12/21/2016

Trump lost popularity battle; signing FADA will lose him the war

by Jeremy Hooper

Donald J. Trump lost the popular vote by nearly three million. He loves to frame his electoral victory as an “historic landslide,” but the popular vote number is the one history will most remember. Hillary Clinton, the first woman on a general election major party ticket, received more votes than any non-president in history. Only President Obama, and only in 2008, earned more.

Some Trump supporters like to dismiss this inconvenient fact with a line about those voters all living in California and New York, as if Golden and Empire State residents are somehow less deserving of a say on election day. These critics get away with this line of thinking because our Electoral College system is what it is. However, no amount of spinning or hiding behind this uniquely American way of letting multiple popular vote runners-up become president will change that fact that more American citizens would prefer to see Hillary Clinton sitting in the Oval Office than they would Donald Trump. That is a fact. It will not change.

Let me also remind you that New York and California, while dismissed and even mocked by these newfound fans of the Electoral College, are highly influential power centers where many major companies make their biggest decisions, and from where much media is written, produced, and transmitted. This is also true of several major U.S. cities in other states (e.g. Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin) where the Democratic candidate dominated. While this great nation is filled with great companies, it’s not a controversial statement to say that the most recognized national brands are largely headquartered in our largest cities—and Trump lost most all of them (and by a large margin in most cases).

Which brings me to the First Amendment Defense Act, which, like most of the other “religious freedom” bills that anti-LGBTQ activists have proposed since marriage equality became the law of the land, would grant business owners a license to discriminate for no greater reason than a customer’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Over the years, I've had much to say about so-called “religious freedom” bills, including this one. For the purpose of this post, I don’t want to dwell on the obvious awfulness of this, a law that would nationalize the state-by-state discrimination that social conservatives have tried to enact over the past three years. NBC Out has a great post on the subject for those wanting more background on FADA’s considerable dangers.
I instead want to warn the incoming Trump administration, which is championing FADA, of the unprecedented wave of rejection that will greet the new president if he fulfills his promise to sign this highly discriminatory (and, likely, unconstitutional) attack on Americans lives. And I want to do so by reminding him of two things close to home:

  1. His sweeping popular vote rejection in the aforementioned power centers of America
  2. His own Vice President (elect)

First the popular vote rejection. I’ve already pretty much covered it, but it bears repeating: This president is coming into office more unpopular than any in recent memory. Not only is he coming in without a mandate, but he is also coming in with a massive amount of scrutiny, questions about his character, suspicions about his qualifications, fears about his inexperience, shock over his egregious statements and actions, and just more general messiness than any one who has ever come into this office. The burden is on him to turn this around. If he wants to prove himself as a careful and considered leader whose focus and temperament belie his campaign work, he is going to have to prove it through his earliest actions. This is true for any incoming administration, where the first one hundred days are always so crucial, but it is even more salient for a president whose popular vote loss is larger than the entire population of seventeen different states.

If Congress passes FADA and Trump moves forward with his vow to sign, the much louder national engagement will come from those of us who realize the discriminatory effects masked behind the far right’s carefully crafted “religious freedom” smokescreen. The major cities of America will have an outsized say because the major national businesses doing busy from them will understand and articulate the obvious dangers FADA poses to their ability to engage in fair commercial exchanges. The media will report accordingly. The outcry will be deafening.

Which brings me my other point: Mike Pence. If Donald Trump wants a taste of the outcry that would follow a federal FADA, he need look no further than his own Cbsz0Lmukaae3Sh-1 choice for number two. When Gov. Mike Pence moved forward with a discriminatory “religious freedom” proposal in his home state of Indiana, signing it into law in front of a crowd of the Hoosier State’s most appallingly anti-LGBTQ activists, the nationwide response was the thing of infamy. In the weeks surrounding Pence’s misbegotten decision, one could not turn on a TV, be it a news or a comedy show, and not hear some sort of criticism of the obviously discriminatory idea that was taking hold in Pence’s Indiana. The usually fairly sleepy state was the headline-grabber in newspapers coast to coast. Virtually no one outside the usual stable of anti-LGBTQ activists could defend Pence’s proposal because it, like so many so-called “religious freedom” proposals, was so demonstrably harmful to both human and business interests. Ultimately, even Pence had no choice but to scale it back.

