Tag Archives: divide

Trump refuses to endorse Ryan, McCain

Donald Trump this week refused to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Trump also declined to endorse U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Trump told The Washington Post he’s “just not quite there yet,” when asked about an endorsement of Ryan. The congressman faces a primary challenge from his right in Wisconsin on Aug. 9.

Trump’s phrasing was similar to comments from Ryan, who was slow to endorse Trump.

This week, Ryan, without referring to Trump by name, criticized the nominee’s attacks on the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq. Others in the GOP also criticized Trump and some influential Republicans — not Ryan — announced their support for Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.

Hewlett-Packard executive Meg Whitman said she would vote for Clinton, in part because “Donald Trump’s demagoguery has undermined the fabric of our national character.”

Also, former Chris Christie aide Maria Comella said she supports Clinton. “As someone who has worked to further the Republican Party’s principles for the last 15 years, I believe that we are at a moment where silence isn’t an option,” she told CNN.

And Sally Bradshaw, who wrote the post-2012 report calling for unity and tolerance in the Republican Party, said she’s leaving the GOP. If the presidential contest looks close in Florida, Bradshaw said she’d vote for Clinton.

Other high-profile Republicans have not said they’d vote for Clinton but they have said they won’t vote for Trump, including Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.

In the Post interview, Trump also declined to support McCain’s re-election and said Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is weak.

GOP fights challenge to gerrymandered Assembly map

The Wisconsin Department of Justice wants a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the redistricting map drawn by lawmakers to the benefit of the GOP.

Meanwhile, a grassroots petition drive aimed at revamping the redistricting process is getting attention in the state. The petition circulating on the Web by the nonpartisan group Common Cause Wisconsin calls on lawmakers to remove politics from redistricting decisions.

Every 10 years, state legislatures redraw the boundaries of state and federal political districts based on the results of a new U.S. Census. The intent is to reflect changes in population and ensure fair representation — one person, one vote.

But in many states, like Wisconsin, lawmakers draw the districts in a way that favors their parties.

There now are several skirmishes over redistricting maps drawn and adopted after the 2010 census, including in:

• Florida, where a court ruled that the Florida Legislature violated a pair of 2010 state constitutional amendments banning partisan redistricting. The Florida House adopted a map on Aug. 18 that contained changes for all 27 of the state’s congressional districts. 

• Virginia, where a federal court will redraw the state’s congressional districts after it became clear that lawmakers would fail to reach agreement on redistricting by a court-mandated Sept. 1 deadline. 

• North Carolina, where legislators are working on a redo of the state’s congressional map under court order.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, a federal lawsuit filed earlier this summer challenges the 2010 state Assembly map, alleging the map benefits Republicans and the boundary lines were drawn in secret, at the offices of a law firm hired by GOP leaders.

The 30-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Madison on behalf of 12 Democrats, alleges the map is “one of the worst gerrymanders in modern American history.” The Democrats argue that gerrymandering is unconstitutional and profoundly undemocratic. The complaint seeks a review by a panel of three judges that could put the dispute on a fast track to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is headed by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, filed a motion to dismiss the challenge in mid-August. The state argues:

• Plaintiffs do not have standing unless they live in a gerrymandered district.

• No standard exists for measuring the impact of a gerrymander on the right to legislative representation.

However, a report from Common Cause Wisconsin suggests an obvious measurement — election results. 

In the first election after redistricting, Republicans won 60 of 99 Assembly seats but Democrats won a majority of the statewide votes cast in Assembly races.

Also, a CCW report released earlier this summer shows that Wisconsin state legislative races in 2014 were far less competitive than those in 2010. Only 10.3 percent of winning candidates defeated their opponents by less than 10 percent in 2014. Four years earlier, before the new map was drawn, about 23.3 percent of races were within 10 points.

While the legal fight over the current map continues in federal court, CCW is encouraging lawmakers to pass legislation that would create a nonpartisan process for redrawing boundaries. Common Cause is a nonprofit dedicated to good government and accountability.

CCW encourages Wisconsin voters to support the nonpartisan redistricting effort via a petition.

