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GOP 2016 Hopefuls Punt on Alabama Gay Marriage Questions

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While Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's pageantry plays out over the gay marriage fight in his state, Politico notes a number of likely GOP 2016 contenders are choosing to sit this one out.

When pressed on the fight in the Deep South state, where the chief justice has ordered county officials to ignore a federal court ruling permitting same-sex marriages, likely GOP 2016 contenders reached by POLITICO or interviewed elsewhere have largely tried to sidestep specifics.

Even some of the most conservative hopefuls prefer instead to talk more broadly about federalism and states’ rights, comments that come as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right applicable nationwide.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s answer is a typical example: “The problem is, I just don’t know the details of what arguments they are using” in Alabama, he said, adding that while he has “always believed that marriage has always been defined by states and regulated by states and should continue to be,” he would respect the Supreme Court decision.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is pushing a constitutional amendment to require that the federal government defer to the states on same-sex marriage, also avoided discussing the particulars of the Alabama case. “My view is that marriage is a question for the states,” he said.

CarsonPolitico adds the one notable exception was Dr. Ben Carson (right), who defended Moore's obstructionist efforts and said Moore "understands the importance of preserving states’ rights in the modern post-Civil War world in which we live."

The article also goes on to point out how other contenders like Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee are addressing the Alabama question and the wider issue of a likely future where nationwide marriage equality is the law of the land. 

Read the full article here


Rep. Jared Polis Wants Sen. Marco Rubio Under 24/7 Surveillance

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Anti-gay Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a huge fan of the federal government's invasive monitoring of private citizens in the name of fighting ISIL, Al Qaeda, and preventing another 9/11. So much so that he wants an permanent extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 act that was used to justify the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping.

Wrote Rubio in an op-ed published on Foxnews.com:

This year, a new Republican majority in both houses of Congress will have to extend current authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe.

Its subsequent amendments - the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006, and Protect America Act of 2007 - greatly expanded the federal government's right to spy on its citizens through "electronic surveillance".

In a challenge of putting one's money where one's mouth is, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) called on the United States Intelligence Community to begin twenty-four hour per day monitoring of Senator Rubio, saying:

If Senator Rubio believes that millions of innocent Americans should be subject to intrusive and unconstitutional government surveillance, surely he would have no objections to the government monitoring his own actions and conversations. Senator Rubio is asking for American technology companies to ‘cooperate with authorities,’ so I believe he will have no objection to authorities being given access to his electronic correspondence and metadata.  Maybe after his 2016 strategy documents are accidentally caught up in a government data grab, he’ll rethink the use of mass surveillance.

Rubio's offices has not yet commented on Polis' proposal.


Thousands Break Into John Lennon's 'Imagine' At Paris Unity Rally: WATCH

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At a unity rally in Paris held to show national solidarity in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in France, thousands burst into singing John Lennon's "Imagine", Mashable reports:

[Redditor] ilHGG, who claims to live near the location of the march, wrote on Reddit that he or she played music, "especially peace songs," from his or her window, so passersby participating in the march could hear.

The poster of the video on YouTube commented,

"As no one could advance, my neighbor opened her windows and started to play classic tunes, to the delight of the audience. A great moment."

The rally in Paris combine with those held across France drew crowds of 3.7 million people, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, President Obama came under criticism for not attending the rally which saw a broad swath of world leaders in attendance including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. As The Washington Post reports, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest commented, “I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile." The U.S. was represented at the rally by Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said of the President's absence, 

“I understand that when the president travels, he brings with him a security and communications package which is intense. And I understand you drop that into the middle of something like this, it could be disruptive,” Rubio said. “There’s a plethora of people they could have sent. I think in hindsight I hope that they would have done it differently.”

For his part, Secretary of State John Kerry called the hullabaloo surrounding the President's absence, "quibbling a little bit." 

In Paris, however, President Obama's absence was hardly felt, with many dubious of the presence of foreign leaders to begin with:

“I consider these heads of state to be taking part in my march,” said Thierry, a 56-year-old painter, who declined to give his last name because of fears of terrorism. “I’m not taking part in theirs.”

Watch the video of the attendees singing "Imagine", AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Thousands Break Into John Lennon's 'Imagine' At Paris Unity Rally: WATCH" »


Senator Marco Rubio Blasts Ruling Striking Down Florida's Gay Marriage Ban

Marco Rubio

62% of the citizens of Florida passed a law banning gay marriage in the state back in 2008, but the recent court overturn of the ban has right-wing politicians flustered, including Senator Marco Rubio who is pulling out the tired "they shouldn't have done this judicially" argument. Said Rubio in an interview last Wednesday:

If they wanted to change that law, they should have gone to the legislature or back to the Constitution and try to change it. I don’t agree we should be trying to make those changes through the courts.

