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Gay, Inc. Executive Blames LGBT Advocacy Groups For Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Failures



Offering analysis, inside information, Monday-morning quarterbacking, and, yes, blame, four high-level insiders of the LGBT political movement convened in Manhattan’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center Thursday night and spoke to a standing room-only house of hundreds for almost two hours. Political strategist Richard Socarides moderated, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Where Are We, and How Did We Get Here,” with panelists Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, author Dr. Nathaniel Frank, and the Center for American Progress’ Winnie Stachelberg.

Winnie Stachelberg

Winnie Stachelberg

It was clear that Stachelberg, the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, and who reportedly had a great deal to do with the controversial DADT repeal compromise language, was the Obama-apologist and blame-thrower in the room.

Saying, “Two years, not much has happened,” Socarides, who served as chief advisor to Clinton on gay civil rights from 1997-99, was rebuffed by Stachelberg, who claimed, “We’re closer than ever to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When Socarides asked the panel what the chances were of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011, if repeal fails in this year’s lame duck session, Nathaniel Frank opted to quote Rep. Barney Frank (no relation) and replied, “Zero.” Stachelberg, who later said, “I’m a Yankee fan. I’m an optimist,” said, “Very, very remote.”

Stachelberg’s optimism goes only so far. When asked about the current state of repeal, Stachelberg says, “You wouldn’t get sixty. You’d get fifty-four, fifty-six or -seven.”

But perhaps the most striking revelation of the evening was Stachelberg’s own indictment of what is commonly referred to as, “Gay, Inc.,” the cadre of professional LGBT advocacy groups, including her former employer, HRC. The title of the evening was, indeed, “How Did We Get Here?,” and Stachelberg certainly had a rather controversial take.

Socarides, who experienced gay rights challenges as part of the Clinton White House, posed the question, “Why did the Obama administration wait so long to get started [on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”]?” Stachelberg offered that there was “disagreement from the advocacy community as to why a study was needed,” and claimed, “had advocacy groups in January of 2009 said, ‘Let’s get a study together,’ we’d be further ahead.” Nathaniel Frank immediately reminded the panel that there had already been twenty-two studies commissioned by the military on the subject of gays in the military.

Now, think about that for a moment. Then read Stachelberg’s bio:

“Winnie Stachelberg is the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining American Progress, she spent 11 years with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization. In January 2005, Stachelberg was appointed to the newly created position of vice president of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Previously, she was HRC’s political director, initiating and leading the expansion of HRC’s legislative, political and electoral strategies. Before joining HRC, Stachelberg worked at the Office of Management and Budget.”

So, Stachelberg is blaming gay “advocacy groups” for not advancing the need for yet another study, after there have already been twenty-two, as the reason “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is about to fail?

Stachelberg has held top-level, senior positions in the very advocacy groups she is now blaming, and that many in the LGBT community hold responsible for having attained not a single goal in “the gay agenda,” namely, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA,) and enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA.)

Frank, renowned author of, Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, said, “the idea that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal needed to be studied is political cover.”

So, let’s be clear here. A senior “Gay, Inc.” executive wants to fall on her sword, giving the perception that LGBT advocacy groups have the power to make things happen, but failed, thus protecting politicians? While I don’t doubt that some key LGBT advocacy groups have clearly failed, that seems extraordinarily generous in my estimation.

I think it’s clear that “Gay, Inc.” thinks it wields more power than it actually does, and in the face of mounting public frustration over its repeated record of failure, is, by Stachelberg’s statements, willing to prop up the politicians even at the cost of their own futures.

Given the dismal record of the current Senate and the current administration, and LGBT advocacy groups on critical LGBT issues, the question is, “Why?”

Jonathan Capehart

Jonathan Capehart

Jonathan Capehart, who has been supportive of this administration, told the audience that President Obama in 2009 had two meetings with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and at one point, looked at the Secretary and said of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” “You know this is un-American?”

Capehart believes that Obama deserves credit for getting Gates and Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, on board with repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and with creating the climate within the senior ranks of the military that will allow it.

Capehart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and MSNBC Contributor, also says of the public’s level of frustration with the route “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal has gone, that the Obama administration has “always gotten it.”

“The impression I get is they know the frustration. They understand the frustration. They appreciate the frustration.”

Stachelberg added, “It is clear to me that the administration understands the importance of getting this done now. Very much a difference now.”

