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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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GLAA is an all volunteer organisation. Our expenses are paid by our yearly Awards Banquet and by membership dues and contributions. If you would like to join GLAA this can be done through PayPal or through our membership form.

October 31, 2014

AG candidate Karl Racine talks to LGBT community

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(Photo by Darrow Montgomery, Washington City Paper)

The top-polling contender in the District's first election for an attorney general is Karl Racine, who is the first African American to have been named managing partner at a top 100 law firm. I met with him earlier this fall and was impressed. Many friends in the legal profession are supporting him.

While the only AG candidate to send a statement to GLAA is Lorie Masters (GLAA is not rating candidates in the AG race, but invited them to send us statements), Racine is interviewed today by Metro Weekly. Here is an excerpt of his comments:

I have always been deeply concerned with making sure that the same opportunities are available to others regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other trait.

As Managing Partner at Venable, I was responsible for hiring, promoting, and training our attorneys, and emphasized the importance of ensuring diversity in doing so. I drafted, implemented, and enforced clear policies regarding equal treatment and equal opportunity. I specifically hired a diverse team, including women, minorities, and LGBT individuals, and promoted many of these individuals to positions of prominence within the firm. Furthermore, I strongly believe in the power of proactive diversity training. Intolerance is based on ignorance, but can be addressed through creative programs such as our firm-wide book clubs dedicated to educating employees on issues of diversity.

On a personal level, I am a long-time volunteer with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the primary community-based provider of HIV/AIDS services in the city. I have taken numerous pro bono cases representing people living with HIV/AIDS and helped them obtain social security benefits. I also took on pro bono work representing the Clinic itself. To further support Whitman-Walker’s work, I encouraged my Venable colleagues and other friends to take on additional projects, earning Venable the Clinic’s “Going the Extra Mile Law Firm Award” in 2004, among other honors.

In addition to my work with Whitman-Walker, I have volunteered with the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Legal Advice Program at Bread for the City, which provides vulnerable residents with comprehensive services such as housing, food, legal assistance, and medical care. I am also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession.

As Attorney General I will treat each and every resident of the District with dignity, respect and with equality before the law.

See other candidate responses to Metro Weekly. In other coverage, the Blade reported on the candidates' pro-LGBT positions; and candidate Smitty Smith essentially bought the Stein Club endorsement.

While GLAA is not rating AG candidates, I personally have concluded that Masters and Racine are the most qualified based on their experience, and I am supporting Racine. The District has seen several public officials taken down by scandal. Choosing as our first elected attorney general a man who has played a pioneering role as an African American among top law firms would be a feather in our cap and a reminder of the talent, accomplishment, and leadership available in our city.

Vote for Initiative 71

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GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014," and urges you to vote for it.

We have included it in our ratings ad, discussed it in our policy brief, Building on Victory, and discussed it in our testimony this week before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee decrying racial disparities in police stops:

[W]e appreciate the work of our friends at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, which reported in 2013 on the dramatic racial disparity in marijuana arrests in the District:

"Officers from fifteen different police forces … made marijuana arrests in 2010, however MPD officers made 4,996 of the 5,393 total arrests, or almost 93%.... PSA 602, located in Anacostia, had a 2010 marijuana arrest rate of 2,488 per 100,000. By contrast, PSA 204, located in Woodley Park, had a marijuana arrest rate of just 33 per 100,000."

Given the roughly equal rates of self-reported marijuana use by white and black citizens, the disparity in enforcement must be confronted by this committee. In the meantime, the people are changing the law. GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014." This will not end all problems associated with the disastrously counterproductive war on drugs, but it is a start.

Unfortunately, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, who leans conservative on many issues, is not quite with the program, judging by her comments on Twitter:

I replied to her this morning:

Do not think for a moment that your vote doesn't matter. Please vote on or before November 4, and make sure to vote for Initiative 71. It will be a vote for fairness and justice.

October 30, 2014

Coffee Frenemies

A Starbucks commercial, no less.

There are no illegal aliens

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The incomparable Sigourney Weaver and friend.

At least he admits the Bible is sexist

Pat Robertson gibbers about Houston under Annise Parker resembling the biblical Gibeah.

What was it with ancient Israelites sending their virgin daughters out to be raped to placate angry mobs, anyway? Pat admits it's sexist and almost says, "I don't know why anyone would read this crap, but anyway...."

This is your neighbor speaking...

