In a hotly-fought battle by everyone — except the actual candidates — Jewish Democrat AssemblymanÂ David Weprin lost to Roman Catholic retired media executiveÂ Robert Turner in a special election to fill the House seat vacated by now former Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned amid a sex scandal. The AP called the vote just minutes before midnight Tuesday for Turner, 53%-47%. The New York City district, NY-9, is populated by a strong Jewish and Latino constituency.
The race was hotly contested, but both Weprin and Turner were lackluster and pawns in a game of homophobic, racist, and religious bigotry that had nothing to do with the issues the winner, now, Turner, will face as a Congressman.
In a surprising turn of events, fueled many say by Maggie Gallagher’s NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, a group of 40 Rabbis came out in support of Turner, claiming that a vote for Weprin violated Jewish law, as the Orthodox Democrat had voted in favor of New York’s same-sex marriage bill that became law earlier this summer. In point of fact, it appears the Rabbis act is a violation of IRS law, and should be investigated immediately.
Pundits will look at this race and decide it represents the shape of things to come, and call it a referendum on:
- President Obama
- Same-sex marriage
- Weiner’s sex scandal
- The economy
- The weather
Julie Bolcer at The Advocate put it best:
“Despite decades of Democratic control in the district, David Weprin lost a special congressional election in New York that hinged on the economy and dissatisfaction with national politics. The shocking result means that voters will continue to hear about same-sex marriage, even if evidence suggests the issue played no significant role in the race.”
“The upset appears likely to raise questions about the potential for marriage equality support to pose a political liability, and also about the willingness of opponents to press the issue even when polling shows a majority of voters preoccupied with other concerns. While some answers remain in flux just hours after the election, the initial analysis suggests that discussions about marriage equality will persist, so long as opponents have anything to do with it.”
â€œThey have a microphone and a good loudspeaker and they will claim that they had an impact,â€ said Ken Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College, about the contribution of marriage equality opponents. â€œAbsent any systemic exit polling, I think there will be no hard evidence to support that claim. It just flies in the face of everything we know about voting to think that views on marriage equality would trump votes on the issue of the economy when there is a high level of unemployment.â€
Remember too that former New York City iconic mayor Ed Koch, also Jewish, also a Democrat, and, by many accounts — though neither acknowledged nor denied — gay, came out in support of Turner. So did the virulently homophobic New York State Senator and Reverend RubÃ©n DÃaz, who said he “thanks God” for giving him the opportunity to record robocalls for Turner, via his partners in hate, NOM, the National Organization For Marriage.
“In the robo-call, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage and recorded in Spanish, Diaz denounces Weprin for his vote for same-sex marriage in June of this year,” reports The Weekly Standard.
“‘David Weprin betrayed New York families when he voted to impose same sex marriage’, Diaz says, according to a translation. ‘Weprin voted to impose gay marriage against the wishes of our community. Worse, he refused to allow the people of New York to decide this issue by allowing us to vote on marriage, as voters in 31 other states have been able to do. Our families face terrible consequences because of David Weprin. Join me, Democratic state senator Ruben Diaz, in supporting Bob Turner for Congress on September 13’.”
The Standard adds, “A poll released Sunday night by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed that a plurality of voters in the district oppose same-sex marriage–45% say it should be illegal, 41% say legal, and 14% aren’t sure. While 29% of all likely voters in the district said the issue of same-sex marriage is ‘very important’ in ‘deciding who to vote for for Congress,’ 38% of Hispanic voters said the issue is ‘very important’ to them.”
Village Voicewriter and Brooklyn resident Steven Thrasher — whose moniker is remarkably appropriate — writes, “Politicians who are on the fence about coming out for marriage equality will undoubtedly take note of NOM’s success with a seat which should have been a cakewalk for the Democrats.”Wiser heads than ours can probably argue that there were larger forces at play than simply marriage equality.”Still, judging from the stream in our (extremely) littleÂ slice of the twitterverse, NY-9 was all about gay marriage, Weprin’s vote, and NOM’s vow to take him on.”Lost on Thrasher is a highly-religious district who felt betrayed by one of their own members showing his own member on the Internet with six different women, and denying it for as long as he possibly could uphold the ruse.
Adam Lisberg writing in City Hall News says, “a low-profile campaign among Orthodox Jews aims to make it about same-sex marriage.
