Mother Jones “comfortable” with VanderSloot Story

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The editor of Mother Jones says she and the magazine is not “backing away” from a story regarding Melaleuca CEO, Frank VanderSloot.

As we reported earlier this week,  VanderSloot has filed a lawsuit against the magazine for “depicting him as a ‘gay-basher’.

Monika Bauerlein, Mother Jones magazine’s co-editor-in-chief, tells the Post Register’s  Zack Kyle, “This isn’t the first (libel suit the magazine has faced), though it doesn’t happen very often,” Bauerlein said. “We take a lot of pride in our track record and in our reporting. Needless to say, we stand by our work in this case.”

While the term “gay bashing” does not appear in the Mother Jones article, the Post Register reported,’court documents point to Bauerlein’s Feb. 6 tweet that read: “Romney’s gay-bashing buddy runs a company that targets stay-at-home moms for misleading marketing scheme. Charming!”

Bauerlein tells Localnews8.com that in “September 2012, Mother Jones editors met face-to-face with VanderSloot”, over his concerns with the article….but in October 2012, conversation between Melaleuca and Mother Jones ended.”

VanderSloot, who  served as national finance co-chair of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign,  is asking for, “up to $74,999 in damages.”

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Frank VanderSloot files lawsuit against Mother Jones

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The Post-Falls Register is reporting today that the CEO of Melaleuca, Inc., has filed a lawsuit against the magazine for “depicting him as a ‘gay-basher’.

According to the article, republished by the Idaho Statesman, VanderSloot, who  served as national finance co-chair of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign,  is asking for, “up to $74,999 in damages”.

“The lawsuit targets portions of the article that describe VanderSloot as anti-gay, as well as Twitter posts promoting the article by author Stephanie Mencimer and magazine Co-Editor in Chief Monika Bauerlein,” reports Zack Kyle of the Post Falls Register.

You might recall that last February the Idaho Agenda received a  “take down notice” from Melaleuca attorneys for an article that attempted to draw attention to VanderSloot’s activities pertaining to Idaho’s LGBT community. The Agenda chose to comply with the notice.

That incident and others became the subject of dozens of articles that included the Mother Jones piece, one published by Slate.com’s Glenn Greenwald and coverage by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.  The Obama campaign also included VanderSloot  on its “Truth Team” website.

VanderSloot publicly responded to the criticism, which included a written response to the Greenwald article, as well as multiple appearances on Fox News.

While the term “gay bashing” does not appear in the Mother Jones article, the Post Register reports,’court documents point to Bauerlein’s Feb. 6 tweet that read: “Romney’s gay-bashing buddy runs a company that targets stay-at-home moms for misleading marketing scheme. Charming!”

VanderSloot tells Kyle,” I’ve never taken shots like this before,” and goes on to say “I think it’s particularly egregious to accuse somebody of a hate crime.”

The Top 10 of 2012: The Agenda Looks Back (Part 2)

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From the celebrities who came out in the past year to the advancements made in the name of equality, this is the conclusion of our two part article looking back at the year that was 2012.

(Click HERE for part one.)

Number 5: Frank VanderSloot Attempts to Censor The Internet

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To be fair, the Melaleuca CEO and National Finance Co-chair of the Mitt Romney campaign didn’t try to censure the whole internet , just the parts he disagreed with.

What started as a simple but well documented post, recapping past political activities of  the Eastern Idaho Republican, his company and his wife turned into a national story, thanks to independent journalist Jody May-Chang, Slate.com’s Glenn Greenwald, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and just about every other blogger and  news organization that cared about the freedom of speech on the internet.

VanderSloot would go on to publicly respond to the Greenwald article and eventually use his new found fame to not only target the White House, but to attempt to raise money for his favorite Presidential campaign as well.

Unfortunately for Frank, not only did he spend a lot of money backing a loosing candidate, he also spent a lot of money backing Idaho School Chief  Tom Luna’s ill-fated “educational reform” package, which was also rejected by voters.

Number 4: The President Finally Announces his Support for Marriage Equality

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After spending the last four or so years more or less ducking a straight answer to the marriage equality question, the President went public with his support in May during an interview with ABC News.

“I’ve…concluded that for me personally,  it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” said the President.

Those of us paying attention knew that it wasn’t a matter of “if” but more of a matter of “when.” This was, after all, the same president that lobbied for an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell”, same sex adoption and a whole host of other equality measures.

The President appears to be starting to use his influence to gain support for the issue as well. As The Advocate reports, last week the President, “expressed his support for marriage equality legislation pending in Illinois, marking the first time he has backed a legislative campaign at the state level.”

If the past four years of his administration are any indication, it’s a pretty safe bet the Obama administration will go down in history as the most LGBTQIA friendly White House to date, making his first term campaign promise of,” hope and change” more than just an empty slogan for millions of Americans.

Number 3: Millions of LGBT Americans say,”I do.”

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With the sound of wedding bells ringing from Washington to Maine , 2012 will forever be remembered as the year that settled the marriage debate once and for all.

Election night proved to be the pivotal turning point with voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington, for the first time in U.S. history, approving same-sex marriage by referendum.

For those keeping count, that brings the total number of states that support marriage equality to nine, not including Washington D.C.

