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155 posts from August 2009

August 31, 2009

Arizona pastor calls for Obama's death

Remember the furor last year over Barack Obama's longtime pastor, Jeremiah Wright? Well, he's a piker compared to Tempe Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson. The America that this sick, ignorant thug imagines he is upholding bears about as much resemblance to the one of the Constitution as his religion resembles the teachings of Jesus Christ. De Sade's Black Mass could not defile Christianity worse than this guy. Please encourage your members of Congress to ensure that the health care bill they pass includes mental health coverage. And say a prayer for the good men and women of the Secret Service.

How can we miss Texas when it won't go away?

Here's video from a secession rally on the steps of the Texas state capitol. As Chris Matthews says, "The ignorance of these people is unbelievable." You go, Texas. Seriously. Go. But you don't get to keep the Johnson Space Flight Center.

blogActive confirms: SC Lt. Governor is a closeted gay man

Andre_Bauer Mike Rogers at blogActive reports:

I am now able to confirm a rumor that has circulated in South Carolina for years. South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer is a closeted anti-gay politician who stands to replace Mark Sanford should Sanford resign or be impeached (a real possibility as Sanford is caught in his own sex scandal.)

BTW, for those who object to this post: Whether outing is an effective tactic or not, I agree with The Washington Blade that standards of newsworthiness apply to closeted politicians as much as to anything else. Mike Rogers says, "I'm a reporter. I meet with people and I talk to them. Then based on a review of all of the facts, I report closet cases that hurt the gay community. You may not like my style, but I have a track record of 100%."

I agree with Barney Frank: "People have a right to privacy, but not to hypocrisy."

Harry Jackson to file another ballot measure

BishopJacksonHouses According to WaPo's D.C. Wire, Bishop Harry Jackson is at it again:

Bishop Harry Jackson is refusing to relent from his campaign to stop same-sex marriage in the District, despite the drubbing he took before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics this summer.

Jackson sent out a statement Monday stating that he and other opponents of same-sex marriages will file an initiative request with the elections board Tuesday....

In May, Jackson filed a request with the elections board to hold a referendum to block the council bill allowing same-sex marriages performed in others states to be legally recognized.

The elections board, in a strongly worded ruling, blocked Jackson's referendum request. The two-member board cited D.C. elections law, which prohibits a vote on a matter covered by the Human Rights Act. The 1977 act outlaws discrimination against gays and lesbians and other minority groups.

Many observers say Jackson will have difficulty convincing the board that its previous ruling should not also apply to the latest proposed initiative.

Once more into the breach, dear friends.

Misreporting the gender identity of a homicide victim

The Sexist Blog at City Paper reports on the confusion that reigned last week over the gender identity of a transgender woman who was murdered in Northwest D.C.:

The Washington Blade’s Lou Chibbaro was the first to nail down the correct gender identity of the homicide victim, who has since been identified under her legal name, Joshua Mack, as well as her chosen name, Tyli’a. At 7:06 p.m., four-and-a-half hours after the incident occurred, Chibbaro wrote, “One transgender woman was stabbed to death Wednesday and another was in stable condition with stab wounds from an unknown assailant.”

But even after Mack’s correct gender identity was established, the struggle continued. In “D.C. Transgender Community Outraged After Fatal Stabbing” — filed more than 24 hours after the incident occurred — ABC 7 reporter Sam Ford announced: “One transgender is dead, another is in critical condition.”

Mack was not a “transgender male,” a “transgender man,” or a “transgender.” Mack was a male-to-female transgender woman who clearly appeared to be female. On the reward poster for her homicide, she’s shown wearing eye shadow, shaped eyebrows, and two long braids. “Of course, when the one young lady was murdered and the other was hospitalized, we were quite upset [with the media coverage] because they aren’t transgender men—they are transgender women,” says Brian Watson, the director of Transgender Health Empowerment, which counted both victims as clients. “I know both of the young ladies that were attacked, and they lived their lives as transgender women. They looked like women. For me, there shouldn’t have been any confusion about them being males. If you saw them on the street, you would see they were females.”

Never work with ostriches

This reporter gets credit for being game. Next, Dorothy Gale does a report on flying monkeys.

Barry bill on mandatory HIV tests for inmates "seriously flawed"

The Washington Post yesterday had an article by Martin Ricard titled, "Amid City Epidemic, Barry Proposes Mandatory HIV Tests for Inmates":

Twenty-one states test inmates for HIV when they are admitted to prison, according to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics. But most states test only with an inmate's consent or upon court order. And some wonder whether the District needs mandatory testing. Since 2006, when the voluntary HIV testing program was launched, 99 percent, or more than 27,000, inmates have opted to take the test, according to the Department of Corrections.

"Our fear is that if you put in place a mandatory program, you not only have very little to gain but you may actually be undermining a good program that we already have in place," said Walter Smith, executive director of D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a public policy organization that supports HIV testing but opposes the bill. Both D.C. Corrections Director Devon Brown and HIV/AIDS Administration Director Shannon Hader said they oppose mandatory testing.

Former GLAA President Bob Summersgill submitted testimony on July 1 to the D.C. Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, criticizing the bill:

The “Mandatory HIV Testing and Educational Services for Inmates and Committed Youth Amendment Act of 2009,” Bill 18-75, is seriously flawed in that it relies on the HIV Testing of Certain Criminal Offenders Act of 1995, (D.C. Law 11-74, D.C. Official Code § 22-3901), which fails to help the victims of sexual assault and adds to the stigma of HIV and AIDS. The bill would be improved by repealing § 22-3901; establishing a comprehensive medical care for inmates with appropriate treatment, care, and counseling....

The Council should take advantage of the opportunity that this bill presents to write new law to provide for the health of inmates and subsequently their families and communities when they return.

