Andrew Sullivan is wrong. Gordon Smith is no friend of gays and lesbians.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Andrew Sullivan - a top-tier blogger who happens to be a conservative pro-Obama British gay man - takes note of Gordon Smith's latest ad, and nods approvingly:

A faithful Mormon and a real conservative, Gordon Smith runs an ad touting his inclusiveness. I'd like to vouch for him, especially on gay and HIV issues. He's one of the good guys.

Sorry, Andrew, you're a great blogger - but out here in Oregon, we know the truth:

While Gordon Smith's hate-crimes proposal is generally favored by liberals, he has been 1) utterly ineffective in getting it passed, and 2) alternately dismissive and hostile to broader gay rights issues.

Gordon Smith endorsed the hateful Measure 36, codifying marriage discrimination in the Oregon Constitution. Gordon Smith voted to codify marriage discrimination in the U.S. Constitution. And after promising to support civil unions in Oregon, he utterly failed to do anything to actually provide any support. And in 2006, Smith voted to give anti-gay judicial activist Leslie Southwick a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

From Basic Rights Oregon:

In an unusual move, the Board of Directors of Basic Rights Oregon announced today that it has endorsed Jeff Merkley in the race for U.S. Senate. Basic Rights Oregon has only made three federal endorsements. ...

“There is only one thing that fair-minded Oregonians can count on from Gordon Smith, and that is that every six years, he will roll out a hate crimes advertisement in the Portland media market in an effort to look like a moderate,” Frazzini said. “But most national and local gay organizations know the truth about Gordon Smith, and that’s why they decline to endorse him.”

Frazzini pointed out that Smith lent his face and name to mailers in favor of Measure 36, a 2004 constitutional amendment that banned committed gay couples from marrying in Oregon.

“It’s one thing to have a difference of opinion about marriage,” Frazzini said. “But Smith actively campaigned to make gay and lesbian Oregonians into second class citizens by denying them equal treatment under the law. I cannot emphasize this enough: Gordon Smith is not a friend to this community.”

Make no mistake. Gordon Smith has been working on the hate crimes bill for years - and he's got nothing to show for it. He's a miserable failure.

Read the rest at Basic Rights Oregon. More from Laura Calvo at Stonewall Oregon here.

Update: The Oregonian explains further:

But the awkward fact is that the hate-crimes bill didn't actually go anywhere. It did draw support, but after President Bush threatened to veto it, it wound up being dropped from a larger bill. Still, even if Smith's record on gay rights stopped right there, his "E" for "Excellent Effort" might still be standing. Then came 2004. That year, Smith actively supported Measure 36, banning same-sex marriage and writing discrimination against gays and lesbians into the Oregon Constitution. That's the mixed message that erased his high marks.

We won't get fooled again.


  • negev79 (unverified)

    Thanks Kari. I was kind of shocked when I saw Andrew's post yesterday, he's just...wrong on this one. Did you email him the link to your post?

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    [Full disclosure: My firm built, but I speak only for myself.]

  • Taylor M (unverified)

    Way to sum it all up in a single post Kari, and thanks for the on-the-money quote from BRO. I'm a Daily Dish addict, and when I read Sullivan's comments I cringed. I think a lot of people in the center and on the center-right would like to believe that Republicans like Smith are capable of not discriminating against gay men and women.

    BRO is right- the hate crimes legislation gives Smith a soundbite for election-year cover without affecting change. I wanted to write to Sullivan and tell him that Smith's gay rights work rises to the level of Sarah Palin's "tolerance." Are they openly demonizing gays and lesbians? No, but their actions are just as appalling. This is classic Gordon Smith using a Democratic tone to continue to vote like a Rick Santorum Republican. He needs to be called out on it.

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    Thanks, negev. I just did.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    The demonization of Gordon Smith by hyper-partisan Kari Chisolm continues.

    Maybe Sullivan's perspective is, indeed, the more balanced and far-seeing one, since it is not clouded by those seeking to end Smith's Senate tenure no matter what the cost.

    The decision to vote for Smith and Merkley is NOT easy. Overall I agree with Merkley more than Smith - but 1) Smith is a moderate Republican, and 2) we should be encouraging such people in the GOP rather than tarring them with the brush of Bush and Cheney.

  • Taylor M (unverified)

    Also it bears noting that Sullivan owes Gordon Smith big time. Sullivan was due to be kicked out of the country this March because of the Jesse Helms ban on HIV-positive immigrants becoming US citizens. Smith co-sponsored the bill with John Kerry to overturn the ban. Maybe you should note that above. Gordon did right, but it's still the exception to the rule.

