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140 posts from June 2010

June 30, 2010

Brown tide

R-OIL-SPILL-large

This AP photo of an oil-polluted Gulf tide rolling in illustrates something that BP's spill-response plan did not anticipate. Basically, their plan was written by that old seductress Rosie Scenario.

Human Rights Watch apologises to Peter Tatchell

PeterTatchellBrighton2004-web This just in from British activist Peter Tatchell:

Human Rights Watch apologises to Peter Tatchell

“Inappropriate, disparaging, inaccurate, condemnatory and intemperate personal attacks,” acknowledges HRW

“Apology accepted, let’s move on and work together,” urges Peter Tatchell


London – 30 June 2010

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has made a full and unreserved apology to human rights rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The apology has been made by HRW’s Executive Director, Kenneth Roth, in New York.

It says sorry for a series of untrue and personal attacks on Mr Tatchell, made by the head of HRW’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) programme, Scott Long.

The full text of the apology follows below, including statements by Kenneth Roth, Scott Long and Peter Tatchell.

The apology by Human Rights Watch acknowledges that Mr Long made a series of “inappropriate...disparaging...inaccurate...condemnatory...intemperate personal attacks” on Peter Tatchell.

“I thank Kenneth Roth and HRW for their gracious and fulsome apology. Their readiness to acknowledge the wrong done and say sorry is commendable. My appreciation also to Scott Long for conceding his false allegations and apologising. It can’t have been easy for him. He has shown dignity and humility. I appreciate that,” said Mr Tatchell.

Continue reading "Human Rights Watch apologises to Peter Tatchell" »

June 29, 2010

Graham to Kagan: Where were you on Christmas?

Senator Lindsey Graham was questioning Solicitor General Elena Kagan on Tuesday about the Christmas Day bomber (to get at the question of whether terrorists should be read their Miranda rights and tried in civilian courts), when things took an amusing turn.

Kagan quickly showed herself at her confirmation hearings to be shrewd, even-tempered and good-humored. As Chuck Schumer pointed out, Antonin Scalia is known as the wit on the Court, and Kagan is likely to give him a run for his money. The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been bottom-feeding as usual, but Kagan has emerged fairly unscathed.

June 28, 2010

Senate Judiciary Republicans slam Kagan for admiring Thurgood Marshall

TPM reports:

Looks like Senate Judiciary Republicans have at least one unified talking point today: Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to ever serve on the Supreme Court, was an "activist judge." As Elena Kagan kept on her listening face, multiple senators slammed both Marshall's judicial philosophy and her service as his clerk in the late 1980s.

Ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) criticized Kagan for having "associated herself with well-known activist judges who have used their power to redefine the meaning of our constitution and have the result of advancing that judge's preferred social policies," citing Marshall as his son, Thurgood Marshall Jr., sat in the audience of the Judiciary Committee hearings.

In an example of how much the GOP focused on Marshall, his name came up 35 times. President Obama's name was mentioned just 14 times today.

Sessions said Kagan's reverence for Marshall "tells us much about the nominee," and he meant that more as an indictment than a compliment.

Kagan has said Marshall, who served as the lead attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education case leading to the desegregation of schools, is one of her heroes. She honored him in her opening statement later in the afternoon: "In his life; in his great struggle for racial justice, the Supreme Court stood as the part of government that was most open to every American and that most often fulfilled our Constitution's promise of treating all persons with equal respect, equal care and equal attention."

Thurgood-marshall It's rather gobsmacking that the GOP is going after one of the towering figures of the Twentieth century. If the Democrats cannot take advantage of this opening to turn the tables on Republicans for their own judicial activism, they might as well disband the party. Fortunately, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) used his opening statement to lay into the Roberts court's judicial activism in service of corporate interests.

Constitutional originalism is not just a different viewpoint, it is a lie. Conservatives who claim to know the answer to their figurative "WWTFFD?" wristbands ("What Would The Founding Fathers Do?") should be asked whether they prefer ouija boards or seances. Today's Court must deal with all manner of cases that our nation's founders could not have imagined. The notion that we should defer to conservatives' speculations as to how Madison and Hamilton would have dealt with a present-day case does not remotely deserve the level of respect it has received.

Like it or not, modern-day justices must interpret constitutional provisions in light of present-day circumstances. Fundamentalists, whether religious or constitutional, love to talk as if the "literal meaning" of the text is plain and needs no interpretation. Translation: shut up and accept our intepretation. This is nothing but intellectual bullying. One of the reasons to be hopeful about Solicitor General Kagan as an associate justice is the prospect of having a liberal on the Court who can effectively challenge Roberts and Scalia.

At a practical political level, Democrats should compile a list of landmark cases and ask their Republican colleagues which of them they would like to overturn in the name of originalism. Brown v. Board of Education, which ended racial segregation of schools? Bolling v. Sharpe, the companion case to Brown in which desegregation of D.C. Public Schools was based on the 5th Amendment instead of the 14th? Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized the use of contraception by married couples? Let's conduct a thought experiment on a favorite right-wing project, which is to drastically narrow the application of the Interstate Commerce clause to nullify most federal regulation. Given the popularity among Republicans of decrying as a "shakedown" any attempt to hold corporate malefactors accountable, Democrats should describe the implications of that philosophy as vividly as possible. Liberals need to show the courage of their convictions, and fight back. At stake is what sort of country we will have.

Medicare proposes new hospital visitation rules

This just in from HHS:

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Medicare Proposes New Rules to Ensure Equal Visitation Rights for All Hospital Patients

Patients to Designate Their Own Visitors, Including Domestic Partners


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today proposed new rules for hospitals that would protect patients' rights to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay, including visitors who are same-sex domestic partners.

The new proposed rules implement an April 15, 2010, Presidential memorandum, in which the President tasked HHS with developing proposed standards for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals (including critical access hospitals) that would require them to preserve the rights of all patients to choose who may visit them when they are inpatients of a facility.

The proposed rules would require every hospital to have written policies and procedures detailing patients' visitation rights, as well as instances when the hospital may restrict patient access to visitors based on reasonable clinical needs.

