Here is a video on the President from the 2008, still is very fitting with re-elect!
Here is a video on the President from the 2008, still is very fitting with re-elect!
By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
Madison — In an election with voters focused more on their bank accounts than their bedrooms, history crept quietly forward for gays and lesbians in Wisconsin and beyond.
Tuesday night, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay U.S. senator in the nation’s history, Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve gay marriage by popular vote and Barack Obama won re-election after coming out in favor of gay marriage during the campaign. In Baldwin’s second congressional seat, an openly gay state lawmaker was picked to succeed it.
Such strides wouldn’t have seemed possible during the 1990s, the time when Baldwin’s opponent Tommy Thompson served as governor of Wisconsin.
“”I didn’t run to make history, I ran to make a difference,” Baldwin said in her victory speech.
But she did and so did state lawmaker Mark Pocan, an openly gay Madison Democrat who won election to fill Baldwin’s open congressional seat.
If gay rights advocates were big winners Tuesday, social conservatives were equally big losers. They also suffered setbacks when previously strong GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate lost races in both Missouri and Indiana following controversial comments about abortion and rape.
With a couple exceptions, neither Baldwin’s nor Pocan’s sexual orientation received much attention during their campaigns – not a single television ad raised the issue and none of the campaigns or major outside groups in the races focused on it either.
Katie Belanger, executive director of the gay rights group Fair Wisconsin, saw a fundamental shift in not only the election results but in the mild national reaction during to the campaign to the possibility of gay leaders and gay marriage — once considered existential threats to the nation’s values.
The dangers from the nation’s struggling economy, the federal debt, the wars in the Middle East and superstorm Sandy all drew much more attention.
“We elected the first out lesbian to the U.S. Senate yesterday and it wasn’t a big deal,” Belanger said. “It’s what people in Wisconsin are focusing on. There are so many other issues that are more important for both gay and straight people.”
This political change was punctuated by the referendums approved Tuesday by Maine and Maryland voters to allow gay marriage, making them the seventh and eighth states to do so and the first to make that decision outside of a courtroom. Minnesota voters also defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage there.
“Obviously we were all very hopeful. We’d never won at the ballot box, so there was a lot of worry when you’ve never seen this happen before,” Belanger said.
Julaine Appling, head of the conservative values group Wisconsin Family Action, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Not everything has changed overnight, of course.
Wisconsin still has the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions that voters approved with 59% of the vote in 2006 and 29 other states have similar measures, according to the Associated Press. With the state Legislature still in the hands of Republicans, Belanger acknowledged that amendment seems secure for years to come in Wisconsin.
Instead, she said her group would look for gains in local communities like those already seen the past two years. Local governments have approved domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees, including Milwaukee County and Appleton last year and Racine, Manitowoc and Eau Claire this year.
I thought this article was interesting because I never would have guessed Wisconsin to be the state…
Democrat Mark Pocan is the candidate hoping to achieve that milestone, succeeding Tammy Baldwin, who herself made history in 1998 as the first out lesbian and first openly gay nonincumbent elected to Congress. (Before that, all openly gay U.S. House members, such as Barney Frank, had come out while already in office.) Baldwin, also a Democrat, is vacating the seat to run for U.S. Senate, hoping to become the first openly gay member of that chamber. This puts her in a close statewide race with former governor Tommy Thompson, while Pocan is heavily favored to defeat Republican Chad Lee in the second district.
The reason for the district’s LGBT-friendliness and liberalism in general can be summed up largely in one word: Madison. The biggest city in the district, it is the state capital and home to the University of Wisconsin’s main campus. University towns are usually liberal, but Madison is intensely so. It was a center of student activism during the Vietnam War era, and one of those activists, Paul Soglin, has gone on to be elected mayor of the city seven times, most recently in 2011. Another carry-over from that era is Madison’s annual marijuana festival, held since 1971, which mixes entertainment with demonstrations calling for legalization of the drug.
Madison and the university also influence other parts of the district, which encompasses six counties in southern Wisconsin. “Even the rural areas have become bluer as Madison-area liberals move to the countryside,” notes the National Journal’s Almanac of American Politics. The last Republican congressman from the second district, moderate Scott Klug, once dubbed these voters “the sandal crowd” and said, “I can never make them happy unless I become a Democrat, or more like a socialist.” Barack Obama carried the district by 69% to John McCain’s 30% in 2008, and John Kerry won 67% of the vote in 2004’s presidential race while George W. Bush received 32%
The man considered the father of Wisconsin progressive politics hailed from the region, and, underscoring how the political parties have shifted, he was a Republican for most of his career. Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette came from a rural area near Madison and attended the University of Wisconsin. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he held a succession of offices from district attorney to congressman to governor to U.S. senator. He fought political corruption; championed the rights of workers, women, and racial minorities; and sought to rein in corporate power. As a senator he opposed U.S. entry into World War I, for which he was called a traitor, but he won reelection nonetheless. In 1924, a year before his death, he formed his own political party, the Progressives, and ran for president, winning one sixth of the vote — a respectable showing for a third party.
