Tag Archives: Joe My God

“We Have A Gay Guy. He’s Big, He’s Mean, And He Kills Lots Of Bad Guys. No One Cared That He Was Gay.”

DOD page

Andrew Sullivan with a round-up.

Sullivan:

And the report is absolutely clear that straight servicemembers by large majorities have few problems with openly gay servicemembers. 69 percent of them acknowledge they have fought or worked alongside gay men and women already. A staggering 92 percent of those were fine with lifting the ban. Again: when you know someone is gay, all the fears and stereotypes tend to evaporate. This is not a surprise. The men and women of the US military are among the finest in the land; they want to do the job at hand, not deepen social division or posture politically. They are not bigots. I note one colorful quote from a special ops fighter:

“We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.”

And why would they? The other critical point is the inherent conservatism of many gay servicemembers. The last thing they would want to do is make a fuss about their orientation. The overwhelming majority will stay largely closeted in the workplace and battlefield – not out of fear but because it is irrelevant, and they are discreet kinds of people. Rand found that “even if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were repealed, only 15% of gay and lesbian Service members would like to have their sexual orientation known to everyone in their unit.”

Kevin Drum:

It turns out that although 30% of respondents think that repealing DADT would affect their unit’s ability to train well together (a number that shows up pretty consistently on every question about the effect of repeal), only 10% think it would affect their own readiness and only 20% think it would affect their ability to train well. In other words, there’s pretty good reason to think that even the 30% number is overstated. It seems to include a fair number of people who are assuming that DADT repeal would have a negative effect on other people even though it wouldn’t have a negative effect on them. My guess is that a lot of this is reaction to a small number of vocal traditionalists, which makes opposition to repeal seem like a bigger deal than it is.

Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief counsel, agrees, saying that surveys about personnel changes “tend to overestimate negative consequences, and underestimate the U.S. military’s ability to adapt and incorporate within its ranks the diversity that is reflective of American society at large.” I suspect he’s right. In the end, real opposition is probably more in the range of 10-20% than 30%, and even that will probably produce nothing more serious than occasional grumbling and discomfort for a year or two at most. There’s really no further excuse for inaction. It’s time for Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership to figure out a way to cut a deal and get repeal passed before Congress recesses.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Early reports on the Pentagon’s survey of the troops on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were nothing but roses for repeal supporters, but the details of the survey complicate that narrative somewhat. While only 20% of troops who have never been deployed to a combat zone say that repeal of DADT would “very negatively” or “negatively” affect their “immediate unit’s effectiveness at completing its mission,” more than 44% of combat troops say repeal would have a negative impact on unit effectiveness:

An exception to the pattern was the response of Service members deployed to a combat zone now or in the past to the circumstance of being “in a field environment or out to sea.” Among all Service members in this group, 44.3% (and 59.4% of Marines—see Q71a in Appendix E) said performance would be “very negatively/negatively” affected in this situation. Of note, among all survey items related to the review’s major subject areas, this item had the highest percentage of Service members reporting negative perceptions about the impact of a repeal.

About 11% of all combat troops surveyed said repeal would “positively” or “very positively” affect performance, while 19% said repeal would have “no effect.” Another 26% of combat troops surveyed said repeal’s affect wold be “equally as positively as negatively.” These troops–who see both negative and positive effects of repeal–are lumped together with those who believe it will have “no effect” under the survey’s “neutral” category.

Spartan living conditions on combat zones may be one reason why combat troops see repeal more negatively than non-combat troops do

Joe.My.God

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

Defense Secretary Bob Gates just called on Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell before the end of the year — while asking that Congress give the military time to implement the change.

Asked by reporters how much time he would need, Gates conceded he didn’t know. But he indicated the the President would keep a close eye on the Pentagon and make sure it didn’t slow roll the implementation.

As expected, the Pentagon’s review of DADT found that repeal of the flawed policy would not have an adverse effect on unit morale or cohesion. But Gates’ unequivocal call for repeal by Congress was perhaps a surprise. The argument he made for repeal cuts particularly sharply for Republicans: if Congress doesn’t repeal DADT in orderly fashion, the federal courts may do it in a haphazard and disruptive way.

Steve Benen:

Commenting on the Pentagon report, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added, “We treat people with dignity and respect in the armed forces, or we don’t last long in the armed forces: No special cases, no special treatment.”

Igor Volsky has more, including a variety of related highlights from the survey findings. The entire report has been published online here.

As for the larger legislative context, remember, Senate Republicans recently refused to even allow a debate on funding U.S. troops because they wanted to wait for this report. They took a gamble, of sorts — maybe the survey results would show servicemen and women agreeing with the GOP’s anti-gay animus, thus giving the party a boost fighting pro-repeal Democrats.

The gamble failed. We now know a majority of U.S. troops, a majority of U.S. civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are all ready to see DADT repeal move forward.

