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151 posts from March 2011

March 31, 2011

Stewart on Bachmann, Gingrich, Cain reaching for the base

These are easy targets, but it's still funny.

Maher: new rule on car alarms

I second Mill Maher's sentiments.

Video: Anthony Weiner at Congressional Correspondents' Dinner

The pugnacious congressman from Kew Gardens and Rockaway throws some sharp elbows along with some self-mockery.

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)

Washington State legislature votes to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

AP reports the good news. As soon as Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the bill, Washington will join Maryland, New York and Rhode Island in recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

"How's that leave-me-alone personal liberty thing working out for you?"

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

Rachel Maddow looks at another example of small-government-conservative hypocrisy. (BTW, Mackinack is pronounced Mackinaw for some odd reason, something a lot of viewers apparently were more bothered by than by the specter of right-wing big-government overreach.)

LGBT Health Needs

People who are LGBT face significant barriers to receiving adequate health care.  The Institute of Medicine's Board on Health of Select Populations today issued a report titled The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding to address this need.

At a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals—often referred to under the umbrella acronym LGBT—are becoming more visible in society and more socially acknowledged, clinicians and researchers are faced with incomplete information about their health status. While LGBT populations often are combined as a single entity for research and advocacy purposes, each is a distinct population group with its own specific health needs. Furthermore, the experiences of LGBT individuals are not uniform and are shaped by factors of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographical location, and age, any of which can have an effect on health-related concerns and needs. Researchers still have a great deal to learn and face a number of challenges in understanding the health needs of LGBT populations.
To help assess the state of the science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked the IOM to evaluate current knowledge of the health status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations; to identify research gaps and opportunities; and to outline a research agenda to help NIH focus its research in this area. The IOM finds that to advance understanding of the health needs of all LGBT individuals, researchers need more data about the demographics of these populations, improved methods for collecting and analyzing data, and an increased participation of sexual and gender minorities in research. Building a more solid evidence base for LGBT health concerns will not only benefit LGBT individuals, but also add to the repository of health information we have that pertains to all people.

The report can be read on-line for free and is available for purchase.

(via Metro Weekly and DCGayEtc)

"Refuse to Lie" DOMA Protest

A web site is suggesting married gay people protest DOMA by filing their taxes as married rather than individually.  The site takes note of the fact that there could be signifant legal issues around this including additional penalties and provides some suggestions on how to deal with this.

File two single returns (including the attachment affirming the marriage) and then file an amended return, filing jointly. The amended return is a 1040X. This is what the plaintiffs in the GLAD case did. Once the IRS rejects the amended return, or if six months passes and they do nothing, the taxpayers who file an amended return have the right to file suit in federal district court claiming the refund.

or

Submit two returns to the IRS, one filed jointly, showing the tax due on a joint return, and one filed as a single taxpayer, showing the tax due on a single return. Explain your constitutional and moral theory entitling you to file a joint return. Pay whatever amount is due on the single return and ask the IRS to choose which return to accept.

And they include the following disclaimer: This information is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice, which is the application of the law to an individual's specific circumstances. Please consult an attorney for legal advice specific to your particular situation.

You read more about this on their web site, the Facebook page, or by Twitter.

(via Joe My God)

Huh???

While it is easy to make fun of this clip from the Rev. Ken Hutcherson (and the gay community is) this will probably have quite a damaging effect.  While people who make decisions on a rational basis can easily see this as a combination of gibberish and lies, it is aimed at people who make decisions on thier emotions.  The extreme threat to people's families will reach many people.  This is precisely how demagogues work.

Never-the-less, I have been trying to think of an analogy that is as crazy as the one he makes.  But I just can't match his "DOMA is like the pet cobra who has seven owners, and every owner he has bitten and they have died."  Leave suggestions for things crazier in the comments.

March 30, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's cut-and-paste Bible

An interesting item in WSJ.

