Politically Aware – LGBT Weekly http://lgbtweekly.com Sun, 04 Dec 2016 15:00:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Protect the things you are thankful for http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/11/23/protect-the-things-you-are-thankful-for/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/11/23/protect-the-things-you-are-thankful-for/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 19:21:48 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=75599

When President Obama campaigned for Secretary Clinton, he would rattle off reasons that Donald Trump was “temperamentally unfit” to be president. When the crowd hissed their disapproval of Trump, Obama said “Don’t boo. Vote.” He knew that actions are more powerful than words as agents of change. (This is not always easy for a writer to admit.)

As I thought about my Thanksgiving column, I became uncomfortable at how much the holiday has become about words. Not the act of coming together as a family, by blood, choice or both; that remains powerful, and may be a more important source of strength this year. What rings hollow is the part where we go around the table declaring what “we are thankful for.”

Someone will have a particularly touching one. Someone will have a funny one. Most, however, will have some version of freedom, health or security for themselves or a loved one. With those things now under assault, simply saying we are thankful isn’t enough. We need to go around the table again and say how we will act to protect those things.

One action suggested by social media, referencing Eleanor Roosevelt, is to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. I agree, but there are already candles out there piercing the gathering clouds. They just need the fuel to glow brighter. This year, once you decide what you’re thankful for, support a group that can help you protect it. Here are some ideas.

Planned Parenthood has been under congressional assault during the Obama years. President elect Trump will make it a full scale war. 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services involve things like cervical cancer screening, prevention and treatment of diseases and effective family planning. You don’t have to be pro-choice to support Planned Parenthood. You just have to be thankful for a woman in your life.

The San Diego LGBT Community Center has served our community since the early 1970s. If federal support for LGBT rights wanes, we’ll need The Center even more. Any donations though the end of the year will be doubled by a match from Tony Award winning actress Sara Ramirez.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is too often thought of as a left wing organization. They aren’t. They protect Constitutional rights against assault from any party. To quote “The American President”, the real question isn’t why am I “a card-carrying member of the ACLU,” but “why aren’t you?”

Washington Post reporters broke the story that became “Watergate” and took down a president. A free press is a bulwark against authoritarianism, but they will be feeling the squeeze from tight profit margins and an unfriendly administration. It’s time to stop dodging the firewall and pay for the check on power.

Alliance San Diego and the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium both work to empower San Diegans who’s voice are too often missing in the conversation. We need to continue hearing them to be One San Diego.

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When I knew … http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/11/10/when-i-knew/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/11/10/when-i-knew/#comments Thu, 10 Nov 2016 21:37:17 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=75275

For me, it was Wisconsin. That’s when I had to accept President Trump.

I watched results at work on slate.com, and saw promising signs for Clinton across the board. High turnout in Florida was likely to carry her to victory, and Ohio and Iowa seemed more competitive than forecast.

I got home and saw Indiana and Kentucky go for Trump. No surprise there.

Ohio and Iowa were called. Florida started slipping away. It wasn’t going to be a Clinton rout, but I believed the 272 Electoral Votes in the “blue wall” would hold. Maybe 278 with Nevada.

Virginia made me nervous, and I started getting “this can’t be happening” texts. Urban centers pulled Clinton through, and I believed the same would happen in Michigan, despite her early deficit.

Then I watched Wisconsin. Clinton was behind, and CNN’s John King couldn’t find anywhere that she could make up the vote. Pennsylvania flipped to Trump’s column, despite Clinton having achieved the margins in Philadelphia that she “needed.” Not long after, the friends who had gathered to celebrate Madame President left in a haze of shock and tears. Getting up on Wednesday seemed to make it real.

It reminds me so much of 2008, when the majority of Californians took away marriage equality. Maybe worse, because President Obama was some consolation that year.

Still, there are things that give me hope.

At the moment, it does not appear that a majority of Americans elected President Trump – the Electoral College did. That doesn’t mean he is illegitimate, but it means that the majority of Americans did not support his rhetoric.

Donald Trump likes to win and wants to be popular. He said what he thought would get him elected, and it worked. Even he likely knows he can’t govern that way. He may ditch some partisan rhetoric, and push some popular legislation, to win the approval of Americans.

If he doesn’t, we have the Constitution. Written in the shadow of an overthrown monarchy, it is perhaps history’s best bulwark against tyranny. It was made stronger when it was amended to limit presidents to two terms. We have a separation of powers for a reason, and the same checks and balances that limited the change I believed in will limit the changes I don’t.

We have Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is indestructible.

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Election 2016: What to watch on Tuesday http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/11/07/election-2016-what-to-watch-on-tuesday/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/11/07/election-2016-what-to-watch-on-tuesday/#respond Mon, 07 Nov 2016 18:48:23 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=75169

United States presidential election day 2016, message Vote, patriotic background

All Day: slate.com

News outlets have traditionally avoided announcing election results until the polls in a state have closed, out of fear that voters might stay home if they knew what was happening. Believing the point of journalism is to provide citizens with information, not protect them from it, slate.com has partnered with VoteCastr to provide projections in battleground states throughout Election Day. They won’t know how people have voted, but they will try to replicate the analysis of pre-election surveys and direct observation of turnout that campaigns have long used to know the election results before the masses. These internal campaign projections aren’t perfect, as almost President John Kerry and Karl Rove  will tell you, but slate.com‘s coverage could give Americans the best real-time Election Day projections we’ve seen in years.

5:45 PM EST/2:45 PST

Around this time, networks will begin to report the results of exit polls, which ask people for whom they voted and record a variety of other opinions and demographics. I’ll be watching three things closely: gender, Latino/Hispanic identification, and education. Women made up 53% of the electorate in 2012, and this year they favor Clinton by about 13 points. If 55% of voters this year are women, as has been seen in some early voting, Clinton may have an easy victory. Similarly, an uptick in Latino/Hispanic voting, as has been noted in Nevada in Florida, would suggest Clinton might outperform her polling. College educated voters seem to be the traditional Republican constituency most turned off by Trump, so any increase in their numbers will clearly benefit Clinton.

6:00 PM EST/3:00 PST

Polls close in most of Indiana and Kentucky. Both should be easy wins for Trump but the Senate race in Indiana is considered a toss-up. If Evan Bayh is wins, the Democrats will likely take the Senate with a seat or two to spare. Indiana’s 9th Congressional District is considered “Lean Republican,” the kind of seat Democrats would need if they have any hope of retaking the House of Representatives.

7:00 PM EST/4:00 PST

If Virginia is close, Clinton could be in trouble. If Georgia is close, she could be headed to a landslide.

7:30 PM EST/4:30 PST

Polls close in North Carolina and Ohio. Both have significant early voting, so calls could be made early. If Clinton wins either, it’s hard to see how Trump wins. If Deborah Ross wins the North Carolina Senate race, Democrats will likely take control.

8:00 PM EST/5:00 PST

Polls close in New Hampshire, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (and elsewhere). All were considered part of Clinton’s firewall of 272 electoral votes, 2 more than she needs. Trump has made a late run in Michigan and New Hampshire, where polls seem to be tightening. If Clinton wins all 3, she likely wins, even if she loses in Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina. Clinton can probably survive a loss in  New Hampshire and maybe even Michigan by picking up Nevada and North Carolina. A loss in Pennsylvania would cripple her chances. Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Missouri also feature competitive Senate races that Democrats need to win, especially if they lose Indiana and North Carolina.

9:00 PM EST/6:00 PST

Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold was a clear favorite to win back his seat for most of the election cycle, but recent polling shows him with the slimmest of leads. If Feingold or Clinton are losing Wisconsin, they could be in for a bad night. Similarly, Colorado is part of Clinton’s firewall, so a loss would be a problem. Polls also close in Arizona, which is Clinton’s second best chance (after North Carolina) to take a state won by Romney in 2012. In another Arizona race to watch, Democrats are working to unseat the infamously anti-immigrant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

10:00 PM EST/7:00 PST

Iowa is Trump’s best chance to win a state that went for Obama in 2012. If he can’t win there, Clinton probably matches or surpasses Obama’s 332 electoral votes. Nevada is the only Senate race where Republicans are competitive to take a Democratic seat, and Clinton could need a win here to offset losses elsewhere. Utah could make history, and a great trivia question, if independent candidate Evan McMullin becomes the first third party candidate to win electoral votes since George Wallace in 1968.

11:00 PM EST/8:00 PST

NBC called the 2012 Presidential race for President Obama at 11:12, so if the dynamics are similar, look for a call at this point. We will also start hearing about local races. Keep in mind that absentee ballots favor Republicans in this area, so don’t write off Democrats who are behind. The race to watch will be Doug Applegate’s attempt to take out incumbent Rep. Darryl Issa. If Rep. Scott Peters is ahead when you go to bed, expect local Democrats like Sup. Dave Roberts and Mara Elliott to do well.

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Local 2016 races worth your support http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/10/13/local-2016-races-worth-your-support/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/10/13/local-2016-races-worth-your-support/#respond Thu, 13 Oct 2016 22:17:58 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=74586

Georgette Gomez

Long time readers will remember the “Return on Investment Index” for equality, an idea adapted from Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com to describe the best place to spend your last hour, or $20, to have an impact on LGBT issues. The analysis favors smaller, closer elections with broad implications, so you won’t see safe seats even with great candidates. Here are the local 2016 races where your efforts in these last 26 days might be decisive.

County Supervisor, District 3

Supervisor Dave Roberts gets the top spot for a number of reasons: seat at the table, local LGBT impact, and close race. Roberts is the only LGBT seat at the Supervisors’ table and the only Democrat, the first elected after nearly two decades of unanimous Republican rule. The Supervisors control a huge budget, including health care dollars critical to fighting AIDS, syphilis and Hepatitis C. While there has been little public polling, the race is believed to be close but winnable for Roberts. Volunteers who want to carry an LGBT candidate over the finish line should work to keep Dave Roberts on the County Board of Supervisors.

Yes on Measures K and L

The sheer number of ballot measures makes it easy to give up on all of them. Please don’t. Unlike most measures, K and L aren’t about a one-time stadium issue, confusing tax or charter edit. They are an investment in democracy that will build on itself and pay dividends. Democracy works best when citizens are engaged, and too few citizens, particularly those in traditionally underrepresented communities, are engaged in primary elections. Measures K and L will ensure that decisions about our leaders and governance are made in November when more voters participate. That’s not only good for the LGBT community, it’s kind of what America is all about.

San Diego Council District 9

If Georgette Gomez were running against a Republican, she might have made the top spot, but D9 and the Council will remain in Democratic control even if she loses. But she shouldn’t. It’s time to have an LGBT woman of color on the Council, and Gomez is a tremendous progressive voice who made it through the primary in a refreshingly old-fashioned way – by knowing the voters in her district and fighting for them for years.

U.S. Congressional District CA-49

In one of this year’s electoral surprises, retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate is running strong against Republican Rep. Darryl Issa, one of the richest members of Congress with strong ties to the House leadership. This makes the list because a David has a real chance to beat Goliath, and the CA-49 is the kind of district Democrats must win to gain control of the House of Representatives. Applegate might not be the decisive 218th House vote for equality legislation, but he deserves the opportunity.

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Round one to Clinton. For now http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/09/29/round-one-to-clinton-for-now/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/09/29/round-one-to-clinton-for-now/#respond Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:33:48 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=74242

The first 2016 presidential debate

In competitive high school debate, the victor is known quickly. A judge watches the debate and keeps track of the arguments. Speakers score points when reasonable arguments go uncontested and when their arguments win contested issues. The judge adds up the points and announces a winner before the next round or awards ceremony.

Scoring presidential debates is more complicated. There are multiple judges: the media, scientific polls, online surveys, and voters. The judging encompasses more than tracking the arguments. Even when there is a consensus winner on points, they can lose on temperament or in the expectations game. Any of those early decisions can be reversed once social media determines which quotes and clips will be etched into the minds of voters.

Sixty hours after the first presidential debate, Sec. Hillary Clinton appears to have bested Donald Trump, but it’s worth discussing the current metrics and what might be yet to come.

Clinton clearly won on points. An impartial judge might give the argument on trade deals to Trump, and some fact checkers say he was correct on the New York murder rate, but everything else went to Clinton. It wasn’t clear Trump knew current nuclear policy, he looked terrible on race issues and birtherism, and he took demonstrably false positions throughout.

Clinton is also winning the temperament battle and the early video wars. Other than an occasionally odd smile or laugh, Clinton survived the permanent split screen fairly well. Trump’s slouching and sniffling are more likely to live on than anything she did, and video compilations of his interruptions are piling up views. Clinton artfully introduced new Trump victims, including a contractor and a Miss Universe, who are now being interviewed and reinforcing her discussion of his cruelty.

For the moment, Trump appears to have survived the expectations game. Clinton was as good as expected – maybe a bit better. Trump couldn’t keep up, but few thought he would, and he didn’t take a mortal blow. That may be enough to keep him in the hunt. Some online surveys showed Trump winning the debate. They weren’t scientific, but they are reminders that Trump supporters who believe the system is rigged won’t leave him because Clinton did better in a debate (presumably also rigged).

So round one goes to Clinton, but one new fact check that becomes an Internet meme could change that in a heartbeat. For proof, look no further than the first debate between Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. Some early polls declared Gore the winner. After a few days of watching Gore’s split screen sighs on endless loop, it became clear that Bush gained more from the debate.

Clinton should enjoy this victory while she has it, but there are two debates and 40 days to go. The last candidate to win the first debate: Gov. Mitt Romney.

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Adding perspective to the speculation about Clinton’s pneumonia http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/09/15/adding-perspective-to-the-speculation-about-clintons-pneumonia/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/09/15/adding-perspective-to-the-speculation-about-clintons-pneumonia/#respond Thu, 15 Sep 2016 18:07:39 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=73872

Hillary Clinton | PHOTO: GAGE SKIDMORE

In 1964, Fact magazine asked psychiatrists about Republican candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater’s mental stability. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), of 12,356 psychiatrists polled, 2,417 responded, and 1,189 said Goldwater was unfit to be president. None had examined Goldwater, who sued the magazine and won.

Since 1973 the APA has enforced a policy, often called the “Goldwater Rule,” that it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion about the mental health of a person they haven’t examined.

As a physician, I believe that the same holds true for the physical health of presidential candidates; however, just as the APA allows psychiatrists to share their general expertise, I think it is fair to add a few facts and a little perspective, to the flurry of speculation about Sec. Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia.

We can’t be sure without her medical records, but it’s fair to assume Clinton’s pneumonia was mild, because severe pneumonia is treated in the hospital. Patients can be sent home with antibiotics if their chance of dying of pneumonia in the next 30 days is 0.9 percent or less, based on a list of risk factors. (0.9-2.8 percent is considered borderline.)

How does that compare to other risks? According to the Social Security Administration’s actuarial tables, a woman of Clinton’s 68 years has a 1.4 percent chance of dying within the next year, but her average life expectancy is almost 18 years. In other words, Clinton is likely to survive a two term presidency and have another decade on the lecture circuit, and her pneumonia should worry you less than her age.

If Clinton’s age scares you, Donald Trump’s should panic you: a man of 70 has a 90 percent higher risk of dying in the next year than a woman of 68. Still, it’s only a 2.4 percent chance, and it comes with a 14 year life expectancy, meaning that whoever wins, Trump and Clinton are both likely to be with us two terms.

That’s based on what we know now, which is their ages, Clinton’s pneumonia, and Trump’s bizarre physician’s statement declaring he will be “the healthiest individual elected to the presidency.” That’s not much. The numbers change dramatically if Trump’s penchant for Kentucky Fried Chicken has increased his cholesterol, or if Clinton was predisposed to pneumonia by an underlying lung condition. That kind of medical history, along with information on treatment, is what voters really need to make an informed choice.

I was diagnosed with pneumonia during my residency, and I can’t imagine having gone to an outdoor event two days later. That Clinton tried to fulfill her commitments says much more about her reliability and endurance than a mild pneumonia says about her overall health.

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What the EpiPen price row reveals http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/09/01/what-the-epipen-price-row-reveals/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/09/01/what-the-epipen-price-row-reveals/#respond Thu, 01 Sep 2016 21:56:58 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=73551

As a physician with a political column, there is one topic I haven’t been able to escape of late: The EpiPen. [OK, two questions. No, I don’t think you can diagnose Sec. Clinton with a seizure from a campaign video.]

Epinephrine, the medication in the EpiPen, has been saving the lives of patients with severe allergic reactions for decades. In the hospital, nurses draw it up from a bottle with a syringe and inject the patient, whose breathing becomes easier almost immediately. The EpiPen is a way for patients to inject themselves or others successfully with little training. Originally prescribed to patients known to have severe allergies, EpiPens are found almost anywhere a patient might have an allergic reaction, which is everywhere.

What soured public opinion on a lifesaving medication? The price, which by some measures has increased over 500 percent in nine years.

Is the EpiPen worth the May 2016 two pack price tag of $600 (The patient cost varies with insurance)? Absolutely. Anyone who has gasped for air from an allergic reaction, or watched someone else suffer one, would be happy to pay far more.

Does the EpiPen need to cost $600? Not based on the production cost. The epinephrine itself is inexpensive and the delivery system isn’t new. Demand has been rising, which usually lowers per-unit costs unless there is a shortage of materials.

