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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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October 24, 2014

Great performances: Jeffrey Wright at Belize in Angels

I was looking for something else, and came upon this clip from the HBO version of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Justin Kirk as Prior Walter, hospitalized with AIDS, tells his friend Belize, played by Jeffrey Wright, about the angels who are visiting him. Prior and Belize are former lovers and dear friends.

I saw both parts of Angels on a Saturday in 1994 on Broadway. I vividly remember Wright delivering the line, "My jaw aches at the memory." Wright's performance in that production won him a Tony, and his HBO reprise won him an Emmy. I appreciate having the TV version (though it lacks another Tony winner, Kathleen Chalfant, whose roles were given to Meryl Streep), because in 1994 I was in the balcony. TV gives you a front-row seat. This landmark drama was the first time I saw Wright. He has played a wide range of characters since, from MLK in HBO's Boycott to a CIA agent in the James Bond movies, to a Dominican drug lord in the Shaft remake, to the dangerous Dr. Valentin Narcisse in Boardwalk Empire. He is always compelling. If you know of a more gifted actor currently working, do tell.

Another clip, this one facing off with the dying Roy Cohn, played by the man whose performance in Dog Day Afternoon convinced Wright he must be an actor. Imagine Wright's thrill at this collaboration. If you are unfamiliar with Angels (something which you ought to correct), the ghost standing next to Belize at the end (when he says "I am the shadow on your grave") is that of Ethel Rosenberg.

A fine proposal for the South to secede

Brian Tashman reports at Right Wing Watch:

Conservative columnist and former Reagan administration aide Douglas MacKinnon is out with a new book calling for Southern states to secede ... again.

While speaking yesterday with Janet Mefferd about his book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country…Now,” MacKinnon called for a movement of states, starting with South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, to establish a new country that will adhere to the Religious Right’s political agenda.

Texas, MacKinnon explained, was not included in his secessionist blueprint because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

Let them leave this time, with our blessing. The GOP would never win the presidency or control of Congress again.

Ted Cruz’s Deputy Chief Jokingly Blames Ebola Infections on Obamacare

CruzChief

Chris Caesar at Boston.com reports:

The deputy chief of staff for Senator Ted Cruz thinks he knows how Ebola got into America.

Nick Muzin quickly deleted the tweet after receiving a flood of critical comments.

This provoked plenty of responses on Twitter. For example:

Muzin2

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)

Rick Santorum: 'We're losing' because gays 'silenced the church'

Rick-Santorum-Tea-Party-Candidate

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:

Rick Santorum thinks that young people would have come around to his anti-gay political stances if only the “statists” in the gay community hadn’t “silenced” him and other Religious Right figures.

The former senator and likely presidential candidate made the claim yesterday in an interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, where they discussed the case in Houston where pastors sued the city for rejecting their petitions to repeal a non-discrimination ordinance. The city in turn subpoenaed several pastors, which Santorum and Perkins considered an affront to pastors’ rights.

“I really believe in this subject matter at hand with the gay community that a Judeo-Christian worldview cannot survive with a worldview that is as rabidly secular as this movement is,” Santorum said.

Pardon me, but if we silenced the church, why is the church still talking?

John Oliver's solution for Supreme Court video

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has solved the problem of SCOTUS not allowing television cameras during oral arguments.

Rep. Steve King doesn't expect to meet gays in heaven

Steve_King_1

Douglas Burns at The Jefferson Herald reports:

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, suggests gays won't make it to heaven.

What's more, in an interview, King intimated that the divorced or cohabitators could be thwarted in the pursuit of eternal salvation as the Christian faith teaches it.

Those assessments from the conservative western Iowa congressman came during his forceful takes on a preliminary document released by a collection of Catholic bishops that calls for broader acceptance of homosexuals and people who are divorced or living together without being married....

"I'll just say that what was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don't expect to meet them should I make it to heaven."

Cause ya ain't gettin' in, Bozo.

(Hat tip: Hunter at Daily Kos)

October 23, 2014

Stampede to the Exit

Stampede_insert_by_Bigstock
(Photo courtesy Bigstock)

Here is a link to my column in this week's Blade. As the election season winds down, I look at how voters are caught between scary movie and farce. Here is an excerpt:

The real problem the right has with our judiciary is that it interferes with their efforts to stampede the public. A stampede helps you enact your agenda as rapidly and with as little scrutiny as possible. James Madison worried that minorities could be tyrannized by the majority as much as by a king. The federal judiciary is part of the checks and balances he and others designed to prevent tyranny from below as well as above.

In this election, the Republican Party is winning the sweepstakes for stampeding voters to avoid examination of its record. Panic and outrage are the best ways to provoke a stampede. In the late 17th century, an accusation of witchcraft could eliminate a rival. In the early 20th century, the alleged rape of a white woman could set off destruction of an entire black community with nary a whisper of due process. Today, the favored goblins are Islamist head-choppers and sick Africans.

