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197 posts from January 2010

January 30, 2010

Marriage Trial Re-enactment - First Day

Perry


The trailer has been available for a while, but now MarriageTrial.com has posted the portions of the first day on YouTube.  Reportedly you can use the Day One transcript to follow along.

The President's Q&A with House Republicans

President Obama on Friday met with House Republicans in Baltimore and took questions. This may be his most brilliant political performance so far as President. He is smart, tough, at ease, and in command of the issues. Luke Russert reported afterwards that one member of Congress said it was a mistake for them to let the television camera in. (Note: the sound in this set of highlights markedly improves after the 2 minute mark.)

January 29, 2010

Nepal 'to stage gay weddings on Everest'

Everest_North_Face Britain's Telegraph reports:

Nepal's homosexual community, which is led by Asia's only openly gay member of parliament, will next month host a tourism conference to explore how to attract wealthy gay visitors to boost the country's war-ravaged economy.

The country's new constitution will legalise homosexual marriage in May this year, when "Pink Mountain" will begin offering luxury honeymoon and wedding packages.

Sunil Babu Pant, a Communist legislator and leader of the country's homosexual rights movement, has launched a travel company dedicated to promoting the former Hindu kingdom to gay tourists in an effort to tap the so-called "Pink Pound" and dollar.

The company will offer elephant-back bridal processions, Everest base camp ceremonies and weddings in remote Tibetan enclaves in the Himalayan republic.

(Hat tip: Bob Summersgill)

WSJ writer says Barney Frank's seat is vulnerable

Barney_frank-300x200 I should have titled this, "Wingnut, please."

From the Department of Implausible Suggestions, Wall Street Journal writer James Freeman writes about Massachusetts in the aftermath of Scott Brown's victory:

[Rep. Barney Frank] may be the most vulnerable of the state's incumbents.

Mr. Frank is the most powerful lawmaker in the Massachusetts House delegation given his chairmanship of the banking committee, but he also managed to win reelection by a smaller percentage than any of his Massachusetts colleagues in the blowout Democratic year of 2008. Yes, his 68% tally that year would still be the envy of most pols, but it was his worst showing since 1992. In many years, he ran unopposed, collecting virtually 100% of the vote. And because Mr. Frank's decline began even before the recent rebellion over health-care reform and deficit spending, a good bet is that he's been neglecting basic constituent services. Several potential GOP candidates already have expressed interest in the 4th District. Whoever the Republican is, Mr. Frank could be facing his toughest campaign since the early 1980s thanks to the anti-Washington tide.

GayPolitics.com answers:

Mark Glaze, a Democratic strategist with the Washington, D.C.-based Raben Group says Freeman may be engaged in some wishful thinking. ”Barney has the finest constituent service of any member in the House. His (recent) vote totals in part reflect an expensive, effective campaign by some on the right to falsely blame him for a financial crisis he’s in fact fighting very hard to fix.”

But if it begins to look like Frank has a real fight on his hands, will the LGBT community pitch in to protect the longest-serving openly gay Member of Congress? Asked the question today, Victory Fund president and CEO Chuck Wolfe gave a rather definitive answer. ”Hell yes.”

I have cousins who are Barney's constituents. They and a great many others are not just supporters of Barney, they are fanatics. The more obnoxious he is, the better they like him. If Barney faces a serious challenge, people will come out of the woodwork to help him. Full disclosure: I support Barney and will donate to his campaign again this year.

(Hat tip: Alexander Robinson)

Update: It occurs to me that Barney put it best last summer in answer to a Lyndon LaRouche supporter at a town hall meeting: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

Roeder convicted of murdering Kan. abortion provider

AP reports swift and sure justice for a cold-blooded, unrepentant murderer:

A man who said he killed prominent Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in order to save the lives of unborn children was convicted Friday of murder.

The jury deliberated for just 37 minutes before finding Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting death.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years when he is sentenced March 9. Prosecutor Nola Foulston said she would pursue a so-called "Hard 50" sentence, which would require Roeder to serve at least 50 years before he can be considered for parole.

37 minutes is about the time it takes to read the judge's instructions. Not only was there no reasonable doubt, there was no doubt whatever.

Maggie Gallagher plays the victim card again

Maggie Anti-gay crusader Maggie Gallagher plays the victim card yet again, in a letter to the federal court concerning the Prop 8 trial:

The price of participating in a trial should not be the willingness to tolerate even a minimum of reasonable threats to one’s livelihood or personal safety.

The Supreme Court stepped in to prevent the broadcast of these hearings. But it was too late. Expert witnesses had already dropped out. The trial had been changed, forever, by the mere prospect of television broadcast.

Our case for Proposition 8 has been deeply harmed. The public record has been impoverished and the information available to reviewing courts permanently reduced all because some witnesses feared retaliation as a result of the publicity. I wish they had more courage, but I cannot view their fears as unreasonable....

The purpose of a trial is not to educate the public. It is to do justice to the parties the court has permitted in the court room. Where there is a conflict, or a potential conflict, courts must adhere to their primary purpose and eschew any innovations that threaten that purpose.

If television is ever to be permitted, it should only be when all parties to the litigation agree. Anything else is a travesty of justice, a subordination of the purpose of a court system to some other goal.