Why does Mylan, the company that makes the EpiPen, charge $600? They have no competition, so they can. Or at least they could until people noticed. Mylan recently announced they will sell a generic version of the EpiPen for half the price. That will help some people, but it seems equally arbitrary. When Mylan bought the rights to the EpiPen in 2007, it cost about $60 according to the New York Times. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $70 now.

I suspect Mylan will be accused of price-gouging and investigated by someone in government for something. My guess is that they will only be found guilty of making as much money as possible while they could. Apple does the same thing, but we only want Apple products. We need Mylan’s EpiPen. That difference is emotionally obvious, but hard to represent in balance sheets and regulations. Hard, but not impossible, and we should be trying to make the math work for patients and pharmaceutical companies.

Tempting as it might be to slash the price Mylan can charge, we are worse off if Mylan has insufficient incentive to keep making EpiPens. The same is true for drugs for Hepatitis C and HIV that are just as lifesaving and just as out of reach for some patients. An America that leads in both pharmaceutical research and access to medications isn’t too much to ask for. Mylan earned their week of bad press, but we should focus on fixing the broader system, not the price of the EpiPen.

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The Dole strategy is bananas http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/08/18/the-dole-strategy-is-bananas/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/08/18/the-dole-strategy-is-bananas/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:00:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=73168

Bob Dole

By October of his 1996 re-election campaign, President Bill Clinton held a double digit lead over Sen. Bob Dole, the Republican nominee. Seeking to keep the congressional majorities they won in 1994, Republican leaders made an unusual move. Instead of feigning optimism and relying on the coat tails of an unlikely Dole victory to protect vulnerable congressmembers, they used the predicted Dole defeat to hype the Republican Congress as a “check” on President Clinton. The money followed the messaging, with the Republican National Committee (RNC) shifting resources to congressional races at Dole’s expense. Clinton won a second term in November, but Republicans lost only two seats in the House and won two in the Senate, keeping control of both.

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expands her lead over Donald Trump, establishment Republicans are suggesting a similar strategy. Seventy Republicans signed a letter to the RNC, suggesting it stop supporting Trump and try to prop up vulnerable members of Congress. Trump has been divisive and dangerous, but trying to replicate the Dole strategy is, in a word, bananas.

Not because it’s too soon, as some have suggested. As Republican Sen. Susan Collins noted in her Never Trump statement, “There will be no ‘new’ Donald Trump.” If you believe he is a drag on the ticket, better to cut him loose quickly. Early voting is far more important than it was in 1996, so the argument must be made before the Clinton machine banks votes for down ballot Democrats.

The reason the Dole strategy won’t work is that Trump is not Dole, and his supporters aren’t your typical Republicans.

Dole is a long term Republican, a war veteran and a team player. Told his duty was to fall on his sword to save that party, he was likely to do it. Not so with The Donald, who teased Speaker Ryan with his own words in retribution for being late to the Trump bandwagon and called embattled Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte “weak.” Within minutes of the RNC pulling the financial plug, Traitor Priebus and Reneging Ryan would be the victims of a Trump Twitter tirade, vilified as the losers who rigged the system.

Team Trump would be right there with him. Dole’s voters were Republicans first and might have listened to party leaders, but as Trump has noted sadly, but probably correctly, he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose voters. A slighted Trump might march his voters off an electoral cliff, and the RNC wouldn’t have the power to stop him. If they did, he wouldn’t be the nominee. The best the RNC can do is work with Trump so that he, and his voters, don’t turn their sights on the party.

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What we learned from the conventions http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/08/04/what-we-learned-from-the-conventions/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/08/04/what-we-learned-from-the-conventions/#respond Thu, 04 Aug 2016 19:44:50 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=72800

The Republican and Democratic Party Conventions are now in the books. What did we learn?

Two Americas. In 2004, Sen. John Edwards described an America divided between the wealthy and those who lived paycheck to paycheck. In 2016, the choice is between Michelle Obama’s mutually supportive country struggling to become more perfect and Donald Trump’s dystopian landscape in need of an iron fist. The election could break on whether voters choose the America they aspire to, or the one they fear they are living in.

All in on suburban women. Democrats tried to reach out to a number of constituencies, including evangelicals, Bernie Bros and interventionalist Republicans. There were moments for “white working class” voters who feel they live in Trump’s dangerous world, but the overall Democratic message was to soccer and security moms, asking them to vote for a competent women who would make history over a temperamentally unfit demagogue. It may work, but it suggests the dreams of an anti-Trump landslide were replaced by hopes of a micro-targeted victory.

You’re gonna see kids. A lot. They figured prominently in Michelle Obama’s speech, Hillary’s “break the glass ceiling” video and ads asking if Trump’s statements were appropriate for children. Using children in politics is fraught with peril, but Democrats seem to believe it’s another way to make Trump unacceptable, particularly to the aforementioned suburban women.

And hear about people with disabilities. According to national reporting, the Trump video clip that gives voters the most pause is his mocking of a disabled reporter. Democrats would leverage that regardless, but it fits nicely into the “kinder Hillary” narrative. Sec. Clinton fought to make schools educate the disabled, something for which even Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, has praised her. If you didn’t see Anastasia Somoza’s speech, watch it.

Donald Trump wants LGBTQ votes. It’s just not clear his supporters do. Peter Thiel speaking as an out gay man and Trump offering to protect our community were both historic at the Republican National Convention. If you read Trump’s speech, he thanked the crowd for cheering. If you watch it, it seemed more like he was chiding them for not cheering enough. Regardless, offering to protect our community from foreign terrorists is not enough, especially when your running mate tried to legalize discrimination in Indiana. In San Diego, we know what Republican allies look like, and Mr. Trump, you are no Mayor Sanders. You are no Mayor Faulconer.

Republicans have hitched their wagons to Trump. By that I mean only those who will still be running for something, and even they used a thin rope and have their knives out. There are two former Republican presidents and three former nominees still living. Only 1996 nominee Sen. Bob Dole showed up at the Convention. Among the primary vanquished, Sen. Ted Cruz made an un-dorsement with his speech, and Sen. Marco Rubio checked in by video, demonstrating how to keep a safe distance from a potentially implosive candidate. Trump’s most vociferous supporters, Gov. Chris Christie and former Mayor Rudy Guiliani, are unlikely to have a government job unless Trump gives them one.

Michelle for mayor. After watching her mic drop speech, more than a few people wished Michelle Obama were running instead of Hillary Clinton. If the FLOTUS wants to take the political plunge, her first chance will be as mayor of Chicago in 2019. Incumbent Rahm Emanuel has problems with progressives and ties to President Obama as his former chief of staff. He would likely yield to a unifying campaign by Michelle Obama.

High hits can hurt. Our FLOTUS’s policy on bullying, “When they go low, we go high,” was one of the best lines of the Democratic Convention, but it created a challenge. How can Democrats attack Trump without stooping to his level? POTUS made it happen, by challenging Americans to demand a shared participation in governance that Trump would deny them. In other words, President Obama wrapped himself in Betsy Ross’ flag and used the hammer of justice to ring Trump’s Liberty Bell. No one, even Trump, argued that he violated Michelle’s rule, perhaps because she seems to be the only person Trump knows better than to attack on Twitter.

Surprise stars. Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who spoke of their son’s heroism, highlighted the importance of religious freedom, and stood up to Trump’s attacks in the ensuing week.

Best new phrase. “Moral defibrillator,” from Moral Mondays leader Rev. William Barber.

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San Diego election changes will give a voice to more voters http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/07/21/san-diego-election-changes-will-give-a-voice-to-more-voters/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/07/21/san-diego-election-changes-will-give-a-voice-to-more-voters/#respond Thu, 21 Jul 2016 20:15:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=72343

Last week, the City Council promised voters a chance to change the way elections are run and won in San Diego. By a 5-4 party line vote, Democrats advanced a ballot measure that would require a November run-off between the top candidates.

Conservatives have argued that the measure is simply a Democratic attempt to consolidate their power. I disagree. Democratic candidates may benefit, but the measure doesn’t consolidate power. It distributes power to more San Diego voters.

As it stands, candidates can win San Diego elections in June by winning a simple majority of the vote. In many cases, that has kept electoral power in the hands of fewer San Diegans.

The 2012 City Council elections are instructive. In District 1, current Council President Sherri Lightner (41.59 percent; 12,889 votes) lost the June primary to Ray Ellis (45.61 percent; 14,133 votes). In November, Lightner (54.96 percent; 31,585 votes) soundly defeated Ellis (45.04 percent 25,811 votes).

Looking inside the numbers, Lightner won more votes in November than the total cast in June, and she beat Ellis by more than seven times his primary vote margin. Yet if Ellis had netted just 1,361 more votes in June, nearly 30,000 additional November voters would have been silenced.

Over in District 7, Councilmember Scott Sherman got 50.17 percent of the June vote, securing his election with only 54 votes to spare. Had runner up Mat Kostrinsky made it to November and experienced the same proportional surge as Lightner, he would have won by over 2,000 votes. We can’t be sure what those 30,000 extra voters might have said, but the new rules would have given them a voice.

Yes, many of those November voters chose not to vote in June. We should be engaging them, not punishing them. America tried poll taxes and tests, and we know they are unfair and wrong. Penalizing people for not voting in June isn’t much better, especially when there will always be a November election for president or governor. The cost of additional local elections is a small price to pay for a more participatory democracy.

If anyone is out to consolidate power, it’s national Republicans. After taking control of numerous state governments in 2010, they have gone out of their way to block voter participation by shrinking voting hours, decreasing the number of polling sites, and passing voter ID laws to fix a non-existent fraud problem. The party that has so aggressively tried to export democracy should be more interested in expanding it at home.

Both parties try to protect their power, but how they do it differs. That matters. Democrats are trying to bring more people into the process. The fact that they may benefit doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.

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A remake of Louisiana’s 1991 election? http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/07/07/a-remake-of-louisianas-1991-election/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/07/07/a-remake-of-louisianas-1991-election/#respond Thu, 07 Jul 2016 21:45:37 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=71928

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

As I listened to FBI Director James Comey’s statement on the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, one quote ran through my mind: “Vote For the Crook … It’s Important.”

That was the unofficial slogan of the 1991 race for Louisiana governor. Whatever the official slogan was, it came in a distant third, also losing to “Vote for the Lizard, not the Wizard.”

The “Crook” (or “Lizard”) was former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who beat charges of mail fraud, obstruction of justice and bribery in 1985, but admitted racking up gambling losses under aliases and paying them off with suitcases stuffed with cash. The “Wizard” was David Duke, a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, and a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The 2016 presidential election looks eerily like a studio remake of that 1991 Louisiana election.

The lead characters have been softened a touch. Unlike Edwards, Clinton has not been charged with a crime, but Comey was far from laudatory in his recommendation against criminal action. The investigation uncovered email threads with information that was classified at the time, bad news even if it can be squared with Clinton’s statements. “They were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” makes a much better ad for Trump than “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” does for Clinton.

Unlike Duke, Trump has not been a leader in the KKK, but he has called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers, used a six-pointed star in a Tweet about corruption, and promised a ban on Muslim immigration. In an unscripted cameo, Duke showed up to compliment Trump’s immigration stance, and Trump seemed slow to usher him from the stage.

As in 1991, the Democratic supporting cast stands behind their candidate with one voice. The Republican chorus, who ran from Duke’s campaign in near unison, are more cacophonous this year. Older members, notably former President George H. W. Bush, have distanced themselves from Trump as fast as they did Duke. Others have run from, stood with or hugged Trump, in almost direct correlation to the Republican lean of their electorate.

The basic plot, two flawed and unpopular politicians vying for supremacy, remains constant, but like most good remakes the 2016 version is bigger and better. Clinton vs. Trump is on a national stage, and the budget will be billions. The stakes include nuclear codes and Supreme Court justices.

Remakes rarely flip the ending, though they may try to make the villain a little more human. Edwards beat Duke by 22 points in 1991, so Clinton should be hopeful she can win if she sticks to script. Once “Stronger Together” has run its course, her next slogan might be one with a nod to history, a touch of humility, and an unvarnished truth: “Vote for the Careless Emailer. It’s Important.”

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The race we all missed http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/06/23/the-race-we-all-missed/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/06/23/the-race-we-all-missed/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 21:38:05 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=71578

Doug Applegate

The June 7 ballots are almost all counted, and the results largely as expected. Mayor Faulconer won an outright majority, avoiding a November run-off, as did Councilmembers Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman and Councilmember-elect Chris Ward. Barbara Bry did slightly better than expected but will have to take on Ray Ellis in the general, where Ricardo Flores and Georgette Gomez will also face off. The biggest surprise may have been Mara Elliott’s second place finish in the race for City Attorney.

The biggest surprise in a race we were watching, that is.

Where northern San Diego County meets Orange County lies the 49th U.S. Congressional District, held by Rep. Darryl Issa since 2001 (when it was the 48th District). Issa has enjoyed a number of electoral advantages: the district leans Republican, he is the richest member of Congress, and he has a high profile within the party, having recently chaired the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. After redistricting cut 6 points off the Republican voter advantage, Issa won re-election in 2012 and 2014 with 58 percent and 60 percent of the vote, respectively.

Given that history, few thought Retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate would be more than this year’s sacrificial lamb, losing big in June and by slightly less in November. Col. Applegate and voters had other ideas. Applegate got 45 percent of the primary vote, holding Issa to 51.5 percent and earning a spot in the November run-off.

Party leaders and pundits have started to take note. Political handicapper Larry Sabato has moved the race from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican.” DailyKos.com, a progressive news and opinion site, has written how Issa, dubbed “America’s Worst Congressman,” can be beaten. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a poll showing a tied race, suggesting they may open up their coffers.

Congress is full of representatives and senators who cruised to victory after a primary wake-up call, but there are reasons this race could be different. Issa’s best excuse for his poor showing is that the Clinton/Sanders race energized Democrats more than Trump’s coronation brought out Republicans. That may be true, but it’s clear that things will be different come November. Trump remains unpopular in deep blue California, and #NeverTrump Republicans don’t even have a candidate in the Senate race to excite them. Add in a significant Latino population and the fact that President Obama narrowly won the district in 2008 and Applegate has a viable, if not smooth path to victory.

If Democrats have any hope of recapturing control of the House, they will need to win in places like the CA-49. If Trump loses to Clinton, and Issa loses to Applegate, Speaker Ryan just might lose his gavel.

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Elections matter http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/06/09/elections-matter/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/06/09/elections-matter/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 20:47:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=71158

Hillary Clinton

Tell me you like Sen. Bernie Sanders more than Secretary Hillary Clinton. I can respect that.

Tell me Sanders is on the right side of some disagreements with Clinton. I may agree with you.

Tell me there is no difference between Clinton and Donald Trump. I will stop listening.

If you have paid attention in the past 15 years, eight with President George W. Bush and seven-plus with President Barack Obama, you can’t tell me it doesn’t matter who is in the White House, no matter how rigged you believe the system to be.

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter who picks Supreme Court Justices. Bush chose Alito and Roberts, both of whom voted against marriage equality. Obama picked Sotomayor and Kagan, both of whom supported it. Clinton’s nominees will support Roe v. Wade and overturn Citizens United, while Trump has announced a list to do the opposite.

Donald Trump

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter who is commander-in-chief. The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell required congressional action, but it also required an internal study in which the military decided it could work. No one wanted to admit it in 2010, but it would be unusual for a military study to oppose the C-in-C’s opinion.

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter who picks the cabinet. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave one of the most impassioned speeches in support of transgender Americans ever uttered, from the highest law enforcement office in the nation. That doesn’t happen if the president isn’t on her side.

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter who writes Executive Orders. With a hopelessly dysfunctional Congress, the president is increasingly unchecked in exerting executive power. President Obama has used that power to offer undocumented immigrants a way to preserve their families, work legally and stay in this country. Clinton has promised to find more ways to bring immigrants out of the shadows. Trump has promised to build a wall, and questioned whether an Indiana native with Mexican heritage can be an impartial jurist.

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter who conducts foreign policy. Clinton has met with foreign leaders in the interests of the United States, and is arguably more forceful with American power than President Obama. You may not like that, but it’s better than Trump, who touts his ability to work with foreign leaders on a beauty pageant and has a bizarre affinity for tyrants.

Clinton has won more votes than Sanders. She has won more pledged delegates. She has won more superdelegates. She has enough pledged- and super- delegates to clinch the nomination. When President Obama had the same advantages in 2008, Sen. Sanders said he was the nominee, and Clinton conceded and worked hard to get him elected. It’s important to let everyone vote, including in the Washington, D.C. primary. After that, Sanders needs to admit that Clinton beat him fair and square, and is a much better option than Trump.

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It’s primary time http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/26/its-primary-time/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/26/its-primary-time/#comments Thu, 26 May 2016 19:29:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70829

With the California primary fast approaching, it’s time to make you “Politically Aware” about the June races.

Republican presidential primary: Donald Trump will win California and be the nominee. Conservatives who want to win are falling in line. Others are flailing as the try to save the Senate majority against a Trump debacle.

Democratic presidential primary: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a polling edge over Sen. Bernie Sanders. Win or lose, Clinton will best Sanders in the pledged delegates, though she may need superdelegates to clinch the nomination.

California Senate: Democrats are lining up behind California Attorney General Kamala Harris to succeed liberal firebrand Sen. Barbara Boxer. [Personal note: Sen. Boxer wondered in my presence why the “No on 8” campaign made ads with Sen. Dianne Feinstein instead of her. Boxer’s point …”I’m your girl.” She’ll be missed.]