This came to mind for perfectly arbitrary reasons. Jason Robards, Jr. addressing his neighbors in A Thousand Clowns, 1965.

Stars misaligned

Pharrell Williams, known for a silly hat and an overplayed song, has endorsed Muriel Bowser. But wait, Streisand says vote for Catania. No, wait, it's Brad Pitt supporting Schwartz. No, it's Ann Coulter endorsing Bruce Majors. No, it's the head nurse from St. E's endorsing Faith. No, wait! What's a star fucker to do???

Non-news of the day: Tim Cook is gay

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Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out in Businessweek.

I am so inspired by his bravery, I want to announce that I am gay too. There. A burden lifted!

Kidding aside, maybe courage isn't quite the right word. Sacrifice might be closer to the mark. For an intensely private person to discuss his private affairs can indeed be a big deal for that person. Of course, just mentioning you are gay is not giving blow by blow sexual details. Few straight people consider their sexual orientation a secret. That is one of the most pernicious double standards, enforced socially and tacitly. And for such an eminent man of business to break that silence is a great gift.

42 weighs in:

Is Nick Jonas queerbaiting?

Yeah, sort of, says Towleroad.

I confess I am having trouble caring. But it appears to be a thing.

GOP candidate puts gay son in ad; HRC isn't having it

Amanda Terkel at HuffPost reports:

GOP House candidate Nan Hayworth released a new ad Wednesday featuring her son, who is gay, assuring voters that his mother is not an "extremist."

"As a gay man, coming to terms with who I am wasn't easy, but my parents love me for who I am and for whom I love," says her son, Will, in the ad. "So when I hear vicious negative attacks against Nan Hayworth, I have to speak out. Nan Hayworth is no extremist. She's my mom. She's kind. She's compassionate. She's always been there for me. And she'll always be there for you."

Hayworth is attempting to defeat Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) in New York's 18th District. Maloney, who is gay, ousted Hayworth from the seat in 2012.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, was unimpressed with Hayworth's new ad. In a statement, the group criticized Hayworth for her policy positions, saying that just because she has a gay son doesn't mean she's a champion of LGBT rights.

HRC notes that while in office, Hayworth did not support same-sex marriage, did not support DOMA repeal, and did not support the Uniting American Families Act (to keep binational couples from being separated).

I agree with HRC on this one.

Giants win World Series, Mad Bum is MVP, slugger Sandoval makes winning catch

Above are video highlights of game 7 of the World Series, in which Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner got his third win of the series and won MVP. Slugger Pablo Sandoval made the winning catch to defeat the Royals. There was edge-of-your-seat excitement to the final moment.

Yahoo! Sports reports.

Jesuit-run university in Nebraska to offer same-sex benefits despite Church objections

Towleroad reports:

Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, has announced that it will soon offer health benefits to employee’s same-sex spouses despite the objections of Catholic archbishop George J. Lucas, reports KETV7 ABC.

Creighton UniversityOutlining the decision in a letter sent Monday to trustees, President Rev. Timothy Lannon, said that although Creighton continues to support the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage, the university is taking this step to meet the needs of its employees and remain competitive with other universities that already offer similar benefits.

Lannon added that 21 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S. already offer similar benefits.

George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, reacted predictably:

I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice; both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman and the meaning of human life and love.

Here's to superseding divine law.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Woman who made video about catcalling is getting rape threats

This is very disturbing, even though you would have to be living under a rock to be surprised. Kelsey McKinney writes on Vox:

This video wasn't made for women facing harassment. It was made for men who remain blissfully unaware of how women are treated when they walk down the street. But instead of listening, instead of taking the time to realize how women might feel when men yell at them, these commenters — backed by their anonymity and privilege — have threatened to rape Roberts for daring to talk about it.

Let's lay this out in plain terms. Women are forced to feel uncomfortable and scared for walking down the damn street. Then, when one woman takes the time to show just how uncomfortable those interactions are, people threaten to physically assault her. If the video reminded us that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they leave the house, the response is a reminder that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they simply turn on their computer.

The problem here isn't just that men are ignorant of how women are treated. The problem is that many know exactly what they're doing to women, and will try to intimidate and silence women who try to fight back.

Harassment is not a compliment. It is easy to dismiss complaints of this kind of treatment if you are not routinely subjected to it. We need to check our privilege.

