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



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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House Republicans Tied to J6 Admit Goals: Defeat Debt Ceiling Agreement, Kill Economy, Help Trump Win in 2024



Some members of the most far-right group of House Republicans, the Freedom Caucus, admitted Tuesday their goals are to defeat the debt ceiling agreement, thereby killing the economy, which some of them believe would then help Donald Trump win back the White House in 2024.

Many of the House Freedom Caucus members are tied to the January 6, 2021 insurrection, by various methods, including supporting efforts to overturn state elections and spreading false claims about the results of the 2020 presidential election.

U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) in Tuesday’s Freedom Caucus’s press conference pointed to the portion of the debt ceiling agreement, brokered by President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which says the nation’s debt limit will not have to be raised until 2025. Outraged, Congressman Bishop admitted Republicans had wanted to have another debt ceiling fight next year, which would, he claimed, help a Republican presidential candidate win the White House.

Surrounded by far-right Republican Representatives Byron Donalds, Lauren Boebert, Chip Roy, Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry, former Freedom Caucus chair Andy Biggs, and others, Bishop angrily complained, “And what does the device of two years do?”

READ MORE: ‘Sure Wasn’t by Drag Queens’: DeSantis Slammed for Ignoring Florida Mass Shooting That Included Children

“It removes the issue from the national conversation during the presidential election to come. How could you more successfully kneecap any Republican President than to take that issue out of his or her hands?” Bishop asked, fully and freely admitting the GOP is trying to use the levers of government, and the U.S. and even global economy, to put a Republican back in the White House, regardless of cost to the American people.

As he spoke Rep. Boebert’s head was nodding in agreement.

Sirius XM host and journalist Dean Obeidallah blasted the North Carolina Republican: “GOP Dan Bishop says quiet part out loud: MAGA wanted to use debt ceiling in 2024 to tank economy to help Trump win.”

Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry, who the Select Committee on the January 6 Attack reportedly saw as “central” to its investigation, also spoke at Tuesday’s press conference.

Rep. Perry tried to spin conspiracy theories, including by claiming that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has not been telling the truth on when America’s cash will run out.

“We’ve asked for Janet Yellen’s figures. And with all due respect, she comes with zero credibility to the discuss,” Perry claimed, falsely. “We don’t believe her figures, we’ve asked to see her figures.”

And he admitted Freedom Caucus members “will be absolutely opposed to the deal and will do everything in our power to stop it.”

Calling it a “bad deal…that we all campaigned to put an end to,” Freedom Caucus member Lauren Boebert also spoke at the press conference, declaring, “There is nothing real in this bill to enforce. In short, tomorrow’s bill is a bunch of fake news and fake talking points.”

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) called the debt ceiling deal “crap.”

“Washington is doing it again,” Rep. Donalds declared, apparently attacking his own party since Republicans have the majority of the House seats.

READ MORE: McCarthy Says GOP Put Work Requirements in Debt Ceiling Bill for a Child ‘Sitting on the Couch Collecting Welfare’

“While you were celebrating Memorial Day, all of our men and women who gave their lives for this great nation, and you were spending time with your family and your friends, this town was cutting another crap deal that’s going to put you more in debt with no real changes whatsoever.”

“Washington is lying, again,” said Donalds.

Republican turned Democrat, attorney Ron Filipkowski mocked the extremist GOP lawmakers.

“The Freedom Caucus members just climbed out of their clown car, and are upset that their cult leader won’t be able to run for president on a crashed economy,” he tweeted.

“Wait,” tweeted Seth Kaplan, the managing editor for Fox affiliate stations in the Twin Cities. “He wants to help ensure a catastrophic economic situation just so it can be a talking point during the 2024 election? Please tell me I’m misinterpreting.”

Earlier this month journalist Jay Bookman observed, “So basically, the debt ceiling crisis is just another version of the Jan. 6 insurrection: Give us what we want, or we’re going to tear the whole damn thing down.”

Reps. Scott Perry, Dan Bishop, Byron Donalds, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, and other Freedom Caucus members earned a “very poor” grade by the Republican Accountability Project, which has been tracking Republicans in the wake of the 2021 insurrection.

Among the criteria for earning a “very poor” grade include signing the Supreme Court amicus brief “that sought to nullify votes cast in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia,” (Boebert and Donalds were not in Congress at the time to sign to that brief.)

Also, objecting “to the certification of Electoral College votes from at least one state,” making “public statements that cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” voting “to hold Trump accountable via impeachment or conviction,” voting “to create an independent commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection,” and voting “to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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‘Sure Wasn’t by Drag Queens’: DeSantis Slammed for Ignoring Florida Mass Shooting That Included Children



A Memorial Day mass shooting 20 miles north of Miami left nine people, including children as young as one, wounded, yet Governor Ron DeSantis hasn’t said a word about it publicly, leading many on social media to blast the Florida Republican who for months has been highly-focused on his presidential campaign.

