The Human Rights Campaign reports that Barbara Bush, one of President George W. Bush's twin daughters, has taped the above message for HRC's New Yorkers for Marriage Equality. Come to think of it, I suspect her father was not nearly as opposed to it as he let on for the sake of placating his right-wing base.
Patterson responded in exactly the right way. Via twitter he:
accepted responsibility for the actions off his campaign staff and volunteers
rectified the error
took action so that it would not happen again.
That is precisely what a government official, politician, or candidate should do. The issue was cleared up before it enters a news cycle, and the activists are happy. Activists don't expect perfection, but we do want things corrected.
No acceptance of responsibility for his administration and a certificate with his signature
No action was taken to correct the error, until it was done quietly some time later
There was no mention of any change in procedures to keep it from happening again. Changes were made, but I was only told about it a week or two later, off the record, in a whisper.
The message was that we should shut up and ignore the gaffe because the ex-Mayor is really good on gay rights. I agree that the former Mayor is good on gay rights. However, the issue was never whether the Mayor consciously and with due consideration honored an anti-gay activist. The issue was always how can it be corrected and how can we keep this happening again. Mistakes will be made. How you respond is the real issue.
Congratulations to Jacque Patterson for getting it right.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, responding once again to Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson, talks about President Obama's commitment to fairness and equality while reiterating Obama's opposition to civil marriage equality (which goes against his earlier support back in 1996). Sorry, but citing DADT repeal does not make the President's position any more coherent. Thank you, Chris, for continuing to make them squirm.
My column this week looks at the LGBT struggle in Uganda:
An extraordinary display of gay courage and determination comes to us from Mukono, Uganda, thanks to a YouTube video of last Friday’s funeral for murdered gay rights activist David Kato Kisule.
Reuters reported that the funeral "was attended by about 300 people, including about 100 members of the country’s gay community." The gay mourners wore black shirts with Kato’s photo on the front and the liberation slogan "A luta continua" (Portuguese for "the struggle continues") on the back.
Thus the Ugandan activists not only overcame fears of violence to attend the funeral, they stood proud. During the service, they read President Obama’s statement calling Kato a "powerful advocate for fairness and freedom." They were determined to honor their fallen comrade. If there are braver gay people anywhere in the world, I would like to know about them.
As the video shows, one of the activists seized the microphone from a pastor engaged in an anti-gay rant. A lesbian activist stepped up to the pulpit and shouted, "We have not come to fight. You are not the judge of us." A male activist admonished hecklers, pointed to Kato’s coffin and said, "Let David rest in peace." When the villagers refused to bury Kato, the activists carried his coffin themselves.
The next step should be that key members of Congress threaten to cut off funds to Uganda if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passes. The perfect name for this action would be, “The David Kato Human Rights Bill”.
D.C. needs more trees; and trees are relatively delicate street features. We spend a large amount of money on planting, pruning, maintaining, and removing trees from public spaces. We have laws governing the removal of trees.
All that is to say that we take trees seriously as a fragile and desirable part of our infrastructure. It will come as no surprise that there is a regulation prohibiting signs being put on trees. The Board of Elections and Ethics website includes the text of the regulation as part of their informaiton to candidates:
24 D.C. Municipal Regulations § 108 108.2 The placing of any advertisement on any tree in public space is prohibited.
Signs may be placed on lamp posts, with some restrictions, but never on trees. No regulaiton is not a secret. It is well known in political circles, and the BOEE does include it in the informaiton packages for candidates.
Leaving my home this morning, I was gretted with this:
Mr. Patterson, I saved you from a $35 fine. If you would like your sign back, it is in the trash can by the bus stop on the northbound side of Connecticut Avenue, just north of Porter Street.
Update: Jacque D. Patterson jacque4dc tweeted: @summersgill @trossc I appreciate you doing that for me. Workers have been contacted, they are being removed! I apologize for this happening
Reutersreports on the funeral Friday for Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato, who was murdered three months after he was pictured on a Kampala newspaper cover that called for gays to be killed:
Scuffles broke out between locals and friends of a murdered Ugandan gay activist at his funeral on Friday after the pastor conducting the service berated gay people and villagers refused to bury the coffin....
