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August 01, 2014

Ugandan constitutional court overturns Anti-Homosexuality Act

Frank Mugisha has just tweeted this great news from the constitutional court in Uganda. Congrats to him and his colleagues. This does not immediately protect LGBT folk there from mob violence. Lord knows what President Museveni or Martin Ssempa will say. They could stir up public backlash further. So our friends in Uganda must still be very careful. But the court's ruling is most welcome news. Stay tuned for details, but based on what was said in court yesterday, the ruling may be based on the fact that Speaker Kadaga held the vote on the bill without a quorum.

Update: Mugisha posted this follow-up:

Rep. Hastings slams #GOPlawsuit against Obama

Rep. Alcee Hastings slams the House GOP lawsuit against President Obama over enforcement of the Affordable Care Act.

Rick Scarborough: 'a miracle' God has not nuked USA over gay ambassadors

The latest from the unhinged religious right. Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch reports:

Vision America's Rick Scarborough recently spoke at a church in Florida as part of a "Give Me Liberty Tour" where he declared that every day that passes without God destroying this country is a miracle, especially since President Obama is appointing gay ambassadors to represent America before other nations.

"This thing could all come crashing down," Scarborough warned, saying that if a "series of dirty bombs" or one massive nuclear blast were to destroy America, it would be "perfectly just ... because we have squandered our grace in this country."

And to demonstrate just how vile this nation has become, Scarborough pointed to the fact that our foreign embassies celebrate LGBT Pride Month and that President Obama has appointed several gay ambassadors, agreeing with Islamic fundamentalists that American is now the "Great Satan."

9 former leaders of 'ex-gay' movement apologize

Maya Rhodan at Time reports.

ANC commissioner accused of hate crime

Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Leo Dwyer, who represents my own single member district (ANC2B07), was arrested yesterday for a 3 a.m. incident at 17th and Corcoran Streets, in which he allegedly attacked a homeless man, threw his belongings into the street, and sprayed him with cleaning chemicals. Dwyer is a bartender at J.R.'s at 17th and Church Streets. More details will emerge in the next few days. But such an attack is shocking.

Homeless people are among the most harmless of people in my experience. And "there but for the grace of God go I" is the appropriate attitude about them, in my view. If one cannot help them or speak to them in a civil manner, one should just walk by. Dwyer has a couple of challengers for his ANC post, and this attack, if reports are accurate, will quickly end it for him.

July 31, 2014

This evening on Make It Plain on SiriusXM Progress

I will be Mark Thompson's guest at 7 pm Eastern Time this evening on SiriusXM Progress, Channel 127, to discuss my column for this week, "Blood on a Beach," concerning the current conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The photo below, taken from the International Space Station, shows the border between Israel and Egypt and the Mediterranean coastline.

800px-Border_between_Israel_and_Egypt_visible_from_space

Heritage Foundation fellow uses nullification argument against marriage equality

Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports:

The anti-marriage-equality movement seems to have anointed Ryan T. Anderson as its next intellectual leader. Anderson, who is now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, follows in the footsteps of his mentor Robert P. George and National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher in being able to talk about the marriage issue without spewing fire and brimstone or talking about how gay people make them want to vomit.

This kinder, gentler approach has endeared Anderson and his predecessors to a movement that’s trying to snatch its image away from the likes of Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson.

But it also can obscure the fact that Anderson’s supposedly intellectual arguments against marriage equality can still be far out of the mainstream.

Read the whole thing here.

SMYAL taps Sultan Shakir

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John Riley of Metro Weekly reports:

The Board of Directors of Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), an organization dedicated to working with and empowering LGBTQ youth, announced early Thursday morning that it has named Sultan Shakir as its new executive director.

Shakir, a community organizer who most recently served as the youth and campus engagement program director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s top LGBT rights organization. He also previously served regional field director for HRC, the campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality during the legislative push to pass Maryland’s marriage equality law, and the political director during the organization’s successful attempt to defend the law at the ballot box in November 2012. Shakir was chosen following a search led by SMYAL board member and former board chair Betsy Pursell and conducted by Washington-based search firm LeaderFit.

Congrats to Sultan. GLAA gave him our Distinguished Service Award in 2010 for his work on the D.C. marriage equality effort as a regional field director for HRC.

Transgender girl stabbed on Metro train; culprit arrested

A transgender girl was stabbed on a Metro train in Fort Totten yesterday in an apparent hate crime. The suspect has been arrested. WTOP report here.

