For those of you who are interested, Towleroad's Corey Johnson will be filling in for Michelangelo Signorile today on 'The Michelangelo Signorile Show' on Sirius OutQ from 2-6pm. Get a free online trial here.
Corey Johnson Hub
Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois State Treasurer and the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois (we've mentioned him here before), was in New York recently and sat down with Towleroad's Corey Johnson for a brief interview.
Giannoulias discussed his positions on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell', marriage equality, and what he plans on doing to move LGBT legislation forward in Congress if he's elected. Giannoulias also discusses whether he thinks outing candidates in political races is fair play.
You may recall that in the Illinois Republican Senate race primary, Giannoulias' opponent Mark Kirk was the target of an ad from his rival Andy Martin which claimed that Kirk is gay.
Watch the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...
Watch: Prop 8 Case Attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson Discuss Court Cameras, Gay Judge, SCOTUS Votes, and Equality
Last night, lead attorneys in the federal challenge to Proposition 8, David Boies and Ted Olson, made their first public appearance since the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial began in January at a New York Times 'Unlikely Allies' talk before 150 people at NYT headquarters in midtown Manhattan.
Before their talk, Olson and Boies gave an exclusive interview to Towleroad during which we were able to ask them a few questions that have come up since January. A final round of briefs was submitted at the end of February, and closing arguments are still to be heard.
In the interview with Towleroad's political director Corey Johnson, Boies and Olson discuss where we go from here. They also address concerns from some in the community that the information that Judge Vaughn Walker is gay might have some effect on how the outcome of the trial is spun.
Is there a concern that if and when the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices will feel that they are getting ahead of public opinion on the issue? What does the Supreme Court's decision about not allowing cameras in the courtroom mean for their ultimate decision in the Prop 8 trial? Will it all be up to swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy?
Finally, what is their message for gay and lesbian Americans anxious for the process to move quickly?
Watch our interview, AFTER THE JUMP...
Homophobic (and reportedly closeted) New York state senator Carl Kruger got a profile in Page Six today:
"Brooklyn state Sen. Carl Kruger became the No. 1 target of gay activists when he voted against same-sex marriage last month. Now, his enemies are circulating photos taken of Kruger at a birthday fund-raiser last year, where cross-dressing entertainer Leonid the Magnificent performed hula-hoop tricks in a skintight cat suit. 'For hating gay marriage so much, Kruger sure loves watching tight, Lycra-clad asses,' snarked Queerty.com. Gay activist Corey Johnson and Allen Roskoff, the openly gay president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, have led demonstrations at Kruger's home. Roskoff wrote on his blog, 'People ask us how we know he is homosexual. My immediate response is, how does one know that Paul Lynde and Liberace were gay?' Kruger, who denies being gay, called Roskoff 'a bottom feeder,' and said he was unfazed by the smear campaign. 'It goes with the territory,' he told Page Six. 'I have not changed my position.'"
Yesterday was an historic day for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. The hate crimes measure named in honor of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. which was signed by President Obama in an early afternoon ceremony yesterday in the East Room at the White House modifies the 1969 federal hate-crime law covering crimes motivated by actual or perceived race, color, religion or national origin, expanding it to cover gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
This is the first piece of federal legislation signed into law that explicitly covers LGBT citizens. Advocates for this law have been fighting since 1999 to pass the measure but with Republicans controlling Congress from 1995 until 2007 and President Bush, who opposed the measure, holding office until early 2009 -- this year was the first opportunity for the stars to align.
Hate crimes protections have had broad support with the American public and before today had existed in a patchwork-form in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Perhaps members of the House and Senate are now closer to realizing that voting for pro-LGBT pieces of legislation will not be detrimental to their re-election chances and that doing so is the right, fair and just thing to do.
The irony of the signing ceremony, complete with military commanders, members of the House and Senate who oversee military issues, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, was that it looked more like what you'd envision for the signing of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Nonetheless, I felt lucky to be able to bear witness as a credentialed member of the media.
