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GLAA is pleased to offer an online site for discussion of affairs that affect the quality of life of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities of the District of Columbia. Through this social networking media GLAA aspires to connect to new generations of LGBT advocates and straight allies and to strengthen our organization's abilities to communicate and broadcast to a broad and diverse population.

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April 23, 2014

Geidner: The New Book About The Marriage Equality Movement Gets The Big Things Wrong

Prop_8_team_outside_SCOTUS
(Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed critiques Jo Becker's book on the court fight over Proposition 8, which is being widely criticized. As Chris says, "A 434-page book about a lawsuit that promised to bring marriage equality to all Americans, but only resulted in restoring marriage equality in California, is a tough sell."

Regarding the above photo of the plaintiffs and legal team, my first question was, "Which one of those guys is Tom Cruise?"

April 17, 2014

No, Chad Griffin is not Rosa Parks

Chad-Griffin-by-Rex-Wockner-thumb-500x375-2371

NYT reporter Jo Becker's new book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, includes this preposterous statement:

This is how a revolution begins. It begins when someone grows tired of standing idly by, waiting for history’s arc to bend toward justice, and instead decides to give it a swift shove. It begins when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in the segregated South. And in this story, it begins with a handsome, bespectacled thirty-five-year-old political consultant named Chad Griffin, in a spacious suite at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco on election night 2008.

What pretentious, ahistorical rubbish. The marriage equality movement was a reform movement, not a revolution, and did not begin in 2008. A lot of people were working for marriage equality long before then. We were not standing idly by but laying the groundwork in a variety of ways: strategizing, researching, organizing, educating, lobbying, fundraising, litigating, debating, testifying, writing and advocating in cities and states across the country. We were building support among lawyers, legislators, and opinion makers. We were developing talking points and winning people over in countless difficult conversations and sustained efforts over many years in our families and neighborhoods and faith communities. The assertion that Chad Griffin started it is ridiculous and insulting and discredits Becker's entire book. I hope Griffin has the sense and perspective and respect to distance himself from this hyper-inflated nonsense.

Andrew Sullivan, who was advocating for marriage equality two decades before Griffin came along, offers a bracing take-down to Becker's "jaw-dropping distortion."

I remember Evan Wolfson being viciously attacked in the 90s by gay people for his marriage advocacy. I remember the vitriol Sullivan endured back then as well. How lovely it must be for them, after so many years of trenchant advocacy on the front lines and taking the debate to places others didn't dare go (and would have been unprepared to handle), to be treated like fluffers by people who arrived fairly late in the struggle and stood on the shoulders of those who came before.

For D.C.'s part in the struggle, you can look at the timeline that Bob Summersgill and I prepared, at my oral history shot by students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High Schools, and at my December 2013 article on the lessons from our victory.

(Photo of Chad Griffin by Rex Wockner)

SCOTUSblog denied press credentials

Supreme-court
(Photo courtesy Brittanica.com)

Politico reports:

SCOTUSblog, the Peabody Award-winning blog that covers the Supreme Court "gavel-to-gavel," has been denied a Senate press pass, which in turn means it cannot be issued a press credential for the Supreme Court. The site's publisher said in a post it will appeal the decision and may litigate the issue if necessary.

It is disgraceful that the go-to source for reporting and analysis on SCOTUS is treated this way. The powers that be need to get with the times.

Beards and fashion

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If you are a slave to fashion, forever worrying about what "they" will think of your choices in clothing and personal grooming, I suppose you may be interested in this article in Salon. It states:

Attention all persons sporting a full visage of facial hair: If you’re trying to attract a mate, you might want to rethink your beard. That is one takeaway from a new study published this week in Biology Letters.

“We may well be at peak beard,” researcher Robert Brooks told the Guardian Australia. Brooks is part of a facial hair research team at the University of New South Wales; previously the team found that beards signaled virility. This year they discovered a different behavioral effect related to facial hair: If everyone is bearded, women prefer a clean shaven man. The same principle also works in reverse.

They don't need to change a hair for me. Affleck in particular looks stunning in his beard. I don't care a fart about someone's notion of fashion.

April 13, 2014

Walking While Trans

DC_Anti-PFZ_rally
(Photo by John Riley for Metro Weekly)

Planet Transgender reports:

Just days after Monica Jones was seen in this CBS video (embedded below) protesting the failed religious discriminatory law in Phoenix, she was offered a ride while walking to a bar. The driver turned out to be an undercover police officer who then arrested her for "manifestation of prostitution'.

This law is a vague statue which enables officers to arrest woman for no other reason than asking if they are police. The law is used to feed people to "Project Rose" as the city conducts massive drag nets hauling in dozens of individuals at a time. This profiling of woman by police is contested by the Arizona ACLU which notes that "The difference between 'innocent' and 'criminal' behavior often comes down to how a person looks.

