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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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July 12, 2014

Cultural appropriation goes in multiple directions

Sierra Mannie is a senior at the University of Mississippi, in whose student newspaper she wrote a strong article that has been picked up by Time. It is titled, "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture," and here's how it opens:

I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.

She then explains. She makes legitimate points. But then I read a response on Tumblr by my friend David Mariner, Executive Director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. Here are a few excerpts from his thoughtful and eloquent piece:

The second thing I need you to know is that I can’t change who I am. I know you may suggest, as you did in your article, that gay men can simply ‘hide’ who they are. Perhaps I should lower the pitch of my voice artificially? Butch it up? Let me assure you, I tried that for the first twenty years of my life, and it came very close to killing me. I can’t hide who I am, nor should I....

Fourth up, and I really need you to hear this one, many of the expressions, sayings, mannerisms, and culture that you claim white men have appropriated from black women.... well a lot of it never really belonged to to straight women to begin with. It originated from LGBT culture, and predominately the Black and Latino Gay scene. Do a little research and look into Ball Culture. Watch Paris is Burning or Tongues Untied. Learn where all those expressions come from.

I encourage you to read both pieces. In a diverse society, respect and understanding must be reciprocal.

July 11, 2014

Laborers and newcomers: who are the heroes?

Proposition-8-580

Jeffrey Toobin blogs at The New Yorker on the controversy over a couple of celebrity super lawyers hogging credit for the work of a generation of marriage equality activists.

It's not the best piece on this subject. The flap over credit hogging is hard to separate from HRC's relentless star-fucking, which short-shrifts the thousands of us at the state and local level without million-dollar P.R. operations who were laying the groundwork years before Griffin, Olson, and Boies showed up. Plus those paying attention know that the Windsor case was far more important in its impact, since the Prop 8 case was thrown out for lack of standing, leaving the District Court ruling in place that only affected California.

Update: Andrew Sullivan responds to Toobin:

The issue is not between laborers and newcomers; it’s between laborers and a tiny number of newcomers who declared themselves indispensable saviors of a movement that had previously been allegedly “languishing in obscurity” – and then launched on a lucrative publicity tour to cement their place in history (something also that no one had ever done before). So no, Jeffrey, the correct historical analogy of Ted Olson is not to white freedom-riders in the South. They didn’t turn around and claim exclusive credit for the work of African Americans and then bill them over $6 million.

And no, Jeffrey, it isn’t just about the first paragraph. The framing of this lawsuit as “the legal battle to bring marriage equality to the nation” was the central message of the book, which is why Toobin used that exact phrase in his now-embarrassing blurb. It was neither of those things, as Toobin must now know. And as for the first paragraph, you know who doesn’t regret or retract a word of it, even when given several opportunities to do so? Jo Becker. There’s only so much the media establishment can do to keep a lie alive. And I guess Jeffrey just did his part.

100 rubles says this isn't gay propaganda

HuffPost reports:

A Russian politician is referencing his country's "gay propaganda" law in hopes of overhauling the design of a banknote he's deemed pornographic.

Roman Khudyakov, a member of parliament for the nationalist LDPR party, wants to change Russia's 100-ruble banknote (worth less than $3), which depicts an image of a statue of Apollo that appears atop the Bolshoi Theater, Reuters originally reported. Khudyakov said he opposes the design because "you can see clearly that Apollo is naked, you can see his genitalia."

O-100-RUBLE-NOTE-570

How appropriate that the Bolshoi would be involved. Incidentally, and I hate to mention this, but in the photo of the sculpture it appears that the horses' penises have been cut off.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Actually, I do

Untrue email subject line of the day: "You don't want to miss this!"

(Apologies to supporters of the candidate in question. It's nothing personal. It's political message and subject-line hype fatigue.)

First Denver same-sex couple gets marriage license after judge's ruling

The Denver Post reports:

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson was beaming as she awaited the first couple to walk through the doors.

"It's so gratifying," she said. "I'm so excited. I was just talking with someone on the phone, and I said, 'I didn't think it would ever happen in my lifetime.' "

Johnson began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, just hours after Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman rejected a request by the state to stop the Boulder clerk from continuing to do so. Hartman's ruling has potentially thrown open the doors as elected county clerks across the state consider whether they will begin issuing the licenses, despite the risk that they may later be declared invalid.

The ruling was the second defeat in two days in Colorado Attorney General John Suthers' effort to defend the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

Blade: GLAA opposes ENDA over religious exemption

Jeri_Hughes_and_Rick_Rosendall_insert_cMichael_Key
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Blade reports:

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, D.C.’s leading non-partisan LGBT advocacy group, voted at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night to declare its opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.