U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement, which was read out at the funeral, calling Kato a "powerful advocate for fairness and freedom."
During the funeral -- which was attended by about 300 people, including about 100 members of the country's gay community -- the pastor lashed out at homosexuality, provoking a strong reaction from friends of Kato....
Gay activists, wearing T-shirts featuring Kato's face with sleeves coloured with the gay pride flag, then stormed the pulpit and grabbed the microphone....
An unidentified female activist then began to shout from the pulpit.
"Who are you to judge others?" she shouted.... "As long as he's gone to God his creator, who are we to judge Kato?" ...
Villagers then refused to bury the body at which point a group of Kato's friends, most of whom were gay, carried his coffin to the grave and buried it themselves.
Much of the video clip is not in English, but what is unmistakable is the courage of the gay mourners who stood down murderous incitement to pay their respects to their friend.
In related news, LGBT Asylum Newsreports on Uganda lesbian Brenda Namigadde, who won a last-minute stay of her deportation from England. Rob Anderson at The Boston Globereports on vile comments by virulently anti-gay preacher Scott Lively, one of three Americans whose anti-gay smears at a Kampala conference in March 2009 helped inspire Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill. The bill's author, David Bahati, is a member of the right-wing evangelical group The Family, which will hold its National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on February 3.
When the legislative session begins next month, we’ll be closer than ever to securing marriage for gay and lesbian couples and to passing an anti-discrimination bill that includes gender identity and expression. But for equality to prevail in 2011, your legislators need to hear from you!
Mark your calendars now to join pro-equality Marylanders for Equality Maryland's Lobby Day on February 14th, 2011. We'll meet at the state house at 4:30 for training and a rally. And from 6-8, we'll meet in groups with legislators to tell our stories about why equality matters to us.
There's more at stake than ever in Maryland. We know that we can win in 2011, but we can't do it without your support!
WBAL reports on the introduction of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. They have an interview with Lisa Polyak of Equality Maryland and Maryland State Delegate Don Dwyer. The bill has been considered in the last three sessions but is given its best chance of passage this year.
Opponents of the legislation frequently say that marriage equality proponents are just trying to take over the word marriage and that a separate institution of civils unions would provide needed protections for gay couples. Most gay rights organizations reject the idea of a creating a separate category for their relationships (though some will accept this as an interim step when it is the best that can be achieved). The fight for the word marriage is driven mostly because society makes special benefits of people who are married. Many corporations offer benefits to married families, benefits that would not be automatically offered to the spouses and children of people in a civil union. The biggest objection of civil unions is that they are not equal to marriage.
If the legislature approves a marriage equality bill it will face a voter referendum. Unfortuately Maryland has a history of taking away peoples rights in the voting booth. In 1967 the legislature passed the Open Housing Act addressing racial discrimination in housing. However, the law never went into effect. It was suspended when enough signatures were gathered to require a referendum and then voters repealed it.
Senators Reid and McConnell announced today that they have reached agreement on a bi-partisan set of reforms to improve the functioning of the United States Senate. In recent years, particularly during the last Congress, the abuse of Senate rules led to continual filibustering and partisan gridlock. These problems delayed essential executive branch appointments, the appointment of equality-minded judges, as well as the passage of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation.
In response, HRC joined a coalition of groups calling on the Senate to prioritize open debate, increase transparency and accountability, and prevent needless partisan obstructionism. Today those efforts were rewarded. Under the terms of the agreement, the full Senate will vote on approving the following reforms designed to streamline the process while preserving robust and open debate:
Eliminating secret holds, including the right of senators to pass their secret holds to another anonymous senator to continue a rolling secret hold for weeks with no accountability;
Eliminating the delaying tactic of forcing the actual reading on the floor of the Senate of an amendment that has already been submitted for 72 hours and is publicly available; and
Legislation to exempt about 1/3 of all nominations from the Senate confirmation process, reducing the number of executive nominations subject to Senate delays.