“As Wisconsinites, voters and constituents, we call on you to reform Wisconsin’s current partisan redistricting system,” the petition states. “We look to you, our elected representatives, to bring competition back to Wisconsin’s elections, ensuring that voters have a real choice at the polls, by removing politics from — and restoring transparency to — a process that has become far too partisan, secretive and expensive.”

The petitioners propose a process similar to one that Iowa implemented in 1981, in which legislative boundaries are drawn by a nonpartisan state agency.

The goal for Wisconsin would be to establish such a process in time for redistricting after the 2020 U.S. Census.

Common Cause and other good-government groups are pushing reform in other states, including Ohio, where voters on Nov. 3 will decide a ballot initiative intended to reduce partisanship in redistricting.

In November 2016, Illinois voters could consider a constitutional amendment to create a citizens commission to draw legislative districts. In Indiana, a newly created legislative commission is studying redistricting options. 

Reform efforts also are underway in Minnesota, where gridlock over redistricting has resulted in court-drawn maps for decades.

The fruits of ‘divide-and-conquer’ politics

Conservatives have turned middle and lower classes against themselves.

The right wing is on a roll in this country and most certainly in Wisconsin, where divide-and-conquer tactics are working effectively to alienate citizens from each other. 

Tyrants have promoted resentment and turned people against each other from ancient times through modern capitalism and fascism. Divide-and-conquer tactics deflect criticism away from those in power and distract people from the real sources of their problems. 

When people are busy sniping at each other and fighting among themselves, they are less likely to question authority or work together to bring about change for the common good. They can be controlled and dominated.

I got to obsessing about this after spending too much time in the comment sections of Wisconsin newspapers. Many partisans gather there, armed with their keyboards, sometimes arguing reasonably, more often descending into slurs like “idiot,” “wingnut” and “libtard.”

Within this hateful stew, what stands out for me is the persistent criticism by many conservatives toward working people — seemingly any working people who are not them.

We’ve seen the near destruction of public sector unions through Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10, which conservatives actively promoted and celebrated. Teachers in particular were spoken of with contempt, their employment rights stripped away. That same derision is evident in the way those on the right are anxious, even gleeful, about seeing thousands of professors and researchers throughout our University of Wisconsin system forcibly retired or laid off, despite the fact that those positions represent solid, family-supporting, middle-class jobs.

Scorn is aimed at fast food workers organizing to raise their minimum wage to $15. How anyone can possibly survive on wages of $7.25, $8 — or even $10 an hour — is beyond me. It’s impossible to raise children on that pittance.

Fast-food employment is no longer just an entry-level field. Given the collapse of our manufacturing sector, outsourcing of jobs and crooked trade deals, they are the only jobs available for many Americans. Why begrudge our fellow citizens a chance to have a better wage to support themselves and their families? 

Besides, studies show that people earning minimum and near to minimum wages at places like McDonald’s and Walmart have to obtain food stamps and other government support to sustain themselves and their families. Where’s the outrage against Walmart, whose Scrooge-like ways require taxpayers to provide $6.2 billion in public assistance for its employees annually?

The newest attack by conservatives is on Wisconsin’s “prevailing wage” law, which sets wages for workers on public works projects. Meanwhile, some members of Congress are talking about repealing the federal minimum wage law entirely.

This wage-cutting, anti-worker, divide-and-conquer strategy is bad for all Wisconsinites and our state’s economy. People with low incomes cannot afford to buy goods. Merchants and manufacturers who cannot sell goods go broke. Poor people need public assistance, which requires more taxes.

This is not a growth strategy. In 1914, Henry Ford paid his workers an unheard-of $5 a day. It reduced turnover and enabled workers to purchase their own autos, boosting the auto industry. 

People who engage in horizontal hostility, who revel in attacks on their fellow citizens, are forgetting an important lesson of history. 

When your own livelihood or rights are threatened someday, who will be there to stand up for you?

Yes-We-Can president faces twilight of maybes

It was supposed to be a joke. “Are you still president?” comedian Stephen Colbert asked Barack Obama earlier in December.

