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“As Maine Goes, So Goes The Nation?” Bull. Part One.

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This is Part I. You can read Part II here.

There’s much to be said about the stunning – and it was stunning – defeat of Maine’s gay marriage law. There’s more to be said about its implications on the bigger picture of marriage equality and the overall picture of gay civil rights. And I’m going to say it all. It will take two parts. Come back for part two!

First and foremost, unlike California, Protect Maine Equality did an outstanding job. Regardless of the results, since 2005 these folks have been working towards equality the right way, by going door to door, sharing personal stories, forming coalitions, and even working with religious groups. They should hold their heads up high.

So, we lost marriage in Maine by a five point spread. Many of us had expected to win by just as much. The problem is, what do we do now?

The folks over at The Washington Blade’s offices asked out loud, “Is it time to set aside marriage and make the more pragmatic push for civil unions?” (More on this in Part II.)

In “You want pity because of Maine? You won’t be getting it from me,” Alvin McEwen writes today,

“There will be no deux ex machina descending from the sky making everything right. There will be no addendums or loopholes. It’s a job that will have to accomplished the hard way because there is no other way.”

Cody Daigle, in “The Lesson in Losing,” writes,

“[W]e need to start thinking and acting like a real community. This morning, I saw angry missives and comments online from friends of mine over the results of Maine. But those same people, in the weeks leading up to the vote, weren’t talking about it or thinking about it or caring about it. What happens to gay couples in Maine affects gay couples in Idaho affects single gay men in Mississippi affects gay people, coupled or not, everywhere. We’re a community, and until we really start caring about what happens to each and every one of us, nothing will change for any of us. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in marriage or don’t want to be married — act for those in your community who do. Because we’ll stand up for your freedoms when the time comes.”

As usual, I agree with Daigle (full disclosure, Cody is a good friend.) And personally, I am sick to death, as I wrote in “Start Acting Like It,” of our anger when things like losing marriage happen, yet we’re indifferent every other day of the year?

“[D]oes the majority of the gay community really want marriage equality? And if we do, are we going to start acting like it?”

So, one year after Prop 8, my question is this: Were you mad last year after election day? Are you mad today? 365 days in between, what did you do to support the gay marriage cause? Did you donate your time? Money? Did you email your state and federal representatives? Did you write your president? Did you talk to others about the importance of marriage?

What did you do?

Because here’s the deal.

We lost. And this one hurts a lot, because Maine had a gay marriage law that yesterday got repealed. It’s not like there was a bill and it got voted down in the state legislature. It got passed. And a governor who was against it, signed it. So, we lost big.

And we know who to blame. And who not to blame. Do not, do not blame the people of Maine. They were subject to outside forces beyond their control. And, listening to the debate in their Legislature on gay marriage, I think they are a good people who deserve better treatment than they got from the Church and from NOM.

So, blame Maggie Gallagher’s National Organization for Marriage, for starters. She, along with her Executive Director, Brian Brown, poured cash, and hate, and fear, and lies into Maine. As Brian wrote today,

“We are the single largest donor to Stand for Marriage Maine. We gave nearly $1.8 million, emptying our bank account because of the serious needs in Maine… Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland provided invaluable leadership…”

Which brings me to my next point.

Blame the Roman Catholic Church. Separation of church and state, while the law in this country, is not enforced. The tax-free status religious organizations get is a trade-off, that requires them to not get involved in politics. Yet, time and again we see them thumb their noses at the U.S. government, and throw their cash at anti-gay measures around the country. It’s illegal, and it’s time something was done about it. America needs to revoke the tax-free status of any religious organization that gets involved in politics beyond the limits of the law.

The Roman Catholic Church’s Portland diocese sunk over $550,000 into this battle, yet is closing its own churches for lack of money. Go figure.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) supported the Maine effort with between $49,000 (reported here) and $200,000 (reported here.) HRC claims to have “made more than $280,000 in monetary and in-kind contributions.” All told, while the $200,000 figure is more likely the effective number, one has to ask, if THE leading LGBT organization spent only $200,000 in Maine, what did they think they were going to get? Maine, like California one year ago, should have been all-or-nothing. This Rumsfeldian battle-on-the-cheap didn’t work in Iraq, it didn’t work in California, and it didn’t work in Maine. When are we going to put everything we have into one issue and make damned sure we win?

