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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.

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

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(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.

July 02, 2014

Evangelism as Therapy

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My latest column is now online at Metro Weekly, arguing that faith-based advocacy should not be disguised as licensed healthcare. Here's an excerpt:

Encountering the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg in the D.C. Council Chambers on June 27 took me back five years to our battles over the District's marriage equality bill. This time it was a hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. Sprigg was furious at the attempt to deny choice to troubled teens seeking to overcome their gay desires.

One should always be skeptical toward right-wing busybodies who use "choice" as a rallying cry, and so it is in this case. Gay and lesbian teens whose ears are filled with cries of abomination know the sound of rejection. If choice is a concern, shouldn't they be given the choice of a supportive environment? And if professional therapy is the way to help, shouldn't we mention that homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973?

The anti-gay groups represented at the hearing, including FRC, PFOX, and the International Healing Foundation, are frozen in amber on homosexuality, which they deem forever sick, sinful, and illicit. With the pathologizing and criminalizing of gayness having ended in America, and with many faiths affirming LGBT lives, the dwindling band of demonizers resorts increasingly to shrillness and deception at home and proselytizing overseas.

The homophobes conceal their faith-based motivation behind a veil of pseudoscience. The trouble is, they dictate nature rather than observing it.

Read the whole thing here.

Tag: #BornPerfect

Federal court strikes down Kentucky's gay marriage ban

Equality's march continues.

Twin Cities archbishop accused of child molestation

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(Photo: KARE)

Local news station KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul reports:

Archbishop John Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has been accused of inappropriately touching a minor in 2009.

In light of the accusation, the Archbishop will step down from public ministry while the church and St. Paul Police investigate the incident. The accuser alleges Nienstedt touched his buttocks during a "public photo session" following a confirmation ceremony.

I am shocked, shocked to learn that a homophobic archbishop has been accused of such a thing.

Tea Partiers block buses carrying undocumented immigrants

A crowd of irrational xenophobes blocks buses in which federal authorities were transferring undocumented immigrants who had been detained. Reuters reports:

As the buses neared their destination, some 150 protesters waiving American flags and shouting "Go home - we don't want you here," filled a street leading to the access road for the Border Patrol station, blocking the buses from reaching the facility.

The demonstrators disregarded orders from police to disperse, but officers did not attempt to intervene physically to break up the demonstration.

After about 25 minutes, the buses backed up, turned around and left. A board member of the union representing border patrol agents, Chris Harris, said the buses would likely be rerouted to one of six other Border Patrol stations in the San Diego sector.

Clash over gay conversion therapy at D.C. Council hearing

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade and Metro Weekly report on the June 27 hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. My caption for the above photo, in which notorious reparative therapist Christopher Doyle is testifying, is me (over his shoulder) saying, "Who are these creepy guys?" and Alison Gill of HRC (at left) saying, "I thought they were your friends."

Here are links to testimony from GLAA, HRC, American Counseling Association, therapy survivor Andrew "Jud Brown", and the anti-gay Family Research Council.

Where a company is deemed more of a person than a woman is

John Oliver gave an excellent take on the Hobby Lobby ruling the day before it was issued.

The fact that court observers saw this one coming is no comfort. Building on the corporations-are-people ruling in Citizens United, SCOTUS on Monday effectively ruled that a closely held corporation has more rights of personhood than a woman does. The notion that a company's religious views (what an absurd phrase) trump the religious rights of its employees is not only topsy-turvy, it threatens to turn every shop into a law unto itself.

Here is an excerpt of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's scathing dissent:

Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. … The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

Our friend Jonathan Rauch has an interesting take on Hobby Lobby's religious liberty claims:

Religious folks are pushing the envelope really far when they say it’s a major intrusion on their religious conscience to have to buy an insurance policy that covers choices that other people make. To me that’s kind of picking a fight. And I am very sympathetic to religious liberty claims.

I agree with the dissenting opinions in the Hobby Lobby ruling, which say, “If you find your religion being burdened by something so indirect then when does it end?” If religious folks try to withdraw too much from practices of ordinary society—if they push too hard for the right not to participate—it will backfire. It sends a bad message about their inclusivity and their willingness to engage with society.

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(Photo credit: AP/Matt Sayles)

Busy week

Please pardon my lack of blogging in recent days. It's been a busy time, with last Friday's long hearing on the bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors; writing my upcoming column over the weekend (which is about that hearing), in addition to some social obligations; and preparing testimony for this morning's hearing before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee on Bill 20-63, the "Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013" (which I'll post later).

So I'll try to catch up. Needless to say, we are not happy with the Hobby Lobby decision.

June 28, 2014

'Vicious' brings its camp stereotypes to PBS

The British sitcom starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as a long-time gay couple is coming to PBS, NYT reports. Good for them, but from the YouTube clips I've seen, Jacobi's over-the-top stereotypical queen is too much. Such a pair of world-class actors deserves better material. I have seen both of them in theaters give extraordinary, nuanced performances. Don't expect that here.

Self-Aware Bobby Jindal Is Tired Of 'Candidates Who Tell Us One Thing Then Go Do Another'

Another gem from Miranda Blue at RWW.