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Maine Ethics Commission Recommends $50K+ Fine For NOM, Donor Name Disclosure

MaineRemember waaaaaaay back when the National Organization for Marriage lost the fight in '09 to keep the names of their campaign donors hidden? And then lost again in '11? And then lost their appeal in '12? And how last year Maine's highest court ordered that the donor names be turned over?

The Maine Ethics Commission is now considering imposing financial penalites on NOM for their disclosure shenanigans to the tune of $50,250.

While $50k isn't a large penalty for an organization like NOM, which rakes in millions, it would be the largest fine ever imposed by the board and it would force NOM to finally disclose the names of their donors whom they have been trying so hard to keep cloaked, some of whom donated as much as $50,000 each. The board will reach their decision whether or not to impose the fine during their May 28th meeting.


Friday Speed Read: Darrin Gayles, Indiana Marriage, Mike Michaud, Clay Aiken

GaylesNOMINEE ADVANCES OUT OF COMMITTEE:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, by voice vote, recommended the confirmation of openly gay federal district court nominee Darrin Gayles. A vote on the nomination had been scheduled for last week, but Republicans on the committee held over the vote on Gayles’ nomination and that of three others to the district court in southern Florida. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted Thursday that both senators from Florida have given their consent to advancing all four nominees. The nomination of a previous openly gay African American man to the federal bench in Miami was killed when Senator Marco Rubio raised objections. If cleared by the full Senate, Gayles will be the first openly gay African American male to be confirmed to a federal bench seat.

INDIANA PRELIMINARY VICTORY: Sandler

A federal district court judge ruled Thursday that Indiana’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages harms a same-sex couple “in numerous tangible and intangible ways.” In doing so, Judge Richard Young ordered the state to recognize the marriage license obtained out of state by Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler to protect Sandler’s rights to care Quasney, who is near death from ovarian cancer. The order also requires Indiana, upon Quasney’s death, to list Sandler as her spouse on the death certificate. Young ruled that he doubts Indiana’s ban “will suffer a different fate than those around the country,” where other federal district courts have consistently found them unconstitutional. Last month, Judge Young granted a temporary restraining order requiring Indiana to recognize the Quasney-Sandler marriage license obtained in Massachusetts. Lambda Legal brought the case, Baskin v. Bogan, on behalf of several couples and the court must still consider the merits of the overall challenge to the state’s ban. Lambda staff attorney Paul Castillo, said that, “while this family is experiencing urgent, life-threatening medical circumstances, they’re just one of the thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana enduring real financial and dignitary harm due to the State’s discriminatory marriage ban. Our work in Indiana is not done.  All same-sex couples in Indiana need the security only marriage provides.”

DEM POLL SHOWS MICHAUD BACK IN LEAD: Michaud

Democracy for America, a group founded by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, announced Thursday that its poll of 754 Maine voters finds openly gay U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud four points ahead of incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage. Asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 43 percent said Michaud, 39 percent said LePage, 15 percent said independent candidate Eliot Cutler, and three percent were undecided. Michaud and LePage have been running very close in polls in the past month. A Republican-leaning polling firm, Rasmussen Reports, called the race a tie based on data it gathered between April 23 and 25 from 830 “likely voters.” A Huffington Post analysis of 10 polls (but not the Democracy for America data) estimated Michaud at 40.6 percent, LePage at 37.9 percent, Cutler at 15.9 percent.

C_aikenAIKEN MAY FACE RUN-OFF:

There are 276 uncounted ballots in openly gay U.S. House candidate Clay Aiken’s Democratic primary race against two competitors in North Carolina’s Congressional District 2. That doesn’t give second-place candidate Keith Crisco a chance to catch up to Aiken, who has a 369-vote lead. But it could give him enough to drop Aiken’s vote tally below the 40 percent margin needed to avoid a run-off. And the Raleigh News-Observer reported Thursday that business Keith Crisco has not conceded the race and that, if a run-off is necessary, it will take place in July.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


ELECTION 2014: Historic Race For LGBT Americans In Maine

Matty 3
(Congressman Michaud and his campaign manager)

BY DAVID MIXNER

The path to equal rights for LGBT Americans has been filled with historic political milestones.