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    Taylor -- Can you provide a source on that? I don't doubt you, but I'd like some context.

    (Sounds like a good bill. Maybe Gordon can work with his pal Elizabeth Dole on the stupid Red Cross rule that bars gay people from donating blood. Or maybe we'll just wait for Jeff Merkley and Kay Hagan on that one.)

  • ColumbiaDuck (unverified)

    Andrew Sullivan is wrong yet again. That's hardly a shocker given his frequency of error in the past. We are talking about the guy who aggressively promoted the racist screed "The Bell Curve" and has never apologized for that or for calling liberals "fifth columnists" after the 9/11 attacks.

    The real mystery here is why he has any credibility at all....

  • Taylor M (unverified)

    Sure Kari. The bill was called the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and Smith was the bill's co-sponsor in the Senate. Here's the story from a New England LGBT paper; here's Andrew Sullivan's response to the news.

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)

    Andrew Sullivan on being deported March 2009

    The above post was dated September 30th 2008.

    And here Andrew Sullivan on the passage of PEPFAR dated July 16th 2008.

    In praising the passage of PEPFAR, Sullivan acknowledges the work of many in the passage of the bill. Including Senator Biden.

    Andrew Sullivan is a gay man, but not a U.S. citizen.

    Sullivan refers to the passage of this bill as ending the days when HIV was a source of fear and stigma. Perhaps he is correct, if he is acknowledging that HIV is a pandemic, crossing all social lines and barriers. Clearly HIV/AIDS is a global issue. Once thought and pilloried as a gay disease, is now an issue no longer just a gay issue.

    It is a further sad thought that while Andrew will hopefully be allowed to stay in the U.S. with his husband, their relationship will still not be recognized on par with other families.

    Andrew and his husband will still need a a ream of complicated legal papers, powers of attorney, and contracts just to ensure they can make life decisions together. Something other couples just take for granted.

    I'm encouraged by the passage of PEPFAR and really am happy to see the bipartisan support.

    But the real praise should go to the leaders who took up the bill in the first place, Democrats. Gordon Smith was not a leader on this bill or really any other bill in the senate if you look closely at his record. He will sign off on a bill and lend his support in name only when it's election time. Smith knows he needs the LGBT vote and money to win an election at all costs. It is simply a mistake to think that Smith is either sincere or genuinely considering my personal everyday life when he panders for my vote. Frankly I'm really growing weary of being teased by crumbs of disingenuous stale bread.

    The Human Rights Campaign rates Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, David Wu, and Ron Wyden at 100. Darlene Hooley was rated at 63.

    Gordon Smith was rated at 33. (FYI the same 33 rating for John McCain)Greg Walden was rated at 25.

    Clearly Gordon Smith is not my friend.

    Give me a U.S. Senator who won't cancel out Ron Wyden's, my real friend, vote in the senate.

    Give me a U.S. Senator who has experience being a leader.

    Give me someone who will not just co-sponsor a bill, but who actually authors a bill in the Senate.

    Give me a U.S. Senator that will not only reach across the aisle only when the other hand is extended, but will extend the hand across the aisle first.

    Give me a U.S. Senator who will be a leader.

    Give me Jeff Merkley in the U.S. Senate.

  • meg (unverified)

    "stupid Red Cross rule that bars gay people from donating blood." That is stupid?

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    Yes, Meg, the Red Cross rule is stupid.

    First of all, not all gay people are HIV-positive or have other diseases.

    Second, plenty of straight people are HIV-positive, and we don't ban all straight people from donating blood.

    Third, and this is very important, so listen carefully: All donated blood is tested for all kinds of bad things. Either the testing regimen works, and therefore we should let everyone who says they are HIV-negative donate blood... or the testing regimen doesn't, and we're all fucked anyway. (I'm betting on the former.)

    You can rest assured that in the great volumes of blood donations, someone somewhere has donated while incorrectly believing that they are HIV-negative. Presumably, that blood was caught, quarantined, and destroyed. (And, btw, the donor notified.)

    So if you're a gay person who has been tested HIV-negative, why should you be barred from donating blood?

  • meg (unverified)

    Statistics gathered by New York City health officials show that new diagnoses of H.I.V. infection — the virus that causes AIDS — in gay men under age 30 rose 32 percent between 2001 and 2006. Among black and Hispanic men, the figure was 34 percent. Most troubling, the number of new diagnoses among the youngest men in the study, those between ages 13 and 19, doubled.

    You first for those Quart's, Kari

  • RW (unverified)

    Meg - I do not have time to educate you viz the screening and testing of our blood supply. Suffice it to say you sound much too intelligent for this kind of pathological bias couched in selective epidemiological quotes. I'll get back to you on this after work.