Here’s the bottom line: If the Supreme Court should overturn Proposition 8 and find a constitutional right to gay marriage I will never know whether or not that would be a result of the haste to televise the trial.

Who are these vampire friends of Maggie who can't surive the sunshine of a televised trial? The brazen dishonesty of these folks is evident in this claim that the damage was done despite the fact that the Prop 8 trial was not televised. Is this desperate, or what? Far more insidious is the fact that this woman who has been obsessively attacking gay families for years inflates out of all proportion a few incidents of her allies being harassed, while entirely ignoring the harm done to gay families, harm that she herself promotes. We are to be excluded from the protections of the Constitution, yet the "real" victimhood is somehow all on her side of the dispute. Maggie, I puke in your general direction.

Years ago, a gay writer that I otherwise respect, and who has debated Maggie, told me that he likes her. That's because he puts a premium on manners. Maggie is very polite, so the fact that she habitually traffics in monstrous slanders is beside the point to that writer. What crap. I well understand political adversaries respecting and even liking one another, but in this case we are talking not about an ordinary political disagreement but about someone who relentlessly campaigns against the legitimate existence of an entire class of people. Maggie Gallagher is beyond the pale. I myself am polite to my adversaries, including malevolent closet cases, because it generally works better and because I don't have energy to divert from the task of refuting their lies. But liking them? Um, no.

(Hat tip: Joe.My.God.)

Do Children Need Both a Mother and a Father?

Science Daily reports on a study published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family:

"Significant policy decisions have been swayed by the misconception across party lines that children need both a mother and a father. Yet, there is almost no social science research to support this claim. One problem is that proponents of this view routinely ignore research on same-gender parents," said sociologist Timothy Biblarz of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Extending their prior work on gender and family, Biblarz and Judith Stacey of NYU analyzed relevant studies about parenting, including available research on single-mother and single-father households, gay male parents and lesbian parents. "That a child needs a male parent and a female parent is so taken for granted that people are uncritical," Stacey said....

As the researchers write: "The social science research that is routinely cited does not actually speak to the questions of whether or not children need both a mother and a father at home. Instead proponents generally cite research that compares [heterosexual two-parent] families with single parents, thus conflating the number with the gender of parents." ...

"The bottom line is that the science shows that children raised by two same-gender parents do as well on average as children raised by two different-gender parents. This is obviously inconsistent with the widespread claim that children must be raised by a mother and a father to do well," Biblarz said.

And since our opponents use their unsupported claims to oppose adoption by same-sex couples, the comparison should be between how a child fares with gay parents and with NO parents.

(Hat tip: Cathy Renna)

Ester Goldberg's Weekly 'Wrap'

This week's wrap from our friend Ester includes a goodbye to actress Zelda Rubinstein of Poltergeist fame.

Speech therapy

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Jon Stewart translates the President's State of the Union address.

The man from page 93

Salinger There has been much discussion of J.D. Salinger, who has died at the age of 91. My first encounter with his work was in high school, when a classmate handed over a copy of Salinger's classic 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye and said, "There's a blowjob on page 93." Holden Caulfield's sexual encounter was as tawdry as the way the book was introduced to me. Salinger influenced many subsequent writers, and the postwar novel is still required reading nearly 60 years later. But with his Garbo-like reclusiveness for the past half century, his death feels like the fading of a ghost. If Salinger thought the media glare and the critics' darts were too much to endure in the mid-1960s, the situation today must have been beyond horrifying to him. I am about midway in age between him and someone just becoming a teenager. The years roll on, and new generations find their way. Rest in peace, Mr. Salinger.

Crawford takes job with Freedom to Marry

Michaelcrawford As DC Agenda reports (and we've known for a while), grassroots organizer Michael Crawford of DC for Marriage has accepted a job in New York as director of new media for Freedom to Marry:

“We managed to do something really good here in D.C., and I’m hoping to take a lot of the things that we learned to the national level so that we have marriage equality not just in D.C. and five other states but that we have marriage equality across the country.”

He said he will retain his position as co-chair of D.C. for Marriage and will continue to work on public education and community outreach to the African-American and faith communities related to marriage equality efforts in D.C.

The well-prepared, broad-based, multifaceted effort with which our coalition achieved marriage equality in D.C. is a model of how to get it done, even if our smaller size and all-urban demographics mean that we lack some of the barriers faced by the states. Good luck to Michael in applying our lessons learned to the nationwide effort.

January 28, 2010

Never can say goodbye

WaPo yesterday reported a strange case involving a local judge:

Days after D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Janet Albert broke up with her girlfriend, the judge found her former companion unconscious in her attic, above her bedroom, with some food and an ice bucket fashioned into a makeshift toilet, authorities say.

Investigators said Taylar Nuevelle had climbed into the attic through a door in Albert's bedroom closet and had been there for almost 24 hours, listening to Albert's telephone pleas to friends for help.

Now, Nuevelle is on trial on charges of burglary, unlawful entry and stalking. Prosecutors allege that she began stalking Albert and harassing with her with hundreds of phone calls, threatening e-mails and text messages after the two ended their year-long relationship in 2008. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

I sometimes joke about people renting out their crawlspace, but that would actually be a step up from this scenario. Fortunately this case did not get to the boiled-rabbit stage. But I am sure this is not the sort of coverage Judge Albert was looking for.