And keep in mind, Pence actually won his gubernatorial presidential election by a 3% margin. Unlike the President-Elect, Pence came into his office with the popular vote of his constituents. This didn’t prevent him from mass blowback. For popular vote loser Trump, the roar following a federal version of the same bad ideas would make Indiana circa 2015 sound like a quiet mouse by comparison. If Mike Pence, whose governmental experience far exceeds a boss who has none, is to be the counsel that many expect him to be, then the very first thing he should advise President-Elect is to stay far away from this backwards notion of turning away customers seeking goods and services simply because those customers were born differently than others. No one should know the reasoning better than Mike Pence.

The pure and simple fact is that championing the artfully-but-egregiously named First Amendment Defense Act would be among the worst ideas that an already-unpopular Trump could do in his early days of office. I don’t write this as some sort of ultimatum to the incoming administration, or as a smug city-dweller who believes his New York City home should get to dominate the national conversation. I’m simply conveying the facts, as they are, to an administration that seems far too reliant on fake news.

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12/18/2016

GLAAD Guest Post: One possible moderate does not moderate the Trump cabinet

by Jeremy Hooper

Tap-Thumbnail

Guest post: One possible moderate does not moderate the Trump cabinet [GLAAD]

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11/10/2016

Many of us are scared, but all of us are uncertain

by Jeremy Hooper

As we try to move forward, one thing I would like to hear from Trump supporters (or even just the "get over it" crowd) is acknowledgement of the great unknown into which we have elected to enter. Whether we chose the path or were led down it, we are all now there. Together.

As one who has had strong hobbyist, activist, and professional interests in the outcome of elections, I've experienced many losses. Sure, they can be painful. Yes, you can feel like lashing out. Of course you vow to step up and fight back. That is the nature of the game. With this one, however, the game is in a completely different ballpark.

If John McCain has slurred a gold star family, it would have been a disqualified. If Mitt Romney had become the first modern presidential candidate to refuse to release his tax returns (under BS reasoning), it would have been scandal. If Barack Obama had vowed to ban millions from entering the country on the sole basis of their faith, he would have been driven out of the election by both Republicans and Democrats. If Hillary Clinton had been caught on audio saying her fame gave her permission to grab men by the dick, she would have been castigated by those who have tried to burn her at the stake for much less. Heck, if any one of these candidates had even been married three times (with admitted mistresses, or with a spouse who was thought to have worked in this country before legally allowed to do so), it would have been noted as a reason to question his or her character. But with Trump, all off this stuff (and oh so much more) was given a strange pass. This pass is some of what scares us.

Even if you are Trump's biggest fan, you have to admit that we are taking a major risk with this guy. He has not been able to capably voice much of anything in the way of policy experience. He has shown himself completely lacking in concern for any of our institutions or traditions. By wide miles, he has less foreign policy experience than anyone to ever seek this office. His own business interests are shaded with failures and fraud accusations. He is untested in every way, and has done almost nothing to appease those who have questioned these massive gaps in experience (saying things will be "great" is not a plan).

When it comes to defending Roe, LGBT rights, healthcare, or any of the countless policy planks at stake, I am more than up for that challenge. That is the way the political process works. Anyone involved in government knows that being in a place of opposition is something one must occasionally endure, and most are ready to rise to that occasion. What scares most of us more this time around is this new, deeper, and more dangerous place of not only disagreeing with the president-elect but *actively fearing* that this person could be a true threat to our basic physical safety. This is where I am with this election. I am truly afraid, for the first time in my adult life, that this commander in chief will lead to our deaths. I am not being hyperbolic. I truly fear for our safety.

It's one thing for Donald Trump, Apprentice host, to tell a Times reporter that she has a "face like a dog." When President Trump does it to Angela Merkel, he will tarnish our reputation on a global scale.

It's one thing for Donald Trump, vodka salesman, to call Twitter critics "losers" (and much worse). When President Trump does it to a foreign adversary, he can set off nuclear winter.

It's one thing for Donald Trump, gaudy decor enthusiast, to threaten to jail his political rival or slur the press. When President Trump goes after the very concepts of rivalry, criticism, and accountability, it could lead to mass civil rights violations that rip apart the very fabric of this nation.

I didn't agree with President Bush (41 or 43, for that matter), but I trusted he understood the basic underpinnings of this great nation. I didn't vote for Romney or McCain, but I did not think for a second that those men would use personal pettiness as a justification for war. I've never once in my life voted for a Republican, but I've also never felt that the party was going more in a direction that legitimately brought it closer to some of the past's most oppressive regimes than toward the shining beacon on the hill that was said to be its aspiration.