“The Family Research Council is raising money off Democratic Assemblyman David Weprinâ€™s vote to legalize it. The National Organization for Marriage paid for 30,000 robocalls to Jewish homes supporting his opponent, Republican Bob Turner. And online, Weprinâ€™s vote for same-sex marriage has been portrayed as a vote against God â€“ even though Weprin is himself an Orthodox Jew.
â€œDavid Weprin defied Jewish law and betrayed our values,â€ said Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein in the robocall. â€œDavid Weprin abandoned Jewish teaching in New York State. Itâ€™s time for us to abandon David Weprin.â€
“After the robocall went out, Wallerstein told Vos iz Neias that he hadnâ€™t even met Turner, but saw an opportunity to push an anti-gay marriage message.
“Turner has not made New Yorkâ€™s gay nuptials a campaign issue, though he has benefited from those who have done so. Still, his most prominent early supporter â€“ former mayor Ed Koch â€“ supports same-sex marriage and says the race is about Israel and Obama, no matter what social conservatives say.”
Duncan Osborne in Gay City News added,
Three gay political groups, the Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens, the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, and the Stonewall Democrats, held a fundraiser for Weprin, and Lambda solicited volunteer support for the candidate. Erin Drinkwater, a Lambda vice president, told Gay City News, â€œGoing into 2012, it would be a huge problem to give the GOP or Tea Party any momentum.â€In an op ed published online at gaycitynews.com, titled â€œThe Race in the 9th Is About The Economy â€“â€“ Not Israel or Gay Marriage,â€ Matthew McMorrow, Lambdaâ€™s co-president, wrote that Kochâ€™s focus on Israel and NOMâ€™s effort to make Weprinâ€™s marriage vote an issue were â€œred herrings.â€â€œIf Brooklyn and Queens voters want to use this race to send a real message, let it be a rebuke of the radical and reckless Republican members of Congress who have damaged our nationâ€™s credit rating, refused to compromise, and advocated for the dismantling of our nationâ€™s servicesâ€¦ without entertaining even the most modest proposals to increase revenue or to implement fairness in the tax code,â€ McMorrow wrote, voicing familiar Democratic Party arguments.
NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, reportedly invested $75,000 in this election, while HRC invested a paltry $5,000, perhaps because NY-9 as a district will disappear due to redistricting.
The Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry just after noon Tuesday noted,
Itâ€™s not surprising that virulently anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage are arguing that the freedom to marry has played some sort of noteworthy role in the Weprin-Turner race for New Yorkâ€™s Ninth Congressional District.Â Whoever wins tonight, marriage equality did not play an influential, even modest, role in the outcome of this special election.Â What people are focused on are jobs, jobs, and more jobs.
Here are some facts:
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€˜Gay marriageâ€™ doesnâ€™t show up in the polling.Â Sienaâ€™s poll conducted September 6-8 asked, which would you say was the single most important factor in your decision to vote for [candidate name]? The top concern, according to respondents, was the economy (32%), followed by entitlements like Social Security (28%), a candidateâ€™s political party (18%), and position on Israel (7%).
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Turner himself has consistently emphasized how marriage equality is not an issue in the race.Â He told the New York Daily News, â€œThe gay marriage issue is closed, [sic] it’s New York state law. I don’t see any reason to be using this as a campaign issue.”Â Last week, the Turner camp issued this statement:Â â€œQueens and Brooklyn voters of all political parties are sending a terse telegram to President Obama that they are unhappy with his economic agenda and his hostile stance toward Israel.â€
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Prior to this race, the pro-marriage equality incumbent continued to get re-elected. Anthony Weiner served his constituents for 12 years and was a much more outspoken advocate of marriage equality than Weprin has been.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Statewide, polls consistently and incontrovertibly show a majority of New Yorkers (58%) support marriage equality â€“ even after the vote. NY1-YNN-Marist survey conducted in Augustâ€”well after the law went into effect this summerâ€”registered 63 percent of adults who donâ€™t want the law overturned.
The National Organization for Marriage has aggressively tried to infuse its fringe agenda into the NY-9 race. NOM is a highly secretive organization thought to funnel money from a small group of extreme donors to anti-gay causes. It is still reeling from its big loss in the Empire State this summer. But no matter who wins tonight, tomorrow a strong and decisive majority of New Yorkers will continue to support the freedom to marry, just as a majority of the American public does.
So, it’s a win essentially in name only, but it’s certainly an emotional win for Maggie Gallagher and her band of merry hating homophobes.