GLAA becomes one of the first prominent local LGBT groups to join a growing number of national LGBT advocacy organizations that have announced their opposition to ENDA within the past two weeks.

GLAA's statement is here.

Wisconsin appeals gay marriage ruling

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday appealed a decision from last month that struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage.

The two Republicans filed a two-page notice of appeal that will soon be followed up with a full brief explaining their legal arguments.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in June found the state's gay marriage ban violated the U.S. Constitution, but she stayed her order so Van Hollen and Walker could pursue an appeal.

Thursday's filing puts the case before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. It comes amid a wave of court rulings across the nation striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to ultimately determine whether gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry.

The 7th Circuit is already hearing an appeal of a decision striking down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. The appeals court last week agreed to put that case on a fast track.

On Wednesday, Utah officials announced that they are appealing the 10th Circuit's ruling in their marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court, making Utah's gay marriage ban the first to be appealed to SCOTUS since the Windsor ruling in June 2013. Which case, if any, the high court will hear in the coming term remains to be seen.

Rick Santorum warned us about this

UCBComedy explains: "Ron Spiner is the only candidate brave enough to fight for your right to marry whoever you want, as long as they're a dog and not the same sex as you." Apparently they're parodying Dr. Keith Ablow, who is seen below on Fox News discussing his concerns about polygamous bestiality.

For students of depravity, I note that these guys don't go nearly as far as Madonna did in her sex book twenty years ago. But what's with the guy and the peanut butter? How insensitive toward people with peanut allergies.

Perkins: 'Liberal Jewish Folk' Wrong To Favor Gay Rights, It Will Hurt Israel

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council explains how those Israel is endangered by "those who are pushing to make homosexuality and other forms of sexuality that deviate from God's design not just acceptable by the broader society but in many cases preferred under our law." I'd love to hear the details of how he thinks we are seeking an advantage rather than equality. But more noteworthy is the entire tone of his remarks, which suggests that he is no mere cynic but actually believes the presumptuous, dire nonsense he spouts.

July 09, 2014

Here's looking at you

Michael_Sam_Out_cover

Out magazine's cover story on openly gay NFL player Michael Sam includes this patriotic shot that will have lots of people saluting.

Washington Lawyers' Committee approves

Our friends at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs tweeted today during the Judiciary Committee hearing on three bills. I testified for GLAA on two of them, including the bill to repeal Prostitution Free Zones. @WashLaw4CR liked what I had to say, including my statement about redlining during questioning.

GLAA testifies for repeal of Prostitution Free Zones

RJR_and_allies_testify_on_PFZ_repeal
(At witness table: Cyndee Clay, HIPS; Kishan Putta, ANC 2B; Maneka Sinha, Public Defender Service; Rick Rosendall, GLAA)

Today I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-760, the Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014. I filled in for GLAA Secretary Saul Cruz, who was out sick. Below is my reading text. Full written testimony is here.

Good morning, Chairman Wells. I am Saul Cruz, Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which was founded in 1971.

GLAA strongly supports repeal of Prostitution Free Zones, as we testified in 2012. We therefore thank Councilmembers David Grosso, David Catania, and Mary Cheh for introducing Bill 20-760, the "Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014."

The use of PFZs facilitates discriminatory profiling of transgender people. As our colleagues in the DC Trans Coalition note:

  1. The Attorney General has determined that PFZs cannot be defended in court and are likely unconstitutional.
  2. MPD suspended PFZ implementation and said it was working to rescind its PFZ general order.
  3. Eliminating PFZs is a step toward reducing violence against sex workers.
  4. PFZ repeal makes sense from a public health perspective.

In our written testimony we quote extensively from 2005 testimony by Stephen M. Block, then legislative counsel for ACLU of the Nation's Capital. I will not read those passages. I will just note that we include his many case law citations to emphasize that PFZs are not only ineffective and harmful, but unconstitutional.

Continue reading "GLAA testifies for repeal of Prostitution Free Zones" »

GLAA testifies on marriage dissolution amendment bill

Earlier today, I presented testimony for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-793, the "Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Clarification Amendment Act of 2014." I filled in for GLAA Secretary Saul Cruz, who was out sick. Below is my reading text. Official copy is here.

Good morning, Chairman Wells. I am Rick Rosendall, President of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which was founded in 1971.