“Nine people were wounded Monday evening when gunfire erupted along a beachside promenade in Hollywood, Florida, sending people frantically running for cover along the crowded beach on Memorial Day,” CBS News reports. “The shooting happened on the Hollywood Oceanfront Broadwalk near a convenience store, a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream store and a Subway sandwich shop.”

Police continue to search for “two people they believe were involved in the shooting. The department released the surveillance video alongside still images of the individuals and asked that anyone who recognizes them contact police.”

“Several children were among those injured. Police spokesperson Deanna Bettineschi said four children between the ages of 1 and 17 were hit, along with five adults between 25 and 65,” CBS News adds.

Governor DeSantis, who is hosting a major event in Iowa Tuesday, has not said a word on his Twitter accounts, has not posted a statement on his government website, and it does not appear he has spoken to reporters about the mass shooting.

READ MORE: McCarthy Says GOP Put Work Requirements in Debt Ceiling Bill for a Child ‘Sitting on the Couch Collecting Welfare’

The governor’s official press secretary did, however, take time to attack California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who noted on social media that DeSantis recently signed a permit less carry bill into law, which will further expand the number of guns on the streets.

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom was fact-checked by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spokesman after he blamed the Memorial Day shooting in Hollywood, Florida, on laws DeSantis signed that are not yet in effect,” Fox News reported. “Newsom reacted to reports of the shooting on social media, blaming gun violence on a bill DeSantis signed in April that eliminates the requirement for an individual to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm.”

DeSantis’ government spokesperson Jeremy Redfern, on what he says is his “personal” Twitter account, tweeted: “Hi Gavin, How does a law that doesn’t take effect until July 1st change this outcome?”

But Governor Newsom’s remarks are entirely factual.

“DeSantis signed a permit-less carry bill in April that removes requirements for:
-background checks

Until our leaders have the courage to stop bowing down to the NRA and enact common sense gun safety this kind of senseless violence will continue,” he wrote via Twitter.

Meanwhile, many on social media are blasting DeSantis for ignoring the mass shooting.

“9 people were shot in Hollywood, Florida and it sure as hell wasn’t by Drag Queens,” one social media user wrote, referring to DeSantis’ attacks on drag queens and the the LGBTQ community, and making clear drag queens aren’t a danger.

“Ron DeSantis had laws changed so he could stay Governor AND run for POTUS,” another social media user said, accurately. “MEANWHILE he ignores what is happening in Florida. He hasn’t said ONE WORD about this mass shooting (a 1 year old got shot) in HIS STATE this weekend. Ron, I think you should leave.”

In response to a news report on the shooting, another user simply said, “Thank you Ron DeSantis.”

“To all the Ron DeSantis supporters out there. 9 people were just shot and not one word from your precious governor,” wrote another on Twitter.


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McCarthy Says GOP Put Work Requirements in Debt Ceiling Bill for a Child ‘Sitting on the Couch Collecting Welfare’



Extremist House Republicans are furious how President Joe Biden was able to craft a debt ceiling deal without giving up much, but according to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, GOP lawmakers were able to put work requirements into the legislation that will require families using government assistance to put their “able bodied” children to work in order to continue receiving benefits.

“We also did something different,” McCarthy, trying to sell GOP voters on the bill, told Fox News Tuesday morning. “In this family we may have a child, able-bodied, not married, no kids, but he’s sitting on the couch collecting welfare.”

“We’re gonna put work requirements on that individual, so he’s going to have work requirements, he’s gonna get a job, and he’s gonna make the life easier,” McCarthy said (video below).

Fox News’ Chad Pergram also published McCarthy’s remarks via Twitter.

Last week McCarthy appeared to be trying to get the general public to accept GOP work requirements, telling reporters they would be “only for people who are able-bodied with no dependents.”

READ MORE: ‘Republicans Got Outsmarted by a President Who Can’t Find His Pants’: GOP Congresswoman Throws Debt Ceiling Tantrum

“I don’t think it’s right that we borrow money from China to pay somebody that has no dependents, able-bodied, to sit on a couch.”

HuffPost last week explained the GOP’s “work requirements contribute a tiny amount to the overall spending reduction Republicans have proposed, but McCarthy has highlighted them as a top priority. And now the couch surfer is a symbol of that priority.”

“The changes would apply to Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the much smaller Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The new rules would deny benefits to some childless adults without disabilities unless they work, volunteer or enroll in training for at least 20 hours per week. (SNAP and TANF already have work requirements along those lines, but Republicans would make them stricter.)”

Last week The Lever reported McCarthy “borrowed his punishing work requirement proposal from [a] conservative think tank pushing to loosen child labor laws.”

“McCarthy’s work requirement proposal and his gripes about dependency come straight from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), a conservative think tank that recently made headlines for helping secretly draft several state bills to roll back child labor laws,” The Lever reported.

Watch McCarthy’s remarks from Tuesday below or at this link.


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