« March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

142 posts from April 2011

April 30, 2011

God Hates Bigots

WBC

April 29, 2011

Trump will f-bomb the Saudis into cooperating on oil prices

Donald Trump wows a group of Teabaggers with tough talk on oil prices. It's a bit disturbing that this impresses anyone past puberty. But to a showman like Trump, whatever impresses the mob must be right. This is just the sort of demagogue James Madison had in mind when he built checks and balances into the Constitution.

Baratunde Thurston Cuts Donald Trump a New One

Word is that this is now a viral video. We publish it here to help push that along.   DC born Baratunde Thurston relates some of his family connection to the civil rights struggle.  And it seems his employer isn't too keen on The Donald as well.

Beck: Glee is a "horror show"

Glenn Beck turns his sights on the popular show Glee. I personally have not gotten through a single entire episode because I find out so over the top, but that's a matter of personal taste. The notion that the show is a threat to anyone or anything is, well, the sort of silliness that Beck trades in. And Harry Potter will drive children to abandon Christianity and becomes Wiccans! More power to them.

GOProud continues its quest for relevance

Chris Geidner reports on the latest from right-wing gay political group GOProud, which announced today, "Our organization's number one goal between now and November 2012 is defeating Barack Obama."

Imagine the panic that must have stirred in the West Wing. Last time we heard from these guys, they were in orgasms of self-congratulation for having invited the odious Donald Trump to CPAC, and getting themselves blackballed from next year's CPAC conference for daring to criticize some Republican wingnut. They are approximately as relevant to the GOP as the New Black Panthers are to the Democrats. But they offer a certain entertainment value with their snarky press statements and posturing. They remind me of leaders of the Villanova Political Union back in the mid 1970s, who had outsized egos and loved repairing to a local pub after debates to insult one another according to Robert's Rules of Order. The more the beer flowed, the better they got. I miss those guys.

Carpenter: How the Law Accepted Gays

Dale Carpenter writes in The New York Times:

THE prestigious law firm King & Spalding has not fully explained its decision this week to stop assisting Congress in defending the law that forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage. But its reversal suggests the extent to which gay men and lesbians have persuaded much of the legal profession to accept the basic proposition that sexual orientation is irrelevant to a person’s worth and that the law should reflect this judgment. The decision cannot be dismissed simply as a matter of political correctness or bullying by gays.

Gay-rights supporters have transformed the law and the legal profession, opening the doors of law firms, law schools and courts to people who were once casually and cruelly shut out because of their sexual orientation.

But it was a process that took a half-century to unfold. In 1961, a Harvard-trained astronomer, Frank Kameny, stood alone against the federal government. Fired from his federal job simply for being gay, he wanted to petition the Supreme Court. But at a time when all 50 states still criminalized sodomy, even the American Civil Liberties Union declared it had no interest in challenging laws “aimed at the suppression or elimination of homosexuals.” Mr. Kameny wrote his own appellate brief; without comment, the court turned him away.

Over the next quarter-century, lifted by gales of change in sexual morality and in the status of women, gay-rights advocates mobilized at every level of the legal profession....

Changes in the profession ran in parallel with the evolution of jurisprudence on sexuality....

Any doubt left about where most lawyers stood was eliminated in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, which involved another sodomy law....

No serious case can be made that an institution as powerful as Congress has a right to the services of the biggest law firms and the most credentialed lawyers.

Meanwhile, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has blackballed the law firm King & Spaulding in retaliation for its withdrawal from defending DOMA. If I got such a letter from Cuccinelli, I would display it proudly.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Birtherism roundup

39957_Original
Here are a few pieces on Birtherism and where it now stands:

David Remnick, The New Yorker: Trump, Birtherism, and Race-Baiting

Melissa Harris-Perry, The Nation: For Birthers, Obama's Not Black Enough

Ari Melber, The Nation: "Confronting the Coded Racism of Donald Trump"

Victoria Pynchon, Forbes: Birther Conspiracy Theories, Obama’s “Foreign” Origins and Racism in America

Plus: Fox News whistles past the graveyard.