Cleta Mitchell, for when you need your lawyering done right — far right

Cleta_Mitchell I happened to be reading George Will's column in today's WaPo in which he celebrates the Supreme Court's ruling abolishing limits on corporate campaign spending, and who was mentioned as "Washington's preeminent campaign finance attorney" but Cleta Mitchell, who was the lead witness for the proponents at yesterday's Board of Elections and Ethics hearing on the proposed referendum on the marriage-equality bill.

I hadn't previously picked up on Ms. Mitchell's other associations, though it doesn't surprise me. I can't say that someone as obnoxious as she (who had a hand in the big GOP to-do over ACORN) would be out of place in a Democratic National Committee meeting, since I had a chance to observe Harold Ickes during the contentious May 31, 2008 DNC Rules Committee meeting concerning the disputed Florida and Michigan delegates. But Ickes was merely being a ruthless political hack. he was like the assassin played by Max von Sydow in the movie Three Days of the Condor, who comes upon Robert Redford's character but doesn't kill him because on that occasion Redford is not his designated target and, after all, the hit-man is a professional.

Cleta Mitchell, on the other hand, appears to be a true right-wing believer. She has that charming combination of malevolence and arrogance that prompts her to say, "No one could possibly assert" something that I am in fact asserting. But Dick Morris once worked for Bill Clinton, so who knows? After all, fifteen months ago I was opposing Peter Nickles's confirmation as D.C. Attorney General, and now he's submitting fabulous briefs defending same-sex married couples. So keep an eye on this talented counselor. If you want a tough lawyer at your table who can radiate polite nastiness while confidently declaring a marvelous stream of falsehoods, and Cleta Mitchell is available, then I'd say dig deep and pay her retainer.

Another example of the 'ex-gay' fraud

Mario_bergner The Living Church Foundation, reporting on a recent right-wing Anglican conference on sexuality, sure doesn't make it appear that Rev. Bergner (pictured here) has journeyed out of homosexuality:

The Rev. Mario Bergner, an Anglican priest and former college drama teacher, described his journey out of homosexuality and into a new life as the married father of five. Speaking of how online porn presents a new challenge to Christians, he confessed that he has a lock on his own computer that is monitored by his wife and others to whom he is accountable.

I'd say there's a better chance of healing Tinker Bell by getting the children in the audience to clap.

Wayne Besen comments:

What is striking, is that Bergner is considered a leader in his field. He has an array of products, including his book, “Setting Love in Order: Hope and Healing for the Homosexual.”

Is it just me, or is placing a padlock on the computer a very bad example of hope and healing?

Given his extremely weak “recovery”, why is Bergner going to Belfast in February to hawk products and provide “practical training for church leaders in the area of same-sex attraction?” Why is he considered an expert and writing books on this topic?

Dude, if you are placing a Master Lock on the computer to stop from masturbating to pictures of men - you are not healed. You are not an “ex-gay”. And, you have no business turning your sexuality into a profitable business and teaching seminars on this topic.

My one disagreement with Wayne, and it goes back several years to his days with the Human Rights Campaign, is that he seems to want to forcibly shut down these bogus ministries on the grounds that they are committing consumer fraud. I think that is a really bad way to handle this. Wayne does an invaluable job of exposing the "ex-gay" fraud, and continuing to shine that light is what we should do — not play into the wingnuts' victimhood complex by trying to shut them down, nor by trying to censor their advocacy ads as Wayne has urged. Wayne is a zealot on this issue, and zealots tend to go too far.

Update: I know those so-called ministries are doing harm; that is why I value the work that Wayne does. The disagreement is over how best to fight them. I think the way to defeat them is in the realm of public opinion. Yesterday at the Board of Elections hearing, a number of our opponents claimed in effect that if they aren't allowed to impose their beliefs on everyone else, their religious freedom is being infringed. Now of course that's rubbish, and some of the people in question are just nuts and we're never going to persuade them. But there is a slice of the population that we could reach that we have not yet reached, and I don't think the way to reach them is to have them read that we are trying to shut down some ministry. I am not talking about the merits of the consumer-fraud argument; I think Wayne is right about that. I am talking about how best to win people over. Applying the coercive power of government to "cut the Gordian Knot" can undermine that effort by playing into our adversaries' attempt to portray us as the true oppressors. No, I don't think there's anything wrong with government shutting down a fraudulent business. Again, I'm talking about what has the best chance of selling politically. I want to get something done, not just feel righteous while acting counterproductively.

Rep. Chaffetz seeks to block D.C. same-sex marriages

Jason_Chaffetz WaPo's D.C. Wire reports the latest on our favorite busybody from Utah:

U.S. Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced a disapproval resolution today in Congress to block the city's attempt to legalize same-sex marriage.

If approved by the House and Senate, as well as signed by President Obama, the resolution would override the same-sex marriage bill signed by Mayor Adrian M Fenty (D) last month.

