.  I was not the moderator," Cain said.

But Amanpour pressed the former Godfather's Pizza CEO, asking whether in retrospect he feels he should have said something.

"In retrospect, because of the controversy it has created and because of the different interpretations that it could have had, yes, that probably -- that would have been appropriate," he said.

ABC News contacted the other Republicans' campaigns about the president's combative chiding.  Only Michele Bachmann's campaign responded, but did not specifically address Obama's criticism.

"Michele honors the service of every man and woman in our armed forces," Bachmann campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said.  "As commander-in-chief, she will lead from the front and not put them in harm's way without a vital national interest and a clear mission."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep302011

House Dem Jared Polis Becomes First Openly Gay Parent in Congress

U.S. Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., became the first openly homosexual member of Congress to become a parent, as he and his domestic partner, Marlon Reis, announced the birth of their son, Caspian Julius, Friday.

The infant tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 12 ounces, and his length was not released. An emailed birth announcement declared: “Baby and parents are doing well, [and] baby has learned to cry already!”

Polis has not revealed whether Caspian was adopted or conceived through a surrogate pregnancy.

The announcement, which included a photo of the newborn, asked, “No gifts please, just nice thoughts for Caspian, humankind, the planet, and the universe!”

Polis, who is serving his second term in office, is one of four openly gay members currently serving in Congress.

Fellow House Democrats Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin are the other three openly homosexual lawmakers currently serving in the House of Representatives, although none have conceived any children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Senators Release ‘It Gets Better’ Video

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Thirteen democratic Senators released their contribution to the It Gets Better Project, a video campaign aimed at preventing suicide among bullied lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.

“In my view these videos are saving lives,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., in a press conference Thursday.

The video unveiled Wednesday features Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The senators began working on it about two months ago, said Coons.

Sen. Gillibrand states her support of gay marriage in the video.  Last week, New York became the largest state to legalize gay marriage.

“Every loving couple should have the right to be married, to be able to celebrate that love, that commitment with all of their friends and loved ones around,” says Gillibrand.

“Sexual orientation should not be a factor in a person's access to equality,” says Sen. Feinstein at another point in the video.

“And it certainly shouldn’t be the policy of the United States government,” adds Coons.

“It is a really an incredible moment for the campaign,” said Scott Zumwalt, project manager of the It Gets Better Project, “and something we couldn't imagine happening ten months ago.”

Since launching last September, the campaign has received more than 20,000 videos from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults. The project’s YouTube channel also includes videos from President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Chicago Cubs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Giuliani May Break Promise to Preside Over Gay Friend's Wedding

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former New York City Mayor -- and potential 2012 presidential candidate -- Rudy Giuliani allegedly is backing off a promise to preside over a gay friend's wedding, now that New York State has legalized same-sex marriage.

The friend, New York car dealer Howard Koeppel, made headlines in 2001 when he and his partner opened their home to Giuliani for six months while the mayor was going through a bitter divorce. During the time Giuliani was a house guest, Koeppel says he made a request. "I asked if he would marry us," the New York Post quotes Koeppel as saying.

"He said, 'Howard, I don't do anything that's not legal. If it becomes legal in New York, you'll be one of the first ones I would marry,'" Koeppel recalled.

Last week, New York became the sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage, but Koeppel says Giuliani hasn't been returning the many calls he began making as state lawmakers began considering the measure, according to The Post.

"It seems like a lot of people he was close to became persona non grata," Koeppel was quoted as saying.

Koeppel and his partner of nearly 20 years, Mark Hsiao, were married by a justice of the peace in Connecticut in May 2009 after same-sex marriage became legal in that state. This year, the couple became the parents of twin daughters with the help of a surrogate mom.

Giuliani reportedly skipped the 2009 service, after sending in an RSVP that he would attend. Koeppel says he now wants to repeat his vows in New York -- with Giuliani officiating. As a former mayor, Giuliani has the right to officiate at weddings.

A spokeswoman for Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment.

Giuliani, a Republican, was considered a fiscal conservative but moderate-to-liberal on social issues during his eight years as mayor. He has consistently opposed gay marriage but has supported civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

Giuliani is leaving the door open to running for president again in 2012 -- he's scheduled to visit New Hampshire July 14-15.

