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164 posts from October 2010

October 30, 2010

Megachurch Pastor Comes Out Of Closet

WSBTV reports:

Swilley, 52, founded the church 25 years ago. He seemed the stereotypical picture of a pastor, with four kids and a wife who doubled as his associate pastor. But Swilley said he's known he was gay since he was little boy. He said his wife, Debye, also knew his secret from the start.

Science News: Gay kids and parents; a liberal gene

This week in science we are brought two interesting items.  First Medical Daily reports that a political outlook seems to be controlled by a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4.  From the article:

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter affecting brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain. Previous research has identified a connection between a variant of this gene and novelty-seeking behavior, and this behavior has previously been associated with personality traits related to political liberalism.

Lead researcher James H. Fowler of UC San Diego and his colleagues hypothesized that people with the novelty-seeking gene variant would be more interested in learning about their friends' points of view. As a consequence, people with this genetic predisposition who have a greater-than-average number of friends would be exposed to a wider variety of social norms and lifestyles, which might make them more liberal than average. They reported that "it is the crucial interaction of two factors – the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence – that is associated with being more liberal." The research team also showed that this held true independent of ethnicity, culture, sex or age.

And in other news AOL reports on upcoming research findings that the children of gay parents are more likely to have gay children.  The AOL report makes a big deal of how the researcher, Dr. Walter Schumm, is worried that he will be critcised as much as Dr. Paul Cameron was when in 2006 he made the same claim.  Paul Cameron is a notorious anti-gay bigot. AOL reports:

But also in his testimony was an inkling of the robust research Schumm has just completed. His study on sexual orientation, out next month, says that gay and lesbian parents are far more likely to have children who become gay. "I'm trying to prove that it's not 100 percent genetic," Schumm tells AOL News.

His study is a meta-analysis of existing work. First, Schumm extrapolated data from 10 books on gay parenting; Cameron, for what it's worth, had only looked at three, and offered no statistical analysis in his paper. Schumm skewed his data so that only self-identified gay and lesbian children would be labeled as such.

Stating that he is trying to reach a predetermined outcome in the research will hardly make him seem impartial.  The AOL article points out some criticism on the size and impartiality of the data sample.  And the results are:

Schumm concluded that children of lesbian parents identified themselves as gay 31 percent of the time; children of gay men had gay children 19 percent of the time, and children of a lesbian mother and gay father had at least one gay child 25 percent of the time.

The study has not been published yet so there isn't much analysis of its findings.  It was hard to know from the AOL report what is being proven since it doesn't make plain if these are adoptive children or biological children.  However, much wil be made about this when it is published.  (I learned of the study on an anti-gay website.)  The gay community typically turns a jaundiced eye towards studies of what causes homosexuality because the underlying premise is that if we can figure out what causes it we might be able to make gay people disappear.  This raises the interesting question:  Would conservative parents choose to have a liberal baby, or vice versa?

October 29, 2010

Pat Toomey: Too Extreme for Pennsylvania

The fourth of four ads by People for the American Way on right-wing candidates for the U.S. Senate. This one looks at Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

(Hat tip: Pam Spaulding)

Rand Paul: Too Extreme for Kentucky

The third of four ads by People for the American Way on right-wing candidates for the U.S. Senate. This one looks at Rand Paul of Kentucky.

(Hat tip: Pam Spaulding)

Ron Johnson: Too Extreme for Wisconsin

The second of four ads by People for the American Way on right-wing candidates for the U.S. Senate. This one looks at Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

(Hat tip: Pam Spaulding)

Ken Buck: Too Extreme for Colorado

The first of four ads by People for the American Way on right-wing candidates for the U.S. Senate. This one looks at Ken Buck of Colorado.

(Hat tip: Pam Spaulding)

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Anthony?

AnthonyEvansRick Rosendall responded to "Rev." Anthony Evans' call for a joint news conference to say that religious leaders that denounce gay people are not responsible for the bullying that gay youth experience, sometimes leading to suicides.

Rick is really too kind. I would have said much nastier things to this man. Evans, however, personable and quite a flirt. Well, he doesn't flirt with women. He is after all "happily married." But I still probably wouldn't be nice.

