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What Does Election Of Reince Priebus As GOP Chair Mean For Gay Rights?

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What does the GOP’s election this afternoon of Reince Priebus as Chairman mean for gay rights? Not a lot. And yet, as the man who is tasked with rebuilding the foundering Republican Party, which will have to include massive fundraising, and doling out money to candidates, Priebus will get to decide which candidates are “viable,” and which are not. But considering that so very few, if any, Republicans will support LGBT equality, or support any element of gay rights, there’s little he can do directly to make things worse for us. Whatever candidates out there who support gay rights will not get much cash from the RNC, regardless of who the Chair is.

That said, there’s a lot about Priebus that should make every member of the LGBTQ community, and our supporters, heck, everyone on the Left, truly concerned. Here’s why.

The Chair of the GOP — the Republican National Committee — is as much a behind-the-scenes job as it is the face of the RNC. Now-former Chair Michael Steele, who just lost his re-election bid to Wisconsin’s Reince Priebus, never really understood either of those job descriptions.

Amid the usual cries of “take our country back,” and claims the Democratic party wants to “take our country where we don’t want it to go,” the 168 mostly-very-old-and-mostly-very-white members of the GOP today elected Reince Priebus as their Chair for the next two years. Saying “Barack Obama’s agenda is not good for America,” and adding, “We fired Pelosi,” to his list of accomplishments, Michael Steele, after losing the first four rounds of votes, pulled out of the race and urged his supporters to vote for Maria Cino. As usual, they did not follow his advice.

Reince Priebus, 38, fourteen years younger than Steele, in 2007 became the youngest-ever chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party. In today’s voting, Priebus emerged as the early front-runner, though many were surprised his first-round of votes netted him only one more than Michael Steele, who was widely-expected to lose. Priebus won every one of the seven elimination rounds.

Immediately after the final vote that Priebus won with 97 of 168 votes, Priebus’ first words as newly-elected Chair were, “I want to thank God, I want to thank Jesus for this moment. I am so blessed.” He went on to talk about himself as “a little kid growing up in Kenosha,” and, “my first date with my wife, Lincoln Day dinner with Henry Hyde and Jim Sensenbrenner — which should tell you a little bit something about me.”

Indeed it should.

Henry Hyde was a Republican Congressman from Chicago, Illinois, (he died in 2007) who served as the lead House manager during President Bill Clinton’s 1998-1999 impeachment trial. It was during this time news broke that Hyde himself had had a four-year affair, while married himself, with a married woman.

Hyde was an extreme right-wing Republican whose name was given to the Hyde Amendment, a law that bans any federal funds from paying for abortions.

Jim Sensenbrenner, also a long-time House Republican, was also a manager in the House for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He also introduced the PATRIOT ACT into the House and was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq. He continues to serve in the House, now as the Ranking Republican on the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, which should scare anyone who has children or hopes to be alive fifty-years from now.

Introducing himself to America, Priebus chose his words and his role models with great care: two extreme right-wing Republican Representatives (not Senators, so he looks more “of the people,”) who were intimately involved with the impeachment of a Democratic president. What could be better?

Priebus, in his acceptance speech, also talked about his “two great kids, Jack and Grace,” and that he could not wait to “rebuild this party.” Saying “the Democrats have taken this country on the wrong path,” he added, “together, we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012.”

Of course, he invoked Ronald Reagan’s “city on a shining hill” quote.

Priebus is staunchly pro-life. He has promised Maggie Gallagher, NOM, and the Susan B. Anthony List that he will support and defend traditional marriage, and he, as you can already tell, talks a lot about God, the bible, religion, and the constitution, such as in his response to the question, “What is your position, how was your position shaped and what experience do you have?