Pocan considers La Follette his political hero; as a state representative, he sponsored a resolution to recognize June 14 as Fighting Bob La Follette Day. Upon this year’s observance, Pocan said La Follette “embodies the ideal that government can bring about social and political progress for the greater good of all citizens, and that’s something that we should celebrate. He fought for his constituents against wealthy corporate special interests.”
La Follette, however, was not the only progressive predecessor Pocan invoked after decisively winning the Democratic primary in August. “This is the seat of Fighting Bob La Follette,” he said. “This is the seat of Bob Kastenmeier. And this is the seat of Tammy Baldwin.”
THE event held late last month in the penthouse of the lawyers Barry Skovgaard and Marc Wolinsky had all the trappings of a top-flight fund-raiser, with five-star finger foods, four-finger cocktails and three-term senators, as Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, spoke — and everyone else listened. Even the address, 252 Seventh Avenue, had a patina of glamour, being the building where Katie Holmes holed up after dumping Tom Cruise.
The only thing missing that evening was the guest of honor, another woman locked in a battle with a powerful man: Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic congresswoman who is running neck and neck with the longtime Republican lion Tommy Thompson for a United States Senate seat in Wisconsin. Scheduled to speak, Ms. Baldwin (who, like the hosts and many of the people in that room, is openly gay) was instead back home to respond to a sharp-elbowed new ad from Mr. Thompson, something that demanded the candidate’s presence in Wisconsin, and not amid fawning followers in a Chelsea loft.
And it is that just that balancing act — being a loyal, hard-working representative of her home state and an emerging national figure in the gay community — that has Ms. Baldwin, 50, on the edge of making history, and her supporters, including some of nation’s most important gay donors, on the edge of their seats.
Though a victory by Ms. Baldwin on Tuesday would represent the election of the first openly gay or lesbian person to the Senate, gay groups have been surprisingly low-key about their public support. Fund-raisers have largely been intimate affairs at people’s homes; no giant fund-raising galas in gay enclaves like West Hollywood or the Castro in San Francisco. There have been no celebrity onslaughts like those unleashed in the federal court fight against Proposition 8 (California’s same-sex marriage ban).
And while outside money from everywhere has been gushing in, a mere trickle of staff members from gay groups are showing up in the election’s final days. Even a round of reporting phone calls to some of the country’s biggest gay groups and activists, most of whom are typically eager to talk about their political support for issues and candidates, were initially greeted with requests to go off the record or speak on background.
Gay rights groups, particularly those based outside Wisconsin, seemed to have been careful not to look too involved, concerned that the appearance of outside influence on Lombardi-land politics might be used against Ms. Baldwin, particularly at the last minute.
Being out, it would seem, is not a problem. But being from outside Wisconsin could be. Such fears aren’t unfounded: candidates in a few other races have seen recent attacks suggesting that national gay groups are trying to push a “radical agenda,” though the Wisconsin race, to date, has been largely focused on the economy.
Not that any Congressional race is really local anymore. Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization devoted to gay and lesbian issues and a backer of Ms. Baldwin, said that both she and Mr. Thompson have big-time financial supporters all over the country. But he said the race was not about national issues, per se. “She is the candidate that has captivated the folks in that state,” he said.
The president and chief executive of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute, Chuck Wolfe, agreed, adding that the 2010 Citizens United case had effectively “nationalized” Senate races. In Wisconsin, he said his group (a nonpartisan organization that works to get gay candidates elected) had raised and spent “seven figures” helping Ms. Baldwin, more than it had ever spent “on any other race.”
Then, a moment later, he joked, “Mind you, those lines will probably appear in a tweet now.”
Mr. Wolfe noted that Mr. Thompson, a former governor, has received far more support from deep-pocket conservative groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads, based in Washington, which paid for a recent ad proclaiming “Tommy Thompson governs the Wisconsin way.” And indeed, giving by nongay groups, on both sides, has dwarfed money raised by groups like the Victory Fund.
For instance, Emily’s List, a group that supports Democratic women who favor abortion rights, has raised $4.5 million on Ms. Baldwin’s behalf.
John Kraus, a Baldwin spokesman, didn’t directly answer questions about her out-of-state support from gay groups and others, but noted that 95 percent of their individual contributions had been $200 or less.
Kate Kendell, the executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, said that she had heard of gay donors across the country giving generously to Ms. Baldwin but that much support was coming from the middle of the country.
“It used to be that if a gay politician wanted to get elected, they had to go to the coasts to find money to support their candidacy,” Ms. Kendell said. “I don’t think that’s true any longer.”
Sarah Schmidt, the group’s chairwoman and treasurer of LPAC, a new lesbian political action committee, said she thought that Wisconsin’s seeming nonchalance about Ms. Baldwin’s sexuality “is another milestone.” Ms. Baldwin is open about her sexuality at home or on the road, where she has proved to be a popular draw. In April, for example, she was featured at the Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch, a $150-a-seat fete held at the Washington Hilton, and at a similar Victory Fund event in Houston in March.
