« July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

161 posts from August 2010

August 31, 2010

Nickles gives up on unconstitutional police checkpoints

WaPo reports:

The D.C. government has agreed not to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court ruling that checkpoints set up by District police in neighborhoods beset by violence are unconstitutional.

The decision is part of a settlement filed in federal court in the District. It ends the use of a controversial crime-fighting tactic police had argued was needed to protect citizens during spates of violence.

But some residents and activists said the roadblocks used to screen those entering the troubled neighborhoods infringed upon the Constitutional rights of those who drove through them.

As part of the settlement, filed Aug. 26, officials agreed to end the checkpoint initiative, known as the Neighborhood Safety Zone Program. Three plaintiffs who were stopped at a checkpoint in the summer of 2008 were each awarded $3,500.

“This is a major vindication for the Constitutional rights of the residents of the District of Columbia,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney for the Partnership for Civil Justice," which sued the District on behalf of four residents....

In 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the checkpoints unconstitutional.

This is a vindication for GLAA, which joined several other civil rights groups at a protest in June 2008 in the Trinidad neighborhood of northeast D.C. to protest the Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Why ask military spouses about DADT?

Fisette Jay Fisette has a good letter in today's Washington Post:

I got angry reading the Aug. 24 news story "Pentagon surveys military spouses on 'don't ask, don't tell.' " I was reminded that the Pentagon simply meant to collect information to better educate troops and family members when the unjust ban is lifted. So why was I still so infuriated reading the survey questions?

As a test, I replaced the words "gay and lesbian" with "black and Latino." "If a black or Latino Service member lived in your neighborhood . . . would you stay on-base or would you try to move out?" And, "Would the attendance of a black or Latino Service member . . . affect how often you attend these types of military social events?"

These questions would never be asked because they serve to legitimize ignorance and prejudice. If I asked these questions -- for any reason -- in the discharge of my responsibilities as chairman of the Arlington County Board, I would rightly be rebuked.

Did Harry Truman ask similar questions as he allowed black men to serve equally in the U.S. military? No, he simply did the right thing, and so should we.

The survey was supposedly done as part of an effort to help smooth the transition, but I think it only makes it worse by giving servicemembers and their spouses the idea that they can accept the new policy or not. I am sorry, but military people are used to following orders. Sure, the order can be given politely, but it should be firm and unambiguous. We will no longer discriminate in our military. Those who can't abide that should be shown the door.

Glenn Beck salutes the troops


Sorry, couldn't resist.

August 30, 2010

Anti-gay NYC pastor endorses Fenty

160px-Floyd_Flake WaPo's Hamil R. Harris reported Friday on a campaign rally for Mayor Adrian Fenty held Thursday night at the Holy Comforter Missionary Baptist Church in northeast D.C. The featured speaker, touting Fenty's virtues, was Rev. Floyd Flake of New York City, a former member of Congress and an opponent of marriage equality. I wonder if Hizzoner has taken a moment to tell Rev. Flake the error of his ways. Flake is a mentor of New York Senate President Malcolm Smith, who supports marriage equality.

(Photo of Rev. Floyd Flake)

Blade reports on GLAA ratings

(Rick Rosendall and Bob Summersgill at GLAA ratings meeting.
Photo by Joey DiGuglielmo, The Washington Blade)

Joey DiGuglielmo of The Washington Blade reports on GLAA's August 24 ratings meeting. Besides Bob Summersgill and myself, who are shown in the above photo, participants included Frank Kameny, Craig Howell, Ron Swanda, Geri Hughes, Cartwright Moore, Barrett Brick and Miguel Tuason. In the lower right of the photo you can see the back of Barrett's head and a sliver of Miguel's face.

Early Voting Begins

Early voting began today at One Judiciary Square.  Earlier reports were that there is a 60 minute wait to vote today.    Beginning on Saturday, September 4 from 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM, four additional early voting locations will open:

Chevy Chase Community Center
5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Hine Junior High School
335 8th Street, SE

Southeast Tennis and Learning Center
701 Mississippi Avenue, SE

Turkey Thicket Recreation Center
1100 Michigan Avenue, NE

More information about early voting along with the estimated wait time are available at the BOEE web site.

Keeping it Simple, Sweetheart

Maggie Gallagher at the gates of heaven.

August 28, 2010

This never happens to me

A Coca-Cola ad from Egypt.

(Hap tip: Chris Bodenner)

Helping with the bags

Gene Wilder, Terry Garr, Madeline Kahn, and Marty Feldman in a scene from Young Frankenstein."

Gervais and Elmo: outtakes

With the Lincoln Memorial being defiled today by the presence of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Dick Armey, and Alveda King, I needed something to take my mind off it. Here's one clip that I liked, featuring outtakes from an interview with Ricky Gervais and Elmo on the set of Sesame Street. Keep in mind that the man behind Elmo, the lovely Kevin Clash, is crouching on the floor just out of camera range.