With the the issue on the docket for the upcoming session of the Supreme Court, at play in states like Illinois and polls showing the majority of Americans now supporting some sort of equal rights, one can only assume that in just a few short years we will be looking back and wondering what the hullabaloo was all about. Of course, we could also soon be making a lot of divorce lawyers very wealthy people, but at least we’ll all be doing it equally.

Number 2: Idaho Lawmakers refuse to “Add the Words.”

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As the majority of the country expressed its support for equality, the Republican dominated Idaho Legislature proved once again in just how out of step it really is when it comes to the advancement of basic human rights.

For the past six years, citizen supporters of a bill that would add the words,”sexual orientation gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act have asked that it be given a full public hearing. For whatever reason, state lawmakers have refused, despite the  measure receiving bipartisan support of hundreds across the state.

The bill would make it illegal in Idaho to discriminate against someone solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in cases of employment, housing or in other public amenities. Twenty-one states already have laws banning discrimination. Sixteen of those states also ban discrimination based on gender identity.

Organizers for the Add the Words sticky note campaign had strong hopes of the bill’s passage this year based on surveys and strong visible support for the measure. But when it came down to it,  in February, the Senate State Affairs committee shamefully voted 7 to 2 not to give the bill a full hearing once again, leaving many wondering if  the majority of state lawmakers don’t relish Idaho’s reputation as being one of the most intolerant states in the nation.

Look for the Add the Words campaign to be back in full force during the upcoming legislative session with a major education effort.

Number 1: Idaho towns pass their own “Add the Words” ordinances. 

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State lawmakers may enjoy Idaho’s reputation for being one of the most bigoted states in the union but the leaders in at least two cities realize that the label may not be the best when it comes to economic growth and the general well being of our great state.

Earlier this month, in a historic move, the Boise City Council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance prohibiting LGBT discrimination when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodation. It takes affect at midnight. Sandpoint passed its own anti discrimination ordinance last December.

Several other Idaho towns, including Pocatello and Ketchum, are considering similar measures.

Former Sandpoint City council member John Reuter, who introduced the issue for council discussion, tells The Coeur d’ Alene Press that their ordinance was a labor of love on the part of several city officials and residents,”I think the biggest issue was a silent fear people lived in,” Reuter said. “People were concerned about losing their jobs, their homes or their lives.”

Boise Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan, who was instrumental in writing her city’s ordinance tells KBOI-TV,“If this ordinance can serve to have children in our community to feel valued in our community in a way they may not have before,” said Jordan. “To go away to school and to come home to a place that they love and know that they can thrive here as adults then I think we have done our civic responsibility.”

As heart breaking as the last legislative session was to Idaho’s LGBTQIA community, the city ordinances offer the hope that one day, Idaho will truly become a state that is “too great for hate.”

Daily Kos features May-Chang/VanderSloot Saga

Daily Kos blogger laserhaas has written a great post summarizing the ongoing story involving Romney finance co-chair and Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot.

You might recall that independent journalist Jody May-Chang, this blog and others were recipients of takedown notices earlier this year by attorneys working for VanderSloot’s Melaleuca company.

laserhaas does an excellent job bringing readers up to speed on the saga that includes the article by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, an eight-minute piece by MSNBC”s Rachel Maddow as well as articles posted by Forbes and Mother Jones.

Now that Romney is clearly the GOP presidential candidate nominee, it will be interesting to see just how his campaign handles the publicity.

For his part, VanderSloot has created a website dedicated to responding to his critics. www.frankvanderslootresponse.com includes his original response to the Greenwald article, a letter from the Idaho State Attorney General’s office as well as an excerpt from blog comments made by Post-Register publisher Roger Plothow.

In March, the Human Rights Campaign started a petition calling on the GOP frontrunner to remove VanderSloot from his campaign. In a letter to its supporters, the HRC called VanderSloot, “one of the most ruthlessly anti-LGBT bullies in our nation. He’s funneled money to causes that demonize LGBT people and damage our families. His lack of a moral compass includes outing an Idaho man and leading a relentless character assault against him.”

So far, there has been no response from the Romney campaign.

Click HERE to read the full post over at Daily Kos.

BuzzFeed Picks Up Frank VanderSloot Story

BuzzFeed, a national website known for its ability to cover “the viral web in realtime,” interviewed Jody May-Chang and myself for an article published on Friday regarding  Mitt Romney’s ties to Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot.

For those not familiar with the backstory, the article titled Get To Know Mitt Romney’s Most Controversial Backer, Frank VanderSloot, provides a great snapshot.

VanderSloot was thrown into the national spotlight after last month’s Salon article by columnist Glenn Greenwald. The story, which includes threats made against the Idaho Agenda, Jody May-Chang and others has since exploded into a potential campaign issue.

As we reported last week, the HRC has started a petition calling for Mitt Romney to “fire” VanderSloot as his  national finance co-chairman.

“HRC spokesman Dan Rafter tells BuzzFeed that “Mitt Romney can’t have it both ways – saying repeatedly he opposes discrimination against gay Americans but then employing Frank VanderSloot, whose harsh anti-gay views are quite clear. The Republican hopeful should immediately fire VanderSloot to show the country he means what he says,” writes BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray.

Click HERE to read the full article.

You can read Vandersloot’s response to the Greenwald Article HERE.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also covered the story HERE.

You can read filmmaker Debra Chasnof’s thoughts on the controversy HERE. 

You can read my response and challenge to Vandersloot HERE.

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