Then there’s the DNC – the Democratic National Committee, who sent a blast email campaign to voters in Maine yesterday, asking them to come vote, but conveniently left off asking them to vote “No” on repealing gay marriage. Yes, that’s right. THE Democratic organization, in a Democratic state, with a Democratic Governor, and a Democratic Legislature which voted for and passed and signed an historic gay marriage bill didn’t ask its own members to support it.

Aside from the fact that tactically it’s just stupid – have your elected representatives stick their necks out for gay marriage, which they did – then don’t ask voters to support their decision, leaving them vulnerable? Yes, the DNC is stupid, arrogant, and hypocritical. Same sex marriage opponent, and DNC chairman Tim Kaine, I’m talking to you.

Which is why we need to stop blindly giving the DNC cash.

Now. President Obama. What to say about our “fierce advocate in chief?” (By the way, last night David Gergen said gays have a right to be upset with Obama. That was nice to hear, coming from him.) Well, while Obama is against gay marriage, he supports states rights on the subject. (More on that in Part II, too.) This was a state initiative. This was a Democratic initiative. Obama could have lent his support to this, but he chose not to. (I don’t know how much I can blame him. He’s taken a beating on healthcare, and I do want his attention there.)

But Obama could have mentioned Maine (and Washington) at the HRC dinner he graciously attended (no, that was not sarcastic) the night before the National Equality March. He didn’t. He also didn’t actively oppose Prop 8, so while no one’s surprised, he definitely loses the title of “fierce advocate.” I still support him overall, because he’s doing a better job than anyone else could have in these tough times, but he’s not in our corner. Not now, not then, not ever.

So, as I tweeted last night, “If we lose Maine tonight, what are you going to do about it tomorrow?”

What are YOU going to do about it?

More in Part II.


Editorial note: Originally, this piece included the paragraph below, which I still stand by, based on information reportedly given to the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

Along with the Human Rights Campaign, who swooped in to support the No On 1 campaign with a whopping – ready for this? $49,000. Holy Cow! How’d they scrounge up that much dough? Why, that’s just 14% of Joe Solmonese’s $338,400 salary. Yet, the emails I get from them make it sound like they really supported the effort there. Not with your donations, they didn’t.

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News

Stefanik Was Once ‘Laser Focused on Electing Santos’ – Now She Blames Voters for Electing Him as She Backs Away

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One of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), used her reputation and geographic proximity to help get fellow New York Republican George Santos elected to Congress. But now, as her donors and his express anger at being misled and lied to, and ahead of what appears to be a likely federal investigation and possible prosecution against the freshman GOP lawmaker, Stefanik is blaming voters for electing him to Congress: “Ultimately voters make this decision,” she said Tuesday.

Stefanik is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, a role she was first elected to when the now former Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, was thrown out of GOP leadership for telling the truth about the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump. Stefanik was re-elected to her role after the November election.

Amid Santos announcing on Tuesday he is temporarily recusing himself from the two committees he was appointed to, Stefanik was asked if she regretted supporting his candidacy.

Indeed, one of the top reasons Santos was elected was Stefanik’s endorsement – and all the donor money that came with it.

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“Stefanik’s team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress – more than just about any other race in the country,” a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns before the midterms told CNN. “Another donor, who attended a fundraising luncheon with Stefanik and Santos, confirmed to CNN through a representative that ‘he donated to George Santos because of Elise Stefanik’s endorsement.'”

It wasn’t just her endorsements. It appears Stefanik took great interest in getting Santos elected. CNN also reported that a source “said that a top political aide for Stefanik was involved in campaigning for Santos. Multiple sources told CNN that aide was closely advising Santos’ campaign and involved in hiring people.”

Stefanik’s spokesperson denied the allegations.

In July, Santos tweeted that Stefanik “has been one of my strongest backers and closest friends. I fully stand with her vote today as she stood up for civil rights. I look forward to serving alongside her when I’m elected to Congress in November.”

