Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.
The document will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court in support of a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and all similar bans. The court will hear back-to-back arguments next month in that case and another pivotal gay rights case that challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions.
Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.
Ms. Pryce said Monday: “Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too.”
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, who favored civil unions but opposed same-sex marriage during his 2012 presidential bid, also signed. Last week, Mr. Huntsman announced his new position in an article titled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause,” a sign that the 2016 Republican presidential candidates could be divided on the issue for the first time.
We the people, have recognized that the current healthcare coverage does not cover sex reassignment surgeries and some hormonal treatment. I am 18 years old and a transgender male. What we live with everyday is a psychological as well as a very real medical condition. We are born basically in the wrong body. However, the costs make help seem almost unreachable for most. As Americans, we deserve the same equality as those who have coverage for depression, various surgeries, and other medical expenses. What we are asking is both a emotional AND physical pain that we are forced to live with everyday of our lives due to cost. We need financial coverage and some help to get to the place that as Americans, every citizen deserves to be.
“You Can’t Be a Princess” | Journalists from ABC’s “What Would You Do?” planted hidden cameras in a Halloween store and filmed shoppers’ reactions to a boy who wanted a princess costume and a girl who wanted a Spiderman costume.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stood before the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations this month and outlined his aggressive agenda to “stand up to the violent mobs that seek to criminalize homosexuality.”
“Draconian punishment and unspeakable violence are inflicted on people simply for whom they love and for who they are,” he said.
That same day, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney touted Canada as a haven for gay refugees from Iran. Working with Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, Mr. Kenney’s office had fast-tracked 100 gay Iranians into Canada, saving them from possible execution.
A mere seven years ago, the Tories were famously the opponents of same-sex marriage. Now, the Harper Conservatives freely push gay rights abroad and even host an annual gathering of gay Tories. While they remain the favourite punching bag for Canadian LGBT activists, have the Harper Tories become unlikely warriors for gay rights?
“I can no longer shock people in the conservative movement when I tell them I’m gay - but I can shock gay people when I tell them I’m Conservative,” said Fred Litwin, former vice-president of the Ottawa Centre Conservatives.
In June, Mr. Litwin was one of the organizers of the Fabulous Blue Tent Party, a gathering of approximately 800 gay Conservatives at Ottawa’s Westin Hotel that went until 3 a.m.
The same weekend, however, Tories at the party’s annual convention also passed a resolution supporting religious organizations who refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
Although Mr. Harper has resolutely vowed never to touch samesex marriage, it was only 2005 when, as opposition leader, he told an Ottawa rally, “when elected Prime Minister … I will bring in legislation that will define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” That same year, in a lengthy parliamentary speech Jason Kenney called marriage a “tautologically a heterosexual institution.”
“It’s no secret that the Conservative Party hasn’t always been the biggest champion of gay rights, but public pressure, and quite frankly, society evolving has changed their views,” said Jamie Ellerton, an openly gay former staffer for Mr. Kenney.
“The Conservative Party, like the rest of society, has moved to be more supportive of gay rights in recent years, and I see that trend continuing,” he said.
Mr. Baird often supported samesex marriage in his days as a Progressive Conservative member of Ontario’s provincial parliament. As foreign affairs minister, he has taken the fight for gay rights overseas.
In January, before the Royal Commonwealth Society in London Mr. Baird harangued African and Caribbean countries for keeping anti-homosexual laws on their books, calling it a hangover of the colonial era. Two months later, he spoke out against a Russian law that banned the “promotion” of homosexuality, effectively outlawing all gay pride events.
“Canada’s ambassador has written to the Russian government to express our deep concern and, yes, we have at his request, put a travel advisory on our website,” said Mr. Baird.
In 2009, Mr. Harper spoke out against a Ugandan bill that promised to dramatically toughen criminal sanctions against homosexuality, which were already illegal in the African country.
“When I was at the Commonwealth conference, what was [Stephen Harper] talking about? The gays,” Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni said in 2010.
After the 2011 suicide of gay Ottawa teen Jamie Hubley, Mr. Baird told the House that homophobia has no place in Canadian schools, and then appeared with other Tory MPs in a video for the “It Gets Better Project,” an online campaign looking to curb the disproportionately high suicide rates among LGBT youth.
