Richard Socarides Hub

Evan Wolfson Dodges Questions About Jo Becker Book in Gay Marriage Segment with Ronan Farrow: VIDEO


After a discussion about the recent string of marriage equality wins in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and other states and another approaching showdown at the Supreme Court, MSNBC host Ronan Farrow decided to ask Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson about the controversial Jo Becker book Forcing the Spring, which painted a picture of the gay marriage battle as one which began with Chad Griffin and the Prop 8. case, to the exclusion of many activists (Wolfson included) who have been working on the effort for years.

"What did you think of that book?" Farrow asks.

Wolfson wisely offers an answer that prompts New Yorker writer and former Clinton aide Richard Socarides to respond, "I'd say that was a very diplomatic answer showing a lot of leadership."


If you recall, Farrow gave Beck a grilling about her book in an interview last month.

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Richard Socarides On Justice Scalia's NY Mag Interview And The Progress of LGBT Rights


As we reported earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sat down with New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior recently for a wide-ranging interview that was filled with, well, exactly what you'd expect from a man known for his fiery dissents and come-at-me public persona.

Aside from a somewhat baffling and wild exchange about the devil (he's out there, according to Scalia, and he's decided to take on a lower profile compared to those stories you've read about in the Bible as a tactic), the justice raised some eyebrows when he told Senior that he doesn't know anybody who's openly gay.  "I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual," he admitted to her. "Everybody does."

Scalia--as his New York Magazine interview makes patently clear, is a devout Catholic.  But as LGBT rights advocate Richard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, points out, that very faith is currently experiencing a self-evaluation of its approach towards sexual orientation in the highest echelons of its power structure:

The most breathtaking development since the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage rights, three and a half months ago, and the one with obvious global impact, was Pope Francis’ basic acceptance of gay people within the context of Roman Catholic theology—“Who am I to judge?”—signaling a turning point of historic proportions. A Quinnipiac poll late last week showed that American Catholics approve of the Pope’s new approach by a margin of sixty-eight per cent to twenty-three per cent. No doubt the dramatic progress we have seen in the U.S. impacted the Pope’s thinking.

Shortly after the Pope said that it was time to end the church’s focus on demonizing gay people (and its “obsession” with issues like abortion and contraception), Andrew Solomon, a longtime gay-rights advocate and the author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” told me in an e-mail, “The primary obstacle to gay rights—and indeed to various forms of human rights—is prejudice and bigotry that have been encoded in religion.” Solomon believes, as many do, that “the Catholic Church was long set up as our most vigorous enemy, and it’s to be hoped, very profoundly, that this change in position will filter down through the Catholic hierarchy and make religion once more the champion of loving-kindness, and no longer the instrument of oppression.”

Even Scalia felt the effect, though he argued that it was a matter of emphasis, not doctrinal change: “He’s the Vicar of Christ. He’s the chief. I don’t run down the pope.”

Socarides points out the significance of such a shift--even if it is only in the tone of the church's position--and underscores its ability to have a lasting impact. Earlier this year, the association of American bishops wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples "would compromise the ability of states to accommodate religious and moral objections to homosexual conduct on the part of employers and individuals." As Socarides pithily puts it, "So much for that."

Senior's interview with Justice Scalia reveals a man happily inhabiting a island of conservative thought that seems far removed from today's reality--it's incredible that he could live in our nation's capital in 2013 and know zero gay people personally.  But Socarides's point is a good one: as Scalia stands firm, history--and the very institution responsible in many ways for his opinions about LGBT people--continues to shift around him.

(photo courtesy of Platon for New York Magazine)

Richard Simmons' 'Hair Do' Video Will Knock Your Wig Off: VIDEO


Richard Simmons dropped the full video for his new track "Hair Do" today which Dlisted describes as " a gay dream on cotton candy-flavored Ecstasy."

Who else wants to see this at the VMAs, AFTER THE JUMP...