A key provision of the proposed rules specifies that visitors chosen by the patient (or his or her representative) must be able to enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those for immediate family members.

Continue reading "Medicare proposes new hospital visitation rules" »

Vatican slams Austrian cardinal for accusations over abuse cases

Christoph-schonborn-y-benedicto-xvi

(Photo of Pope Benedict XVI with Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn)

HuffPo reports some delicious news:

The Vatican issued an unprecedented public rebuke Monday of a leading cardinal who had questioned the church's policy of celibacy and openly criticized the retired Vatican No. 2 for his handling of clerical sex abuse cases.

In a statement, the Vatican said only the pope can make such accusations against a cardinal, not another so-called prince of the church.

In April, Vienna's archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, accused the former Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, of blocking a probe into a sex abuse scandal that rocked Austria's church 15 years ago.

Schoenborn also accused Sodano of causing "massive harm" to victims when he dismissed claims of clerical abuse as "petty gossip" on Easter Sunday.

Schoenborn has been a leading figure in the abuse crisis, forcefully denouncing abuse, presiding over service of reparations for victims and openly calling for an honest examination of issues like celibacy.

Schoenborn's comments about Sodano were remarkable in that they were directed at Pope John Paul II's No. 2, who has already come under fire for his alleged stonewalling of a Vatican investigation into the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who was found to have abused seminarians and fathered at least three children.

Sodano still wields enormous influence in Vatican circles as the dean of the College of Cardinals.

Such a public and formal reprimand of a cardinal is extremely rare – particularly for one like Schoenborn, who has long been close to Benedict, his onetime professor, and is seen as a possible papal contender himself.

Things are getting hot in the chair of St. Peter, eh? Granted, things have been hot in my own apartment for the past several days, but I am getting my air conditioning repaired. All Benedict can think to do is silence and denounce. Tick-tock, Your Holiness.

SCOTUS rules against discriminatory religious club at law school

Our friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State applaud today's Supreme Court ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State praised today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding a policy at Hastings College of the Law that prohibits school-subsidized student clubs from engaging in religious discrimination.

“This decision is a huge step forward for fundamental fairness and equal treatment,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.

Continued Lynn, “Religious discrimination is wrong, and a public school should be able to take steps to eradicate it. Today’s court ruling makes it easier for colleges and universities to do that.”

The case concerns a student chapter of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at Hastings, a division of the University of California. The club sued the San Francisco school after it was denied official university recognition and funding.

Hastings administrators said the CLS chapter violated school policies by denying membership and officer positions to non-Christians, gays and others who run afoul of CLS’s faith statement. (Although the club was denied official recognition and access to student activity fees, it was still permitted to meet on campus and advertise its events.)

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court held that Hastings is within its rights to apply a non-discrimination policy to the Christian Legal Society.

“Simply stated, the Christian Legal Society sought to ignore rules that every other group complied with,” Lynn said. “The organization sought preferential treatment simply because it is religious. I’m pleased the court said no to that.”

AU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez case along with the American Jewish Committee and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, asking the high court to rule against discrimination.

Update: This just in from the National LGBT Bar Association:

The National LGBT Bar Association applauds today's historic decision as a victory for LGBT law students across the country. Tomorrow, the LGBT Bar will be hosting a national call-in to discuss the case. The 30-minute call will be led by Shannon Minter, lead litigator for the University of California-Hastings, and Benjamin Gruenstein, an associate with Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP who helped write the LGBT Bar's amicus brief in the case.

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez National Call-In
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | 3:00-3:30pm EDT
Click here to sign up for the call and receive dial-in information Links.

HRC praises the ruling here.

Update 2: The American Family Association, through its affiliate the American Family News Network, is not happy.

Robert Byrd, R.I.P.

Byrd
(Photo of Sen. Robert Byrd by Alex Wong/Getty Images.)

I confess that the death of Senator Robert Byrd at age 92 reminds me of Bette Davis's legendary comment on the death of Joan Crawford. Unfortunately, my conviction that the line should only be used by professional Bette Davis impersonators prevents me from quoting it. Let me just say that I won't wait respectfully in the blistering sun outside the Capitol for Byrd's hearse to pass as I did last summer for Senator Edward Kennedy (who had his faults but whom I greatly respected as a public servant).

Byrd selfishly stayed in office long after his physical condition and a sense of decency should have prompted him to retire. He was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was not only a champion of pork barrel politics, he was self-righteous about it and had countless federally funded projects in West Virginia named after himself. There ought to be a law against that. Woe betide any senator who crossed him; he was quite vengeful, and used his mastery of the rules to abuse his position at whim. He gave the most ridiculous, long-winded, pretentious, overblown speeches — and not just during filibusters. No Democrat in the Senate was worse than Byrd on LGBT issues: his rating on HRC's Congressional Scorecard for the 110th Congress was 60, the lowest of any Senate Democrat and matched only by Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota.

If you can think of something nice to say about the man, I would love to hear it.

Update: My friend Mark Thompson of Sirius/XM Radio suggested checking out Byrd's NAACP ratings. Byrd’s Wikipedia entry says:

In the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Congressional Report Card for the 108th Congress (spanning the 2003–2004 congressional session), Byrd was awarded with an approval rating of 100 percent for favoring the NAACP’s position in all 33 bills presented to the United States Senate regarding issues of their concern. Only 16 other Senators of the same session matched this approval rating. In June 2005, Byrd proposed an additional $10 million in federal funding for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., remarking that “With the passage of time, we have come to learn that his Dream was the American Dream, and few ever expressed it more eloquently.”

Checking the NAACP website, I find these ratings for Byrd in more recent Congresses:

Regarding Byrd's failing grade for 2009: He voted NAACP’s way ten times, against it four times, and missed the vote seven times. So it can be explained in part by his failing health. However, his votes against the NAACP’s position included these issues near and dear to some of our hearts:

  • #6, Guns in the District of Columbia;
  • #7, Voting rights for the residents of the District of Columbia;
  • #8, Federally funded school vouchers in the District of Columbia; and
  • #10, Allowing judicial modification to prevent foreclosure.