This bill does little to address the health of inmates or the community. If the intent is to address prisoners and their treatment, then it should be in Title 24, “Prisoners and Their Treatment,” and not as it is in Title 22, “Criminal Offenses and Penalties.” HIV testing should simply be routine and standard. It should not be punitive or mandatory.

A new section on medical care for prisoners would be consistent with the District’s goal of universal health care. It could provide vaccinations that have been missed. It could provide routine depression and other mental illness screening. It could provide information on preventative care that many people in our city overlook. And of course it could provide HIV testing, treatment, and counseling as needed.

To help sexual assault victims, we need to offer a range of testing and post-exposure prophylactics in addition to the other counseling and follow up that the victims may need. To fight the spread of HIV, we need—in part—to reduce stigma and promote routine testing. To help inmates, their families, and their community we need comprehensive health care in our jails.

We agree with Bob Summersgill and associate ourselves with his typically thoughtful and informed testimony.

WaPo: DOJ gets DOMA brief right this time

The Washington Post has a good editorial today on the Justice Department's reply brief in Smelt and Hammer v. USA:

[T]he Obama administration learned its lesson in how to defend a federal law with which it doesn't agree without dabbling in noxious, outdated and irrelevant arguments.... [T]he third paragraph of the latest brief states plainly that "this Administration does not support DOMA, as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal." We wholeheartedly support the Obama administration in this — and eagerly await its push to change the law.

Chris Wallace defends torture

Chris Wallace's dismissive smirk in response to Juan Williams's objections to American use of torture speaks volumes about how far the pro-torture right has descended in its alleged defense of America. Andrew Sullivan comments:

They really are coming out of the woodwork now. Here is Chris Wallace signing off on a segment today, effectively dismissing moral and ethical and practical objections to torturing human beings. I always thought that the role of a moderator on these things was to remain in some sense neutral. But Wallace is clearly a Cheneyite, a believer in torture, and the dispensability of the rule of law when Republican presidents have a chance to torture terror suspects at will. As Media Matters notes, he also stated last week that on waterboarding, that "I'm with Jack Bauer on this." Jack Bauer is a fictional character.

For my analysis of Wallace's joke of an interview, see here and here. His advocacy of torture as an allegedly neutral journalist is a disgrace.

Frankel, ACLU counsel, found dead in Rock Creek Park

L_frankel Paula Brooks of Lez Get Real reports that ACLU State Legislative Counsel Larry Frankel was found dead Friday in Rock Creek Park:

A Metro DC Police spokesman confirmed this morning that the body was indeed that of Frankel and said that homicide detectives are continuing to investigate his death, but would offer no cause of death or comment further on the case pending official release of autopsy results.

Frankel, 52, had served as both Executive Director and Legislative Director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania for many years before becoming the State Legislative Counsel for the National ACLU here in Washington. Frankel joined the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office last year and oversaw the support to the 53 ACLU affiliate offices across the country.

Pennsylvania Rep Mark Cohen said on his blog this morning that Frankel was a “proud gay man, he was militant on the issue of gay marriage, believing that it was far more important to keep the legal option of gay marriage by defeating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage than to enact civil unions legislation, an uphill battle that some, including myself, thought was winnable. His views on gay marriage were somewhat vindicated when four New England states and the state of Iowa legalized gay marriage this year.”

While we await the results of the investigation, we send our condolences to Frankel's ACLU colleagues, family and friends.

President Obama's eulogy for Senator Kennedy

Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and the suffering of others — the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from. The landmark laws that he championed — the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children's health insurance, the Family and Medical Leave Act — all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy's life work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.

We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers' rights or civil rights. And yet, as has been noted, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that's not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw Ted Kennedy. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and platform and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect — a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.

And that's how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, yes, but also by seeking compromise and common cause — not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor. There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch for support of the Children's Health Insurance Program by having his chief of staff serenade the senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas committee chairman on an immigration bill. Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope, and showed only the chairman that it was filled with the Texan's favorite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the chairman. (Laughter.) When they weren't, he'd pull it back. (Laughter.) Before long, the deal was done. (Laughter.)

It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick's Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support of a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote. I gave my pledge, but I expressed skepticism that it would pass. But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes that it needed, and then some. I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how had he done it. He just patted me on the back and said, "Luck of the Irish." (Laughter.)

August 30, 2009

Kennedy's last visit to the Capitol

Emk hearse at Senate steps 2009_08_29

GLAA Secretary Miguel Tuason and I were among the thousands who waited on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol late Saturday afternoon for the motorcade bearing the remains of Sen. Ted Kennedy to arrive on its way to Arlington National Cemetery. The flight from Boston to Andrews AFB was delayed (and the status reports via Twitter were contradictory), but the long line of black cars finally arrived, and the hearse stopped in front of the Senate steps on which hundreds of Kennedy's present and former staffers waited along with a number of senators including a wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV). Kennedy family members spoke to the crowd briefly. The staffers sang "America the Beautiful," and the crowd joined in.

(Photo: Miguel Tuason)

August 29, 2009

"There is nothing that you can't do."

The most moving moment during the funeral of Sen. Ted Kennedy came in a childhood memory from his son, Ted Junior — a powerful testament to a father's love and the lesson of perseverance. It comes at about the 3:58 mark in this video. Here is the passage:

When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with bone cancer, and a few months after I lost my leg there was a heavy snowfall over my childhood home outside of Washington, DC, and my father went to the garage to get the old Flexible Flyer and asked me if I wanted to go sledding down the steep driveway. And I was trying to get used to my new artificial leg and the hill was covered with ice and snow and it wasn’t easy for me to walk. And the hill was very slick, and as I struggled to walk I slipped and I fell on the ice and I started to cry and I said, “I can’t do this.” I said, “I’ll never be able to climb up that hill.” And he lifted me up in his strong, gentle arms, and said something I will never forget. He said, “I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can’t do. We’re going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day.”