But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) issued a statement Wednesday evening saying she has received assurance from House Democratic leaders that the House will not even vote on Chaffetz's resolution.

"I am pleased it will not be taken up by committee," said Norton, adding her Democratic colleagues believe District officials should make their own laws.

Without Congressional intervention, same-sex marriages could begin in early March in the city.

So not to worry, Possums. As our dear friend Eleanor says, Chaffetz's resolution isn't going anywhere. While a single U.S. senator can be enough to block a bill under certain circumstances, a single House member is not enough to pass one. As Craig Howell says, "This guy seriously needs to get a life."

Ally beats enemy

Will O'Bryan looks at what we can expect from President Obama, and what we have to do for ourselves:

From our community, the critique is that Obama has abandoned us. So many promises, so little delivery. Mr. President, you're administration is defending DOMA and silent on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (though possibly not by the time this prints). What gives?

Really, there's not much more he can do. He got elected, which was monumental to begin with. Why he wanted the job is beyond me. Two wars, an economy in shambles, an environment in collapse, terrorism, fuel shortages…. If I were the first lady, I'd turn over that garden to a bumper crop of weed just to make it through each day.

What we got with Obama was not a fighter, but a peacemaker. A compromiser. If he was a fighter, he would've scared off too many voters. Remember the fist-bump scandal? We also got an ally. He's not going to fight our fights, but if our legislation makes it to his desk, he will gladly sign it. Would Bush have invited Judy Shepard to the White House for the signing of a hate-crimes bill? No. He would veto it.

An ally is better than we've had in a long time. But while he'll offer aid and comfort, we won't see him in our particular trenches. He'll invite our heroes to the White House to remind us we are welcome, but at the end of the day the fight remains our own. If that's not enough, so be it. But your disappointment in Obama is not constructive. Turn your attention elsewhere and get something done.

I agree with both Will and Evan Wolfson. It is right for us to press this ally for more leadership on our issues, but as the President himself has said to us, we have a big role to play to prepare the ground — particularly on Capitol Hill. He is a leader, not a magician. There are some things that Obama could do that he has not done, such as issuing a stop-loss order to end discharges of gay servicemembers, and it is perfectly appropriate to criticize him on that. There is no contradiction in giving both credit and criticism to a politician as they are merited; it has served GLAA quite well at the local level.

Freedom to Marry responds to Obama speech

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry praises President Obama for his call last night to end discrimination against gays in the military, but notes his silence on the Respect for Marriage Act and ENDA:

For Immediate Release:
January 27, 2010
, New York, NY

New York, January 27, 2010 - Statement by Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry following President Obama's State of the Union address to Congress: "President Obama’s pledge to end discrimination against gay people serving in the military, repeated in tonight’s State of the Union, is an important show of support for gay and lesbian Americans as well as a boost to our national security.

Unfortunately, the President failed to address the government's discrimination against same-sex couples in his speech. The President spoke about the concerns of Americans across the country, from unemployment to access to good schools and adequate healthcare. Millions of gay and lesbian Americans share these same concerns and struggles, but also bear the extra burden of exclusion from marriage and the denial of legal protection in the workplace and at home. Particularly in a time of immense economic challenges, government should not put obstacles in the path of any committed couple seeking to take care of their loved ones.

Freedom to Marry calls on the President to keep his promises and ensure the stability and security of all American families by working with Congress to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which would end the government's policy of singling out married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law. We also urge the President to keep his repeated promises to work with Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Yep.

CBS's double standards on advocacy ads during Super Bowl

A friend who is a United Church of Christ minister writes:

Friends,

In 2004, CBS and all other broadcast companies rejected the United Church of Christ's "Bouncer" ad on the grounds that it was an "issue" or "advocacy" ad. CBS and the other broadcasters said they have a policy not to run "issue" ads. The specific ground for rejecting the UCC ad was that the ad included a gay male couple being turned away from a church by "bouncers."

The Focus on the Family ad is even more clearly an issue / advocacy ad. Either CBS has changed its policy or, more likely, has decided to ignore it.

An effort is being made to communicate to CBS that the FOTF ad should be rejected as an issue / advocacy ad or CBS should now accept the UCC "Bouncer" ad. Your message should not be about the content of the ad, but about consistent application of CBS policy on issue / advocacy ads.

You may communicate that message to CBS Audience Services at audsvcs@cbs.com.

If you are UCC, our leadership in Cleveland is aware of this matter and has issued a statement -- it's on www.ucc.org. Here is an interview from last Thursday on KPCC in Pasadena about the ad, including Ben Guess from our national communications office. It gives good background.

http://media.scpr.org/audio/upload/2010/01/21/superbowl.mp3

Thank you.

Update: AP reported earlier this week that CBS has changed its policy:

CBS said Tuesday that, under its new policies, the UCC ad would have been accepted for airing. The network said that it has run ads in the past year or so with divergent views on topics such as the health care overhaul, climate change and energy policy.

So if you send a note to CBS, thank them for doing the right thing. Of course, as the recent foofaraw over some right-wing Metrobus ads demonstrates, some people in the LGBT community are outraged at the notion that anti-gay bigots have the right to run ads that offend us. If you are among them, suit yourself. But know that GLAA did not arrive at our position lightly. Seeking to silence our adversaries only helps their cause by playing into their usually-false claims of victimhood, and betrays fundamental American principles of free speech. Our own advocacy rests upon those principles.

