Devin Nunes votes against the LGBT community. Twice.


Two recent votes by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA 22nd) have again displayed his complete contempt for the LGBT community.  On May 19, Representative Nunes voted NO on the Maloney amendment, which would have prevented Federal contractors from ignoring President Obama’s executive order which amends previous orders 11478 and 11246.


“The failed amendment would have effectively nullified a provision in the defense authorization that the House passed late Wednesday night. The language embedded in the defense bill states that religious corporations, associations and institutions that receive federal contracts can’t be discriminated against on the basis of religion.

Democrats warn that such a provision could potentially allow discrimination against the LGBT community in the name of religious freedom. Maloney’s amendment specifically would prohibit funds to implement contracts with any company that doesn’t comply with President Obama’s executive orderbanning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.”

This is the vote which caused such consternation across the country, after the GOP leadership violated House rules. They held the vote open past the two minute limit, until enough members could be convinced to change their votes from yes to no, causing an already approved amendment to be defeated.  Nunes voted NO from the beginning on this amendment, and was not involved in the vote changing (at least from the point of view of his own vote. We don’t know if he was involved in getting other members to change theirs).

On May 25th, Maloney offered his amendment again, this time to a routine funding bill for energy and water.  His amendment passed, 223-195.  Again, Nunes voted NO.  But in a stunning display of GOP hatred for the LGBT community, the spending bill was voted down Thursday (today), 305-112, rather than let it pass with the protections included.

From the House of Representatives web page:
“Latest Action: 05/25/2016 Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union rises leaving H.R. 5055 as unfinished business.”

Although Nunes voted no, twice, on LGBT protections, he did vote to approve the final bill, H.R. 5055, even though it included the Maloney amendment.  He was a minority in his party, for that vote.

Nunes, and the GOP (who scuttled their own bill, rather than see it pass with LGBT protections included), are openly hostile towards the LGBT community, and will go out of their way to insure the law does not include protections that insure equality and prohibit discrimination.  Nunes’ yes vote on H.R. 5055 cannot be seen as supporting the LGBT community, after his two NO votes on the Maloney amendments.

Nunes has been unresponsive to LGBT concerns, even when local PFLAG members were at his office in Washington, D.C. a couple of years ago.  His voting record does not contradict that opinion.

Nunes has held this office for more than a decade, and has seldom paid any attention to his constituents, other than wealthy business or political interests.  It’s time for a change, and I urge you to vote for Louie Campos.  He’d be a welcome change, and is a friend to the LGBT community.

Image: United States House of Representatives

Cox, Shuklian at candidate forum


The Cellar Door and the Visalia Times Delta hosted a forum Thursday night, for Tulare County Supervisor District Three candidates. Incumbent Phil Cox and challenger Amy Shuklian each presented their cases as to why they should be chosen to hold the seat next year. Phil Cox has been on the Board for 12 years, and Amy Shuklian has been a Visalia City Council member for 8 1/2 years. Each has a long personal and family history in Tulare County.

Amy represented herself as a “new ideas, fresh perspective” candidate, echoing one of Phil’s own campaign themes when he first ran for Supervisor. “Twelve years is enough” was heard several times. Phil indicated he wanted to serve one more term, to finish up projects started during his tenure, and that the County should “stay the course”. Amy talked about enthusiasm and dedication, Phil about experience and judgement. Both candidates had good moments, and, shall we say, less than stellar ones.

One problem that haunted the forum for most of the night was the sound system. It appears nobody thought to setup and test the audio gear before the candidates sat down at their microphones. At first, there was the issue of the travelling connection, where one mic was live, but the other was not. When the dead one came online, the first was suddenly silent. Once connections were sorted out, and the candidates and the moderator each had a live microphone, feedback squeals almost deafened the crowd at unexpected moments. Someone left the reverb on one mic turned up for the first several minutes, leaving Amy sounding like she was at the bottom of a well. That was finally sorted, and the candidates were able to address the audience. Note to the Cellar Door: audio checks well before events! (also the lighting on stage was uneven, being brighter on Phil, and dimmer on Amy)

It’s not my intent to give a blow-by-blow account of the night, but rather to make a few observations. This is the first candidates forum I’ve been able to attend (I’m usually at work when they are conducted), so it was all rather new to me. I didn’t know whether to expect a calm discussion of the issues, or a verbal slug-fest. I suppose it came out somewhere in between.