And it's not my liberal politics or any media outlet that lead me to these conclusions: it's the unbelievably shocking words and actions of the man who the electoral vote (but not the popular vote) will soon usher in as these 45th president of the United States. He built this.

This time is different. And even if you are Trump's most outspoken fan, you have to admit that.

Many of us are scared, but we are all uncertain. Even if you think you are certain, you are not. There is no way you can be. The American experiment has never tested a hypothesis of this nature.

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10/11/2016

I never got the chance to come out (#NationalComingOutDay)

by Jeremy Hooper

Even though I have shared every aspect of my gay life in so many fora, it occurs to me that I have never really told my coming out story. So here goes.

IMG_0093Home for Thanksgiving during my third year of college, I did a load of laundry before I was set to return to campus. It wasn't until my clothes were already wet in the washer that my parents informed me our dryer had been acting up and would never get my clothes in a suitable condition in the hours I had left before it was time to leave. Their advice was for me to head down to the local laundromat and dry my clothes there, which is precisely what I did.

When I completed the uneventful chore, I returned to a clearly emotionally charged house. I didn't know why. I couldn't know why. I had no reason to know why. For me, it was the most routine return following the most rote of experiences. I wasn't suspecting tedium to meet drama.

I also wasn't as on guard as I had been in prior years. By this time, I was out to everyone at school and in my personal life, short of my family. I was already on my second real boyfriend, with a few randoms in-between. My friends and created community were wonderfully supportive, so I has dropped so many of the walls and so much of the armor that I had used when I lived at home during high school. Back then, I knew and was perfectly okay with being gay, but I knew that my parents were not. By this time in college, I still knew that to be true, but I found myself caring less and less. I started seeing whatever problems they had with me as being exactly that: their problem and not mine.

So I return home, clothes smelling of Downy. I instantly see my mom, eyes stained with tears.

She didn't confront me so much as just sort of babble some stuff about me hurting her and myself and my life. It was all kind of a blur, but it didn't take me long to realize she was talking about me being gay. I was blindsided by the whole scene, and a bit scared as well. But mostly I was confused. How had she "found out" for sure? This was a time when email was in its infancy and social media wasn't yet a glimmer in Mark Zuckerberg's then-adolescent eye, so it wasn't nearly as easy for parents to stumble on a child's oversharing or make contact with a jealous ex-boyfriend. Even as I pieced together the "why" of this AfterSchool Special playing out before me, I was somewhat more focused on the "how."

It wasn't until the 160 mile drive back to school that I figured it out. In acting class that year, the professor had us all keep a journal. I had never been the kind of kid to keep one, so for me it was like a new toy. I splurged on a really nice one and found myself writing in it not only for my acting assignments, but for every aspect of my life. It became a trusted friend and tool for sorting out my confusion. It never left my side.

Except it did leave my side one time during that Thanksgiving visit home: when I was at the laundromat. And that is when my mom went into my back and chose to read this most private of books. This is how my mother confirmed her suspicions that her son was, in fact, a gay man.

For me, this was a betrayal that I never really shook. Anyone who knows my story knows that the ensuing years were ones filled with much familial strife and that, to this day, are defined by broken connections. But while creation of a gay son was the struggle for my parents, I spent the weeks and months and years following this episode knowing that I could never again trust my parents to honor my personal space, right to privacy, or ability to time my own life's major moments. No matter how harsh or argumentative the wave of non-acceptance got on the other side, I maintained (and continue to maintain) that I am the only one of the involved parties who had a right to be outraged. Being gay is who I am; being a snoop was a parental choice.

I always feel a little weird on this day because I don't really have a National Coming Out Day story. I'd love to have one like my husband's which goes something like, "I'm gay" before an instant follow up of, "Oh thank God, I thought you were going to say you had cancer" and an immediate decision to seek out the local PFLAG chapter. That, however, was not in the cards for me. My story is messy and wrong and was pulled out of me like a tortured confession. I will forever wonder how things might be a little different, especially on my end, had I been able to do it on my own terms.

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10/06/2016

When do they make that mass public apology?

by Jeremy Hooper

The predictions haven't come true, and they won't come true. Because they never were true. They never were even meant to be true. They were designed for temporal fear, not long held veracity.

So at what point do the antiequality activists who said this thing or that meteor would befall us once marriage equality took hold have to release a group apology for the years of time and considerable resources they forced us all to waste in order to fight off their perversion of our natural world? When do they admit that they were woefully, dangerously, dastardly wrong? What kind of peace offering will they put on the table as a make-good for their unjust, unseemly, at at times unconscionable behavior?