If John McCain and other anti-gay senators hoped to gain some leverage, those hopes were in vain. They’ve run out of excuses. It’s time for the Senate to do the right and decent thing.

Remember, Democrats only need two Republicans — literally, just two — to break ranks. These GOP senators, if they exist, don’t even have to vote for the spending bill that includes the DADT provision; they just need to let the Senate vote up or own. If this report doesn’t lead two Republicans to drop the nonsense, nothing will.

Gabriel Arana at Tapped:

Two points. Part of the argument for keeping DADT — and the criticism that’s been directed at its opponents — has been that the military is special, that the rules for civil society are not the same as those necessary for a well-disciplined and effective military force. There’s some sense in this; it’s probably why, for instance, we don’t ask military members to vote on each tactical move they have to carry out, or leave the decision of whether the country goes to war to them. If the rights and responsibilities of military members need be different from those of civil society in any way, following decisions made along the chain of command seems to be the most important for maintaining cohesion. Surveying the troops about a policy matter is, in that light, a departure from the military M.O.

But the larger question is whether the rights of any minority group should be put up to a vote. In this case, the results of the study tip the scales in favor of repeal, but that needn’t have been the case — and it shouldn’t matter anyway. Anti-gay activists rely on the prejudice of voters to suppress minority rights — and call it undemocratic when a court rules that the electorate does not have a right to vote on issues like gay marriage or in this case the DADT repeal. But a fundamental feature of our democracy is that the system is reined in from pure mob rule by the (at least in theory) inalienable guarantees of the Constitution. You don’t want the Bill of Rights put up to a vote every time the courts want to extend its protections to a marginalized group, whether public opinion is on your side or not.

Allah Pundit

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Open The Closet And Walk To The Outside

Marc Ambinder:

Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay.
Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter’s questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.
“It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. “Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that’s made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”
Privately, in off-the-record conversations with this reporter over the years, Mehlman voiced support for civil unions and told of how, in private discussions with senior Republican officials, he beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage. He insisted, too, that President Bush “was no homophobe.” He often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called “the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now.”
Mehlman’s leadership positions in the GOP came at a time when the party was stepping up its anti-gay activities — such as the distribution in West Virginia in 2006 of literature linking homosexuality to atheism, or the less-than-subtle, coded language in the party’s platform (“Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country…”). Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief strategic adviser, had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.
Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.
“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”
“What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn’t always heard. I didn’t do this in the gay community at all.”
He said that he “really wished” he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, “so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]” and “reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans.”
Mehlman is aware that his attempts to justify his past silence will not be adequate for many people. He and his friends say that he is aware that he will no longer control the story about his identity — which will simultaneously expose old wounds, invite Schadenfruede, and legitimize anger among gay rights activists in both parties who did not hide their sexual orientations.

Michael Triplett at Mediaite:

Ambinder was apparently pushed to run the story two days early after Mike Rogers, whose track record on outing conservative politicians is very good, reported on Blogactive that Ambinder was preparing a story that would confirm that Mehlman was gay and the story was slated for Friday or early next week.

Within an hour of Rogers going public with his scoop that Mehlman was about to come out as gay, Ambinder posted his story.

It’s a rumor that has circulated around Washington, D.C., for years.  Mehlman–who was recently in the news for buying a condo in New York City’s very-gay Chelsea neighborhood–has previously denied he’s gay but now he tells Ambinder that he “arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently” and “anticipated that questions would be asked about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.”

[…]

In 2006, Mehlman’s sexual orientation led to an uncomfortable moment for CNN after they edited a transcript and a video that featured Bill Maher outing Mehlman on Larry King Live. That story was later told in the documentary Outrage, which featured Rogers and his work to “out” closeted  gay conservatives who work against the LGBT community.

Ambinder seems like a natural to break the Mehlman story.  In 2006, he wrote about the challenges that Mark Foley scandal created for gay Republicans, including the lavender mafia that surrounded Foley and reached into the Republican establishment. A well-connected openly gay reporter, Ambinder would have the connections inside the web of gay Republicans to convince Mehlman to give him an exclusive.

According to the story, Mehlman and Ambinder have been talking for a number of years about Mehlman coming out and his views on gay issues.

Honestly, I thought the guy came out years ago. Remember when Bill Maher talked about the rumors surrounding him on Larry King’s show — back in 2006? I guess you were the last to know, Ken.

He’s doing this now, it seems, because he wants to drum up publicity for the cause of gay marriage and figures that “Republican whom everyone thought was gay actually is gay” headlines will do the trick. Could be, although Ambinder’s careful to remind readers of the sort of social con initiatives that the GOP pushed during Mehlman’s RNC tenure. That won’t endear him to gay activists, and his newly public identity won’t endear him to social cons. Maybe he should have just worked for gay marriage like Ted Olson and kept his orientation private?