Sure enough, he held me around my waist and we slowly made it to the top. And you know, at age 12, losing your leg pretty much seems like the end of the world. But as I climbed onto his back and we flew down the hill that day, I knew he was right. I knew I was going to be okay. You see, my father taught me that even our most profound losses are survivable. And it is what we do with that loss, our ability to transform it into a positive event, that is one of my father’s greatest lessons. He taught me that nothing is impossible.

The Other Washington Referendum

Gaymarriage That would be R-71 the effort to repeal Washington States Domestic Partnership law.  There has been a lot of controversy about the process.  To recap, 137,689 signatures were submitted, or 14% more than the 120,577 needed to get on the ballot.  It has been suggested that a 25% margin be  added to cover invalid signatures (due to signatures not matching the voter registration card, not coming from registered voters, and people signing more than once) but the petitioners were unable to gather that many signatures in the allotted time.  Then initial reports were that signature were being invalidated at a high rate, and the measure would not qualify for the ballot.  Then it was reported that this was just the initial count, and that with review fewer signatures were being invalidated.  The rate a signature invalidation has been steadily rising as more are being disqualified due to signature duplication, but it seems that the measure will have enough valid signatures to qualify.

Except now there is a new wrinkle.  A group named Washington Families Standing Together has filed suit to invalidate 2,305 petitions bearing the signatures of 33,966 people because they do not have the proper signatures by the people who circulated the petitions.  [You may remember a similar situation in this Washington over the slot machine initiative.]

As evidence, the suit includes the transcript of a voicemail from Assistant Elections Director Shane Hamlin, saying that he observed referendum backers at the bottom of the state’s capital stairs before they turned them in. “As they were kind of doing their pre-inspection, any petition that did not have a signed declaration, they would stamp it with a signature by [referendum filer] Larry Stickney,” he said.

The Secretary of State takes the position that referenda and petitions are meant to increase the power of voters and in that spirit they should  accept as many signatures as possible.  WASFT maintains that the law is clear and should be applied impartially.

And the latest in this drama?  It seems the judge assigned to the case might be gay.

SAG: Black LGBT images in media

Saglogo The Screen Actors Guild presents an illuminating panel discussion on Black LGBT images in media. Watch the video here.

(Hat tip: Alan Sharpe)

Beck's latest smears refuted

Vanjones The malignant buffoon Glenn Beck of Fox News, who has lost all his major sponsors after calling President Obama a racist with a deep hatred of white people (presumably including his own mother and the grandparents who raised him), has been smearing White House special advisor Van Jones (pictured), falsely suggesting that he was imprisoned for participating in the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.

Eva Paterson of Equal Justice Society, for whom Jones worked at the time, sets the record straight, pointing out that Jones was with her in San Francisco when the riots occurred:

This is what really happened. On May 8, 1992, the week AFTER the Rodney King disturbances, I sent a staff attorney and Van out to be legal monitors at a peaceful march in San Francisco. The local police, perhaps understandably nervous, stopped the march and arrested hundreds of people – including all the legal monitors.

The matter was quickly sorted out; Van and my staff attorney were released within a few hours. All charges against them were dropped. Van was part of a successful class action lawsuit later; the City of San Francisco ultimately compensated him financially for his unjust arrest (a rare outcome).

So the unwarranted arrest at a peaceful march – for which the charges were dropped and for which Van was financially compensated – is the sole basis for the smear that he is some kind of dangerous criminal.

Van has spoken often about that difficult period 17 years ago - and its impact on him, as a young law student. But to imply that he was somehow a rioter who went to prison is absurd. Beck also bizarrely claims that Van was arrested in the Seattle WTO protests. That is just a flat-out falsehood.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Arrests and convictions are all a matter of public record. Beck is at best relying on internet rumors or even inventing claims to boost his ratings.

This is all that Fox has left: true conservatism abandoned and replaced by a desperate, scorched-earth radicalism, no integrity, no regard for the truth, do or say anything, make up anything to slander and discredit the Obama administration at all costs. This is what is left of the opposition. A truly sad state of affairs.

(hat tip: Stephen Milk Zollman)

District launches HIV testing campaign

Freedomcondom The Washington Post reports that Mayor Adrian Fenty has launched a long-planned advertising campaign to promote testing for HIV/AIDS on TV, radio, billboards and in the Metro system:

The District has an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 3 percent -- the highest of any major U.S. city. "We're encouraging all residents to ask the doctor for an HIV test when they go for a visit," Fenty (D) said at the Chartered Family Health Center, which provides care to residents east of the Anacostia River in Northeast Washington. "We didn't want to make the past mistake of focusing on one particular area. Everybody is at risk."

The campaign, "D.C. Takes On HIV," includes a new Web site, http://www.dctakesonhiv.com, which features a television ad, "Ask for the Test." The ad, which will air on the Comcast cable network and radio outlets such as WHUR (93.6 FM) and the Radio One network, and the Web site are part of the $225,000 first phase of the campaign, officials said.

The campaign is also the city's first joint effort with the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which announced in June that it would allow the city to tap the advertising and social expertise of its partners, including Pfizer, the National Basketball Association, Facebook, Nike, Nokia and others.

August 28, 2009

D.C. media criticized for misreporting anti-trans violence

Jos at Feministing.com critiques news organizations in Washington, D.C., including gay media, for confusion and misreporting on anti-transgender violence despite resources being available for them to gain a clue:

I certainly hope for solidarity and community under the queer and trans umbrella. But there is a great deal of difference among LGBT folks and support for each other's causes and needs is something that takes real work....

If gay media is screwing up on trans issues it is sadly no surprise mainstream news sources are getting it so wrong. The prevalence of violent attacks against trans folks is horrible enough. The situation is compounded when the press does not respect the transgender community enough to write about us in ways that are accurate and recognize our humanity.

The othering of trans individuals and confusion about our identities in the press makes us seem strange and unknowable and bolsters fear. Poor reporting can further the dehumanization and lack of understanding that support a culture of transphobic violence.