The elections of Massachusetts State Representative Elaine Noble and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk to public office made history in the 1970's. Houston's Annise Parker and Seattle's Ed Murray made history by being elected mayor of their cities. The coming out of Congressman Barney Frank broke the glass ceiling in Congress. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin became the first openly LGBT Senator in history in the last election.

MaineNow looming on the horizon in November is the possibility that the first openly gay governor could be elected in Maine. Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud is currently narrowly leading in the polls. The Democratic candidate 'came out' to the people of Maine at the beginning of the campaign.

LGBT history is waiting to be made one more time and the Tea Party is gearing up to stop it.

Maine's gubernatorial race has three candidates. The incumbent Tea Party Republican Governor Paul LePage, third party candidate Eliot Cutler, and Democratic Congressman Michaud. If Cutller wasn't in the race, Michaud would most likely win in a landslide.

In an interview for this column, Michaud's campaign manager Matthew McTighe said:

"Even though there are three candidates, it's clearly shaping up to be a close two-way race between Mike Michaud and our current Tea Party governor, Paul LePage. All of the polls have the two of them within a few points of one another, with Mike ahead in most and the third-party candidate trailing way behind. But we feel very confident in our path to victory no matter how many candidates stay in the race."

MichaudWhen asked about the impact of the Congressman's coming out on his chances in November, McTighe responded:

"Honestly, it hasn't made much of a difference, at least not in the polls or in the growing momentum we've seen building for Mike's candidacy. I think that's a testament to the fact that Mainers have really come a long way on LGBT issues, which I know firsthand, having run the marriage equality campaign here in 2012. In 2009, voters in Maine rejected marriage, but just three years later we won convincingly. Moreover, people know Mike. They trust him, they like him, and they know his coming out won't change who he is."

While there has been no serious 'gay-baiting' of Michaud yet, it is expected that radical right-wing groups will create some nasty last minute ads and mailings in an attempt to derail his election. Interestingly many believe such attempts in Maine might backfired and assist the Congressman instead of hurting him.

The Washington Post column The Fix says that Maine voters are the second most likely to defeat an incumbent Governor. As a result, Republicans are gearing up around the country to pour money into the state. McTighe hopes that LGBT Americans and progressives will respond to this chance to make history.

"Well I wish it wasn't the case, but as you know money is critically important in high-profile races like this. The Republican Governors Association is going to spend millions to reelect Paul LePage, and they're already attacking Mike. We need the resources to defend against their attacks, and that will require a lot of help from people all over the country."

As a debate rages in the LGBT community who should get credit for making history, here is an opportunity to look not backward but forward. Help Congressman Michaud and his team out HERE if you so wish. Without question this is one of the community's most important races in 2014.


Maine GOP Platform Reaffirms Opposition to Gay Marriage

The Maine Republican Party has just voted to adopt a new platform, but anyone at the convention hoping the party would moderate its tone on gay rights walked away disappointed.

The Huffington Post reports:

MEGOPState party officials adopted the platform Friday, as their convention kicked off, according to the Associated Press. The platform defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The 2012 platform had a similar definition of marriage.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who is running for reelection, also opposes same-sex marriage, which is nevertheless legal in the state. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has pushed for LGBT equality in some areas, has not yet come out in support of marriage equality.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Republican Party voted “amid raucous debate” to drop opposition to gay marriage from the party’s platform. 


Friday Speed Read: Louisiana, Maine, Texas, Jason Collins, Idaho, Mary Cheney, Health Benefits

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

Stgermain‘I MIGHT HAVE THREE VOTES’:

Here’s how much support there is in the Louisiana House for barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity: “I might have three votes,” State Rep. Karen St. Germain told the Baton Rouge Advocate. Germain announced Tuesday she was withdrawing her bill to seek such protections.

MICHAUD SLIPS IN MAINE POLLS:

Openly gay U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud had a small lead over incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage at the top of April, but now, he appears to have fallen behind. The first poll, by a more liberal polling group, showed Michaud’s bid to unseat LePage supported by 44 percent of voters surveyed, compared to 37 percent for LePage, and 14 percent for independent candidate Eliot Cutler. But by mid-April, a survey conducted by a Portland-based firm found LePage at 38.6 percent to Michaud’s 37.2 percent, and Cutler at 20.3 percent.

