Bil Browning

Rudy has done the most to help gays?

Filed By Bil Browning | August 09, 2007 6:41 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Democrats, election 2008, gay history, gay rights, Republicans

I found an intriguing article today that quotes TBP contributor Matt Foreman and I have to admit, I hope Matt will expand on his remarks here at Bilerico. Who would you consider the most gay friendly based on what they have previously done to help our community?

"Rudy Giuliani is near the top of the list," said Matt Foreman, head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who was an activist in New York when Giuliani was mayor.

"The challenge for those of us in the gay rights movement is to look at two things: an elected official's accomplishment while in office and whether they affirm the humanity of gay people," said Foreman.

"On that score, Mayor Giuliani has a good record," he said, citing the city domestic partnership law, state hate crimes law, public support and appointments of gay judges.

The article relates a fascinating story about Giuliani when he was associate attorney general - the Justice Department's #3 official - in 1982. At the time, gays and lesbians were still routinely fired because they were considered "security risks." Giuliani, however, approved the hiring of a gay man previously let go by the Senate Intelligence Committee as an assistant US attorney.

A 1982 memo alerted associate attorney general Giuliani about the Vietnam War vet, a divorced father of two, top attorney and "admitted homosexual." He asked Justice Department legal counsel Theodore Olson for an opinion.

Olson sent back a memo citing 1960s lawsuits, a 1975 federal personnel code and a new policy on security clearances. He said Baldwin could not be denied a job, unless being gay affected his ability to do the job, and that Baldwin likely could win a lawsuit if he were not hired.

Olson gave Giuliani an out: Hiring a practicing homosexual would indicate a disrespect for Florida's anti-sodomy law, putting the Justice Department in an awkward spot.

But Baldwin got the job.

Olson, now a senior Giuliani campaign aide, called it the "right thing to do" and a "big step."

"Once we wrote that opinion, it was binding on the executive branch and it set a precedent," Olson said.

Marty Steinberg, the lawyer who helped Baldwin get the job, praises Giuliani and Olson.

"They did the right thing," he said, "and that was not an easy thing to do in that era."

Interestingly enough, it seems Matt agrees with me that Bill Richardson has done the most for us on the Democratic slate. To me, that's an easy pick. No one else on the ticket, to my knowledge, has passed any legislation or led any initiatives...

But what do you think? Who's done the most for gay rights among the current crop of Republicans and Democrats?

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Where, oh where, is Mattilda to write the scathing and necessary critique of this madness? -- key words: Giuliani, queer culture, and public space in NYC.
Good grief.

Politics is not just about what legislation you push. It's also about how you frame the debate.

Anti-gay sentiment doesn't materialize out of thin air. It's constructed as a mechanism for mapping economic anxieties onto other areas of public life, a way of not talking about the very real pressures on working families by scapegoating a particular group for social tensions actually caused by rampant corporate capitalism.

So the candidates who do the most for gay rights are the ones who cut through the crap and frame the debate right--who give voice to the REAL anxieties of the middle class and working class and identify anti-gay politics as what it truly is: a cynical attempt to distract people from what really matters.

Obama's the guy for the job: he nailed it in 2004 when he said: We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.

That's the way to move forward.

Leland Frances | August 9, 2007 9:49 PM

OH...MY...GOD!!!!! First the gay “leader” that I so admired pens a poison pen attack about the Democrats, needlessly and erroneously accusing them of “throwing gays under the bus.” Now he’s throwing violets toward Repug Giuliani whose record on "gay humanity" is far more checkered than Foreman suggests [see below]. This is all the more strange and indefensible from someone like Foreman who admirably asserts that he is not a one issue activist, and that LGBTs should be concerned about issues affecting other minorities as well as the world at large. I guess he’s missed all those times recently when Giuliani has not just back the invasion of Iraq but insisted that electing ANY Democrat will literally result in more people being killed by terrorists.