There is a more constructive way to deal with people who hold religious views that gay people are evil, but are genuinely concerned about gay kids being bullied and suicides.

John-corvino

John Corvino, a columnist for the on-line news outlet 365gay.com offers this idea:

So when conservative Christians sincerely ask me what they can do to help, short of renouncing their convictions, here’s what I tell them.

I tell them not to expect me to stop critiquing those convictions, because I (like they) value truth and justice.

I tell them that they should turn up the volume on the “equal dignity” message and turn down the volume on the “no gay marriage” message. That doesn’t mean giving up what they believe. It does mean a change of emphasis (and one, incidentally, more consonant with the Gospel).

I tell them that if they really believe that homosexual conduct is no worse than heterosexual sins like premarital sex or divorce, they should behave accordingly in their relative reactions.

I tell them they should acknowledge openly the dissonance they feel in the face of love-filled same-sex romantic relationships, and to consider that God might be trying to teach them something in this dissonance.

I tell them to teach their kids why bullying is wrong, and to remind them in word and deed that they love them—no matter what.

I tell them to put their concern for LGBT people into action.

And when they do these things, I tell them thank you. Because when it comes to saving kids’ lives, I’ll work with what allies I can get.

I'm glad there are people like John Corvino out there speaking to religious conservatives. I'm no good at it. I just don't have the patience for people who think that religious beliefs trump harming other people.

I don't believe for a moment that Anthony Evans is sincere in opposing bullying. I believe that he is indeed happy when gay kids kill themselves. he only recently came to the conclusion that he shouldn't personally kill gay people. There isn't much wiggle room in the hatred that he spreads. Fortunately, I don't need to deal with him. I'm glad that calmer people do. I bet Rick has never before been described as calm.

Capital City PCS Students Standing Up for Gay Rights

Here is the video from the students of the Capital City PCS standing up for gay rights. They won an award from the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club last night.

 

 

Penthouse view

Penthouse_view

Bob Summersgill took this photo on Thursday evening from the penthouse level at 1301 K Street, NW, where the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club held its 34th Anniversary Leadership Awards. Congrats to Bob on receiving Stein's Heil Balin Award, and to all the other honorees.

A straight victim of anti-gay harassment

A contribution to the "It Gets Better" collection by a straight fellow who was bullied as a teen.

(Hat tip: Warren Throckmorton)

That's Estertainment

Our friend Ester writes from Tinsel Town:

IN this Episode: Whip my hair,Paris scares the sealife, how tobe a Kardashian, the last yodel and the bat sh*t crazy Quaids.

Pumpkin drop

An 1,169-pound pumpkin is dropped onto a Pontiac.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Rep. Steve King reveals the liberal Spartan conspiracy

Right-wing Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) warns us:

I think that if we can’t defend marriage, that it becomes very hard to defend life,” King said. “Marriage is the crucible by which we pour all of our values and pass them on to our children, and that is how the culture is renewed each time. So, if we lose marriage — for instance, if our children are raised in warehouses, so to speak. There have been civilizations that have tried to do that. The Spartans did that. They took the children away and taught them to be warriors. It’s a good way to defend a country, but not much of a way to run a civilization.

So, I’m afraid if that happened — if we lose the marriage, we lose the home, we lose the nuclear family then we can’t teach our values. We won’t be able to teach our faith. We won’t be able to teach life. We won’t be able to teach our Constitutional values either. That’s why I’m afraid it’s going to be very, very difficult to defend life.

Jonathan Chait responds:

You see, gay marriage will lead to the forced collective raising of children. Which will lead to children being raised as bloodthirsty warriors, like Sparta. And will also lead to the end of teaching about the Constitution, because that never happens in schools.

Hey, you know who didn't teach its children about the Constitution? Ancient Sparta.

Chait then shows the trailer for the movie 300 below, and says, "Come to think of it, it does look pretty gay."

Tomorrow's impeachment pretext today

Matt_Barber OneNewsNow, which is associated with the American Family Association, runs an absurd story titled "Obama and DOMA - high crimes and misdemeanors?" in which Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber argues that President Obama's extension of healthcare benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees via executive order is illegal and unconstitutional.

Look for much more of this, amplified by congressional hearings, if the GOP retakes the House of Representatives.