In addition, the Senators agreed to further reforms designed to ensure that Congress runs smoothly under the updated rules. First, Senators Reid and McConnell made an official agreement that they would not use the so-called “constitutional option” to seek further rules reform in this or the next Congress. The Senators also agreed to limit their use of two tactics that have frustrated both parties – filibusters on motions to proceed and “filling the tree” to block amendments to legislation.
Exodus International President Alan Chambers expresses grief over the murder of Uganda gay rights activist David Kato. Jim Burroway at BTB responds:
Exodus International board member Don Schmierer was one of three American Evangelicals who had conducted an anti-gay conference in Kampala in March 2009. That conference, proudly nicknamed the “nuclear bomb” by Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, marked the start of a massive deterioration in the climate for LGBT people in Uganda which ultimately culminated in the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in that nation’s Parliament the following October. Despite numerous calls for Exodus to denounce the conference and its aftermath, the ex-gay organization continued to defend Schmierer’s participation. Worse, Schmierer’s only public response was to cast himself as the victim, again and again, rather than acknowledging the perilous situation he helped to set up.
One month after the introduction of the draconian anti-gay legislation, Exodus posted a public letter to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. That letter contained a plea to “consider the influence this law will have” on ex-gay organizations operating in Uganda. There was however little mention of the influence this law would have on gay people themselves.
An opponents of civil marriage equality in Maryland argues this way: to determine whether a particular 20-dollar-bill is counterfeit, you go to the authority that prints money and check with them. And to determine whether a particular marriage is counterfeit, you go to "the author of marriage." Meaning God. Nice try, Bub, but for the umteenth time, we are not talking about religious marriage. What never ceases to amaze, as the struggle for marriage equality continues, is how obvious it is to some people that they are entitled to impose their religious doctrines on everyone else.
The murder of gay rights activist David Kato in Uganda (CNN news story above) highlights the importance of an upcoming demonstration here in Washington, D.C. Here are the details:
Thursday, February 3 · 6:00am - 8:00am
On the Sidewalk Outside the Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Join LGBTQ folks, people of good will and our religious leaders outside the National Prayer Breakfast as we expose "The Family" -- the secretive group hosting it -- and their dangerous, gay-hating programs in Uganda, the United States, and elsewhere, made possible by events such as this.
The White House today issued the following statement:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 27, 2011
Statement by the President on the Killing of David Kato
I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David's work.
At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato's murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.
Joe Sudbay spells it out at AMERICAblog Gay: Republican legislators in early presidential primary/caucus states Iowa and New Hampshire are pushing to overturn those states' marriage equality laws; and Republicans in Congress are pushing to overturn D.C.'s marriage equality law. As Sudbay notes, a key fact in all three cases is that they are not trying to prevent gays from marrying, but to take away rights already granted. And taking away people's rights is not the American way. The coming election will be an opportunity to expose and repudiate the true radicalism at the heart of the modern Republican Party.
The White House, on January 26, announced two openly gay or lesbian appointees to administration posts and the nomination of an out gay attorney to the federal judiciary.
President Barack Obama nominated J. Paul Oetken, currently the asociate general counsel at Cablevision Systems and an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, for a seat on the prestigious Southern District of New York federal bench.
He also named Roberta Achtenberg, a co-founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a top housing official under President Bill Clinton, for a seat on the United States Commission on Civil Rights; and Jeffrey Levi, who during the early years of the AIDS crisis headed up the Washington efforts of the National Gay Task Force (now NGLTF) to secure funding to fight the epidemic and later worked in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, to the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.
Our special congrats to Jeff Levi, who is a former GLAA president (1982-1983).
Today I received a $2,500 bill from your Defense Department Finance and Debt Services. Specifically, you claim payment for "the unearned portion" of my Army contract. Six months after my discharge under the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy I have tried to move forward with my life, and I was inspired by your clarion calls for our progress as one nation towards a more just society. I have served my country in combat and I have tried to live my life by the values I learned at West Point in continued service to our nation. To move forward in my own life I have finally sought treatment for Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Insomnia, and Depressive Disorder from the Veterans Affairs Department. But I still find myself on a domestic battlefield for basic dignity as an American citizen. I know I am not alone in this fight because of the desperate cries for help I get from discharged, unemployed, discriminated, and suicidal veterans. I have felt all of their same pains personally. Today I also witness the disgrace of a country that perpetually discovers methods to punish its own citizens for taking a moral stand.