The panel essentially blamed Senator Reid for the way he brought the National Defense Authorization Act to the floor, with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal rider attached, and the DREAM Act also attached at the last minute, as the reason the Senate voted down the measure in September.

Once the panel’s discussion was over, the floor was opened to questions.

(At this point I must say, on a personal note, I was extraordinarily proud. The only questions came from Tanya Domi, a regular contributor to The New Civil Rights Movement, and from Justin Elzie and Scott Wooledge, both of whom have written for The New Civil Rights Movement in the past. They were impressive, extremely knowledgeable, and insightful.)

Domi, an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Columbia and former U.S. Army Captain who in the late 1990’s was the legislative director and military freedom initiative director at the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, stood and commandingly said, “I am stunned that this discussion did not include the fact that we are in a time of war.” She went on to say that the president has the right during a time of war, due to the military powers act, to choose any category of personnel (“even blonds,”) and stop all discharges.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Stachelberg answered that Obama’s lawyers are telling him he does not have that right. (A thought flashed through my mind at this point that I wish Bush 43 had had Obama’s lawyers. Perhaps we wouldn’t have waterboarded.)

Then Justin Elzie spoke, identifying himself as the first Marine to come out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” author of the upcoming book, Playing By the Rules, as well as someone who has written extensively on the subject of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” emceed the Washington, D.C. May 2 rally at the White House which Howard Dean showed up unannounced, and has worked with GetEQUAL, “so this isn’t my first trip around the barbecue.” Having established his credibility, Elzie responded to Capehart’s assertion that if Obama had executed a stop-loss (executive order) early in his presidency that a “Palin presidency” or future president could come back and undo it was a “red-herring.”

Elzie stated that a stop-loss order early in Obama’s presidency would have negated any issue of a problem “in foxholes and showers,” and would have taken that argument away from those opponents of repeal after having LGBT servicemembers serving openly for two years, in which no enormous consequences would have happened, stating no president would have been able to undo that after “Pandora’s box had been opened.” He also responded to the assertion that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal couldn’t be done overnight, reminding the panel that the U.K. switched overnight into allowing openly-gay service.  Elzie also responded to an assertion that Obama, due to long-standing tradition, had to appeal the Log Cabin Republicans’ “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” court case by indicating the National Law Journal had written there were thirteen cases the Department of Justice under Bush and Obama never appealed.

The panel, needless to say, had little to offer in way of response, but Stachelberg did say that how the bill comes to the floor, and how the GOP is involved in the process, is up to Senator Reid.

Wooledge, who himself has worked as an activist for LGBT rights and has also written extensively about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” reminded the panel that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bill isn’t actually even a repeal bill, which Senator Carl Levin has even admitted. What it is, what we’ve been fighting for, (thanks, by the way to Stachelberg and “Gay, Inc.,”) is a bill that puts the how and when of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal one hundred percent in the hands of the military.

Wooledge has an excellent point. As he says, this legislation is discretionary, it’s “not enduring policy.”

Socarides, Capehart, Frank, and even Stachelberg did a good job of presenting and defending recent history and facts as they saw them. I would add that Domi, Elzie, and Wooledge had at least as much to offer on the longer side of history, and deeper, more pro-active facts.

All images © David Wallace and used by permission.

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Rick Scott’s IVF Pledge Using His Own Grandkids Slammed as ‘Lie’ by Democrats



U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), running for re-election and running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican Leader, has put out a new seven-figure ad that uses his children and grandchildren as he pledges to protect in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but Democrats in the Sunshine State are accusing him of lying.

“My wife Ann and I have two daughters and seven perfect grandkids. Each is a precious gift from God. But sometimes families need help. Millions of babies have come into this world from IVF, in-vitro fertilization. In fact, our youngest daughter’s receiving an IVF treatment right now, hoping to expand her family. She and I both agree IVF must be protected. For our family, for every family,” Senator Scott says in his latest ad he’s also posted to social media (below).

Democrats are calling Sen. Scott out for what they say is a lie.

On Thursday, Scott voted against the Right to IVF Act, Democratic legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who blasted him on Friday: “You literally voted against my bill to protect IVF yesterday.”

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On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked Duckworth’s bill in a 48-47 vote. Only two Republicans, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats for the legislation.