I suspect that Byrd in general made an effort to support NAACP’s position, given his need to rehabilitate himself because of his earlier transgressions. Whatever his motives, he deserves credit to the extent he repented for his prior association with the Klan. Measured by his votes on issues tracked respectively by the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, he was a good deal better on black issues in the past four Congresses than gay issues.

Here are the rest of Byrd's ratings from the Human Rights Campaign for recent Congresses:

June 27, 2010

Woman Sues Church For Performing Gay Unions

CNN did this story about one of co-pastors Dennis and Christine Wiley's former congregants at Covenant Baptist Church.

A commenter on the YouTube page for this video curses the woman. I don't think that's necessary or appropriate, though it's understandable when emotions run high on all sides of a controversy like this. But the woman's leaving the church is probably a good thing, since she's unwilling to consider another viewpoint. A lot of people think they have some kind of monopoly on truth, or that there is one and only one way to interpret Scripture. The Wileys are extraordinary people and I feel privileged to call them allies. There is a deep-seated bossiness behind much of the hostility toward churches embracing same-sex couples. Pioneers like the Wileys can reach out and try to reason with people, and that is important to do; but when people close their hearts you have to let them go, and continue following your conscience. In time, some of those who leave may think better of their decision. If not, so be it. Nothing is served by maintaining a false unity.

(Hat tip: Mark Fischer)

June 26, 2010

Pride from coast to coast

Flag-needle ESBgay

Sunday night (June 27/28) marks the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. LGBT Pride is being marked from the Space Needle in Seattle (with a rainblow flag) to the Empire State Building in New York City (with lavender light). Happy Pride.

(Hat tip: Pam's House Blend)

June 25, 2010

Bill's there for all of us

BILL-CLINTON-WORLD-CUP

HuffPo reports:

Bill Clinton is having a great time at the World Cup. The former president has extended his stay in South Africa so he can see the U.S. play Ghana at the soccer tournament. Clinton even says that he lost his voice after screaming during the Americans' epic win on Wednesday. How did he celebrate the stunning victory? By drinking with the team.

The former commander-in-chief clasped a Budweiser with shirtless American back Carlos Bocanegra. The picture originally appeared on Bocanegra's Facebook page.

Judge rules that Twin Cities Pride Festival can't bar anti-gay evangelist

Twin_Cities_Pride_logo AP reports:

The Twin Cities Pride Festival cannot prevent an evangelical Christian from passing out Bibles and discussing his views against homosexuality at this weekend's event, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Organizers of the gay pride festival had asked U.S. District Judge John Tunheim for a temporary restraining order to prevent Brian Johnson, of Hayward, Wis., from spreading his message on the festival grounds.

Twin Cities Pride argued that its rights should take precedence because it's paying $36,000 to lease Loring Park on the edge of downtown Minneapolis for the two-day event. The group also said Johnson contradicts the festival's "message of celebration and pride in being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender."

But the judge ruled that the 42-acre park is a public forum, so Johnson's free-speech rights must be honored. Tunheim said Johnson is entitled to go ahead with his plans as long as he remains undisruptive.

"We're disappointed by the decision but we'll follow it and we'd like to thank Judge Tunheim for deciding the order so quickly, and we're looking forward to Pride," said Amy Slusser, an attorney for the organizing committee....

In his ruling, Tunheim wrote that it came down to balancing each side's legitimate First Amendment rights, noting that the committee argued that it shouldn't be forced to include someone whose views are antithetical to its own....

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board had backed Johnson's rights, but said it was looking forward to working with the event's organizing committee to make it a successful festival for all.

Judge Tunheim's ruling is a clear violation of the Supreme Court decision in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston (94-749), 515 U.S. 557 (1995). That ruling was unpopular in the LGBT community at the time, but some of us realized it was nonetheless correct. By recognizing our opponents' right to exclude us from their expressive events, the court implicitly recognized our right to control our own expressive events. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, as Frank Kameny likes to say. (Incidentally, Lisa Keen wrote a good piece on the gay-affirming legacy of Justice David Souter, who wrote the majority decision in Hurley.)

One wonders what it means for the city to lease a park to a group for a particular purpose if another individual or group with a different purpose must be allowed to use the park during the lease period.

Timothy Kincaid has some good comments at BTB.

(Hat tip: Barrett Brick)

Update: Stephen Miller at IGF agrees with me.

FOF denounces Obama's inclusion of two-father families on Father's Day

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, has a screed titled "One Father Too Many":

This past Sunday, the 100th anniversary of Father's Day, within the traditional White House proclamation, the president included a single incendiary sentence that not only undermines the unique and complementary roles of mothers and fathers, but also one which science simply does not support.

"Nurturing families come in many forms," wrote the president, "and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian."

It was only last month, on the occasion of Mother's Day, that the president offered a similar nod to lesbians by adding "two mothers" to the myriad of traditional parenting options.

Literally speaking, he is right, of course. Children can be, and are, raised by numerous combinations of relatives and other authoritative figures of various sexual orientations. But the inclusion of the reference to "two fathers" and "two mothers" is clearly a deliberate and strategic decision.

Even those most sympathetic and enthusiastic about the president's agenda acknowledge that President Obama is very carefully and quietly transforming homosexual politics and policy on the federal level. With the use of his executive authority he is actively engaged in an attempt to normalize the public's perception of homosexuality—from supporting the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, to extending and expanding health care coverage for homosexual partners of federal employees....

In elevating and equating the influence of a two-father family to that of all other traditional forms, the administration is, perhaps unknowingly, depriving children of the opportunity to have the very thing the president has so strongly and eloquently suggested they need most: A mom and a dad.