U.S. House of Representatives: Despite issues over his campaign spending, Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. seems likely to make it through to November. So do Reps. Issa, Vargas and Davis. The swing district is the 52nd, where disorganized Republican opposition is making Rep. Scott Peters a sure bet to survive the June primary, and a good bet for a third term in November.

Mayor of San Diego: Neither Independent Lori Saldana nor Democrat Ed Harris have really caught on, leaving Mayor Kevin Faulconer a favorite to win with a majority in June. If he can’t get 51 percent in the primary, Saldana or Harris have much better odds in November.

City Attorney: Alleged non-partisanship aside, there is one Republican (Robert Hickey) running against four Democrat/Progressives (Gil Cabrera, Rafael Castellanos, Mara Elliot, Brian Pease). Hickey will almost certainly face a November challenge, but from whom? Democratic endorsers are split among the candidates, while conservative mailers suggest they want to run against Castellanos.

City Council: The even districts break even, with Democrats in 4 and 8, and Republicans in 2 and 6. Odd number districts are up in 2016:

District 1: Council President Sherri Lightner lost the 2012 Primary to Ray Ellis, but beat him in the November election. Ellis returns for a similar fight plan; if he can’t get over 50 percent in June, the Democrat who comes in second, most likely Barbara Bry, will win in November.

District 3: Most of the LGBT community is behind Chris Ward. Anthony Bernal has the support of Papa Doug Manchester and Mayor Faulconer. Ward is the current favorite, but the last shoe to drop, Councilmember Gloria’s endorsement, could shake up the race.

District 5: Councilmember Kersey is cruising.

District 7: Councilmember Scott Sherman won in June 2012 by a razor thin margin. Among Democrats, Justin DeCesare is running in the middle while Jose Caballeros is running to the left. If Sherman doesn’t get a majority in June, he could face a stiff test in November, particularly from DeCesare, a moderate veteran who fits the district well.

District 9: Which Democrat will win? For the moment, Ricardo Flores has the role of moderate, while Sarah Saez has labor and Georgette Gomez is the Sandersesque progressive. If Flores can’t win in June, November should be an interesting intra-party battle.

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Is Elizabeth Warren’s Twitter attack on Trump more than it seems? http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/12/is-elizabeth-warrens-twitter-attack-on-trump-more-than-it-seems/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/12/is-elizabeth-warrens-twitter-attack-on-trump-more-than-it-seems/#respond Thu, 12 May 2016 19:22:07 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70442

Elizabeth Warren

Secretary Clinton’s campaign staff suggest that she is looking for a vice-presidential nominee who would dominate debates and take on the traditional role of “attack dog.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren seems to have taken her audition to Twitter.

Warren previewed her Twitter prowess with a devastating attack on Sen. Ted Cruz, who sent a fundraising email detailing how hard it was to be on the campaign trail. She gave him “2 words: Boo Hoo” and suggested he think more about working people who don’t always get to choose what they sacrifice.

Warren attacked Trump just after the exits of Cruz and Gov. John Kasich left a clear path to the Republican nomination. After tweeting “It’s real – he is one step away from the White House,” she hit him for building “his campaign on racism, sexism and xenophobia,” and because “There’s more enthusiasm for @realDonaldTrump among leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.” She finished by promising to ensure that Trump’s “toxic stew of hatred and insecurity never reaches the White House.”

Trump, whose road to the nomination is littered with candidates that attacked him, hit back Friday, calling her “goofy Elizabeth Warren.” Warren called his counter punch “lame” and “weak”, and reminded Trump his recycled attacks had not worked for Sen. Scott Brown. She signed off with “No, @realDonaldTrump – your racism, sexism and xenophobia doesn’t drive me nuts. It makes me sick. And I’m not alone.”

Would Clinton consider a female running mate? Her campaign says yes, and it would be an odd misogynist who would vote for a female president only if her Veep were male. More beloved by Sanders voters that Sanders, Warren is the obvious choice to heal any primary wounds. She built a small donor fundraising machine during her 2012 campaign, and added to her list with a tour for 2014 Democratic Senate Candidates. She also has a strong appeal to the rust belt voters Trump is hoping will scramble the electoral map for him.

Many of the arguments against Warren apply to any selection with a strong base of his/her own. Will she outshine Clinton? Will she fall in line? Can she accept that Bubba is the real #2? Her home in Massachusetts is a double hit against her: Democrats don’t need her to win the state, and the governor would replace her with a Republican, making the Senate one seat harder to flip. She also adds little diversity to a ticket that will depend on voters of color.

Pundits seem to think that Warren would be a net positive, but won’t want the job given the power she is accumulating as one of the Senate’s best messengers and fundraisers. Her Twitter war with Trump may reflect nothing more than her desire to keep him out of the White House. If it is a VP audition, however, she’s clearly earned a call back.

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Will candidate Trump end the filibuster? http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/will-candidate-trump-end-the-filibuster/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/will-candidate-trump-end-the-filibuster/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:29:30 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70074

Harry Reid

The filibuster, a Senate rule requiring 60 votes to begin and end debate, is already on life support. The 2016 election could put the final nails in its coffin.

In 2013, Sen. Harry Reid ended the supermajority requirement on judicial nominees (except for the Supreme Court), using a maneuver so controversial it was dubbed the “nuclear option.” Republicans suggested that if they took control of the Senate, they would bring the rule back. They haven’t, and they won’t, because they will want the chance to stack the courts under a Republican president. More likely is that the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees will disappear the next time the Senate and White House are controlled by the same party, particularly given Republican refusal to give Justice Merrick Garland a hearing.

Despite the push and pull over judicial nominations, relatively little has been said about filibustering legislation. The reason is simple: the Senate filibuster has rarely been the final barrier to passing laws. Democrats controlled the House and Senate from 2007-2009 when President Bush, not the filibuster, thwarted their efforts. When Democrats took the White House in 2008, they were stymied by moderates in their own party and President Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship, despite briefly having 60 votes. From 2010-2014, Senate Democrats knew progressive bills would die in the House, and since 2014, Senate Republicans have known they would be vetoed by President Obama.

In short, the legislative filibuster only really matters when one party controls the House, the White House, and between 50 and 59 votes in the Senate. That line-up seems increasingly likely in 2017, with businessman Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton largely cementing their parties’ nominations on Tuesday.

From the outset, changing demographics have given Democrats a fair chance of winning the White House in November, despite the historic difficulty in holding it for three terms. A favorable map of Senate elections gives them a reasonable chance of winning the four seats they need to take control of the Senate, but almost no hope of winning the 14 seats they need to reach 60. No one believed the Republican House majority could be in jeopardy – until Trump burst on the scene.

Loathed by leaders of the Republican Party, 60 percent of registered voters view Trump unfavorably. Despite her own high negatives (54 percent), Clinton bests Trump by 9 points in general election polls. That’s better than President Obama’s margin in 2008, when Democrats added 21 seats to their 2006 majority (they need 30 seats to retake control).

Relying on April polls is dangerous, but if they prove accurate, the Democrats could win the House, the Senate, and the White House. If that happens, be prepared to say hello to a progressive agenda and goodbye to the filibuster.

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How Sanders can help Democrats lock up the general election http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/how-sanders-can-help-democrats-lock-up-the-general-election/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/how-sanders-can-help-democrats-lock-up-the-general-election/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 21:41:08 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69710

Bernie Sanders

In his book What’s the matter with Kansas, Thomas Frank describes how a state with a proud progressive tradition became reliably conservative. Part of the process involved persuading middle income voters to choose their heavenly prize over their own economic interests. Business elites accepted their religious and culture wars to keep their votes, but never really joined the fight.

Changing demographics and Donald Trump’s campaign have put a crack in that alliance. Sen. Bernie Sanders should drive a wedge through it.

The most recent round of anti-LGBT legislation highlights the changing corporate interests. With a majority of Americans favoring marriage equality, homophobia has become bad business. The movie industry helped kill Georgia’s religious freedom bill, and the financial industry has already forced Gov. McCrory to modify North Carolina’s legislation. Few who market to Latinos want any part of Donald Trump’s wall, and pulling Planned Parenthood funding causes a media firestorm.

Trump hits some of these notes on the stump, pointing out how little Republicans in Washington have done to stop gay marriage or build a border wall. More importantly, Trump has used trade policy to convince middle class Republicans that they have been bamboozled by the business community. Realizing their party isn’t helping them in this life or the next, nearly a third of Trump voters don’t plan to vote for any other Republican nominee.

Democrats need to make a run at these voters, and Sen. Sanders is uniquely qualified to lead the charge. He already echoes Trump when talking about trade policy, the media and the rigged political system. Like Trump, he runs well with middle class white males, and he isn’t as tightly tied to recent partisan struggles as Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Sanders doesn’t need to empathize with their fear and anger; he need only sympathize with their lot. “You know who I feel sorry for?” Sanders could say. “Trump voters. They let the business cartel send their jobs overseas so that they could stop gay marriage, end abortion and build a border wall. Instead, the elites are using the money they made to steal the nomination from their candidate. Ouch. Maybe they should vote for a Democrat. We won’t fight their culture war either, but at least we’ll fight to protect their jobs and votes.”

Trump voters who are drawn to fear, anger and discrimination won’t be moved, but those who are truly weighing the issues that affect them just might. If Sanders could pull even 10 percent of Trump supporters across the aisle, Democrats probably gain the 1-2 percentage points they need to lock up the general election. If another 10 percent stay home, the Republicans could lose in a landslide.

Sanders has been knocked for not raising money for other Democrats. If he would adjust his stump speech to target Trump supporters, he might give them something more valuable: votes.

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Stop telling Bernie Sanders to drop out http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/31/stop-telling-bernie-sanders-to-drop-out/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/31/stop-telling-bernie-sanders-to-drop-out/#comments Thu, 31 Mar 2016 17:54:23 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69355

Bernie Sanders

A friend quipped that Sec. Hillary Clinton has “all the personality and inevitability of winter.” It’s hard to disagree, but I still support her for the Democratic nomination. She is the most qualified presidential candidate in years. For those who think she bends the rules, as president she’ll have no reason to bend them for anyone but the American people. Barring a cataclysm, I believe the delegate math is prohibitively in her favor.

That said I have a request for the rest of us “with her.” Stop telling Sen. Bernie Sanders to drop out.

I know the argument: “Sanders can’t win … so he should drop out … and Clinton can focus on the general election.”

Let’s break this reasoning down, because it is Trump-esque in its salesmanship. It appears to create a cascade of events that depend on each other. They don’t. The first and last statements are equally true or false.

Hillary Clinton

Don’t believe me? Drop out the middle. “Sanders can’t win … and Clinton can focus on the general.” True statement. You can add the original phrase or it’s opposite (“he shouldn’t drop out”) and it still works. If Sanders can’t win, Clinton is free to campaign for November whether he drops out or not. Maybe he gets a few extra delegates, but who cares?

Now let’s flip the negatives. “Sanders can win … and Clinton can’t focus on the general election.” Equally true and still makes sense if you add “so he shouldn’t drop out” On the other hand “Sanders can win … so he should drop out … and Clinton can’t focus on the general” is gibberish.

Which brings us to the truth: the people calling on Sanders to bow out are afraid Clinton could lose. They know that the only way to make a true statement of “Sanders can win … and Clinton can focus on the general,” is if Sanders drops out somewhere in between. Whatever the claim about consolidating endorsements and donors, the real motivation is fear.

To those of us who believe Clinton is a lock, the Sanders campaign has little downside. While Sanders’ attacks on Clinton have become more personal, they have still been about issues. Overall, the Democratic campaign continues to be a refreshing exchange of ideas compared to the Republican contest, which has degenerated to a point where it might best be solved by comparing size in a bathroom.

Meanwhile, Sanders’ candidacy has a ‘uge upside. Few doubt that the enthusiasm generated by the Clinton/Obama primary helped the Democrats in November 2008. Sanders can clearly engage voters that Clinton doesn’t reach, and despite their aspersions to the contrary, they will line up behind Clinton as fast as Clinton’s PUMAs (Party Unity My A**) came to support Obama in 2008. So let Sanders alone. He’s earned the right to quit on his own terms. Smart Democrats know there’s nothing better for long term growth than a controlled Bern.

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Saldana the Independent heats up San Diego’s mayoral race http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/17/saldana-the-independent-heats-up-san-diegos-mayoral-race/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/17/saldana-the-independent-heats-up-san-diegos-mayoral-race/#respond Thu, 17 Mar 2016 21:53:02 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68970

Lori Saldaña

I remember former Assemblymember Lori Saldaña’s last run for office. It was the 2012 primary for Congress in CA-52, and she ran as the true progressive from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. With her grassroots support and the “Bye-Bye Bilbray” singers, she was the Sen. Bernie Sanders of the race, fighting an uphill battle against the moderate business friendly former Council President Scott Peters. As Rep. Peters runs for his third term, it’s easy to forget that Saldaña was 720 votes from making the general election and reportedly even fewer votes from gaining the local party endorsement in the primary.

So I was a bit surprised when Saldaña entered the race for San Diego mayor as an Independent. At least until I realized it was brilliant.

November will be the best time to defeat Faulconer, but that requires keeping him below 50 percent in June. The best way to do that is with multiple candidates representing different constituencies. Saldaña the Democrat might have locked up the left, but would have needed help pulling moderates from Faulconer. Saldaña the Independent was an open invitation for a Democrat to join the race, an invitation former Democratic City Councilmember Ed Harris has already accepted.

How many votes can Saldaña find as an Independent? Most years, not many. This year, who knows? There’s little question that this is the year of the outsider, with businessman Donald Trump closing in on the Republican nomination and Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders giving Clinton a run for her money. National trends don’t usually affect California’s June primary because the nominations have long since been decided. In 2016, the Republican nomination may still be up in the air when Californians vote, and Sanders may have the money to keep campaigning even if the numbers are against him.

Trump is driving record turnout in Republican primaries, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a moderate establishment type, isn’t a natural fit for Trump voters. Particularly if Faulconer doesn’t endorse Trump, a move that could hurt him with San Diego moderates; Trump voters could want another option. Some might give an independent Saldaña a look, especially if they don’t dig too deep into her past. Sanders voters who do their homework, on the other hand, will realize Saldaña supports many of their goals. Her early warnings about former Mayor Filner’s treatment of women give her credibility with voters across the ideological spectrum who distrust the establishment and want to “throw the bums out.” They should also help her with women looking for a mayoral candidate while voting for Hillary Clinton.

What Saldaña and Harris really need is a Trump-esque candidate to pull votes from Faulconer’s right. Even then, Faulconer would still be a heavy favorite to keep his job. But Saldaña the Independent has already made this a more interesting race than Saldaña the Democrat ever could have.

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Can Clinton or Trump be stopped? http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/can-clinton-or-trump-be-stopped/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/can-clinton-or-trump-be-stopped/#respond Thu, 03 Mar 2016 22:49:50 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68657

Hillary Clinton

In February, the presidential primary process crept from Iowa to New Hampshire to Nevada to South Carolina. March 1 the election went national, with 12 states choosing their nominee for at least one party on “Super Tuesday.” By Wednesday morning, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump were the clear frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican nominations.

Democrats

The Math: 4,763 total delegates. 2,382 needed to win. Clinton 576. Sanders 386. (Estimates from RealClearPolitics.com)

Super Tuesday: A dominating win for Clinton. She won seven of eleven states, including the five largest. She won more delegates. She even won the expectations game by beating Sen. Bernie Sanders in Massachusetts, preventing him from winning the five states he said would keep the overall election close.

What’s next? President Obama beat Hillary Clinton in 2008 in part by mastering the accumulation of the delegates, and Team Clinton clearly took notes. While there are more than enough delegates still available for Sanders to catch her, the fact that they are awarded in proportion to the popular vote of each state makes a 200 delegate deficit “-uge.” Clinton also leads in “super-delegates” – party leaders who aren’t elected in the primaries. It’s unlikely the super-delegates would overturn the results of the popular election, but Clinton can add them to make her lead seem insurmountable (currently 1,033 to 408).

At this point, the only things that can stop Clinton are herself, by way of a complete meltdown, or her past, by way of an email server indictment. Sanders will have the money to keep going for quite a while, but expect Clinton to start fighting Trump and mending fences with Sanders to woo his voters.

Republicans

The Math: 2,472 total delegates. 1,237 needed to win. Trump 316. Cruz 226. Rubio 106. Kasich 25. Carson 8.

Super Tuesday: Short of sweeping all 11 states, things went about as well as they could for Trump. He won seven states, and his opposition was splintered, with Sen. Ted Cruz winning three states and Sen. Marco Rubio winning one. Even the silver medals were spread around, with Cruz, Rubio and Gov. John Kasich (and Trump) all with second place finishes. Trump’s lead is numerically smaller than Clinton’s, but it may be equally difficult to overcome.

Donald Trump

What’s next? Any one of the other candidates might be able to stop Trump head to head, but each of the remaining candidates has an argument for staying in the race. Cruz has won more states than anyone but Trump and is second in the delegate count. Rubio’s victory in Minnesota neutralized the “he hasn’t won anywhere” attack, and with the support of the remaining party establishment, he will claim the right to stay in the race until his home state of Florida votes. Kasich managed Super Tuesday expectations so well that his second place finishes look good, and will claim that his home state of Ohio can launch him to resounding victories in the delegate rich Midwest.

There are counter-arguments for each candidate. Cruz’s numbers are inflated by a win in his home state of Texas that he can’t replicate. Florida’s winner take all primary could help Rubio, but polls show him well behind Trump. Kasich is closer to Trump in Ohio polls, but is so far behind in delegates it would be almost impossible to catch up.