(Photo of Matt Barber)

Anti-gay Ark. school board member announces resignation on Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper grills Arkansas school board member Clint McCance on his extreme anti-gay statements, and gets McCance to announce his resignation.

DADT survey: most soldiers would not mind serving alongside gay colleagues

NBC reporter Richard Engel tells Rachel Maddow about some leaked findings from the Pentagon’s Working Group study of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This should be a help to a renewed legislative effort during the lame duck session of the Senate.

October 28, 2010

Nicholson: The Path Forward on DADT During Lame Duck

YouTube description: "Servicemembers United's Executive Director, Alex Nicholson, explains how to get DADT repeal done during the lame duck session of Congress in November and December of 2010."

(Hat tip: Alex Nicholson)

Freedom to Marry: Five Reasons You Should Vote

Ftm_logo Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry writes:

Make no mistake: The freedom to marry is on the ballot this year.

For the first time in years, there is no statewide attack seeking to ban or overturn marriage on the ballots Nov. 2, but that doesn't mean that we can't cast votes in favor of the freedom to marry. Here's a snapshot of what's at stake for the freedom to marry on Election Day next Tuesday:

  • In Iowa, voters are being pressed to unseat three Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of the freedom to marry.

  • Close gubernatorial races will help determine whether the freedom to marry becomes a reality in states such as California, Rhode Island, Maine, and Minnesota as soon as 2011.

  • The election will determine the membership and leadership of legislative bodies in states like Maryland and New York that could vote on marriage in the next year.

  • And the makeup of Congress will have huge implications for Freedom to Marry's growing campaign to overturn the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act."

The National Organization for Marriage, their hidden funders, and other anti-gay groups are funneling millions of dollars into these races to oust pro-equality elected officials and replace them with anti-gay candidates. The best way you can counteract their efforts is by making sure that you and your friends exercise your right to vote on Election Day!

Read Freedom to Marry's Five Reasons You Should Vote and share it with family and friends:

http://freedomtomarry.org/5ReasonsToVote

To put it simply, the freedom to marry, like many questions important to America's future, is on the ballot in this election.

A nationwide majority of Americans now support the freedom to marry. We can only turn that public support into legislative victories for gay and lesbian families if we vote on Election Day.

Read and share Freedom to Marry's Five Reasons You Should Vote:

http://freedomtomarry.org/5ReasonsToVote

Thanks for all you do,

Evan Wolfson
Executive Director, Freedom to Marry

Action alert for gay Nigerian Hope Nwachukwu

Nigeria+drag+queens

LGBT Asylum News reports:

Hope Nwachukwu is gay and faces persecution if he is returned to Nigeria. He has already suffered years of attacks and torture by fellow citizens who hold strong views on practicing gay men.

Hope arrived in the UK at the end of 2009 to try and escape his persecutors but since then he has spent six months in detention - where he has suffered attacks by fellow Nigerians who see he is gay. For Hope, the thought of returning to life in Nigeria is terrifying but the UK Border Agency insists that he is not gay.

Update 27 October: Hope's lawyer won at the High Court a judicial review of his fresh claim. This was at the last minute as Hope had been prepared to be removed.

This reprieve means we need your help now if we are to save Hope

See how you can help at the Action Alert.

Oral Roberts' gay grandson: "It gets better"

YouTube description: "Randy Roberts Potts reads a letter to his gay Uncle Ronnie, who met an untimely death in June of 1982."

Latest from NOM Tour Tracker

Above and below, the latest from NOMtourtracker.com. For the record (responding to comments made by NOM's Brian Brown in the video below), this gay activist does NOT believe that everything is socially constructed. I was born gay. Many gender roles ARE socially constructed; but Brown is trivializing the issue because he doesn't want a serious discussion, and he rejects any evidence that does not support his anti-gay bias.

Olbermann: "If The Tea Party Wins, America Loses"

Keith Olbermann lists the proposals of various Tea Party candidates and discusses what America is in for if they win the election.