Daly is right that the President is helping to normalize gay families; that is one of the things I like about Obama. But Daly is wrong about the science, and he is wrong in suggesting that tolerating same-sex parents robs a child of an ideal environment. Anti-gay activists routinely talk as if the presence of gay people is the only thing preventing an unbroken array of "ideal families" from sea to shining sea. Why, then, are there thousands of children awaiting adoption? What ideal parents got rid of them or had them taken away by the state because the children were being abused? One factor that works in a child's favor is being wanted. Given the amount of trouble that same-sex couples generally go through in order to have a child, their children are clearly very much wanted.

Daly and his fellow fanatics persist in their pretense that their posited ideal is available, in preference to which they would exclude same-sex couples from being parents. Meanwhile, thousands of children languish without any parents at all. Thus, while Daly's rhetorical children are thriving in Ozzie-and-Harriet bliss, actual flesh-and-blood children are stuck in institutions. In a real sense, Daly is devoted not to children but to enforcing his dogma. And the unfulfilled longing of orphans for a home is a price he is willing to pay. Someone in this fight does indeed deserve condemnation, and it ain't us.

Belgian police raid Catholic Church offices

AP reports on some unexpected visitors to the palace of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels:

Police raided the home and former office of the recently retired archbishop of Belgium on Thursday, carrying off documents and a personal computer as part of an investigation into the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, officials said.

NYT, in addition to reporting the shock expressed by Vatican officials at the raid, writes this:

Cases of sexual abuse of minors have added resonance in Belgium because of the notorious Belgian pedophile Marc Dutroux, convicted six years ago of child murder, kidnapping and rape. Government officials came under sharp criticism for mishandling the Dutroux case, and that controversy could account for the aggressive response.

Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said in a statement that the raid was “precisely what’s needed, not just in Belgium but in other church offices across the globe.”

Ms. Dorris added, “Police and prosecutors need to step up, and promptly and thoroughly investigate allegations against predator priests and corrupt bishops, and use their full powers to gain access to and control over church records that likely document the crimes and cover-ups.”

I was already well-disposed toward Belgium for granting asylum to my partner Patrick. They just endeared themselves to me further. People should not be above the law just because they wear clerical garb and live in palaces.

Not that Michael Brown

Michael_D_Brown Lou Chibbaro reports:

Michael Brown, who was elected D.C. shadow senator two years ago, has declared his candidacy for the at-large Council seat, joining Ray in an effort to unseat incumbent Council member Phil Mendelson. Brown, who is white, has the same name as D.C. Council member Michael Brown (D-At Large), who is black and widely known in the city and enjoys strong support in wards 7 and 8.

When Michael Brown, the shadow senator, beat gay D.C. Democratic activist Phil Pannell for the shadow seat two years ago, Pannell and his supporters expressed concern that many voters throughout the city — but especially voters in wards 7 and 8 — confused the two Browns and believed they were voting for the Council member.

Council member Brown is well known as the son of former Democratic Party Chairman Ron Brown, who also served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration. The Council member’s popularity in his own right as well as his association with his father, has created a political premium on that name, political observers have said....

Shadow senator Brown told the Blade on Monday that he regrets any confusion that may arise over his name but didn’t know what to do to correct the situation. He called requests that he put his photo on his campaign posters unfair and unacceptable.

“Nobody puts their picture on their sign,” he said, noting that neither Ray nor Mendelson have photos of themselves on their campaign posters. “I don’t see why I should be obligated to actually go out of my way to try to make it as easy as possible for people to run against me.”

It would be sad if someone got elected to the D.C. Council because of voter confusion. The At-Large Council race, however, is a lot more expensive to run than a race for the powerless shadow senator position, and Phil Mendelson and Clark Ray are both well funded. The shadow senator is a good guy, though, so bully for him.

(Photo of D.C. Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown)

White House LGBT Pride reception

President Obama speaks at a White House reception on June 22 marking LGBT Pride Month.

HRC action alert on anti-LGBT Texas GOP platform

Hrc-logo1 Michael Cole at HRC Back Story writes:

HRC today condemned the Texas State Republican Party for including anti-LGBT language in its 2010 State Party Platform. The language, which goes far beyond the usual conservative talking points on “traditional family values,” sinks to a new low of intolerance and hate. We’re calling on RNC Chairman Michael Steele to publicly repudiate the anti-LGBT language in the State Party Platform and we want you to do the same.

The Platform:

  • Calls for making it a felony to issue a marriage license to, or perform a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples;
  • Calls on Congress to withhold jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law – a clear violation of the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution;
  • Opposes the recognition of and granting of benefits to domestic partners;
  • Opposes any and all employment protections for LGBT people;
  • Opposes the legalization of private, consensual sex;
  • Indicates possible anti-transgender bias with the terms “natural man” and “natural woman”;
  • States: “Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual ‘couples.’”

Texas has failed to meet benchmark measures to protect LGBT citizens, including: employment protections, hospital visitation rights, protection in housing, joint-adoption, and relationship recognition. In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ anti-sodomy laws. The 2010 State Republican Party Platform advocates violating this decision and puts Texas even further behind the times.

The outrageous platform doesn’t stop with attacking LGBT citizens. It also calls for: Congress to evict the United Nations from the United States, opposing legislation allowing stem cell research, reversing Roe v. Wade, prohibiting more than three years of bilingual education for students, and repealing the No Child Left Behind law and eliminating the U.S. Department of Education.

Take Action Now and tell Chairman Steele to reject this anti-LGBT, anti-family platform.

One suspects that the Texas GOP platform committee members get into a competition to see who can show the most zeal by coming up with the harshest anti-gay plank. Ding ding ding, you're a winner!

What the Buck?

Okay, this guy Buck makes me look sedate (not to mention butch). He summarizes:

In this episode, I cover Miley Cyrus media blitz on the Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America and MTV. She says all she hears is LOVE but seems to know a lot about her haters! Her performance on GMA seemed less sexual. Thank you! It is still early! I like to have some tea before I have my lesbians! Some actress named Amanda Bynes retired via twitter but I think she was hacked because right before she quit acting she made a more STARTLING DECLARATION! Justin Bieber's new video for Somebody to Love came out (shout out to the Beat Freaks!). Dina Lohan tried to get too much free ICE CREAM from Caravel??! What? And Obama wants the power to shut down the internet- hater! PS The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, anyone???? WHAT THE BUCK?!