Anti-Trump Republicans are reportedly meeting this week to devise a way to defeat him, but Trump may well be the only candidate who can accumulate enough delegates to win the nomination outright, even if the field narrows. The others are hoping to keep Trump below the 1,237 delegate threshold so they can throw him support in return for the vice presidency or ride the chaos of a contested convention to the nomination.

The General

There hasn’t been a relevant third party or independent presidential candidate since 2000, when Ralph Nader arguably cost Vice President Al Gore a victory in Florida and the presidency. In 2016, there are at least three looming scenarios for independent presidential bids.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire independent, has expressed an interest in running, but only if he can win. His best opening would be as a moderate in a race between Sanders and Trump, and he would probably need to decide by March to be on the ballot in all fifty states. The more inevitable Clinton looks, the less likely Bloomberg is to run.

Trump signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, but left himself an out: if treated “unfairly,” he would consider an independent bid. If Trump has the most delegates and is denied the nomination, he’ll at least threaten a third party bid. By that time it will be hard to get on most state ballots, but Trump would be thrilled to play spoiler in such a scenario.

Party leaders fear that nominating Trump could cost them their Senate, and possible House, majorities. If Trump wins, Republicans could run a “third party” moderate that down ballot candidates can endorse to distance themselves from Trump, but they will run into the same late ballot access problems. They only do it if they want Clinton to beat Trump.

For now, expect Clinton vs. Trump +/- another Republican. Once that’s settled, let the VP speculation begin!

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Scalia’s death stirs up the election cycle http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/18/scalias-death-stirs-up-the-election-cycle/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/18/scalias-death-stirs-up-the-election-cycle/#respond Thu, 18 Feb 2016 21:17:02 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68268

Justice Antonin Scalia

The power to appoint Supreme Court Justices is mentioned during every presidential race, but the death of Justice Scalia creates the first election year Court vacancy in decades. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement that the Senate will not confirm an appointee means the issue will be alive through November. President Obama’s promise to perform his constitutional duty by forwarding a nominee assures that process will be as controversial as the person.

President Obama’s most aggressive move is to make a recess appointment immediately. The Supreme Court recently limited his appointment power during small legislative breaks, but Congress is currently on the kind of official recess during which the Court appeared to uphold appointments. A recess appointment is the only way to get a new Justice who can vote (presumably President Obama’s way) on cases this term, which involve abortion, affirmative action, immigration, voter rights and unions. A recess appointee only lasts until the 2017 Congress begins, but 11 months may be better than the nothing that McConnell is offering.

The downside is a constitutional clash with the Senate and accusations of a “power grab” that could hurt the Democratic nominee by turning off moderates and making the issue more urgent for conservatives.

Should President Obama follow the normal appointment process, he needs to decide who he wants. A progressive star like Sen. Elizabeth Warren would almost certainly be denied a hearing. That might increase Democratic turnout in November, but moderate voters could be pushed away by charges that the president didn’t really try to work with Senate Republicans.

Certain characteristics make a nominee easier to confirm, or at least harder to dismiss. Senators have often built ties across the aisle that can ease their nomination, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) and Cory Booker (New Jersey) have been mentioned. Someone who was a conservative, or has worked for or been appointed by one, such as Judge Paul Watford, may also have a smoother path. Senators have difficulty explaining a flip-flop on someone they have supported in the past, so recently confirmed appointees such as Judge Patricia Millet have a leg up. Historical significance, like California Supreme Court Judge Goodwin Liu as the first Asian American nominee, makes a “no” vote harder.

Two current buzz candidates mix those features. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was confirmed by this Congress, and would be the first African American woman nominated. DC Circuit Court Justice Sri Srinivasan was confirmed unanimously in 2013, clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and is Asian American. Either would greatly raise the stakes of McConnell’s obstruction strategy, particularly among moderate voters.

Pundits muse about an “October surprise,” a late breaking event with the potential to shake up the November election. Scalia’s surprise death may have come in February, but its impact will likely dwarf anything that happens in the fall.

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The real winners and losers in Iowa http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/04/the-real-winners-and-losers-in-iowa/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/04/the-real-winners-and-losers-in-iowa/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2016 23:11:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=67884

Monday night, Iowans cast the first votes in the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Ted Cruz won a clear, if somewhat small, Republican victory. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat Sen. Bernie Sanders by a razor thin margin to take the Democratic win.

The vote tally, however, has only a small role in determining a candidate’s position in the primary pecking order post Iowa. More important are how the candidates performed against expectations and what it projects for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9 and beyond. By those measures, Sen. Marco Rubio won the Iowa caucuses by finishing third among Republicans.

Rubio clearly beat expectations. He was rising in the polls, but not to 23 percent and a near tie with Trump. Rubio didn’t just beat the other “establishment” candidates (Govs. John Kasich and Chris Christie and former Gov. Jeb Bush) – he tripled their combined total. New Hampshire polls have been split between Rubio and Kasich as the establishment choice, likely in third place behind Donald Trump and Cruz. Rubio repeating in third place in New Hampshire might get other establishment candidates to drop out; coming in first or second would make him the prohibitive favorite from that group. Either way, the endorsement of Sen. Tim Scott gives him a much needed boost in South Carolina Feb. 20.

Thanks to the media and Sanders, Clinton won the expectations game in her narrow Iowa victory and laid the groundwork for an irrelevant day in New Hampshire. Sanders’ late surge in Iowa, including polls showing him ahead, started a discussion of “What happens if Clinton loses in Iowa and New Hampshire?” Those talks had two conclusions: Sanders needed to win both states, and Clinton could probably survive losing both. Sanders has now lost Iowa, and is so far ahead in the New Hampshire polls that anything less than a 20 point victory will be underperforming. Clinton now has Iowa in her pocket, can’t really underperform expectations in New Hampshire, and has already risen from the dead there once (beating President Obama in 2008).

Cruz played Iowa to an expectations draw. His victory was good enough, but not the resounding win anticipated when he first rose to the top of the polls. He scored only one more convention delegate (8) than Trump or Rubio (7), and didn’t crack 30 percent. Sanders similarly finished about even. Twin wins in Iowa and New Hampshire wouldn’t have given Sanders much of a chance of overcoming Clinton’s establishment support. Now he has the same smaller opportunity he had months ago when he was a good bet to win New Hampshire and lose Iowa.

If there is a loser among the top candidates, it’s Trump. Not because second place is terrible, but because he’s thrown the “loser” label at so many people that his competition, and Fox News, will turn it on him mercilessly.

Conventional wisdom says that Trump needs a solid victory in New Hampshire to keep his campaign afloat, but conventional wisdom didn’t predict any of the Iowa results a few months ago.

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Did San Diego Democrats just lose the City Council? http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/21/did-san-diego-democrats-just-lose-the-city-council/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/21/did-san-diego-democrats-just-lose-the-city-council/#respond Thu, 21 Jan 2016 21:46:38 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=67527
Joe LaCava

Joe LaCava

Earlier this month, Democrat Joe LaCava ended his City Council bid. It’s a bigger deal than you may think.

LaCava was running to replace Democrat Sherri Lightner, who is termed out in District 1. Before Lightner, the District was represented by former Councilmember and now U.S. Representative Scott Peters. If that makes District 1 sound a safely Democratic district, it is; but only in November.

Lightner won in November 2012 with 55 percent (31,585) of the vote to Ray Ellis’ 45 percent (25,881). In the June primary, however, Ellis (14,133, 46 percent) bested Lightner (12,889, 42 percent). Lightner’s November win was only possible because two other candidates, Bryan Pease and Dennis Ridz, split the vote just enough to keep Ellis under 50 percent. Had the 5 percent that voted for Ridz, a Republican, gone to Ellis, he would have won in June, giving Republicans a 5-4 majority on City Council.

With LaCava out, it appears Barbara Bry will face Ellis alone. One could argue that LaCava would only have drawn Democratic votes from Bry, but the math isn’t quite that simple. Only 30,987 people voted in the June 2012 primary, which means additional voters can significantly change the percentages. If Ellis gets 51 percent (15,803) of the same 30,987 voters, he beats Bry in June. If LaCava stays in the race, and is the choice of just 620 additional voters, Ellis drops under 50 percent and has to face Bry in the more Democratic friendly November electorate.

Bry could also win in June, but the fundamentals aren’t in her favor. Republican primary voters are among the most reliable, making it unlikely that Ellis will get fewer votes in 2016, particularly if the presidential primary is still undecided. Lightner was an incumbent in 2012, a powerful advantage in San Diego that Bry won’t have. She can only hope that primary voters are more excited about HIllary’s first term than Obama’s second. Or better yet that a second Republican joins the race.

Anthony Wagner, a Democratic fundraiser, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that “Heaven and Earth will be moved to secure a victory in Council District 1.” While that may be true, Democrats could also decide not to put all their eggs in one basket. They could also keep their majority by taking Council District 7, where incumbent Republican Scott Sherman is running for a second term.

Barring a surprise retirement, Democrats will hold Council Districts 4 and 8 through 2018 (and beyond). In 2016, they are defending fairly safe territory in Districts 3 and 9. LaCava’s exit from the District 1 Council race makes it a tougher hold, but Democrats may have an alternate route to keeping their Council majority through District 7. If either race makes it to November, the odds are in the Democrats’ favor.

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Politically Aware Awards 2015 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/07/politically-aware-awards-2015/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/07/politically-aware-awards-2015/#respond Thu, 07 Jan 2016 20:46:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=67149

Kevin Faulconer

Local Politician of the Year: Mayor Kevin Faulconer. How does the mayor win with the Chargers likely leaving San Diego and no Comic-Con approved Convention Center expansion? Simple. Despite those issues, he is a Republican poised to skate to re-election unopposed in a city with a plurality of Democrats. Two Democratic powerhouses, Councilmember Todd Gloria and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, both passed on the race despite terming out of their current jobs. Faulconer owes some thanks to the City election laws that allow outright victory in the June primary, but part of politics is leveraging your advantages. Holding the mayor’s office could be just the first step, as it keeps Faulconer the most attractive Republican candidate for state-wide office in 2018.

Lorena Gonzalez

Honorable Mention: Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez. I listen to AM talk radio some days, and no local politician generates more ire with her agenda than Gonzalez. She also occasionally upsets some fellow Democrats. If they’re screaming at you from both sides, you must be doing something right. If she helps her current beau and former Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher into the mayor’s race, I may have to flip her and Faulconer.

Anthony Kennedy

National Politician of the Year: Justice Anthony Kennedy. “But Supreme Court justices aren’t politicians,” I hear you scream. Right. And Santa ate the cookies you put out Christmas Eve. On a divided Court, the Constitution increasingly says what Justice Kennedy says it does. Not only did he deliver on gay marriage and Obamacare, he was on the winning side of 5-4 decisions on equal housing, redistricting, lethal injection and pollution limits. If politics is about enacting your agenda, Kennedy did it better than anyone this year. In 2016, he is already poised to be the swing vote on abortion, affirmative action, voting rights and President Obama’s immigration orders. (Obammigration?) With Justices Kennedy, Scalia and Ginsburg all over 75, expect Supreme Court appointments to be a major issue in the 2016 general election.

Paul Ryan

Honorable Mention: House Speaker Paul Ryan. Former Speaker Boehner left behind a bitterly divided Republican caucus when he resigned. About all they could agree on was Ryan as the only leader all factions would tolerate. Genuine or not, Ryan played his reluctance perfectly, taking the Speaker’s gavel with enough good will to avoid a government shutdown despite growing the deficit. It will be interesting to see if the honeymoon lasts into 2016.

Best New Thing: Nationwide same-sex marriage. No contest.

Worst Thing: Chargers drama. It is absurd that this is still going on. The NFL wants a team in L.A., and Oakland doesn’t really have a stadium plan. Sounds like a match. Move the Raiders, let the Chargers and Rams stay where they are, and give Spanos and Kroenke an extra share of the L.A. revenue for a little while. Done. Roger Goodell, I’ll send you my bill.

Most important issue: Black Lives Matter/police conduct. Activists will tell you this isn’t a new issue, and they’re right. It gained a much needed spotlight this year, but sadly due to tragic events. Hopefully some answers can be found and implemented in 2016.

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Football is business, not family http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/24/football-is-business-not-family/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/24/football-is-business-not-family/#respond Thu, 24 Dec 2015 21:37:07 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=66836

The NFL has frequently demonstrated its ability to selectively black out a broadcast in San Diego, so I have a request: Could they please prevent their “Football is Family” commercials from being seen in our media market?

You’ve seen them – families receiving and wearing branded sweaters and baby clothes, typically from competing teams, usually near holiday decorations. In any circumstance, the campaign would be a little sappy for a league whose games feature nearly as many injuries as points. In cities that aren’t sure they will have a team in 2016, the ads are downright cruel.

It is increasingly clear that the NFL believes football is not for San Diego families. Not for the families who deck out multiple generations in Chargers jerseys every week. Not for the families that have formed at tailgates every home game. Not for the families of choice that root together in their neighborhood, or “family,” sports bar. Why not? Even if our families are willing to pay for a stadium, we can’t prove it until June, and that could delay revenue from an L.A. team.

When faced with the idea that it’s all about the money, the NFL typically trots out one of their ownership families with long term commitments to a city: the Rooneys in Pittsburgh or the Fords in Detroit. Let’s see how long that lasts. The Edward Jones Dome, where the St. Louis Rams play their home games, was built in 1995. Rams owner Stan Kroenke is threatening to move to L.A. unless, and possibly even if, the people of St. Louis (and fellow NFL owners) pony up cash for a new one. Why would things be different when Heinz Field in Pittsburgh (2001) or Ford Field in Detroit (2002) turn 20? Both cities are smaller than San Diego, and let us remember that Art Modell was a Cleveland institution until he saw more money for his family in Baltimore.

The only families that football really cares about are those of the 32 owners. Even the one(s) left seatless in this round of L.A. musical chairs will benefit from the additional revenue, just as they have all cashed in by delaying their decision until they got a full season of spending from families in the soon to be shafted cities.

Football is business, not family. If the NFL can get away with commercials suggesting otherwise, fine. Just black them out in San Diego, Oakland and Saint Louis, where it amounts to taunting, which is a penalty by NFL rules. As excessive celebration also draws a flag, please limit the inevitable ESPN “Los Angeles Decision Announcement Special” to cities that still have teams.

Assuming we lose the Chargers, my family would rather watch an old Padres game.

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Establishment Republicans need to coalesce on a candidate, and fast http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/10/establishment-republicans-need-to-coalesce-on-a-candidate-and-fast/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/10/establishment-republicans-need-to-coalesce-on-a-candidate-and-fast/#respond Thu, 10 Dec 2015 21:36:06 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=66427

istock

The first votes in the 2016 presidential race will be cast at the Iowa caucuses Feb. 1. That leaves establishment Republicans just over 50 days to avoid nominating a candidate too conservative for the general election. They should start by getting some of the moderate candidates to drop out, and can use the 2012 San Diego mayoral election to make their case.

Filner’s entry into the race effectively cleared the Democratic field, much as Hillary Clinton appears to have done this year. (Sorry, Sanders fans, but I’m not feeling the Bern, at least in terms of winning. I’m also leaving the plummeting Ben Carson out of the discussion.) Republicans started with three candidates that year: Carl DeMaio, Bonnie Dumanis and Nathan Fletcher.

In this comparison, as he did in San Diego, DeMaio represents the hard line conservatives, e.g., Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. As we are seeing with Trump, that core of support tends to be loyal, creating a “high floor” of support that the candidate won’t drop below, but appealing to it requires statements and positions that create a “low ceiling” of potential voters that the candidate can sway. Such candidates thrive in split races where their base is enough to make it to the next level, as DeMaio showed by winning the primary with 31 percent of the vote.

Dumanis and Fletcher were the Bush/Rubio/Kasich/Christie/etc. of 2012: moderates who were believed to be the better general election candidates. Dumanis earned 13 percent of the primary vote while Fletcher won 24 percent. Had that 37 percent of the vote been consolidated behind one of them, he or she would have won the primary with 5 percent to spare. Given the highly negative perceptions of DeMaio and Filner, the Dumanis/Fletcher hybrid would likely have been the favorite against either. Instead, DeMaio’s ceiling proved to be under 50 percent (twice now) and Filner won the “hold your nose and pull a lever” election.

Moderate San Diego Republicans tried to avoid that outcome, but had little leverage. Outgoing Mayor Jerry Sanders endorsed Dumanis, which left no one with the clout to ask her to make way for Fletcher. Fletcher bolted the party after it endorsed DeMaio, eliminating any power they may have had over him.

National Republican leaders face a similar leverage problem this year. Marco Rubio appears to be the best general election candidate, but Jeb Bush has the money and Chris Christie can claim some momentum in New Hampshire. Kasich and others probably see the writing on the wall, but have little to lose.

Filner may have won the mayor’s office in November 2012, but Republicans arguably lost it the day they nominated Carl DeMaio. Similarly, any Republican convention that nominates Donald Trump or Ted Cruz also elects President Hillary Clinton. Establishment Republicans have the votes to nominate a candidate who can be competitive in the general, but they need to coalesce, and fast.