Joe My God:

Andy Towle is reporting that Mehlman has already agreed to chair a “major anti-Prop 8 fundraiser” for Americans For Equal Rights, Ted Olson and David Boies’ outfit. Gee thanks, shitbag. That’s like offering to help rebuild a house when YOU were the fucker that helped BURN IT DOWN.

Towleroad:

Just got off the phone with Chad Griffin, Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization challenging Proposition 8 in federal court, regarding former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman and reports that he is about to come out of the closet.

Griffin tells me that Ken Mehlman is chairing a major fundraiser in late September that has already raised over $1 million for the organization battling Prop 8. The fundraiser is co-chaired by prominent Republican donors Paul Singer and Peter Thiel and will be held at Singer’s home.

A large number of other Republicans are co-hosts of the fundraiser including Mary Cheney, Margaret Hoover, and Steve Schmidt. Dick Gephardt is also among the hosts.

Said Griffin to Towleroad:

“Mehlman has committeed his own resources and been an integral part of the team at the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Our goal is to get as many people who aren’t on the side of gay marriage on our side, and once they are here, to welcome them.”

Said AFER board member Dustin Lance Black:

“Ken represents an incredible coup for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. We believe that our mission of equal rights under the law is one that should resonate with every American. As a victorious former presidential campaign manager and head of the Republican Party, Ken has the proven experience and expertise to help us communicate with people across each of the 50 states.”

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog:

Good for Ken. I know a lot of people will want to criticize him for heading up the GOP as a closeted gay man. He says he only recently came to terms with being gay. I suspect he always knew he was gay, but recently came to terms with accepting it, and embracing it. And good for him. He’s now doing the right thing, helping support marriage equality. I’m not going to fault him for that. Coming out is a horrendously difficult and complicated thing. It’s not rational.

Now, does that mean I oppose efforts to out people who are hurting our community? Absolutely not. I was there with the rest of them calling Mehlamn out for being a closeted gay man running a homophobic political party. Our long-time readers will remember Mehlman Mondays on AMERICAblog. I long talked about Mehlman being the only closet-heterosexual I’d ever heard of – a man not willing to admit he’s straight.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t embrace him now. And not just for strategic reasons. Mehlman, from what Ambinder says, is doing the right thing. He’s now using his position in the GOP to help our community on our number one issue: marriage. For that, he deserves our thanks.

Now, let me say, the GOP was happily anti-gay under Mehlman, so I don’t buy his story that he helped temper their nastiness. They were still homophobic bigots, regardless of what Mehlman did or didn’t do, and he chose to remain as their head. For that, he gets no thanks. But is he making up for it today? You betcha. It’s a start, and a damn good one.

As for the Democratic party, I hope someone at the DNC is starting to sweat. We now have the former head of the Republican party who is to the left of Barack Obama on gay marriage. There’s a virtual groundswell of senior Republicans coming out for marriage equality. It can’t be going unnoticed in the gay community. And while it doesn’t mean 70% of the gay vote will now go Republican instead of Democrat, it does mean that growing numbers of gays and lesbians will starting thinking of the GOP as a legitimate alternative to the Democratic party.

And finally, how about that religious right? The Republicans lied to them about Mehlman for years. And Mehlam himself admits that he used his position as RNC chair to help stop the GOP gay-baiting. The religious right was totally pwned.

Ann Althouse:

Journey? Oh, I hear the dog-whistle. He’s calling the Oprah crowd. Family, friendssupportive… he wants Democrats, women, etc., to care about him. Don’t hate me because I’m/I’ve been a Republican. Love me, because I’m gay, and oh! how I’ve anguished in the company of Republicans.

UPDATE: Michael Calderone at Yahoo

Peter Wehner at Commentary

Gabriel Arana at Tapped

Maria Bustillos at The Awl

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The Thin Red Line And The Thin Blue Line Move Extremely Close Together

Nate Silver:

In April, 2009, when we last took a survey of gay marriage polls, we found that support for it had converged somewhere into the area of 41 or 42 percent of the country. Now, it appears to have risen by several points, and as I reported yesterday, it has become increasingly unclear whether opposition to gay marriage still outweighs support for it.

Here is a version of the graph we produced in 2009, but updated to include the dozen or so polls that have been conducted on it since that time, as listed by pollingreport.com. I have also included opinions on gay marriage from the General Social Survey, which asked about gay marriage as long ago as 1988.

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

For the first time ever, a poll shows that more Americans support the right of gay people to marry than those who oppose it, 52-46, according to CNN. That’s a major milestone in itself, but what’s more, gay-marriage supporters could not ask for a better symbolic representation of America’s changing attitudes than the one in this graph

Joe My God:

I know you freaks are dying to comment on the shape of the graph.

Towleroad

Kevin Drum:

It’s only one poll, but it’s clearly part of a multi-decade trend that’s been moving in the right direction at the rate of a little over 1% a year. Until recently that is: in the past three years, polling on this question has improved at the rate of 3-4% a year. And this might end up being the greatest legacy of Vaughn Walker’s decision in the Proposition 8 case. His opinion might not have much influence on the Supreme Court when they end up ruling on the issue, but it probably does have an impact on public opinion. People respond to the opinions of thought leaders and authority figures, and when judges and politicians start speaking out more openly about this, it makes it safer for ordinary citizens to follow suit. Some of that is probably what’s happening here.