“Rick Scott voted against protecting access to IVF — a miracle treatment that has allowed millions of Americans to start families,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement that also includes his voting record and statements on IVF and other issues including abortion. “Scott has made it crystal clear that he will stop at nothing to rip away personal decisions from women and their families — and it will cost him his Senate seat.”

“Scott previously blocked legislation to protect IVF treatment that was introduced in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that stored embryos have the same legal protections as children,” the Florida Democratic Party statement also reads. “Scott is now trying to cover up his anti-IVF record by touting an ’empty, symbolic’ resolution that would do nothing to actually protect IVF and spending millions to lie to Floridians about his phony support for IVF.”

The Florida Phoenix last week reported, “Scott, a Republican, will likely face former South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. Both candidates must get through their respective party primary elections in August.”

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“Mucarsel-Powell has been relentless in criticizing Scott’s record on abortion rights. Last week, her campaign issued a statement noting that the Scott had received an “A+” rating from Students for Life Action, an anti-abortion organization that opposes IVF.”

Political consultant Dana Houle observed, “If you’re running ads trying to convince people you’re not opposed to IVF (which in effect he is, since he voted against protecting it) you’re in pretty big trouble. It’s crazy to think that it’s likely that one of the decisive events of the 2024 campaign occurred in Alabama.”

That also appears to be the position of Florida Democratic Party executive director Phillip Jerez, who responded to Scott’s ad by asking, “Didn’t you vote AGAINST the IVF bill in the Senate yesterday?”

“Rick Scott is now putting up this 7-figure ad because he needs to work OVERTIME to lie to Floridians,” Jerez added. “He’s never won an election by more than 1% and never in a presidential year. Rick Scott is in trouble.”

David Simon, the well-known author, journalist, and screenwriter known for his colorful language, also responded to Sen. Scott: “Shitheel, you voted against the bill to protect IVF and then ran out to tweet this horseshit the next day. Even by our American standards of grifting, empty political hacks, this is wondrous.”

See Sen. Scott’s ad above or at this link.

RELATED: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

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Right Wing Justices Rule Ban on Gun Accessory Used in Major Mass Shooting Unlawful



In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, an accessory used in America’s most-deadly mass shooting, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

“The Supreme Court just effectively legalized machine guns,” is the headline of Ian Millhiser’s report at Vox. He says Friday’s ruling “effectively legalizes civilian ownership of automatic weapons.”

“Bump stocks increase an AR-15’s rate of fire from 180 rounds per minute to 400-800 rounds per minute,” explained Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, in response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. “They inflict mass carnage by allowing the gunman to shoot automatically, without pulling the trigger. Yet the Supreme Court declares that they do not create a ‘machinegun.’ ”

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Legal and gun experts might delve in to the mechanics of what makes a gun a gun, what makes a machine gun a machine gun, add in the conservative justices’ “textualism” and “originalism” theories where words are supposed to only mean what they meant when the Constitution, or, in this case, a law was written, but as Stern and Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman discussed (social media post below), the Supreme Court appears, they say, to have interpreted the plain language of words differently than their plain meaning to reach the conclusion they did:

Indeed, as senior advisor to the nonprofit organization Court Accountability and self-described “lapsed lawyer” Mike Sacks noted, in her dissent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined by liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Sacks adds, “Sotomayor calls out *every* *single* *one* *of* *her* *Republican* *colleagues* for abandoning their textualist ‘principle,’ in a paragraph that concludes, “Today, the majority forgets that principle and substitutes its own view of what constitutes a “machinegun” for Congress’s.”

Berkeley professor of public policy and former Cabinet Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “Koch-backed groups called on SCOTUS to overturn the federal bump stock ban. Clarence Thomas secretly attended Koch fundraising events, but of course didn’t recuse from this case — he wrote the majority opinion. Our nation’s highest court is beyond compromised.”

NBC News reported in December of 2018 that Donald Trump “had urged the federal government to ban bump stocks this past spring following a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, the device gained notoriety when a lone gunman killed 59 people and injured at least 527 others attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, had 22 semi-automatic rifles and 14 of them were equipped with bump stocks. They allowed him to fire the rifles continuously with a single pull of the trigger, resulting in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.”

That shooting to this day remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern day history.

See the social media posts above or at this link.