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San Diego election 2016 preview: City Council http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/25/san-diego-election-2016-preview-city-council/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/25/san-diego-election-2016-preview-city-council/#respond Wed, 25 Nov 2015 19:00:57 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=66020

Anthony Bernal

In presidential election years, the five odd-numbered City Council districts are up for election. As with the California legislative elections, they can be dull because the incumbent wins easily or the general election features two candidates from the same party. 2016 looks to be a bit more interesting than most, with three open seats and an incumbent who could face a stiff challenge.

That leaves one safe seat: Mark Kersey, District 5. Kersey has the conservative bona fides to keep his district happy, but clearly wants to be a problem solver in City Council. He hasn’t drawn a significant Democratic challenger and probably won’t. The question isn’t whether he can keep his seat, but how far his star will rise.

District 1. In 2012, this was the swing City Council district, and showed the importance of Democrats making it to November. Ray Ellis beat incumbent Sherri Lightener in the June primary but failed to reach 50 percent, allowing Lightener to come back and beat him in November. Combined with Bob Filner’s victory, it was supposed to give Democrats four years of unfettered control of City Hall; now, it is all that keeps Democrats in charge of City Council.

Chris Ward

Council President Lightener is termed out, but Ellis is back. At this point, he is facing Barbara Bry and Joe LaCava. The former seems to be the favorite of big money Democrats, while the latter is trying to solidify the grass roots support. Expect Democrats to pull out all the stops to keep Ellis below 50 percent in June, and then unify to get the surviving Democrat across the finish line in November.

District 3. Through 2013 and 2014, it seemed like this race could be a progressive bloodbath, with a number of candidates rivaling the current Republican presidential field. Somehow, it narrowed to two candidates: Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward. Ward is drawing strong support from the LGBT community and establishment with both his boss, State Sen. Marty Block and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins supporting him despite running against each other. Bernal works for Councilmember Gloria and has some LGBT support, but may need a surge from downtown voters to replace LGBT voters who want to keep their seat at the table.

District 7. Councilmember Scott Sherman could have a much tougher road than fellow incumbent Kersey. District 7 isn’t as red as District 5, but Sherman managed to tie up the election in June 2012, coming in a hair over 50 percent. Two Democratic candidates are trying to ensure it doesn’t happen again: Jose Caballero and Justin DeCesare. If one of them can make it to November, Sherman could face a tough test. Democrats would love to keep this seat in play rather than letting District 1 decide the fate of the Council.

District 9. Incumbent Marti Emerald decided not to run for re-election, leaving the seat open. It will likely stay in Democratic hands, but it will be a battle between money, organizing and endorsements. The current slate includes Ricardo Flores, Georgette Gomez, Araceli Martinez and Sarah Saez, but this race feels the least developed, and more candidates could be coming.

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Election 2016 preview: State Senate, Assembly and US Congress http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/19/election-2016-preview-state-senate-assembly-and-us-congress/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/19/election-2016-preview-state-senate-assembly-and-us-congress/#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2015 17:57:12 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=65911

Toni Atkins and Marty Block

Local races for the California legislature are often a snooze fest. Incumbents rarely lose, and the districts have a sufficient partisan lean that successors are anointed by the party or chosen in the primary.

Those trends appear likely to hold for incumbent Assemblymembers Marie Waldron (R-75), Brian Maienschein (R-77), Shirley Weber (D-79) and Lorena Gonzalez (D- 80). Councilmember Todd Gloria is poised to claim Speaker Toni Atkins’ (D-78) seat by the anointment route, but is working hard and taking no chances.

Assemblymember Rocky Chavez (R-76) is running for U.S. Senate, leaving an open seat. The race currently features two Republicans, Oceanside Councilmember Jerry Kern and businessman Phil Graham, but the right Democrat could have a chance. Republicans have a registration advantage, but there are enough Democrats and Decline to State voters to make it a contest.

The truly unusual race is for the 39th Senate District, where termed-out Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is challenging incumbent Marty Block, a fellow Democrat. Some believe Block promised not to run for a second term, and so should make way for Atkins. Some think Atkins should stand down for Block, because any promises made were the unenforceable political kind. Some wish Atkins would run for mayor instead. The only things everyone seems to agree on is that this race that shouldn’t have happened, is going to happen, and is going to be expensive financially and politically.

Expect the race to be covered ad nauseam, because it provides an embarrassment of plot lines: Democrat vs. Democrat, incumbent vs. challenger, man vs. woman, lesbian vs straight, Assembly vs. Senate. Assuming Block and Atkins are the top two candidates in June; their face-off will run through to November.

(Note: State Senator Joel Anderson (R-38) is running for County Supervisor, but is not up for election and can retain his Senate seat if he loses.)

U.S Congress

Representative Susan Davis (D-53), Juan Vargas (D-51) and Duncan D. Hunter (R- 50) should cruise to re-election. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49) is also a favorite to retain his seat, but his challenger, retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate could make things interesting if the election turns on security issues or the Republican presidential candidate is a particularly poor fit for California.

As in 2012 and 2014, most of the action will be in the 52nd District, where Democratic Rep. Scott Peters is running for a third term. Republicans appeared united around Marine Veteran Jacquie Atkinson, but the recent entry of Denise Gitsham suggests some dissent in the GOP ranks. Progressive Democrats weren’t happy with Peters’ support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but it fits both his image as a business-minded Democrat and his swing district, which is split nearly evenly between Democrats, Republicans and Decline to State voters. Having beaten an incumbent in 2012 and a high profile challenger in the Republican wave of 2014, Peters’ toughest elections may be behind him. Unless Democrats implode nationally, Peters has a good chance to win with his largest margin yet and still be one of the closer races of the night.

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San Diego election 2016 preview: mayor and city attorney http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/12/san-diego-election-2016-preview-mayor-and-city-attorney/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/12/san-diego-election-2016-preview-mayor-and-city-attorney/#comments Thu, 12 Nov 2015 20:26:04 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=65695

Gretchen Newsom

With Election Day 2016 now less than a year away, it is time to take a break from presidential debate analysis and focus the next few columns on San Diego contests. In the past few weeks, new candidates have emerged in races that had been static for months. There will no doubt be a few minor additions to the slates, and perhaps a bombshell or two, but there is enough information to discuss the basic dynamics of most races. As in the past, I will use party affiliations though the races are technically non-partisan.

Mayor of San Diego

For most of 2015, it appeared that Mayor Faulconer would coast to a second term without significant opposition. Then Ocean Beach Town Council President Gretchen Newsom announced her candidacy. Newsom will need to increase her name recognition, but was labelled a “formidable challenger” by County Democratic Party Chair Francine Busby.

As or more significant than Newsom’s own campaign is the possibility that it will open the door for others. One of the alleged rationales for Democrats staying out of the race was that it would take at least two candidates to keep Faulconer from winning outright in the June primary. With Newsom in, will others reconsider their decision to stay out? A slate of candidates designed to engage various Democratic constituencies may be the best way to get someone through to the more progressive November electorate — a similar strategy got Stephen Whitburn to the general against Supervisor Ron Roberts in 2010. (Bombshell watch: Councilmember David Alvarez? Former Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher? Almost-mayor Donna Frye?)

Another wild-card is the fate of the Chargers. Voters who don’t want the city to pay for a new stadium shouldn’t take it out on the mayor when their team bolts, but they probably will. Candidates who were against public financing plans shouldn’t run on a “bring back the NFL platform,” but they can. Should the Chargers stay, the mayor probably deserves credit, but won’t get much. It’s totally unfair, but this is politics.

San Diego city attorney

When Faulconer was unopposed, the race for city attorney was shaping up as the top local contest for 2016. By summer 2015, the four major candidates had already announced: former Ethics Commission Chair Gil Cabrera, Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, Chief Deputy City Attorney Mara Elliott and Deputy District Attorney Robert Hickey.

As the lone Republican, Hickey has solidified his party’s support with endorsements from Mayor Faulconer and Councilmembers Zapf, Cate, Kersey and Sherman. Democratic Councilmembers are more split with Todd Gloria endorsing Cabrera, David Alvarez backing Castellanos and Marti Emerald supporting Mara Elliott. The Democratic dance will be interesting to watch in spring 2016, with the party wanting to ensure that a Democrat makes it to November and each candidate wanting to ensure that it is he or she. If recent revelations are any indication, this may be a battle of leaked opposition research.

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Will ‘Speaker’ Ryan unite a divided GOP? http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/29/will-speaker-ryan-unite-a-divided-gop/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/29/will-speaker-ryan-unite-a-divided-gop/#respond Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:28:18 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=65348

Paul Ryan

In an attempt to “clean out the barn,” as he put it, outgoing House Speaker John Boehner negotiated a deal that will raise spending, lift the debt ceiling and prevent a government shut down until 2017. Rep. Paul Ryan, who is likely to succeed Boehner as speaker, has attacked the deal.

This does not bode well.

I would have given Ryan the same advice about the Speakership that Rep. Kevin McCarthy apparently took: don’t do it.

Still, I had hope that Ryan might break the hard right’s strangle hold on moderate legislation. With his name circulating as the only potential speaker who could unite Republicans, Ryan showed sensible disinterest. As momentum grew behind the “draft Ryan” movement, he demanded that all factions of the party support him. He appeared poised to extract concessions from the conservative Freedom Caucus that resisted Boehner and McCarthy, including rule changes that would make him harder to oust. I secretly hoped he had met with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, so he could tell the hardliners which Democrats would vote for him, and what it would cost legislatively, if the Republicans didn’t get in line.

Sadly, the prospects of a more functional House have been sliding ever since, and Ryan’s opposition to the budget agreement is just the latest sign. First, he agreed to run without the endorsement of the Freedom Caucus. With an announced “supermajority” of their members supporting him, Ryan will likely have the votes he needs to get the speaker’s gavel, but to run without their official endorsement was a capitulation. Then it became clear that the rule changes were far from settled, including an end to the “vacate the chair” motion that dogged Boehner.

To be fair, Ryan attacked the deal-making process more than the deal, but has now said he will support it. But he should have just thanked Boehner for providing a clean start to his leadership and promised a more inclusive process. To slap Boehner on his way out means Ryan still feels obligated to score points with the members who wanted Boehner gone, along with his commitment to actually governing.

As long as Democrats hold the White House or 41 Senate seats, Ryan will eventually have to negotiate with them. Instead of trying to convince his party to accept that, Ryan is pretending it isn’t true. Thanks to Boehner’s resignation and subsequent deal making, Ryan may not have to upset conservatives until 2017. When he does, however, he has ensured he will face the same choice as Boehner: shut down the government or give up the gavel.

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Grading the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate performances http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/15/grading-the-democratic-presidential-candidates-debate-performances-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/15/grading-the-democratic-presidential-candidates-debate-performances-2/#respond Thu, 15 Oct 2015 19:00:20 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=64971

Hillary Clinton

Tuesday night, the Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Las Vegas for their first debate, hosted by CNN and Facebook. Not much time was spent on education beyond free college, but that won’t stop everyone, including Politically Aware, from grading the performances.

CNN – D. The intro sequence sounded more like the opening to The Jerry Springer Show than a debate, and the Vegas gambling reference was corny. Anderson Cooper started a few awkward feet from his podium, the first signal he was off his game. He seemed to favor Clinton, letting her speak at length over his “time’s up” entreaties, instead of reminding her that she had agreed to the rules as he did with Sen. Webb. Cooper also seemed to insert himself, and new questions, just when exchanges were getting good. Keeping Don Lemon off camera until it was time for a Black Lives Matter question was awful.

Facebook gets an “Incomplete.” Facebook was used for few questions overall, and CNN seemed to consider them a nearly invisible partner, as evidenced by the relative number of logos visible throughout.

Hillary Clinton – A++. Clinton’s campaign no doubt gave her a list of things to get done. It’s hard to imagine a box she didn’t check. Presidential? Can you say Situation Room? Judgement? Yes, I voted for the Iraq war, and President Obama still picked me for secretary of state. Funny? It takes me a little longer in the bathroom. General election strategy? I’m sick of Republicans saying government isn’t the answer for anything but attacking a woman’s reproductive rights. Bonus points for getting her opponent to take the email issue off the table.

Clinton’s low points were on questions about health care and college tuition for undocumented immigrants and recreational marijuana. Her dodgy answers were painfully reminiscent of the driver’s license debacle of 2008, but wrapping her view in a state’s rights argument offers some insulation from Republican attacks. Her constant nodding at opponents and C-shape hand gestures were optically odd, but she had every right to walk off the stage, strike a Pitch Perfect pose, and yell, “Crushed it!”

Bernie Sanders – C. Like Clinton, Sanders checked most of the boxes on his to-do list. He got his message of a rigged system and income inequality out there, and clearly added items he hoped would broaden his appeal to people of color. Opponents landed a few punches about his gun control record, but nothing too damaging. He sounded like the fake Steinbrenner on Seinfeld, but that’s not his fault.

What he didn’t do was hit, much less take out, Clinton. Instead, he helped her multiple times. Sanders says he won’t run a negative campaign, and that the “revolution” and voter turnout will elect him and a governing coalition. Howard Dean and Ron Paul waited for that revolution. Unless he changes strategy or Clinton implodes, Sanders will do just what they did – energize the base and gift wrap it for the eventual nominee.

Martin O’Malley – A for Effort, B overall. Unlike Sanders, O’Malley did everything he could to change the dynamic of the race. He sounded intelligent and looked like the only leader from the next generation while seeming sufficiently presidential. He frequently took on Clinton and Sanders, using the exchanges to accrue the third most speaking time. O’Malley won the discussion of rights and services for undocumented immigrants, and his closing statement was the most uplifting set piece delivered all night. There was a certain Jimmy Stewart-esque aspect to his presence that was mostly endearing but occasionally off-putting. His biggest gaffe, that Assad invaded Syria (he is Syria’s President), went largely unnoticed.

Unfortunately for O’Malley, Clinton was too good and Sanders wasn’t too bad. O’Malley’s poll numbers will go up and he will be included in the next debate, but he’s a long way from beating Clinton or becoming her main competition.

Jim Webb – D-. As a veteran with administrative experience under President Reagan and elected experience as a Democratic Senator, Webb brings a unique perspective. His views on many issues are outside the Democratic mainstream, so he could have forced interesting and important discussions. Instead, he spent too much of the time he did have whining about the time he didn’t have or the “10 minutes” he had been waiting to speak.

If Webb somehow makes another debate, he needs to be less stilted, more gracious, and use whatever time he has to pound on national security issues, where is clearly the most comfortable and passionate. It’s unlikely Webb will get the opportunity. It’s hard to imagine the electorate that sent Gov. Rick Perry packing for blanking on the third agency he wanted to eliminate doing less to a candidate who stumbled over his daughters’ names.

Lincoln Chafee –  F. Chafee started the debate as a non-presence and ended it that way or worse. His main talking point was that he wasn’t attached to any scandals, which was an obvious and ineffective shot at Clinton and an open invitation for journalists nationwide to find something. There are many reasonable ways to deal a votes you may regret, but “I was new to the Senate and didn’t know better” (paraphrase) isn’t one of them. Sadly, that wasn’t even Chafee’s low point, which came when Clinton was asked if she wanted to respond to one of his comments. Seeming to speak for the entire debate hall, Clinton simply said “No” to considerable applause. The sixteenth President deserves better in a namesake.

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Why McCarthy would be wise to keep his current job http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/01/why-mccarthy-would-be-wise-to-keep-his-current-job/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/01/why-mccarthy-would-be-wise-to-keep-his-current-job/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:01:05 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=64562

Kevin McCarthy

In the wake of House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement of his retirement at the end of the month, political insiders think that his second in command, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has the inside track to take the gavel. That may be true, but McCarthy would be wiser to keep his current job and elect a speaker from the far right of the party.

Boehner made it clear that he is retiring, at least in part, because of conflicts with the conservative members of his caucus. In January, 25 of his Republican colleagues voted against his election as speaker. One member filed a motion that he “vacate the chair” earlier this year. Their reason? Boehner isn’t conservative enough.

Never mind that he blocked moderate legislation that passed the Senate, like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Immigration Reform. Forget that he enacted the budget slashing “sequester” and preserved many of the Bush tax cuts. Leading the party to its largest House majority in decades? Doesn’t matter. Boehner didn’t repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood or refuse to raise the debt ceiling, so the most conservative members of his party wanted him out.

The problem is that no Republican could do those things, which is why Boehner called those conservatives “false prophets” who “whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things they know … are never going to happen.” As long as there remains a Senate filibuster for legislation, 41 united Democrats can block any such action. If they choose to let it pass, a Democratic president would still veto the measure.

Boehner has already admitted that he will likely need Democratic votes to fund the government this year. The only other option would be to shut down the government until the president gives in, which he won’t, because presidents tend to win shutdowns as Americans rally around their leader. The 2013 shutdown didn’t hurt Republicans at the ballot box in 2014, but things could be very different in a presidential election year.

Should he become speaker, Rep. McCarthy will face the same facts. He may have a more effective leadership style or better relationships, but he won’t be able to get conservatives what they want as long as there are 41 Democrats in the Senate or one in the White House. The moment McCarthy has to compromise to get something passed, Boehner’s enemies will start calling for his head.

Which is why McCarthy should keep his current job, play the good soldier, and offer to show a more conservative speaker the ropes. Eventually the hard right will be forced to face reality by one of their own or voted out after endless government shutdowns. Either way, McCarthy will then be well placed to start a more productive and less stressful term as speaker.