And, if it is fair to judge people by the company they keep—and it is—Giuliani campaign honcho Little Teddy Olson may sound like a good guy here but he was one of the lead brown shirts for Bush fils. After playing dirty in the 2000 campaign, he persuaded the US Supreme Court to reverse their own precedents and install Bush in the White House. His reward was nomination as Solicitor General, a position so influential in government that it is sometimes known as “the tenth Supreme Court justice.” In confirmation hearings, he lied about his deep involvement in the notorious “Arkansas Project, “ that very real right wing conspiracy for which Hillary is still mocked for mentioning. It was funded by millions of dollars from extremist Richard Mellon Scaife to dig up or create any dirt possible on the Clintons, and spread not just stories of Bill’s alleged pre-election infidelities, but drug trafficking and accusations that the Clintons actually had Vincent Foster murdered. Some may recall Indiana’s own Dan Burton inviting reporters to watch him shoot a watermelon to with a .38 revolver to “prove” Foster could not possibly have committed suicide. For much more, see: “WHAT Liberal Media?” by Eric Alterman, and “Blinded by the Right” by David Brock.

But back to Olson's current candidate Giuliani:

For Rudy, Gay Is A Drag
By: ANDY HUMM, New York “Gay City News”

Rudy Giuliani is continuing an emerging pattern of abandoning his previous support for gay rights, this past week attacking New Hampshire for enacting a civil union law for same-sex couples because it "goes too far" and is "the equivalent of marriage."

That statement from the Republican presidential hopeful follows his retreat earlier this year on gays in the military on the grounds that "we are at war" and should not change the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that he had criticized.

Giuliani voiced support for civil unions as recently as 2004 on Fox News and signed a domestic partners bill as mayor of New York City in 1998. He supported that legislation in 1997 in exchange for the neutrality of the Empire State Pride Agenda in his re-election bid against Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, a leading LGBT rights advocate.

In an October 1997 letter to the Pride Agenda, Giuliani pledged "to determine how the City of New York can extend to registered domestic partners all rights that the city currently affords to married persons," the very position he is chastising the New Hampshire Legislature for. ……

The Giuliani presidential campaign's press office did not return a call asking what rights would have to be denied gay couples to satisfy him now. In a statement to the New York Sun, which broke the story, the campaign said he "believes marriage is between one man and one woman," despite the fact that he is on his third woman. …

Despite the mainstream media's habitual reference to Giuliani as a "pro-gay rights Republican" and his public cross-dressing at benefits and on "Saturday Night Live," he has a decidedly mixed record on LGBT issues. In his first run for mayor in 1989, he told a gay audience that he wasn't sure if he supported the city's gay rights law that had passed in 1986. He also condemned Mayor David Dinkins for settling a lawsuit granting domestic partner benefits to city employees in 1993 on the eve of their re-match, which Giuliani won. …

In early 1998, …a bill [was] engineered by Giuliani and the Pride Agenda to codify domestic partner rights. The authors of the Giuliani bill went through the city code and gave domestic partners every right given to spouses, but excluded any requirement for recognizing gay and lesbian couples in collective bargaining agreements and would not articulate the sweeping, though simple statement that any right a spouse receives a domestic partner is also entitled to.

That lapse in making the law truly comprehensive was not corrected until this year with legislation pushed by out lesbian Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Giuliani opposed any requirement that companies with city contracts provide domestic partner benefits on par with the spousal rights they confer, a Quinn bill that the Council passed in 2004 only to be vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Council overrode that veto, but failed at New York's highest court in its effort to force the mayor to implement the contractor law….

Giuliani's campaign Web site is short on issue statements, but one of them condemns same-sex marriage…”

>>>>Beyond the Humm article, here are some of the facts presented in a report by Empire State Pride Agenda after he left office. [To be fair, it did list positives, too.]

“While New York City under Giuliani did implement a domestic partnership law that was far-reaching at the time it was enacted, the Giuliani years did see cities like San Francisco move ahead on several fronts in the rights and protections it offered to its LGBT residents. For instance, San Francisco has a contracting law that requires companies doing business with it to provide domestic partner benefits to their employees and also provides civil rights and workplace protections to transgendered persons. Both of those measures [at the time this was written] are still pending before the NY City Council for action.

Bereavement Leave: In 1989 as candidate for Mayor, Giuliani criticized Mayor Koch’s plan to offer bereavement leave to gay city employees, calling it (through a spokesperson) “an ill-conceived political giveaway.”

City Travel to Colorado: In 1993, he opposed Mayor Dinkins’ ban on travel by city employees to Colorado, imposed because of a boycott to the state’s antigay ballot initiative (later overturned).