Marco Rubio sets high bar for debt limit vote

Marco_rubio_zumawire-cropped-proto-custom_2 As TPM reports, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) basically insists on getting everything in his agenda before he'll even consider voting to raise the national debt limit.

These fanatics can't leave town too soon as far as I'm concerned. What their position boils down to is this: When the other side wins an election, it cannot possibly be allowed to count. But when we win, even if we control only one house of Congress, the other side has to surrender completely or we'll shut the government down. If you applaud such reckless boorishness, consider yourself cursed. We have a country to run here, and these clowns treat it as nothing more than an ideological sandbox.

Frank seeks more co-sponsors before ENDA introduction

Chris Johnson at the Blade reports that Rep. Barney Frank, who had planned to introduce his trans-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act today, is holding off in order to recruit more co-sponsors first.

On Top reports here.

The usual trashing of Barney has already begun. It would be nice for a change if people who are passionate on this issue would instead channel their energies into helping recruit more co-sponsors. But as Barney himself has observed, some people just want to complain.

Colbert praises Newt's flip-flopping, "open-fly zone"

Stephen Colbert skewers Newt Gingrich for his shameless, opportunistic flip-flopping on Libya. Here's a line that sums it up perfectly:

"Leadership is not about bombing or not bombing," Colbert said. "Leadership is about being consistently against whatever Obama does."

March 29, 2011

A conspiracy post I didn't bother reading

I am on the email list of "One News Now," which is a news operation of the American Family Association, and today's news includes an item titled, "Charter schools tied to Muslim group?"

I'm afraid I'm over quota on right-wing scaremongering at the moment. I'm too busy daydreaming about the downed American pilot last week being embraced by Libyan rebels, which President Obama spoke about last evening. In my mind the American looks like Peter O'Toole, and the Libyan commander looks like Omar Sharif....

Obama's fresh approach to American exceptionalism

Obama on Libya

(AP Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Peter Beinart at Daily Beast reacts to President Obama's speech last evening on Libya:

For men like Bolton, American virtue is a given. American presidents should never apologize because America never has anything to apologize for. Our mistakes are never crimes, and if others don’t see our moral greatness that just proves their moral cynicism.

Obama ... because he can see America through post-colonial eyes, knows ... that in many places on earth, America has abetted dictatorship and corruption and slaughter. In some cases he has apologized, which has led men like Bolton to claim that he sees America as no different from any other great power.

But they don’t get it. For Obama, American exceptionalism is not a fact; it is a struggle. Bolton and company like to invoke World War II and the Cold War because in those conflicts we fought the evil that lay out there. Obama, by contrast, often invokes the civil-rights movement: a struggle against the evil within. That’s what makes his Libya decision powerful. He knows that there are good reasons for Middle Easterners to fear when they see American planes overhead. And yet he is acting to show that it does not have to be that way.

Beinart captures exactly what I thought was the strength of Obama's speech. The President is trying to build a new relationship between America and the Arab world. Amid the usual stream of partisan potshots, this determined effort deserves applause and support. The struggle is indeed a domestic one and not only foreign.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launches start in September

2011_0328_wallops01

DCist gets a tour of NASA's new spaceport at Wallops Island:

Early last year, we told you all about the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS). The launch grounds, run in cooperation with the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, is located on NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island, Virginia, about three hours from D.C. on the Eastern Shore. WFF is operated by the Goddard Space Flight Center right here in Greenbelt, Maryland. While WFF is largely a sounding-rocket (research rockets meant for sub-orbital flight) facility, MARS aims to be a heavyweight in supporting the International Space Station. The two launch pads in construction will enable the Taurus II rocket to bring supply payloads all the way to the ISS in low Earth orbit....

Representatives from Orbital assured us that the launch of the Taurus II (unlike those of Wallops' usual sounding-rockets) will be seen as far away as Indiana. Yup, that means that starting in September we'll be able to view rocket launches from our own backyards and roofdecks.