A 2011 study in NYC found that 59% of transgender respondents said that they had been stopped by police. So over half of our sisters in NYC had they lived in Phoenix would have faced the prospect of "Project Rose".

In short, a transgender woman of color is simply assumed to be guilty. This makes things more convenient, except of course for the woman criminalized essentially for existing. The Monica Jones case illustrates why we are not done in our battle for equality and justice. Those of us who do not fit the police profile owe it to our trans sisters of color to stand up against this relentless legal assault on their existence.

On Friday, April 11, I participated in a rally outside the Wilson Building here in D.C. at which we expressed support for Monica Jones and called for repeal of the District's so-called Prostitution Free Zones law, which discriminates against transgender women and solves nothing. GLAA's views on PFZs are expressed here.

Metro Weekly reports. I am quoted at some length in the article.

Nevada GOP drops party platforms against gay marriage and abortion

Las Vegas Review-Journal reports a welcome bit of news.

Mat Staver warns of government overthrow over gay marriage

Right Wing Watch shares the latest right-wing lunacy.

On a day of silence, an anti-gay message

One anti-gay student interviewed said something familiar: he has no problem with people being gay as long as they don't go parading about the school. Translation: It's okay to be gay as long as you're completely invisible and don't organize to stop bullying.

April 11, 2014

Ted Cruz, Who Said Uninsured Should Just Get Health Care From ERs, Backs Group That Wants ERs To Turn Away Uninsured People

Ted_cruz2
(Credit: Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

The latest from Right Wing Watch. Like you're surprised?

Krauthammer on 'thought police'

Charles-Krauthammer

Check out Charles Krauthammer's latest column.

I hardly know where to start with Krauthammer's attempt to turn liberals into totalitarians. He blames "activists" for a grassroots effort by Mozilla employees and developers. He ignores the legal and constitutional issues at the core of the marriage equality fight and pretends it is all moral and philosophical -- because the religious bullies on his side of the aisle are determined to cast themselves as victims. He pretends that Obama had the same position as Brendan Eich in 2008, but Obama opposed Proposition 8. I was not happy with Obama's position back then, and criticized his slowness to "evolve" on the issue; but ballot measures were a key battleground, and Obama opposed their use to attack gays.

Krauthammer's argument on climate change is not with Obama but with scientists, who (despite his tendentious cherry picking) overwhelmingly agree that human activity played a role in it. And he mocks the reference to "change" instead of "warming" as if it is an evasion, when it more accurately reflects the science, which does not claim uniform effects. Here Krauthammer flirts with those who confuse weather and climate, though he knows better.

What is the point of all this furious and smug propagandizing? It is to make the relentless assault on gay families look like a mere dinner table argument, and to make those defending themselves look like the aggressors. It is to deflect attention from plutocrats like the Koch brothers who use fights on social issues to distract people from the harm being done to their own interests, as with Art Pope hijacking North Carolina and installing minoritarian government.

Just get everyone arguing over free contraceptives and women being sluts, and somehow the women whose reproductive freedom is under aggressive assault become the aggressors. All of this would be hilarious were it not so pernicious.

April 10, 2014

Marian Anderson at Lincoln Memorial, 75 years ago

Filmpreservation.org writes:

[I]n early 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution declined music impresario Sol Hurok's request to book Marian Anderson into its Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Her race was evidently the reason. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt then resigned from the DAR, an act that increased public awareness of the controversy. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes arranged for a concert on the Lincoln Memorial steps. On April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang before a live audience of seventy-five thousand and a national radio audience of millions more.

Mrs. Roosevelt's immortal resignation letter to the president general of the DAR began, "I am afraid that I have never been a very useful member of the Daughters of the American Revolution...." It was politely devastating. Any course in rhetoric should include it.

April 09, 2014

UMass guard Derrick Gordon comes out

Cyd Zeigler of OutSports interviews sophomore shooting guard Derrick Gordon of the University of Massachusetts, who came out to his teammates. Kudos to this young man, and to those who helped him.

Derrick_Gordon

Fischer: It's now a crime to be a Christian in America

From Right Wing Watch. Do not rely on Bryan Fischer for information.

Sen. Alan Simpson Supports Freedom to Marry

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson does this ad for Freedom to Marry. I've met him and his wife. Delightful people.

April 07, 2014

Supreme Court won’t hear anti-gay photographer case

The Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it won’t take up a case in which a New Mexico photography business alleges its rights were violated when it landed in hot water for refusing to shoot a same-sex wedding ceremony.