(Hat tip: H. Alexander Robinson)

Texas liquor board fires 3 over raid on gay bar

The Associated Press reports from Fort Worth:

Texas' liquor board fired two agents and a supervisor, disciplined two other supervisors and changed several policies in the wake of a raid at a gay bar that left a customer seriously injured and led to protests, officials announced Friday.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said agent Christopher Aller and agent trainee Jason Chapman, who participated in the June 28 raid at the Rainbow Lounge, were fired Friday. Their supervisor, Sgt. Terry Parsons, was not at the Fort Worth bar that night but also was fired, effective Sept. 2.

Aller and Chapman failed to report that they used force when arresting the customer or that he was seriously injured, according to a report on the agency's investigation released earlier this month. They also were accused of participating in the raid without their supervisor's approval, disrupting the business during the raid and wearing improper attire, the report states.

Parsons failed to ensure that the agents submitted a report on using force during the arrest, did not take appropriate action after learning they didn't wear proper attire during the raid and did not notify supervisors that multiple arrests had been made that night, the report states.

ACLU optimistic on Florida adoption ban challenge

Gillhorse The ACLU's Leslie Cooper discusses Martin Gill's challenge to Florida's anti-gay adoption ban, which saw oral arguments before the Third District Court of Appeals on Wednesday:

During the course of the litigation, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) agreed that Martin and his partner are providing a good home for John and James, that this placement is in their best interests, and that the boys are bonded to their foster parents. Indeed, DCF said it would have approved Martin’s application to adopt John and James but for the statute prohibiting it from doing so.

A representative from DCF testified that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents and that the exclusion does not benefit children in any way, and in fact, eliminating the ban would serve children’s interests. If the ban were lifted, she testified, more children could be adopted out of foster care.

Despite these admissions by DCF, the agency responsible for child welfare in Florida, the State’s lawyers put on expert witnesses who offered an outlandish menu of justifications for the exclusion. They argued primarily that the exclusion is warranted because gay people are prone to problems like psychiatric disorders, drug abuse, and unstable relationships. They also asserted that gay parents cause their children to be gay and that gay people should be excluded from adopting because society is prejudiced against them and their children might be exposed to that prejudice.

In response, we presented the testimony of leading experts in the fields of developmental psychology, child abuse, epidemiology, couple relationships, human sexuality and child welfare to explain the relevant scientific research and that the opposing experts’ arguments have no empirical support.

The court determined based on the evidence presented that children of gay parents do just as well as their peers and that this is accepted as a matter of consensus. Given the quantity and reliability of the research, the court deemed the issue of the suitability of gay parents “far beyond dispute”. The court also rejected the assertion that children’s sexual orientation is determined by the sexual orientation of their parents. And it found that children of gay parents are hardly the only children who may be exposed to prejudice because their families are different than others. The court also said the scientific evidence showed that sexual orientation no more correlates with psychiatric disorders and the other problems asserted by the State’s experts than other demographic characteristics such as race and socioeconomic status. Finally, the court said, the evidence shows that, in fact, the ban “causes harm to the children it is meant to protect” by depriving some children of permanency with their caregivers and leaving more children with no family at all. Thus, the court concluded, “the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.”

Based on these facts, the court struck down the exclusion as a violation of Martin and the children’s constitutional right to equal protection as well as the children’s right to permanency and granted the petition to adopt.

The State has appealed the juvenile court’s decision. But we are confident that after fighting this terrible law for nearly 20 years, it is finally falling once and for all. With proposals to restrict adoption and fostering by gay people continuing to be introduced in state legislatures, putting the nail in the coffin of Florida’s notorious law can’t come too soon.

(Hat tip: Nancy Polikoff)

The Onion: Afterbirthers Demand To See Obama's Placenta

The latest from The Onion.

Candlight vigil against anti-trans violence, tonight at 6:30

This message came in yesterday from Brian Watson at Transgender Health Empowerment. We will be there tonight at 6:30 at 209 Q Street NW, a couple of blocks from T.H.E.'s North Capitol Street headquarters, and hope you can join us.

Thursday, August 27, 2009 11:31 AM
Subject: Candlight Vigil 8/28/09 6:30pm

Good morning,

I am sure most of you have heard of the double stabbing that happened on last night here in NW DC near the offices of T.H.E. One young lady only 21 years old, a client of T.H.E’s and HIPS Joshua Mack known to us a “Na Na Boo” was killed. In response to this attack T.H.E. is in the process of organizing a candlelight vigil to be held tomorrow night at 6:30pm at the site of the incident, 209 Q ST NW. We are asking that all community members come out to show their support and condemn this recent violence and urge the community to come forward with any leads. The police are offering a $25,000 reward in this case. Please spread the word. Thank you.

http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=26915

Brian P. Watson
Director of Programs
Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc
1414 North Capitol Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 636-1646 ext 104
www.theincdc.org

DC Trans Coalition Mourns Loss After Brutal Stabbing of Two Transgender Women

This just in from our friends at the DC Trans Coalition:

DC TRANS COALITION
For Immediate Release
August 28, 2009
Contact: Sadie Ryanne Baker
(202) 557-1951

DC Trans Coalition Mourns Loss After Brutal Stabbing of Two Transgender Women
Group Demands Respect and Dignity from Police and Media Correspondents

Washington, DC – The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) joins with our friends, family and community to mourn the loss of a 21-year-old transgender woman, Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack, who was horrifically stabbed on the afternoon of August 26th, 2009. She died in the 200 block of Q Street in northwest Washington, DC, while a second transgender woman was rushed to Washington Hospital Center, where she remains in critical condition. The incident took place close to the offices of Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc (THE) and reminds us that the lives, health and safety of transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming people are under siege by hate and ignorance. Attacks such as this one threaten our entire community.