But the question seemed to speak to growing weariness with the president and skepticism that anything will change in Washington during his final two years in office. Democrats already are checking out Obama’s potential successors. Emboldened Republicans are trying to push aside his agenda in favor of their own.

At times this year, Obama seemed ready to move on as well. He rebelled against the White House security “bubble,” telling his Secret Service detail to give him more space. He chafed at being sidelined by his party during midterm elections and having to adjust his agenda to fit the political interests of vulnerable Democrats who lost anyway.

Yet the election that was a disaster for the president’s party may have had a rejuvenating effect on Obama. The morning after the midterms, Obama told senior aides, “If I see you moping, you will answer to me.”

People close to Obama say he is energized at not having to worry about helping — or hurting — Democrats in another congressional election on his watch. He has become more comfortable with his executive powers, moving unilaterally on immigration, Internet neutrality and climate change in the last two months. And he sees legacy-building opportunities on the international stage, from an elusive nuclear deal with Iran to normalizing relations with Cuba after a half-century freeze.

“He gained some clarity for the next two years that is liberating,” said Jay Carney, who served as Obama’s press secretary until this spring. “He doesn’t have as much responsibility for others.”

Still, pillars of Obama’s second-term agenda — gun control, raising the federal minimum wage, universal pre-school_ seem destined to stand unfulfilled. Wrapping up the Iraq and Afghanistan wars isn’t turning out to be nearly the tidy success story Obama once envisioned. Even supporters say one of the president’s top remaining priorities may have to be simply preventing Republicans from dismantling his earlier accomplishments, including the health care law.

The Yes-We-Can man is entering a twilight of maybes, his presidency still driven by high ambitions but his power to achieve them running out.

***

Before the midterm election results arrived, Obama’s advisers say, the president realized he would finish his presidency with Republicans running Capitol Hill.

Whatever message the Democrats’ defeat sent about the president’s own standing, Obama concluded the status quo meant more gridlock.

Indeed, 2014 had been another year of fits and starts for a White House that has struggled to find its footing in Obama’s second term.

The feeble HealthCare.gov website stabilized, but scandal enveloped the Department of Veterans Affairs. Syria got rid of its chemical weapons, but a violent extremist group pulled the U.S. back into military conflict in the Middle East. The unemployment rate fell, but so did Obama’s approval ratings — to the lowest levels of his presidency, worse than the second-term averages for most recent presidents.

“I don’t care who you are, after eight years or six years of the presidency, your influence has eroded,” said Robert Dallek, a historian who has met periodically with Obama. “Even someone like Eisenhower or Reagan, you just can’t sustain it.”

While White House officials acknowledge the presidency has challenges in its waning years, they say recent economic gains and executive actions on immigration and climate change show Obama still can exert considerable influence.

“This year the president’s policy successes vastly outstripped his political successes,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior White House adviser.

Nearly two dozen White House officials, former Obama aides, presidential historians and political analysts discussed Obama’s standing as he closes his sixth year in office, some on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss their conversations with the president or his top advisers.

For much of the year, Obama appeared to struggle with the realization that his political standing had slipped.

He publicly complained about criticism of his foreign policy by pundits in Washington and New York (his private gripes were more colorful and profane).  Despite Democratic pleas to stay out of November’s elections, he said his policies were indeed on the ballot. He desperately sought to break free of the confines of the White House.

One afternoon in June, he joined his chief of staff in making an impromptu Starbucks run on foot, leaving aides and reporters sprinting to catch up.

“Bear on the loose,” the president’s advisers jokingly said. They said it was good for his mood to break free from the bubble.

But there were also real concerns in the West Wing about his behavior. Not only was he trying to escape the ever-present press, but Obama was ordering his Secret Service detail to keep its distance.

In 2014, Obama also went back to war in the Middle East. Less than three years after the last American troops left Iraq, Obama sent U.S. forces back to train and assist the country’s security forces in fighting Islamic State extremists. By fall, the U.S. was launching airstrikes against the militants in Iraq and Syria.