Now, going into this forum, I had already decided that I was going to vote for Amy Shuklian. Nothing I heard Thursday would dissuade me from that intention. I will say I was more impressed with Phil Cox than I thought I would be, and I was a bit disappointed with Amy Shuklian.

The office of Board of Supervisor is non-partisan, but party affiliations were brought up. The Tulare County Republican party has made a big advertising push that Phil is the only Republican on the ballot. While they certainly have the right to promote their choice of candidate, it seems to reduce the race to party loyalties, rather than who is best suited to do the job. Phil made a point to mention Amy’s change of registration earlier this year (if I recall the time frame correctly) from Democratic to a minor party (whose name escapes me), then, a short time later after she realized the party she selected was not one she intended to be associated with, to ‘decline to state’. (a similar thing happened to me, back in the Reagan days. I didn’t realize then that “Independent” was an actual party) The impression I got was that he was implying that she changed her affiliation to hide her association with the Democratic party in what is a heavily Republican district.

Amy commented on past Board of Supervisor issues, including mileage reimbursements and pay raises. Phil seemed dismissive of the subject, and Amy wasn’t clear on what she was asking of him. Phil is fine with the way the Board gets it’s raises, while Amy said it was not acceptable for Board members to vote themselves pay increases. Neither candidate had a good answer to an audience question about the effects of California’s minimum wage increase on county wages. Phil responded with a dollar amount that the county was planning for to meet the wage requirements, but both candidates missed or ignored the intent of the question: whether wages for county employees would have to be adjusted to account for the higher base wage, and how they would deal with the issue. For example, if an employee is currently making $10 an hour above minimum wage, will that wage increase with the minimum so that by the time it hits $15 an hour that employee isn’t making only $5 above minimum wage? This has long term impact on employee recruitment and retention rates. Neither candidate addressed the issue.

Phil commented on the likelihood of hearing talking points from Amy, then had a few of his own that were repeated several times. Amy was unprepared for some questions, and struggled to find answers for them. Phil had some facts and figures, that sometimes didn’t really answer the question. I was not impressed with his comment that he would support Donald Trump if he became the GOP nominee. If I had been seriously considering voting for Phil before, that statement would have cemented my decision against him immediately. Anyone who will support Donald Trump will not have my vote. Amy insisted that she had not decided who she would support, the unspoken assumption (at least as far as I was concerned) being that her choice would be between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and not assume she didn’t want to go on record supporting either in this heavily Republican district. A cynic might look at me askew for that, but I remain hopeful about my candidates.

Amy stopped by theSOURCE LGBT+ Center for our grand opening, and her partner Mary had a painting on display there as part of the Art Consortium’s First Friday event. Phil did speak to me about the Center before the forum, and asked about our programs and activities, but as far as I know has not visited in person. He was especially interested in our efforts in suicide prevention, a major problem for LGBT youth. I was pleased with his comments and concern, even if he has not visited the Center. I’ll assume he just hasn’t had the time to catch us during our operating hours, and isn’t avoiding having his picture taken with the staff at the LGBT Center. (Is that cynic looking at me, again?)

My mail-in ballot is sitting on my coffee table, waiting. When I fill it out, I’ll be voting for Amy Shuklian for District 3. I do think Phil Cox has served the County well, even if I don’t care for the way some things have been handled, but I also agree with Amy that it’s time for a change. I think she’s the right choice for the next four years.

Disclosure: I am a Tulare County employee of 21 1/2 years, a Board Member for theSOURCE LGBT+ Center, and a Board Member of PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties.
And with the exception of the above mentioned accidental registration as an Independent, I have never been a member of any political party.

