Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 24, 2014

March 27, 2013

Coons Is Red in the Face Over Gay Marriage

Sure, it’s become en vogue for Senate Democrats to come out in support of gay marriage this week. But several members are taking things a step further — with at least 13 members changing their Twitter avatars in support of gay marriage.

While most lawmakers took the easy way out by simply adopting the new red and pink equal sign, Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons painted his face red.

Coons Is Red in the Face Over Gay Marriage

Somewhat surprising — considering he announced just Monday his conversion on the issue — Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is proudly displaying the equal sign.

Coons Is Red in the Face Over Gay Marriage

Other members (all Democrats) who got into the spirit of the two day Supreme Court arguments over marriage equality include: Sens. Robert Menendez, N.J., Frank R. Lautenberg, N.J., Benjamin L. Cardin, Md., along with Reps. Diana DeGette, Colo., David Cicilline, R.I., Niki Tsongas, Mass., William Keating, Mass., Rosa DeLauro, Conn., Sam Farr, Calif., and James P. Moran, Va.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida also changed her avatar.

Seeing Red Over Gay Marriage

On Tuesday, after the Supreme Court heard the first of two days worth of oral arguments on same-sex marriage issues, it seemed most of Facebook went red.

Almost at the same time, thousands of people changed their avatar from a simple selfie, a picture of their wedding or a picture of their dog/cat/bird/child to the now ubiquitous red equal sign.

Enter those who can’t leave a good Internet meme alone, to whom we say: Thank you.

Full story

March 26, 2013

Scenes From the SCOTUS: Gay Marriage Edition

Throughout the weekend, Monday and early Tuesday morning, the sidewalk and lawn in front of the U.S. Supreme Court was dominated by those in favor of same-sex marriage. Rainbow flags, equality signs and the color red was splashed about.

But just before 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, the crowd became more diverse as the anti-gay marriage march, organized by the National Organization for Marriage, began to barrel up Constitution Avenue toward the court.

“One man, one woman,” chanted the NOM marchers.

Scenes From the SCOTUS: Gay Marriage Edition

(Neda Semnani/CQ Roll Call)

Victorino and his wife, Mary, declined to give their last name, but said they traveled from Guatemala to participate in the march.

A group of eight 13- and 14-year-olds from southern California couldn’t believe their eyes as the NOM marchers passed the front of the court with gay equality activists lining the street.

“It’s pretty scary,” one young girl said. “Because these people are kind of going around.”

“There’s one crazy guy dancing around in a pink dress,” one of the boys said.

“There might be fights happening,” another girl said.

Scenes From the SCOTUS: Gay Marriage Edition

(Neda Semnani/CQ Roll Call)

When we asked if they had ever seen anything like this, they responded, “No!” in the unison of school children. When we asked if this is what they thought democracy looked like, they shook their heads.

“[I] didn’t think it would be like this,” the first girl said. “I didn’t think I would be seeing cuss words all over signs.”

The group agreed, again in unison, that the moment felt historic, important, special. The chaperones forbid the kids to give their names.

Meanwhile, back inside the NOM march, the protesters stopped and knelt in unison just in front of the court.

While someone out of view led the prayer, the women and men began shouting, “Gloria!” “Hallelujah!” and “It will be done!”

Scenes From the SCOTUS: Gay Marriage Edition

(Neda Semnani/CQ Roll Call)

Joe and Frank Capley-Alfano came to D.C. from San Francisco, Calif., to stand against California’s Proposition 8.

They came to Washington “to stand in solidarity with the other 18,000 couples who were legally married, and to hope and to advocate for equal treatment of all couples in California,” Joe Capley-Alfano said.

“I think that the justices see the tide of change that has occurred throughout history in our nation,” he continued. “And I believe the arch of justice bends toward equality and I think that today there will be an affirmation of our nation’s belief in equality for all people.”

Scenes From the SCOTUS: Gay Marriage Edition

A group from now-notorious Steubenville, Ohio, came to D.C. to protest same-sex marriage and sing to the crowd. (Emily Cahn/CQ Roll Call)

 

Scenes From the SCOTUS: Gay Marriage Edition

(Rebecca Shabad/CQ Roll Call)

 

Scenes From the SCOTUS: Gay Marriage Edition

(Neda Semnani/CQ Roll Call)

 

March 25, 2013

CES to Bring New Toys to Congress in April

Our digital overlords know how much the masses enjoy bright and shiny things. Which is why they’ll be dangling their snazziest smart-things before lawmakers at the 2013 CES on the Hill techstravaganza.

The Consumer Electronics Association treks to Congress every year, and the annual fly-in is usually well-attended by gadget-loving lawmakers and smartphone-tethered staffers.
Full story

Take Five With Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

It’s Tuesday. That means it’s time for another Take Five, HOH’s weekly chance to get to know a member of Congress a little better by asking five fun questions relatively unrelated to their legislative work. This week, freshman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., talks about how Washington, D.C., has changed since he was a master’s candidate at Georgetown University and discloses his New York baseball team of choice.
Full story

Lt. Dan Cheers Up SCOTUS Campers

During a cold snowy Sunday in the District, Lt. Dan Choi brought coffee, donuts and conversation for dozens of folks who were queued up to to hear the Supreme Court’s oral arguments for and against same-sex marriage.

Andy Bakker, a courier working in the District and living in Virginia, told HOH Choi’s visit was a highlight of his four-day Supreme Court vigil.