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)

    In regards to Red Cross restrictions on giving blood.

    The Red Cross updated their policies as of May 8, 2008.

    It might serve everyone to give the requirements a quick read.

    It is not easy to qualify to donate blood. There are lot more restrictions than just gay men. (BTW it's not just gay identified men, but men who have had sex with men, even once, since 1977. Larry Craig shouldn't be giving blood. Maybe for some, the distinction between gay men and men who have sex with men is lost. If so, that's another area of education people should seek out.)

    Veterans coming home from Iraq can't donate blood for at least 12 months.

    If you've had a tattoo in the past year, you can't give blood under certain criteria.

    If you've spent time in over 42 countries around the world, you might be able to give blood.

    Everybody has a stake in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

    I'd certainly appreciate the day when we can talk of HIV/AIDS without singling out gay men. I think we all win when we talk about the entire pandemic and how we all have a stake in finding the cure to this disease, instead of being distracted by the single issue of gay men.

    I would much rather talk about following the example that Barack and Michelle Obama set by publicly being tested.

    Why can't we talk about Obama's leadership on a comprehensive global HIV/AIDS policy.

    We need to concentrate on the global issue versus enabling the go nowhere exercise of concentrating on the placement of blame.

    In other words, don't we do more good by having age appropriate and honest sex education in our schools? Don't we benefit more by treating IV drug abuse and addiction? Don't we do more by removing the stigma still associated with being LGBT?

    Total Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS has been averaging $20 billion per year. That's two months worth of what we spend on the war. It is a pittance of the $1 Trillion U.S. tax payers are burdened with to bail out Wall Street's mess.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Andrew Sullivan has proved on a number of occasions he is as capable of BS as anyone else.

  • rw (unverified)

    Thanks, Laura. Great work, good resources. You saved me loads of time and perhaps some ire in answer Meg's very narrow and selective researches. I cannot blame her, perhaps: some of us have worked in fields that help us understand HOW to research and think this stuff through. I'm choosing to believe she is simply ignorant in this area, and means the best if she knew how to parse what she sees.

    I'll read it too just in case a tune up sneaked past me, despite my passion and attunement to public health and this particular niche of epidemiology.

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    Maybe for some, the distinction between gay men and men who have sex with men is lost.

    Yes, thank you, Laura. You are absolutely correct.

  • Brian C. (unverified)


    Just a thought, but seeing as how both Obama & Biden have publicly stated their opposition to same-sex marriage, you might want to tone down the rhetoric a bit. That is unless you also view their positions as "hateful".

    We'd probably agree that Gordon Smith is no hero for the LGBT cause, but he has stuck his neck out further than most on that side of the aisle. But hey, if you won't agree with a far more intelligent gay individual on this issue, I digress.

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    I also know from a news story out of the CDC last month that the group getting hit the hardest with new HIV cases is African American women.

  • rw/Bex (unverified)

    Hi Jenni -- that has actually been a fact for some fifteen plus years. When the funding was completely razed here in Oregon in the mid-nineties (I was deep in that work at State, County and in the NIH), we ALL knew that the funding dollars would, sadly, come back after someone noticed that the epidemic had been spiking in communities of color and along gender lines denied by old school "innocent victim" prattlers. We knew the epidemic was raging in these now-identified groups, but the dollars had not been devoted to the documentation and study to prove it... so the funding was gone away.

    Now, after a decade, we are finally getting some longitudinal "proof" of it... the reasons, of course, for this "hardest hit" phenomenon requires some unpacking. It's related to often-poor health and testing access; history such as Tuskegee still hanging on; cultural stigmas; competing imperatives; continuing gender-based disempowerment in the moment of sexual negotiations... and so much more.

    Thanks for keeping your eye on the ball.

    You do that in several areas, actually!

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)

    "Just a thought, but seeing as how both Obama & Biden have publicly stated their opposition to same-sex marriage, you might want to tone down the rhetoric a bit."

    Let's get the facts straight (no pun intended)

    July 19, 2008 Letter from Michelle Obama to the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus Annual Conference

    "Barack believes that we must not fight for the world as it is, but for the world as it should be. That is why he supports robust civil unions and adoption rights for GLBT couples. And that is why he opposes all divisive and discriminatory constitutional amendments -- whether it's a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution or the U.S. Constitution. Because the world as it should be rejects discrimination."

    June 9, 2008 Letter from Barack Obama to Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

    "As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with you and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy, and the passage of fully inclusive laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states."