Fund-raising for her campaign began even earlier than that, including a cocktail reception in February held at the SoHo home of Sean Eldridge, an investor and activist, and his husband, Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook, which drew a wide array of gay movers and shakers, including Christine C. Quinn, the openly gay City Council speaker, who spoke at the event.
Big East Coast fund-raisers are a staple for most candidates, including President Obama and Mitt Romney, but Ms. Baldwin’s visits have tended to be smaller affairs, including another recent New York City event (for about 25 people) at the West Village home of Lela Goren, who works in real estate development and investment.
Brian Ellner, who helped lead the charge to get same-sex marriage legalized in New York and who was at the Seventh Avenue event, said that Ms. Baldwin’s campaign was “enormously important in real terms and symbolic terms,” for the nation’s most important gay rights donors.
“I think most people have been all in,” Mr. Ellner said.
That said, gay rights backers are also finding their pocketbooks pulled by the presidential races and three state ballot measures that would legalize same-sex marriage. So much of the grunt work has been handled by Wisconsin-based grassroots groups like Fair Wisconsin, which has been mobilizing voters on campus and online. Some out-of-state volunteers have come to help, with a handful of Victory Fund staff members, but they say their numbers are small.
Richard Socarides, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, said that Ms. Baldwin had a “dignified, humble Midwestern approach.”
And again, he emphasized, her potential election had nothing to do with her being gay.
“Her sexual orientation is really not relevant to why she would make a great U.S. senator,” he said in an e-mail. “But to us it makes all the difference in the world because she is one of us.”
I saw this on Ellen today…
This hip-hop act broke new ground when they released this song about marriage equality on their new hit CD. Watch the performance that brought Ellen’s audience to their feet, right here.
The actual video link:
Posted in the Green Bay press Gazette today:
The U.S. Senate race between Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin will go down as one of the most contentious and one of the most expensive in state history. Too bad it won’t be one of the most substantive.
Outside groups have poured millions of dollars into negative television ads because both national Republican and Democratic groups see the Wisconsin race as crucial for control of the U.S. Senate, where the Democrats hold a slim 51-47 going into Tuesday’s election.
The latest barrage concerns 9/11 and subsequent actions by both candidates. The problem is, both ads are smokescreens. They don’t address the issues this nation faces. Instead, they appeal to the outrage factor that drives some voters.
But when you consider the candidate who has a better grasp of the issues and has more potential upside, the Green Bay Press-Gazette endorses Baldwin for the U.S. Senate.
It’s not lost on the editorial board that it endorsed Romney and now backs one of the more liberal members of Congress. However, two years ago we endorsed then-U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold over Republican businessman Ron Johnson after having endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain for president in 2008. The editorial board decides by examining issues and choosing the person it thinks will do the best job; not by political party.
The choice wasn’t easy. Thompson, 70, knows Wisconsin and “Tommy” has instant name recognition in the state where he served as governor for 14 years.
Among his stances, he calls reining in spending, including a 5 percent spending reduction by every federal agency, reforming the budget process and repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
In a meeting with Gannett Wisconsin Media editors, Thompson talked about being a “doer.” However, he also exhibited some of the same bluster that fuels the politics of outrage, referring to those who serve in Washington as “losers” and tossing out asides about his opponents — “she doesn’t understand budgets.” When asked by a voter if he was too old for the job, he offered to do 50 pushups and vowed to the editors present to “match you pushup for pushup.”
During an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, he distanced himself from U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s Mecicare plan and touted that his — stay on Medicare or receive same health plan as members of Congress and federal employees —would save money. He said the Congressional Budget Office had rated it, but later backtracked and said it hadn’t been scored yet and he wasn’t sure if it would save money.
He criticizes his opponent for raising taxes, yet he presided over the Medicare Part D prescription drug program as secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. The program, though valuable, was an unfunded mandate, or, in other words, a tax increase. A huge one.
Once a moderate Republican, Thompson seems to have tailored and changed his views to appeal to the hard right, which is disconcerting for a gridlocked, partisan Congress.
Baldwin, 50, may be easily dismissed as a Madison liberal. She has served the left-leaning Madison-area Congressional District for seven terms. But her track record in the House shows someone who is willing to reach across the aisle, a trait that’s needed in this race.
She and U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, authored a bill to protect the paper industry in the state from unfair trade practices by China. She and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, worked to keep the Milk Income Loss Contract program in the farm bill, which stalled in the House, where “partisanship trumped Congress,” she said. She worked with Republicans on national breast and cervical cancer detection program for the uninsured and underinsured.
One of the most popular parts of Obamacare, allowing parents to insure their children up to the age of 26, was written by Baldwin.
She opposes changes to Social Security, including privatization, and supports tax cuts tied to job creation and investments in infrastructure, education and research.
We don’t agree with all of her stances , but we believe at this time she’s the best choice.
Thompson has done a lot of good things for this state, but we don’t see him as a good choice at this time. The bristling and showmanship seem like his ego talking, when what we need more is a more balanced approach that doesn’t brush aside critics as losers, but tries to work with them. Baldwin has shown that side.
For that reason, we endorse Baldwin for Senate.