Blood on a Beach

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(Photo courtesy Anthony Bourdain)

My latest column was painful to write. Its subhead is: "The taboo against criticizing Israel hurts both Israel and America." Here is a portion:

We are all implicated in what is done in our name. We must face our shared responsibility for American politics and its bloody consequences abroad. We war with our own values when we condone behavior by an ally that we would condemn back home.

Last week I told bereaved Jewish Iranian immigrant friends who had lost their mother, "May her memory be for a blessing." What would I say to relatives of children killed in Gaza? Sorry my taxes subsidized it? Sorry our politics makes it hazardous to talk about innocent Palestinians? There are no innocents? That last one would do Al Qaida proud. One friend said the deaths were regrettably necessary. Isn't that a line from Dr. Strangelove?

Speaking of cold-blooded analysis, demographic trends show that without a two-state solution, Israel must eventually choose between being a democracy and being a Jewish state. What will America do then? Israel's bunker mentality, and its posturing as a victim despite its power, blind it to its slow self-destruction. Assisted suicide is still suicide.

Our ubiquitous social media are a game changer: having seen pictures of dead boys on a beach, we cannot un-see them.

Read the whole thing here.

UN Official Chris Gunness Breaks Down On Air After School Bombing

Think Progress reports:

Cameras on Wednesday captured a spokesman for the United Nations mission devoted to assisting Palestinian refugees breaking down in tears over the latest artillery fire against a U.N.-run school killed at least twenty civilians.

United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness has been a go-to source for information on what’s happening on the ground in the Gaza Strip for the past three weeks, as first airstrikes, then Israeli ground forces, have waged a war. The Israeli government has defended its actions as protecting Israeli citizens, focusing its assault on Hamas — which the United States and many other governments rank as a terrorist organization — and the militants allied with them. But in the course of the latest incursion, the dead have been almost entirely on the Palestinian side of the conflict, with the vast majority of them being civilians.

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Note: YouTube keeps taking this video down. Contemptible. If they keep doing it, I will look for another copy to post.

July 29, 2014

Religious Right Film: Activist judges attacking America with gay rights & Porn

Ian Silverstone at Right Wing Watch reports:

As if their first video didn't quite hammer the point home, Religious Right advocacy group Truth in Action Ministries has returned with part two of "We the People: Under Attack," an exhausting indicment of the federal judiciary and its allegedly anti-Christian agenda.

In the spirit of defending the rights of the “majority,” Phyllis Schlafly paints a grim scenario of judicial tyranny usurping American values:

"We have judges who have created new rights, who have knocked down laws and practices that have been part of our heritage since the beginning, and you can call the roll of what they’ve done: tried to throw up traditional marriage between a man and a woman; throwing out the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag because it has the words ‘under God’ in it; creating new rights that are not in the Constitution, like the right to abortion, the right to sodomy, the right to same-sex marriage licenses, the right to have pornography even with taxpayer’s money. You know these are not in the Constitution, and it is an offense against the American people, against We the People, and against our whole form of government. And the result is that the First Amendment has been turned on its head."

The video above shows excerpts from the film.

Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42, stars as the James Brown. This looks like fun. Opening in cineplexes on August 1.

John Oliver on our insecure nukes

Quick, hide under a picnic blanket!

4th Circuit rules against Virginia marriage ban, NC AG won't defend that state's ban

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(Plaintiffs Mary Townley at right, Carol Schall and their daughter Emily. Photo courtesy AFER.)

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a lower court ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages and on the recognition of such marriages from other jurisdictions is unconstitutional, Justin Snow reports in Metro Weekly:

A federal appeals court found Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in a ruling handed down Monday.

With a 2-1 decision, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling finding Virginia law prohibiting same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The ruling is here. The attorney general of North Carolin said after the ruling that he will no longer defend that state's same-sex marriage ban, as it will not hold up in court. Lyle Denniston discusses the ruling at SCOTUSblog. As he notes, the county clerks who defended the ban have a right to seek an en banc review by the full 4th Circuit; stay tuned on that.