At the David Bohnett Foundation-sponsored reception later, attended by the Shepard and Byrd families, energy was palpable and emotions ran high among advocates who have waited for this moment for a very long time. Approximately 150 activists, movement leaders, donors and openly gay staffers from the administration were in attendance.
A partial list of folks that caught my eye were; Ray Buckley who is the Democratic State Chair in New Hampshire and Vice-Chair of the Democration National Committee, long-time civil rights leader and blogger David Mixner, Richard Socarides from the Clinton White House years, Mara Keisling the head of the National Transgender Center for Equality, one of the grandfathers from our movement — Frank Kameny, Cathy Renna, who works with and helps various local and national gay and lesbian organizations, all three openly gay members of Congress -- Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis, Elizabeth Birch who was the former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign and current president of the HRC Joe Solmonese, recording artist and ally Cyndi Lauper, Chuck Wolfe who leads the Victory Fund, Fred Hochberg who is the administration's appointee to lead the Export-Import Bank, Melissa Sklarz who co-chairs the National Stonewall Democrats board, the President's appointee to run the Office of Personnel Management John Berry, as well as various other folks. Standing at the back of the room were White House Chief of Staff Rahmn Emanuel and Senior Advisor to the President David Axelrod. Attorney General Eric Holder and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett were also present.
Now the question becomes: when will the array of other bills (an inclusive-Employment Non-Discrimination Act, repeal of both Don't Ask-Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, the Uniting American Families Act) be acted upon by Congress? And will President Obama speak openly and forcefully in letting members of Congress now that these bills are a priority (just like he has on health care reform and climate change) and should be passed?
LGBT citizens need to do their part as well -- which means placing phone calls, writing letters, visiting Representatives and Senators offices to let them know that the time is now. Our families, friends and co-workers should do the same.
I came out to my family in March of 1999 and I distinctly remember that six months earlier a young man in Wyoming was brutally murdered because of his sexual orientation. It was an honor to witness history more than a decade later and it was especially gratifying to see all of hard work that Judy Shepard, Dennis Shepard, Betty Byrd Boatner and Louvon Harris' work finally come to fruition.
Yesterday was a meaningful day in the journey for civil rights -- but it was only a first step. It's my hope that sooner rather than later President Obama will be signing a similar bill with Chairman Mullen and Secretary Gates standing behind him but we will only get there with his leadership on these crucial issues.
Attorney General Eric Holder Praises Hate Crimes Law, Lacks Familiarity with Maine Marriage Equality Ballot Measure
I just left the signing of the Department of Defense Authorization bill, to which the the inclusive hate-crimes bill was attached. It was a very moving occasion and I'll have a post later reflecting on this historic day for the LGBT community, but for now some remarks from Attorney General Eric Holder. I took the (blurry, apologies) photo above of Holder, Judy Shepard, and White House Office of Public Engagement Deputy Director Brian Bond just before the ceremony.
Holder made himself available just after the event and was asked a few questions. I was able to ask him to clarify his recent weak remarks on Question 1 in Maine, but unfortunately Holder said he was not familiar with the ballot measure.
Said Holder: "I think this is the next great civil rights bill. We have after ten, twelve years finally come to recognize that federal law should apply, as the President said, to all Americans. This is a great tool for the Justice Department and will I think significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, for women and for gay and lesbian Americans. This is a great, great day and too long coming."
A follow-up was asked about what actions the Justice Department's civil rights division can take tomorrow that they couldn't take today on hate crimes.
Answered Holder: "We can give assistance to state and local prosecutors who will investigate the vast majority of these crimes and in those instances where they don't have the ability to or desire, we can now prosecute these crimes and we could not do that thirty minutes ago. Now we can."
Recalling Holder's recent appearance in Maine at which he was asked about Question 1 and surprisingly refused to take a stand, I wanted to see if he had any clarification, so I asked him, "You were in Maine earlier this week and were asked about Question 1, which would take away same-sex marriage. You didn't comment on it at the time but would you like to clarify?"
Said Holder: "Well, what I said was that the President has indicated and I personally favor of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and that is something we are working to do."
I replied, "And the referendum in Maine -- would you like to speak further on that?"
Holder's answer? "I don't really know enough about the referendum over there to comment."