What’s also remarkable — though not new — is the huge gender divide on this question: men are obviously far more threatened by the idea of same-sex marriage than women are. Being thought a sissy during childhood is a common and scarring experience for boys, but being thought a butch or a tomboy probably isn’t such a wide or traumatizing experience for girls. In this particular case, men remain far more trapped in their traditional gender roles than women.

Allah Pundit:

Note the distinction. Ask people whether gays should have the right and you get a 52/46 split. Ask them whether gays do have the right — which of course was the point of Walker’s due process and equal protection rulings in the Prop 8 case — and it shrinks to 49/51, which is still a thinner margin than when Gallup polled a similar question just two months ago. It’s hard to draw strong lessons from a three-point swing, which is within the margin of error, but it does point towards the possibility that you’re more likely to build public consensus by taking the incrementalist approach and letting legislatures create rights than having courts divine them from the Constitution.

Andrew Sullivan:

What backlash? CNN’s latest poll, in the wake of the Walker decision, is easily the most promising to date for those of us in support of marriage rights for all. For the first time, a slim majority of all Americans backs not just marriage, but a constitutional right to marriage for gay couples. A majority, in other words, believes this to be a civil rights issue, which, of course, it is, because civil marriage has long been regarded as a fundamental civil right in American constitutional history. And a majority is in favor! I’m not sure what to make of a small discrepancy in wording – between whether gays already “have” such a right or whether they “should have” – but wouldn’t go so far as Allahpundit in arguing it shows that this process should be driven solely by state legislatures.

I know it’s messy, but surely the fact is that the classic American process is not, and should not be, either judicial tyranny or majority rule over a minority’s rights. It’s an ongoing interaction of the two. Would I prefer a total legislative and democratic victory for marriage equality? You bet I would. At the same time, can anyone gainsay our amazing progress in making the case?

In 1989, the idea was preposterous. But by relentless arguing, debate, litigation and legislative and ballot-box initiatives, we have moved the needle faster than anyone once dreamed of. When a proposition has 50 percent support, you can argue either that there is no need for the courts to act. But you could equally argue that with public support already this high, such a ruling could not meaningfully represent anything approximating “tyranny”. Certainly far less so than when the courts struck down bans on inter-racial marriage which enjoyed very strong popular support at the time, especially in the states where they prevailed.

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D.A.D.T. D.E.A.D.?

Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate:

The Advocate has learned that concurrent meetings took place Monday morning at the White House and on Capitol Hill that could help clear the way for “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal to be attached to the Department of Defense authorization bill later this week.

LGBT groups met with officials at the White House while legislative affairs representatives from the White House and the Department of Defense met with the staff of House and Senate leadership offices on Capitol Hill along with those of Rep. Patrick Murphy and senators Carl Levin and Joseph Lieberman.

A White House aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the White House meeting. “Our understanding is that Congress is determined to act this week and we are learning more about their proposal now,” said the aide.

A Democratic leadership aide called the development “promising” but said discussions were ongoing. The House Democratic leadership is expected to meet to discuss the proposal later this afternoon.

Ed O’Keefe and Michael Shear at The Washington Post:

President Obama has signed on to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise between lawmakers and the Defense Department that is likely to clear the way for repeal of the 17-year-old ban on the military’s policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces.

Under the compromise, worked out in a series of meetings Monday at the White House and on Capitol Hill, lawmakers will proceed to repeal the Clinton-era policy in the next several days, but the repeal will not go into effect until a Pentagon study about how to implement it is completed.

In a letter to lawmakers pushing for a repeal, the White House wrote that “such an approach recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights and suggestions.” (See the full letter below.)

Gay rights advocates hailed the White House decision as a “dramatic breaktrhough” that they predicted would dismantle the policy once and for all.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is set to vote Thursday on adding a repeal to the defense authorization bill. Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) favors a repeal, but at least six senators on the panel are considered undecided. The House may also vote on a similar measure this week by Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.). House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) declined to include Murphy’s bill in passing the House version of the defense spending measure last week, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she will allow a floor vote if there is enough support in favor of a repeal. Congressional aides said it’s unclear whether Murphy has the votes necessary to pass his bill.

Any repeal would take effect only after President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen review the Pentagon study and certify that the new law can be implemented without a negative impact on military readiness, recruitment and retention, according to the sources.

Dale Carpenter:

The repeal is limited in one sense. It does not ban discimination against gays in the militery. It returns the status quo ante DADT in 1993 when the president had sole authority to set military personnel policies on gays. The difference is that now the president has promised to reverse the old policy after a study is issued in December on how to implement the change.