Bring on Maggie and Brian’s fundraising emails! How long should we give them?
(Image: Bill O’Reilly)
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Republican Attempts to Create Special Religious Rights Fail as Bipartisan Historic Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate
Far right activists and organizations for months have been falsely claiming legislation to protect same-sex marriages would destroy different-sex marriages and take away religious rights from ordinary Americans, but early Tuesday evening on a bipartisan basis the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, 61-36.
61-36: Senate passes marriage equality legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages under federal law. 60 votes were needed. The Respect for Marriage Act now heads back to the House for final approval. pic.twitter.com/vKvliW5pIU
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) November 29, 2022
The legislation itself is very simple. It essentially leaves in place the status quo on marriage from the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling. Should right wing Supreme Court justices strike that ruling down, the Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government and states to recognize any marriages that were legal when they were entered, now and in the future.
35 states currently still have same-sex marriage bans on the books. If the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, many of those could become law immediately.
In order to overcome a Republican-led filibuster Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday agreed to allow three GOP Senators to offer amendments to the legislation, amendments that would have created special religious rights to discriminate.
An amendment from Senator James Lankford (R-OK) failed, as did one from Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT). 60 votes were needed for each.
Sen. Lee’s was seen by some as the most extreme, and was strongly supported by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts, in a false claim, had said: “The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ contains so many infringements and encroachments on religious freedoms and on conscience that Republicans should unite solidly against it. Instead, it should be called the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”
Far right evangelical activist Franklin Graham falsely claimed the “bill strikes a blow at religious freedom for individuals & ministries & is really the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”
The Pennsylvania Family Council wrongly called it “a bill that would redefine marriage and attack religious freedom & Christian social services.”
But despite GOP fear-mongering, the legislation has religious protections built in, protections so strong 20 faith-based organizations including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, have supported its passage.
The bill now heads back to the House for a final vote, and then to President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law.
"What a great day," says Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as Senate approves legislation to codify protections for lawful same-sex and interracial marriages.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 29, 2022
‘Punditry, Not Leadership’: McConnell Slammed for Refusing to Say if He Would Support Trump in 2024
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to say if he would support Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024. McConnell spoke in broad terms about antisemitism and white supremacy Tuesday afternoon, a full week to the day after the former president had dinner with the antisemite Kanye West, and the white supremacist Nick Fuentes, but could not bring himself to disavow Trump by name.
NEW: McConnell begins his weekly presser unprompted, right off the bat by addressing the Trump/Ye/Fuentes meeting by saying anyone meeting with people who espouse anti-Semitic views will not likely be elected to the presidency. pic.twitter.com/xgAXzTn5oe
— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurns) November 29, 2022
“First, let me just say, there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” McConnell said as he began a press conference, his first remarks about Trump’s dinner with West and Fuentes. “Anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected President of the United States.”
MCCONNELL: First, let me just say that there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy. And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States. pic.twitter.com/IbUrlmwXvD
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) November 29, 2022
McConnell did not mention Trump, and moments later, when CNN’s Manu Raja specifically asked about the former president, McConnell would only repeat his previous statement.
“Look, let me just say again, there is simply no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and that would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices,” he told CNN’s Raju.
After saying there’s no room for antisemitism and white supremacy in the Republican Party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t answer CNN’s @mkraju as to whether he’d support Donald Trump if he wins the GOP nomination for president in 2024. pic.twitter.com/cm3coNXAZl
— The Recount (@therecount) November 29, 2022
Many were critical of McConnell’s refusal to denounce Trump.
Boston Globe opinion writer Abdallah Fayyad said, “McConnell will absolutely back Trump if he wins the GOP nomination.”
Previously, McConnell had said he would support Trump if he is the GOP’s nominee.
“Notice how McConnell said such a person is ‘highly unlikely’ to be elected, rather than manifestly unfit. He needs to keep his rhetorical options open for Trump getting the nomination again,” observed Media Matters’ Eric Kleefeld.
Law professor and former president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), Sherrilyn Ifill says, “McConnell, Pence, McCarthy and the other folks clutching their pearls today stood beside this man. Distancing from Trump over ‘the dinner’ is way late.”
Political consultant and writer Jamison Foser criticized the Republican Minority Leader, saying: “‘Will not likely be elected’ is punditry, not leadership. McConnell will support Trump if Trump is the Republican nominee; everything else is his attempt to distract from that.”
