Author Archives: olivetoes

Good News for LGBT Catholics? Pope May Remove Anti-Gay Cardinal

By Alexis Hamilton

Cardinal Raymond Burke may be relieved of his duties as head of the Apostolic Signatura and the Roman Curia; the former is the “Supreme Court” equivalent of the Vatican and the latter is a rulemaking body that advises the Pope.

Cardinal Burke shared his views on homosexuality several years ago when he explained the difference between just and unjust discrimination. Unjust discrimination, according to Burke, involves disparate treatment because of a quality like the color of one’s skin, while just discrimination would be discrimination based on something that goes against human nature, like homosexuality.

Don’t worry about being judgmental, though! As Cardinal Burke explains, that sort of discrimination isn’t wrong or immoral, it’s just . . . the truth.

This understanding of church doctrine just might be at odds with that of Pope Francis, who–though he affirmed church doctrine on same-sex marriage–has indicated that the church might not be opposed to same-sex civil unions. The Pope also appointed a progressive bishop as the next archbishop of Chicago.


Voter ID Laws May Impact Transgender Voters at Midterms

By Alexis Hamilton

MSNBC reports the findings of a recent Williams Institute study, which suggests transgender voters may encounter difficulties at the polls during midterm elections because of some states’ strict voter identification laws. For the transgender individuals who live in those states, updating photo IDs may be “prohibitively difficult and costly.”

States with strict photo ID laws include: Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia. The Williams Institute study estimated that as many as 25,000 voters might have problems at the ballot box or be disenfranchised because of the voter ID laws.

Though the majority of Americans–about 78 percent according to a Rasmussen Reports Poll–support voter ID laws, it is possible to protect the voting rights of transgender Americans as well as safeguard the voting process from fraud. Alabama, for example, allows voters without a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot and bring an ID to the election office no later than the Friday after election day, or two election officials can give sworn statements affirming that they know the voter. Perhaps voter registration drives and LGBT organizations in states with strict laws should also increase their outreach to transgender voters, make them aware of the ID laws, and inform them about the process of obtaining new identification that will enable them to cast their ballots in November.

There is also at least one website,, which contains helpful information about required identification and the location of polling places.

Georgia GOP Political Spokesman “Outs” Himself

By Alexis Hamilton

Republican political adviser and Georgia resident James Richardson came out as gay in a personal letter published in the Washington Post on September 4. He writes:

It’s not always easy to love Georgia, or love in it. Our state constitution explicitly forbids same-sex unions, and the local economy remains defiantly sluggish. Yet in spite of its blemishes, my would-be groom and I are deeply committed to our community, one whose values of faith and family we share.

Richardson, who previously has worked for Jon Huntsman, Haley Barbour, and the Republican National Committee, hopes that sharing his story might personalize the issue of marriage equality for Georgians and prompt traditional marriage supporters to reconsider the issue.

You can read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s op-ed on Richardson’s letter here.

Press Pause? Pennsylvania’s Bipartisan LGBT Anti-Discrimination Legislation Stalls

PA Capitol by Flickr User Doug Hoffman

By Alexis Hamilton

Bipartisan legislation in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly that will ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment, and public spaces is not likely to pass any time before 2015. Pittsburgh’s NPR news station reports:

[Ted] Martin [head of Equality PA] said the measure just picked up its 97th supporter in the 203-member House. As of June, it was backed by 25 of the 50 state senators. Gov. Tom Corbett voiced support for the measure last December.

But Senate momentum on the discrimination ban dwindled earlier this year. In the House, the bill’s fate has been in the control of the House’s State Government Committee, a panel stacked with staunch conservatives and chaired by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), who has been adamantly against bringing the bill up for a vote at all.

Metcalfe’s stance is hardly a surprise. Metcalfe is the prime sponsor of Pennsylvania’s Marriage Protection Amendment, which would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman only.

Fortunately, plenty of Republicans do support the LGBT anti-discrimination legislation. Republican House co-sponsors include: L. Chris Ross, Mike Fleck, Thomas P. Murt, Michael Peifer, Mario M. Scavello, John Taylor, Rosemary M. Brown, Scott A. Petri, Thomas H. Killion, Marguerite Quinn, Kate Harper, Todd Stephens, Katharine M. Watson, and Warren Kampf.

Republican Governor Tom Corbett plans to sign the legislation once it passes.

San Diego Democrat Slights Gay Republican Opponent Carl DeMaio

By Alexis Hamilton

Ever wonder whether running a campaign that calls an openly gay Republican opponent a “Mary”–a derogatory term for a homosexual–would play well in California? Freshman Democrat Scott Peters is poised to find out. Peters represents California’s 52nd district, which includes part of San Diego. Even after quietly removing the “Mary” post from the campaign blog, Peters has repeatedly tried to make Republican opponent Carl DeMaio’s sexual orientation a campaign issue, insinuating in one stump speech that it is the novelty of being a gay Republican that’s gotten DeMaio so much press:

He’s gotten stories in The Wall Street Journal, he’s gotten stories in the National Journal, all puff pieces about how this great, new, moderate, gay Republican is coming out and running for office. And they’re very psyched about it. And the Republicans in D.C., they love this.

Of course, maybe it’s smarter to talk about DeMaio as if he were a Republican curiosity than to take on DeMaio’s background (he was orphaned at 13; split up from his siblings by social services; put himself through university; built and sold two companies; passed pension reform as a city council member; and you know, has a perfect voting record when it comes to LGBT rights). 

If DeMaio were a Democrat and Scott a Republican, I’m betting voters wouldn’t be as willing to overlook the prejudiced attacks launched in this campaign.