August 27, 2010

"The greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation"

That title, of course, refers not to anything happening this Saturday in Washington, but to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, held 47 years ago. Here is the video of the great speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to the great Bayard Rustin, who organized the event, the vast crowd that day included at least two other gay men: Frank Kameny and Paul Kuntzler, who eight years later would help create the Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

LaRon Landry is enormous

(Photo of LaRon Landry by Jonathan Newton, The Washington Post)

Dan Steinberg at the WaPo D.C. Sports Blog shares the above photo of Reskins safety LaRon Landry. I confess I had never heard of the guy, but Steinberg has now roused my interest.

(Hat tip: Jim Marks)

A gay Pope

(Pope Benedict XVI and Monsignor Georg Ganswein, on January 16, 2006 in Vatican City. Photo: Pool/Getty Images)

In a comment on a book review by Colm Toibin from the London Review of Books, Andrew Sullivan writes:

It seems pretty obvious to me - as it does to Angelo Quattrochi, whose book is reviewed by Toibin - that the current Pope is a gay man (just as it was blindingly clear that John Paul II was straight). I am not claiming that Benedict is someone who has explored his sexuality, or has violated his own strictures on the matter. There is absolutely no evidence of that, or of hypocrisy of any sort. But that does not mean that he isn't gay. In fact, Ratzinger's command that gay priests should actively lie about their orientation makes any public statement about this on its face lacking in credibility. But when you look at the Pope's mental architecture (I've read a great deal of his writing over the last two decades) you do see that strong internal repression does make sense of his life and beliefs. At times, it seems to me, his gayness is almost wince-inducing. The prissy fastidiousness, the effeminate voice, the fixation on liturgy and ritual, and the over-the-top clothing accessories are one thing. But what resonates with me the most is a theology that seems crafted from solitary introspection into a perfect, abstract unity of belief. It is so perfect it reflects a life of withdrawal from the world of human relationship, rather than an interaction with it. Of course, this kind of work is not inherently homosexual; but I have known so many repressed gay men who can only live without severe pain in the world if they create a perfect abstraction of what it is, and what their role is in it. Toibin brilliantly explains this syndrome, why the church of old was so often such a siren call for gay men who could not handle their own nature. In Benedict, one sees a near-apotheosis of this type, what Quattrocchi describes as "simply the most repressed, imploded gay in the world."

Toibin notes Ratzinger's extremely close relationship with Georg Ganswein, his personal secretary, referred to by some priests I know as Gay.org ....

I come from a Catholic family, attended a parochial elementary school and a Catholic university, and have observed a number of gay priests at close quarters. Some were repressed and authoritarian like Ratzinger (see my 2007 essay on an anti-abortion activist here), but others were liberal and tolerant. I remember the warm embrace I received from one of the latter a decade ago in the dining room of the St. Thomas Monastery at Villanova University, my alma mater, when my family and I visited for the funeral of my uncle Joe, a theologian and former Vice President for Academic Affairs there. The priest recognized me from my undergraduate years two decades before, and seeing him again brought back a flood of memories of intellectual nurturing and mentoring, and plain human warmth, that leavened my time at college. We never directly discussed either his sexual orientation or my own, but it was an unspoken presence between us, and his own evident serenity was a great help to me during the privately turbulent period before my own coming out. Those memories remind me that being gay in the priesthood is not always associated with an authoritarian bent.

As to His Holiness, the video below includes, at the 2-minute mark, the scene where then-Cardinal Ratzinger rather daintily slapped the hand of ABC News reporter Brian Ross for his impertinence in asking about Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ, who had been accused of the sexual abuse of young seminarians. The gesture is so gay.

Blade interviews Fenty, Gray

The Washington Blade interviews Mayor Adrian Fenty and his challenger, Council Chairman Vincent Gray.

Jon Stewart on Mehlman

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Gay Old Party
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Jon Stewart says of Ken Mehlman, "You can't expect him to fight for the rights of a group he didn't know he was a part of."

The Beckoning: I have a scheme

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
I Have a Scheme
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Jon Stewart says of Glenn Beck and his rally set for Saturday on the Lincoln Memorial steps:

Glenn Beck does have a dream. Unfortunately, it's the kind of dream you have when you eat four pepperoni Hot Pockets right before bed.

Watch out, fame whores, Ester's on your case

Our friend Ester Goldberg once again offers "That's Estertainment," her weekly dose of showbiz schmooze, political crap, and weird-ass news you might have missed.

Mehlman, want redemption? Pull a David Brock

Mehlman-Ken Wayne Besen has a good analysis of Marc Ambinder's Atlantic article on the coming out of former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. But this morning I want to focus on one thing Ambinder reports:

Privately, in off-the-record conversations with this reporter over the years, Mehlman ... often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called "the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now."