As he announced the strikes, Obama promised Americans this time would be different from the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. No U.S. combat troops would on the ground, he said.

But he seemed to be trying to reassure himself as much as anyone else.

In public and in private, Obama appears to understand his presidency may end on a war footing. He’s been reading “Redeployment,” a collection of short stories about the Iraq war by former Marine Phil Klay. Shortly before Christmas, he made an unusual visit to a military base in New Jersey to thank troops and their families — and pledge to preserve hard-fought military gains abroad.

***

Obama is realistically optimistic about what he can get done over the next two years, advisers say. He wants to try tax reform and sees opportunities to accelerate growth and job creation with the economy on firmer footing. Aides have reached out to historians and political scientists to solicit ideas for Obama’s next State of the Union address, including fresh ways to address income inequality.

“They have reasonable expectations,” said Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, who spoke with White House aides about income inequality before the election. “It is the sixth year, after all.”

A big question hanging over the White House is how much Obama, whose charisma once charmed the world, can still shape the national debate.

“There’s almost always a point of diminishing returns on a president’s words,” said Jeff Shesol, a former presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton.

Indeed, the president is forging ahead as something of an isolated figure.

December’s debate over keeping money flowing to the government showed Democrats in Congress won’t hesitate to go their own way. In recent weeks, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York has questioned the timing of Obama’s 2010 health care law. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pronounced herself “enormously disappointed” that Obama embraced a spending bill she saw as a GOP attempt at blackmail. And Sen. Bob Menendez, the outgoing Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, began work with Republicans on new penalties against Iran — against Obama’s wishes.

Inside the White House, Obama’s tight inner circle of loyal advisers keeps shrinking.

The trio of political gurus who helped run his presidential campaigns — David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs and David Plouffe — have long since moved on. As has onetime chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago. Other longtime aides, including Pfeiffer and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, are said to be eyeing exits. Bringing in fresh talent is becoming a greater challenge. Obama may have to navigate this challenging phase of his presidency without a full stable of trusted advisers with whom he’s comfortable.

Many Democratic operatives are also more interested in spots on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s potential presidential campaign than joining an administration entering its twilight. In some instances, it has been hard for the White House to get prominent Democrats to publicly back Obama’s policy decisions, particularly on foreign affairs, until they know Clinton’s position. Clinton is widely expected to announce a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama is trying to branch out. He started keeping his version of a bucket list: the names of authors, business leaders, innovators and others he wants to bring to the White House for a private lunch or dinner. Some who have visited:  inventor and business tycoon Elon Musk, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, a major Republican donor.

Obama has opened up his social circle beyond a core group of friends from Chicago and his childhood in Hawaii.

He’s become close to former NBA basketball player Alonzo Mourning, who has hosted fundraisers for Obama’s presidential campaign. Former football player Ahmad Rashad, who dated senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett earlier this year, worked his way into the president’s golf outings and joined the first family on vacation in the Florida Keys and Martha’s Vineyard.

ESPN host Michael Wilbon, an occasional golf partner, said Obama displayed an astounding “ability to compartmentalize” amid the past year’s frustrations.

“A lot of successful people have to have that, but not like the president,” Wilbon said.

Obama admits to being distracted at times. Asked how much sports he watches on TV, the president told ESPN this month, “There are times I will admit at night, when I’ve got a really fat briefing book, where I might have the game on with the sound off.”

***

Less than halfway through his presidency, Obama reflected on how being in office had left him “all dinged up.”

The vaunted “hope” posters from his 2008 campaign are “all dog-eared and faded,” he said at a fundraiser three years later.

He was searching for ways to re-create the energy of 2008. Heading into his final two years in the White House, that challenge is greater.

While Obama and his team talk a good game about opportunities ahead, they’ve been here before: Plunging into a new year full of energy and ideas, only to run smack into Washington gridlock.

Signs that Obama’s presidency is closing are all around.

Within weeks, the race to replace him will begin in earnest. Democrats are lining up to endorse Clinton, though she’s yet to declare her candidacy.

By spring, a committee of Obama friends and advisers will announce which city will host his presidential library. Honolulu, Chicago and New York are in contention.