In theory, the next president could reassert the ban. But that’s very unlikely to happen once gays are serving openly. Liberalization of anti-gay public policy tends to be governed by one-way ratchet. Plus, the experience in other countries has been that allowing service by openly gay personnel presents no real problems for recruitment, retention, or discipline, and controversy about it quickly subsides.

Joe My God:

While some see lots of holes in the compromise, most LGBT and progressive groups are responding favorably.

The Palm Center:

“The President’s statement today keeps his promise to lift the ban by establishing the terms on which ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ will be dismantled,” stated Aaron Belkin, Palm Center Director. “For the past seventeen years, every expert who has studied this policy has emphasized that dismantling it would require leadership. Leadership is what the President showed today.”Servicemembers United:

“This announcement from the White House today is long awaited, much needed, and immensely helpful as we enter a critical phase of the battle to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “We have been making the case to White House staff for more than a year now that delayed implementation is realistic, politically viable, and the only way to get the defense community on board with repeal, and we are glad to see the community and now the administration and defense leadership finally rally around this option.”Human Rights Campaign:

“We are on the brink of historic action to both strengthen our military and respect the service of lesbian and gay troops,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Today’s announcement paves the path to fulfill the President’s call to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year and puts us one step closer to removing this stain from the laws of our nation.” “Without a repeal vote by Congress this year, the Pentagon’s hands are tied and the armed forces will be forced to continue adhering to the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law,” said Solmonese. “A solution has emerged: Congress needs to vote to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ now.”Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

“The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week. President Obama’s support and Secretary Gates’ buy-in should insure a winning vote, but we are not there yet. The votes still need to be worked and counted. If enacted this welcomed compromise will create a process for the President and the Pentagon to implement a new policy for lesbian and gay service members to serve our country openly, hopefully within a matter of a few months. This builds upon the support Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed for open service during the February hearing in the Senate, and further underscores that this Administration is committed to open service.”The full language of the DADT repeal legislation can be found at AmericaBlog Gay.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

Advocacy groups appear to be pleased with the agreement, though one could obviously see pitfalls. A Pentagon ruled by those with a different ideological perspective could overturn the new open service policy, if they have the authority to do so. But this would be arguably less likely (or at least as likely) than a future Republican Congress, which would probably waste no time attempting to ban openly gay service. Once the new policy is in place, new restrictions become a harder sell.

All of this is apparently predicated on getting the necessary votes in the Senate Armed Services Committee (Three of these five swing votes – Robert Byrd, Bill Nelson, Evan Bayh, Jim Webb, Scott Brown – would be necessary for passage). If that is handled, then the House would adopt similar language, probably through an amendment to the defense authorization bill which the House Armed Services Committee completed work on last week. Once repeal is embedded in the defense authorization bill, it would take 60 votes in the Senate to remove it, and opponents don’t have that.

It’s puzzling that it took this long for a deal like this to be struck. This is basically what Carl Levin has been offering for months – repeal with a delayed implementation. Perhaps the White House realized the damage they would incur if they did not push repeal after announcing it with great fanfare in the State of the Union address.

The other complicating factor here is that Robert Gates has recommended a veto of this defense bill for totally different reasons. He feels that it consists of too many unwanted military spending projects. It’s unclear how the President would handle the delicate topic of vetoing a bill with a major gay rights initiative and explaining that there were different reasons for the veto.

Allah Pundit:

Any guesses as to why the left is eager to do this now instead of waiting until December for the Pentagon to finish its review?

The impetus for the meetings is a push in Congress, which passed the measure under President Bill Clinton, to add a repeal of the policy to the upcoming defense authorization bill.

Repeal “had been on a slow track awaiting completion of a Pentagon study at the end of this year,” reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin. “Gay rights proponents and their Democratic allies on Capitol Hill and in the White House have decided it’s now or not for a very long time since the elections this fall are expected to bring in a more conservative, more Republican Congress.”

The only thing that might stop it at this point is if Carl Levin can’t get 15 votes to attach the repeal to the appropriations bill. CBS says he’s a vote or two short, but several committee members on the fence. And who are those members? On the GOP side, you’ve got Graham, Scott Brown, and Susan Collins, any or all of whom should be ripe for the picking. (McCain, the committee ranking member, will surely vote no to keep Hayworth at bay.) I’m fascinated to see how many Republican votes are going to pop for this in the general floor vote, especially since Gates and Mike Mullen have endorsed repeal and doubly especially since it’s unclear how much tea partiers will care about a social issue as hot-button as this.

A group of military officers from U.S. ally nations told the Brookings Institute last week that they had no trouble integrating gays openly into their armed forces. Expect that talking point to figure prominently if this blows up in a couple of days. Exit question: Is it time?

Marc Ambinder

James Joyner:

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.   While homosexuality has been normalized enough that we have a president, SECDEF, Joint Chiefs chairman, and probably a majority in Congress willing to go on the record to support gays serving in the military — something that decidedly wasn’t the case when Bill Clinton took office in 1993 — it’s still a hot button issue in much of the country.   Referenda to ban gay marriage, for example, seem almost always to pass easily.