DCTC also calls on the media and the Metropolitan Police Department to be more respectful of the lives and identities of these women and the broader trans community. Too many times, police and media correspondents have failed to accurately identify and respect the gender identities of trans people, in spite of the commonly accepted Associated Press guidelines that clearly state that reporters should use pronouns and names in accordance with the individual’s identity. This disrespect only perpetuates the ignorance that so often fuels verbal harassment and physical violence. Here in DC, we remind the MPD to adhere to its own regulations found in General Order 501:02 "Handling Interactions With Transgender Individuals", signed by Chief Cathy Lanier in 2007.

As we continue the difficult work of improving the lives of trans people here in the District, we stand in somber solidarity with our community at this time of tragedy. Moments such as these, when we are reminded of the poverty, violence and degradation faced by so many, reinforce the desperate urgency of confronting anti-trans discrimination in all forms.

It also reminds us of the need to stand as a united community against violence. The DCTC will continue working to change policies that affect our community and ensure that organizations, like THE, can provide their vital programs and services in the hopes that one day, none of us will be forced to fear for our lives. Community members are invited to attend a vigil for the victims, hosted by THE, at the site of the attack – 209 Q Street, NW - at 6:30pm on Friday, August 28.

###

The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) is a grassroots community-based organization dedicated to fighting for the human rights, dignity and equal access for transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming people in the District of Columbia.

Naff and Rosenstein face off on the wisdom of the Oct. 11 March on Washington

Today's Washington Blade has competing commentaries by editor Kevin Naff and activist Peter Rosenstein on the upcoming National Equality March on Washington, scheduled for October 11.

After acknowledging "the fiasco of the Millennium March on Washington in 2000," Naff says this:

But after talking to some march supporters, including Black, it’s hard to dismiss their passion and quest for visibility, particularly after the disappointing opening months of the Obama administration....

THE GOAL OF the event, according to the National Equality March site: “Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. We will accept no less and will work until it is achieved. Equality Across America exists to support grassroots organizing in all 435 Congressional Districts to achieve full equality.”

...Some state-based activists have expressed legitimate concerns about diverting resources to fund a presence at the march at a time when they’re fighting marriage and other battles at home. Of course, those battles should take precedence over a national march and state organizers worried about the march should skip it and stay focused on their important legislative initiatives at home.

But for those seeking an outlet for all that pent up frustration — particularly younger people energized by the change rhetoric of late and connected as never before by social networking technologies — this march represents a unique outlet and a chance to be seen.

The rest of us should either applaud their passion or get out of the way and let them march.

Rosenstein counters with this:

The LGBT movement has come a long way since 1993. We held “feel good marches” and though they never got us any legislation passed, they clearly energized people. But we have learned and are smarter today. We realize you don’t need mass marches to make progress. Small groups of advocates in D.C. — with the right connections and backed by large groups of supporters out in the states — can make a difference. An example is the new filing from the Justice Department on DOMA, as compared to its first one, which was offensive in its anti-gay language. The Justice Department even hired a liaison to the LGBT community to make sure that first fiasco doesn’t happen again.

OUR COMMUNITY NOW understands we can make the greatest impact at the state level. That is where the fight is and where we have to elect people that support us — even after they take office. In the end, we need to elect our own. The Human Rights Campaign, with Joe Solmonese at the helm, finally understands that, and each of the state equality groups realizes we need to re-focus our resources at home. We are fighting a marriage initiative in Maine, legislative battles in New Jersey, New York and D.C., and are gearing up for the 2012 rematch in California. That is where our man/woman power and financial resources are needed. One hundred constituents sitting in each representative’s district office will generate more press and response in every small town across the nation than a few people trudging to D.C. In the future, let’s march on state capitals when we march and do it with a strategic purpose in mind.

I'm with Peter on this one, including his criticisms of David Mixner. Regarding Naff's comments, no one is stopping anyone from marching. But the notion that the universally-acknowledged need for grassroots lobbying efforts in every congressional district across the country somehow requires holding a rally in Washington is just foolish. Members of Congress will be out of town on the weekend of the march, and marches on Washington are a dime a dozen anyway. As far as visibility is concerned, more useful will be local media relations efforts in connection with actions at the state and local levels. But to those who are coming to D.C., we will welcome you and encourage you to do your part to boost the local economy.

Media reporting of names in park arrests draws controversy

Today's Washington Blade has a story by Amy Cavanaugh on the criticism of local media outlets by LGBT activists for reporting the names of eight men arrested for soliciting and sex in Maryland's Gambrill State Park:

“While printing the names and hometowns of those charged with these offenses is legal, that does not make it ethical or right,” said Rashad Robinson of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “The media has a responsibility to inform the public, but they must consider the impact of their reporting.

“In some cases the practice of printing the names of men involved in public sex acts has life-threatening consequences that are too high a price to pay for sending a message about crime or decency.”

I gave a statement to Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro on August 18 on behalf of GLAA. Since I have not seen that statement in the paper's print or web versions, here it is:

Sex in public parks is unsafe, and we advise against it; but publishing the names of the arrestees is a form of cruelty toward essentially harmless people whose main fault is poor judgment. It amounts to extra-judicial punishment by shaming, a vestige of puritanism. Conservatives who oppose gay rights object to having their ballot petition signatures published — despite petitions being a highly public activity — yet are typically okay with publishing the names of people arrested for cruising in parks. Ironically, it would surprise no one if some of the same conservatives turned up among the arrestees. A better expenditure of public funds would be to stop the entrapments and, to the extent police are needed in the parks, put them in uniform and have them tell people who are loitering suspiciously to move along.

NOM head Brian Brown moves to Washington

Nomrings Monica Hesse in The Washington Post has a profile of Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which is moving its headquarters to Washington:

The thing about the John Hagees and the Pat Robertsons is that some people consider them "fringe." And when they speechify, the people they're most persuasive with are the ones who already believe them.