“I believe we all have to live mission driven lives.  Certainly we all try to please God.  I’m a 100% Psalm 139 pro-life republican.  I support our Republican platform which I think is rock solid on the issue of abortion.  I believe Life beings absolutely at the time of  conception so every question after that then you believe the Declaration of Independence, the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause protects that independent human life.  If we start there then every single question after that is really easy.  That’s where I start when I think of the issue of abortion.

“My Christian faith is the foundation of my view on the issue of abortion.  My opinion and view of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution shapes my opinion on the issue of abortion.  I was involved in a Care Net crisis pregnancy center in Kenosha, WI.  I helped them get implemented in a town called Racine, WI all in the SE area of Wisconsin which I think is a great place and a safe harbor for women facing difficult situations where pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, food and diapers and an opportunity to share the love of Christ with people who are in real trouble and making some tough decisions.”

On marriage, Priebus told Maggie Gallagher, “It’s foundational in our lives… I don’t believe anybody should be denied dignity in this discussion, everyone should be loved. But at the end of the day, I believe that marriage — through the sanctity of marriage — should be between one man and one woman,” because, “Children are better off with a mom and a dad.”

The two LGBT Republican organizations, of course, are thrilled. Both released glowing and hollow statements.

Via Log Cabin Republicans: “As Chairman Priebus stated ‘we must come together over common interests. We must unite'” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director.  “I look forward to continuing our successful partnership with the Republican National Committee, and urge Chairman Priebus to continue the Committee’s strong record of coalition-building which was an important part of GOP success in 2010.  Inclusion wins and our party is strongest when we embrace a big tent philosophy centered on the core principles that unite us as Republicans. It is onward and upward to win back the White House.”

GOProud says, “Today is a good day for conservatives and for the Republican Party. The election of Reince Priebus marks the end of Michael Steele’s disastrous tenure at the RNC.

“Last July, GOProud joined with other foreign policy conservatives in calling on Chairman Steele to resign after his reckless and outrageous comments about the war in Afghanistan. In December, after Steele chose to seek re-election, we urged RNC members to replace him.

“Michael Steele’s tenure as Chairman can only fairly be characterized as an unmitigated disaster. Were it not for the hard work of outside groups, who were forced to step in to fill the void left by an ineffective RNC, success at the ballot box in November would never have occurred.

“The election of Reince Priebus marks a changing of the guard. Finally we will have an RNC Chair who understands that his or her role is to raise money and build party infrastructure, not to sell books, hire friends and family, and pontificate on policy.”

Blah, blah, blah. Gay Republicans will support anti-gay Republicans any day of the week. (Party First! Which, if you look at GOProud’s Facebook page, seems to have several meanings, but I digress…) Oh, and they seem to prefer the GOP to not take a stand on LGBTQ issues. How they get to that point is beyond me, but, whatever.

Oh, and by the way, Priebus owns five guns. In GOP terms, just enough to win the Chair, though one candidate had sixteen. The one with none lost.

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Tennessee Governor Slammed After ‘Praying’ for Nashville School Community Without Mentioning Mass Shooting

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Governor Bill Lee quickly drew tremendous outrage in the wake of a school mass shooting where six people including three young children were shot to death. Social media users criticized the Tennessee Republican, who had signed a permit-less gun carry law, for declaring he was “praying for the school, congregation & Nashville community,” without posting any mention of the mass shooting.

Tweeting he was “closely monitoring the tragic situation at Covenant,” Gov. Lee said, “As we continue to respond, please join us in praying for the school, congregation & Nashville community.”

There was no mention of any loss of life, and, as Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts passionately noted, the “situation” was a mass shooting.

“If thoughts and prayers alone worked to stop gun violence, there wouldn’t have been a shooting at a Christian elementary school. It’s your actions – including weakening the state’s gun laws – that’s killing kids in Tennessee,” Watts also tweeted. “SHAME ON YOU.”

Gov. Lee signed a permit-less carry bill into law in 2021, at a Beretta gun manufacturing plant.

According to the CDC, as of 2020 – one year before the permit-less carry bill was signed into law – Tennessee ranked tenth in the nation in per-capita firearm mortality.