Giuliani's officiating at a same-sex marriage would likely hurt him with conservative voters, potentially ruining whatever chance he might have of winning the Republican nomination.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

GOP Hopeful Fred Karger Calls Republican Platform ‘Despicable’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Fred Karger has launched his long-shot Republican presidential bid with a unique distinction: He claims to be the first openly gay man to seek the presidency.

On Tuesday, Karger told ABC News’ Top Line about his challenges in “trying to change the Republican party to the Republican Party I grew up with.”

“The Republican Party, you know, and the party platform is just despicable.  It’s 27 pages of trying to drive people away,” said Karger, who worked on Republican presidential campaigns for much of his career before dedicating himself to activism for gay rights.

Karger said he’s gotten a warm welcome to the presidential field by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other party officials.  But he acknowledged some “bumps in the road,” such as Iowa GOP National Committeeman Steve Scheffler’s vow to “work overtime to help ensure that your political aspirations are aborted right here in Iowa.”

“The parties and the state parties have been very welcoming to me as the first openly gay candidate,” he said.  “I think that it’s important that it be -- that that barrier be broken by a Republican, because this is the Republican Party of old.”

Karger cited the party’s history, including Abraham Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves, and Theodore Roosevelt’s welcoming of African-Americans into his White House.

On the subject of history, Karger criticized his fellow presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, for saying that John Quincy Adams’ opposition to slavery qualifies him as a Founding Father who worked “tirelessly” to eliminate slavery. (The nation’s sixth president was just shy of his ninth birthday on July 4, 1776.)

“The compromise was counting black slaves in the South as three-fifths of a person.  Well, as a gay American I sometimes feel like that too,” Karger said.  “We need to correct this, and we need to correct the facts.  And I hope Michele Bachmann will be doing her homework.  And you know, she's kind of a phenomenon, but I look forward to debating her and some of the others and talking about real issues.”

And while he’s a candidate himself, Karger said he’s still not thrilled with the presidential field.

“I'm like a lot of the American public -- 70 percent of Republicans are not happy with the current field, and I guess that includes me,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Day After Afghan Troop Announcement, Obama Heads to Fort Drum

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The day after delivering his strategy to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, President Obama will visit troops at Fort Drum in upstate New York, which has sent thousands of soldiers to fight in Afghanistan.

The president will spend time with members of the elite 10th Mountain Division, one of the most frequently deployed divisions to Afghanistan. Obama will also meet privately with Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in combat. More than 1,500 U.S. service members have died in the war in Afghanistan.

There are currently 100,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan. Wednesday night, the president announced that starting next month, he is bringing 10,000 U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by the end of this year and another 23,000 by the end of next summer, several months earlier than originally anticipated.

Thursday evening Obama will pivot to campaign mode in New York City, where he will deliver remarks at three DNC fundraisers, including one to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender supporters.

The president will overnight in Pittsburgh, where on Friday he will deliver a speech on manufacturing and job creation from Carnegie Mellon University.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May102011

Jon Stewart Revives Rick Santorum's 'Google Problem'

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, who turned 53 on Tuesday, is trending high in the Google-sphere, but not for the reasons he’d like.

Daily Show host Jon Stewart revived Santorum’s so-called “Google problem” Monday night on his show, encouraging viewers to search ‘Rick Santorum’ and see what they find.

The top results are a less than flattering mix of links to web sites that associate his name with a sex act.

“Santorum might as well change his last name to lemon party,” joked Stewart.

The search results have been the fixation of gay rights advocates since 2003, when blogger Dan Savage mobilized online supporters to create a new definition for Santorum after he publicly compared gay sex to pedophilia and bestiality.

Using a network of cross links and by driving up “clicks,” the activists have succeeded in keeping their definition at the top of search returns.

“There's no better way to memorialize the Santorum scandal than by attaching his name to a sex act that would make his big, white teeth fall out of his big, empty head,” Savage said at the time.

Santorum, who has said he believes homosexuality will “undermine the fabric of our society,” has acknowledged the controversy but sought to downplay its significance.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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