I happened to mention Wallops Island a few weeks ago in a eulogy for my friend Jon Krainak, since we used to visit nearby Assateague and Chincoteague Islands and were once mistaken for NASA scientists. Jon would have loved to see the launches.

Even Armstrong Williams thinks Trump's birtherism is a joke

Message to The Donald: It's over.

Catholic Bishops demand to discriminate using public funds

The Wonk Room reports:

In response to a proposed regulation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development prohibiting discrimination in its programs based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has cried out that the regulation will interfere with their religious beliefs and threatened to end their support and sponsorship of tenants for HUD programs.

The Catholic Bishops' document is here.

If they want to end their programs unless they are allowed to discriminate, let them. They can discriminate with their own money, not with public money. This is the same type of hostage-taking they tried in Massachusetts and D.C. over adoption services. Their religious freedom does not entitle them to a public subsidy to discriminate.

Update: Laurel Ramseyer comments at PHB.

Actor Farley Granger dies at 85

Farley-Granger-007

Gay actor Farley Granger, who appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock films Rope (1948) and Strangers on a Train (1951) with their gay undercurrents, died on March 27 at the age of 85. His other films included Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night (1949) and Luchino Visconti's Senso (1953). He contributed to the documentary The Celluloid Closet (1995).

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Judge Roy Moore for President?

T1larg_justicemoore

The loons keep heading for Iowa. This time it's former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office after refusing a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from outside his courthouse. CNN reports:

An active member of the tea party movement, Moore received the All-American award from the Central Texas Tea Party in February.

Moore visited Iowa four times last summer, holding rallies against same-sex marriage in the state. Following his April announcement, Moore will travel to the three other key primary states: Nevada, South Carolina, and New Hampshire....

Moore's platforms will focus on repealing the health care overhaul law, lowering taxes with limited government, and eliminating progressive income taxes, Michael said. The Vietnam veteran and West Point graduate opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and in the energy sphere believes the U.S. should free itself from foreign oil dependency and explore other sources of fuel.

Moore ran and lost twice in Alabama GOP gubernatorial primaries, in 2006 and 2010.

I can't wait for Moore to debate Newt, Donald, Michele, and all the rest who are climbing aboard the crazy wagon. But they're splitting up the Tea Party vote, which is too bad from my point of view. Tim Pawlenty this morning on MSNBC dismissed the Birther nonsense, which was nice for contrast.

March 29 - Partial DC Democracy Day

Fifty years ago today the 23rd amendment to the Consitution passed giving residents of DC the right to vote in presidential elections.  The New York Times has an article about the history of democracy in DC and it's connection to racism and partisan politics.  The article is by Kate Masur, an assistant professor of history at Northwestern University.  It is an interesting read.

Black men’s suffrage transformed the local government. With white voters split between the parties, black Washingtonians — who made up a third of the population and were almost entirely Republicans — had significant influence in electoral politics. Soon, the city government outlawed or restricted racial discrimination in public accommodations and public works hiring. Black men were elected to local office. Public schools were established for black children.
But as African-American political power increased, so did challenges to home rule from local whites. Long-time conservative Democrats and pro-business Republicans in the district combined to persuade Congress to diminish the power of the newly biracial electorate. The result was a territorial form of government for the capital in which presidential appointees held the most powerful offices. It was only a few steps from there to complete disfranchisement. In 1874, at the behest of conservative businessmen, Congress again reorganized the government, this time placing three presidentially appointed commissioners at its helm. Supporters argued that the change was essential for efficient government; opponents called the end of local self-government un-American.

I recommend you read the full article.

(hat tip Craig Howell)

March 28, 2011

Video: The VA Still Discriminates Against Trans Veterans

Monica Helms of the Transgender American Veterans Association is still waiting for a promised policy by the Obama administration on medical treatment for disabled transgender veterans.

(Hat tip: Autumn Sandeen)

Gingrich: My Infidelities Helped Me Understand How To Impeach Clinton

You just can't make this shit up.