TEXAS ‘CANNOT DISCRIMINATE’: Nellermoe

A state district court judge in San Antonio, Texas, ruled Tuesday that because the state grants a presumption of parenthood to the husband of a child’s birth mother, it must do the same for the same-sex spouse of a child’s birth mother. The ruling came in ALFL v. KLL, a divorce and custody proceeding involving a lesbian couple who married in Washington, D.C., in 2010, gave birth to a child using donor insemination in 2013, and is now seeking to divorce in their home state of Texas which bans recognition of same-sex marriages. Echoing U.S. v. Windsor and a recent federal court decision in San Antonio, as well as the “best interests of the child,” Judge Barbara Nellermoe wrote that the state “cannot discriminate against same-sex couples” and that the state’s ban against allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the child’s right to equal protection of the law. Two similar cases are currently awaiting a ruling from the state supreme court.

J_collinsNAMED TO PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL:

President Obama on Thursday named openly gay pro basketball player Jason Collins to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Collins entered the NBA in 2001 and played for a number of professional teams before coming out as gay last year. He currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets. The White House press release notes Collins is “a partner with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students.”

A FINAL BATTLEGROUND: Madelynn_taylor

A state cemetery for military veterans in Idaho recently refused a lesbian veteran’s request that her same-sex spouse, who died two years ago, be buried with her when she dies. Madelynn Taylor, 74, said she knows the two could be buried together in a federal cemetery for veterans but that she has close, long-held ties to Idaho, according to KTVB-TV. A spokesman for the Idaho Division of Veterans Services told the station their hands are tied by the Idaho ban on recognizing same-sex marriages.

CheneyCHENEY BACK IN ACTION:

Lesbian political strategist Mary Cheney is one of several Washington Republican operatives launching a new firm this week. The outfit, according to politico.com, will be called [Voice of the People] Vox Populi Polling (aka Pop Polling, according to the new firm’s website.

THIRTY-TWO PERCENT PROBLEM: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that, while 72 percent of all civilian workers get employer-sponsored health benefits for themselves and their spouses, only 32 percent of employees with same-sex domestic partners get benefits for their partners. The report was based on data collected a year ago.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Equality Maine Endorses Gay Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Michaud, Angers Pro-Equality Opponent

MikemichaudEqualityMaine, the state's most prominent gay rights advocacy group, has officially backed openly gay Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud (right) in the 2014 gubernatorial race. The independent candidate, Eliot Cutler (below, right), who has a strong history of financial support for EqualityMaine and ideological support for gay rights, has fired back at the decision. Cutler, and other critics of the decision, agree that Rep. Michaud's support for gay rights issues has not always been so steady, though he has arguably evolved and become, in recent years, a huge ally for Maine's LGBT citizens. This evolution is, of course, in line with his own sexuality; he officially came out in November.

Bangor Daily News reports:

Cutler’s campaign on Thursday dismissed the EqualityMaine endorsement as “a partisan political decision, not a principled one.” Cutler spokeswoman Crystal Canney issued a statement contrasting the independent’s history supporting gay rights with Michaud’s background on the issue.

“Eliot Cutler and his family have stood side by side with the [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual] community for decades as outspoken advocates and supporters. Mike Michaud’s voting record in the Maine Legislature — 19 consecutive votes against equal rights for the LGBT community — speaks for itself,” Canney said. “EqualityMaine cannot take away Eliot Cutler’s record on these issues, any more than they can create a new record for Mike Michaud.”

Eliotcutler

Michaud was of course more pleased by the announcement:

“I’m deeply humbled by this endorsement. The efforts of EqualityMaine have truly changed hearts and minds, and made our state a better place for all Mainers to live, work and raise a family,” [Michaud] said. “For years I have been honored to stand with EqualityMaine and other LGBT organizations as we’ve fought for full equality for all Maine people, and I will continue to stand with them as governor of Maine. Together we have made tremendous progress at the state and federal level, but there is still more work to be done.”

What do you think about Equality Maine's decision?


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