Don’t Make Charlie Crist Angry, You Wouldn’t Like Him When He’s Angry

Earlier this week, Markos Moulitsas wrote a post about the possibility of Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist, seeing his path blocked by his more conservative opponent, former Florida House speaker Marco Rubio, will, like Arlen Specter, decide to run as a Democrat.

Currently Crist is believed to be politically dead, and he must let the world think that he is politically dead until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him. I, however, believe that the governor of my former state will not only stay a Republican, he will prevail. Continue reading

New Wrinkle in Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Fight: Just Don’t Ask About the Told

This week, a new strategy emerged in the effort to keep brave and qualified gay soldiers in the military, despite the still-in-effect-for-the-foreseeable-future “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” policy.  From Advocate.com’s Kerry Eleveld:

Seventy-seven Congressional members led by Democratic Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida sent a letter to President Barack Obama Monday urging him to take immediate action to stop the investigations of “don’t ask, don’t tell” violations. The letter does not call for an executive order halting discharges but rather a change in how the policy is implemented within the Department of Defense.

“It is a presidential moratorium, it is a significant presidential action, but it’s not an executive order,” said Christopher Neff, political director at the Palm Center, a research institute at University of California, Santa Barbara. “They basically want the military to disregard anyone who ‘tells’ [of someone’s sexuality] as long as there isn’t a [Uniform Code of Military Justice] violation or something criminal.”

Kerry asked Robert Gibbs about it at yesterday’s briefing, explaining it well in the process:
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Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Opinion Poll: 3 Questions

I’m conducting an opinion poll about the military’s “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” (DADT) policy for use in an article later this week.   There are 3 seperate polls, please choose only one.

Click here to take the poll for Self-identified Conservatives.

Click here to take the poll for Self-identified Liberals.

Click here to take the poll for Self-identified Independents.

If you wish, you can click here to see other articles that I’ve written on the topic.

Independent Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Opinion Poll: 3 Questions

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Liberal Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Opinion Poll: 3 Questions

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Conservative Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell Opinion Poll: 3 Questions



Playboy Gets One Right: Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell is Dangerous

Ana Marie Cox (AMC) has just written her first article for Playboy, and in the process, has provided the magazine with a large measure of redemption.  The piece is compelling and timely, especially given the Supreme Court’s denial of cert to a challenge to DADT.

In the piece, Ana Marie frames the issue of the military’s “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” (DADT) policy as both a civil rights issue, and a much more immediate national security issue.  For good measure, she posits that repealing DADT is just good politics:

But one of the key components of recent Democratic victories has been candidates’ refusal to cede military issues to the traditionally hawkish GOP. Repealing DADT should be a part of reclaiming national security as a bipartisan issue. Honestly, would there be a more “efficient use of gays in the Army” than having them hunt down Islamic extremists, arguably the only group more uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality than social conservatives?

That’s probably my favorite passage in the piece, though I encourage reading the whole thing.

There are also a few points that I would add. Continue reading

White House Press Briefing: Strike 3 on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

At today’s White House Press Briefing, Robert Gibbs was asked, again, about “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” at the top of the briefing, and again said that the President was “working with the Joint Chiefs, the Pentagon and others (previously, he’s said “congress”) to bring about a change in that policy.”

Given the news that Congress doesn’t seem to have gotten that memo, I followed up with Gibbs about the lack of urgency: (CSpan had the wrong video, here’s the full briefing. Check the 34:30 mark)

I will get into this a little more deeply later, but suffice it to say I am deeply disappointed in how the DADT is going.

The measure currently in Congress is, likely, a year or more from a vote in the House, let alone passage. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, meanwhile, also appears to be in no big hurry.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but let’s see how this policy looks when actionable intelligence goes untranslated because Daniel Choi isn’t there to do it.// //

Tommy on: Daily Dose:

Proposition 8 Ruling is a Catch 88

Proposition 8 Ruling is a Catch 88

Posted:
05/27/09
Filed Under:Gay Rights, Supreme Court <!– Filed Under: –> <!– Filed Under:Gay Rights, Supreme Court –>

See what I did there? It’s like a Catch 22, only 4 times as bad. Worse, really, but 88 went well with the rest of the headline.

In rendering its decision to uphold Proposition 8, the California Supreme Court ignored not only their own precedent but their reason for existing. Upon advice of counsel, I decided to bite the bullet and try to wade through the 136-page Prop 8 decision to find out where the whole thing went wrong. After doing so, I can only conclude than that the court wrote their decision to fit a pre-ordained outcome.

That outcome was best described by Below the Beltway’s Doug Mataconis (and others, I’m sure) as “splitting the baby,” a reference to the story of Solomon as directed by Quentin Tarantino.

In order to arrive at this decision, the court faced a number of obstacles, but I have isolated the moment at which they went from torturing logic to putting it out of its misery.