[...]

While I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, while people want to change that law — and a lot of people apparently do – there is a way to do that. You go through the legislature, or you go on on the ballot, but I don’t agree the courts have the power to do this.

He may not agree with it, but it's legal and proper, so Rubio is going to have to find another cause to flog.

Same-sex spouses of state employees, meanwhile, are now eligible for state coverage for health insurance and retirement benefits, Tallahassee Democrat reports:

“Employees whose marriages will be legally recognized in Florida as of Jan. 6, 2015, have qualifying status change event window between Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, through Friday, March 6, 2015, to enroll in a family plan,” chief of operations Suzette Furlong said in a memo to personnel officers and benefit coordinators.

 


Senator Marco Rubio Accuses Marriage Equality Activists Of Intolerance

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In what should be regarded a part of a years-long run-up for his inevitable U.S. presidential campaign, Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio proved his conservative credentials in a speech he made at Catholic University in Washington on Wednesday.

During the speech, Rubio parroted the conservative talking points of how opposing same-sex marriage doesn’t make one anti-gay and how gays are “intolerant” toward people who support so-called “traditional marriage.”

MSNBC reports:

“I promise you even before this speech is over I’ll be attacked as a hater or a bigot or someone who is anti-gay. This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy. Support for the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is not anti-gay, it is pro-traditional marriage.”

Noting President Obama didn’t declare his support for gay marriage until 2012, Rubio said, “If support for traditional marriage is bigotry, then Barack Obama was a bigot until just before 2012 election.”

Of course Rubio's point about Obama is partly disingenuous both because Obama supported it back as early as 1996, and when he refused to support same-sex marriage earlier in his  presidency, marriage equality supporters repeatedly criticized him for it.

Soon, Rubio took a different conservative tack in his speech by acknowledging the actual existence of anti-LGBT discrimination. But he then continued in a conservative vein re-iterated the disproven notion that “the ideal setting for children to grow up is with a mother and father,” adding that heterosexual parenting “deserves to be elevated in our laws.”

MSNBC has more from Rubio:

“There was once a time when our federal government not only banned the hiring of gay employers, it required contractors to identify and fire them,” Rubio said. “Some laws prohibited gays from being served in bars and restaurants and many cities carried out law enforcement efforts targeting gay Americans.”

Rubio also acknowledged that many gay couples “feel humiliated by the law’s failure to recognize their relationship as a marriage." ... He said he respected those arguments as well as the rights of states to recognize same sex unions...

“Those who support same sex marriage have a right to lobby their state legislatures to change state laws,” he said. “But Americans who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage also have a right to work to keep the traditional definition of marriage in our laws without seeing that overturned by a judge.”

Rubio opposes LGBT employment protections, has offered similar speeches for virulently anti-gay groups like Florida Family Policy Council, a group whose leader warned of rampant sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts now that they allow gay members.


Obama Nominates Second Gay Black Judge to Federal Bench

More than a year ago, Obama nominated Judge William Thomas to the Federal District Cour for the Southern District of Florida. Thomas would have been the first gay black judge on the federal bench had it not been for Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who succeeded in blocking the Thomas nomination for political reasons.

GaylesNow, Obama has nominated a second out gay African-American judge to the federal bench.

Gayles' background, via the White House:

Judge Darrin P. Gayles has served as a Circuit Judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida since 2011.  From 2004 to 2011, he was a County Judge in the same Circuit.  From 1999 to 2004, Judge Gayles served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and from 1997 to 1999, he served as an Assistant District Counsel at the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Judge Gayles began his legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office from 1993 to 1997.  Judge Gayles received his J.D. in 1993 from George Washington University Law School and his B.A. in 1990 from Howard University. 

Gayles was endored by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund for his reelection in 2012, according to MetroWeekly.

They write:

If confirmed, Gayles, much like Thomas before him, would become the first out black man in the nation's history to serve on the federal bench. He would also be the second out African-American to serve as a federal judge. The first, Deborah Batts, was appointed to the District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Gayles was nominated today along with three other Florida judges to serve on U.S. District Courts.

Rubio does not take issue with any in the latest round of nominees, according to a statement.


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