Besen replies, "Living in America, a Republican-led theocracy was always a much greater threat than Islamic jihad." And Lorraine Berry at Finger Lakes Wanderer has this to say:

If he was David Brock, he would not only disavow his past behaviour, but he would leave the party that perpetrated these activities. But Mehlman, in one of those bizarrre turns of phrase, thinks that gay people should join the Republican party because it alone is facing off against Islam--the greatest threat to gay people on the planet (according to Mehlman)?

Excuse me? If you read Harper's, then you have already seen Jeff Sharlet's chilling article about his recent trip to Uganda. You see, the Ugandan anti-gay bill, which would mete out death to "serial homosexuals," is a bill that has been pushed by members of The Family, the organization within the Republican party, well-documented, that pushes an extreme Christian right-wing agenda.

The greatest threat to gays in the world?

Ken. Look in the mirror. Either change the party you're in by fighting the forces of evil within it (and I do call The Family evil deliberately), or take a real stand, denounce your past, those you led, the agenda you were a part of, or leave the party and become an activist like David Brock has.

You want my understanding?

You have to earn it.

You spent a long time earning my contempt.

Yep. But I don't think that will happen. Roughly 25 percent of self-identified gay voters consistently vote Republican no matter what. I think Mehlman is one of those. African Americans have a term for this sort of person. It begins with "house." This will offend some people, but they tend to be the people who say their gayness is just a small aspect of their lives, that they believe in small government (as if any Republican-led government has gone in that direction). Spare me the rationalizations. Anyone who would still vote Republican despite the recklessness, radicalism, know-nothingism and hatemongering that we are witnessing from that party — well, go ahead and blame me for noticing.

Update: I should note that I am well aware that people on both the gay right and the gay left say scornfully that the plantation mentality is nowhere more evident than among gay Democrats, who accept crumbs. Those on the right say this to distract from their own treachery by suggesting a false moral equivalence between the two parties. Those on the left say this because they imagine it would be wonderfully liberating for us all to stay home on election day and thereby help the Republicans take over Congress. That will show those spineless Democrats! The trouble is that most Republican politicians are equally spineless, but their party is now controlled not by conservatives but by radical wackjobs. The Democrats, for all their faults, are far, far better on gay issues. The fact that passage of DOMA and repeal of DADT has been slow going is partly due to Democratic weakness, but more due to Republican obstructionism. So the response to this is to reward the Republicans? Not on this planet.

August 26, 2010

NOM's outside money funds mailer slamming outside money


Mike DeBonis at WaPo reports on what may be the most desperate piece of cynicism yet from the National Organization for Marriage:

Some Ward 5 residents today found a message in their mailbox from council candidate Delano Hunter: "Thousands of dollars from homosexual activists outside Ward 5 are attacking Delano Hunter because he supports our right to vote on whether the District legalizes 'gay marriage,'" reads the mailer, which illustrates a river of cash flowing from "New York City" and "San Francisco" into the ward.

Hmm. If there's "thousands of dollars" from New York City and San Francisco, it's not flowing into the bank account of incumbent Harry Thomas Jr., who last year voted to legalize gay marriage.

Campaign finance records show that there have been no contributions from San Francisco deposited into the Thomas coffers. He has accepted $2,150 from individuals and groups from New York City, but there's no evidence of the gay agenda — $500 came from pharma giant Pfizer, another $500 came from the Service Employees International Union, and $500 from midwifery advocate Ruth Lubic.

By the way, this message was brought to you by the National Organization for Marriage — a national lobby group that takes money from lots of folks from, well, outside Ward 5.

NOM's capacity for ever-new levels of mendacity continues to amaze. Of course there's no evidence of the "gay money" from SF and NYC that Maggie & Friends want Ward 5 voters to panic about, but plenty of evidence of NOM's outside money trashing up northeast D.C. neighborhoods. We have had fun this year at GLAA Forum chronicling NOM's march to political oblivion. Keep in mind that every dollar they spend here is a dollar that's not being spent somewhere else where it might do more damage.

If you make it to one victory party on Primary Election night, make it to that of Councilmember Thomas. This one will be sweet.

DC Coalition Pre-Labor Day Cookout

Image007 Image008
The DC Coalition of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Men and Women [Facebook] is holding a Pre-Labor Day Cookout [Facebook] on Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 2022 31th Place S.E. (off Branch Avenue and Park Drive, near Alabama Avenue) from 3 pm to 8 pm. The event will be a potluck so people are encourage to bring something for the grill or a side dish.  This will also be part of the membership drive with fees set at $25 for general membership and $15 for student membership.

All candidates who are on the ballot in the District have been invited to mix and mingle while answering questions about issues that concern our community.