Obama on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A fine moment from the State of the Union address. Thanks to Michael Crawford for sharing this clip.

January 27, 2010

Anti-gay witnesses sound desperate at D.C. Board of Elections hearing

I spent most of the day Wednesday at the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics hearing on whether the proposed referendum on the marriage equality bill is a proper subject for referendum. Those of us whose answer was "No!" had to sit through several dozen proponents of the measure, because the Board has proponents go first.

The first witness was Cleta Mitchell of Foley and Lardner, attorney for the proponents. She showed the desperation of someone who has run out of arguments but refuses to concede anything or change course. Her tone was uniformly contemptuous. At the end, she sounded threatening when she cautioned the Board against using what she called a manufactured argument, raised by Stein Club counsel Mark Levine and D.C. Council General Counsel Brian Flowers, that one reason the Referendum was invalid was that it would cost the city revenue. It's a perfectly valid argument, which Bob Summersgill and I echoed. (BTW, those on Twitter can look up Bob's live tweets from the hearing.)

It was fairly obvious that our opponents, other than the acolytes who were there to vent and read Bible verses at us, expected the Board to rule against them again, and were just laying the groundwork for another court case. The open hostility toward the Board peaked when Rev. Anthony Evans had his turn at the mic, which featured this gem:

I am the child of MLK Jr. I am a keeper of the dream, and I guess you are too because you and your family had an opportunity to relax during the recent holiday honoring Dr. King. Dr. King stood for anti-biases. I am hoping that this body is not biased against the church or clergy because we decided to exercise our constitutional right to oppose this bill that makes a mockery out of marriage, so let me ask you a couple questions if I can, and this isn't personal:

Are you homosexual? Are any of your family members or friends homosexuals? Do you have any hatred in your heart towards the church? Do you have any hatred in your heart towards clergy? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you should excuse yourself from these proceedings on the issue of fairness and justice while being the sons and daughters of MLK who is against any bias.

If Rev. Evans wants the Board members to establish their hetero credentials (which is howlingly illogical as well as obnoxious, but never mind), he is inviting questions about himself. Why is he so obsessed about this, anyway? What did gay people ever do to him?

Ward 5 ANC commissioner Bob King read letters he had received from right-wing members of Congress praising his efforts. He was asked what states the members were from; it was places like South Carolina and Georgia.

One of the anti-gay witnesses warned, "These are the End Times." If that is true, why did she bother to attend a Board of Elections hearing? Shouldn't she be preparing for the Rapture? Another witness offered some bizarre numerology involving the ages and alma maters of D.C. Councilmembers.

I'll be posting testimony from opponents of the Referendum over at GLAA's main site at www.glaa.org over the next few days as I obtain electronic copies. Other witnesses for our side included Councilmember Phil Mendelson, Thomas Williamson of Covington & Burling (representing the Campaign for All D.C. Families, D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, and a few same-sex couples), Hillary Treat of DC for Marriage, Sultan Shakir of the Human Rights Campaign (who has been tasked to the Campaign for All D.C. Families), Colin MacDonald of Full Equality Now DC, Howard Croft of the Greater Washington Chapter of ADA, and Bryan Pruitt of the D.C. Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Nick McCoy was also there from HRC, but was called away before he could testify. Thanks to all who participated.

Hearing today on proposed D.C. marriage referendum

I won't be blogging for several hours because I'm heading over to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics for their hearing on whether the proposed “Referendum on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009” is a proper subject for referendum in the District of Columbia. I will testify against the measure on behalf of GLAA; joining me on the side of the angels will be Mark Levine (counsel for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club) and Bob Summersgill. Here's an excerpt of my testimony:

The proposed Referendum on the Act would violate D.C. law. This Board last year ruled against a referendum and an initiative that had similar purposes, and was upheld in both cases by the Superior Court. As in those cases, the present Referendum violates a provision of the law enacted at the behest of the Gay Activists Alliance in 1979 which bars any referendum or initiative that “authorizes, or would have the effect of authorizing, discrimination prohibited under Chapter 14 of Title 2....” In 2002, the Human Rights Act was amended to apply its provisions expressly to the District Government....

We agree with Mark Levine and Bob Summersgill that the Referendum would further violate the subject-matter restriction by causing a loss of revenue to the District.

As the court has found, the Dean case, cited by our opponents in the past, is no longer a controlling authority because the facts and the law have changed. The court also found that the Council acted within its authority in 1979 when it added restrictions to the subject matter of referenda and initiatives. As Lawrence Guyot said during the hearings on the Act, he took part in the historic voting rights project known as Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964, and the right of people to vote on other people’s rights “is not what we were fighting for.”

Insisting on the primacy of ballot measures goes against American traditions of representative government. Our Founders placed constitutional limits on majority rule. Their writings show they distrusted populist government and intended not a direct democracy but a republic.

The eternally unchanging institution of civil marriage portrayed by our opponents is a fiction. Prior to the pursuit of marriage equality by same-sex couples and our allies, civil marriage was changed in a number of ways, including elimination of racial segregation and recognition of the equal status of women. The evolution of civil marriage is part of our nation’s ongoing struggle to live out the true meaning of its creed.