(Hat tip: Bilerico)

Court rules no right to gay marriage in Europe

Reuters reports:

European law does not require countries to grant same-sex couples the right to marry, even if some states have already done so, the continent's top human rights court has ruled.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected an appeal by two Austrian men who said their country's refusal to allow same-sex marriage violated the right to marry and prohibition of discrimination in European rights law.

The ECHR is part of the Council of Europe, which promotes democracy and the rule of law among its 47 member states. Its rulings are binding on Council members since they have signed the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The court observed that, among Council of Europe member states, there is no consensus regarding same-sex marriage," the ECHR said in a statement on Thursday. Only 7 of the Council's 47 members have approved same-sex marriage.

Inaya's Great Day

Metro Weekly provides this video from Capital Pride:

Inaya Day, complete with backup dancers, performs a robust rendition of the song "Horny" on the mainstage at the 2010 Capital Pride Festival, Sunday, June 10.

Mainstage moments

Metro Weekly provides this highlight video from the main stage at Capital Pride on June 13:

The Capital Pride Festival Mainstage is always a delightful, energetic melting pot of local and regional talent and national acts. More than 2 dozen acts performed throughout the day. Here we present a few brief hightlights, including the Michelle Raymond Band, Mama B. Sacks, E-Cleff, the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, Tatiyanna Voche, Kitten on Capitol Hill, Vanessa Conde and, of course, the irrepressible Ella Fitzgerald.

Rosenstein's ego-laden filibuster against Fenty

Rosenstein In a 5,100-word piece that circulated in embargoed form for two days before being published on the Blade website, activist Peter Rosenstein explains why he does not support the re-election of Mayor Adrian Fenty:

This decision wasn’t made lightly. Having known Adrian Fenty and his family for a number of years and having worked with him when he was a Council member to bring together experts on issues to help him develop position papers made it a difficult decision. I have gotten to know his wife Michelle, his children and his parents and have spent holidays with them at the home of mutual friends and have the deepest respect for them. This decision isn’t made with any personal animosity but rather for political reasons.

Either Fenty changed when he became mayor or many of us badly misread him when he was a candidate. He now appears to be someone who doesn’t really care about people — an autocrat, unwilling to deal with any criticism or discussion of differences of opinion. Staff who disagree with him are fired, while others outside the administration who don’t agree don’t get their calls returned. The mayor continues to speak in campaign sound bites when he should be confronting complicated issues in depth....

I helped to craft Fenty’s platform. I had the assistance of many people across the District who passionately felt that we needed change. I think we got change and in some areas it was really great. But in others, candidate Fenty appears to have uttered the words people wanted to hear but didn’t really take them to heart. Candidate Fenty promised to keep the full core of the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit intact, Mayor Fenty didn’t....

Candidate Fenty promised support for marriage equality but Mayor Fenty never spoke up for it. He didn’t testify for it or allow his director of the Office of GLBT Affairs to do so. ... He did sign a veto-proof bill and held a signing ceremony to be in on the celebration.

Candidate Fenty promised to fight against hate crimes. Mayor Fenty never even managed to get the words hate crimes out of his mouth. He refused to meet with the community at-large even though these crimes have been increasing. Candidate Fenty promised to hold a GLBT Economic Summit. Mayor Fenty refused to make this an event of the mayor’s office and has never found time to attend one. Candidate Fenty promised to take the message of fighting HIV/AIDS to the community, including the faith community. Mayor Fenty has never spoken to a faith-based group about HIV/AIDS.

That's just a small sample. This is too long, too one-sided, and too much about Peter Rosenstein. Much of the criticism is legitimate (indeed, it echoes issues GLAA has raised (see http://www.tinyurl.com/glaa2010), but it gets too personal. There is some legitimacy to Fenty’s point that results matter more than style; thus the extended critique of his style is not terribly important.

Too many voters in 2006 focused excessively on personality and atmospherics. It should be clear enough by now that Fenty, while a skilled campaigner, in no way deserved to win every precinct as he did. Let’s learn from experience and not behave this year like a jilted lover. We are choosing a mayor, not a boyfriend or dinner-party guest.

There is plenty to criticize in the Office of the Attorney General (to cite an example), but Peter Nickles and his staff have done superb work in defending the marriage equality bill before the Board of Elections and in court. Mayor Fenty gets credit for that.

We don’t need ego trips and polemics, we need honest, fair evaluations. This mayoral election is essentially between two allies of the LGBT community. We should be able to evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses without needing a machete to cut through dense thickets of slanted campaign flackery.

Update: This was picked up by Amanda Hess at The Sexist blog.

Update 2: Bob Summersgill posted these comments below Rosenstein's article:

Peter uses “I” 67 times. He uses “Fenty” 58 times.

The unrelenting negativism isn’t appealing. Peter cost Adrian Fenty the Gertrude Stein Club endorsement 4 years ago when his attack on Linda Cropp was seen as so unfair and so uncivil as to cause numerous people to vote for her and against Peter and his candidate.

Peter and Lane Hudson have moved me to support Mayor Fenty in their all-negative all-the-time attacks on Mayor Fenty by making me think of the great things that the Mayor has done.

The vigorous defense of our right to marry by the Mayor’s Attorney General has been wonderful. Four times before the Board of Elections and Ethics, and 7 times in court have resulted in an unbroken string of wins. Harry Jackson has failed at every turn. One example is at http://www.glaa.org/archive/2009/nickles2boeeoninitiative1005.pdf

This solid defense of our rights and our laws is worthy of high praise and another term in office.