I was about to copy a tweet from @Hollaback, the producer of the video, but its Twitter account has been suspended. This appears to illustrate the reality of our misogynistic culture: Men who are called on their sexist and harassing behavior often react angrily and try to silence those who call them on it. Claims of fraud etc. are part of their arsenal. We are so far from done in pushing for equality. We need to defend our sisters.

Now this: Catcalling video edited out the white guys.

And this parody.

October 29, 2014

Kansas couple files brief claiming gays are stealing their marriage

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Kansas couple Phillip and Sandra Unruh, whose motion to intervene in marriage equality case Marie v. Moser was denied in federal district court, have filed a brief airing their absurd arguments.

Your Honor, we cannot sleep knowing that down the street those homosatanists are doing the thing that makes Jesus puke!

What's Scarier than Halloween? The Bible!

The latest from Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian.

Mayor Parker caves on subpoenas of pastors

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(Photo By Billy Smith II / Houston Chronicle)

Houston Chronicle reports:

Convinced by clergymen from across the country that she had entered a raging national debate on religious freedom she wanted no part of, Mayor Annise Parker on Wednesday agreed to withdraw controversial subpoenas the city issued to five local pastors in connection with a lawsuit over Houston's equal rights ordinance.

The mayor's announcement came amid an unabated firestorm over the subpoenas, particularly among Christian conservatives and Republican politicians, who blasted Parker for trying to "silence the church."

Parker's decision represented the only viable political option, said University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, a specialist in religious liberty law. Seeking so much material was inflammatory, he said, adding that much of what the city seeks can be obtained through other means.

Did Mayor Parker not anticipate the right-wing backlash? If there is any way she could have handled it worse, I would like to know how.

Olson, Wolfson discuss marriage cases

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One of the sessions I attended at Wednesday's Washington Ideas Forum (hosted by Atlantic and the Aspen Institute) was this discussion by attorneys Ted Olson and Evan Wolfson of the state of the battle over marriage equality in federal courts. Jonathan Capehart moderated. Here's an excerpt of David A. Graham's report:

"We are winning, but winning is not won," Wolfson said. "It's not a done deal until it’s done. It's not going to waft in on waves of inevitability."

Wolfson has been leading the fight for gay marriage for more than three decades; Olson, alongside Democratic lawyer David Boies, has recently been one of its most high-profile advocates. The men were chummy, despite a kerfuffle this spring over Jo Becker's Forcing the Spring, a book some LGBT advocates felt aggrandized Boies and Olson at the expense of Wolfson and others.

There was no rivalry—just a mix of hope and frustration. On the one hand, about two-thirds of states now have gay marriage, and about two-thirds of American citizens live in those states. On the other hand, that means one third do not, and as long as same-sex marriage is not legal everywhere in the United States, they argued, the rights of gay people and their families are painfully compromised.

Other highlights of the Washington Ideas Forum were DefSec Chuck Hagel, who announced that service members returning from West Africa will face a quarantine; and Attorney General Eric Holder, who said that no reporter will go to jail as long as he is AG. Holder was interrupted by a protester decrying DOJ's record on civil liberties under Holder. Capehart, who was also the interviewer in this case, smoothly turned to Holder and asked him what about DOJ's poor record on whistleblowers and journalists. Holder defended himself, but was more credible when he talked about his decision not to defend DOMA in court.

Thanks to Atlantic Washington Editor At Large Steve Clemons for inviting me to the forum, which was held at the Harmon Center and continues on Thursday morning. A Thursday highlight will be an appearance by Secretary of State John Kerry.

World Series moment

October 27, 2014

GLAA: racial disparities in police stops must end

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(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Today I will testify on behalf of GLAA at an oversight hearing of the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on the Metropolitan Police Department's stop and contact policies and procedures. In it I cite findings and recommendations by our allies in the ACLU and NAACP. Here is my conclusion:

In looking at citizen complaints of police practices, we keep coming back to disparities by geography, race, and class. This is unacceptable. As I wrote in 2012, "It is easier to make excuses for stopping and frisking if you are never targeted by police based on your skin color."

Not only police but citizens in all eight wards must face the inequities around us with open eyes. When the law is not enforced in a fair and equitable manner, we undermine respect for the law. The standard carved above the entrance to the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under Law," is more a mockery than a reality for all too many. Dr. King issued the challenge the day before he was struck down: "All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper." If his words continue to sting, perhaps it is because love of country is all too often an excuse for self-congratulation instead of a call to self-correction.

Read GLAA's full testimony here.

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.