As you may or may not know, there's been this federal law on the books for the past two decades which banned HIV victims from international travel for some reason or another. It was written by homophobes back when human adults actually thought the disease was brought about by an ancient desert god who wanted to smite sinners because of who they chose to have sex with; it was passed due to the politics of fear and hate; and it had absolutely no basis in either science or reason.
Oddly enough, it just got repealed…
President Obama called the 22-year ban on travel and immigration by HIV-positive individuals a decision "rooted in fear rather than fact" and announced the end of the rule-making process lifting the ban.
The president signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 at the White House Friday and also spoke of the new rules, which have been under development more more than a year. "We are finishing the job," the president said…
The Senate finally voted to overturn the ban as part of approving legislation reauthorizing funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in 2008, and President Bush signed it into law on July 30 of that year. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and then-Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.) led the process in the Senate.
Way to go, America! You got one right. I know that even a stopped clock is non-bigoted twice a day, but I don't want to dismiss this thing. This is a really good thing, and we probably all deserve milkshakes today.
But let's be clear here. The repealing of this nonsensical law was a bipartisan effort. But it's Obama's signature at the bottom of the document, and he'll probably get an undue amount of the credit/blame for this. Credit/blame that he doesn't really deserve. Right alongside the undue credit/blame he's gonna get for the gay-friendly hate crime legislation that just passed.
But, you know what Barack Obama can do for real for supporters of no-brainer civil rights, like, this afternoon? He can suspend Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the military with, essentially, a phone call. He can leverage some of his popularity in Maine and Washington to tip the scales in favor of the gay marriage referendums by issuing a simple statement. He can mention that he stands behind Arlen Specter in support of repealing the Orwellianly-titled Defense of Marriage Act.
Or not. He could also not do any of that.
I wonder which option he'll choose. I can't wait to find out!
Tags: Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, DADT, DOMA, George W. Bush, Gordon Smith, Health, HIV/AIDS, John Kerry, LGBT, Maine, Marriage Equality, Senate, Washington
AP has called it…
Jeff Merkley has unseated Republican Incumbent Gordon Smith. 82% of precincts have been counted in the Beaver State.
This victory puts the Democrats in control of 56 votes in the Senate, which means they'll still need four Republican votes to crossover to drum out Senate felon Ted Stevens (R-Attica), should he win.
Stevens still has a slight lead in the 220,000 ballots cast, which is about one voter from every buck in he received in housing renovations.
Tags: Gordon Smith, Jeff Merkley, Oregon, Senate
Have a nice night of partying, President-Elect Obama. Remember to have a drink on your fellow Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Norm Coleman (R-MN), who remain stationed in their Fox News-outfitted bunkers, awaiting their fate.
* Smith is trailing State Representative Jeff Merkley, 48% to 47% with just under half the precincts reporting.
* Coleman is tied with Saturday Night Live funnyman Al (O')Franken, 42% apiece with 69% of the precincts reporting.
If Smith and Coleman are returned to the Senate, they can reunite with fellow GOP incumbents Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins, both of whom survived strong challenges from Democrats.
And if they lose, they will have ample vacation opportunities. Space undoubtedly awaits them at the consistently-vacant North Carolina home of new loser Liddy Dole or at the massive new wing in Ted Stevens' Anchorage home.
Now if they choose the latter location, they shouldn't stay too long. When Stevens gets back from jail, he's going to be extra crotchety.
Tags: Al Franken, Gordon Smith, Jeff Merkley, Minnesota, Norm Coleman, Oregon
OK, guess who? They've already been in Washington as Congressmen. Their fathers, Mo and Stew, were major Beltway power players of an earlier generation. And now they're getting returned to DC as Senators.
It's the Udall cousins, Mark and Tom! From Colorado and New Mexico, respectively, they are now forecast to be elected to two Senate seats left open by retiring Republican Senators. Isn't that cute? We hope they get an apartment together. Oh wait, they already have one.
It remains to be seen if the family magic will hold for their cousin, Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon. Smith is on the wrong side of tonight's momentum, as an incumbent Republican, and he may well fall to Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley.
Also, we just feel obliged to mention this . . . all three cousins are Mormons. Is it OK to mention that? We mean, not that there's anything wrong with that. There are lots of major Mormon politicians, like Mitt Romney and Harry Reid!
Wait, actually that's kind of bizarre.
Tags: Colorado, Gordon Smith, House of Representatives, New Mexico, Oregon, Senate
In the state where President Bush has his lowest popularity ratings in the nation, the incumbent Republican senator is reaching across the aisle and groping for the coattails of Barack Obama.
Sen. Gordon Smith, a two-term moderate in a state with a history of embracing centrist Republicans such as Mark Hatfield, has put the Democratic candidate for president in not one, not two, but three of his television ads.
Smith is also running ads featuring liberal Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. One even suggests that Oregon's other Senator, Democrat Ron Wyden, is somehow endorsing Smith over challenger Jeff Merkley, prompting Wyden to demand the ad's removal.
And then there are the requisite smears…
The most notorious spot showed Merkley sloppily eating a hot dog while answering a question from the Republican operative who was filming him about the Russian invasion of Georgia. The words "Need a moment?" appear on-screen.
The spot, made by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, aired so relentlessly that Smith eventually condemned it. His own ads paint Merkley as hard on seniors and soft on rapists.
But since neither negativity nor liberal impersonations have helped Smith's sagging poll numbers, the only remaining option is to combine the two.
And then airing ads attacking himself for such pathetic behavior.
Tags: Gordon Smith, Oregon