By flagrantly and repeatedly violating an immoral law, I have flagrantly and repeatedly saluted the honor of America's promise. At West Point, when we recited the Cadet Prayer we reminded ourselves "always to choose the harder right over the easier wrong." It would be easy to pay the $2500 bill and be swiftly done with this diseased chapter of my life, where I sinfully deceived and tolerated self-hatred under Don't Ask Don't Tell. Many thousands have wrestled with their responsibilities and expedient solutions when confronted with issues of this magnitude. I understand you also wrestle with issues of our equality. But I choose to cease wrestling, to cease the excuses, to cease the philosophical grandstanding and ethical gymnastics of political expediency in the face of moral duty. My obligations to take a stand, knowing all the continued consequences of my violations, are clear.
I refuse to pay your claim.
Former Army First Lieutenant
West Point Class of 2003
DFAS Account Statement 12/20/2010 (2 pages)
Also published to twitter @ltdanchoi
This just in from GayRussia leader Nikolai Alekseev:
I am deeply shocked at the killing of Ugandian Gay Activist David Kato whom I just met two months ago at the Congress of the LGBT Association of Italian Radical Party in Rome. I never met him before that but I was very inspired by his uncompromising fight for LGBT rights in one of the most homophobic countries in the world. He seemed to me as an amazing and honest person, who will be deeply missed by human rights movement in the world and who will surely be remembered by his own country for the people of which he struggled and lost his life.
David Kato will always stay in my memory. I am trying to remember all those moments during 2 days in Rome. His passionate and very thoroughly written speaches during press conference in Italian Parliament, during the plenary and seminar of the Congress. One of his last interviews is taked by Pasquale Quaranta for Roma Pride magazine: http://www.p40.it/david-kisule
Our article on his killing in Russian is here http://www.gayrussia.eu/world/621/ It has one of his last photos in Italian parliament press conference on 26 November 2010.
We will miss this bright and inspiring man! Rest in peace!
Update: British activist Peter Tatchell praises David Kato and calls for justice in Uganda here.
Hemorrhoids to be renamed 'Savage Dans'. @GayPatriot @ChrisRBarron #gay
This is a reference to Savage's successful redefinition of "Santorum." (Google it.) I can understand right-wing gays' hostility toward the sharp-tongued Dan Savage. What is harder to understand is why they would be eager to demonstrate their comparative lack of influence by challenging him at his own game. After all, it will not be too hard to check the success of this attempted neologism, "Savage Dans." It's a joke, you say? Ah, but the joke's on them. Nonetheless, I'm feeling generous, so I decided to help them bump their numbers up by posting this.
Police in Uganda should urgently and impartially investigate the killing of the prominent human rights activist David Kato, Human Rights Watch said today. Kato had dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) in Uganda, facing threats and risks to his personal safety.
The government should ensure that members of Uganda's LGBT community have adequate protection from violence and take prompt action against all threats or hate speech likely to incite violence, discrimination, or hostility toward them, Human Rights Watch said.
"David Kato's death is a tragic loss to the human rights community," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "David had faced the increased threats to Ugandan LGBT people bravely and will be sorely missed."
Witnesses told police that a man entered Kato's home in Mukono at around 1 p.m. on January 26, 2011, hit him twice in the head and departed in a vehicle. Kato died on his way to Kawolo hospital. Police told Kato's lawyer that they had the registration number of the vehicle and were looking for it.
Kato was the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda. He had been a leading voice in the fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been before Uganda's parliament since October 15, 2009. While homosexual sex is already illegal in Uganda, the proposed law would criminalize all homosexuality, making it punishable by a fine and life imprisonment. "Repeat offenders" and those who are HIV positive would be subject to the death penalty. The bill would also oblige anyone with knowledge of someone who is or might be a homosexual to report that person to the police within 24 hours.