Images: Visalia Times Delta

Feeling bad for Donald Trump (and the GOP)

David Goldman/AP

You’ve got to feel bad for The Donald. This can’t be what he planned for, back when he first threw his baseball cap into the Presidential ring. To become the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party just can’t be what he had in mind.

I suspect he is as surprised as the rest of us that things have gone this far, and I’m sure he’s secretly rooting for Hillary Clinton to win in a landslide. (which is what is going to happen, Tom Fife’s crystal ball not withstanding)

Why would The Donald spend millions of his own money, while secretly wishing to lose? Because he really doesn’t want to be President. He likes the attention of the race, and having crowds cheer his words, but even he knows he’s not suited for the rigors of the Presidency. I doubt even he thinks he can be CEO of the United States, the job just doesn’t work that way. He’s used to making a decision, and having it carried out by underlings. Right wing fantasy about the tyranny of executive orders aside, he know’s that’s not going to work, and he’s not suited to anything else. He can’t tell someone he’s unhappy with, “you’re fired!” He’s blowing up the GOP, and in the bazillion-to-one chance that he became President, Congress is going to go from a stubborn mule, refusing to budge, to a brick wall, oblivious to him (or to much of anything else – it’s not that far of a reach for them).

Here’s what I think is happening:
Trump decided to run again, figuring things would work out as they have during his previous candidacies. He’d fly around the country, rattle some cages, soak in the admiration of the crowds, meet some high rollers that he could schmooze with and set up for future business deals, and then go home. This actually winning has got to be a surprise. I can just see him now, in the Trump plane, shaking his head and blowing up at his aides – “I told you to come up with crazy stuff that will keep me behind the real candidates, not put me in the lead!!”

Every time Trump has trotted out some outrageous statement that would have instantly torpedoed any other candidate, he’s just drawn in more of the GOP base. The Republicans have for some time now been building this army of wingnuts, thinking they can control them and keep them foaming at the mouth against the “libtards”.  But now the chickens have come home to roost, and they’re more like Aflred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ than a docile flock compliantly producing eggs (votes) for their masters.

You can just imagine Trump’s staff alternating between giddy glee and unbelieving shock as they work up increasingly insane things for their boss to say, and rather than having his rambling, meaningless speeches actually drive his candidacy into the ground, the flocks are eating it up. Even as Trump makes clearly idiotic choices as consultants and advisers, he keeps winning, and his base can’t get enough.

The GOP establishment is having a slow motion heart attack. They have tried to support other candidates, only to see that fail. They’ve proposed changing the rules of the upcoming convention to deny Trump the nomination, only to hear of open revolt and possible violence. Some of them have capitulated, taking the odd position that they “support” Trump, but don’t “endorse” him.  Careful GOP, that’s not cake you’re trying to eat.

I suspect that Trump has reconciled himself to keeping this juggernaut going until November, and will suck up all the oxygen in the convention hall as he “suffers” the adoration of the craziest parts of the GOP. His ego will no doubt enjoy the next six months, and his accountants will be working overtime to balance the books, but after the election, all we can do is hope he really meant that if he lost, we’d probably not see him again. (although he flip flops more than a pair of cheap beach footwear, so who knows?)

Tom Fife’s crystal ball showed an election win for Trump, with historic majorities.

Coincidentally (or not), I recently came into the possession of a slightly cracked crystal ball myself. It’s a bit out of focus, but with the right mumbling and hand gestures, can be convinced to show alternative futures, and it shows the Trump inauguration going something like this: The Donald takes the oath of office, turns and tells the Supreme Court Justice (who will hopefully get the oath right this time) to stay right there, and then steps up to the microphone. “My fellow Americans!” Trump will bellow, “I quit. Vice President (whoever), step up here. Mr. Justice, swear him in. There’s no way I’m going to put up with this political nonsense for four years!” He turns to his wife and says, “come on, let’s go!”  The Armed Forces Band is not quite sure if they’re supposed to play “Hail to the Chief”, or not. Fade to smoke.