NOM Mails an Unauthorized Appeal for Delano Hunter

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) continues to try and influence D.C.'s elections. NOM for Delano Hunter

They vowed at an early legislative session to replace every Black member of the Council who voted for the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Amendment Act with a Christian. This was met with amusement by nearly everyone.

  1. Why just the Black councilmembers?
  2. All of the Councilmembers are Christian, so how would this be different?
  3. Every member of the Council was on record about how they would vote on a marriage equality bill for at least one election.
  4. No one believed for a moment that NOM, an outside group with no local roots, would have any more success on election day than they had before the Council.

Since then, they've lost 3 times before the Board of Elections and Ethics. They've lost 8 times in court, and have exhausted all of their appeals accept to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said that they would appeal to the Supreme Court, but no one really believed them, and no one thinks the Court would take the case or that NOM would win. They haven't filed an appeal as of yet.

NOM decided to back a few fringe candidates: Leo Alexander, Anthony Motley, Delano Hunter, and Kelvin Robinson. Robinson, a foe of marriage equality, has disavowed any connection with NOM. NOM no longer lists him as an endorsed candidate. Leo Alexander is running for Mayor and tends to poll around 2%. It is hard to guage support below the margin of error.

Motley is running as a independent and is on the primary ballot. Delano Hunter is now NOM's only hope of unseating a Democratic councilmember. He's a long, long shot, but NOM is trying. They've previously spent more than $60,000 on their candidates, and now have mailer out to Ward 5 households. He attended NOM's bus stop tour in D.C., but isn't running openly as an anti-gay or anti-marriage candidate. He's hoping that most people won't notice, and will learn about his anti-equality positions through church or conservative channels. NOM is going to help educate the voters. That isn't going to help Hunter.

(Hat tip to Keith Ivey and Elle Cayabyab Gitlin.)

Gay Republicans object to GLAA candidate ratings

D.C. Log Cabin Republicans have objected to GLAA's primary ratings of gay Republican D.C. Council candidates Marc Morgan (Ward 1) and Tim Day (Ward 5). They claim, among other things, that GLAA's ratings are based on party affiliation. Tim Craig of WaPo writes about it here.

I have replied to Log Cabin as follows:

  1. GLAA has never endorsed Vincent Gray, or any candidate in a partisan race. We are quite explicit about this.

  2. GLAA never said our rating was for “gay-supportiveness.” We have a specific set of policy positions which are reflected in the questionnaire, and are explained in our “Agenda: 2010” policy brief which we provided to every candidate.

  3. GLAA does not give any points for being gay. We do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. However, one might expect a gay candidate to have an advantage in knowing the background on many of the issues. Had that been demonstrated in the questionnaire responses from Mssrs. Morgan and Day, we would have had more to go on. The record clearly shows that Councilmember Phil Mendelson, who is straight, is our strongest champion on the Council. If the only people we could count on were the openly gay councilmembers, that would be 2 out of 13. How much legislation do you think we could pass with that?

  4. GLAA does not rate candidates based on their popularity, but on their positions on the issues, their demonstrated understanding of the issues, and their record. Failure to articulate their positions or provide any evidence of their record on LGBT issues gives us no reason to believe they would be politically effective on our issues. It is too bad that Marc Morgan failed to provide any evidence of his record to GLAA. We found his statement, “I have worked extensively for Marriage equality in Ohio, Arizona, Maryland and D.C.” to lack credibility based on our work on the issue in D.C. No one in the group was aware of any contribution that he may have made to the effort in D.C.

  5. As for the charge that our ratings were based on party affiliation, why then would we have given Tommy Thomas only a +6? Each candidate got what he or she earned. We have been doing this for many years–indeed we are known for the thoroughness and fairness of our ratings process–and are all too familiar with candidates or their flacks blaming us for their own shortcomings. I am sorry that Log Cabin has taken the easy partisan route, but GLAA’s long history of non-partisan fairness belies your claims. Not so long ago there were two Republican councilmembers, one of them openly gay, who consistently won high marks from GLAA.

  6. Candidates unhappy with their ratings may submit a revised questionnaire response for consideration for the general election. In that case we suggest that they provide more detailed answers and document their activist records as we request of all candidates.

Rick Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

Thanks to Log Cabin for allowing my comments to appear below their news release.

Correction to news release on GLAA ratings

Contrary to a statement in GLAA's August 25 news release on our primary ratings, Ward 6 Democratic Council candidate Kelvin Robinson did not receive $950 from the National Organization for Marriage when he was previously running At-Large. It was At-Large candidate Anthony Motley who received two donations of $950 each from NOM. We regret the error. We note, however, that Robinson was the beneficiary of NOM efforts, including campaign flyers distributed by NOM associate Harry Jackson's High Impact Leadership Coalition. Also, Robinson has repeated his call to place same-sex marriage rights on the ballot. So he is not our friend. But we believe in getting the facts right, and thank Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis for having brought the goof to our attention.