Obama discusses marriage and DADT with liberal bloggers

Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog Gay provides a transcript of President Obama's Q&A yesterday with five liberal bloggers. I will not quote from it here, but go have a look. The President, contrary to a statement last week by Valerie Jarrett, does NOT state that he thinks DADT is unconstitutional. Rather, he disingenuously says that he cannot state an opinion on that because he is not on the Supreme Court. The President also says he is still reflecting on the question of civil marriage, suggesting that he may change his mind. He refers to the traditional definition of marriage. Previously, he cited his personal religious beliefs in opposing civil marriage equality, a statement I did not believe because he has taught constitutional law and surely knows that such a justification would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

So while I stand behind my column today in which I urge gay voters to act in their own best interest (and that of the country) and back Democratic candidates in next Tuesday's election, I continue to be frustrated with Mr. Obama. He is pretty clearly dressing up political calculations as something else. If he manages to pull off legislative repeal of DADT during the lame duck session of the U.S. Senate, it will ease some of the pain. But I sure wish I had been there yesterday to ask some follow-up questions.

Texas NBC affiliate stokes homophobia with viewer question/response

A report that President Obama has appointed a record number of openly gay officials has prompted an NBC affiliate in Texas to poll its viewers on an outrageously leading question. Courage Campaign reports:

Demand that NBC Universal take action to end its affiliation with KETK now

KETK-NBC news anchors ask: “Will the acceptance of homosexuality in this society be the downfall of America?”

Yes, that was a question actually posed to viewers by a Texas-based NBC affiliate TV station, both on the air and online. But it didn’t end there. The station then went on to broadcast responses from viewers -- some of the most vitriolic attacks on LGBT people that you will ever hear on a network affiliate.

The video is shocking. But the lack of response from NBC Universal -- KETK's parent network -- is even more shocking. That's why we need you to watch the video now and then sign our petition to NBC Universal executives Jeff Zucker and Steve Burke asking them to end NBC's affiliate relationship with KETK immediately....

Click here to take action.

October 27, 2010

Love note in ASL

This is adorable.

"Have you no sense of decency, sir?"

This morning I ran across this famous exchange between Senator Joseph McCarthy and Army attorney Joseph Welch from the Army-McCarthy Hearings on June 9, 1954. Then as now, members of the audience at a Senate hearing are not supposed to applaud; but they did when Mr. Welch finished his remarks. These hearings were televised, and this exchange marked the beginning of the end for Mr. McCarthy and his destructive witch hunts.

The conspiracy mongering and stoking of fear and paranoia by the American right wing today have been conducted mainly in other venues than hearing rooms; but that is because the Republicans at present do not enjoy a majority in the House or Senate from which to control such hearings. This, however, could change. If and when it does, I hope there will be modern-day heirs of Joseph Welch to confront the reckless demagogues who will seize the committee gavels.

October 26, 2010

Rev. Evans' latest mixed messaging

Evans Rev. Anthony Evans, one of the more vocal opponents of D.C. marriage equality, sent us the following news release defending the New Hampshire Union Leader for refusing to run announcements of same-sex marriages, which are legal in that state:

National Black Church Initiative
P.O. Box 65177
Washington, DC 20035
202-744-0184
[email protected]
www.naltblackchurch.com

Contact:
Rev. Anthony Evans
202-744-0184

October 26, 2010
For Immediate Release

THE NATIONAL BLACK CHURCH INITIATIVE STRONGLY SUPPORTS NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER

GAY COMMUNITY NEEDS TO STOP INSISTING ON THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS


Washington, D.C. -- The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of 34,000 African-American churches across the nation, strongly supports the New Hampshire Union Leader and their publisher John McQuaid in their refusal to publish gay wedding announcements. NBCI believes the gay community is becoming a moral bully, trying to force the rest of society to accept their marriage. When NBCI and other religious organizations refuse to go along with this homosexual community definition of marriage, they in turn call religious organizations hateful. This is a public relations tactic on the part of the gay community to force us to accept their definition of marriage and to paint the Christian church as hateful when the Church and anyone else opposes the gay lifestyle. This is an overall strategy by the gay community to redefine the sexual morality of the Church, the Bible, and the society, putting themselves in a position to determine what is holy and what is not. The Church will never allow this to happen.