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Debunking the ‘anchor baby’ argument http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/17/debunking-the-anchor-baby-argument/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/17/debunking-the-anchor-baby-argument/#comments Thu, 17 Sep 2015 20:16:38 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=64192

istock

I have conservative friends with whom I enjoy discussing policy issues. Sometimes I educate. Sometimes I learn. Sometimes we find common ground.

Occasionally they say something that lets me know I should give up on a conversation that is going nowhere. Like when they say “anchor baby.”

Let’s unpack this, because that phrase is so wrong that it shouldn’t be uttered. When it is, the speaker might be taken seriously as a threat, but not as an intellectual.

The first problem is that “anchor baby” makes no linguistic sense. Merriam Webster defines “anchor” as: a heavy device that is attached to a boat or ship by a rope or chain and that is thrown into the water to hold the boat or ship in place. Does that sound like something a baby can do?

An alternate definition is: a person or thing that provides strength and support. Again, can a baby do that? If there is something that anchors an immigrant family to the United States, it is the adult’s hard work to find a job and make a living here, not whether they have a child who is a citizen.

Which brings us to issue number two: a child who is a citizen doesn’t really help the parents. They don’t get automatic legal status because their offspring is a citizen. According to immigration law, the best the parents get is the advantage of having a sponsor – when their child is 21. They would still have to leave for years before they could be considered for a green card.

Any consideration given to the parents of native born American citizens is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the same process President Obama has invoked (and conservatives have attacked) in allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). I’m happy to debate those rules with conservatives as part of immigration policy.

But not birth right citizenship, because it isn’t an immigration policy. It’s an anti-slavery policy. I know this, because it is in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed after the Civil War. Four score and seven years belated, America made it clear that former slaves and their children were full five fifths American citizens. Over the significant hurdles to amending the Constitution, they said “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

I don’t believe it was a mistake, or that those building fathers took it lightly. I think they anticipated what we see now, and have seen with every wave of immigration. Americans look at new people as “other.” If they are “other” for generations on end, they could become second class citizens akin to slavery. Making native born children American citizens is a barrier to perpetual discrimination. Birth right citizenship hasn’t ended racial and ethnic bias, but it is the best check we have on our most regrettable history. The next time someone rails against “anchor babies”, don’t engage them on open borders. Ask them why they would perpetuate a second class of Americans.

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Kentucky voters will determine if obstructionism is a viable position http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/10/kentucky-voters-will-determine-if-obstructionism-is-a-viable-position/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/10/kentucky-voters-will-determine-if-obstructionism-is-a-viable-position/#respond Thu, 10 Sep 2015 18:19:37 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=64057

Kim Davis is refusing to do her job, but she’s far from the only Kentuckian shirking responsibility. More troubling is that the governor and state legislature are refusing to act. How voters respond will be an important statement about the future of LGBT rights and the rule of law.

Davis is the Rowan County clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that affixing her name violates her religious beliefs. A federal judge jailed her over the weekend for disobeying his order (and the Supreme Court decision) to issue licenses. Because her deputies were issuing the licenses, she was released Tuesday with instructions not to get in the way. Problem solved?

Probably not. The licenses are being issued without Davis’ signature, which is just fine according to the County attorney and governor. Davis’ attorney disagrees and might find a way to challenge the licenses. Further, Davis could at any time decide to stop her deputies from issuing licenses, at which point she presumably returns to jail. The situation needs a more permanent fix than temporary incarcerations and questionable licenses.

Davis was elected, so she can’t be fired. She may also have the right to an accommodation of her religious beliefs under Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Click here for a review of the legalities: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/04/when-does-your-religion-legally-excuse-you-from-doing-part-of-your-job/?postshare=8051441474960305) Impeaching Davis or creating an accommodation is a job for the Kentucky General Assembly, but Gov. Steve Beshear has refused to do his job and call them into session.

Beshear claims his inaction is based on frugality, seeing “no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer’s money calling a special session of the General Assembly when 117 of 120 county clerks are doing their jobs.” More likely is that Beshear, a Democrat in a conservative state, thinks the issue is a loser – an especially lame excuse as he can’t run again. A special session no doubt would be well worth the cost if 0.025 percent of officials instituted new gun control regulations on their own.

The best defense of Beshear’s inaction it is that there is no reason to think that the legislature will act. The Republican dominated Senate is unlikely to do anything that could be considered “pro-gay” for fear of a conservative primary challenge. That might be smart politics, but it is also blatant hypocrisy from a party whose rhetorical panacea for issues from immigration to gun control is “enforce current laws.” In the case of marijuana legalization, that includes using federal law to trump state law.

In the end, much will depend on how voters do their job. Davis will not be on the ballot in 2016 (unless she is impeached and runs again), but expect local legislators in Kentucky and other conservative states to take firm positions on same-sex marriage and espoused religious freedom. If voters reward candidates who will obey the Supreme Court decision, even if they disagree with it, 2016 might be the last year where obstructionism is a viable position. If voters reward candidates who stand athwart history yelling “Stop”, the battle over marriage equality, and other LGBT rights, will likely rage for elections to come.

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The LGBT community must unite against SeaWorld’s oppression http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/03/the-lgbt-community-must-unite-against-seaworlds-oppression/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/03/the-lgbt-community-must-unite-against-seaworlds-oppression/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:10 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=63884

As a member of the LGBT community, I found it disturbing that Nicole Murray-Ramirez would try to persuade us – a group that knows all too well the pain and frustration of being denied rights – to support SeaWorld, a corporation that deprives orcas and other animals of their fundamental rights as well as everything that is natural and important to them.

Captive orcas and dolphins are not given the opportunity to make a single decision about their own lives. They can’t explore new and interesting places, interact with members of a pod, enjoy the bonds of a family hierarchy or even choose their own mate. Confined to cramped tanks and forced to perform demeaning tricks in front of screaming crowds, it’s no wonder that most captive marine mammals become depressed, anxious and neurotic.

A PETA Foundation veterinarian recently visited SeaWorld’s facilities in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando and documented that the animals held captive in these facilities float listlessly and are so stressed out that they’ve destroyed their teeth by chewing on the sides and bars of the tanks. Their bodies are riddled with scars and lesions that are likely the result of attacking one another out of frustration. In the ocean, orcas can swim away from aggressive encounters, but those trapped in SeaWorld’s tanks are unable to escape. I can’t imagine the terror of having no way to escape from a tormentor.

SeaWorld spends only a paltry 1 percent of its annual profit on studying orcas in the wild, but it doesn’t take a special study to realize that no tank would ever be adequate. In the vast ocean where they belong, orcas dive deep and swim up to 100 miles a day, often at high speeds. Even in SeaWorld’s planned “expanded” tanks, orcas would have to swim more than 1,500 laps each day to do the same.

All captive adult male orcas, along with some adult females, have collapsed dorsal fins – an aberration that almost never occurs in the wild. If given the choice, orcas usually remain in their extended family pods for life, but SeaWorld routinely separates terrified offspring from their distraught mothers and ships them off to other parks. Former trainers describe these separations and the cries of the anguished orcas as gut-wrenching.

After seeing how SeaWorld mistreats animals, many trainers have quit in disgust and even spoken out against the company, which seems to care as little about the safety and well-being of its employees as it does about the orcas it exploits.

Even after experienced trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by Tilikum the orca, the company fought hard to keep trainers in the water with the animals. A top executive at The Blackstone Group, SeaWorld’s largest shareholder at the time, even tried to blame Brancheau – who by all accounts was dedicated to her job and extremely competent – for making mistakes that caused her own death.

SeaWorld was cited and fined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing employees to life-threatening hazards. According to one OSHA official, “SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals. Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges, and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals.”

Everyone deserves the right to pursue what makes them happy. But the orcas, dolphins and other animals trapped in SeaWorld’s tanks never enjoy such freedom. As a community that has struggled long and hard to overcome oppression and disrespect – the very things that the captive animals at SeaWorld are constantly subjected to – how could any of us ever feel that SeaWorld is worthy of our support?

Gray Caskey is a senior director at PETA.

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The 2016 Senate contests are worth watching http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/03/the-2016-senate-contests-are-worth-watching/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/03/the-2016-senate-contests-are-worth-watching/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:08 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=63882

The 24/7 coverage of Trump-a-palooza and Clinton-mail makes it hard to remember there are other presidential candidates, much less other races. The 2016 Senate contests are worth keeping an eye on, though, as control of the upper chamber is once again up for grabs.

Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014, when Democrats elected in their 2008 sweep couldn’t defend seats in the more conservative non-presidential electorate. The tables are turned in 2016, with Republicans defending 24 seats in a presidential election year, including swing seats they gained in their 2010 rout. To reclaim control, Democrats need a net gain of four seats if they retain the White House and five if they don’t (the vice president breaks ties).

The most likely Democratic pick-up is Illinois, where Sen. Mark Kirk won a surprise 2010 victory in President Obama’s home state. Illinois voters chose a Republican governor last year, but haven’t elected a Republican senator in a presidential year since 1972. Democrats are excited about Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s chances even if she has to survive a primary. Overcoming a stroke gives Kirk a good narrative, but he hasn’t helped himself with odd statements, including calling bachelor Sen. Lindsey Graham a “bro with no ho.”

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is the next target. The man he beat in 2010, beloved liberal Sen. Russ Feingold, thrilled Democrats by agreeing to a rematch. Wisconsin is considered a swing state, but elections vary by turnout of the highly polarized electorate, not persuasion of a movable middle. Feingold remains well liked, should win handily if Wisconsin goes for the Democratic presidential nominee, and might even squeak by in a presidential loss.

Polling, candidate issues and the effect of the presidential race make the next tier of races harder to predict. Pennsylvania should be fertile ground for Democrats, but Sen. Pat Toomey has worked hard to moderate his Club for Growth image, and Democratic leaders are trying to prevent a rematch against former Rep. Joe Sestak. Former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland leads incumbent Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio polls, but most expect that gap to close as the quiet Portman gets his name back in the news. The race could turn on whether popular Gov. John Kasich is on the national Republican ticket. Ditto for Florida, where the presence of Sen. Marco Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush on the national ticket or a competitive primary could erase early Democratic polling advantages.

North Carolina and New Hampshire could be competitive if Democrats can land strong candidates as they did in Arizona, where a wave election or a retirement by Sen. John McCain could expand the map. At the moment, Republicans only see two real pick-up opportunities: Nevada and Colorado. The former is a statistical dead heat despite Republicans getting Rep. Joe Heck as their preferred candidate. In the latter, a state party in disarray has kept Republicans from recruiting a top tier candidate.

As for California, most expect the Democratic primary to determine the successor to retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.

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Veep-orina? http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/20/veep-orina/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/20/veep-orina/#respond Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:18 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=63404

Carly Fiorina

Judging political debates often has a Mean Girls feel to it. Like, you may think you like someone, but you could be wrong. You wouldn’t make a final decision without asking some friends, in this case the rest of the punditry, because the media coverage and spin have as much to do with the long term winner as anything that happened at the debate.

For instance, I thought Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the prime time debate by stealing the compassionate conservative mantle from former Gov. Jeb Bush, who seemed to shrink within his suit as the night wore on. I found Sen. Marco Rubio eloquent but forgettable, and was surprised when conventional wisdom declared him the winner of the main event.

Fortunately, the political cognoscenti agreed that Carly Fiorina won the day. She cleaned up in the early debate, with the now penniless Gov. Rick Perry coming in a distant second. Her presence was missed in the main debate, where the discussion of Donald Trump’s treatment of women and the race to the right on abortion cried out for the voice of a female Republican. Given the generally poor performance of the candidates in the main debate, some pundits declared Fiorina the winner of both debates, based on her performance in the early debate and the impact of her absence from the main stage.

Fiorina is already gaining support, with a recent Fox News poll placing her in seventh with 5 percent, a point ahead of Rubio, the alleged debate winner. She will likely make the main stage for the next debate, where a similarly strong performance could push her presidential polling higher. She may have helped herself most, however, in the vice-presidential sweepstakes.

While I’m willing to give Fiorina the first place trophy from the Fox News debate, I don’t think she can win the Republican nomination. Unlike Democrats, who are “Ready for Hillary” (if she isn’t crushed under the weight of her emails), Republicans are not ready to nominate a woman for president. More importantly, they are not ready to nominate someone who has never held elected office. That may sound crazy if you focus on Trump’s media attention, but it is sane based on the math.

The same Fox News poll has Trump in first at 25 percent and Dr. Ben Carson in second at 12 percent. Add in Fiorina’s 5 percent, and that is still only 42 percent for the non-politicians. Even if one of the three can consolidate that vote as candidates drop out, they will lose to whoever consolidates the establishment vote.

That candidate will need a vice-presidential nominee who can appease the anti-politician voters, add to the general election coalition, and take on Hillary Clinton. Some of Fiorina’s best lines are attacks on Clinton. If she can keep Republican women and some independents from defecting to Clinton, she would be worth far more than a choice designed to carry a specific state. (This rarely works and Clinton can win without Ohio and Florida.) She may not be able to win a majority of primary voters, but if she can make herself an acceptable champion of disaffected Republicans, she just might sew up the Veepstakes.

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The first Republican presidential primary debate: Bring it on! http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/05/the-first-republican-presidential-primary-debate-bring-it-on/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/05/the-first-republican-presidential-primary-debate-bring-it-on/#respond Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:20:04 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62947

Tuesday, Fox News announced the 10 participants in the first Republican presidential primary debate: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich. With that question answered, we can start prognosticating about the issues and staging. Below are some questions to consider when watching tonight (or reading recaps tomorrow).

What happened at 2? The not-so-top-ten get the stage for an hour at 2 p.m. (Pacific). Don’t be surprised if issues, attacks and gaffes from the early show find their way into the main event at 6 p.m.

Will anyone actually debate? With 120 minutes spread over 10 candidates (and the moderators), there will be a temptation to use the debate as a staccato stump speech. Directly engaging the competition is high risk/high reward, so expect any fireworks to be set off by the lower polling candidates.

What will Trump do? As the poll leader, Trump will be center stage. Will he use the spotlight to toss rhetorical grenades or show that he can be a more traditional candidate? Pundits are suggesting Trump play the professional, but he’s gotten where he is by bucking conventional wisdom.

Who will attack Trump? Rick Perry has been Trump’s loudest critic on the campaign trail, but he didn’t make the cut. Those polling in single digits may risk attacking Trump just for extra camera time. If Bush or Walker take on Trump, it suggests they are no longer so certain he’ll collapse under his own ego.

Will Carly Fiorina have a champion? Leaving the only female candidate out of the main debate is an optical nightmare for Republicans. Advocating for Fiorina enough to woo her supporters without helping her get into the next debate is a tough needle to thread, but the upsides are sufficiently tempting that someone will probably try.

What crazy promises will be made? In 2012, Jeb Bush chided the Republican field for saying that they wouldn’t trade $10 in spending cuts for $1 in new taxes. My guess is that the moderators (and Ted Cruz) will push everyone to promise one or more of the following: a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage; a government shutdown before funding Planned Parenthood; no path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Will Bush, or anyone, stand up against the hard right to better position themselves for the general election?

Who breaks through? There will likely be two success stories. The ticket from the Fox News undercard to the next main event probably goes to Fiorina if she turns in a strong anti-Hillary performance, though Perry may grab it with a mix of righteous indignation and sympathy. Someone on the main stage will go from forgettable to relevant, most likely Christie or Kasich by taking on Trump or Bush, respectively.

Who underperforms? Trump is in danger of being the dud for not mellowing out for the pundits, or for doing so and losing his angry base. If Trump and Bush don’t make news, expect Rubio, Paul or both to get labelled as “having missed their opportunity.”

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The Democratic primary field: And now there are five http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/30/the-democratic-primary-field-and-now-there-are-five/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/30/the-democratic-primary-field-and-now-there-are-five/#respond Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:00:23 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62743

The first Republican primary debate is next Thursday. The winners are already clear: Fox News and pollsters. With Fox News limiting the debate to the top ten candidates in an average of national surveys, every release of data will generate clicks for the network and the number crunchers. If Fox News is smart, they’ll roll out the final participant list in a LeBron-esque “Decision” special with a Family Feud board. While we wait for the big reveal, it’s worth looking at the Democratic primary field, which has quietly expanded to five candidates.

Hillary Clinton. Most pundits call the former secretary of state and senator from New York the “frontrunner” preceded by adjectives on a spectrum from current to dominant to prohibitive. She leads her closest competition by 40 points (Real Clear Politics Average) in national primary polls, and maintains smaller leads in Iowa and New Hampshire. Despite a run of negative coverage about her email server, she bests all Republican candidates (well, those of the 16 who she has been polled against) by at least four points.

Her only speed bump was a spate of Quinnipiac polls showing most major Republican candidates beating her in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. On the upside, she can win without those swing states if she keeps the rest of President Obama’s map and Florida or Ohio.

Bernie Sanders. Nature abhors a vacuum, so the Vermont senator stepped into the space to Clinton’s left created when Sen. Elizabeth Warren refused to run. Few thought an Independent and proud socialist with hair crazier than Donald Trump would have much impact, but Sanders appears to have captured the hearts of the progressives. He has narrowed the gap against Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire and now also defeats many Republicans in general election match-ups.

Democratic liberals have fallen in love with someone in every recent election: Sen. Bill Bradley (2000), Gov. Howard Dean (2004), and Sen. Barack Obama (2008). What set President Obama apart was his ability to add other constituencies to his primary coalition, most notably African American Democrats. (Clinton was also out- maneuvered by Obama on delegate math, a problem she will no doubt fix.) Should Sanders win in largely white Iowa and New Hampshire, he still will still need to break Clinton’s hold on Latinos, African Americans, women and labor. Threatening to leave his Netroots panel when confronted with #BlackLivesMatter activists didn’t help.