In orders published Monday morning, the court listed the case, Elane Photography v. Willock, without comment as among the cases it won’t consider.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Elane Photography, which was found to have violated New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law for refusing to take a photo for the same-sex wedding ceremony for Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth in 2006. (The wedding was only ceremonial because the incident took place before the state legalized same-sex marriage.)

Thank the Goddess for small favors.

Bedtime Bible Stories

America's Best Christian, Betty Bowers, gets biblical with her bedtime stories for children. If you think this scriptural stuff is harsh, you should check out the original fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. Or perhaps Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Verses for Children.

Westboro Baptist members run out of town in OK

KFOR-TV reports that members of the notorious Phelps clan of Topeka, Kansas were run out of Moore, Oklahoma as they picketed to declare and celebrate that God had sent the town a deadly tornado last year as retribution for America's tolerance of homosexuals. Or something. Oklahoma is a red state's red state, so this is amusing. Not that I approve of running people out of town. The motorcyclists in the video may be the folks who make a point of showing up where the Phelps families does, in order to drown out their hateful protests. The last time Westboro protested outside the Supreme Court, we all ignored them.

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)

Mickey Rooney, 1920 - 2014

Actor Mickey Rooney has died at age 93. A tribute is in order. This may be heresy, but there's something about those old Mickey & Judy "let's do a show" movies that makes me gag; so I chose the trailer for 1938's Boys Town, in which Mickey starred with Spencer Tracy.

Below is "Yakko's Universe" from the 1990s TV show Animaniacs, which was deliberately annoying but had its moments. This song includes a reference to Rooney. Hat tip to Sean Bugg.

April 06, 2014

April 30 - GLAA's 43rd anniversary awards reception

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Fighting for equal rights since 1971
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, DC 20013
(202) 667-5139 - [email protected]


April 3, 2014


Dear Friend of GLAA:

We like to celebrate our anniversary by honoring others. Thus at our annual reception on April 30 we’ll present Distinguished Service Awards to three stalwart activists: Jerry Clark, Earl Fowlkes, and Alison Gill. And we’ll clink glasses with many other friends, in and out of public office, who have helped keep D.C. at the forefront of LGBT progress.

We’re sprucing it up this year, moving to Policy Restaurant and Lounge at 14th and T NW on the hottest new “restaurant row” in town. (After all, at GLAA we’re all about policy!) We’ll have a tasty selection of passed hors d’oeuvres, some happy hour bar specials, and a complimentary champagne toast.

This week’s primary election showed how the political landscape and players change. There is still a need for experienced, independent voices, year-in and year-out, to defend our community’s interests in the face of new challenges.

So what still needs doing? We lay it out in our policy brief, Building on Victory, the fruit of consultation with activists from across our community. Building coalitions, developing expertise, and engaging those who make and execute public policy are still the way to wield influence—and to ward off interference by Congress, which often treats the District like a plaything.

GLAA’s voice continues to be heard through the political tumult. With our 2014 Election Project we have obtained answers from D.C. candidates on a range of LGBT issues. With our allies we won transgender healthcare coverage and worked to improve relations with police. We even shared lessons from our marriage equality victory with local students (for example, my oral history taped by students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School). Just today, we and other groups including DC Trans Coalition and GLOV raised our voices for repeal of the District’s unconstitutional so-called Prostitution Free Zones.

Our collective “seat at the table” is about much more than having an LGBT person in an elected post; our community won its respected place over many decades of advocacy and civic involvement.

GLAA’s volunteer, collaborative approach has a solid track record of winning results. But maintaining the policy chops and political savvy to get policies enacted and implemented requires sustained commitment. Your support is a smart investment in forward-looking activism.

On April 30 at Policy (1904 14th Street NW), please join our reception as we renew our commitment to keeping the flame of LGBT equality and justice alive. You can RSVP using our anniversary flyer or make your ticket donation via PayPal at http://glaa.org/anniversary/.


Hope to see you there!

Rick Rosendall
President

20 years later, commemorating the Rwandan Genocide

[Above, the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda tells the story of how hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, hid and protected 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees during the Rwandan Genocide. Rusesabagina's story was told by Philip Gourevitch in his book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.]

20 years ago the horror was already planned, and needed only surface-to-air missiles to set it off. Wiki reports: "On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying [Rwandan President Juvénal] Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on its descent into Kigali, killing all on board. Genocidal killings began the following day: soldiers, police and militia quickly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans' national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi. These forces recruited or pressured Hutu civilians to arm themselves with machetes, clubs, blunt objects and other weapons to rape, maim and kill their Tutsi neighbors and destroy or steal their property."

The commemoration to be held in Kigali tomorrow, April 7, will not include a representative of France. Al Jazeera reports:

Continue reading "20 years later, commemorating the Rwandan Genocide" »