NBCI wants to make it clear that they are simply exercising their God-given right to believe in their faith and that a marriage only exists between one man and one woman. If gay community, however, continues to insult and try to force those of religious faith to accept their lifestyles -- which NBCI views as wicked -- there will continue to be a clash of cultures. NBCI and the Black Church strongly urge their gay brothers and sisters to finally realize that they will never accept gay marriage as legitimate because their faith will not allow them to do so.

Reverend Anthony Evans, president of NBCI, states, "We are doing everything in our power to create an environment in which tolerance of the gay lifestyle is accepted for the purpose of civility and civil society, and we reject all forms of bullying -- whether verbal or physical -- on the gay community." Rev. Evans and NBCI uphold the belief that violence and belittlement toward the gay community is unbeneficial toward resolving the matter at hand. They also, however, want to make known their expectations concerning any interactions between the Church and the gay community that may exemplify a similar kind of hostility. "They cannot continue to try to force (read: bully) the Christian community to accept their lifestyle as consistent with the teachings and ethics of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have a right to our belief. It is wrong for the gay community to categorize our faith as hatred. This is a form of bullying."

About NBCI

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 African American and Latino churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI's mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. The National Black Church Initiative's methodology is utilizing faith and sound health science. The National Black Church Initiative's purpose is to partner with major organizations and officials whose main mission is to reduce racial disparities in the variety of areas cited above. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the-box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI's programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work. Visit our website at www.naltblackchurch.com.

###

Oy, where to begin with this nonsense? Well, here goes. I will only touch on highlights (or lowlights) rather than attempting a comprehensive response. Rev. Evans likes to refer to "the Church" and "the Black Church" as if there is a single, monolithic black church community, and as if he were its appointed spokesman. No. Can you say D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality? Evans says that "the gay community is becoming a moral bully." Pardon me, but who is trying to block whom from civil marriage?

What Evans and his compatriots are essentially saying is that gay people's existence, or at least our claim to the rights of citizens, is an affront to morality, and that there should be no distinction between civil and religious law. He has an ally in Senator-wannabe Christine O'Donnell on that last point. He says that the gay community seeks "to redefine the sexual morality of the Church, the Bible, and the society, putting themselves in a position to determine what is holy and what is not." Um, no. We are indeed changing society by dint of living our lives as members of it, but we are not trying to change the Bible or force anything on anyone's church. As it happens, though, he and his allies have no monopoly on faith, and gay people and our supporters are not members of his imaginary universal church.

Beyond all of that, Evans is doing the same thing that Maggie Gallagher did recently: try to avoid blame for helping create the climate of intolerance that leads some young people to despair and suicide. So he wraps his intolerance in tolerant wrapping paper. I actually called him Tuesday afternoon, because he had suggested a few days ago that we hold a joint press conference. I declined, and said that he has contributed to the problem and is just looking for cover, and GLAA has no interest in providing it. He refers to our orientation as a "lifestyle," calls it wicked, and fights tooth and nail against gay people's right to marry. If he had his way, gay youth would have no prospects of future happiness, only abuse disguised as help in the form of "ex-gay" quackery. But he means all of this in a loving and nurturing way! Gee, thanks.

BTW, I told Evans that no one that I know disputes the right of a privately owned newspaper to refuse advertisements that it doesn't like. At the same time, however, we have a right to criticize them for it.

As to the "About NBCI" at the end: if you go to this guy looking for "sound health science," you are in trouble.

One request: If you decide to contact Rev. Evans, please be civil (as hard as that may be). Or just leave him be, and do something to counter his harmful efforts instead.

Cutting off our nose

Danchoi-620x350
(Dan Choi, courtesy Flickr/paul)

My column this week weighs our legitimate unhappiness over President Obama's bad handling of DADT repeal against the consequences of our sitting our this election:

Gay Iraq war veteran Dan Choi’s attempted reenlistment last week illustrated the determination to serve that is one of our strengths in our fight for equality. His cries of outrage at President Obama, however, threaten a self-inflicted wound.

After the government won a temporary stay of the injunction against "Don’t ask, don’t tell" last week, Choi told CNN he had "a message for Valerie Jarrett and all those politicians in the White House. ...You have lost my trust and I am not going to vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday."