June 24, 2010

Labor Dept. clarifies FMLA definition of ‘son and daughter’

Department_of_Labor-logo In what it describes as "a victory for many non-traditional families, including families in the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community," the U.S. Department of Labor (where incidentally I have worked for thirty years) has issued this news release:

News Release

WHD News Release: [06/22/2010]
Contact Name: Dolline Hatchett
Phone Number: (202) 693-4667
Release Number: 10-0877-NAT

US Department of Labor clarifies FMLA definition of ‘son and daughter’

Interpretation is a win for all families no matter what they look like


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today clarified the definition of "son and daughter" under the Family and Medical Leave Act to ensure that an employee who assumes the role of caring for a child receives parental rights to family leave regardless of the legal or biological relationship.

The FMLA allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for loved ones or themselves. The 1993 law also allows employees to take time off for the adoption or the birth of a child. The administrator interpretation issued by Nancy J. Leppink, deputy administrator of the department's Wage and Hour Division, clarifies that these rights, which provide work-family balance, extend to the various parenting relationships that exist in today's world. This action is a victory for many non-traditional families, including families in the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community, who often in the past have been denied leave to care for their loved ones.

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NOM is losing in D.C., and boasts about it

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(Harry Jackson talks to supporters outside D.C. Democratic State Convention on June 12.)

For those of you into opposition research, a friend just forwarded the latest update from the National Organization for Marriage, in which Brian Brown actually brags about NOM's dismal showing at the recent D.C. Democratic State Convention:

Black Democrats to the rescue of marriage!

Saturday I had the honor of attending the D.C. State Democratic Convention with Bishop Harry Jackson.

African-Americans for marriage turned out in force, shocking the D.C. establishment!

I wish you could have been there. Strong marriage supporters, unafraid of the media or anything else, chanting "Let us vote! Let us vote!" If the mainstream media were what it should be, this would be the picture in every living room in America: Politicians blocking the door to the voting booth against citizens of D.C. in order to impose gay marriage on an unwilling populace.

The political establishment was shocked when all these newfound activists almost knocked off Harry Thomas in the straw poll the DC Dems conducted. His opponent, Delano Hunter, is a strong marriage supporter, eager to knock off a politician who ignored the will of his constituents and voted for gay marriage.

Exciting times!

They keep telling us "the culture has changed, gay marriage is the future." When they stop blocking the path to the voting booth, when they accept the legitimacy of elections like the one which passed Prop 8, then maybe they would have something believable to say about that. Let the people vote!

Continue reading "NOM is losing in D.C., and boasts about it" »

Low-Down talk from Sherri Shepherd and D.L. Hughley on "The View"

Rob_Smith Rob Smith at HuffPo reports that ignorant talk about men on the "DL" being the main vector of HIV infection in the black community has reared its ugly head again, this time on "The View":

During a discussion regarding the FDA ban on blood donation by gay men, and a controversial article comparing the ban to statistics on HIV/AIDS in the black community, Sherri "flat-earth" Shepherd, who is somewhat sadly one of the few prominent voices of black women in the media, "educated" her fellow panelists on the reason for HIV rates in the black community, stating that "DL Black Men" are to blame for the skyrocketing HIV rates. Never one to shy away from a gay issue that he's not qualified to speak about (see his cable appearances after 2008's erroneously reported "black voters passed Proposition 8" fiasco), comedian D.L. Hughley eagerly backed up her statements.

Please, don't mind that this isn't entirely true. Don't mind that the incarceration rates among African-American males combined with poverty levels and the lack of proper access to condoms in prison create a dangerous cocktail that leads to issues with HIV/AIDS infection among black women and blacks in general. No, don't think about that, just blame it on those evil, sneaky black gay men who apparently live to infect poor, defenseless black women, presumably twirling their mustaches dastardly in the process. In fact, perhaps it's easier to compartmentalize it in that way, since robbing black women of their sexual agency and demonizing the sexuality of black men regardless of their orientation has been one of the primary outcomes of the down low conversation.

The situation on The View was made doubly infuriating and uncomfortable because, like most conversations involving black gay sexuality, there was a complete absence of any black gay voices. The only gay voice on the panel was Advocate On-Air host Thomas Roberts, who briefly mentioned his struggles with coming out at 27 and having dated women before, but when pressed about his sexual activities before he came out, assured the panelists and the audience at home that he remained faithful to his girlfriends, and, hey, he's "not a black man on the Down Low." His words, folks, not mine. Since apparently only black men are on the down-low, we should probably come up with some other term for whatever it was that Ted Haggard, Jim McGreevey, and all of the other upstanding married white men caught with their pants down and a comely young fellow not too far away were doing. Any suggestions?

The three-and-a-half minutes on The View were the source of enough misinformation and stereotyping to damage the conversation regarding blacks, gays, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS for a while to come. ... Here's a thought for the producers and anyone else who chooses to engage in the conversation: How about including the voices of black gays for once? Who knows, perhaps we may even have a little more insight into the pressures of coming out in the black community and the factors that lead men into this kind of behavior.

I couldn't agree more. The "down low" is simply another term for the closet. That's it! Black men have no monopoly. What would be funny if its consequences weren't so terrible is that the hysterical, demonizing response to the "DL" talk in recent years only reinforced the closet, thus making the problem worse. Hey, folks: if you don't want gay men to pose as straight and use women as beards, try overcoming your anti-gay intolerance, which does NOT make the gay go away — it just drives it underground. Someone needs to tell Mr. Hughley in particular to get an effing clue already. He strikes me as someone who's been hit on by guys and didn't know how to handle it. Well, boo hoo! Ask your "sistahs" how they like it. If you can dish it out, you can bloody well take it. At the very least, stop spreading misinformation.

(Photo of Rob Smith. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robsmithonline)

Update: GLAAD's action alert is here. As they say, "Call on “The View” hosts to issue an on air apology and correct Sherri Shepherd and D.L. Hughley’s misrepresentation of African American gay & bisexual men."

Ester Goldberg's weekly wrap

Our friend Ester in Tinsel Town brings you the showbiz schmooze you might have missed. She calls this Fame Whore Week:

In this episode: Nailing a Kardashian can win you a trophy- CNN lowers the bar on talk show host- Leave it to BIEBER- IDOL is scared and another fake romance on the BACHELOR.