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‘Pyongyang in the Rotunda’: GOP Red Carpet Rollout for Trump’s DC Trip Likened to North Korea



Donald Trump’s first return to Capitol Hill since the violent and deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection he fomented elicited responses of celebratory embrace, near-coronation, and a whitewashing of history from House and Senate Republicans and some of the mainstream media. That has critics sounding the alarm, likening their remarks to those of the subjects of authoritarian dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Trump is the Republican Party’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, a convicted felon awaiting sentencing who remains criminally indicted and out on bail in three other jurisdictions, an adjudicated rapist and fraudster who has been credibly accused by at least 18 to 23 or more women of varying degrees of sexual misconduct including harassment, assault, and rape, who allegedly had sex with a Playboy Bunny, and a porn star, the latter just four months after his third and current wife had given birth to their four-month old son.

He is a one-term, twice impeached ex-president who made over 30,000 “false or misleading claims” during his four years in the Oval Office, whose “inept and insufficient” response was in part responsible for about 40% of the COVID-19 pandemic deaths in the U.S., according to a February 2021 study that deemed them preventable.

And as of today, Donald Trump is 78 years old, and the subject of a New Yorker column published Friday alleging “age-related diminishment of a candidate.”

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The ex-president met with House Republicans Thursday morning at the same restaurant where a pipe bomb was found outside on January 6, 2021. It’s just a seven-minute walk from the halls of Congress, where many of those same lawmakers who were jovially dining with and cheering on Trump, had huddled, hunkered-down, and fled through that centuries-old symbol of American democracy, afraid for their lives as supporters of the then-Commander-in-Chief – some of whom have said in court documents they believed were acting under his instructions – attacked the U.S. Capitol building and police, used the American flag as a spear, defecated on the walls, broke windows, damaged, destroyed, and stole U.S. Government property, hunted for the Democratic Speaker of the House, calling her by name, and hunted for the Republican Vice President, chanting their threats to “hang Mike Pence,” in a coordinated effort to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election he had lost by over seven million votes, and 74 Electoral College votes.

None of that matters now to the people’s elected representatives of the Republican Party in the House and Senate.

U.S. Senator, venture capitalist, and former “Never Trumper,” J.D. Vance (R-OH) on Thursday, walking in Washington, D.C. after he and nearly all of the Republican Senators met with Donald Trump and gave him a 30-second standing ovation, told reporters the GOP has absolved Trump of guilt and responsibility for the deadly insurrection three years ago.

“Well look, I think no real Republican with any credibility in the party is still blaming him for January the 6th. Frankly, some of his critics were in the room (Thursday) and were supportive and are supportive. So I think it’s a good thing and the Republican Party’s in a good place.”

After House Republicans had breakfast with Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, criticized for apparently not remembering Congress is a co-equal brach of the U.S. government and Donald Trump is no longer a leader of any branch of government, glowingly bragged the ex-president “said I’m doing a very good job.”

Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for a Democratic U.S. Congressman, blasted Senate Republicans after they met with Trump, saying they “just rolled the red carpet out and welcomed him back with smiles and handshakes.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

He posted a photo of Trump warmly shaking hands with Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who reportedly had not spoken to Trump since before the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S Capitol, and on that day declared him “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection.

Journalist and Public Notice founder Aaron Rupar posted a “supercut” of Republicans responding to Trump’s visit, also likening their embrace to how subjects speak of dictators.

Award-winning Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall praised Rupar and blasted Republicans: “For all the ‘triumphant returns’ and ‘Trumps flexes’ and all the rest I don’t think anyone beside @atrupar really captured it. This was Pyongyang in the Rotunda. The maniacal clapping in unison, MTG almost breaking down in tears cuz Trump smiled at her. Total North Korea vibe.”

Critics are slamming not only House and Senate Republicans, but the mainstream media’s coverage, especially a social media post by the Associated Press, which declared Trump’s return to D.C. “triumphant,” a term often reserved for a conquering or undefeated hero.

Veteran journalist and D.C. Bureau Chief of Mother Jones, David Corn, co-author of the 2018 book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” criticized the AP’s post, saying: “Sounds like a North Korean report.”

Award-winning journalist Steve Silberman called the AP’s post, “an instant candidate for the Museum of American Fascism.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Buttigieg on Martha-Ann Alito: Flags Symbolizing Love vs. Insurrection Are Different

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