September 12, 2013

Pelosi's wary view of Putin

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's take on Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op ed?

"It is what it is.  I mean, Vladimir Putin is not in a strong constitutional democracy where people have their say so he comes here and has his say, but it has to have some fidelity to fact," the California Democrat told a news conference.

She was asked if it was frustrating that Putin may be the United States' negotiating partner.

"I mean, (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is a part of the negotiation, too, and he is, I think, clearly a monster who would gas children in his own country that he wants to preside ove," she said.

Pelosi pointed to Putin's remark that he doesn't want the United Nations turning into another League of Nations.

"I thought that was interesting, because one of the reasons the United Nations has not been effective, say for example in Syria, is because of the fear of a Russian veto," she said. "Even initiatives that others have tried to propose that would, say, condemn the use of chemical weapons, they have not been willing to sign on to. 

"So, part of the strength of the U.N. is the fact that it has a strong Security Council.  Part of the lack of success is that Russia and China too frequently use that veto power.  But what I have found interesting was the closing.  He says when we pray to God he judges us all.  I don't know exactly what his words are, but he says that we are all God's children.  I think that is great.  I hope it applies to gays and lesbians in Russia as well."


June 27, 2013

Obama calls Supreme Court decisions on same-sex a victory for democracy

President Barack Obama called a pair of Supreme Court decisions this week allowing same-sex marriage "a victory for American democracy."

"I believe at the root of who we are as a people, who we are as Americans is the basic precept that we are all equal under the law," he said at a news conference in Dakar, Senagal. "We believe in basic fairness. And what I think yesterday's ruling signifies is one more step towards ensuring that those basic principles apply to everybody."

He said that his administration is reviewing legal statutes to determine whether the government can provide benefits to same-sex couples even in states where gay marriage is banned.

Continue reading "Obama calls Supreme Court decisions on same-sex a victory for democracy " »

May 24, 2013

Gallup: "Ideological attitudes in the country may be shifting"

Economic conservatism has hit a five year low, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.

And, the survey suggests, "ideological attitudes in the country may be shifting."

The poll found that social liberalism is up six points since 2001 and is embraced by about half the Democrats and those who lean Democrats.

"It is possible that Americans are returning to a certain sense of normalcy on economic ideology, while social ideology continues to charter new ground," said a poll analysis.

Here's more from Gallup:

Continue reading "Gallup: "Ideological attitudes in the country may be shifting"" »

April 08, 2013

White House says it won't press Dems on gay marriage

Just three Democratic senators have not expressed support for gay marriage, and the White House -- which got the momentum started a year ago when vice president Joe Biden, and then President Obama, signaled support -- said it won't be pressuring them.

"Obviously, each individual -- whether an elected lawmaker or anyone else -- makes this evaluation, decision, himself or herself," press secretary Jay Carney said, adding that Obama "was not and is not in a position to pass judgment on others simply to say what he believes very strongly."

Asked whether Obama deserved credit for the sea change of support, Carney said it's the country: "It's been a remarkable evolution and represents an embrace of the basic principles of equality that the president feels strongly about but Americans across the country feel strongly about."

Democratic senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas have not endorsed gay marriage. But as a sign of how fast the ground is changing on the issue: when Carney was asked about gay marriage at the 1 p.m. press briefing, there were four senators. Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota later announced his support, saying "after lengthy consideration, my views have evolved sufficiently to support marriage equality legislation.

"This position doesn't require any religious denomination to alter any of its tenets; it simply forbids government from discrimination regarding who can marry whom," Johnson said.

April 02, 2013

GOP's Kirk backs gay marriage: "Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back"

Now there are two Senate Republicans backing same-sex marriage.


Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Tuesday announced his support. The center-right Republican recalled returing to the Senate in January after suffering a stroke, and how it impacted his decision.


"When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others," Kirk said in a statement.


"Same sex couples should have the right to civil marriage," he said. "Our time on this Earth is limited. I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back--government has no place in the middle."


Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is the only other Republican senator to back same-sex marriage.

Sen. Carper backs gay marriage

Senate Democrats seem to be embracing gay marriage daily; Tuesday, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., joined the chorus.

He's the eighth Senate Democrat in the past week to back gay marriage.