Orangina as an after-shave?

Okay, this ad for Orangina is weird. But then it's from France. The idea that they can improve sales of the drink by associating it with gay relationships with cats — well, I don't know what to make of that.

Spank the Gay Away

This is another video (like the one posted earlier) that is hard to wrap one's head around.  Is it real or is it fake?  Perhaps that's why it is so funny -- because if it was real the most appropriate response might be to cry. Plus there is this.

Perkins's Washington Warning

Tony_Perkins-web_jpg-708827 My column this week looks at the latest panic-provoking "Washington Update" from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who targets none other than GLAA's "Agenda: 2010":

If you are on the Family Research Council's e-mail list, you may have seen this alarm from Tony Perkins in his June 16 "Washington Update":

"In Washington, D.C., where same-sex 'marriage' is legal (for now), the gay and lesbian crowd is just getting warmed up. ... Local groups will try to elect more homosexuals to places of power, push in-school gay-straight alliances, support D.C. sex-oriented businesses, defend adult entertainment, grant special perks to cross-dressing prisoners, force same-sex adoption, and legalize sex trafficking. ... This has never been about 'acceptance' or 'equality' but about a devastating strategy meant to destroy innocence, the family, local communities, public health, and parental authority."

Perkins cites "Agenda: 2010," a wide-ranging LGBT issues brief published by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. I am the principal author. Read it at glaa.org. Perkins, however, credits not GLAA but "the Left." Right-wing demagogues consider all gay activists leftist. They are so horrified by the notion that gay and transgender people have a right to exist that they cannot distinguish between, say, Get Equal's Robin McGehee and Andrew Sullivan. The idea that we could persuade people to vote for us does them in.

Perkins claims that GLAA seeks to "sever every moral underpinning in America." This implies that Perkins has a clue about America's moral underpinnings. We are fighting for LGBT people's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How's that for moral underpinning?

I hate breaking it to Perkins, but same-sex adoption has been legal in D.C. since a 1995 court ruling. The point is not "forcing" adoptions, but serving the best interests of the child by not arbitrarily excluding an entire group of people from consideration as parents. The science shows there is no harm to children of gay parents.

On the other hand, if lies were crude oil, a child forced to listen to Perkins would resemble the brown pelicans in Grand Isle, La., nowadays.

You can read the whole thing here.

(Photo of FRC's Tony Perkins)

SCOTUS orders release of petition signatures in Washington's R-71

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Queerty reports:

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 today that, despite "threats" of violence and antagonism, Washington State's residents who lent their names to put Referendum 71 on the ballot, which let voters choose to uphold the state's "everything but marriage" law, must let their identities be known. Disclosing them does not violate the 138,000 petitioners' First Amendment rights, the justices ruled, updating their decision to stay the Ninth Circuit's ruling to make the names public.

The Court's ruling in Doe v. Reed is the latest blow for Protect Marriage Washington, which organized the signature drive to get Ref 71 on the ballot — only to see voters uphold Washington State's domestic partnership law. (State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who took heat for opposing taxpayer-funded sex change operations, gets a jock nod for successfully arguing the case.)

But it's not just Washington's gay foes that will see the consequences of the ruling; it "could have far-reaching impacts, not just on the state's initiative and referendum process, but also for other "open government" laws like the disclosure of who contributes to political campaigns, and how much they give," notes the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

In the immediate, however, it's a definitive message that knocks down the silly and irresponsible arguments from opponents of gay marriage, who say democracy should happen in secret. No longer will these individuals be able to deny rights to Americans without being held publicly accountable. This is a good decision. This is a good day.

Amen. I was in the Supreme Court chamber this morning, thanks to Art Spitzer, legal director of ACLU of the Nation's Capital, who got me a reservation along with himself and his interns. I cringed a bit when Chief Justice Roberts presented the summary in Doe v. Reed, but it quickly became apparent that the majority had not bought the plaintiffs’ argument that disclosure of the petition signers’ names violated their First Amendment rights. That was the case I was there for, and the 8-1 ruling (Clarence Thomas being the lone dissent) is good news indeed.

The one occasion for laughter of the morning was when Justice Scalia, summarizing the Court's ruling in Morrison v. National Australia Bank (dealing with Section 10B of the Exchange Act and the presumption against extraterritoriality), replied to one party's comment comparing the U.S. to the Barbary Coast of the late 18th century by saying that, on the contrary, the U.S. could be called “the Shangri-La of class-action litigation.”

Today was the only time I've been inside the Supreme Court building other than to pay my respects to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall in January 1993. As I waited briefly in the basement this morning, Nina Totenberg of NPR passed by, so I knew I was in the right place. The woman who sat next to me during the session was a high school teacher from Iowa named Diane; I told her how happy I was with Mike Gronstal, the Democratic leader in the state senate who stoutly backed the marriage-equality ruling. Diane said her sister was one of the first to be married under Iowa’s marriage-equality ruling. Small world.

Update: As Charlie notes in the comments, the full opinion is available here.

June 23, 2010

Federal jury rules in favor of Scouts

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

A federal jury Wednesday decided that Philadelphia violated the Boy Scouts' First Amendment rights by using the organization's anti-gay policy as a reason to evict them from their city-owned offices near Logan Square.

"We can't be kicked out of the building or evicted and we don't have to pay any rent," Scouts' attorney William M. McSwain said after the unanimous verdict by a jury of six women and two men.

Scouts lawyers expect U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter to issue a permanent injunction that bars the Scouts' eviction because of their policy - set by the national organization - that homosexuals cannot be scouts or troop leaders.

That's not necessarily the end of the dispute, however.

The jury's answers to the 11 questions on the verdict sheet were "inconsistent," City Solicitor Shelley Smith said, and when verdict sheets have inconsistent answers, the potential exists that the verdict is flawed. We will be exploring our options."

This decision strikes me as nuts. BSA's First Amendment rights do not entitle it to a public subsidy. The in-your-face boast by their attorney, Mr. McSwain, does a nice job of ensuring that BSA's critics will not relent in their efforts.