None of this could withstand critical inquiry; but politicians exploit our herd instinct. A beloved Psalm, after all, portrays us as sheep needing a shepherd. The faithful are called a flock. Using the brains that God gave us to think for ourselves is condemned as vanity. One of the strongest social forces is ostracism of anyone who rocks the boat. We picture ourselves as a nation of rugged frontiersmen, yet react to each new threat like a victim in a horror movie.

It is as implausible that we are helpless against ISIS attacks as it is that we are less able to stop Ebola than Senegal.

October 22, 2014

NYT Columnist Apologizes For Attending Fundraiser For Anti-Gay Legal Group

Douthatadf

I am quoted in this article by Carlos Maza and Joe Strupp at Media Matters. They report:

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat apologized for appearing at a fundraising event for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extreme anti-gay legal group working to criminalize homosexuality....

As Media Matters noted, ADF is one of the most extreme anti-gay legal groups in the country, fighting against even basic legal protections for LGBT people and working internationally to repress LGBT human rights, including supporting Belize's draconian law criminalizing gay sex.

On Wednesday, Douthat explained that he did not know ADF's event was a fundraiser and said he plans to decline the honorarium he received from the event.

I note that my quote (follow the link) was given before word of Douthat's apology. I am glad that he apologized and will not accept the honorarium.

Rep. Gohmert shows his detailed knowledge of Greek military history

Ah, the endless font of stupidity that is Rep. Louie Gohmert.

Michael Sam cut from Cowboys practice squad

Michael_Sam_insert_by_Marcus_Qwertyus_via_Wikimedia
(Photo by Marcus Qwertyus; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports on the unhappy news from Dallas. I have no reason to think this is anything but a football decision, as the Cowboys defense situation has changed since Michael Sam was signed. He is the picture of grace in his comments on Twitter:

October 21, 2014

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel controversy

Hitching-Post-Idaho-638x425
(Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post Chapel. Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

The anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom is suing the City of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho in a "gays are bullies" case. Last Friday, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order against the city. Here is an excerpt:

This case is about the City of Coeur D’Alene unconstitutionally coercing two Christian ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies at The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in violation of their religious beliefs, their ordination vows, and their consciences. Coeur D’Alene does so by imposing a Hobson’s choice on the Knapps through City Ordinance §9.56, which bars sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations: the Knapps can either violate their religious convictions and ministerial vows by performing same-sex wedding ceremonies or follow their religious convictions and vows by declining to perform same-sex ceremonies and face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
This was reported by Todd Starnes of Fox News: City threatens to arrest ministers who refuse to perform same-sex weddings

The story was given legs by Eugene Volokh at WaPo: Can ministers who make a living by conducting weddings be required to conduct same-sex weddings?

The claim that those awful gays are bullying ministers does not survive closer inspection. Here are several stories to check out:

A quick Google search shows that the right wing is going nuts over this story. We have to fight back with the truth.

October 19, 2014

Monday October 20 - Early Voting Begins

"Early Voting for the 2014 General Election begins on October 20th at One Judiciary Square. On Saturday, October 25th, all 9 early voting locations will be open across the District of Columbia. All locations remain open until Saturday, November 1st (except Sundays). Early Voting Center hours are from 8:30am to 7:00pm."

The following elected offices and ballot measures will be on the ballot this year:

 Delegate to the US House of Representatives
 Mayor of the District of Columbia
 Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia
 At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
 Ward 1, 3, 5 and 6 Members of the Council of the District of Columbia
 Attorney General for the District of Columbia
 United States ("Shadow") Representative
 United States ("Shadow") Senator
 Ward 1, 3, 5 and 6 Members of the State Board of Education
 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Offices
 Initiative 71 - "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014"

GLAA is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates but does rate candidates for Mayor and the City Council on their support for issues of importance to the LGBT community.  You can find this years ratings on the front of the GLAA website.  There you will also find responses to the GLAA questionnaire and an explanation of how these rating were arrived at.  GLAA strives to be impartial in its ratings.  Candidates can (and do) submit additional information to raise their rating.

Early Voting Locations

Chevy Chase Community Center
5601 Connecticut Ave NW Ward 3
Multi-Purpose Room

Columbia Heights Community Center
1480 Girard St, NW Ward 1
Gymnasium

Dorothy I Height-Benning Library
3935 Benning Rd, NE Ward 7
Meeting Room

King Greenleaf Recreation Center
201 N St, SW Ward 6
Gymnasium

Malcolm X Elementary School
1351 Alabama Ave SE Ward 8
Multi-purpose room

One Judiciary Square
441 4th St, NW Ward 2
Old City Council Chambers (1st floor, right side of building)

Sherwood Recreation Center
640 10th St, NE Ward 6
Gymnasium

Takoma Park Recreation Center
300 Van Buren St, NW Ward 4
Multi-Purpose Room

Turkey Thicket Recreation Center
1100 Michigan Ave, NE Ward 5
Gymnasium

Headlines about the Catholic synod that miss the real news

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Check out these headlines on the failure of the Catholic Church's extraordinary synod to achieve the supermajority needed to adopt even watered-down language reaching out to gays:

All three are accurate, but the Times avoids the wrong emphasis. The real story here is that a Catholic synod voted 118-62 in favor of any slightest move away from its monolithically anti-gay position, not that there was strong opposition to it, not that it fell short this time. The effort Francis has started will not soon be completed, but his sacking of Cardinal Raymond Burke as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura shows he means business.