People close to Obama say he is weighing what he will do when he leaves the White House at the relatively young age of 55. He is studying the paths his predecessors have taken and has expressed interest in working on both domestic and international issues. He is considering ways to expand mentoring programs he started for young black men in the U.S. and emerging leaders in Africa and Asia.

“He’s going to have a very unique opportunity and ability to reach young people not only here but in other countries,” said Jon Favreau, Obama’s longtime speechwriter who left the White House last year.

It is less clear where Obama and his family will go after their time in the White House ends. They own a red-brick, Georgian-style home in Kenwood, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Their oldest daughter, Malia, graduates from high school soon and has been looking at colleges in California. The president is said to be drawn to the idea that he could blend in more easily in bustling New York.

Obama is already imagining life with fewer restrictions.

Asked in a New Yorker interview earlier this year whether he would want to be a judge, Obama said that sounded a bit “too monastic.”

“Particularly after having spent six years and what will be eight years in this bubble, I think I need to get outside a little bit more.”

Wisconsin Dems offer medical marijuana bill

Wisconsin Democrats are trying again to legalize marijuana for medical use.

Rep. Chris Taylor of Madison and Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Middleton held a news conference on Oct. 3 to announce a new bill, saying marijuana can provide pain relief other medication doesn’t.

Democrats have been pushing for years to legalize medical marijuana. They introduced a similar bill in 2010, when they had complete control of state government, but the measure went nowhere after a public hearing. They brought it back in 2011, when Republicans controlled the Assembly and Senate.

The measure didn’t get so much as a hearing.

The new bill looks doomed as well. Republicans still control both houses.

New archbishop of Canterbury ‘evolving’ on gay marriage

How will Justin Welby lead the world’s Anglicans and heal their deep divisions? Even he is not sure yet.

Welby generated high hopes but few clear expectations as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the 56-year-old former oil executive was being promoted to archbishop of Canterbury after only a year’s experience as a bishop.

“We don’t know much about him and there are very few expectations because he has been a bishop for such a short time,” said Paul Handley, managing editor of the Church Times newspaper.

But, he said, initial signs were “very encouraging and impressive.”

Welby, appointed last year as bishop of Durham in northeastern England, worked for 11 years in the oil industry, rising to treasurer of Enterprise Oil before deciding he was called to the priesthood.

A skilled mediator who has worked to resolve conflicts in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, he will lead a global Anglican Communion riven by sharply divided views on gay people and the place of women in the church.

As the 105th holder of a post that stretches back to the 6th century, Welby takes over after Rowan Williams retires in December.

Welby said he felt privileged and astonished to be chosen to lead the church at “a time of spiritual hunger.”

“It’s something I never expected,” Welby told reporters, saying he had been “overwhelmed and surprised” to be offered the job.

Welby declined to take questions about the contentious issues of female bishops and the church’s attitude toward homosexuals and said “I don’t have a detailed plan” for promoting growth in the church.

Reaction to his appointment was positive.

Jonathan Gledhill, bishop of Lichfield, called the appointment “daring and imaginative.”

“Everybody seems to like him, those who know him,” said Stephen Parkinson, U.K. director of the traditionalist group Forward in Faith.

The Rev. Bob Callaghan of Inclusive Church, which campaigns against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, said Welby’s appointment was “quite a brave statement by the church: We’ll have something fresh and new and see where it goes.”

Rod Thomas, chairman of the conservative evangelical group Reform, said Welby “has great credibility as a mediator and a friend of Africa, so we will be praying” that he can heal some of the splits in the Anglican Communion.

Women and the Church, which has campaigned for female bishops, said it was encouraged that Welby had worked with women as equals in the business world.

Welby supports the ordination of women as bishops, and indicated that his thinking on legally defining same-sex unions as “marriage” – which he and other bishops have opposed – was evolving.

“We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the church,” he said, adding that he planned to “listen to the voice of the LGBT communities and examine my own thinking.”

The closely cropped, clean-shaven Welby joked that “I’ve got a better barber and spend more on razors than Rowan Williams.”