Before McConnell’s remarks, Ifill had taken the media to task.
“The most dispiriting aspect of the discussion about Trump’s meal w/those two odious ppl is that I thought there was consensus that Trump is a white supremacist. In which case 3 white supremacists had dinner. Why is Trump getting portrayed as an innocent who was snookered?”
‘Beyond Horrific’: Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Producer Is an Out Gay Man Helping ‘Ramp Up’ Hate Says LGBTQ Journalist
Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson, whose nightly show frequently has the largest reach of any on cable news, regularly attacks the LGBTQ community with fear-mongering and hate-filled segments about gay people, transgender people, “groomers” and the latest target: “drag queen story hours.”
His senior executive producer, who oversees Carlson’s media empire at Fox News, is a married, out, gay man named Justin Wells, according to veteran journalist and SiriusXM Progress host Michelangelo Signorile, who is calling it “beyond horrific to think a gay man has helped to shape and widely disseminate a message of hate against LGBTQ people.”
Last week, in the wake of the horrific anti-LGBTQ hate crime mass shooting Carlson hosted a guest, the head of the so-called “Gays Against Groomers,” who told Fox News viewers the attack on LGBTQ people at a gay bar in Colorado Springs was “predictable” and warned that these hate crime massacres will continue, “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care.
Tucker Carlson guest: Shootings like the Club Q shooting are going to keep happening “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care. pic.twitter.com/4ajSonqlug
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) November 23, 2022
Carlson has repeatedly hosted Jaimee Mitchell, the Gays Against Groomers founder who fear mongers against LGBTQ people, with the apparent consent of Wells, who “helped promulgate the kind of hate that leads to violence,” says Signorile.
“It’s unlikely that any narrative would get broadcast by Tucker without significant buy-in from Justin,” Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of media watchdog Media Matters, told Signorile.
Indeed, referring to the Colorado Springs mass shooting massacre, Signorile noted it is “the same kind of nightclub at which Wells, in years past, danced the night away in Miami Beach and elsewhere, liberating himself from the world outside and surely never imagining he’d be shot dead.”
“Now he’s aided the extremists who deny that sense of safety and liberation to every future generation of queer people,” says Signorile, explaining that “Wells runs the entire Tucker Carlson operation, and is responsible for imprinting the Tucker Carlson brand, which is all about emboldening white heterosexual male grievance, furthering the racist conspiracy of ‘replacement theory’ and pushing an increasingly virulent anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
One of Carlson’s frequent LGBTQ targets is Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who he has called an “unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds,’ and has no business running the agency,” as Mediaite reported.
“And as Carlson further pushed white nationalism, attacked transgender people and embraced Hungary’s authoritarian leader Victor Orban,” Signorile reports, “Wells, in 2021, was named a Vice President at Fox News, in charge of all Carlson product that airs on Fox News TV as well as on Fox’s streaming network, Fox Nation.”
Signorile says, “it’s quite stunning that Wells would work for Carlson, who has a well-known history of visceral homophobia. That’s something that came to light again last year when it became known that Carlson had offered a tribute to Dan White, the assassin of San Francisco supervisor and gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, in his college yearbook back in 1991, as well as to the late vociferously anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who whipped up homophobia during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.”
“I wrote about those jarring revelations when they surfaced last year,” he continues, “as well as about what I dubbed Carlson’s ‘pathological obsession with homosexuality’ throughout his career. Carlson has expressed revulsion at homosexuality, and in one incident he reveled in a violent response. In a TV interview in 2007 he described having smashed a man’s head ‘against the stall’ in a public rest room, after the man ‘bothered’ him.”
“Wells, as a gay man, only emboldens Carlson further,” Signorile concludes. “He gives him permission to launch the ugly attacks and helps Carlson validate, for himself (and likely for executives at Fox News), the vitriol he espouses. That makes Justin Wells’ presence as the powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson all the more newsworthy. And all the more dangerous.”
Signorile notes that his reporting is not an outing.
“This story is not, however, about a warped closet case, tormented by self-loathing, hiding his true self while bashing those like him. And thus, this story is not an outing, which involves exposing someone who covers up their sexual orientation while publicly presenting as heterosexual — though it certainly may be a startling revelation to a great many. It is, rather, about connecting the dots regarding a reality that seems to have been hiding in plain sight.”
You can read Signorile’s entire report on his Substack newsletter.
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