“He brought hot coffee and donuts and he engaged everybody,” Bakker said. “Especially the folks on the other side of the issue, so that was interesting.”

Choi, who is a Iraq War vet and a graduate of West Point, was famously discharged when he came out as a gay service member on national television. Choi has since become a leading voice against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“[Choi] did a good job. He was very, very direct. He asked folks, ‘Do you think I should have a family?’ But in a very nice, cordial manner; [he was] making jokes,” Bakker said.

How did the anti-same sex marriage folks respond to Choi’s question? ”People would say, ‘You can have a family, but I don’t approve of your activity’ or what have you.”

Bakker said Choi was “very good” at engaging with and listening to those people who disagreed with him. Plus, he said, “his coffee was still hot when he got here, which was very nice.”

SCOTUS Campers: A Tarp-Side View

For Supreme Court campers, some big lessons have been learned since the last big SCOTUS stake-out, for health care in June 2012.

The high court will hear two cases related to same sex marriage starting Monday, and this time around, according to Virginia resident and SCOTUS camper Andy Bakker, “the line is smaller, but we came out earlier.” Bakker and several of his friends are among the dozens of people who have been hanging out at the Supreme Court since Thursday.

“I think the line will keep growing,” he said Monday morning. “We have 50 [people] now. There’s probably 100 seats.”

Unlike the 2012 health decision vigil, Bakker says, this group of folks, whether they are for or against same-sex marriage, isn’t going to suffer line-cutters. These guys are making friends and keeping cordial. Full story

Tweeted: Stockman Takes On Rich, White Things

“I don’t like this coffee. If this cream were any richer and whiter it’d be carrying a liberal protest sign.”

— @SteveStockmanTX

By Emily Pierce Posted at 1:28 p.m.
Overheards

Query Us Behavior

If you are reading this, then you are, presumably, interested in HOH’s signature brand of political commentary (read: congressional navel-gazing).

But as the Internet gods have recently made terrifyingly clear to us, some of you probably have no freaking clue how you landed on this particular page.

Thanks to a recent retooling of the virtual passageways that make the global dissemination of ad hominem sniping/bumbling animal GIFs/shoddy Twilight fan-fiction happen with just a few keystrokes:

HOH has learned that, sometimes, new friends come to the table for totally whacked out reasons. A review of this blog’s latest site stats revealed that not everybody arrived at their final infotainment destination via a direct route.

Full story

Monday Morning Quarterbacking: The RGIII and Elephants Edition

We’re trying to be wry and cynical about Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s Sunday visit to the circus, but we just can’t be and we blame that smile.

On Sunday afternoon, Griffin took his family to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “Dragons” at the Verizon Center. 

According to the release, RGIII and his family enjoyed “the acts of circus performers from the farthest reaches of the earth.” After the show, which explores “dragon lore,” RGIII and his family got a tour of the circus, snapped pictures with the performers and threw a football to an elephant.

Normally, this type of publicity tour would make us roll our eyes, but check out the pictures after the jump. RGIII is so excited and pleased and good and pumped to be at the circus. It makes us smile. Full story

March 24, 2013

Capitol Quip: Hunting for a Caption

Capitol Quip: Hunting for a Caption

CQ Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson has another cartoon for your quippy consideration this week. Submit your caption in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists to go before readers for a vote. We’ll let you know the five finalists on Wednesday afternoon, and readers will have until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday to pick their favorite.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:45 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Capitol Quip: Budget Bracket Winner

Capitol Quip: Budget Bracket Winner

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill. The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from CQ Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:44 p.m.
Capitol Quip

March 22, 2013

New Elephant Habitat to Open at National Zoo Saturday

If there wasn’t enough elephantine excitement in the capital with the pachyderm parade through Capitol Hill this week, the National Zoo has another surprise for lovers of large mammals.

The public opening of the zoo’s Elephant Community Center on Saturday is the final part of Elephant Trails, a $56 million expanded home for the zoo’s herd of Asian elephants, according to a statement.

Elephant Trails also facilitates animal enrichment, according to the release, the effort to stimulate zoo-kept animals with textures, foods and other things reminiscent of their natural habitats.

Asian elephants Ambika, Shanthi and Shanthi’s 11-year-old son, Kandula, are members of an endangered species that the zoo has been working to conserve and protect, and they are sure to be pleased.

Starting Saturday at noon, visitors are invited to experience the sights, sounds and smells of being close to the three gigantic quadripeds, though it’s hard to imagine wanting to get close enough to know where those smells are coming from.

March 21, 2013

Waiter Turns Tables on Ron Johnson

Remember the Sheboygan Falls food server who tweeted that Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is “kind of a jerk”? As it turns out, the author of that tweet thinks Johnson is an OK guy. He even voted for him.

“Mr. Johnson was nothing but polite and professional when serving him,” Greg Scheidt wrote to HOH on Tuesday. Scheidt waited on Johnson and friends at the Bull at Pinehurst Farms golf course and restaurant.
Full story

By Neda Semnani Posted at 6:40 p.m.
FightingWords

Dating App Rates Capitol Hill as Pretty Attractive Place

Online dating app Hinge declares the Senate’s workforce more attractive than the House’s, but both employ some of the most attractive people in the District, according to user ratings.

The dating app aims to connect single young people by allowing users to rank Facebook friends-of-friends on a scale of 1-5. Hinge users have accumulated more than 1 million ratings, and the site claims to have had its “nerds sift through all the data” to see which local companies employ the highest-rated D.C. workers.

Full story

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