My full testimony, including footnotes, is here. I'll also load Mark's and Bob's testimony (and anyone else's I get hold of) onto GLAA's main website at www.glaa.org after I get home.

January 26, 2010

TWO: Wingnuts Work to Ban Dictionaries In School

TWO_header Evan Hurst at Truth Wins Out reports:

A child in Menifee, California, found the term ["oral sex"] in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, and the child’s mother has requested that the book (again: the dictionary) be banned from the school. Worse? The Menifee Union School District pulled the dictionaries, not just from that school, but from the entire school district!

It is not the fundie fanatics who will consign America to also-ran status in the world economy a generation from now, but those who cave to them, like the officials of the Menifee Union School District. Gotta fight back.

Protest, prayer planned in response to 'Family' connected to Uganda bill

Full Equality Now DC is planning a protest and co-sponsoring an alternative prayer session in response to the influential fundamentalist organization known as The Family:

Ugandan Family members and anti-gay extremists are crafting that country’s dangerous “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” promising ruthless punishments such as the death penalty or life in prison for LGBTQ and HIV-positive people. The Ugandan government has long misspent and wasted millions of dollars of U.S. funding intended for HIV/AIDS prevention and wellness services. The new bill’s chief authors are Family members James Nsaba Buturo, Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity, and Member of Parliament David Bahati, both of whom have proceeded with the encouragement of Ugandan President and Family member Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Continue reading "Protest, prayer planned in response to 'Family' connected to Uganda bill" »

Cirque du Soleil: Zumanity

Continue reading "Cirque du Soleil: Zumanity" »

Gawker: Travolta airlifts desperately needed e-meters to people of Haiti

18_travolta_lgl Gawker reports:

Scientologists have mobilized to seize on the promotional and recruitment opportunities presented by the horror going on in Haiti, and John Travolta has personally arranged to fly "volunteer ministers" to Haiti to inflict his junk science on victims there.

Anywhere people are suffering, Scientology's yellow-shirted "volunteer ministers" can be found lurking near news cameras and claiming to help people with their bullshit technology. They performed "purification rundowns" on recovery workers sifting through the ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11, administered "touch assists" to victims of the tsunami, distributed literature after the Virginia Tech shooting, and are on the ground in Haiti right now warning the starving, dehydrated populace about the dangers of psychiatry.

But at least it's a respectable religion like Scientology, rather than (say) a Ponzi scheme cooked up by a science fiction writer. Luckily for me, I don't have to go to a disaster zone; a Scientology outlet recently opened on 16th Street a block from where I live — and about nine blocks from the President, should he suddenly need to get in touch with his Thetans.

State rep: NH selling children to gay couples for $10,000

Al-baldasaro Jillian Rayfield at TPM reports:

Democrats are calling on New Hampshire State Rep. Alfred Baldasaro (R) to resign over his remarks that the state "sold" children for $10,000 each when "they said that homosexual couples, not married, can adopt."

Baldasaro is one of the main sponsors of HB 1590, which aims to repeal a New Hampshire law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

In his testimony before the state's House Judiciary Committee on January 20, Baldasaro offered his objections to gay marriage, first insisting that it's "not normal."

He elaborated with some choice metaphors:

"So because I disagree on something that's pushed down my throat, I'm supposed to roll over because, representative, you think it's normal? I'm sorry you got the wrong person."

Rep. Baldasaro, keep your pants on and go see a shrink. BTW, if you were truly concerned about the buying and selling of people, you could go after real human trafficking instead of exploiting it for political gain at the expense of a minority.

Maddow To WH Economic Advisor: Spending Freeze 'Completely Insane'

As Josh Marshall says at TPM, "I'm psyched that we're done messing around with major social reforms and finally getting down to the real business of election year gimmicks."

Link: The right goes post-gay

David Link at Independent Gay Forum looks at an interesting aspect of the Prop 8 trial:

The last thing I’d have expected from the people defending Prop. 8 was for them to be post-gay; but they seem to have at least one attorney who’s there.

On Friday, Howard Nielson cross examined Prof. Gregory Herek extensively about the scientific literature that shows “erotic plasticity” and the idea that “the very concept of sexual orientation may be misguided.” To my mind, this was the most rigorous cross-examination the defense has offered, and the most intellectually honest.

There is scientific evidence, some of it offered by our own witnesses, showing that some people’s sexual orientation is, indeed, fluid. It’s not like this should come as any surprise, since the “B” in “LGBT” is now quite taken for granted.

But Nielson was going further with this. He was trying to blast open the entire notion that homosexuality even exists as a category. That, of course, is what the post-gays have argued -- that we should move past this insistence on categorizing ourselves based on sexual orientation. Some ex-gays, too, have found it more convenient to latch onto this term....

But even at its strongest, I’m not sure this argument takes Nielson where he wants to go. If homosexuality doesn’t exist as a category, then neither does heterosexuality. As Prof. Herek repeatedly noted in his testimony, though, Nielson was focusing a bit obsessively on the margins. Most people do, in fact, know and identify themselves with one of the two primary sexual orientations.