    May 15, 2008 statement in response to the decision of the California Supreme Court

    "On the issue of constitutional amendments, Senator Obama has been on record for some time: He opposes all divisive and discriminatory constitutional amendments, state or federal. That includes the proposed amendments in California and Florida."

    Biden/Palin VP DebateTranscript

    " BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

    The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.

    It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do."

    (here's the tricky part where you have to read the statement. emphasis added)

    "Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

    The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference."

    That's just a few public statements from Obama, but now I digress.

    However this thread is about Smith's record. So if one were really a far more intelligent gay individual, that individual would have a problem reconciling why they would vote someone who isn't that bad on the issue when there is a candidate who is far and away totally on board with the issue and in fact has actually produced results.

    Gordon Smith has not stuck his neck out on LGBT issues or any other issue for that matter. Smith's is simply a skilled wink & nod artist talking the talk at election time, but never produces results.

    Noting that Smith's highest ratings come from the US Chamber of Commerce and the Christian Coalition.

    Here's Smith ratings:

    Rated 14% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003) Rated 50% by the NRLC, indicating a mixed record on abortion. (Dec 2006) Rated 40% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002) Rated 33% by the HRC, indicating a mixed record on gay rights. (Dec 2006) Rated 29% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006) Rated 86% by the US COC, indicating a pro-business voting record. (Dec 2003) Rated 25% by CURE, indicating anti-rehabilitation crime votes. (Dec 2000) Rated 57% by the NEA, indicating a mixed record on public education. (Dec 2003) Rated 50% by CAF, indicating a mixed record on energy independence. (Dec 2006) Rated 32% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003) Rated 83% by the Christian Coalition: a pro-family voting record. (Dec 2003) Rated 58% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues. (Dec 2002)

    In stark contrast, here is the full page Merkley ad in Just Out, page 6 in the current issue, with an on the record statement that Jeff Merkley supports full marriage equality.

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    Just a thought, but seeing as how both Obama & Biden have publicly stated their opposition to same-sex marriage, you might want to tone down the rhetoric a bit. That is unless you also view their positions as "hateful".

    No, Brian C. You're missing the point.

    Obama and Biden have said they are opposed to a law enacting gay marriage at the federal level.

    Gordon Smith, on the other hand, actively supported a law banning gay marriage at the federal level. He wants to move us in a discriminatory direction.

    While the Obama/Biden position disappoints me, the Smith position is far more extreme and yes, hateful.

  • ar (unverified)

    There is a window of several months after HIV infection occurs when the body has not yet mounted an immune response that will show up as a positive HIV test. Therefore there is a certain risk in all blood products. If there is a higher prevalence of HIV in a certain cohort, plus a higher rate of risk prone behavior, presumably in gay men for example, then the logic would be to reduce risk by eliminating that group from donation. There are many many questions to answer when donating blood and many reasons to be turned down. This is just one. It is a bit of a crap shoot, imo. All the more reason for healthy people with no ineligible risk factors to go donate. It's a nice feeling to know you're saving many lives with your one little pint. And you get cookies.

  • forbes perkins (unverified)
    <h2>Karl, I am not from Oregon but instead am a Californian. But I did write Senator Gordon from Italy where I live in exile as my partner of 28 years is barred from entering the USA. He is HIV+. I wrote the Senator to thank him for cosponsoring a long overdue bill that would make it possible for HIV+ foreigners to visit our country. Until you live this one, you have no idea of the complications involved in being a same sex binational couple with the foreign half HIV+. You would not wish it on your worse enemy.The whole thing had become so stressful that when I read of the passage of that bill this summer it caused me to weep tears of joy. I don't exagerate. I sat there in front of my screen bawling. I only knew of Senator Smith's co-sponsorship of the bill from Sullivan's blog. I am way more liberal than Andrew but I have enjoyed witnessing his political transformation and feel better informed because through his blog I read a different point of view. Actually, I am more impressed by the individual politician who crosses party lines than those who blindly tow it. And when they are so bold to do so they should be appreciated and encouraged. It is our only hope in transforming their opinions and as consequence their actions. This is the beauty of the new spirit of Obama's politics. Our country needs to heal completely right now. It is a time when we all have to make it work, make sacrifices but mostly believe that it can heal. That can only happen when we decide to work together. I am sorry that the Senator from Oregon doesn't have a more supportive record for the rights of same sex couples. But I think that one day he will. In the meantime I am indeed very thankful to him and Senator Kerry. Thankful that they worked together bipartisanly. And thankful that my partner will soon be able to legally visit my country. In the meantime I am very worried that a majority of Californians are about to take away our right to marry thanks to Proposition 8. I am really confused but just what is the Yes on 8 advertisement doing on your Blog?</h2>

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