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)

Matt Barber: Gay Kids Kill Themselves Because They Know They Are Immoral

Joe Jervis shares this disgusting clip from Right Wing Watch showing Matt Barber's latest bigoted remark. Joe comments, "And who tells them that, Matt?"

One for the goddess

Elizabeth_Taylor My column this week is an appreciation of Elizabeth Taylor, who died last week of congestive heart failure at the age of 79:

The death of a screen goddess is bound to attract a circus-like atmosphere in addition to the normal obituaries and video tributes. Following the news of Elizabeth Taylor’s death on March 23, 94-year-old Zsa Zsa Gabor’s blood pressure rose and she was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center, crying, "I’m next." AIDS activist Suzanne Africa Engo in New York City got Taylor’s name tattooed on her arms. The Phelps family of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket Taylor’s funeral, but they were foiled by her quick burial.

As the initial noise dies down -- including the chatter about her two Oscars and eight husbands, her many illnesses, her jewelry and perfume -- her true legacy emerges. Hers is a dual legacy. The great acting performances can be seen by visiting Movies Unlimited or checking the schedule at Turner Classic Movies. Possibly her larger legacy is the cause to which she lent time and energy as well as her fame: her early and outspoken advocacy of HIV/AIDS research, beginning in the 1980s when most others, including President Reagan, were silent.

Prior to Taylor’s AIDS activism, her friendships with gay colleagues like Roddy McDowall, Rock Hudson, and Montgomery Clift were the stuff of gossip. She was the world’s leading "fag hag," an ugly expression for what was in fact sincere and devoted friendship. She also starred in films of Tennessee Williams’ plays Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer, whose gay subtexts resisted producers’ efforts to soften them.

But when AIDS hit her industry and her friends with disproportionate force, her response showed strength and determination rivaling the fictional Velvet Brown who made her a child star.

Read the whole thing here.

Epperly: Oh no! A gay male writer transgressed against the GLAAD thought police!

My colleague Jeff Epperly at Bay Windows has a sharp piece about the latest overreach by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which he calls the LGBT Central Committee, in response to a piece by openly gay Vanity Fair writer Brett Berk:

Berk was reviewing a recent episode of "Glee" and in his snarky, sarcastic, TV show recap writer voice had the temerity to call the aforementioned Kurt and Blaine "party fags." It was the kind of knowing joke that gay men use all the time with one another and it seems harmless to me. Nonetheless, it kicked the thought police at the LGBT Central Committee (GLAAD) into high dudgeon. The group wasn’t satisfied with extracting an apology from Berk; it also went to the magazine’s editors and demanded (and received) another apology.

Wrote GLAAD’s McQuade in a blog post, "Berk says his use of the f-word was well-intentioned, but by making this language choice, what Vanity Fair actually communicated to its audience was that the f-word can sometimes be an appropriate way to describe gay youth, like Kurt and Blaine. Thousands of ’real life’ Kurts and Blaines in America get called this word every day -- in school, online, and sometimes even at home. It’s not okay there, and it’s not okay here either."

The "f-word"? Oh, my.

Of course, Berk sometimes uses another word that is also delivered by homophobes every day, sometimes with a boot to the head or a trip in a school hallway. For example, on Oct. 10, Berk wrote a post in which he called himself "a dirty queer."

Where is GLAAD’s outrage when LGBT writers use this word, which many LGBT people find equally discomforting? GLAAD doesn’t care about "queer" because the LGBT Central Committee issued a diktat decreeing that we are all reclaiming "the q-word" and therefore it’s acceptable in polite company.

Hey, but they have the most fab awards dinners!

GLAA to Councilmembers: Sign Mendelson's letter to Congress opposing vouchers

GLAA sent the following message to D.C. Council members on Sunday evening:

Dear Councilmember:

Mr. Mendelson is currently circulating among you a letter to the Hill opposing pending congressional legislation that would re-impose a taxpayer-funded voucher program for religious and other private schools in the District of Columbia. The Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) urges you to sign on to this joint letter as quickly as possible, since the House is scheduled to take up the relevant legislation in the next day or two.