Time and again, our opponents find one way or another to try to argue that gay people, when you really look into it, don't exist. Well, being erased in this way is not as bloody as the Stalinist version in the last century, but this gay person (commissar or otherwise) refuses to vanish.

Protests set for Jan. 27 over murdered Honduran activist

Walter_trochez Michael Petrelis reports on protests scheduled on Wednesday (including one in D.C.) demanding justice in the murder of Honduran activist Walter Trochez (pictured here), but also protesting the inauguration of President-elect Porfirio Lobo:

On January 27, Honduras will inaugurate Porfirio Lobo as the new President of the country, and gays in three cities will mark the occasion demonstrating on behalf of human rights protections for LGBT people and pro-democracy forces in Honduras. Since the military coup of June 29, 2009, many other transgender and gay people as well as opponents of the coup government have been murdered. Our solidarity and compassion go to the family members and friends of those murdered.

Gay activists are particularly concerned that no has been arrested and charged with the assassination of Walter Trochez, a 26-year-old gay man and HIV/AIDS advocate, killed on December 13, who worked with human rights organizations against the coup leaders.

Follow the link to see the schedule and info on the protests. I will miss the D.C. protest, as I will be at the Board of Elections and Ethics on Wednesday to testify against the proposed referendum on the marriage equality bill. However, I am not sure why defending gay rights requires us to align ourselves with the interests of Manuel Zelaya and Hugo Chavez. The international gay rights movement has long been dominated by leftists who are bothered a lot more by right-wing depredations than left-wing ones. It is easy enough to pick and choose your despots when you live in comfort and freedom in the United States or Western Europe.

Update: Seattle Gay News reported here that the American Embassy has been on the case:

"Ambassador [Hugo] Llorens met on December 17 with members of the Gay community to express his concern about the killing of Mr. Trochez and the U.S. Embassy has expressed concern about the Trochez murder and other human rights violations to the special prosecutor for Human Rights and to the Honduran police," an embassy official said.

"Over the past several years, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa has maintained a strong and supportive dialogue with the Honduran LGBT community and on a number of occasions has discussed the community's concerns with the Honduran authorities," the official added.

January 25, 2010

Limbaugh confesses, courtesy The Onion

Rush The Onion offers this meditation from Rush:

I know there are a lot of people out there who are upset about some of the things I've been saying on my radio program lately. My comments about the situation in Haiti have hurt and angered many Americans who genuinely care about the plight of the Haitian people, and that hurt and anger will likely never go away. Many of you are probably wondering, "What would compel a human being to say things like that?" Well, here's your answer: I am a very bad person. And, to tell you the truth, I don't really want to be alive anymore....

I don't enjoy anything. I don't even want to be here. The sadness and regret I feel every waking hour of my life is absolutely unbearable. I am a miserable pig and I do not want to exist.

Walk toward the light, Rush.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Outsports: NFL player takes action against gay story

Ovie_Mughelli_300 Outsports.com reports:

An attorney for Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli has sent cease-and-desist letters to some Web sites that have published the allegations of a man who claims to have had a sexual relationship with Mughelli.

Outsports has obtained a copy of the letter sent to Mediaoutrage.com by Phaedra Parks, an Atlanta-based attorney specializing in entertainment and sports.:

“Your blog is replete with defamatory statements as it relates to Mr. Mughelli,” the letter says. “If you do not cease and desist immediately, we will have no alternative but to seek an immediate permanent injunction and sue you for damages for defamation and false light.

Hey, Petrelis, did ya get your copy?

The postgame analysis is fine, but give us more Pierre Garçon

Garconhaiti300 You have to skim through a lot of AFC/NFC postgame analysis at Outsports.com before getting to this:

Hot player of the week: Colts receiver Pierre Garçon has a smile that will light up South Beach. And his outspoken advocacy of the Haitian earthquake victims (he has a lot of family in Haiti) has been touching and kept the issue in front of millions.

Ullman's Arianna is great, her Rachel needs work

Tracey Ullman's Arianna is closer to the mark than her Rachel in this pair of impressions set in the MSNBC makeup room. (Boo to HuffPo, which doesn't seem to want people to embed their videos.)

Naff: Obama should use SOTU to push for repeal of DADT

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DC Agenda editor Kevin Naff writes:

LGBT rights supporters will be listening intently as President Obama delivers the State of the Union address Wednesday night for some faint sign of the fierce advocate we were promised when raising money, knocking on doors and voting in droves for him.

At the very least, the president must reference the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and address just how he plans to deliver on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to repeal it.

Of all the LGBT-related initiatives, repealing this unjust law is perhaps the least controversial. Several recent polls have put American public support for repeal at 75 percent or higher; a House bill sponsored by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) has attracted nearly 200 co-sponsors.

So, will Obama include repeal as part of his 2011 Defense spending request, as many have speculated? Or will he use his bully pulpit, clout and remaining political capital to demand a legislative repeal and publicly endorse Murphy’s bill? Either way, Obama must send a message about his intent this week or risk further inflaming the restive Democratic Party base already upset at his inertia on this and other issues.