I'm being glib, of course—but only in part. Ours is a nation that could desperately use some healing, and we start the process by owning and accurately addressing the many wrongs of our imperfect past. Painting our equality as a destructive force was an abject wrong that harmed countless many. It is one of many wrongs, and a small one when compared to others. But there does need to be a coda, and it should contain a heartfelt plea from those who abused both faith and intellect in order to convince our neighbors that our loving bonds were ticking time bombs waiting to annihilate the values of our country. They messed up majorly. They must own it.

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Where The Kooks Have No Name

by Jeremy Hooper

About a month ago, Bryan Fischer started following me on Twitter. It's been over a year since I've written the man's name, and much longer since I've given him any real credence as a political operative, yet there he was in my notifications, letting me know that my presence continues to linger in his consciousness. 

In the time since I've stepped away from the so-called "culture war," I've experienced similar pop-ins from similarly heated activists—a social media blip here, an e-newsletter there. There's are names that used to fill my days—my weeks, my months, my years—in a very real and impactful ways. There work is the work that I used to beat back in order to lend dominance to my and my team's own message. They are the adversaries whose missteps would thrill my souls, and whose misbegotten wins would further ignite my fire.

But now? Now, it's as if they no longer exist. They are not like old friends whose re-entrance sparks a nostalgic curiosity for days gone by. They are not like former colleagues whose work holds a lingering curiosity in my mind. They are not evergreen foes whose continuing lives I wish to hinder in any lasting way. They are just kind of—there. They are little more than nominal footnotes who I'm glad to relegate to the past. I don't feel happiness or disgust when they reappear. I just feel, well—nothing.

And it's not that I fail to recognize that some of these folks continue to have a degree of influence. I know that some of these people and groups continue to have the ear of a scattered conservative movement that is going through a Trumpian identity crisis. I get that there are continued fights and that they are still strategizing ways to stop and/or roll back the clock. I really do get this. But I also know that once I took a step back from the fight, in a period that coincided with our most major political and cultural wins in our movement's history, a stagehand in my brain turned out the lights on the long-winded tragicomedy that defined a decade of my life. This cast of characters might go on to new plots, but I am no longer going to be in the audience. I'm completely comfortable not knowing what wacky antics they might get into next.

Could this change? Sure. President Donald J. Trump could appoint Secretary of State Tony Perkins and Supreme Court Justice Maggie Gallagher, and I'd sign of for the sequel. But while I have the utmost respect for my friends and colleagues who continue to track the animus-driven men and women who dedicate their days to limiting the lives of others, I feel completely comfortable with my own retirement from that gig. And I am also proud to deliver the news that once you do make the choice to step away from this nonsense, the effects from the outsized antics of this relatively small band of operatives do dissipate rather quickly. The world is big and imperfect and sometimes awful, but it's much deeper and more nuanced than the "culture war" setup can lead one to believe. They are not nearly as important as they think they are.

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08/06/2016

Where art thou, Jeremy?

by Jeremy Hooper

Yes, I do plan to put some more words on this website. But in the meantime, your best bet for hearing and/or interacting with my musings is to follow me on Twitter. Why? Because that's the one creative outlet I can stealthily handle from my phone while on daddy duty with an increasingly aware toddler (and even there, one pithy thought often takes about two hours to compose, since Play Doh breaks and Raffi dance-a-longs come with an immediacy that my need to commentate the day's events can't match).

You can find me @GoodAsYou.

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02/10/2016

2006: When Clinton vocally supported her state moving forward w/ marriage equality but Sanders did not

by Jeremy Hooper

In 2006, Bernie Sanders, a civil unions supporter, did not support his state taking the next step to legalize marriage equality:

June 7, 2006
Screen Shot 2016-02-10 At 9.34.17 Am
[Times Argus]

That same year, Hillary Clinton, who had been an outspoken civil unions supporter since 2000...

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 At 9.36.10 Am
[WaPo]

...went on record saying she would support New York making the decision to move forward with full marriage equality:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 At 9.35.48 Am
[WaPo]

And like most Democrats (or Independents), they did both ultimately evolve, Bernie in 2009 and Hillary in 2013 (after leaving State and a period she rarely took political positions). But let's please stop pretending that one rode in on a white horse while the other rode in after leaving the Westboro Baptist protest that she had previously been attending. Those were not the aughts that I remember—and I was right there in the center of it.

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Don't stop until full equality



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