Martin O’Malley. The former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor was supposed to be the liberal alternative to Clinton. He stumbled out of the gate in 2014 when his lieutenant governor lost to a Republican in deep blue Maryland. Then the Freddie Gray case put the spotlight on law enforcement in Baltimore, reaching back to his time as mayor. To top it off, he may have handled Netroots worse than Sanders, telling activists that “white lives matter” and “all lives matter.” Somewhere in his political career, he might have learned that making a technically accurate statement doesn’t make up for missing the point.

Jim Webb. The former Virginia senator appears to be running to both sides of Clinton, to the extent that he is running at all. As a veteran and former Navy secretary, he is credibly to her left on avoiding military intervention, but somewhat incredibly to her, and the party’s, right on social issues, as evidenced by his odd comments on the Confederate flag. It will be interesting to see how he handles the “Why do you want to be president?” question given that his disdain for politics led him to leave the Senate after one term.

Lincoln Chafee. Chafee held a Rhode Island Senate seat as a liberal Republican (1999-2007), lost re-election to Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, successfully ran for governor as an Independent (2010-2014), and became a Democrat (2013) but chose not to seek re-election. So Chafee is running for “his” party’s presidential nomination in his first race as a Democrat. That would probably disqualify Chafee, except that Sanders is doing the same thing. Chafee’s bigger problem is that the three preceding sentences may be all you know about him.

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The Planned Parenthood videos prove nothing http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/23/the-planned-parenthood-videos-prove-nothing/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/23/the-planned-parenthood-videos-prove-nothing/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:52:15 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62511

Like most medical students, I took anatomy in my first year, spending hours dissecting a cadaver with five colleagues. Every five weeks, our full day of testing ended with a practical exam. It began by circulating through a room full of bodies guessing the name or function of parts identified with a pin and ended with an oral presentation of our knowledge using our own cadaver. Immediately after, we crossed the breezeway to have a beer from the keg kindly provided by our medical school.

After one particularly tough exam, twelve of us went to Chili’s, where we were seated at a long table in a bustling wing of the restaurant. Fifteen minutes later, it was empty except for us. I don’t know if patrons asked to be moved or the hostess just stopped seating people there, but I’m fairly sure our medical conversation was the reason.

I still talk differently in the company of other health care professionals, though I’ve learned how not to clear out a restaurant. Some of it is jargon and shorthand, but there is also a certain relief in being able to say things simply and factually, without someone yelling “Ick, gross!” or expecting me to share their disgust or discomfort at something I see every day or have been trained to take in my stride.

I’ve watched the video from the Center for Medical Progress’ sting operation against Planned Parenthood, and frankly all I see is a physician who thought she was among professional colleagues, which is understandable given that’s what they professed to be. She wasn’t disparaging of her patients, which is the part of back room chatter that does need to be eliminated. She simply told the blunt truth about procedures to people she had every reason to believe could handle it.

If that truth exposed illegal activity it should be investigated, but that seems unlikely if these were the most damning eight minutes in hours of tape. There may be ethical discussions regarding the impact of tissue saving maneuvers on the patient’s health, but it’s doubtful they would be retroactively actionable. Instead, the doctor’s biggest crimes may have been clearing out the table behind her (hard to prove since the time stamp comes and goes) and being able to swill wine and eat while talking about abortions. As uncomfortable as that might make some viewers, it doesn’t make the physician evil.

More importantly, it doesn’t negate the fact that millions of women depend on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive health, or that Planned Parenthood may be the only provider of safe, legal, abortions in some areas. Somehow, that didn’t make it into the video. Neither did the fact that abortions are a small fraction of the services Planned Parenthood provides, and tissue donation an even smaller portion.

The video isn’t journalism. It’s propaganda. Political strategists who don’t like abortions lied about who they were, made a physician from Planned Parenthood feel comfortable enough to bluntly talk shop, secretly taped her, edited the tape, and mixed in some old news footage and legal quotes so like-minded people would believe she admitted to something illegal and moderates would be grossed out. They’ve proven nothing. It’s a slick strategy, one they probably cooked up while swilling wine with colleagues and saying far more disturbing things about women and their doctors than was ever said about fetal organs. If only we had it on tape.

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Agree or disagree? When the Pride parade ‘die-ins’ happen, above all, be respectful http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/16/agree-or-disagree-when-the-pride-parade-die-ins-happen-above-all-be-respectful/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/16/agree-or-disagree-when-the-pride-parade-die-ins-happen-above-all-be-respectful/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 16:00:26 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62331

A number of people have asked what I think of the “die-ins” planned for Saturday’s parade. It’s complicated.

As a political strategy, I think the “die-ins” are a bad idea for a number of reasons.

Perhaps most importantly, it is causing division within the transgender community. While it is not uncommon for groups to have internal disagreements about strategy, it is rarely ideal for them to play out in public, particularly in front of the biggest audience of the year. Further, this is not a small difference in the tactics that best achieve a goal, but a larger difference about the goal and messaging of transgender participation in the Pride parade. Members of the transgender community in the Grand Marshall contingent are standing with the bulk of progressive San Diegans in celebration. Those involved in the “die-ins” risk seeming apart while urging more somber reflection.

Both feelings are important, but they don’t always work best together, as evidenced by the split between the Transgender Days of Remembrance and Empowerment. Coming just weeks after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, this year’s Pride parade seems destined to be a victory party. As the victory most directly affects LGB Americans, it seems almost presciently wise that Pride chose to make the transgender community the Grand Marshal to ensure we had reason to celebrate together. (Open transgender military service may provide another reason.)

That also makes the “die-ins” seem like a slap in the face, despite the tone Pride Executive Director Stephen Whitburn tried to set in his open letter. The mix of offense, substance use and a party atmosphere could easily turn a well-intentioned attempt to raise awareness into screams of “Get up, T*****.” Or worse.

While I would have advised activists against the “die-ins”, I won’t ask them not to do it. I am not transgender, and came out as gay at a time when LGB support was building rapidly. I don’t know what it is like to feel that my community and its tragedies are too often invisible. I can respect the idea that the largest annual audience of the LGBT community and allies needs education more that celebration, and the “this isn’t the right time/place” argument has too often been used to delay progress. I doubt pundits hailed Stonewall as an act of strategic genius the day after it happened, much less the week before.

Instead, I have an unusual request for our readers, community and allies. Prove the strategist in me wrong. When the “die-ins” happen, be respectful. Encourage those around you at the parade to be respectful, or at least quiet. If someone asks “What are they doing?” educate them on transgender violence and suicide. If they ask “Why is the parade stopping?” remind them that small delays are sometimes required to ensure we keep moving forward together.

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Chargers: Should they stay or should they go? http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/09/chargers-should-they-stay-or-should-they-go/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/09/chargers-should-they-stay-or-should-they-go/#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:31:48 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62074

I want the Chargers to stay in San Diego. I want a stadium funding plan that puts the costs on those who would benefit most. I read the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) report and followed the back-and-forth between the City and the Chargers, and I still want answers to a few questions.

Does the NFL really want to leave San Diego?

It makes sense for the Spanos family to leave San Diego if they can make more money in Los Angeles. The NFL’s math is a little more complicated. Do they want to add L.A., the nation’s second largest media market? Yes. Do they want to lose San Diego (28th) or St. Louis (21st)? Why would they, when they could move the Raiders and use the San Francisco 49ers to keep the Bay Area (6th)?

As to the idea of moving two teams to L.A., I think the NFL owners are trying to have their cake and eat it too. The NFL has used fear of L.A. to get new stadiums in a number of cities. If they demand an L.A. stadium be able to accommodate a second team, they can use that leverage in near perpetuity.

How much are we really giving the Chargers?

The CSAG plan avoids a tax increase by using expense savings, future rent and development income to create the City’s contribution. Opponents say that money should be put to more important City needs. Backers say the money doesn’t exist without the Chargers, because there would be no rent and the site isn’t as attractive for development without a stadium.

Other uses for the site have been mentioned: a river-walk and park, a university campus and a corporate compound, to name a few. I’d like some dollar values on those plans, preferably from the schools or businesses suggested who may want their own tax incentives. Free rent is only a cost if someone else is willing to pay for the room. Will the City really be able to use the Mission Valley site to generate revenue if the Chargers leave? Or are we really just deciding whether the Spanos family or someone else gets a handout to avoid a vacant lot?

Who builds the stadium?

The final funding plan will no doubt involve the Chargers getting help from San Diego taxpayers, many of whom were priced out of attending a Chargers game long ago. What do working families get, except whatever warm, fuzzy feeling comes from living in a truly “major city” with an NFL team? At the very least I would like to know that the stadium construction will create good paying union jobs for San Diegans. A deal to ensure current Qualcomm workers have similar jobs at similar or better wages in the new stadium should be considered as well.

What if we regret the Chargers leaving?

However high the cost of keeping the Chargers, it will be cheaper than getting a new NFL team. Ask Cleveland or Houston, who found themselves over the NFL’s barrel for hundreds of millions when they wanted a team back, or St. Louis, who is trying to avoid losing another team. That’s something I would consider before waving goodbye to the Chargers, though it may be the right decision in the end.

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The advantage that dare not speak its name http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/02/the-advantage-that-dare-not-speak-its-name/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/02/the-advantage-that-dare-not-speak-its-name/#respond Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:02:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=61896

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage spawned vigorous commentary on both sides. It also launched another round of analysis into how support for marriage equality grew so much faster than other civil rights movements. Most focus on the importance of coming out, personal conversations, the power of social media and the universality of love, all of which no doubt played a role. They also avoid the more difficult discussion of the advantages, or privilege that was somewhat unique to the LGB equality movement: easier access to the structures of power and close allies not similarly situated.

The medical school admissions process couldn’t hold my sexual orientation against me, because I hadn’t even realized it yet. By the time I knew I was gay, I was well almost done and had learned when and how to discuss my orientation. Those who infiltrated the system before me changed academic medicine, making sexual orientation a sought after element of diversity at many residency programs.

Some LGB people no doubt had a harder time than I did, with water cooler whispers leading to rejections and missed promotions. But the ability of some to remain closeted, through choice or delayed realization of sexual orientation, allows LGB people to move up the ladder further and faster than other groups that face discrimination. Fair or not, healthy or not, remaining unrecognized simply isn’t an option for most people of color or women. Transgender individuals face a similar difficulty, with applications flagged or limited by pronoun mismatches in resumes and recommendations.

Realizing that LGB people could advance quietly until it was time to build on a wave of acceptance makes the rapid shifts by business and academia less of a surprise. A CEO who doesn’t want to advance women won’t have any on his leadership team. One who dislikes homosexuals may have entered a meeting Friday to find half his board wearing pink ties. Yes, consumer pressure and the “pink dollar” played a role, but that is in part because of higher paying jobs. (It’s worth noting that the pink ties could lead to pink slips in the many states where it is legal to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace.)

There may also have been PFLAG members on those boards, which brings up a second advantage. Discrimination based on race and ethnicity affects families for generations and reaches into numerous aspects of life. The straight parents and families of LGBT individuals typically suffer less discrimination in their own lives. They weren’t denied access to housing, education and finance even if their children were, leaving them better poised to provide and advocate for LGBT relatives when the opportunity arose.

Obviously, these are generalizations. Not every LGB person had the option of the closet or supportive families, and some belong to multiple groups that face discrimination. There are also heroic women, immigrants, transgender activists and people of color who have been breaking glass ceilings for years. That some LGB people had privileges does not mean their struggle is manifestly different from other civil rights struggles. Rather, they brought different weapons to the fight. The question now is how to use them to keep fighting for equality.

One way is to effectively arm others. The fight for reproductive rights, for example, might benefit from finding effective ways for women who have had abortions to “come out.” (Voluntarily.)

The harder, but far more important duty is to use any status we have for others. Privilege has taken on a bad connotation, but is only a problem when it is arrogantly denied or used only selfishly. Whatever piece of the brass ring the LGB community may have reached with marriage equality, grabbing it only takes one hand. The other needs to be reaching back through whatever doors were opened to bring everyone else through. It would be great to celebrate June 26 as a national holiday, but we can never forget how we felt June 25, or stand by while others face the same discrimination.

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Highlighting some transgender specific initiatives http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/25/highlighting-some-transgender-specific-initiatives/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/25/highlighting-some-transgender-specific-initiatives/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:14:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=61677

mydoorsign.com

When referring to the “LGBT” community, most people mean a group that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. When referring to legislation, however, the LGBT label is often slapped on anything that benefits lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.

The change in conjunction is small, but far from harmless. Protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity are not inseparable for a number of reasons: sometimes because of how the discrimination was enacted, as with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT); sometimes because of how the “fix” is written, as with some attempts to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA); and sometimes because the realities of the discrimination require different fixes, as with some medical needs.

With so much of the focus on same-sex marriage, it seems only fair to highlight some transgender specific initiatives.

San Diego

San Diego’s municipal code has prohibited discrimination based on gender identity for some time. In April, the Council voted unanimously to add gender identity to the nondiscrimination policy for choosing City contractors. Last week, the City’s Human Relations Commission endorsed a letter to the mayor and City Council in support of gender inclusive restrooms.

California

Equality California’s legislative goals for 2015 include three bills specific to the transgender community.

AB 87. California already prohibits lawyers from kicking out a potential juror based on sexual orientation, among other things. AB 87 would expand that protection to more groups, including transgender individuals.

SB 703. Much like the recent action by the San Diego City Council, this bill would prevent California from doing business with companies that discriminated against transgender people with regard to benefits. The legislation is broadly worded, but the main impact would be on healthcare coverage.

SB 731. As it stands, an adolescent rejected by their family because of their gender identity could be placed in a youth home based on their anatomic sex. SB 731 would ensure that gender identity is taken into account when placing foster youth.

The Personal Privacy Protection Act. Signature gathering will likely begin shortly on a ballot initiative to force people to use government facilities “in accordance with their biological sex.” Low voter turnout in 2014 dropped the number of signatures needed to reach the ballot, so 2016 could see a Prop-8-like battle over basic safety and dignity for transgender Californians.

National

The most recent attempts to pass ENDA included protections based on gender identity, but it has yet to be introduced in this Congress. Given the concerns about religious exemptions and the Republican controlled Congress, it probably won’t be.

Allowing transgender Americans to serve openly in the military is more promising. Transgender service is barred by medical codes, so it wasn’t affected by the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Fortunately, those codes can be changed without Congressional action. Positive developments are an American Medical Association statement that there is no medical reasons to ban transgender service, and recent comments by Defense Secretary Ash Carter that he is “very open minded about” changing the policy.

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And then there were 12 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/18/and-then-there-were-12/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/18/and-then-there-were-12/#respond Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:42:09 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=61431

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and entrepreneur Donald Trump both announced their entry into the race for the Republican presidential nomination last week, bringing the total number of candidates to an even dozen. The number of characters will eventually shrink like an Agatha Christie murder mystery, but given the candidates still on the sidelines the field is likely to grow before the culling.

Below is a brief analysis of the current candidates ranked by the Real Clear Politics average percentage in national polls (US), with averages for Iowa (IA) and New Hampshire (NH) included.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (US 10.8; IA 8.5; NH 15.3). Like President George W. Bush, Jeb! hoped to use fundraising prowess to scare people out of the field. In the age of Tea Party conservatism and Super PACs it didn’t work. Everything seems to cut both ways for Bush as an establishment choice at the mercy of the expectations game. He leads polling, but not by much. He may get a surge when reporting his fundraising numbers, but anything less than $100 million could be seen as a disappointment by establishment Republicans, while anything near it underscores criticisms that he is in the pocket of big donors, not movement conservatives. As a horserace, Bush probably has the best odds, but in a craps game “No Pass” would be safer.

Sen. Marco Rubio (US 10.0; IA 9.8; NH 10.0). Rubio is the current buzz candidate, and along with the undeclared Gov. Scott Walker completes the top tier trio. Rubio scores well as a second choice, and may benefit most from hanging in there. His biggest problem could be winning early states, given Walker’s recent surge in Iowa, New Hampshire’s predilection for the Bushes and native son Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. If Rubio survives to the Florida primary, an upset of Bush could vault him to the top.

Dr. Ben Carson (US 9.4; IA 8.5; NH 5.0). There is always a group of Republicans who want a non-politician, and for now they are backing Carson. Unfortunately for Carson, that group is small and Trump’s share will probably increase with his official entry. If Carson polls high enough to be included in the debates, he may get a second look from the broader electorate. The question will be whether primary voters see the eloquent man who dared to speak conservative truths at a prayer breakfast or the off-the-cuff gaffer who has to walk back controversial statements.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (US 8.6; IA 9.5; NH 4.5). Huckabee shocked the field in 2008 by winning the Iowa caucuses but couldn’t follow it up, both because he lacked a national organization and because Sen. Fred Thompson stayed in just long enough to split the social conservative vote and hand South Carolina to Sen. John McCain. The conventional wisdom is that Huckabee will have a hard time repeating his 2008 Iowa performance, but underestimate him at your own risk.

Sen. Rand Paul (US 8.2; IA 9.3; NH 11.0). Timing is everything in politics. Unfortunately for Paul, his peak may have been in 2014, when his anti-surveillance libertarianism fit a nation in the midst of the Snowden affair. Since then, the president’s response to threats from Russia and ISIL has moved the party back toward a hawkish interventionist position. His diehard followers have given him a higher floor than many, but the prominence of national security and the sheer number of candidates limit his growth. His best early state will be New Hampshire, and a win there could keep him in the race. If the convention is split, his ability to deliver the libertarian bloc could elevate him to king-maker status.