The message for the President and other Democrats has to be: use the power you have, while you still have it, to do what you said you wanted to do. We need a leader, something that doesn't emerge from following polls.

DeBonis: Why Michelle Rhee Needs to Explain Her ‘Sex With Children’ Claim

Michelle_Rhee Mike DeBonis at City Paper discusses why D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee needs to explain her remark, reported last week, "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school." Debonis:

Among those with mandatory reporting responsibility are "school officials." According to a D.C. government guide on the subject [PDF], you are required to blow the whistle immediately "when, in your professional capacity or within the scope of your employment, you know or reasonably suspect that an infant, child, or teen has been abused or is in immediate danger of being abused."

Now it's highly unlikely that Rhee herself encountered the child (or children) who had sex with this teacher (or teachers) whom she refers to in the quote. And there's quite a good chance that the incident in question happened before Rhee's tenure at DCPS. But certainly, if Rhee is repeating these allegations, other school officials would have had knowledge of the situation and would also have been legally bound to "immediately notify the person in charge of the institution or his or her designated agent who shall then be required to make the report" to the authorities. That makes a who-knew-and-when-did-they-know-it type of response crucial in this case.

Incidentally, failure by a mandatory reporter to alert authorities to child abuse is a misdemeanor punished by up to a $300 fine and 90 days in jail.

No way they're getting away with stonewalling on this one.

Murder of Houston Transgender Woman Raises Media Coverage Concerns

Meghan Stabler reports at HRC Back Story:

One week ago today the half-naked body of Myra Ical, a 51-year-old transgender woman was found in a vacant lot in the Montrose area of Houston. Initial media reports referred to Myra by her male name and used male pronouns along with placing emphasis that her body was found in an area known for drugs and prostitution. The Houston Chronicle reported that Ruben Dario Ical “also went by the name of Myra Chanel Ical” and that “he had numerous bruises and defensive wounds, as if he had struggled against his attacker.” Myra’s attacker remains at large and this represents the 7th Houston transgender murder case in the last few years that has still to be resolved.

The brutal attack on her is devastating to the community. Yet much like the ‘shot heard around the world,’ initial media reporting that was lazy and irresponsible then propagated bad journalism as it was reused across media outlets. The majority of the reports showed the amount of ignorance about transgender issues that is rampant among far too many reporters despite the existence of resources to help them report accurately.

Gay man named to Metro board

Marcel_Acosta Marcel Acosta, a member of DC Front Runners who designed their website, has been named a federal representative to the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitian Area Transit Authority. The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration plans to name two federal representatives to serve as new members of Metro's board of directors Sunday in an urgent bid to strengthen oversight of the troubled transit agency.

The General Services Administration will announce the appointments of veteran transit official Mortimer L. Downey as a director and regional planning executive Marcel C. Acosta as an alternate director, GSA Acting Administrator Stephen R. Leeds said in a statement. The members -- the first of four federal appointees -- are expected to be seated at a scheduled board meeting Thursday.

Congrats and good luck to Marcel. A short bio can be found at the National Capital Planning Commission, where he is currently executive director.

Task Force holds Winter Party March 3-8

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is holding its Winter Party Festival in Miami Beach March 3-8. Follow the link for details.

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Female genital mutilation occurring in U.S.

Lynn Harris writes in Salon:

Some girls came back from this past winter break with Christmas loot, ski tans, still more to say about "Twilight: New Moon." But others, women's health experts suspect, came back with deep, and literal, wounds to heal. According to human rights advocates and service providers, families in the U.S. who have immigrated from countries where female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced often take their daughters home, when school is out, to be cut.

Yes, FGM is practiced -- or at least planned -- on U.S. soil, on girls in immigrant families who were born and/or raised here. Perhaps even among people you know: Not long ago, a concerned mother posted on my Brooklyn-area parenting list-serv that she believed an eight-year-old friend of her daughter's had undergone some form of the procedure in her home country in the Middle East (and appeared to be markedly traumatized). Archana Pyati, an asylum attorney for Sanctuary for Families in New York, has encountered dozens of FGM cases just in the past six months. "The majority of our African clients have been through it, and most often, they are fighting to protect their daughters," she says. (Older relatives with "seniority" often push for the procedure.) "It is our hope that by recognizing that FGM may be occurring under our noses we will become better able to respond to it, just as we would any other form of violence against children," she says.

FGM is already against federal law (and is against the law in 17 states), but that isn't enough. Attention needs to be brought to bear against this violent, cruel, deeply misogynistic, traditional practice.

January 24, 2010

Loudoun Supervisor Thinks Transgenders Should Be Called 'It'

The Washington Post reports that Loudoun County (R-Virginia) Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio has been criticized by other member of the Board and the Loudoun Times-Mirror for his January 6, 2010 remarks on legislation to protect the rights of transgendered people as 'freaky' and 'bizarre'. Following the meeting Mr. Delgaudio issued an email alert with the following:

The board votes six yes, Waters and Delgaudio 'no,' with York abstaining, to add 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' to the hiring of employees which means if a man dressed as a woman wants a job, you have to treat 'it' the same as a normal person.

Equality Loudoun has denouced Mr. Delgaudios comments at the next board meeting as a non-apology