Ari Ezra Waldman at Towleroad analyzes the lone dissent by Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who during oral arguments kept calling gay relationships "new" and "different," echoing Justice Byron White's notorious opinion in the 1986 Bowers decision in which he framed the dispute over sodomy laws as whether the constitution guarantees a right to have gay anal sex. Of course the constitution lays out broad principles, and was never set up to be a list of permitted activities. Indeed, it specifies the powers of the three branches of the federal government, leaving all others to the states and the people. Conservative judges like Niemeyer were effectively rebuked in 2003 by Justice Anthony Kennedy's Lawrence decision, but they persist in their discredited, biased approach.

The celebrity superlawyer team of Boies and Olson, touted in NYT reporter Jo Becker's much-criticized book on the Prop 8 case, Forcing the Spring, were involved in the Virginia case. Be assured that they will be fighting like alley cats for the right to do the oral arguments if the Virginia case is taken up by SCOTUS.

The Catholic Bishops of Virginia slammed the 4th Circuit's decision, saying, "This action reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters." Their arguments, based on "natural law" and other doctrine dressed up in pseudoscientific drag, have been refuted many times -- as has their suggestion that voters should be able to deny a fundamental right like marriage to people they don't like. These bullies are losing, and the final blow at the Supreme Court, likely in the coming term, cannot come soon enough to suit me.

July 27, 2014

Michael Sam gets under the far right's skin

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(Photo by Richard Phibbs for Out magazine)

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:

Religious Right activists often attempt to defend anti-gay remarks by insisting that the remarks are merely expressions of religious faith. And that is exactly how they are handling the controversy over former NFL coach Tony Dungy’s comment that he wouldn’t draft Michael Sam because he wouldn’t want “to deal with” attention over his sexual orientation.

Take, for example, WorldNetDaily columnist Carl Jackson, who today not only suggests that Dungy should be immune from criticism because he is a Christian, but insists that anyone who dared to disagree with his remarks has actually “persecuted” and “crucified” him “because he had the courage to say what everyone else thought about the rookie pick.”

And Miranda Blue, also at RWW, reports that AFA President Tim Wildmon used a fundraising letter to get all steamy over the beefcake in NFL locker rooms:

By the way, having been a sports reporter for a few years I've been in many football locker rooms where the players walk around naked or half-naked, changing clothes and going in and out of the showers. Putting a man like Sam, who says he is sexually attracted to men, in with all that beefcake seems unfair to the straight players and a distraction to Sam.

Speaking of showers, Tim, you sound like you could use a cold one. We completely understand.

The latest from Crazy Eyes

Rep. Michele Bachmann's anti-gay slanders continue. They are vile and I don't feel like repeating them here, but once again she is just making stuff up. Or possibly channeling her husband Marcus.

Bible museum dispute in the news

The dispute between Truth Wins Out and GLAA over the right of a privately funded Bible museum to open two blocks from the National Mall was highlighted on July 23 by Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis.

And reporter Tom Sherwood at NBC Washington wrote in his notebook on July 23:

Hobby Lobby high-five? Well, kinda. The owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores won national attention when they won their Supreme Court battle to limit contraception insurance coverage for their employees because of the owners’ religious beliefs.

That recently prompted Wayne Bensen of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out to “strongly urge” District officials to make it as difficult as possible for Hobby Lobby to get all the permits it needs to build a private National Bible Museum in Southwest D.C. (the old site of the Washington Design Center).

Bensen wrote that the project near the National Mall “would make a mockery of surrounding museums, which are based on research, history and scholarship.”

Well, throwing up administrative hurdles didn’t go over so well with local activist Rick Rosendall, who is president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“There is no legitimate basis to block it,” Rosendall wrote this week in the Daily Chose. “GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents’ First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground. ... We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us.”

Goodness, we better not let that kind of high-mindedness catch on. Maybe even the warring members of Congress might start working together. And then, what would the mean ol’ media report?

Don't worry, Tom. You'll always turn up something. Besides, high-mindedness is about as likely to catch on in Washington as a coherent thought in Rep. Louie Gohmert. Oh, dear, that didn't sound terribly high-minded, did it?

July 26, 2014

A crude rejoinder with staying power?

I just ran across some amusing tweets by a participant in the recent Netroots Nation conference regarding hostile tweets she received during the conference.

My coffee shop pals and I were dubbed "bloviating pensioners" by a local troll on Twitter some months back, and we subsequently took great pleasure in embracing the phrase. But "fuck your effete sophistry" has a wonderful panache to it. I can just hear my friend Willy drawling, "Oh Rick, fuck your effete sophistry," followed by laughter all around.

Shade

Jeopardy! includes "shade" in a clue.