I have attached copies of the letters that GLAA and a dozen other local grassroots organizations sent to the House and Senate on March 22 protesting this legislation. (Since these letters were sent, Metro DC PFLAG has also become a signatory.)

I believe our March 22 letters speaks for themselves. Each of our groups has its own perspectives, but we are united in opposing this latest voucher scheme both because it is a gross violation of the fundamental principles of home rule and because it would fund schools dedicated to religious indoctrination that are constitutionally entitled to disregard the protections provided by the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977 (DCHRA).

Each of you is on record against vouchers for schools that ignore the DCHRA. The people of the District of Columbia are behind you, and we welcome this opportunity for you to add your own voice as well by signing Mr. Mendelson's letter.

p.p. Craig Howell
Mitch Wood
President
Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance

Attachments:

www.glaa.org/archive/2011/jointletter2houseopposingdcvouchers0322.pdf

www.glaa.org/archive/2011/jointletter2senateopposingdcvouchers0322.pdf

Thanks to Craig Howell for taking the lead on this for us.

GLAA's policy on school vouchers is here.

March 27, 2011

Gay Married Bi-National Partners May No Longer Face Deportation

The Daily Beast reports that the heads of USCIS districts in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore informed attorneys that cases in their districts involving married gay and lesbian couples would be put on hold.

Immigrant advocates say that individual districts are unlikely to be making such decisions on their own, which suggests the shift in practice is a national one. “They can’t do that in two jurisdictions and not do it in other jurisdictions,” says Christopher Nugent, who chairs the immigrant-rights committee for the American Bar Association and has testified before the Senate on immigrant benefits and DOMA. “This affects thousands of people. It has a tremendous impact on so many in the gay and lesbian community.”

Please prepare yourself for the howling from Anti-Gay, Inc.

via TowleRoad

March 26, 2011

"We're against Obama. What's he doing?"

Gail Collins mocks the Republican presidential aspirants for their stands on Libya, and there's plenty to mock. Here's a sample:

Earlier this month, Newton “Newt” Gingrich told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News that if he was in charge of the country the first thing he would do about Libya would be to “exercise a no-fly zone this evening.”

Then President Obama made exactly that decision. Newt must have been thrilled!

“I would not have intervened,” he told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show.

Cynics might suspect that Gingrich’s only real principle is to be opposed to whatever Obama is doing. But give him a break. The man has spent years as a TV talking head, a job that puts a premium on having lots and lots of strong opinions, even if they are the exact opposite of the ones you were floating the day before. This is totally different from the duty of presidential candidate, which is to say the exact same thing over and over with an enthusiasm that suggests you just thought of the idea that very minute.

Collins also has fun with Mitt Romney's complaint about nuance and Rand Paul's complaint about his toilets. No, Rand isn't running for president, but if his dad gets elected he could check out the White House loo. Come to think of it, if his dad gets elected, a lot of us will be visiting the loo.

March 25, 2011

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill dropped

Jim Burroway at BTB reports:

The chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee had scheduled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for debate in his committee, possibly as early as this week. But now, based on what Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko tells Uganda’s NTV, it appears that government has intervened to put a halt to the bill once and for all....

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni directed a subcabinet committee to study the bill in January, 2010 amid growing international outcry over the proposed bill. In April, it was reported that the committee recommended that most of the bill be dropped with “useful provisions of the proposed law” incorporated into the Sexual Offenses Act. Which provisions the cabinet considered combining is not known. We currently do not have a copy of the Sexual Offenses Bill....

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if passed, would have imposed the death penalty on gays and lesbians under certain circumstances, including for “repeat offenders” — which would apply to anyone who had more than one relationship. Ugandan law already provides either 20 years or lifetime imprisonment, depending on how prosecutors chose to charge the accused....