But he praised Williams – a self-described “hairy lefty” – as “one of the greatest archbishops of Canterbury.”

Even before formally becoming archbishop, Welby could face a test of his mediation skills later this month when the church’s governing General Synod votes on allowing women to serve as bishops. He supports that change, but the latest proposed compromise has drawn fire from activists on both sides – either as being too weak or going too far.

Welby was also recently appointed to the U.K. Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which is examining possible reforms of the industry, and he serves as ethical adviser to the Association of Corporate Treasurers.

He has denounced multi-million executive pay packages in big British companies as “obscene” and has said the Occupy movement “reflects a deep-seated sense that something is wrong.”

Before seeking ordination, Welby spent six years with French oil company Elf Aquitaine and then as treasurer of exploration company Enterprise Oil in 1984. He resigned in 1989.

Following ordination in 1993. he was a parish priest for nine years before moving to Coventry Cathedral, as co-director of international ministry. In 2005, he became co-director of the cathedral’s conflict reconciliation ministry in Africa.

He estimates he has visited Africa 60 times since 2002, involved in reconciliation efforts between Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria, and in the Niger Delta where tensions are high between residents and the oil industry.

He has spoken of having to “establish relationships with killers and with the families of their victims, with arms smugglers, corrupt officials and more.”

Bishop Brighton Malasa, chairman of the Anglican church in Malawi, said he had met Welby and found him to be a good man, a humble person, so cool.”

In 2007 he was appointed dean of Liverpool Cathedral, Britain’s largest church. He caused a bit of controversy there by allowing John Lennon’s “Imagine” to be played on the cathedral bells.

Welby is an enthusiastic user of Twitter, a tool he intends to use as archbishop “if I am not stopped forcibly.”

He and his wife, Caroline, have two sons and three daughters. Their first child, a 7-month-old girl, was killed in a traffic accident in 1983.

Anti-gay group’s strategy: To divide blacks, gays, Latinos

UPDATED: Internal documents for the National Organization for Marriage reveal that the anti-gay group sought to divide blacks, gays and Latinos to advance its campaign against marriage equality.

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots,” read the NOM document obtained this week by the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC posted PDFs of several documents from NOM that were secured as part of a Maine investigation into the financial operation of the organization.

“With the veil lifted, Americans everywhere can now see the ugly politics that the National Organization for Marriage traffics in every day. While loving gay and lesbian couples seek to make lifelong commitments, NOM plays racial politics, tries to hide donors and makes up lies about people of faith. The contrast could not be any starker,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese. “The reason that Americans are steadily moving in the direction of marriage equality is because they identify with the loving and committed couples who want to enter into the institution, not NOM’s underhanded tactics of lies and manipulation.”

NOM has emerged as the leading organization in the campaign against marriage equality at the federal and state levels. NOM is behind multiple anti-gay ballot campaigns this year and heavily invested in past campaigns.

In Maine, NOM was involved in the push to overturn a same-sex marriage at the polls, but its campaign financing disclosures have raised questions and resulted in state scrutiny.

On March 26, some NOM internal documents were unsealed in the state, including a confidential report to the NOM board of directors outlining the effort to divide and conquer.

Another passage in the documents read, “The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity – a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”

NOM’s stated strategy also is to portray Barack Obama as a “social radical” on “side issues” such as “pornography.”

HRC, with its posting of the documents, promised “much more to come.”

NAACP chairman emeritus Julian Bond responded to the news of the documents with a statement: “NOM’s underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination. Pitting bigotry’s victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together.”

NOM’s Brian Brown also released a statement: “The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was formed in 2007 and has worked extensively with supporters of traditional marriage from every color, creed and background. We have worked with prominent African-American and Hispanic leaders, including Dr. Alveda C. King, Bishop George McKinney of the COGIC Church, Bishop Harry Jackson and the New York State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr., all of whom share our concern about protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Gay marriage advocates have attempted to portray same-sex marriage as a civil right, but the voices of these and many other leaders have provided powerful witness that this claim is patently false. Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine. We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.”

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