Gay man poised to become mayor of Hartford, Connecticut

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Andy Towle reports:

Pedro Segarra, an openly gay attorney and President of the Hartford, Connecticut City Council, may soon be the city's mayor:

"The city charter specifies that the council president will succeed a mayor who leaves office before his term expires. Mayor Eddie A. Perez has promised to submit his resignation Friday following his conviction June 18 on bribery and extortion charges. Perez hasn't said when he actually will leave office. Segarra, 51, said his goal is for more than a change in his office nameplate. He said he hopes to restore public trust in the city's government and inspire more residents to get involved. 'I hope there is a transformation in the way politics are done in this city, so we don't repeat the mistakes of the past,' said Segarra, who would become the city's first openly gay mayor. He said the shift in responsibilities is one he never dreamed would happen."

Obama makes clear who's in charge

President Obama removes General Stanley McChrystal from command in Afghanistan and nominates General David Petraeus to replace him. His announcement was pitch-perfect. I recognize that "get out right now" advocates like Rep. Dennis Kucinich will not be happy; but from a realistic point of view, I cannot see how the President could have handled this better. He has promised an evaluation of the situation by December. American withdrawal is supposed to begin next year. The first order of business, though, is for the President firmly to convey that he is the Commander-in-Chief and will not allow either the chain of command to be undermined or the civilian control atop it to be put into question. Today he clearly conveyed just that.

This is not quite comparable with Truman's firing of MacArthur, because MacArthur insisted on recklessly pursuing his own policy goals (involving expanding the scope of the Korean War to attack China), whereas McChrystal and Obama were essentially in agreement over the war plan; and because McChrystal does not have anything like MacArthur's stature. Those who reflexively attack Obama no matter what he does will no doubt do so again now; but already leading conservatives and hawks are being more judicious and backing Obama on this, or at least not raising objection. Obama's choice of Petraeus helped ensure this.

Once again: do not underestimate this President.

Update: Fareed Zakaria nails it:

What you see in Gen. McChrystal is someone who is openly disdainful of and sets himself up almost in opposition to the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, the State Department high representative Richard Holbrooke, the national security adviser, the vice president.

So you have to ask yourself how would it be possible that they would actually be implementing a counterinsurgency strategy with that level of disconnect and friction between the military and civilian authorities. If McChrystal and his team are so contemptuous of these other people whose support is absolutely critical to the success of the mission, then he's failing at his mission. This is not about his manners, this is about his ability to effectively execute the task he's been asked to execute.

If you compare McChrystal's attitude toward his civilian counterparts with that of Gen. Petraeus in Iraq, it's night and day. Petraeus was extremely respectful of Ryan Crocker, the ambassador, extremely respectful of the State Department, always talking about how he really admired and appreciated their efforts and wanted them more involved, held almost all his briefings along with Crocker. And that clearly was a crucial part of why the surge succeeded, because the whole premise of the surge is that the military part is not by itself going to be enough. You need a great deal of activity on the political, economic, social and diplomatic fronts.

Donovan scores, U.S. advances to round of 16

Landon Donovan scores just in time to give America a win over Algeria, and a spot in the next round of the FIFA World Cup.

June 22, 2010

Petrelis on Pelosi, ENDA, and Gay Inc.

Michael Petrelis in San Francisco has some fun rants against "Gay Inc." over Speaker Pelosi and ENDA here, here, and here.

Maggie Gallagher targets Iowa

One Iowa, which is fighting to preserve civil marriage equality in that state, shares this video of NOM's Maggie Gallagher joking. There is nothing funny about her obsessive crusade against gay families. Click here to donate to the effort to defeat her in Iowa.

Clinton speaks at State Dept. Pride celebration

HillaryClinton3 Chris Johnson of the Blade reports on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks at an LGBT Pride observance today:

“Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing that human rights are women’s rights — and women’s rights are human rights — let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights,” she said. ...

“In some places, violence against the LGBT community is permitted by law and inflamed by public calls to violence,” she said. “In others, it persists insidiously behind closed doors. These dangers are not gay issues. This is a human rights issue.” ...

One of the arms of the State Department that Clinton commended for taking the lead at confronting anti-gay abuses was the Bureau of African Affairs, which she said directed every U.S. embassy in Africa to report on the conditions of local LGBT communities. Clinton noted that she’s asked every regional bureau “to make this issue a priority.”

Clinton said Foreign Service officers in the State Department are siding with pro-LGBT groups overseas despite threats to personal safety. She cited the participation of U.S. officials last month in Slovakia’s first ever Pride parade as one example.

“There were anti-gay protesters who became violent and the police used tear gas, which our chargée and other diplomats were exposed to — a quite unpleasant experience, but a service to a just cause,” she said.

Beautiful game

This goal by Spain's David Villa, on the way to a victory over Honduras, is shown from multiple angles.

Be a good queer or you could end up like this guy

Adam Hood, a self-professed "ex-gay" associated with the fundie group Recycle Your Faith, rants against homosexuality as an abomination while sporting an ascot and behaving in a more flamboyant manner than 99 percent of the gay people I know. Who in the world would turn to this loon for advice? Since he claims he was saved by prayer, I have a prayer for him: Mary, please.

Texas GOP platform sets anti-gay standard

The Texas Republican Party has adopted the following as part of its platform:

STRENGTHENING FAMILIES, PROTECTING LIFE AND PROMOTING HEALTH
CELEBRATING TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE

Family and Defense of Marriage – We support the definition of marriage as a God–ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists. We call on the President and Congress to take immediate action to defend the sanctity of marriage. We are resolute that Congress exercise authority under the United States Constitution, and pass legislation withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage. We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist of and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married. We advocate the repeal of laws that place an unfair tax burden on families. We call upon Congress to completely remove the marriage penalty in the tax code, whereby a married couple receives a smaller standard deduction than their unmarried counterparts living together. The primary family unit consists of those related by blood, heterosexual marriage, or adoption. The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct, and property.

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