An everlasting love

For the royal couple, Natalie Cole's big hit from 1975.

"That African Zulu mojo they so respect"

Senior Black Correspondent Larry Wilmore on The Daily Show laments the President's loss of mystery:

Just two days ago we still thought he might be Djimon Hounsou. Now we know he's just Jaleel White. Some nerdy kid from Hawaii. "Ten percent unemployment. Did I do that?" Thanks, long-form birth certificate.

In England's green and pleasant land

At 11:48 a.m. Greenwich time, their vows exchanged, and edifying words having been uttered, William Windsor and Kate Middleton were joined by the assembled guests in Westminster Abbey, including Elton John and David Furnish (upon whom the television cameras occasionally settled), in singing William Blake's words in the anthem "Jerusalem":

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire;
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant Land.

I myself stood up, albeit in nothing but my underpants, and sang along with the stirring hymn, despite my doubts concerning its mystical intentions. Few of those present or watching on television are likely to believe that the building of the New Jerusalem in England, whatever that is supposed to mean, will be hastened by this couple's marriage. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who looked so grand in his embroidered finery, continues to preside over a worldwide Anglican Communion divided over the treatment of homosexuals. And then there are the predator drones over Tripoli and other celebrations of the occasion around the world.

But no matter. As the freshly designated Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ride off in their carriage, and the color commentators talk about the greatness of the British Empire, let us not rudely dwell upon the crimes committed over the centuries in the name of that empire, such as the Opium Wars, the Amritsar Massacre, and the relatively smaller depredations catalogued in the Declaration of Independence. This is no time to splash blood on the carpet. So let's enjoy the pageantry, admire the lovely couple, set aside questions as to why anyone should especially care about them, and say, as my father used to say in patriotic tribute to the Special Relationship between our two countries, "Up the Queen."

April 28, 2011

Video: Marines trained on accepting gay recruits

From The Washington Post.

White House to Host First Transgender Meeting

WhiteHouseLogo The Washington Blade reports the the Office of Public Engagement wil be holding he first ever White House meeting devoted soley to transgender issues on Friday.  The National Center for Transgender Equality will be playing a key role in organizing the event.

The specific topics of discussion during the meeting were unclear. Keisling declined to identify specific policy initiatives that she would bring up, but noted her organization’s larger agenda includes employment policy, access to health care, military policy and immigration detention standards

It is expected the the administration will be strongly urged to issue and executive order requiring employment non-discrimination by Federal contrators regarding LGBT people.  There is remarkably little information on this meeting available.  The president will not be attending and it is said the meeting will be in the Executive Office Building not the formal White House.  There is no information about this meeting at WhiteHouse.gov.  And like all things LGBT the administration is being criticized more for the details of the event than for doing it.

(via DCGayEtc)

Bill Nye Boo'd In Texas For Saying The Moon Reflects The Sun

Think Atheist reports. I am reasonably familiar with nutty fundamentalists, but I must confess I would not have expected people to be this bubbleheaded. I suppose it's a charitable tendency to assume that people can't be that irrational. Alas, yes they can. Galileo said that he studied the universe not to learn how to go to heaven but to see how the heavens go. Fundamentalists, being rigidly attached to particular words, have trouble simply accepting that God's universe is far more complex and wondrous than the writers of ancient scripture knew. This is because they cling to the silly notion that every word was dictated by God, making the writers mere transcriptionists.

Okay, let's say every word of the Bible is the literal, direct word of God. In the case of the light from the moon, He was observably wrong if He meant to say that the moon was a source of light and not just a reflector. God gave us the wonderful, priceless gift of brains. It has always amazed me that people who put such great store in showing reverence for God would treat such a priceless gift so cheaply as to object to people using their God-given brains to think for themselves.

(Hat tip: Bob Summersgill)

Bob Schieffer: Trump peddling "an ugly strain of racism"

Thanks to Bob Schieffer of CBS News for telling it like it is.