Ken Mehlman is gay. In other news, the Pope is Catholic.

Ken_mehlman Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic reported Wednesday that former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman has announced that he is gay.

Well, knock me over with a feather. In response to this shocking revelation, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper writes:

Nothing presents a better argument for the equality of gay and lesbian citizens than the reality of our lives as responsible members of society. I am happy that Ken has come to a place where he can take a stand with integrity, and I welcome him as yet another conservative, common-sense voice to join with Log Cabin Republicans and all Americans in this important dialogue.

Wait. Ken Mehlman is a responsible member of society? A guy who helped re-elect George W. Bush in 2004 on an anti-gay platform? But wait, there's more. The Log Cabin news release included this from former congressman Jim Kolbe:

Ken joins a chorus that includes Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Ted Olson, and countless others advocating for the American value of inclusion. This is not a time for playing politics; it is a time for us all to join together--Republicans and Democrats--to repeal the failed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, to pass workplace non-discrimination, and to recognize all committed relationships. The responsibility for making this happen lies with the Democratic leadership in Congress and in the White House who set the legislative agenda.

How inspiring for Kolbe to say this is not a time for playing politics, and then blame the Democrats for their difficulty in overcoming Republican obstructionism. It occurs to me that Cee Lo Green had just the right response in his music video that I posted yesterday. Indiemcemopants at Firedoglake has some choice comments.

Ambinder reports that Mehlman does have regrets and has been quietly helping the American Foundation for Equal Rights in its fight for marriage equality. Well, good for you, Ken. You have an awful lot of repenting to do.

My main reaction is to give a shout-out to Mike Rogers, who was prompted by the homophobic 2004 Bush re-election campaign, which Mehlman enthusiastically ran, by launching his blogACTIVE website and outing campaign against treacherous gay Republican closet cases. Mike has responded to the news by giving Mehlman the Roy Cohn Award. Mike writes:

So, how can Ken Mehlman redeem himself? I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day.

And those state marriage amendments. I want to hear him apologize for every one of those, too.

And then there is one other little thing. You see, while you and I had the horrible feelings of being treated so poorly by our President, while teens were receiving the messaging 'gay is bad' giving them 'permission' to gay bash, while our rights were being stripped away state by state, Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He's done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of money. A LOT of money. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a $3,770,000.00 (that's $3.77 million) condo in Chelsea while we have lost our right to marry in almost 40 states.

THEN, and only then, should Mehlman be welcomed into our community.



Update: Bruce Garrett at Truth Wins Out comments here. Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly comments here.

August 25, 2010

Cee Lo gets nasty

The key thing about the viral video above is not that it has two of George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words," but that it is sung by Cee Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley. If you are not familiar with this man's distinctive voice, check out his new song "Georgia" as well as the older "Crazy." Also check out www.ceelogreen.com/.

GLAA releases D.C. primary ratings

We took more than five hours at Tuesday night's meeting to rate candidates in the September 14 D.C. primary election, but we have released the ratings along with a narrative explaining them; a points breakdown for each candidate; and all the candidate questionnaire responses that we received.

Thanks to all who participated and assisted with this substantial effort. Please click on the above links to see the results.

Update: DCist comments on our ratings. Mike DeBonis at WaPo reports here.

Democrats Statistically Favored to Keep Control of Senate

Political prognosticator Nate Silver has joined his blog FiveThirtyEight with the New York Times.  The premiere column has predictions for the upcoming Senate elections.  The forcast is that there is an 80% chance that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate by taking at least 50 seats and a 3% chance that they will maintain the current 60 seats or gain seats.  Predictions for the House and the Governorships will come later.

August 24, 2010

TED on Marriage Equality

About TED:
TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

They have added an area called "Best of the Web" where they show videos from other sites they think should be high-lighted.  Here New York State Senator Diane J. Sevino makes the case for marriage equality.

Marry Me in DC Wedding Expo

This past weekend the Hippo hosted Baltimore’s First LGBT Wedding Expo titled Marry Me in DC.
The Wedding Expo is an opportunity to connect gay and lesbian couples considering or planning marriage with gay and gay-friendly wedding service providers including photographers, bakeries, venues, caterers and other wedding services, as well as legal and financial planning experts - all coming together to help the attendees create and plan the wedding – and marriage! – of their dreams.

And while the event targets people who live in Maryland and surrounding areas who plan on having a marriage in DC and then celebrate in the suburbs, perhaps they may not have to wait too long to be married in Maryland. A recent poll by CNN shows that for the first time a majority of Americans support marriage equality.  The state by state breakdown shows that currently in 17 state support for marriage equality has reached the 50% level or above.  In Maryland where support for marriage equality stood at 29% when DOMA was enacted, it now is projected to be at 51%.