But this country is not made up of people in the far wings, right or left. This country is made up of a movable middle, reasonable people looking for reasonable arguments to assure them that their feelings have a rational basis.

Brian Brown speaks to these people. He has a master's degree from Oxford, and completed course work for a doctorate in history from UCLA. He shoulders the accusations of bigotry; it's horrible when people say that your life's mission is actually just prejudice. He tries to help people see that opposing gay marriage does not make them bigots, that the argument should have nothing to do with hate or fear, and everything to do with history and tradition.

The reason Brian Brown is so effective is that he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.

NOM's message, of course, is absolutely nuts, as viewers of last spring's "Gathering Storm" ad can attest. But our adversaries are certainly better off with leaders who are not foaming at the mouth. So we are indeed well advised to pay attention to Brian Brown.

A marriage like any other

Washingtonpost.com has a fine commentary by openly gay Maryland General Assembly member Rich Madaleno of Kensington on the lack of legal recognition by his state of his marriage with his husband Mark:

The root of our marriage isn’t a license but our son and daughter, our families, our home, our memories and our dreams. But make no mistake — a marriage license would mean vital rights and responsibilities for our family, especially during turbulent financial times, and in matters related to health care, child-rearing, social services, retirement and, though we do not relish the thought, the time when one of us leaves this life for something greater.

...[I]t is clear that no arrangement other than civil marriage will achieve equal protection under the law or erase the sting to our personhood that results from denying us the freedom to marry.

Gaining this support in the General Assembly may take time. But there is a way in which Maryland can move forward immediately.

While Maryland does not allow same-gender couples to legalize their relationships here, many such couples in our state are already legally married. Some had destination weddings in a pro-equality state such as Vermont or Massachusetts; others were married before moving to Maryland for work or family. Recently, I asked for an opinion from Attorney General Doug Gansler regarding whether Maryland should follow the District and New York and honor these legal marriages. Having reviewed our case law, I believe we have a legal obligation to do just that. In the past, Maryland has, as a legal principle, honored marriages performed elsewhere even when those marriages could not have been performed here. A government should not dissolve a validly contracted marriage without even one party requesting it.

August 27, 2009

Reel Affirmations moves to Harman Center for the Arts

RA19 banner
This just in from our friends at Reel Affirmations and One In Ten:

One in Ten signs historic agreement with
Shakespeare Theatre Company -

Reel Affirmations moves to Harman Center for the Arts
in 2009.


Celebrate with us as Reel Affirmations becomes a Resident Program of the Shakespeare Theatre. As a resident program, we will host our screenings in a state of the art facility designed specifically for arts programming. "This is a huge leap forward for us artistically and technically," says One in Ten Executive Director Margaret Murray. "With this strategic collaboration, we are able to showcase the best in LGBT cinema in a home worthy of our filmmakers."

Chris Jennings, STC's Managing Director, says this collaboration was "a natural. After almost 20 years, Reel Affirmations has become a must-stop venue for GLBT filmmakers from both the United States and world-wide, and we are delighted to take this exciting step with One In Ten."

With this move, we are poised to continue our growth trajectory, despite a significant downturn in support for the arts. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to give me a call at 202.315.1319 or email me

In celebration of this news, please join us at one of the following Reel Affirmations kick-off events!

Arts on Foot: Sept. 12th Noon-5pm
Join Reel Affirmations and Arts on Foot for a screening of sexy shorts at Flashpoint Gallery 11 am -1pm!
And stop by the Flashpoint booth for Reel Affirmations prizes!
Locations: Flashpoint Gallery (916 G St. NW) Arts on Foot Festival (7th St. NW @ F St.)

2nd Annual Trailer Trash: Sept. 19th
FREE for Reel Affirmations email list subscribers.
To receive your FREE admission, please email Paul
Win prizes, get sneak peeks at our upcoming films and be entertained by the lovely ladies of town!
Location: town nightclub 2009 8th St. NW

STC Launch Party and VIP Seating Party at Harman Center for the Arts: Sept. 21st
Sponsored by the Capitol Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Join us for a kick-off party announcing our collaboration! Tickets: $25 (at the door only) 610 F St. NW

Evolve Dive-in Movie and Pool Party: Sept. 23rd 7-11pm
SNEAK PEEK: Big Gay Musical, Closing Night Film at Reel Affirmations 19!
$50 per person, includes party, cocktails, film and fire dancers!
Tix available at the door. 1375 Maryland Ave. NE

ENDA prospects looking up

AP reports:

Momentum is building for Congress to pass the first major civil rights act protecting gays and transsexuals, supporters say, and one of the stars in the debate is a barrier-breaking transgender staffer on Capitol Hill.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, would prohibit workplace discrimination - including decisions about hiring, firing and wages - based on sexual orientation or gender identity....

The driving force behind the bill has been Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the longest-serving of the three openly gay members of Congress. He expects hearings on the measure to be held this fall.

Frank pushed ENDA in 2007, but it foundered because of insufficient backing in the Senate and a split within the gay and transgender communities....

Frank now has a policy adviser who is a female-to-male transsexual. Diego Sanchez is the first transgender person hired for a senior congressional staff position on Capitol Hill.

Sanchez has done extensive face-to-face lobbying for ENDA, and Frank says that's enabled some members of Congress to get to know a transsexual for the first time.

T.H.E. news release on deadly attack on transgenders in D.C.

We pass along the following news release:

THE logo
Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc. 1414 N. Capitol St, NW Washington, DC 20002

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC - August 27, 2009
CONTACT: Brian Watson
(202) 904-9969


STABBING OF TRANSGENDER FRIENDS ON Q STREET TRAGIC EXAMPLE OF HATE AND DISCRIMINATION
Statement of Anthony Hall, Executive Director
Transgender Health Empowerment (T.H.E), on behalf of T.H.E. Board, Staff and Clients

“Transgender Health Empowerment of Washington is appalled, sickened and saddened by the tragic stabbing of two transgender women on the night of August 26th in the Q Street corridor of Northwest Washington, D.C. One of the women, Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack, died at the scene and as of the writing of this release the second woman is listed in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center. Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack was 21 years of age.