Here's his explanation from his Facebook page:

"As our society has changed and evolved, so too has the public's opinion on gay marriage – and so has mine. I pray every day for God to grant me the wisdom to do what is right. Through my prayers and conversations with my family and countless friends and Delawareans, I've been reminded of the power of one of my core values: the Golden Rule.

"It calls on us to treat others as we want to be treated. That means, to me, that all Americans ultimately should be free to marry the people they love and intend to share their lives with, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's why today, after a great deal of soul searching, I'm endorsing marriage equality."

March 27, 2013

Obama hopes Supreme Court treats same sex couples fairly

President Obama said Wednesday that he would not predict how the Supreme Court would rule on the issue of same sex marriage but that he hopes that couples are treated fairly and equally.

"I used to teach constitutional law and I think that there’s certainly a strong basis for determining that in fact in this age, given what we now know, given the changes that have been taking place in states around the country, that you know, same sex couples should be treated fairly and have the same rights to benefits and to being able to transfer property," Obama said in an interview with Univision taped at the White House. "All the rights and recognition that I think heterosexual couples do."

Obama last year became the first sitting U.S. president to endorse same-sex marriage. He opposes the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage even for couples married under state law. He says the 1996 law that defines marriage as between only one man and one woman is unconstitutional and directed the Justice Department to stop defending the law in court.

"I have wrestled with this issue and thought long and hard about this issue last year," he said. "I’ve announced that it was my conclusion that allowing same sex couples to marry was the right thing to do. It was consistent with America’s tradition of treating everybody equally...Obviously, public opinion has shifted dramatically just over the last several years. And my hope is, is that we will come to the place where everybody, you know, is treated fairly, and treated the same."

Pelosi and the "less-than-friendly journalists" on gay marriage

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has supported same-sex marriage for years, and after Wednesday's Supreme Court hearing, reflected on what it was like to back the idea.

"So over the years, one of the questions that I would get asked, especially when I became...part of the leadership, when I first became whip and then after that -- one of the first questions, shall we say, less-than-friendly journalists would ask me on a show or so would be:  Do you support gay marriage?" she recalled.

"And of course I would always say, I support gay marriage; I don't believe in discrimination of any kind."

So, Pelosi told a Capitol news conference, "That'd be like:  We have labeled you.  Now that our audience knows that about you -- you know.  As if it were -- and it was a badge of honor for me.  So now -- it's a badge of honor for a lot of people, but for a long time it was something that we knew was inevitable."


March 15, 2013

Sen. Portman: Government "shouldn't deny" same-sex couples right to marry

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a leading conservative voice in the Senate, said Friday he now believes government should not stand in the way of allowing same sex couples to marry.

"I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married," he wrote in a commentary in the Columbus Dispatch.

Portman concedes "That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way."

He recounts how two years ago, his son Will, then a college student, told his parents he was gay.

"He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage," the senator wrote. "We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love."

Portman, who was said to be a serious contender for the 2012 Republican vice presidential nomination, went on to describe his feelings and views:

Continue reading "Sen. Portman: Government "shouldn't deny" same-sex couples right to marry" »

May 16, 2012

Poll: Obama's gay marriage stance changes little for blacks, independents

A Pew Research Center poll this week shows that predictions of President Barack Obama losing African-Americans over his support for same-sex marriage may be exaggerated.

The Pew poll shows that Obama's position had no effect 68 percent of blacks, while 16 percent said it made them view him more favorably. Only 13 percent said they viewed him less favorably. While many black voters may disagree with the president on gay marriage, it's not necessarily a deal-breaker.

The Pew survey also found a similar result with independents: 60 percent said Obama's position didn't matter, while an equal number _ 19 percent _ said it was either a plus or a minus.

Only among Republicans (53 percent) and people over 65 (42 percent) did Obama's position on gay marriage really hurt him _ but those aren't groups he's counting on to win re-election anyway.

It may come as little surprise that 62 percent of those 18-29 said Obama's support for gay marriage made no difference for them, but 56 percent of those with less than a college education said the same thing.

Overall, more than half of Americans (52 percent) said Obama's position on gay marriage made no difference to them, while 25 percent said they felt less favorably toward the president and 19 percent more favorably.


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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