Glenn Beck's D.C. marchers warned to avoid Green and Yellow Lines

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rachel Maddow last evening did the above segment on the rally being held this Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial by Glenn Beck, coinciding with the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech which was delivered there. Rachel quotes this page from a Maine Tea Party website recommending eateries, providing the home addresses of several Democratic politicians, and giving the following warning:

If you are on the subway stay on the Red line between Union Station and Shady Grove, Maryland. If you are on the Blue or Orange line do not go past Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) toward the Potomac Avenue stop and beyond; stay in NW DC and points in Virginia. Do not use the Green line or the Yellow line. These rules are even more important at night. There is of course nothing wrong with many other areas; but you don't know where you are, so you should not explore them.

The author of this warning turns out to be none other than D.C. realtor Bruce Majors, who has a blog on Salon and is the subject of a "Troll Alert" at TPM. The bio on his blog begins, "Anarcho-capitalist revolutionary sharpening his guillotine."

Martin Austermuhle of DCist comments here. As Rachel and WaPo columnist Gene Robinson note in the above video, a boycott of the Green and Yellow Lines by Tea Partiers this weekend will make it that much easier for D.C. residents to get into Ben's Chili Bowl, which is on the Green Line on U Street Northwest. Robinson says of the warning about the Green and Yellow Lines, "This is obviously Scaring White People, Part Two, and what they have done is essentially try to put off limits any parts of the city where these Maine Tea Partiers believe you might be more likely to encounter, dare I say, black people."

Given the publicity this has received, I suspect that some other Tea Partiers will shortly disavow the comments by Majors. But hey, he was just trying to be helpful in his anarcho-capitalist way.

New Developments in GLAD's DOMA Challenge

Glad Last month's rulings against the federal Defense of Marriage Act by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro, in a pair of cases brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley, have raised questions as to whether the Obama administration will appeal, when the rulings will take effect, and if they will apply to couples outside the Bay State. Art Leonard reports:

Within the past few days, some answers have begun emerging.

First, a decision by a federal district judge does not take effect until the formal "entry of judgment" on the record. Although Judge Tauro issued his opinion in the Gill case on July 8 (which is now officially published at 699 F.Supp.2d 374, and most easily accessible to members of the public for free by using scholar.google.com), he did not enter his judgment formally until August 12. That set the clock ticking on the Justice Department's time to appeal, which runs for 60 days, so they have until early in October to file an appeal. So far, the Justice Department has not announced whether they will appeal, and presumably there is some internal debate going on. Judge Tauro's opinion pretty well shredded all of the arguments they made in defense of DOMA, and their case was undercut politically by the President's stated position that he considers DOMA to be discriminatory and urges Congress to repeal it. A bill is pending in the House with about 100 co-sponsors intended to do that, although nobody is predicting it will come to a vote in this session.

Second, as to when the decision goes into effect: normally that happens upon the official entry of the judgment, but in this case, GLAD has announced that it reached an agreement with the Justice Department to stay the effect of the ruling while the Justice Department decides whether to appeal. If no appeal is filed within the 60 day deadline, the decision goes into effect. If an appeal is filed, it is likely that the stay will continue pending the conclusion of the appellate process.

In a Q&A posted on its website, GLAD explains the rationale for this: "We agreed to a stay for two reasons. First and foremost, it is in our clients' best interest. They want the certainty of knowing that their awarded Social Security payments, health insurance costs, or tax refunds are not potentially subject to repayment to the government. Only a final victory ensures that. Secondly, we think the stay actually provides clarity for married couples around the country who are looking at their own situations and wondering whether the Gill decision allows them to apply for Social Security benefits, for example, or sponsor their spouse for citizenship. The answer, even without a stay in Gill, is: no, not yet."

On August 18, Judge Tauro entered an Amended Judgment in the record, spelling out in detail the relief to which each plaintiff in the Gill case is entitled when/if the jduge's decision goes into effect. From the wording of the judgment, it appears that the relief that is ordered in this case is very particular to the plaintiffs.

(Hat tip: Barrett Brick)

Taking Mitch McConnell at his word...

Mitch-mcconnell-09081-1 HuffPo reports:

Huffington Post political reporter Sam Stein went on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews tonight to discuss Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) recent comment on Meet the Press that he "takes [Obama] at his word" as being a Christian.

Sen. McConnell's comment, which echoed Hilary Clinton's 2008 jab that Obama was a Christian "as far as [she] knows," came after a Pew poll found that over 30% of Republicans believe Obama is Muslim.