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LGBT Advocates Hammer Senate Dems Over Gay-Inclusive Immigration

As Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appear ready to throw gay-inclusive legislation under the bus, advocates are reacting furiously.

SchumerRichard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, suggests that Schumer's behavior teaches the world that gays are not as deserved of equality as everyone else, and therefore he is sending that signal to those who might harm us:

It may not be fair to connect the historically thorny debate over immigration reform and issues of employment discrimination to the horrific and fatal events of this weekend in Greenwich Village. No one is suggesting that opposition to civil-rights protections for gay Americans is an open endorsement of hatred. But when our national leaders have a debate about whether or not to treat gay Americans the same as everybody else, it sends a powerful message that perhaps gays are not entitled to equality. Why not? Is the argument still that they are not as good as other citizens or that they are engaged in some immoral or otherwise improper behavior—that they shouldn’t be walking around openly at night?

The people who commit hate crimes get the idea that their victims are fair targets from somewhere. The movement for gay rights may in fact have some “political power” behind it now, as Justice Roberts also went out of his way to point out, but gay Americans do not have equality, and they still can and are targeted for discrimination and violence every day, even on the streets of Greenwich Village.

FeinsteinAnd Lavi Soloway unleashes at The DOMA PROJECT:

Despite hearing from tends of thousands of constituents in recent weeks, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) have not budged. They will refuse to vote for either amendment, and as a result, Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, will likely not call either of his LGBT amendments (the one based on the Uniting American Families Act, which I helped write 14 years ago, or his historic and unexpected Marriage Equality “DOMA Carve Out” exception) for a vote knowing that the amendment will fail to garner the necessary 10 out of 10 Democratic votes to pass out of Committee.

The betrayal of our community by Senator Schumer who voted for DOMA as a member of the House and fought for gay votes when he ran for Senate despite HRC’s controversial endorsement of his incumbent opponent, Republican Alphonse D’Amato, is appalling to put it mildly. After all his promises to fight for LGBT inclusion, he has signaled day after day that he won’t upset the bipartisan Gang of Eight applecart. Dianne Feinstein, who, 35 years ago, became Mayor of San Francisco after the assassination of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk, has once again failed to provide leadership when the going got tough. Her leadership on the repeal of DOMA (Respect for Marriage Act) notwithstanding, this was the moment that counted. This was the moment that required courage and leadership. The most vulnerable members of our community relied on Senator Schumer and Senator Feinstein to stand up for us and end decades of catastrophic and irreparable harm to our families caused by DOMA and our exclusion from US immigration law.

Today, it seems clear, they will betray us.

Thomas Roberts Follows Up with Richard Socarides' Revelations About His Father and Gay Conversion Therapy: VIDEO


Activist and writer Richard Socarides sat down today with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts to follow up on the the video we posted yesterday in which Socarides talked about coming out to his father, who was a pioneer of so-called "gay conversion therapy."

Roberts asks Socarides about the interview and the recent father-gay son pairings that have been in the news lately — Congressman Matt Salmon and his son, and Senator Rob Portman and his son.


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Richard Socarides Talks About His Father Dr. Charles Socarides, Who Pioneered Harmful Gay 'Conversion Therapy': VIDEO


Richard Socarides, the gay CNN commentator and New Yorker columnist who was a former aide in the Clinton administration, talks with I'm From Driftwood about coming out to his father:

My father was, his name was Charles Socarides MD. He was the founder, or one of the founders, of the school of psychiatry that believed homosexuality was a mental illness and that it could be cured through psychotherapy. And he was a New York psychiatrist, quite well-known, had a thriving practice, wrote in 1967, maybe ‘68, one of the early psychoanalytic treatises of the issue of homosexuality, called “The Overt Homosexual,” which I do believe as I recall was dedicated to me and my sister....

...When people ask me about my dad is, right, what is the first thing they say, “Did he ever try to cure you?” And it’s an obvious question and the answer is no. It literally never came up. He never once said to me, “I have an idea, I have this theory, and we can get you some help for this!”


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