Will Republicans mount a filibuster on this issue?   I doubt it.   And it’s going to be very difficult to mount a credible argument opposing lifting the ban once the Pentagon certifies — which it almost certainly will — that doing so will not harm morale or be prejudicial to good order and discipline in the military.

Andrew Sullivan:

My major fear up to now has been that the repeal could get lost legislatively if the GOP made big gains in the House and Senate this fall, as is historically almost certain. This compromise removes the basis for that fear, while allowing the military and the defense secretary to manage the transition to ensure a smooth ride. I hope it works. If it does, it really will be a feather in the cap of Jim Messina, the good folks at SLDN and Servicemembers United, and the Obama administration. It will also redound to the credit of those who did not give up on this, who refused to concede that this was not a civil rights question of the first order, and to the countless servicemembers, past and future, who put their lives and careers on the line for this change.

It’s been a long two decades. So long one almost feels numb at exactly the moment one should feel exhilarated. But that’s probably how all such breakthroughs feel, when they eventually happen. For the first time in American history, gay people will be deemed fully worthy of the highest call of patriotism – to risk one’s life for the defense of one’s country.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

The Boston Globe reports that Senator Scott Brown will vote against a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on Thursday:

“I am keeping an open mind, but I do not support moving ahead until I am able to finish my review, the Pentagon completes its study, and we can be assured that a new policy can be implemented without jeopardizing the mission of our military,” Brown said in a statement provided to the Globe.

Brown, who is also a lieutentant colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard, said he came to his decision after hearing the views of multiple officers and enlisted personnel.

“For some time now, I have been seeking the opinions and recommendations of service chiefs, commanders in the field, and, most importantly, our junior soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines,” he said in the statement. “I believe we have a responsibility to the men and women of our armed forces to be thorough in our consideration of this issue and take their opinions seriously.”

But the AP reports that Senator Susan Collins will vote in favor of repeal.

There are 28 senators on the Armed Services Committee (16 Democrats and 14 Republicans). So, if Collins supports repeal and all other Republicans oppose it (which seems likely), the Democrats can afford two “no” votes and and still pass it out of committee with 15 votes.

Jim Webb, Ben Nelson, and Robert Byrd seem like potential Democratic “no” votes, but we’ll just have to wait and see how it all works out on Thursday.

Kevin Drum:

This is actually not much of a compromise. It’s basically a complete win the DADT repeal forces, since implementation always would have taken some time no matter when repeal was passed. Pelosi and Reid already support repeal, and now, with Obama’s active support, the chances of getting it through Congress are excellent. Adam Weinstein has more here.

So if things go the way I think they’ll go, by later this year Obama, Pelosi, and Reid will have passed a historic stimulus bill, the Lily Ledbetter Act, healthcare reform, college loan reform, financial reform, repeal of DADT, and Obama will have withdrawn from Iraq.1 Not bad for 18 months of work. And who knows? There’s even a chance that Obama’s Afghanistan escalation will work. If it does, what president since LBJ will have accomplished more in his first term?

1Except for the pesky “residual force,” of course. Still, once the combat forces are gone, it’s hard to see a scenario in which they’re ever sent back in.

UPDATE: John McCormack at The Weekly Standard

Igor Volsky at Think Progress

Adam Bink at Open Left

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Lift My Luggage, Baby

John Byrne at Raw Story:

A Christian leader and prominent neuro-psychiatrist who co-founded the Family Research Council with evangelist James Dobson took a ten-day European vacation with a callboy he met through RentBoy.com and was caught in an airport with the escort by a Miami newspaper.

The escort said he had met George Rekers, professor of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of South Carolina, on RentBoy.com. Rekers, when confronted, didn’t deny that he’d met the callboy online, but said he had hired him to help him carry his baggage and didn’t learn he was generally hired for “private company” until mid-way through his European vacation.

“I had surgery,” Rekers told Miami’s New Times, “and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.” (The paper noted that it didn’t stop him from pushing a “tottering” pile of luggage through Miami International Airport.)

The callboy, identified by a pseudonym, told the New Times‘ Penn Bullock and Brandon Thorp that Rekers claim that he didn’t know his “line of work” seemed spurious.

“He should’ve been able to tell you that,” he said. “But that’s up to him.”

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

George A. Rekers cofounded the Family Research Council with religious right icon James Dobson. And he’s been a key leader of the “ex-gay” movement for years, even testifying on behalf of the states of Arkansas and Florida in defense of their laws banning adoptions by gays and lesbians. Alas he was caught a few days ago coming home from a ten day European vacation with a male prostitute he’d found on Rentboy.com.

Rekers first claimed he didn’t know the man was a prostitute, then said he’d hired him to carry his luggage and finally went with he was trying to bring him the message of Jesus.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

Andrew Sullivan

Joe My God:

Rekers is part of the fake pediatricians group created by NARTH.

Rekers is a board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an organization that systematically attempts to turn gay people straight. And the Huffington Post recently singled out Rekers as a member of the American College of Pediatricians — an official-sounding outfit in Gainesville that purveys lurid, youth-directed literature accusing gays of en masse coprophilia. (In an email, the college’s Lisa Hawkins wrote, “ACPeds feels privileged to have a scholar of Dr. Rekers‘ stature affiliated with our organization. I am sure you will find Prof. Rekers to be an immaculate clinician/scholar, and a warm human being.”)

Congratulations to the Miami New Times! Here’s Rekers’ Facebook page, should you care to write him a note congratulating him on his excellent taste in boy hookers.

UPDATE: I’ve just put a call in to the Family Research Council to see if Tony Perkins has anything to say about their co-founder. I’m not holding my breath, but it was a fun call to make.\

UPDATE II: I have revealed the identity of the male hooker.

UPDATE IV: My click-out thingy tells me that thousands of you have hit Reker’s Facebook page. Gee, could that be why it’s now GONE. Snork!

Dan Savage at The Stranger:

Rekers is also the author of Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Identity. I haven’t read the book but I’m guessing it encourages parents to believe that they can shape their children’s sexual identities. Which, of course, they can’t. (Lord knows my partner and I tried.) Rekers is also a member of the American College of Pediatrics, a fake pediatricians organization formed by religious conservatives to counter the reality-based American Academy of Pediatrics (which opposes “curing” gay people, argues for more support for gay youth, and backs gay marriage and adoptions by gay couples). Let’s pause to savor this moment… and then let’s get to work. We have to do all we can to make sure “lift my luggage” enters the lexicon alongside “hike the Appalachian trail.

Richard Lawson at Gawker:

Rekers has been speaking out against all things gay for many years now, so vehemently that one is led to assume that he’s overcompensating for something. And indeed that looks to be the case. Rekers traveled to Europe on a vacation recently and hired an escort through Rentboy.com to “carry his luggage.” He claims he recently had surgery and thus couldn’t do the lifting himself. Why he found a porter through a gay prostitution website — the only place where Lucien, as the rentboy is called by the Miami New Times (who broke the story), offers his services — remains unexplained.

Not that we can blame Rekers, really. Listen to the a description of the lad, from the New Times:

The pictures on the Rentboy.com profile show a shirtless young man with delicate features, guileless eyes, and sun-kissed, hairless skin. The profile touts his “smooth, sweet, tight ass” and “perfectly built 8 inch cock (uncut)” and explains he is “sensual,” “wild,” and “up for anything” – as long you ask first.

Gurgle. Rekers claims that he only found out the fellow was a hooker halfway through the trip. That must have been a fun discovery, Georgie! Though how he couldn’t have known, given how explicit Rentboy.com is, is a little confusing.

Wonkette:

Rekers was a driving force behind the whole gay-to-straight conversion rehab idea. And you’d think that since he basically founded this thing, he could’ve landed a stint in one of them himself.

UPDATE #2: Penn Bullock and Brandon K. Thorp at Riptide 2.0

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In Europe, The Female Politicians Have Sex Scandals. Does This Make Them Ahead Of Us Or Behind Us?

Esther Addley at The Guardian:

Mrs Robinson — MP for Strangford, member of the Northern Ireland assembly, alderman of Castlereagh borough council and wife of Northern Ireland’s first minister — was a frequent customer of William (Billy) McCambley’s butcher’s shop in Ballyhackamore, east Belfast. His young son Kirk would help out in the shop, and first got to know her in the late 1990s when he was still at primary school.

Kirk McCambley, now 21, told BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme on Thursday night: “I always seen [sic] her coming in and out. Just knew her from an early age, through the butcher’s and through my dad.”

He could not have failed to have known, even at that early age, who she was. With Peter Robinson’s ascension in 2008 to first minister, the couple have officially become the “first couple” of Ulster politics, but have held that role for decades in loyalist east Belfast, where he has been MP since 1979 and a leisure centre is named after him.

Though the DUP leader has a buttoned-up public image, his wife has always been a more colourful figure, exuberant in her manner and carefully coiffed and heavily made up.

But no one can have anticipated that this decidedly odd couple – the devout Mrs Robinson, at 59, was old enough to be the then 19-year-old McCambley’s grandmother – would have an affair .

The relationship developed after Billy McCambley died in early 2008 and Iris promised to look after his only son. “She made sure I was OK,” Kirk McCambley told the programme. “Obviously anyone who has ever lost a parent knows that it’s an incredibly hard time, and she was there to help.”

Selwyn Black, Mrs Robinson’s former political adviser who turned whistleblower for the BBC exposé, told the programme the couple would take evening walks around Belfast, with Mrs Robinson at first taking a maternal, advisory role. “As for Kirk he is the other son I would have loved to have been a mother to,” she texted Black — the Robinsons have two grown up sons and a daughter.