My first thought was: Has somebody gotten Sen. McConnell to deny that he's gay? If not, people should keep asking him until he denies it. Then we can repeatedly say, "I take Senator McConnell at his word that he's not gay." Dan Savage had the same thought. But I'm glad that reporters quickly recalled that Hillary Clinton had used the same sleazy ploy during the 2008 primaries.

Servicemembers United blasts Pentagon's DADT survey

Alex Nicholson of Servicemembers United offers a harsh analysis of the Pentagon's survey of military spouses on DADT repeal, which was released over the weekend. Here's an excerpt with a comment from Nicholson:

14) Question 29: “Assume Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and your spouse is deployed. Would the presence of a partner of a gay or lesbian Service member affect how often you attend deployment-support activities?” (and one similar question – question 35)

This has to be the single most insensitive, disrespectful, selfish, and just plain cruel question in the entire spouse survey. The partners of gay and lesbian troops who are deployed hurt, worry, cry, stress, and suffer just as much – if not more, because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – than the partners and spouses of straight troops. To even entertain the idea, much less suggest it, that fleeting discomfort of straight partners and spouses should lead to denial of support for the agonizing partners of gay and lesbian troops is simply horrendous, cruel, and inhumane. Keep in mind that even the girlfriends and boyfriends of straight troops get some support during their partners’ deployments. So a straight one- night-stand is given a higher priority under current military policy – and this question – than a devoted partner of 20 years.

As Barrett Brick comments, "Wow. Just ... wow."

(Hat tip: AMERICAblog Gay)

August 23, 2010

A shared sacred space

(Pope John Paul II meets with Muslim leaders on his trip
to Lebanon - Catholic World Report, July 1997)

Paul Moses at dotCommonweal shares a lesson from the late Pope John Paul II that I wish some of my angry fellow citizens would follow. It concerns JPII's celebration of Mass in Bethlehem's Manger Square ten years ago:

The pope had just finished his homily, ending with “Assalamu alaikum,” when the Muslim call to prayer broke forth from the loudspeakers at a mosque that bordered on Manger Square. It seemed, at first, like a rude intrusion on the historic Mass the pope was celebrating in the Jubilee year. But John Paul sat quietly and listened as the muezzin sang God’s praise; he seemed to be savoring the moment. It was as if the Muslim prayer mingled with the Mass.

Just before the Mass ended, it was announced that church and mosque officials had coordinated the call to prayer, which had been delayed to accommodate the pope’s homily. It was a small matter, really, but this cooperation stirred the crowd, mostly Arab Christians, to cheers, applause and even to tears. A sacred space had been shared, and everyone was the better for it.

A single voice may be small and faint, but it can make a difference. When it is joined by other voices, it can change the tone of a community, a city, a state, a country. We don't have to accept a country of intolerance and fear. We can raise our voices against the current anti-Muslim tide, which is deeply damaging to the fundamental American value of religious freedom. This morning, I found it easy to donate to the Cordoba Initiative — which provides some excellent answers to frequently-asked questions.

(Hat tip: Zoe Pollock)

August 20, 2010

Gap widens between rich and poor in D.C. schools

0727_COV_Rhee-7 Here's a revealing tidbit from yesterday's WaPo story by Bill Turque on the state of D.C. schools:

Analysis of test scores by ward shows the persistent gulf in achievement between the city's poorest children and its most affluent. In 2007, 27 percent of Ward 8 elementary students read proficiently, compared with 78 percent of their peers in Ward 3 -- a spread of 51 percentage points. This year, the Ward 8 children were at 29 percent and those in Ward 3 at 86 percent, widening the gap to 57 points. In Ward 7, reading proficiency rates for secondary students rose from 17 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2010 -- 11 points. But Ward 3's rate rose almost 13 points in that time, and the disparity between the two wards remains about 50 points.

"It's maddening and it's hard," Rhee acknowledged in a recent interview. "Have our ward 7 and 8 schools progressed? Absolutely. But the gap is still ridiculous."

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee can rightly point to rising test scores and graduation rates, though as Turque notes, scores "are indeed up, continuing a trend that began under Rhee's predecessor, former superintendent Clifford Janey." This point is not often noted or well understood: Rhee did not turn things around, she continued improvements that began under Janey. But the gap between rich and poor persists. I would rather hear Rhee explain how she's going to remedy that than hear her threats to quit if Fenty isn't re-elected. Involving parents in more economically troubled neighborhoods may be a daunting challenge, but it is essential to any long-term solution; and Rhee, like the rest of the Fenty administration, doesn't appear to be much interested in listening.

Bolton: Israel has 8 days to attack Iranian nuclear site

AFP reports:

Israel has "eight days" to launch a military strike against Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility and stop Tehran from acquiring a functioning atomic plant, a former US envoy to the UN has said.

Iran is to bring online its first nuclear power reactor, built with Russia's help, on August 21, when a shipment of nuclear fuel will be loaded into the plant's core.