That Obama has mishandled DADT repeal can hardly be disputed. Last year he told Anderson Cooper that the law was "constitutionally valid" and that he therefore could not simply refuse to enforce it; yet Jarrett last week insisted that the President has declared it unconstitutional. Which is it, Prez?

Obama’s use of signing statements to justify ignoring laws he doesn’t like contradicts his claim that he has to defend DADT even though he opposes it. Constitutional scholars insist he has other options. For example, former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger argues that Obama could formally defend DADT in court but state he believes it is unconstitutional. Also, as Commander in Chief Obama has latitude in enforcing military policy, in addition to his ability to issue a stop-loss order to end anti-gay discharges. He needs to show leadership. He needs to act.

But Choi is just too angry. As frustrated as I am with Obama myself, I cannot pledge not to vote for him in 2012. At this point he looks preferable to any of the Republican contenders. Some liberals tout a challenge by Hillary Clinton; but not only is there scant evidence that she would have done better by us, a fight among Democrats would mainly help the Republicans.

As Clinton’s astute husband recently observed, decisions made in anger are usually mistakes. Enough with the boycotts; we need to focus on what we will affirmatively do. Sitting out the election will help our adversaries. Why would we want to do that? I know the rationale about teaching our weak-willed Democratic allies a lesson, but that’s like disfiguring oneself to punish an unfaithful husband.

Read the whole thing here.

Whoopi fights for gay families

Whoopi Goldberg made this video for Fight Back New York, which is dedicated to defeating state senators who oppose gay couples' right to marry.

The latest DADT overreaction

S-DADT-large

Kerry Eleveld reports on a meeting scheduled for this afternoon between White House officials and leading gay rights activists on the planned attempt to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell during a lame duck session of the U.S. Senate:

The Advocate has obtained a copy of an e-mail sent by Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and the de facto LGBT liaison, to the meeting’s participants, who include Allison Herwitt and Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign; Shane Larson of the Stonewall Democrats; Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress; Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; R. Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans; Alex Nicholson and Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United; Nathaniel Frank, DADT expert, formerly of the Palm Center; Jim Kessler of the Third Way.

The e-mail notes that the meeting has been moved from 4 p.m. to 4 p.m. and then warns participants to stick strictly to a discussion about legislative repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and to steer clear of any mention of the court cases now being litigated.

Bond writes:

“Obviously this meeting has gotten out. We are expecting the content of the conversation today to be off the record and to help us figure out how to move forward with the lame duck session.

Also as previously mentioned, there can be no discussion of current court cases or legal strategy or Counsel’s Office will end the meeting. The focus is repeal and the lame duck session. This is also a non-partisan meeting where we want everyone’s help.”

Predictably, John Aravosis goes off, saying that Bond "outright threatened our key national organizations":

Now, you might ask, isn't it true that parties to a court case can't talk about that case unless their lawyers are present. Yes it is. And the only reason this might pose a problem is because the White House invited their legal counsel to a legislative strategy meeting, which makes no sense whatsoever. The legislation is written, it's already passed the House and a Senate committee. Why does legal counsel have to be present at a meeting about how to get 60 votes in the Senate during the lame duck? Unless legal counsel was invited in order to preclude a discussion of the court cases.

Sam Stein at HuffPo asked a White House official "why hold a meeting with the counsel's office in the first place if the purpose is to discuss legislative strategy?" and got this reply: "Because they're experts on the law," the administration official answered. "You can't discuss the ongoing cases. But you can discuss other avenues."

It's better to have the meeting, with the participants listed, than not to have it. The hair-trigger insistence by people like Aravosis on seeing presidential treachery in every move and every utterance is foolish, obnoxious, and DOES NOT HELP US. Clearly, some among us just want to be angry. Sorry, but something this important demands that we control our anger.

Randall Terry is Missy Smith's campaign manager

0914-missy-smith_296

Amanda Hess reports at TBD:

Randall Terry — he of the chain yourself to the sink of an abortion clinic, declare bankruptcy to avoid making legal payments to the National Organization for Women, run for Congress under the "Right to Life Party," hire a Bill Clinton impersonator to discredit your opponents, compare the University of Notre Dame to Judas, list your "three black foster children" on your resume, disown one for converting to Islam, disown another for becoming pregnant, disown the third for being gay, respond to George Tiller's murder by calling Tiller a murderer style of politics — is now officially campaign manager for D.C. congressional candidate Missy Smith.