Condolences to David Kato's colleagues and friends. The international LGBT community has so much more to do to help these brave activists and the beleaguered community for whom they struggle against daunting odds. And we must do more to press Western governments, including the U.S., to stop funding right-wing religious groups that spread social poison in African countries under the guise of aid.
House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to subsidize religious schools in the District of Columbia would undercut civil rights and civil liberties and add to the federal budget deficit, while failing to improve education, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State....
“I can’t imagine a worse time to unveil a new federal subsidy for religious schools,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “This proposal would add to the federal budget deficit while subsidizing schools that indoctrinate and discriminate in hiring.
“Public funds should be directed toward improving public schools, not private schools that are unaccountable to the American people,” Lynn continued. “I hope members of Congress see just how wrong-headed the Boehner proposal is.”
GLAA has long opposed school vouchers for reasons that Rev. Lynn expresses well. Our statement on the subject from our Agenda: 2010 policy brief is here.
Alex Blaze has an interesting piece at Bilerico. Although Star Trek never featured an out gay character, there was some queer material here and there. And then there are the bloopers. Go to 0:40 in the clip below. (Confession: I have a big thing for Avery Brooks. Oh shut up.)
NYTprovides background on Keith Olbermann's sudden departure last Friday from MSNBC. In short, he was an outsized talent with an outsized personality. He was difficult. I normally associate "divas" with the performing arts. Having spent some years on the board and in the management of a performing arts group and dealt with a few strong artistic personalities, I have long been of the view that learning to deal with an artistic director's excessive creative ego was part of the cost of doing business, and well worth it if the artist in question was talented enough. At various points I fought with and stoutly defended the same person. Keith Olbermann is such a person. His over-the-top rants occasionally got on my nerves; but at his best he was amazingly good. I can put up with a lot for the sake of those high points. If the terms of his termination from MSNBC allow for an Internet broadcast, I hope he launches one. Over the past several years he has been an invaluable liberal voice, passionate and witty and smart.
Last night Twitter user JennHudd tweeted out this photo she took at Harps, a grocery store in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Apparently US Weekly's cover shot of Elton John, his partner, and baby is just too shocking for children. Harps has over 60 locations in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Call their home office at 877-772-8193 or use their contact form if you'd like to register a polite protest.
I am thoroughly tired of dealing with this kind of ignorance, but it's a reminder of how much farther we have to go. This reminds me of a crackpot at one of the hearings on D.C.'s marriage equality legislation, holding up a copy of King & King and calling it "a sex book." No more than Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, Bub.
About a fifth of the world's Anglican leaders are boycotting a meeting this week in protest at the U.S. Episcopal Church's ordination of gay bishops and blessing of same-sex couples, organizers said on Tuesday.
Their refusal to attend the conference of primates in the Irish capital Dublin underlines tensions which are threatening split the loose group of churches that make up the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Anglican Communion said the seven primates, or leaders, who had not turned up in protest at the stance taken by the U.S. Episcopal Church had nevertheless "reiterated their commitment to the Communion and to the Archbishop of Canterbury."
Canon Chris Sugden, of the group Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, wrote in "Evangelicals Now" magazine that the leaders' absence "calls into question the ability of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) to fulfill his role as gatherer of the Communion."
Conservatives want sanctions imposed on the U.S. church, headed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The de facto Anglican schism thus continues, try as Archbishop Williams might to paper it over.
There has been tremendous confusion however, about what these ads actually are. Some say they could run during the Super Bowl – others say the ads were created by fans of Doritos, and will never air anywhere. So we reached out to Frito-Lay to find out what the truth is. According to Frito-Lay Director of Public Relations Chris Kuechenmeister, the latter is true. He said the pair of ads in question were two out of 5,600 that were submitted to the company for its “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. Furthermore, the YouTube page on which the ads appear is a fan-made page, and not the official page for the Crash the Super Bowl contest. Kuechenmeister said the ads in question were not among the finalists chosen by a panel of judges, and have no chance of airing during the Super Bowl or otherwise.
Too bad. I thought the sauna ad was a bit racy, so this explanation doesn't come as a big surprise.