But with the announcement coming from a cabinet member and not the committee chairman, it suggests that someone, possibly President Museveni himself via Masiko, has intervened and persuaded the Parliamentary Affairs committee to drop the bill altogether without a hearing. It should be noted that the bill’s main supporter in the cabinet, former Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, resigned last week in compliance with a court order following his loss in the ruling party’s primary elections last fall.

In the above news clip you can see the bill's sponsor, David Bahati, continuing his demagoguery, complaining, "We don’t have any prohibition on promotion of homosexuality anywhere, we don’t have any prohibition on same-sex marriage, we don’t have any prohibition in our laws on recruitment of homosexuality of our children, we don’t have any provision on counseling and caring." Will someone please explain to me how one goes about recruiting children into homosexuality? Do you lure them with lurid tales of how they will be vilifed and blamed for every ill, real or imagined, by people like David Bahati?

There seems to be a subtext behind such anti-gay fanaticism to the effect that homosexuality is so irresistible that unless we criminalize it and severely punish people for it, everyone will decide to be gay and humanity will die out. Which raises another question: how does one decide to be gay? I never decided to be gay, I merely realized that I was. One person who helped me with that realization was boxer Muhammad Ali, back in 1964 when he was still named Cassius Clay and was challenging Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight championship. He said of Liston, "He's too ugly ... The world's champ should be pretty like me." I was sitting next to my dad watching the cocky young fighter say that. I was thrilled to hear it, because he was indeed pretty and was boasting about it right there on TV. At the same time, I was afraid that I would be caught admiring his prettiness. One of the motivations for my activism has been to protect future gay children from having to grow up with that fear. The difference between that and recruitment is the difference between defense and assault. It is Bahati and his ilk who are recruiting people for hatred.

New frontiers in activism

City Paper has released its "Best of DC" readers' poll, and its "Best Gay Activist 2011" turns out to be someone named Jacob Pring. Please raise your hand if you've ever heard of this fine gentleman.

A few of us were discussing it on Facebook, and I wrote, "It's not about the best, but about the best promoted." Bob Summersgill replied, "I've found that when I'm better promoted I'm attacked more. Not by the bad guys, but by our side." Yes, I am afraid that is an occupational hazard. Bob also wrote, "I went to the Hide and Seek exhibit. That was good activism, but he came in second. The winner is a bartender who hosts an HIV+ happy hour on a Wednesday night. That's a drink special, not activism."

I agree with Bob, but then that's what you'd expect from a couple of policy wonks. Maybe he and I should sign up for a course in mixology. I already know how to make a Tequila Mockingbird, but I only learned it because of my weakness for puns. Nonetheless, here's to Mr. Pring, who doubtlessly pours with a heavy hand. Being half Irish, I can get behind that.

100 years ago today: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

Triangle_Shirtwaist_Fire The deadly fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City happened exactly a century ago after a fire broke out on the 9th floor. The "America From 1865" blog writes:

The factors that contributed to this tragedy were numerous--from New York Fire Department ladders that only reached to the 6th floor, to the cramped work quarters with wicker baskets full of scrap cloth and the oil impregnated floor in the factory. Many of the contributed factors may have been overcome, but a door the the stairway was locked (either to keep union organizers out, or to keep workers from leaving early); other doors that would have allowed the women to escape opened inward, and were blocked as the by now panicked women attempting to escape.

The young Frances Perkins was having tea nearby with a friend, and they ran outside when they heard the commotion. The sight of workers leaping to their deaths horrified and galvanized Perkins, who twenty-two years later became Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt. The preventable tragedy led to labor reforms. With collective bargaining rights and other worker protections currently under assault in statehouses across the country, this is a good day to remember the history of the labor struggle in America and recommit ourselves to honoring and preserving its legacy.