As Ed Rawls noted, the court rests its entire decision on the distinction between a constitutional amendment and a revision. This is sleight of hand, however, as pointed out in the dissenting opinion. The real issue is whether Proposition 8 violates the inalienable rights of liberty and due process. If it does, then Proposition 8 is necessarily a revision, not an amendment. Furthermore, the distinction is rendered moot, because it is unconstitutional on its face.

To illustrate, you couldn’t amend, revise, or Martinize a constitution to legalize the murder of a certain class of people.

The court had already ruled, in the Marriage Cases, that marriage inequality makes same-sex couples a suspect class, that it violates the privacy, liberty, and due process clauses of Article 1, Section 7 of the California Constitution. The court even cites, extensively, the decision in the Marriage Cases.

Furthermore, in the Marriage Cases, the court made a clear distinction between the right to marry, and the right to be afforded the rights and privileges of marriage without calling it marriage, which already existed. In other words, the point of the Marriage Cases was the right to marry, not the right to separate but equal marriage. That means that the Prop 8 court had to escape its own precedent in order to uphold Prop 8.

In order to do so, the court relied on this bit of Orwellian logic: (page 34-35)

Because in common speech the term “right to marry” is most often used and understood to refer to an individual’s right to enter into the official relationship designated “marriage,” and in order to minimize potential confusion in the future, instead of referring to this aspect of the state constitutional rights of privacy and due process as “the constitutional right to marry,” hereafter in this opinion we shall refer to this constitutional right by the more general descriptive terminology used in the majority opinion in the Marriage Cases – namely, the constitutional right to establish, with the person of one’s choice, an officially recognized and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.

In other words, just because you have the right to marry doesn’t mean you get to call the product of that marrying a marriage. It would be like a defense attorney saying, “Just because my client murdered the victim doesn’t mean you get to call it a murder. We prefer soul/body disunion.”

There are a host of other problems with this decision, but this is the poisonous tree.

As Rawls points out, Judge Moreno’s dissenting opinion clearly explains how the majority has given undue deference to the amendment as “the will of the people”:

The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities. It weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority. I therefore dissent. …

The equal protection clause is therefore, by its nature, inherently countermajoritarian. As a logical matter, it cannot depend on the will of the majority for its enforcement, for it is the will of the majority against which the equal protection clause is designed to protect. Rather, the enforcement of the equal protection clause is especially dependent on “the power of the courts to test legislative and executive acts by the light of constitutional mandate and in particular to preserve constitutional rights, whether of individual or minority, from obliteration by the majority.”

Finally, the court’s contention that Prop 8 doesn’t violate Article 1, Section 7, but rather “carves out a narrow exception,” is a terrifying prospect. Will the court approve future amendments to re-dub children of same-sex unions “fagbabies,” or to narrowly exempt individuals in same-sex unions from the designation “human?”

The California Supreme Court has twisted itself into disgraceful knots in order to avoid doing its job. Perhaps in a thin-skinned attempt to avoid the label of “activist,” they have created a new one, the “inactivist court.”// //

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Bad News on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell

The policy of discharging otherwise qualified gay soldiers from the military has been a hot topic this week. Last Friday, I asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to explain the difference in the risk to our security between discharging a qualified arabic linguist, and releasing photos of detainee abuse.

Since then, Air America’s Ana Marie Cox has followed up with Gibbs on 2 more occasions, and in all 3 cases, the Press Secretary assured us that a solution was in the works.

Maybe I’m naive, but I took this to mean that a repeal of the Don’t ask/Don’t tell was on the near horizon, maybe a couple of months away. There is a bill in the House of Representatives, HR 1283, that was referred to the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel in March.

I contacted the subcommittee’s chair, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Ca), and her spokesman, Aaron Hunter, gave me some rather deflating news.

He said that the committee plans to schedule hearings on the bill. Later this year.

I was flabbergasted. “You mean, the hearings on this bill could literally begin anytime up to December?”

“Yes.”

That’s just to schedule hearings, let alone hold a vote in the full committee or the House. By then, the midterm election campaigns will be in full swing, with Republicans already signaling that they plan to make gay marriage an issue.

This is not a criticism of Congresswoman Davis, who supports the repeal of this policy. She held the first Congressional hearings on DADT in 15 years last July. Hunter told me that they still need to build support for the bill in the subcommittee.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Ted Kennedy has agreed to sponsor the Senate version, but is still seeking a Republican co-sponsor.

I initially agreed with Gibbs’ assessment, when I thought we were talking about a relatively short time frame. I don’t think our national security can wait that long. When a prisoner makes a confession that there is no-one around to translate, or when a gay medic isn’t there anymore to treat a wounded soldier, how much sense will waiting to change this policy make then?

President Obama should put a stop to these discharges. Period.// //

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