Ruben Diaz: Soon after becoming Mayor in 1994, Giuliani supported Ruben Diaz, who sat on the Police Department’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, who wrote a homophobic and AIDS-phobic column about the upcoming Gay Games being held in the city. The Mayor was quoted as saying, “I don’t condemn him” and said Diaz’s views reflected “a couple of thousand years of moral theology.”

DAS: Again in 1994, word circulated that the Department of AIDS Services might be eliminated and the rumor was reinforced when the Giuliani Administration held an evaluation process that was closed to public input and by invitation only. (DAS was not eliminated, but the incident furthered the distrust that already existed between LGBT community organizations and the Mayor.)

Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns: Soon after becoming Mayor, Giuliani eliminated the Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns as well as liaison offices to other communities.

Same-Sex Marriage: He opposed the right to same-sex marriage.

Multicultural curriculum: Giuliani opposed the inclusion of lesbians and gay in multicultural curriculum.

Board of Education: He appointed openly homophobic Irene Impellizzeri to the Board of Education and appointed AIDS-phobic board member Ninfa Segarra as Deputy Mayor.

St. Patrick’s Parade: Giuliani participated in the parade and supported the Hibernian’s exclusion of ILGO.

Matthew Shepard: Giuliani defended the [police] use of force to control demonstrators marching in honor of slain Matthew Shepard, furthering a perception among a number of communities in New York that the NYPD was becoming increasingly independent under Giuliani.”

Leland Frances | August 9, 2007 9:56 PM

As for Obama, he's better than Giuliani, but those who are treating him like the Messiah, fail to notice that his expressed support for LGBT issues has consistently been behind that of Hillary and Edwards. The list of gay supporters he published today came nearly five months after they published their lists of LGBT supporters, and, up until a few days ago when it announced his post LOGO/HRC forum fund raiser, there was, again unlike Hillary and Edwards, NOTHING about gay equality from his campaign on his official Website. Hopefully, in tonight's forum he will progress further.

Matt Foreman | August 10, 2007 8:57 AM

Dear Friends -

The problem with any media story is that it only takes slivers of what a person says around a sliver of an idea. I'm not misquoted in the article, but as Andy Humm relates, it does not reflect the entire story of Mr. Guiliani's record as mayor or his current positions on LGBT issues. (You can see where he currently stands - poorly - on our candidate analysis I also expressed deep frustration with Mr. Guiliani's backpeddling on so many of our issues since he's been running for president. I also expressed my personal emnity for Mr. Giuliani because of how he literally destroyed the life of a good friend of mine through his abuse of power while he was US Attorney.

The true (and clearly sad) fact is that among all the current candidates for president, Bill Richardson and Rudy Giuliani are the ones with actual records of legislative accomplishment. I do believe we need to look at what people actually do for us. I respect Andy Humm more than I can ever say, but NYC's domestic partner law - which was written and introduced by the Giuliani administration - was the country's most sweeping municipal law back then. Giuliani did raise the issue of anti-gay violence at virtually every campaign stop and at town forums in neighborhoods hostile to us. When I was at the Anti-Violence Project, he held press conferences to release our reports on anti-LGBT violence. He did appoint gay and lesbian judges, he did march in our parades, and he was (then) quite proud to live with a gay couple during his divorce from Donna Hanover. He openly pressed Governor Pataki to move on a statewide hate crimes bill. He was a vocal proponent of abortion rights. After 9/11, he publicly praised the courage of LGBT first responders. We now know that 25 years ago he approved the hiring of an openly gay man for a high level position when that wasn't done.

Did I personally think he was a good mayor? No. Many of his stands on LGBT issues(documented by Andy) were infuriating (as I should note were those of his predecessors, Democrats Ed Koch and David Dinkins). I personally found many of his "non-gay" policies appalling. And, as I was quoted in the article, I found him to be vindictive and his relations with people of color communities abysmal.

Like so many other candidates, it's clear that Mr. Giuliani will change his positions and forget his past in search of votes. But, the past is there, and unlike the vast majority of the GOP contenders, it is not one of unbridled anti-LGBT hostility.

No matter what your views, I think most of us can agree there's a tremendous amount of irony in the current GOP frontrunner having taken positions in the past (gays, guns, abortion) that directly conflict with the party's platform.

beergoggles | August 10, 2007 9:59 AM

Umm wow Leland, do you have like a logbook that you write all that stuff down in cuz it would have taken me hours and hours to dig up all that stuff about him.

Either way, well done.