“As our organization strives to enhance the quality of life of the diverse transgender populations throughout the Metro Washington, D.C. area we are too often reminded that even our basic right to life without hate and the threat of violence and even death is in constant jeopardy.

“As members of the Transgender community we are too well aware of the mental and physical effects of threats and violence. The violent attack on August 26th is one in a long string of violence against transgender people in Metro D.C. area. While some call for us to remain hidden or anonymous because of their prejudice, T.H.E. is one of the few transgender service providers in the Washington area with a client base that continues to grow and to seek our help.

“This act of extreme violence comes at a time when District budget cuts threaten to severely deplete our organizations funds. However our resolve remains. We are committed to a continued provision of supportive housing, health guidance, disease prevention awareness, and other related programs that positively impact the lives of our diverse populations in Washington.

“Transgender Health Empowerment extends its heartfelt condolences to all those in our community affected by the loss of Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack and the severe injury of her friend. The members and Board of T.H.E. continue to believe that we are all members of the same family…….the human family and we will continue to act accordingly.”

###

About Transgender Health Empowerment (T.H.E.): The mission of T.H.E. Inc. is to enhance the quality of life of the diverse transgender populations we serve by advocating for and supporting a continuum of health and social services. In fulfilling our mission, we seek to unify and empower the transgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities.

One trans woman killed, another wounded in D.C. stabbing

The Washington Blade on Wednesday evening reported another deadly anti-transgender attack on the streets of D.C.:

One transgender woman was stabbed to death Wednesday and another was in stable condition with stab wounds from an unknown assailant following an incident along the 200 block of Q Street, N.W., according to sources.

A police spokesperson said the incident occurred between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. Wednesday....

A law enforcement source described the victims as male-to-female transgender people, with one believed to be 18 years old and the other believed to be 27.

The stabbings occurred about two blocks from the North Capitol Street offices of Transgender Health Empowerment, a private social services group that provides drop-in services to transgender people, including transgender youth.

Police are seeking witnesses to the attack.

August 26, 2009

I was busy texting and walked into a sign pole. It's the city's fault.

I am sorry, but this blog post is funny, albeit inadvertently. People are so self-absorbed and unwilling to pay attention to where they are going that, when a bump on the noggin briefly forces them to pay attention, they insist that someone else must be responsible. Please.

Randall Terry ejected after disrupting Virginia townhall

Randall Terry, extremist founder of Operation Rescue and father of an estranged gay son, disrupted a health care town hall in Virginia yesterday where Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and former DNC chair Howard Dean were the featured speakers. He was forced to leave. As Brad Blog says, "Americans finally stand up against the phony, democracy-hating town hall disrupting bullies."

(Hat tip: Brad Blog)

Petrelis campaigns for a Medal of Freedom for Frank Kameny

Kameny and others at the white house

Michael Petrelis blogs from the Left Coast:

Last month I had a crazy idea: Propose that the president honor legendary gay American community organizer Dr. Franklin E. Kameny with the Medal of Freedom. I sent off a letter to Brian Bond, de facto White House gay liaison, of hundreds of words extolling Kameny and asking when, not if, the president would so honor our community's incredible pioneer.

More than a week later, on the day the White House announced this year's awardees, and Kameny's name was omitted, I received this terse reply from Bond:

"Michael – sorry I couldn’t get back to you but wanted to assure you that the community is well represented. I am making sure to keep your recommendation of my very dear friend Frank for future awards."

A total of 26 words in reply to this gay community organizer's long letter about working together to get this honor for Kameny. And Bond can't be bothered to give me full details on exactly what it is he doing about my recommendation, or say he'll give me regular updates, or even for me to keep in touch with him. Not a very engaging fellow, is he?

We at GLAA, where Frank still attends meetings, think a Medal of Freedom is a fine idea. However, it appears that before that happens, the White House needs to appoint a Deputy Assistant Whatever for the Care and Feeding of Michael Petrelis. Jeez, Michael, Brian responded receptively to your suggestion and said he will keep it in mind. Why is there a need for regular updates? Stop being so high-maintenance — it could piss off the WH folks and hurt Frank's chances. As Margaret Hamilton once said, "These things must be done delicately."

Who are you calling a self-hating Jew?

Leon Wieseltier has a thoughtful essay in The New Republic prompted by reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod self-hating Jews:

The accusation of ethnic infidelity is an old feature of the political culture of the Likud. The defenders of Greater Israel have values, but the critics of Greater Israel have motives. Perhaps the nether regions of the Israeli right will soon follow the nether regions of the American right, and alongside the birthers we will have the brissers: I mean, any man who opposes Jewish settlement in the West Bank must have a foreskin.

It is important to understand that for the paranoid mentality that regards disagreement as betrayal, all of Emanuel's Israeliness — his name, his Irgun father, his Hebrew, his service in an Israeli army program for civilians during the Gulf War — makes him more, not less, untrustworthy. There is a long and dark history, after all, of apostates and informers who came from within the community. Sometimes their defection was a matter of principle, a conversion, which was complicating, since a change of mind, when it is has intellectual integrity, has to be respected even when it has to be despised; but usually it was understood as a craven act of ingratiation, a hunger for power. When I was a student I believed this about Henry Kissinger, and stood with other students in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to denounce him as a moser for his shuttle diplomacy. (I admit it. I am a recovering Jewish fascist.)

Jewish self-hatred is another term for Jewish anti-Semitism, for the internalization of the standpoint of the enemy; and this is a genuinely grave charge. Jews who fling it about for political ends are desperate and disgraceful. And they are some of the same people who are outraged when right-wing African Americans are smeared as Uncle Toms.