In fact, this was the banner atop Santos’ Twitter account for a very long time, up until recently:

Here is Stefanik tweeting her “major announcement” – her endorsement of Santos – on August 11, 2001, more than a year before Election Day.

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“Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03. @Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support!”

And in May of last year: “WOW! Great lunch event for @Santos4Congress! We raised over $100,000 to help George FLIP #NY03 George has my complete and total endorsement and come November, New Yorkers will send George to Congress! #SaveNewYork #SaveAmerica”

She literally told voters that electing George Santos to Congress will “Save New York” and “Save America.”

On Tuesday, Stefanik told voters something very different: it’s their fault they voted for him, she said, taking no responsibility for her endorsements.

“Like all of my colleagues, particularly in New York State, I supported George Santos as the nominee, and the people of his district voted to elect him,” she told reporters – not once mentioning there was no Republican primary and Santos automatically became the Republican party’s nominee.

READ MORE: Listen: Stefanik-Endorsed GOP Candidate Praised ‘Inspirational’ Adolf Hitler as ‘The Kind of Leader We Need Today’

“Ultimately voters make this decision about who they elect to Congress,” Stefanik declared, wholly removing herself, her endorsements, and any possible assistance she or her campaign may have given to Santos or his campaign.

See the tweets and video above or at this link.

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BREAKING NEWS

Santos Recuses Himself From Committees Amid Possible Criminal Investigation

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Embattled freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), in what is the first time he has taken any steps to acknowledge the depths of political and now possibly criminal challenges he faces, says he will recuse himself from his committee assignments until his ethics issues have been resolved.

Santos also told his Republican colleagues of his plans on Tuesday, NBC News reports. Santos is on the Science and Small Business committees.

The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, who has provided extensive reporting on the Republican frequently called a “serial liar,” adds that the Santos’ announcement came after a meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“With all signs pointing to an active federal criminal investigation into his campaign finance activity, Santos has ‘voluntarily’ declined—after meeting last night with Kevin McCarthy—to stay off of committees, as Republicans try to sideline Ilhan Omar,” Sollenberger reports.

READ MORE: DOJ Signals It Is Conducting a Criminal Investigation of George Santos

Sollenberger broke the news that Santos, or his campaign, amended his FEC filing to indicate $625,000 in “personal” loans to his campaign were not actually from his personal funds.

Republicans are trying to keep U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of their regular, prime targets, from taking her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker McCarthy has already blocked Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, invoking his ability to do so because it is a Select committee and subject to the Speaker’s decisions.

MSNBC reported the breaking news on-air. Watch below or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.

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2024 Fundraising Fail: Trump Took in Less Money After Declaring Run for President Than Before

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Donald Trump, the candidate who in 2015 vowed he would self-fund his presidential campaign, only to turn his White House run into a never-ending fundraising operation, is having trouble raising money.

“I don’t need anybody’s money,” Trump said when he launched his campaign in June of 2015 – despite quietly accepting over $14 million in the months after.

The ex-president, under numerous criminal investigations and facing civil court cases, now is “strapped for campaign cash,” NBC News reveals in an exclusive report. The embattled and disgraced one-term president who remains his party’s top choice, took in less money in the six weeks after he officially launched his third attempt to enter the Oval Office than he did in the six weeks before his mid-November announcement.

Trump is now revamping his fundraising machine and hiring a new company, Campaign Inbox, “to solicit the small-dollar donor set.”

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The former president had built a massive fundraising database but decided to launch in November, which puzzled many experts. Some believe he did so in an attempt to evade any possible Dept. of Justice prosecutions. Even as far back as July those who know Trump predicted he would not only run for president again but launch his campaign early – to try to escape justice.

All this points to Trump returning to Facebook, if only to revive his “cash-strapped” campaign.

“Almost 50% of Republican donors log in to Facebook every single day,”Republican digital fundraising consultant Eric Wilson told NBC News, citing data from a survey connected to a nonprofit group he runs. “So if you are not able to reach those donors, you’re just at a huge fundraising disadvantage.”

Image: Shirley Preston/Shutterstock

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