March 24, 2011

Majority Rule vs. Minority Rights

Leonard Pitts has written a column for the Miami Herald called Gay marriage a right -- not a poll question. A few points from the article:

But lurking at the edge of celebration there is, for me, at least, a nagging, impatient vexation. That vexation is based in what is arguably an esoteric question: In extolling the fact that the majority now approves same sex marriage, do we not also tacitly accept the notion that the majority has the right to judge?< snip>
Yes, the will of the people matters a great deal. Indeed, in a democracy, few things are more deserving of deference. But still, one draws up short at the idea that human rights are subject to a popularity contest. One shudders to think what sort of nation this would be if Lyndon Johnson, before signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, had first taken a poll of the American people.

Well he need not wonder what would happen.  In fact voters turned to the polls on multiple occasions to block state adoption of civil rights laws.  Two prominent statewide votes were in Maryland and California where laws forbidding housing discrimination were blocked by voters.

DC gay rights groups are very fortunate that when DC was given the limited right to self rule the first elected councilmembers were mostly veterans of the civil rights movement.  When asked by gay groups to enact  laws barring initiatives and referenda pertaining to the rights of people protected under the city's Human Rights Act they agreed (though with a little reluctance).  That is why it is such a shame to read about African American pastors leading a fight to block marriage equality.  I thought they taught the golden rule.

Harry Jackson is concerned about civility?

Bishop%20harry%20jackson Bishop Harry Jackson nicely demonstrates God's aloofness from worldly matters by complaining about the incivility of gay rights activists without being instantly burned to a crisp by a heavenly bolt of lightning. Seriously, the lies and hypocrisy of his latest screed reach a new low of cynical brazenness. Here's a sampling:

A growing number of grassroots organizations are repulsed by both the administration and the Democratic Party using their considerable power to push same-sex marriage down the throats of their citizens....

On the wings of the surprise defeat of a same-sex marriage law in Maryland, same-sex activists want to defuse the voter backlash that is mushrooming against both the state and federal administrations.... In fact, voters across the nation are beginning to vow that they will never vote for Barack Obama again.

I will never forget the feeling I had two years ago when my DC home address was printed in several newspapers and splashed all over the Internet. This event coincided with an interview on the O’Reilly Factor which exposed the fact that many people who demand tolerance of their worldview are often absolutely intolerant of others.

What do I mean? As one of the organizers of Stand 4 Marriage DC and a vocal proponent of traditional marriage, I was forced to endure death threats, stalking, and thousands of protest calls and e-mails at my ministry offices....

It appears the same-sex activists are running scared. They have reason to do so. They will lose the battle for marriage within the next 2-3 years – especially if President Obama is not reelected.

It's odd how Harry Jackson never seems to mention his entirely cordial encounters with marriage equality activists, such as on June 8, 2009 here in D.C., when he gave me a lift back to Dupont Circle following a televised debate we had at the Channel 9 studios on Wisconsin Avenue. And what about the joint letter I organized in December 2009, in which GLAA, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the Campaign for All D.C. Families, ACLU of the Nation's Capital, and several individuals stoutly defended the right of Jackson's group to place anti-gay ads on Metrobuses? Lest you think our defense of our opponents' First Amendment rights went unnoticed, Pulitzer-winning Washington Post columnist Colby King praised our efforts in his weekly column. Conveniently, when Jackson writes his propaganda pieces he only manages to think of incidents in which he was treated badly — even if he has to invent or exaggerate them.

Do you really believe that Jackson faced "death threats, stalking, and thousands of protest calls and e-mails" as he claims? Perhaps he can share with us copies of the formal complaints he filed with the Metropolitan Police Department over the death threats and stalking. As to the printing of his home address — one of the radical right's favorite ways of claiming victimhood — it was old-fashioned news reporting of public information and was driven by questions over whether he truly resided in D.C., since he maintained a reportedly palacial estate in Maryland at which his wife and child continued to live. When the pastor of a Maryland church suddenly claims to be a D.C. voter just in time to foist a discriminatory ballot measure on District citizens, his carpetbagging is a legitimate issue. We are the targets of his relentless campaign to discriminate, yet somehow he is the victim. He is a serial, incorrigible violator of the divine commandment against bearing false witness.