Image: David Goldman/AP

LGBT+ Center Grand Opening Friday


The SOURCE LGBT+ Center will be hosting it’s Grand Opening, in conjunction with the First Friday Art Walk. Works by local LGBT artists will be on display in the center, and the event is open to the public.

Feel free to stop in and see the center and meet the people who made a long-time dream of the LGBT+ community a reality. Resources, referrals, a lending library, and much more is available to interested parties.

When: Friday, May 6th, 5pm till 9pm.

Where: 208 W. Main, Suite B – downstairs in the Montgomery Square

Facebook:  theSOURCE LGBT+ Center


Donations (tax deductible) are accepted at: theSOURCE LGBT+ Center Crowdrise site.

Latest GOP freakout: bathrooms


In 2013, the California legislature passed AB 1266. Signed by Governor Jerry Brown (D), it went into effect January 1, 2014. So far, after two years and five months, California has not fallen into the Pacific Ocean, and the world has not come to an end.

Recently, North Carolina passed legislation, near-instantly signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory (R), to remove the ability of county and city governments to enact protections for, among others, the LGBT community. Spurred by the city of Charlotte’s passage of an ordinance to prohibit discrimination directed at LGBT residents, one of the effects of House Bill 2 is to ban transgender individuals from using the bathroom that matches their gender expression.

Insisting they are protecting women and girls from men pretending to be women and  entering the women’s facilities to attack them (but silent about the “dangers” to men and boys from transgender men (men born female) in the men’s facilities), they’ve added to the un-informed hysteria surrounding transgender issues.

Ignoring the obvious truth that transgender people have been using restrooms that match their gender expression since there have been restrooms, and having not a single example of a transgender person committing a criminal sexual act against a cis-gendered person in such facilities, the anti-transgender movement has sparked a nationwide freak-out against retail giant Target. Target recently responded to the North Carolina legislation by reaffirming their policy of inclusion and equality, stating that “We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity. Everyone deserves to feel like they belong.” An online petition has garnered over a million “signatures” condemning Target, and supporting a boycott. (since the site allows anything to be entered into name and address fields, and will accept anything with a address regardless whether it’s valid or not, fraud cannot be ruled out, and the count cannot be accepted as reliable. Regardless of the real numbers, Target doesn’t seem fazed.)

An ironic Internet meme has been making the rounds in response. In a still image from a recent movie, Sam Elliott is looking into the camera with a withering look on his face. The message reads something like “you think laws about guns won’t stop criminals from using them, but a law about bathrooms will stop criminals from molesting children? You’re a special kind of…” well, you know the rest, right?

The small government folks are only for small government when it suits their purposes. Otherwise, they’re all for imposing controls on local authorities that dare to challenge the status quo. Charlotte was slapped down by a GOP controlled state legislature, and trans individuals are going to be the ones paying the ultimate price.

California’s laws protecting transgender individuals from discrimination haven’t brought the state to a stand-still, and cis-gendered residents seem able to use restrooms and locker rooms in peace, usually unaware that a transgender person is next to them. North Carolina, however, has seen a tsunami of negative reaction, with major businesses and entertainers deciding to take their activities elsewhere. Billions of dollars of Federal money may also be jeopardized. The immediate back-lash has stunned the anti-trans crowd, leaving them sputtering about “liberal media bias” and “misunderstandings” of the law. What’s clear, however, is that North Carolina has increased the likelihood that transgender individuals will be harassed and assaulted when trying to use restrooms and other facilities.

In California, state law protects transgender individuals. If you or someone you know is transgender, and are experiencing discrimination issues, theSOURCE LGBT center is available to assist. Resources and referrals are available to help resolve problems. From restroom access, discrimination in employment, accommodations, or housing, medical care, or any other aspect of daily living, theSOURCE has the knowledge to help. Contact theSOURCE at or The Center itself will soon be open for walk-in visits. Look for hours of operation to be published soon.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Board of Directors at theSOURCE LGBT+ Center)