Sen. Ted Cruz (U.S. 7.0; IA 6.8; NH 5.0). Cruz is widely considered the “second-tier” candidate most likely to break into the top. Loved by social and Tea Party conservatives, he could benefit from early exits by the likes of Carson and Huckabee, and appears to have the fundraising to stick around for a while. His bigger problem will be Rubio, who has burned fewer bridges with the establishment and whose inspiration is more appealing than Cruz’s agitation.

Donald Trump (US 3.6; IA 4.5; NH 8.3). Trump’s entry excited Democrats more than Republicans, as he will say anything and others will have to respond. Case in point: Trump was an early and consistent “birther”, keeping a fringe theory of Obama’s origin at the center of Republican conversation far longer than most wanted. His numbers will probably climb now that his candidacy is official, but his ceiling is probably around the 15 percent anti-politician vote currently split with Carson and Fiorina.

Former Governor Rick Perry (US 3.2; IA 3.0; NH 2.5). As a 14 year governor of a large border state (Texas), Perry checks many of the usual boxes for a Republican nominee. Unfortunately, his 2012 campaign left many wondering if he can count the number of boxes accurately. (Bah-dum-bump!) Assuming he can overcome the jokes, he isn’t the clear favorite of any group and has stiff competition for second place. To have a shot, Perry must get into the first debate and turn in a performance that makes everyone forget about 2012.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (US 2.2; IA 4.7; NH 1.5). Santorum got a raw deal in 2012, with his Iowa caucus victory over Mitt Romney called too late to provide the momentum Huckabee got in 2008. Still, he came in second, which sets him up for another raw deal. Republicans have a history of nominating the runner-up from the last election (Reagan, Bush, McCain, Romney), but it’s unlikely to happen in 2016. With so many social conservatives in the race, Santorum may have problems making the debate stage much less repeating his Iowa victory.

Carly Fiorina (US 1.8; IA 2.8; NH 4.3). Fiorina is third in the “non-politician” lane behind Carson and Trump, but as the only woman in the race she has the best chance to find support outside that base. If Fiorina can continue to show her competence, attack Hillary Clinton and find issues that highlight her unique perspective (e.g., the Republican plan for over the counter birth control), she could become a major player at the convention and raise her stock as a vice presidential choice.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (US 1.4; IA –, NH –). Graham has two advantages. He has a natural base in the early primary state of South Carolina, and he has a solidly conservative record on defense spending. If defense issues dominate the debates, he could move up the ladder as the main counter-puncher to Rand Paul, but it’s hard to see him gaining significant traction unless he wins South Carolina and the field is much smaller shortly after.

Former Gov. George Pataki (US –; IA –; NH –). Who? Exactly. Pataki is a former New York governor who doesn’t even show up in the polls.

As to likely candidates who are not officially in the race: Gov. Scott Walker (US 10.6; IA 18.3; NH 11.5); Gov. Chris Christie (US 4.6; IA 4.3; NH 5.3); Gov. John Kasich (US 1.8; IA 2.0; NH 1.0); Gov. Bobby Jindal (US 1.0; IA 1.0; NH 1.5).

Looking for the Republican candidate who supports marriage equality? Despite the size of the field, the answer remains “None of the above.”

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Cutting Carly won’t narrow the gender gap http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/11/cutting-carly-wont-narrow-the-gender-gap/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/11/cutting-carly-wont-narrow-the-gender-gap/#respond Thu, 11 Jun 2015 16:52:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=61190

Carly Fiorina | PHOTO: GAGE SKIDMORE

In 2008, then Sen. Barack Obama beat Sen. John McCain by 14 percentage points among female voters, despite the presence of Gov. Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket. In his 2012 re-election, President Obama did arguably better, besting Gov. Mitt Romney by 12 points among women while losing men by eight points (Obama tied McCain among men), a record 20 point “gender gap.”

Republicans likely need to shrink that gap to win the presidency in 2016. Running against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make that hard. The Republican primary process may make it nearly impossible.

With neither a Democratic incumbent nor a Republican heir apparent, everyone feels they have a chance. There are currently 10 announced Republican presidential candidates. That doesn’t include former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Scott Walker, who are almost certain to run, or Donald Trump, Gov. John Kasich and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who have expressed an interest.

The field is diverse in many ways. It includes governors, senators and political outsiders. There are religious conservatives, libertarians, deficit hawks and national security hawks. There are two Latino candidates, an African American and one woman: former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. The GOP would love to put that diversity on display, but they have run into a problem: it doesn’t fit on a debate stage.

Fox News and CNN will be hosting the first debates, and have preliminarily limited the stage to 10 candidates. Both plan to use national polls to determine who gets a podium, though each will use different criteria. Unfortunately for Republican efforts to woo women voters, Fiorina is currently waiting in the wings.

According to fivethirtyeight.com, current polling has Fiorina in 12th place for both debates. By the somewhat vague Fox method, Fiorina’s participation depends on whether they round up her 1.6 percent to match Gov. John Kasich and former Sen. Rick Santorum, who are tied for 10th/11th at a whopping 2.0 percent. With Fiorina at 1.3 percent, more than a rounding error away from Kasich and Santorum at 2.0 percent, CNN can feel somewhat better about omitting the only woman. At least until they consider the margin of error for the polls. Assuming a margin of +/- 2 percent, Fiorina could be as high as 8th or as low as last.

The numbers matter less than the optics. A party that needs to narrow the gender gap can’t leave the only female candidate off the stage. Further, Fiorina has shown a willingness and ability to directly attack Sec. Clinton. Like it or not, Fiorina’s presence on the stage will make it harder to spin attacks by other candidates as sexist. She also happens to be a fairly good speaker with a unique viewpoint in the field.

The Republican Party has tried to insulate themselves from any backlash by letting the media partners set the rules. It won’t work. To narrow the gender gap, they need to get Fiorina on stage. Hopefully her poll numbers will increase; if not, the number of podiums should.

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Sage. Taylor. Kyler. http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/28/sage-taylor-kyler/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/28/sage-taylor-kyler/#respond Thu, 28 May 2015 16:06:07 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=60713

Harvey Milk Youth Essay Scholarship Awards at the 2015 Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast | PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Three names that were mentioned early at the 2015 Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast.

Three transgender youth who were taken from our San Diego community far too soon. Three drops in a tragically growing pool that fed an undercurrent of sadness permeating the usually uplifting event.

Sage. Taylor. Kyler.

One Lifetime achievement award celebrated our progress against HIV/AIDS, particularly among people of color. The other honored work that has connected the LGBT and faith communities. Both were well earned and received with energizing speeches. Neither could fully turn heads and hearts from three lifetimes that were ended far too soon, and whose potential achievements will never be known. Might they, too, have written an award-winning essay, earned a scholarship, or been honored with a breakfast?

Sage. Taylor. Kyler.

The mayor of San Diego underscored his commitment to the LGBT community and marriage equality. The first openly lesbian Assembly Speaker, and the first from San Diego, discussed some of our successes in California. The mere mention of her likely successor, the former iMayor, was greeted with applause that couldn’t wait for the full list of dignitaries to be read. Three testaments to the growing power of our community, yet it is still not strong enough to protect three of our most vulnerable.

Sage. Taylor. Kyler.

Nationwide marriage equality could be a Supreme Court decision away. California continues to lead on equality in schools and health care. San Diego International Airport has gender inclusive bathrooms. Three achievements whose trophies shine less for three who will not enjoy them.

Sage. Taylor. Kyler.

Even with heavy hearts, it is appropriate to honor those who have given much to our community. It is good to hear from our leaders, and let them hear from us. Victories need to be celebrated. Not because we are done, but to energize us for the work to come. This year, more than ever, to make sure no one is missing next year.

Sage. Taylor. Kyler.

Threes are great for rhythm in speaking and writing, but in this case three is far too many, and there are far too many more. The rhythm must become a drum beat to action. The majority of Americans who support marriage equality need to support transgender understanding, rights and equality. The conversations can be hard, so give them a fact that can’t be about “phases” or “clothing choices”: up to 50 percent of transgender youth attempt suicide by age 20. Let them know the names of three people they will never have the honor of meeting, who needed their acceptance, not judgement.

Sage. Taylor. Kyler.

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How does Hillary overcome the ‘trustworthy’ question? http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/14/how-does-hillary-overcome-the-trustworthy-question/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/14/how-does-hillary-overcome-the-trustworthy-question/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 15:00:31 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=60255

Hillary Clinton

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed 54 percent of registered voters believing that former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not honest or trustworthy. Despite Clinton beating the entire Republican field, pundits have pounced on the data as a harbinger of doom for the nascent Clinton campaign.

Conservative columnists and panelists argue that this has always been Clinton’s fatal flaw. They are wrong. Former President Bill Clinton proved you can win an election without people trusting you, as he did in 1996 when CNN polling showed him underwater on a similar “honest and trustworthy” question.

Democratic pundits believe Bill Clinton won despite those numbers because he crushed his opponents, Sen. Bob Dole and H. Ross Perot, on the question of “Cares about the needs of people like you.” That may be true, but it would be dangerous to pin Hillary Clinton’s hopes to that plan, as she has never matched her husband on empathy and connecting to voters.

The model for Hillary overcoming the trustworthy question isn’t Bill. It’s Tom. Tom Brady.

An NFL investigation found it “more probable than not” that Brady was somehow involved in deflating footballs prior to the 2015 AFC Championship game. He has been suspended for four games, with appeals pending.

Despite the accusations of lying, cheating and withholding evidence, Brady remains wildly popular in the New England fan base. Hillary Clinton is already an expert at playing that card. Who can forget the “vast right wing conspiracies” that made her fans all the more vocal in her defense?

More importantly, Brady’s talents remain sought after, despite the questions of honesty. In the words of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, “If you think for a second I wouldn’t have chastised you if you had committed these acts while in my team’s uniform, you would be right.” If the Patriots cut Brady tomorrow, teams would line up to hire him despite the suspension and the conduct. The few columnists and fans who bemoaned the loss of their team’s morality would come around as long Brady was winning.

In sports or politics, Americans tend to care more about winning than honesty and trustworthiness. The same poll that said Bill Clinton failed on those criteria showed that a majority found him “honest and trustworthy enough to be president.” Americans may even prefer quarterbacks, and presidents, who will break the rules; but the victory must be clear, there are limits on which rules may be broken, and both may be judged in retrospect. Americans don’t question a military action on Pakistani soil that succeeded in getting Osama Bin Laden, but wouldn’t tolerate another atrocity like Abu Ghraib that lessened America in the eyes of the world.

Deleted emails and “Clinton Cash” won’t be the last attacks on Hillary Clinton’s honesty. Her path to victory isn’t convincing voters that no rules were broken. Instead, she should convince them she will bend and break rules aggressively, but not recklessly, in the interests of the American people. Like her husband and Tom Brady, she doesn’t need to be a saint – just the kind of sinner who leads our team to victory.

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Commentary: Why we should be concerned about the recent ‘intentionally spreading HIV’ case http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/10/commentary-why-we-should-be-concerned-about-the-recent-intentionally-spreading-hiv-case/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/10/commentary-why-we-should-be-concerned-about-the-recent-intentionally-spreading-hiv-case/#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 14:00:12 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=60110

Thomas Miguel Guerra

Tuesday, Thomas Miguel Guerra was sentenced to six months in jail. If that doesn’t concern you, it should.

The developing narrative is that Guerra hid his status from a partner as a step toward intentionally, and with disturbing delight, infecting his partner with HIV. According to NBC 7 San Diego, Judge Katherine Lewis, who delivered the sentence, was “visibly angry.” If the narrative is correct, she may be right that a maximum sentence of six months is a “travesty” for what Guerra did. But not for what he was charged with.

Guerra was charged with a misdemeanor offense under California Health and Safety Code 120290, which states in relevant part:

“Except as provided in Section 120291…any person afflicted with any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease who willfully exposes himself or herself to another person, and any person who willfully exposes another person afflicted with the disease to someone else, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

With regard to the Guerra narrative, the statute is important for what it doesn’t say. No mention of disclosure of status. No mention of consent. No mention of acceptable precautions. No mention of intent to transmit the disease, whether “successful” or not. All of that is covered in Section 120291, which lays out the criteria for felony charges that were not pursued against Guerra.

Judge Lewis may disagree with that decision, and her frustration is understandable. It is hard to accept that texting “Yay lol. Someone getting poz that day. Already poz.” followed by “Poor sucka” is simply dark humor, as Guerra’s attorney apparently suggested in explaining the “no contest” plea. Yet it is only relevant to the actual charges in so far as it shows he knew he had a communicable disease and exposed someone else.

Which is why you should be concerned. Whatever you believe about Guerra’s actions, he got six months in jail for violating Section 120290. That section, as written, could apply to anyone with HIV (or gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, etc.) who has sex.

Did you disclose your status? Did they consent? Apparently irrelevant.

What if you are undetectable? What if you wore a condom? What if your partner is on PrEP? Seems to depend on how that affects “communicable” to a judge and lawyer, not a doctor.

Lawyers say that bad cases make bad law. That probably applies here. The City Attorney’s office believes this is the first guilty verdict or plea in San Diego County under the statute, which is 20 years old.  It’s hard to escape the feeling that Guerra got the full misdemeanor sentence because the Judge thought he was guilty of a felony. It is unlikely that she, or the City Attorney, will suddenly try to increase prosecution under the misdemeanor statute; but someone, somewhere, could use the precedent to criminalize HIV.

That’s the last thing we need as we try to #bethegeneration that ends HIV. We need people to get tested and know their status, not be afraid that knowing their status could get them prosecuted. We need to talk about HIV as a disease that often can be controlled with a pill, and prevented with a pill. It is no longer the untreatable disease that evoked specific rules. Many medical professionals forced to choose a virus would have picked HIV over Hepatitis C until very recent therapies for the latter.

City Attorney Goldsmith said in a statement “We hope this tragic case helps to educate people that they have a legal obligation — as well as a moral and ethical obligation — to inform their sex partners of their HIV status.” Judge Lewis apparently hopes the law will change and become a felony.

They both have part of the truth. The laws should change to reflect what we currently know about HIV. It is treatable. It is preventable. It is possible for people living with HIV to have safe and active sex lives.

People who know their status, hide their status, and actively try to infect others should be charged, but that should apply to any communicable disease. People with HIV or any other treatable disease taking appropriate steps to mitigate risk shouldn’t have to worry about prison or probation.

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Democratic options for the 2016 San Diego mayoral race http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/30/democratic-options-for-the-2016-san-diego-mayoral-race/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/30/democratic-options-for-the-2016-san-diego-mayoral-race/#respond Thu, 30 Apr 2015 17:06:38 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/30/democratic-options-for-the-2016-san-diego-mayoral-race/

Lorena Gonzalez

Democratic discussions of the 2016 San Diego mayoral race were long focused on one question: “Todd or Toni?” Some thought Assembly Speaker Atkins fundraising and connections gave her the best chance to defeat Mayor Faulconer. Others thought “iMayor” Gloria, who skipped the special election to put the city first, was the better option. Most were happy with either.

Then Gloria announced he would seek Atkins’ Assembly seat, shocking many of his supporters. Their pain is only exacerbated by the fact that Atkins seems increasingly unlikely to announce a bid. Calm “Todd or Toni?” debates have been replaced by a desperate hunt for Plan C.

Elected Democrats provide a healthy list of options, but the realities of the race will give most of them pause. A presidential electorate should help Democrats in 2016, as it did in 2012, but Mayor Faulconer has the advantage of incumbency and after vetoing the minimum wage increase has charted an arguably moderate course. Unless he loses the Chargers, it will be hard to paint him as a dangerous choice.

Candidate specific issues also hurt recruitment. Unlike Atkins and Gloria, most local Democrats aren’t termed out of their current offices, making the mayor’s race an unnecessary risk. Representatives Susan Davis and Juan Vargas can likely have their seats as long as they like. Rep. Scott Peters’ seat is more competitive, but a mayoral run would bring up tough votes from his days on City Council, as it might for former State Sen. Christine Kehoe. State Sens. Ben Hueso and Marty Block can keep their current seats, as can Assemblymember Shirley Weber.

County Supervisor Dave Roberts’ staff issues likely ended any small chance that he would run for mayor instead of re-election. As for current Councilmembers. Myrtle Cole and David Alvarez both have two more years on their terms, but Cole has only served since 2013 and Alvarez’s mayoral loss is still fresh. A second loss so quickly is hard to come back from, which is why Nathan Fletcher is probably out. Marti Emerald would likely have announced any mayoral ambitions when she bowed out of the District 9 race, and Council President Sherri Lightner might have difficulty energizing progressives

That leaves the new buzz candidate: Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez. Gonzalez isn’t termed out, but the mayor’s office is a better step toward statewide ambitions. Her current interest in Civic San Diego could be read as a warm up bout to draw contrasts with the mayor. She has formidable assets as a candidate, and would likely benefit from a “Year of the Woman” ballot led by Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris.

Many Democrats fear that the lack of a strong mayoral candidate could jeopardize that minimum wage increase, which they want as much or more than the mayor’s office. If Atkins stays out, they may decide the best answer to “Todd or Toni?” is “Lorena.”

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