In June, members of the Tory caucus even came to the rescue of a transgendered rights bill put forward by NDP MP Randall Garrison. Promising to protect transgender people under the Canadian Human Rights Act and make anti-transgender violence a hate crime, the bill passed second reading thanks to the support of 15 Conservative MPs, including Jim Flaherty and Lisa Raitt.
“I don’t question other members who may have a different take on this, but, for me and for the kind of principles that I wish to stand up for, this was important,” Tory MP Bruce Stanton, one of the bill’s supporters, told Simcoe.com
U.K. Tories are undergoing a similar evolution. In October, British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to suspend aid to Commonwealth countries if they refused to abandon anti-gay legislation. Last summer, during a reception for LGBT representatives at 10 Downing Street, Mr. Cameron promised to legalize gay marriage by 2015. “If it’s good enough for straight people like me, it’s good enough for everybody,” he said.
Gay/conservative relations are not nearly as cordial in the United States, where large swaths of the Republican party view homosexuality as a sin. In May, Richard Grenell, an openly gay spokesman for Republican vice-president candidate Mitt Romney, stepped down after the campaign was barraged by criticism from socially conservative groups.
By focusing on free enterprise and individual liberties, instead of religious and cultural issues, Canada’s conservatives have been able to maintain a “much broader tent than the Republican Party in the United States and a stronger movement overall,” wrote Chris Reid, a gay former Conservative candidate, in an email to the Post.
Still, the stigma of Tories-ashomophobes remains.
In 2008, the NDP discovered a videotape from 1991 featuring Saskatchewan Tory MP Tom Lukiwski spouting off against “homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails that transmit diseases” - prompting calls for his resignation.
In January, when a foreign same-sex couple who had married in Toronto in 2005 returned to Canada to apply for a divorce, a Crown lawyer argued that the marriage was never technically valid, since neither of the partners were Canadian permanent residents at the time. It was purely a jurisdictional decision - but fingers immediately pointed at a Harper government plot to dissolve thousands of foreign same-sex marriages. (Tellingly, the government introduced measures to make it easier for same-sex couples to divorce.)
Mr. Kenney is still criticized for a 2010 episode in which internal documents revealed his office had decided to omit a brief gay rights timeline from Canada’s official citizenship guide, opting instead to feature a photo of Olympic gold medal swimmer Mark Tewksbury, identifying him as a “prominent activist for gay and lesbian Canadians.”
In truth, the 1990s-era guide had never contained any mention of gay rights before Mr. Kenney ordered an update in 2009. An updated edition now reads “Canada’s diversity includes gay and lesbian Canadians, who enjoy the full protection of and equal treatment under the law, including access to civil marriage.”
The Tories also face criticism for being conspicuously absent from gay pride events. Mr. Litwin said he’s tried to rally Tories into the Ottawa pride parade, but noted that Tory cabinet ministers have been booed in similar appearances at LGBT events.
“Can [the opposition] point and say there’s no openly gay MPs in the Conservative caucus?” said Mr. Ellerton. “I suppose that’s true - maybe one day there will be.”
The Conservatives do have one openly gay caucus member - Senator Nancy Ruth. She originally sat as an independent Progressive Conservative when she was appointed by Liberal Paul Martin, but then became a Conservative after the Harper government’s 2006 election win.
“I’m fat, I’m short, I’m a lesbian, and I’m a Conservative. I don’t fit in with most people I know,” she said in a 2009 interview, adding “I’m here to do things and you can only do things if you have access.”
Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to.
But I’ve also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.
I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked “the gay question,” which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life.
Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something - something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.
I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.
The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.
I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.
Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray
gay and lesbian people in the media - and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them. It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth.
Being a journalist, traveling to remote places, trying to understand people from all walks of life, telling their stories, has been the greatest joy of my professional career, and I hope to continue doing it for a long time to come. But while I feel very blessed to have had so many opportunities as a journalist, I am also blessed far beyond having a great career.
I love, and I am loved.
In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God’s greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life. I appreciate your asking me to weigh in on this, and I would be happy for you to share my thoughts with your readers. I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.
Gay rights activists pie Christian leader and notorious homophobe Anita Bryant in the face, 1977.
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.
“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.
A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another.