But it was not to remain a mother-son relationship; by mid-summer 2008 the couple were having an affair.

It is difficult to overstate the shock Mrs Robinson’s admission on Tuesday provoked in Northern Ireland. Both Peter and Iris Robinson are vocal evangelical Christians from a deeply religious and conservative unionist culture.

Mrs Robinson’s transgression was the more astonishing given the controversy generated last year when she described homosexuality as an abomination on a par with paedophilia that made her nauseous. As the BBC programme coyly noted, the passage in Leviticus that she quoted contains similar sentiments about adultery.

Andrew Sullivan:

When I went on Ulster television for “Virtually Normal” in 1995, it was the first ever broadcast acoss Northern Ireland dealing specifically with the homosexual question. They invited ten openly gay people to be in the studio audience, and only three had the balls to show up. And so it is not that surprising that a leading politician in Ulster would respond to a brutal gay-bashing by criticizing the attack but adding that she nonetheless believed that homosexuality was an “abomination” and made her feel “sick” and “nauseous”. She believed that sexual orientation could be cured by psychiatry. She argued that

“just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual…. If anyone takes issue, they’re taking issue with the word of God“.

She stated that homosexuality was worse than child abuse:

“There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.”

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

The astonishing details of MP Iris Robinson’s affair with a 19-year-old – whom she had known since he was nine – have been laid bare today. Her lover, Kirk McCambley, now 21, owns a cafe in south Belfast and the visitors’ centre which houses the cafe was built by the council on which Mrs Robinson sits. The wife of the Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson helped Mr McCambley get started in business after first identifying a freshly developed council site on the banks of the river Lagan in south Belfast for his new venture and persuaded two local developers to stump up £50,000 in 2008 for catering equipment to kit out the cafe, Mr McCambley told the BBC. Astonishingly Mrs Robinson demanded a £5,000 kickback paid directly to her after her lover received the funding.

From the Mail.

Where there is Christianism, there is usually hypocrisy, corruption and abuse. From Haggard to Maciel, from the Vatican to the Swaggarts, from Rove to Limbaugh, the sheer gulf between their public moralism and their private failings is vast. That’s because they’re human; and they deserve compassion and understanding, the compassion and understanding they always, always deny to others.

Joe Windish at Moderate Voice

Dave Brockington:

Juxtapose these paragraphs from The Guardian article:

But no one can have anticipated that this decidedly odd couple – the devout Mrs Robinson, at 59, was old enough to be the then 19-year-old McCambley’s grandmother – would have an affair .

Mrs Robinson’s transgression was the more astonishing given the controversy generated last year when she described homosexuality as an abomination on a par with paedophilia that made her nauseous. As the BBC programme coyly noted, the passage in Leviticus that she quoted contains similar sentiments about adultery.

With this:

“And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
Woah, woah, woah.
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson.
Heaven holds a place for those who pray.
Hey hey hey, Hey hey hey.”

Pure gold.
It’s nearly enough to make me, of a (peaceful) nationalist bent, miss the days of Ian Paisley. Unfortunately, I’m no Paul Simon, and couldn’t get the following to somehow work:

“Where have you gone, Ian Paisley?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Dr. No has left and gone away.”

Joe My God:

Meanwhile Robinson’s young lover, now christened “Kirk Diggler” in reference to Mark Wahlberg’s horse-cocked character in Boogie Nights, has become an instant folk hero in the UK, becoming the subject of numerous Facebook fan pages, most of which were created to mock Robinson. British gay glossy Attitude Magazine is offering young Kirk the cover of their next issue, calling him “incredibly hot.” Additionally, a campaign is underway to make the 1968 Simon & Garfunkel classic, Mrs. Robinson, the #1 song on this week’s UK pop chart, aided by a radio request effort and an iTunes download promotion. Nobody beats the Brits when it comes to schadenfreude. Nobody.

Melissa Kite at The Telegraph:

The disgraced wife of Peter Robinson, the province’s First Minister, was unceremoniously dumped by the party her husband leads.

In a damning statement, a party official disclosed that she was preparing to stand down from public office and said the party had “no sympathy” for her.

Mrs Robinson has not been seen in public since news broke last week of her affair with Kirk McCambley, then 19, and her financial dealings with him.

Mr Robinson was also fighting for his political life over the scandal, which has sent shock waves through Northern Ireland. The couple are deeply religious and have always publicly professed their commitment to staunch protestant values, with Mrs Robinson denouncing homosexuals.

The DUP leader said on Saturday that his 60-year-old wife was too unwell to answer the mounting allegations levelled at her.

“I am not even in the position where I can question my wife about these issues,” he said. “Neither her solicitor or I would be confident about the responses we are getting to any questions.”

Mr Robinson had earlier admitted that his wife had attempted suicide after the affair.

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