I left the Church long ago, but I respect those who, having chosen to stay and fight, are sticking with it. We don't all have to make the same choices (unlike in pre-Reformation Christendom). People like the folks at New Ways Ministry deserve our respect for their perseverance. As it happens, they now have a sympathetic pope. But the College of Cardinals is packed with appointees of JPII and Benedict, and the conservatives have a lot of power. It is going to be a long struggle.

October 18, 2014

Pope Francis removes anti-gay Cardinal Burke from Vatican court

Pope Francis has removed the virulently anti-gay Cardinal Raymond Burke (interviewed above prior to this development) as prefect of the Holy See's Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's supreme court. Excellent news. Timmian Massie reports at NCRM:

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a darling of conservative Catholics who is virulently anti-gay, has confirmed to BuzzFeed what rumors from Rome have said for weeks. He will be demoted by Pope Francis from the head of the Roman Catholic Church's version of the Supreme Court to a figurehead role as the Patron of the Knights of Malta, a chivalrous order known for its work among the sick....

Burke recently told an interviewer that legally-married gay and lesbian family members should be shunned from family celebrations during the upcoming holidays, asking “what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?”

Burke's strong criticism of a preliminary document that included more inclusive welcoming of LGBT community members in the life of the Church and his challenge to Francis, who is seen to have had a hand in the drafting of the document, were apparently the last straw for the Pope.

I am not a praying person, but if you are, please pray for the health and longevity of this pope. The cleanup job he faces rivals the Augean Stables.

October 17, 2014

Sen. Cruz attacks Mayor Parker over Houston Equal Rights Ordinance


The battle over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance continues, with Sen. Ted Cruz demagoguing (see video below) and the city clarifying its subpoena.

Arizona gets marriage equality


Good news from Arizona! Lily Hiott-Millis at Freedom to Marry reports:

Today, October 17, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedgwick ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Arizona in two federal legal cases that challenged the state’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment.

Attorney General Horne has said that he will not appeal the ruling meaning that marriage licenses could be issued as soon as today.

In celebration of hermaphroditic snails

Snail-shell-on-keys-garry-gay
("Snail Shell on Keys" by Garry Gay)

In an update on my earlier post regarding the new snail species Aegista diversifamilia, Manon Verchot at Treehugger.com quotes me, including my new lyrics channeling Cole Porter:

Bi-curious whales do it, quails do it,
New hermaphroditic snails do it.
Let's do it, let's fall in love.

Below, though sadly without benefit of my special lyrics, Billie Holiday gives her rendition. Use your imagination.

Rick Scott, man without a fan

The Florida gubernatorial race has come down to a debate over whether an electrical appliance (specifically, a small fan) counts as prohibited "electronics" in a televised debate. If your house were on fire and someone said, "Grab the electronics!" I bet you would grab the laptop computer before a household fan. Just saying. In any case, the tagline of the day goes to the meme below.

Rickscotthasnofans

Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer dies

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Tim Hauser, founder of famed close harmony group Manhattan Transfer, has died at age 72. As a fellow former member of the Villanova Singers and Spires (though I never had the pleasure of meeting him), I tip my hat to our illustrious alum. Well done! I expect he is meeting another alum, Jim Croce, on the other side.

October 14, 2014

Love and snails

Snails
(Photo by Chih-Wei Huang)

Azeen Ghorayshi of the Guardian reports:

Researchers in Taiwan have taken the unusual step of naming a newly identified species of snail in recognition of same-sex marriage rights. Dubbed Aegista diversifamilia, the hermaphroditic species was so named to reflect the “diversity of sexual orientation in the animal kingdom”, said Dr Yen-Chang Lee, who co-authored the study published on Monday in the journal ZooKeys.

Today GLAA received the following media inquiry:

Hi,

My name is Manon Verchot, I am a journalist working at TreeHugger.com. I'm writing a piece about a new species of snail being named in celebration of same sex-marriage (http://bit.ly/1tZE2Jk) and I would love to get a statement from your organisation addressing what your thoughts are on this and what you think it means (if anything).

I will be publishing this piece Thursday morning, I would really appreciate it if you could get back to me before then.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Manon

I like to be helpful to members of the press, so I replied:

Manon,

It seems like a lovely tribute, though I am somewhat reticent because inevitably some confused social conservative will complain that the next thing you know, someone will want to marry his pet snail. As it happens, I have no pet snail, and do not wish to marry one. Thus what began so pleasantly ends up with my having to deny amorous feelings toward gastropods.

Rick Rosendall
President
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

On a more serious note, those interested in the extensive examples of homosexuality that scientists have observed among animals should take a look at Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl.