Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Lisa Keen
Keen on the trail
ROMNEY WINS MICHIGAN: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney became the Republican presidential field’s third winner in its third contest this month. Romney, with 39 percent of a low turnout vote, beat New Hampshire primary winner John McCain (with 30 percent) and Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee (16 percent) in Michigan Tuesday, January 15. The Democratic primary there didn’t count in the race for delegates -which is, ultimately, how the Democratic nominee is chosen. But, to the chagrin of some, Hillary Clinton kept her name on the Michigan ballot. And, with no other frontrunners’ names on the ballot, Clinton won 97 percent of the vote.
PRO-RECRUITERS: All three top polling Democratic presidential candidates said during Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas that they support a law that says colleges and universities can lose their federal funding unless they allow military recruiters on campus. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 1996 Solomon Amendment that said federal funding could be withheld from colleges and universities that bar military recruiters. The law was aimed at schools which barred recruiters because of the military’s policy of excluding gays. But the question NBC’s Tim Russert question put to the three candidates participating in the debate did not mention that target. Instead, Russert asked whether they would support the law in the context of the disproportionate number of service members coming from poor, rural, and racial minority groups. Steve Ralls, Director of Communications for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, noted that all three candidates -Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama–have said they would repeal the military’s exclusionary policy of “don’t ask/don’t tell.” “Should that effort be successful,” said Ralls, “the controversy surrounding the Solomon Amendment becomes moot.”
ANTI-GAY BALLOTING: Right-wing groups are circulating petitions to put an anti-gay marriage initiative on the ballot this November in both California and Florida -two of the largest states in the country. But in Florida, the anti-gay marriage campaign will be in play on primary day, January 29. That’s because, while the group handed in signatures to get the measure on the November ballot, the state division of election announced January 14 that they were, in fact, 22,000 signatures short of the 611,000 they need. The group now has until February 1 to collect the additional signatures and pro-gay marriage groups in the state are expecting them to seek to make up the deficit on primary day. The pro-gay groups are hoping to turn out hundreds of their own supporters to the voting places to educate voters on the spot and persuade them not to sign the petitions.
RICHARDSON OUT: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson ended his presidential bid last week, following poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire. Richardson’s bid for the Democratic nomination never got out of the single digits in polls or the first two voting states. Even the LGBT community, while often praising his record on gay issues, generally ranked him behind Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and even John Edwards in its preference among the original eight-person Democratic field. Richardson drew some attention from the LGBT community in July when it was revealed that he used a Spanish slur for gay during an interview with radio talk show host Don Imus in 2006. He apologized for the remark, saying he didn’t mean it in a derisive way. But one month later, in response to a question at a Human Rights Campaign forum on LOGO cable television, the governor said he thought homosexuality was a choice. That drew national media attention and another apology. Richardson said he misspoke due to fatigue and not understanding the question.
HILLARY CROWD DISSED: Video bloggers with a new upstart gay video website said they got a cold shoulder from many supporters of Hillary Clinton in Iowa just prior to the caucuses there this month. Mike Freincle said he was rebuffed by Clinton supporters attending a pre-caucus event once he told them he was with ImGayTV.com. “Time and time again, people would seem interested until we told them the name” of the blog, said Freincle. “It was very disheartening and says a lot about the Hillary Clinton campaign. She has supporters who don’t support all Americans.” In contrast at a pre-caucus event for Barack Obama, Freincle and fellow video blogger Dayna Firth, said “every person we spoke to was open to interviews even when we told them” it was for ImGayTV. The website was started last year by a Florida entrepreneur Cate Colgan.
HRC VISIBILITY: The Human Rights Campaign had staffers in Iowa and New Hampshire during those contests, and have them now in Nevada, Florida and Minnesota. The organization worked with the statewide gay group, One Iowa, to help prepare LGBT caucus-goers on how to participate, and are doing similar trainings in the other states. In Nevada Friday night, January 18, the group is joining with the Stonewall Democrats and LGBT Community Center to stage a rally just prior to the Democratic caucuses there on Saturday.