Former GLAA President Barrett Brick, who occasionally leads services for Congregation Bet Mishpachah, has already threatened to use the "brissers" line in his next drash.

"...and the dream shall never die."

The conclusion of Sen. Ted Kennedy's speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention.

Biden pays emotional tribute to Kennedy

Vice President Joe Biden devotes most of his speech at the Department of Energy to a tribute to his longtime colleague, Sen. Ted Kennedy:

Ted Kennedy's journey toward affirming gay rights

Former GLAA President Barrett Brick points out a gap in The Washington Post article on the death of Senator Kennedy:

Once again, the Washington Post appears to consider news affecting gays to be irrelevant. In their aricle on Ted Kennedy's death, the Post states:

"A list of major laws bearing his imprint, in addition to health care, fills pages. In 1965, he led the successful Senate floor battle that passed what was popularly known as the Hart-Celler Act, landmark legislation that abolished immigration quotas and lifted a 1924 ban on immigration from Asia.

" 'This bill really goes to the very central ideals of our country,' Kennedy said on the floor of the Senate. The legislation, the most significant immigration reform in four decades, passed both the House and Senate by overwhelming margins."

Apart from the good things this bill did, it also put into law the explicit ban on gays immigrating to the USA. The original law used to ban us excluded those people with a "psychopathic personality." The federal courts struck down the INS' application of this exclusion to gays, and the explicit gay ban was included in the 1965 legislation. In the 1970s, when Ted Kennedy was approached on gay rights, he gave the excuse that he couldn't speak out because his Catholic constituency would turn on him. And when immigration reform hearings were held in 1980, the one hearing he skipped was the one at which I and other gay activists testified.

The full story, of course, is that Ted eventually came around and became one of our stronger supporters. But the Post's treating as irrelavnt and not worthy of mention news affecting us so deeply galls me. And I think Ted's journey from opposition to support makes for an even better story about the impact of his legacy.

--Barrett

D.C. judge rules ex-gays are a protected class under Human Rights Act

The Washington Examiner reports today that D.C. Superior Court Judge Maurice Ross ruled in June that ex-gays are a protected class under the D.C. Human Rights Act:

The decision emerged from a complaint filed more than five years ago by the Virginia-based Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, an organization that claims to lead the nation "in providing outreach and public awareness in support of families and the ex-gay community."

The human rights office ruled in 2005 that the National Education Association was legally right to bar PFOX from leasing an exhibit booth during the NEA's annual convention in Dallas three years earlier.

PFOX appealed to the D.C. Superior Court. In his ruling, issued in June, Ross found "no probable cause the NEA discriminated against PFOX on the basis of sexual orientation when it denied public accommodation services." The NEA, the judge said, had the right to exclude the ex-gay group because it believed the organization was hostile toward homosexuals.

But Ross also ruled that the District's human rights office "erred in determining that ex-gays are not a protected class under the HRA." The law prohibits acts of discrimination against 18 classes, including gays and the homeless.

"The premise of the HRA is simple: to end all discrimination based on anything other than individual merit," the judge wrote.

Sexual orientation is defined in the D.C. Human Rights Act as heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, by preference or practice. "Ex-gay" is not an orientation, since it focuses on what a person is not (or claims not to be) rather than what he or she is. Presumably, an ex-gay identifies as heterosexual, and is protected on that basis. But NEA's refusal to rent booth space at its conventions to PFOX was based on the views PFOX was expressing, not their orientation. Regina Griggs and her colleagues at PFOX are entitled to express their discredited views, but (as Judge Ross recognized) are not entitled to rent space from NEA for that purpose.

While GLAA has responded strongly to ex-gay junk science, we also defended PFOX's First Amendment right to participate on an equal basis in a D.C. Metro System PSA program. But that was because WMATA, as a quasi-governmental body, was prohibited by the First Amendment from favoring one group's expression over another's. NEA is not governmental, and has a right to defend its own expressive purpose.

Continue reading "D.C. judge rules ex-gays are a protected class under Human Rights Act" »

Edward Moore Kennedy, 1932-2009

Ted_Kennedy_at_anti_FMA_rally In June 2006, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) spoke at a news conference organized by the Human Rights Campaign against the Federal Marriage Amendment, on which the Senate would vote the next day. The energy level of the assembled civil rights leaders and reporters jumped when Kennedy arrived, walking slowly and stooped from the painful back that was injured in a plane crash four decades earlier.

Kennedy expressed pride in the human rights legacy of the Massachusetts state constitution, and in the Goodridge decision that carried it forward. His presence that day, along with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), was a big deal; it conveyed, even before they spoke, that we had the most respected figures in the House and Senate on our side.

Ted was the only one of four Kennedy brothers who lived to see his hair turn gray, who died of natural causes. For those of us old enough to remember the national trauma of the 1960s, it was a comfort watching him grow older. His appearance last summer at the Democratic National Convention to pass the torch to the junior senator from Illinois crystallized decades of liberal advocacy of which his support for LGBT equality was only a part.

The legacy of Kennedy’s 47 years in the Senate ranges from health insurance for millions of children to a national holiday honoring Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. His lifelong commitment to health care will loom over Congress as it reconvenes and moves into the final push for health care reform. There isn’t a soul, however, who wouldn’t much prefer his vigorous presence in the midst of the fight, the lion of the Senate steering the legislation to passage.

For the moment, I recall Kennedy's statement against FMA in June 2006:

Supporters of the Federal Marriage Amendment claim the need to stop activist judges. Our colleagues should recall the words of another activist court:

“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the most vital personal property rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.”

The activist judges stating this fundamental belief were part of the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia, which held that marriage is a basic civil right, and that freedom to marry a person of another race may not be restricted by racial discrimination.

Now, nearly forty years later, I urge the Senate not to turn back the clock on this progress, or start writing discrimination into our country’s most cherished document.

The vote that week was one of his many victories. Rest in peace, Senator.