Well, this will show us how strong the anti-choice movement is locally here in D.C. (Having watched Rachel Maddow's program on the assassination of Dr. Tiller last night, I'm not inclined to call Mr. Terry and his allies "pro life.") I plan to attend a breakfast fundraiser for incumbent Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on Friday morning; but that is to show my support for our longtime ally and champion, not because I am worried about Missy Smith. If, heaven and the voters forfend, the GOP retakes the House in next week's election, the Congresswoman will have her work cut out for her — in significant measure because whackjobs who could not get elected in D.C. did get elected elsewhere.

Update: Amanda reports that a complaint has been filed with the FEC against some of Missy's yard signs for not having the requisite identification, "Paid for by Missy Reilly Smith for Congress."

Jon Stewart mocks coverage of "NPR Staffing Decision 2010"

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
NPR Staffing Decision 2010
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Jon Stewart and his fake news team give full coverage to last week's media frenzy over NPR's firing of Juan Williams.

October 25, 2010

MoveOn.org video: Save the future

MoveOn.org produced this video to warn us of the consequences of failing to vote.

Why on Earth is the Anti-Defamation League Honoring Rupert Murdoch?

Jonathan Chait raises a very good question.

Catching Up With Peter LaBarbera

Evan Hurst at Truth Wins Out has an amusing rundown on one of the most obsessive anti-gay slanderers out there. Emphasis on "out there."

Why it is vital to preserve the final serial comma

Merle_Haggard

Jeff Weintraub shares this caption from a story about Merle Haggard. The caption reads, "The documentary was filmed over three years. Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall." Weintraub comments:

Were Merle & Kris & Robert ever actually married? Somehow, I doubt it. My guess is that the passage in question should have read: "Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson, and Robert Duvall."

I think I'll share this with my editors, who regularly remove my final comma in a list that I separate with commas, to the point where I have started leaving out the final serial comma despite being convinced that it's wrong for precisely the reason illustrated above. OTOH, there is something wonderful about the ambiguities in English usage that can lead to this sort of confusion.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

The District’s Homophobic Bullies

Parson-1

Jason Cherkis in City Paper writes about stories of troubled and bullied LGBT youth that were recounted by our friend Sgt. Brett Parson, former head of the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. Here's one such story:

Parson (photographed above): “The youngest call was a drug case, he was 13 years old, caught him with drugs at a club….He was out at the club because it was the only place he could be around other gay people. He had Ecstasy on him. He was living with his grandmother. This was eight years ago. [The Child and Family Services Agency] made a recommendation that he go back to his grandmother, and that she supervise him better. I remember thinking that he needed a more structured environment and he needed something more LGBTQ.”

Parson recalls that the grandmother was not OK with her grandson’s sexuality. “That was a major issue for me to try and explain that to the attorneys,” he says. “They really didn’t care. It was frustrating. I knew why he was engaging in this activity. I remember especially at the actual arrest scene, took quite a bit of time to talk to him to try and find out what the hell he was doing at this club. It was more of an older gay club. He was hanging out with people that were old enough to be his parents or older. And listening to him talk about how he can’t tell anybody in school, his grandmother had threatened to kick him out — this is the only way he could make friends.”

This article is part of a series. Thanks to Jason for doing it. GLAA's policy discussion on bullying is here. GLSEN's Model School Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy is here.

Keen: 13 races to worry about Nov. 2

Lisa Keen has an interesting analysis in Bay Windows today about the impact that various election outcomes would have on the LGBT community. Here's a sampling:

3. Democrats keep New Hampshire House and Senate: This bellwether state enacted a marriage equality law just this year and already three bills have been filed seeking repeal in 2011. Meanwhile, the Democratic majority in both the state House and Senate are in peril Nov. 2, says Rep. Jim Splaine, the openly gay state legislator who authored the marriage bill in the House. Only two of seven Republicans who supported marriage equality were defeated in the primary, but the margins of victory on the marriage equality bill in 2009 were razor thin, and Splaine himself is retiring at the end of this year. If Republicans do take back the majority in the legislature, a repeal bill has a strong chance of succeeding. Polls indicate the results Tuesday are simply unpredictable.