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Meanwhile, others took notice of the gun culture Gov. Lee has fostered in “The Volunteer State.”

MSNBC analyst and Bulwark writer Tim Miller commented, “Tennessee governor Bill Lee issued a statement recently about how the drag ban in Tennessee ‘protects children.’ If only he would have instead focused on laws that might have prevented the mass murder of children in his state today.”

Historian Kevin Kruse pointed to an article from last year, after the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, titled: “Rep. Clemmons Seeks Renewed Gun Laws, Gov. Lee Requests Prayer.”

“You chose prayer over gun reforms last year after the Uvalde massacre,” Kruse wrote. “And now here we are.”

The progressive website Tennessee Holler pointed out that Gov. Lee, along with GOP lawmakers, “just appointed Jordan Mollenhour to the [state] board of education— whose company was sued for selling ammo to an underage mass killer (SANTA FE) and sold ammo to at least one more (AURORA) He has ZERO education experience.”

Let’s Give a Damn founder Nick Laparra tweeted, “We are 86 days into 2023. So far, 9859 people have died by gun violence and there have been 128 mass shootings. Meanwhile, @GovBillLee spends his days being outraged over drag queens and CRT and book bans. This is Bill Lee’s and the GOP’s fault.”

See the tweets and video above or at this link.

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Mystery Grand Jury Witness in Trump Hush Money Probe Is Former ‘Enquirer’ Publisher and Trump Ally

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Avid followers of the Manhattan District Attorney’s moves noted the grand jury had been called into service for Monday, and soon news leaked that yet another witness would be testifying in the probe into Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.

Monday afternoon, NBC News’ Garrett Haake reported live on MSNBC that the mystery witness was David Pecker, the former tabloid publisher of the “National Enquirer,” who reportedly had been looking for stories in 2016 to protect Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Haake notes Monday was Pecker’s second appearance before the grand jury in the hush money case.

The New York Times also reported David Pecker as the grand jury witness, calling Pecker “a key player in the hush-money matter. He and the tabloid’s top editor helped broker the deal between the porn star, Stormy Daniels, and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s fixer at the time.”

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“While the focus of Mr. Pecker’s testimony is unclear, he could provide valuable information for prosecutors. A longtime ally of Mr. Trump, he agreed to keep an eye out for potentially damaging stories about Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign,” The Times reports. “For a brief time in October 2016, Ms. Daniels appeared to have just that kind of story. Her agent and lawyer discussed the possibility of selling exclusive rights to her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump to The National Enquirer, which would then promise to never publish it, a practice known as ‘catch and kill.'”

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman weighed in, noting, “nothing about that decision [to have Pecker testify] suggests any change of heart on Bragg’s part to indict Trump.”

Former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU professor of law, notes that Pecker’s “testimony can show the [hush money] scheme was designed to affect outcome of election.”

“He reportedly communicated directly with Trump on payment,” Goodman adds.

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‘Our Children Deserve Better’: First Lady Jill Biden Speaks Out After Six Die in Nashville School Mass Shooting

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, speaking Monday afternoon at a National League of Cities conference, told attendees, “Our children deserve better,” as she broke the news of the Nashville school mass shooting at Covenant Presbyterian School where three children and three adults were shot dead.

“You know,” Dr. Biden, herself an educator and clearly pained by the news, began her remarks by saying, “I hate to say what I’m gonna say next because you know you’re so enthusiastic and with so much energy and hope and I feel it.”

“But while you’ve been in this room, I don’t know whether you’ve been on your phones but we just learned about another shooting in Tennessee, a school shooting and I am truly without words and our children deserve better, and we stand – all of us – we stand with Nashville in prayer.”

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The First Lady, a former public high school English teacher and currently a professor of English at a community college, was speaking at the organization’s Congressional City Conference.

Watch Dr. Biden below or at this link.

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