As to Jackson's assertions and predictions, they fly in the face of public opinion polls. That he and his cohorts were more successful in Maryland than they were in D.C. merely demonstrates how much work remains to be done to "make real the promise of democracy," in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. [Of course, Jackson talks as if he has taken up the great liberator's mantle by seeking to put gay people's rights to a popular vote; and if you think the right to discriminate against selected neighbors is consistent with what King lived and died to uphold, then your copy of Martin's speeches must be in mint condition from non-use.] As to President Obama being defeated in 2012, did you know that Jackson strongly opposed Obama in 2008? For a fascinating and illuminating read, check out a report by People for the American Way titled, "Harry Jackson: Point Man for the Wedge Strategy".

(Hat tip: Mitch Wood)

Oh, no! Marines kissing!

The Moonie Paper tries to scare up some readers with a silly piece about the indoctrination of military personnel on the subject of homosexuality.

When will the right wing tire of their endless efforts to portray gay people as a threat to the survival of the republic? I suppose it won't be until (A) they mostly die off, or (B) they find another group to target, if only for a change of pace (the political equivalent of rotating crops). Last year, gays were largely displaced by Mexicans and Muslims as the bogeymen of the election cycle. Maybe you could make some money on the futures market if you correctly predict next year's designated victims.

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)

Mary Cheh's scarlet letter

Here's an interesting piece I missed from last week's Blade. It's by Mark Lee (of Lizard Lounge fame) and slams a bill by Councilmember Mary Cheh that would require restaurants to post a letter-grade in their front windows based on their most recent health inspection. He makes a good point that the health inspection office is understaffed, and that any additional resources intended for the improvement of restaurant safety and cleanliness would be better spent on hiring more inspectors and improving the existing online reporting on restaurant inspections.

We have had occasion to differ with Mark on what was appropriate for government regulation, specifically when he stoutly opposed the District's smokefree workplace law when it was first proposed. I found his endless emails on the subject to be highly selective in their citation of evidence. The bottom line in that fight for many of us was that public health is a legitmate area for government regulation, and the dangers of second-hand smoke are more well established than Mark is willing to acknowledge. That being said, it is also healthy for legislators to be challenged when they are proposing new ways to boss the citizenry, and Mark's sharply expressed views should stimulate some lively discussions. He can also be very funny. I hereby welcome Mark to the ranks of ink-stained wretches.

Video: Rep. Barney Frank at 2011 SLDN National Dinner

Metro Weekly provides this video of Rep. Barney Frank at last Saturday's SLDN dinner, in which among other things he notes the the Republicans have not tried to overturn the repeal of DADT since taking over the House.

"Smithsonian: Historically Hardcore"

Bilerico shares some fake ads for the Smithsonian by copywriter Matt Kaplan. Here's my favorite:

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They really should use this guy.

(Hat tip: Mitch Wood)

Bachmann: "I'm an Iowegian"

MicheleBachmann Joe Jervis reports on the latest from Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann.

Since she's claiming to be an Iowegian, I agree with the reader who wants to see her birth certificate. I also demand of self-identified Vegans that they show me proof that they were born on Vega. You can't be too careful with these things.

Jacob Lusk: "Baby Luther"

The comparison of this American Idol contestant to the legendary Luther Vandross does not appear to be a stretch judging by this performance. This guy is good.

(Hat tip: Ester Goldberg)

The Best Journalism Job Ad Ever?

Forbes shares this hilarious ad from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune looking to hire a reporter. Here's a sample:

We want to add some talent to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigative team. Every serious candidate should have a proven track record of conceiving, reporting and writing stellar investigative pieces that provoke change. However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede....

For those unaware of Florida’s reputation, it’s arguably the best news state in the country and not just because of the great public records laws. We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks. Our new governor once ran a health care company that got hit with a record fine because of rampant Medicare fraud. We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up). And we have Disney World and beaches, so bring the whole family.

(Hat tip: Mike Airhart)