Tales from the Trail

Obama campaign launches voter drive around gay marriage

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, looking to tap support for the president’s embrace of same-sex marriage, launched a voter drive in key electoral states on Wednesday, saying a Mitt Romney presidency would be the “ultimate deal breaker” for proponents of “marriage equality.”

The campaign’s effort to mobilize lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender voters and those who back their rights to wed is called “Obama Pride: LGBT Americans For Obama” and will combine on-the-ground operations in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, and Florida with an enhanced digital footprint.

“The President fights for our equality because he believes we are equal. Mitt Romney would fight against our equality because he believes we do not deserve it,” said Joe Solmonese, an Obama campaign co-chair and president of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group. “We can not afford to go back.”

The campaign is highlighting Romney’s opposition to same-sex-marriage and his support of a federal amendment to the constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. It’ll make its push during parades, phone banks, house parties, and other get-out-the-vote maneuvers.

Romney “has pledged to write discrimination into the Constitution of the United States,” Solmonese said, calling a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman the “ultimate deal breaker” for the LGBT community.

“Mitt Gets Worse” on gay rights, pro-Obama video alleges

Pro-Obama super PAC American Bridge has released a new web video outlining Mitt Romney’s various, and potentially incendiary, comments on a spectrum of gay-rights issues — marriage, child rearing, bullying — at different moments in his political career. “The more we learn about Mitt Romney’s attitude toward LGBT people, the worse it gets,” the ad declares.

The video — titled “Mitt Gets Worse,” presumably a play on the “It Gets Better” video project for LGBT youth — shows the presidential candidate repeatedly disavowing same-sex marriage, first as governor of Massachusetts (“Marriage in one state affects all of the states and therefore we have to have a federal standard that says marriage in this country is a relationship between one man and one woman,” he tells an audience) and, later, as a presidential candidate (“Calling it marriage creates a whole host of problems…three thousand years of human history shouldn’t be discarded so quickly”).

Romney’s concerns about the impact of same-sex marriage on “the development of children” are also highlighted: “The consequences of gay marriage fall far beyond just the relationship between a man and woman — they also relate to our kids,” he’s shown saying in one clip. “The development of a child in the history of civilization has been enhanced by the opportunity to learn from the gender characteristics of a mother and a father,” he says in another, although he doesn’t specify which “gender characteristics” he means.

Gay Vietnam vet tackles Romney

Republican Mitt Romney probably didn’t know what hit him in a Manchester diner on Monday when he tucked into a booth to make small talk with an older man wearing a “Vietnam Vet” baseball cap.

Romney has been vocal in opposing cuts to U.S. military spending, and chatting up a veteran would seem like an easy warm-up to a day on the campaign trail.

But military spending wasn’t on the mind of Bob Garon, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Who’s afraid of Mitt and T-Paw…

It turns out that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are the scariest pair of presidential prospects in the GOP field today, judging from a new Democratic ad and remarks by some Democratic Party hierophants.

Priorities USA Action, a political group founded by two former aides to President Barack Obama, targets Romney as a flip-flopper in a South Carolina TV ad that wields Republican Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms like a political cudgel.

The 30-second black-and-white spot begins with Newt Gingrich’s “Meet the Press” remarks opposing what he called radical right-wing social engineering on Medicare. The ad then recounts Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s defense of Ryan before turning finally to Romney: “Mitt Romney says he’s ‘on the same page’ as Paul Ryan … but with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder: which page is he on today?”

Shake-up strikes House Republican legal team for gay marriage ban

After a week of questions and criticism, the legal team hired by Republicans in the House of Representatives to defend a law banning gay marriage suffered a shake-up of sorts on Monday when the law firm dropped the case and the lawyer who was going to lead the effort resigned from the firm.

Just a week ago Paul Clement, U.S. solicitor general during the Bush administration, and his firm King & Spalding signed up to work for  Republicans trying to overturn a court ruling that found the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as between a man and a woman unconstitutional.

After criticism mounted from gay rights advocates, King & Spalding Chairman Robert Hays said the firm was dropping the case because of “vetting” issues.

Former Bush lawyer hired to defend gay marriage ban

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has hired Paul Clement, the former solicitor general during George W. Bush’s presidency, to pick up the ball and defend the law that defined marriage as between a man and woman.

GAYMARRIAGE-CALIFORNIA/The Obama administration decided in February to drop its defense of the 15-year-old law, which was hailed by gay rights advocates but widely panned by many senior Republicans infuriated that the Justice Department would no longer defend the law in court and called it a political move.

In one case in Boston, a federal judge struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriages as unconstitutional.

Obama ‘grappling’ on gay marriage, Nadler to introduce respect bill

President Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. government to stop defending in court the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that bars gay marriage, but his personal views are not so clear.

CALIFORNIA-GAYMARRIAGE/White House spokesman Jay Carney emphasized that there was a distinction between Obama’s personal views and the legal issue.

So what is Obama’s personal view on gay marriage? “I would refer you just to his fairly recent statements on that.  He’s grappling with the issue,” Carney said.

Bush daughter backs gay marriage

Former President George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara is speaking out in support of same-sex marriage.

“I’m Barbara Bush and I’m a New Yorker for marriage equality. New York is about fairness and equality and , everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. Join us,” she says in a brief video released by the advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

In a break with her father, Ms. Bush, who lives in Manhattan, joins other prominent New Yorkers in calling on New York to legalize gay marriage, The New York Times reported Monday.

NY governor candidate Paladino says he only opposes gay marriage (and doesn’t like the parades)

Carl Paladino, the Tea Party backed Republican candidate running for New York governor, says he is not against homosexuals, only gay marriage and taking children to gay pride parades.

News reports quoted Paladino, in remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn on Sunday, saying: “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.” USA/

The Buffalo businessman was on all the morning talk shows today responding to criticism over those comments. The campaign of his opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, said the remarks displayed “a stunning homophobia and glaring disregard for basic equality.”

Gay marriage ruling has California, and Democrat Jerry Brown’s Twitter feed, buzzing

Democrat Jerry Brown has long been an outspoken critic of California’s ban on same-sex marriages,  even refusing to Jerry_Browndefend the voter approved law known as Proposition 8  in court in his role as California’s attorney general  – a move that won the hearts of gay and civil rights activists even as it raised eyebrows among legal scholars .

So before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker even ruled on Thursday that gay marriages can resume next week, while those who oppose them appeal his earlier decision finding the ban unconstitutional, Jerry Brown the candidate for governor was Tweeting out his support:

“Hoping Judge Walker will allow same-sex couples in CA to marry while the Prop 8 case appeal is pending. We should find out before noon,” Brown (or someone on his staff) Tweeted about two hours before the ruling.