7. Iowa retains three justices: One of the smallest races in the country is getting big attention: the re-election campaigns of three Iowa Supreme Court justices. All three were on the seven-member bench that unanimously ruled in 2009 that the state constitution requires gay couples be treated the same as straight couples when it comes to marriage licensing. Justices in Iowa are appointed by the governor, but must stand for "retention" at the end of their first year and the end of each eight-year term. Groups unhappy with the 2009 ruling have turned the retention election for Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit into a referendum on same-sex marriage. Those groups including the anti-gay American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)....

8. Cicilline wins U.S. House seat for Rhode Island’s 1st: David Cicilline, the openly gay mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, is given a 91 percent chance of winning the four-way race to represent Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. For the LGBT community, it would mean a fourth openly gay member of Congress.

Harry Jackson's latest loony fearmongering

Harry_Jackson Bishop Harry Jackson, the leading opponent of marriage equality in D.C. — except that he's a carpetbagger from Maryland — indulges his usual flights of illogic in his latest column at TownHall.com:

They’ve done it again. The DC Council is remaining true-to-form as they plan to allow notaries public to perform marriage ceremonies. They held a public hearing on the matter last Thursday as part of the process the district has to amend laws. It is ironic that just two days before the hearing, a group of DC residents (including myself) filed a cert petition to have the Supreme Court review our case which requested that district residents vote on marriage. So the city council is attempting to bring more radical change to our city before the dust has even settled on the controversial change in the definition of marriage in the district. The irony is heightened by the fact that GLAD is pushing for legalization of prostitution in the district because they feel that many openly gay teenagers are not accepted by their families and are forced into making a living on the streets of Washington, D.C. and other areas.

I voiced my concerns last Thursday at the hearing. Below, we have an excerpt of what I said to the DC Council: ...

First of all, I am writing to express my belief that empowering notaries public to perform weddings is ill-conceived and will create long term problems for both our citizens and the institution of marriage. Just six months after passing a controversial same-sex marriage law, it seems that we are unwisely rushing to create another sweeping change to the important institution of marriage...

... I would respectfully submit that your proposed marriage law as it stands could further trivialize this critical institution that already experiences approximately a 50% failure rate through divorce. These failed marriages are often the sources of murders, assaults, and deep personal wounds for both spouses and children.

After these very solemn remarks, indulge me as I take a “Walter Mitty moment” to daydream about where we might wind up with marriage in DC. My humor is not meant to offend, but rather to illustrate how far this new law could take the community.

I can see it now. You pick up your marriage license and head to the local Kinko’s copy center, the very same place from where you mailed your wedding invitations. In order to make your dream wedding attractive for the reality show “Say Yes to the Dress,” the bride should wear a copy-paper veil.

Click on the link above for more of this silliness. Jackson is referring to Bill 18-0821, the “Marriage Officiant Amendment Act of 2010.” GLAA is proud to associate itself with Bob Summersgill's sober and sensible testimony. Jackson, by contrast, is still blaming gay people for straight people's divorces, as well as imagining all sorts of horrors that have not materialized. To listen to him, you would never know that Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country while the Bible Belt has the highest.

The more one reads Bishop Jackson, the more clear it becomes that he is not really trying to persuade anyone. He is playing to his base. And why not? This has been profitable for him.

BTW, GLAD is NOT "pushing for legalization of prostitution in the district." Jackson is talking about GLAA. After two years of sparring with GLAA and me, Harry still doesn't know who we are. Regarding right-wing reactions to our advocacy of decriminalizing and regulating prostitution, I addressed them in the introduction to GLAA's "Agenda: 2010."

I note that there are some gay and pro-gay reader comments below Jackson's piece. The hallowed precincts of TownHall.com are being invaded by the destroyers of marriage! The editors there should cover themselves with copy-paper veils, but they have no shame.

October 24, 2010

That's Estertainment

Our friend Ester sends this update from Tinsel Town:

IN this Episode:.Kanye's pecker on sale- Divorce Hollywood Style- Jessica's LOVE of the moment- Kardashian turns 30..and Madonna finds another new boy toy!