At that point, John Bolton warned Monday, it will be too late for Israel to launch a military strike against the facility because any attack would spread radiation and affect Iranian civilians.

"Once that uranium, once those fuel rods are very close to the reactor, certainly once they're in the reactor, attacking it means a release of radiation, no question about it," Bolton told Fox Business Network.

"So if Israel is going to do anything against Bushehr it has to move in the next eight days."

Absent an Israeli strike, Bolton said, "Iran will achieve something that no other opponent of Israel, no other enemy of the United States in the Middle East really has and that is a functioning nuclear reactor."

S-JOHN-BOLTON-ISRAEL-BOMB-IRAN-large Yes, another war in the Middle East is just what we need! Not to mention that America would be blamed equally with Israel for such an attack, and it would unify Iranians behind the oppressive regime that a majority of them currently oppose. Fortunately, the reckless clowns for whom Bolton worked are no longer in charge at the Pentagon or in Foggy Bottom. If you think Obama is too militaristic, imagine if the bellicose McCain were Commander in Chief.

At some point, better sooner than later, it needs to sink into more heads that more warfare will not make that region safer or more stable. Iran is much stronger than Iraq, and any attack against it would be only a temporary setback to its plans while being a public relations coup for its brutal leaders. It would also help recruit more terrorists, and would significantly raise the costs of American support for Israel. The U.S. may not be able to stop Netanyahu from launching such an attack, but only a madman or a fool could welcome it.

August 19, 2010

He said, she said

BBC Radio 4 announces:

Stephen Fry examines whether men and women really use and understand language differently.

Is there a genuine gender language barrier, or is it just something we made up to amuse ourselves, or to castigate each other?

As a former presenter on Woman's Hour, Sue MacGregor has a unique insight into the way men used to use language to patronise or dominate, and recalls one of her guests on the programme referring to her as 'my dear'.

But as women began to win equality there was a genuine need to discover whether and how women and men differed in the way they spoke.

Cast aside all memories of cartoon strips, Woody Allen movies, sitcoms and diatribes on political correctness or questionable seaside postcards.

This programme gets to the truth, with the aid of academics, a bit of comedy from Ronnie Barker, a sex change surgeon and a speech therapist. Do people who want to change their sex also want to change the way they use language?

Click here for an audio clip.

(Hat tip: Cartwright Moore)

Musto on the fading gay press

Knife Village Voice columnist Michael Musto describes how his new book, Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back, has been held hostage for the past year by Alyson Books due to the apparent financial problems of its parent company:

I'm not taking it personally, mind you. The publisher, Alyson Books, is part of Regent Media, which also includes here! TV, Out magazine, and the Advocate. Those outlets have long been a vital force in LGBT reporting, but as media-particularly gay media-keep getting hit with the one-two punch of the Internet and the economy, they've gotten patchy about paying people and apparently are only selectively publishing whatever they can....

For me, the most horrid situation has been the creative frustration involved with the book (a collection of columns with some original essays). I'd delivered the entire package in the summer of '09, but I never received any communication about it in terms of editing or marketing except when I anxiously pushed for info. Occasionally, I'd email my editor, "Is the book still happening?" "Oh, yes," he swore, maybe hoping against hope. "But will there be galleys as promised?" I wondered. "Oh, sure," he'd say, optimistically. "Probably in two days. It shouldn't take longer than that." How was I to know that two days would morph into two weeks, two months, and eventually into the 12th of never? ...

What a disaster. Picture the Spider-Man musical, but less organized....

But the good news is that the gay-on-gay shrieking seems to be working more often than before. I've just heard about some aggrieved writers who've been paid in full and one paid in semi-, so either things are getting a little bit brighter or there's an emergency fund somewhere under the rainbow. Gay publishing might be able to keep limping along after all, as long as it doesn't add to its own oppression with more bullshit and evasion.

Meanwhile, the word in Chelsea is that the head of Alyson is trying to buy Regent from the inside, in hopes of finally releasing all those titles from the gay hostage crisis. I'm planning a gala book party as we speak. That's the company line.

Well, that explains the delays on another book of interest whose release I was eagerly awaiting. Band of Thebes comments.

Warner Brothers sues condom brand called "Harry Popper"

Popper More weird-ass news from our friend Ester Goldberg:

Warner Brothers has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a Swiss condom brand called HARRY POPPER.

Warner Brothers says the name obviously sounds way too much like "Harry Potter"and thus tarnishes the image of the franchise.

And if that name weren't enough to infringe on the copyright, the Harry Popper logo is a condom that wears round glasses and holds a magic wand.

Invisible military families

This ad from Servicemembers United shows the harm to military families and the loss to the military itself that results from Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

(Hat tip: Michael Crawford)