Bill 20-793, the "Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Clarification Amendment Act of 2014," amends the D.C. Code to clarify that the mechanism for the dissolution of marriage includes divorce and legal separation. We thank Chairman Mendelson for introducing it. We support the bill with a recommended change.

We agree with Professor Nancy Polikoff that the bill should be amended to make it clear that the court can decide matters of property division and spousal support. As she explained in an email on May 7, "[F]or a same-sex couple married in DC but domiciled in a non-recognition state, there is no other place that will determine a division of property and an award of spousal support if appropriate because those laws apply only to married couples and the state of domicile does not consider them married."

If District judges think they cannot divide property or award spousal support in such cases, it is best to be explicit. We will leave the amendatory language to Professor Polikoff. We thank her for lending her expertise, which has been invaluable in helping the District navigate its journey to equality for same-sex couples and their families. The greatest challenge, as in this case, has stemmed from the confusion and gaps in legal protection caused by differences in family law from state to state. We cannot be governed by speculation as to when the U.S. Supreme Court may end all such confusion by establishing marriage equality nationwide. So let us clarify our law this year.

Thank you.

Double rainbow

A good omen from the flying spaghetti monster, according to GLAA stalwart Craig Howell, who shares this with us.

Geidner: Three Reasons LGBT Groups Are Fighting Over A Bill That Isn’t Going To Become Law

LGBT_logos

An interesting analysis by Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed.

GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
www.glaa.org

For Release:
July 8, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
(202) 328-6278

GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA) voted at its monthly meeting on July 8 to adopt the following statement. It may be attributed to GLAA President Rick Rosendall.

GLAA joins the growing list of LGBT rights organizations that oppose the present version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In its current form, sweeping religious exemptions in ENDA could enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law by allowing far more organizations to bypass civil rights protections than are permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Furthermore, provisions added by Senator Rob Portman through amendment seek, in his words, "to ensure that government cannot penalize a religious employer because it qualifies as exempt from the non-discrimination requirements of ENDA." These assurances could weaken existing state and city non-discrimination protections resulting in a step backwards in protecting the LGBT community.

Continue reading "GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions" »

July 07, 2014

Marriage News Watch

An update from AFER's Matt Baume, who is in Pennsylvania this week.

George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me

Gay actor George Takei tells of when soldiers with bayonets came to his Los Angeles home when he was 5 and sent his family to a Japanese-American internment camp on a presidential order, without due process. He then talks about his heroes, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in American military history. And he explains why he loves America and is committed to democracy.

July 03, 2014

GLAA supports increasing Office of Police Complaints access to police information

On July 2, I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-63, the "Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013." Here is a portion:

We support Bill 20-63 with a requested change. The Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013 would, as the summary says, "give the Office of Police Complaints access to information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies to improve the monitoring and evaluation activities of the Police Complaints Board."

This proposed reform has been kicking around the Council for several years. We thank Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Cheh and Bowser for re-introducing it. However, when they introduced similar legislation in 2009, the City Paper reported that the bill specified that the board "shall have unfettered access to all information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies...."

By contrast, the current bill refers to "reasonable access." The difference between "unfettered access" and "reasonable access" is the difference between real access and mere rhetoric about access. "Reasonable access" is a vague and slippery term that can mean anything and nothing. If our intent with the present bill is to enhance police accountability by granting OPC statutory access to information, that access should be clearly stated and not conveyed by ambiguous wording that effectively turns it from a requirement into a suggestion. We urge that you restore the bill's teeth by changing "reasonable" back to "unfettered."

Read the whole thing here. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is strongly opposed to the bill, which she hyperbolically said would endanger the public safety. Once again the Bad Cathy comes roaring back! I am sorry, but OPC needs unfettered access to the data in question to do its job. Chief Lanier is wrong. The Council should pass the bill.

Thanks to Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, the new Executive Director at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, who agrees with GLAA on this and who presented excellent testimony.

Oh no, Scott Lively is unhappy with John Oliver

International poison merchant Scott Lively is unhappy over the above segment by "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver, whom he calls "a liar and a fraud." Well he would know. Oliver, who recently moved from Comedy Central's "Daily Show" to helm his own show on HBO, is one of the best things on television. I ran a portion of his interview with Pepe Julian Onziema before, but if you haven't seen the full thing, including his intro, I recommend it. Oliver nails it, and Pepe's restraint and quiet confidence and poise in the face of ignorance and hysteria are simply astounding. I saw Pepe at the U.S. Capitol last week, and he is not someone you forget.