Examiner columnist insults transgenders

Gregory Kane in The Washington Examiner offers a pretty disgusting display of bigotry concerning transgenders and hate crimes. I won't quote from it here; you can click on the link if you want.

First of all, one can argue the merits of hate crime laws without insulting minorities. Secondly, hate-crimes denialists like Mr. Kane just won't face a few facts:

  1. that all violent crimes are NOT motivated by hatred toward a particular group; and
  2. that there are particular minorities that are much likelier to be targeted for bias-motivated violence.

That's in addition to the writer's belligerent ignorance about gender identity.

Sadly, it doesn't surprise me to read this in the Examiner.

(Hat tip: David Mariner)

May 13 - Civil Rights Commission Hearing on Bullying

WASHINGTON, D.C—The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public briefing in connection with its 2011 statutory enforcement report, Federal Enforcement of Civil Rights Laws to Protect Students Against Bullying, Violence and Harassment, on Friday, May 13, 2011 at Commission headquarters, 624 9th St., NW, Washington, DC, 20425. The briefing will start at 9:00 am EDT and is expected to continue to 4:30 pm EDT. The briefing is public, and no advance reservation is necessary unless special services are requested.* Topics will include:
  • The scope and seriousness of student-on-student bullying, harassment and violence against students who are targeted due to their race/national origin, religion, disability, gender, and/or their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender expression;
  • The content of applicable federal laws, the enforcement of those laws, and the effectiveness of the Departments of Education and Justice in carrying out their enforcement responsibilities;
  • The range of effective intervention and prevention efforts and programs currently promoted by the federal government;
  • Recommendations for enhanced enforcement practices, and/or the need for additional legislation, as appropriate, with respect to efforts by the Departments of Education and Justice

The National Center for Transgender Equality is encouraging people to submit their stories on bullying in advance of the hearing by sending them to Alec Deull and to also send a copy to NCTE@TransEquality.org

(via JoeMyGod)

NYT on the duty of counsel

The New York Times editorializes:

We strongly oppose the federal statute known as the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans recognizing same-sex marriage. House Republicans should not have used taxpayer money to hire outside lawyers to defend it. But the decision of those lawyers, the law firm of King & Spalding, to abandon their clients is deplorable.

King & Spalding had no ethical or moral obligation to take the case, but in having done so, it was obliged to stay with its clients, to resist political pressure from the left that it feared would hurt its business. Paul Clement, a former solicitor general who quit as partner in King & Spalding over the decision, said , "a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters."

Justice is best served when everyone whose case is being decided by a court is represented by able counsel.

I have some sympathy for NYT's point of view, but I can't help recalling how indignant then-Councilmembers John Ray and Wilhelmina Rolark were in December 1992 when Jack Evans offered a non-germaine amendment to something in order to repeal the anti-sodomy law. They were outraged at the attempted violation of their sacred process, while we were continuing to be tarred as habitual criminals for being gay.

It is easy for people to get high-and-mighty about something when they are not at the receiving end of the injustice, or are in privileged positions where it won't touch them (like Mary Cheney and her partner living with their child in Virginia). DOMA's supporters may be entitled to a defense, but they are not entitled to be defended by King & Spaulding. The provision in the contract that forbade K&S employees from criticizing DOMA was egregious enough in itself to justify pulling out of the deal.

Birthers continue down the rabbit hole; will mainstream news orgs follow them?

BuzzFeed describes the top 20 (so far) Birther conspiracy charges about the President's birth certificate released Wednesday morning.

I have no interest in following these loons down the rabbit hole by getting drawn into an endless investigation of their pseudo forensics about the details of the birth certificate; but just by way of illustrating the combination of invention, false claims, speculation, groundless assumptions, and sheer recklessness that are involved in this sort of conspiracy mongering, I'll mention several points:

  1. No official statement that I am aware of stated that the pattern in the paper on the certified copy of the certificate was a photograph of the background on the original. If you have done as much photocopying as I have, you know that background patterns seldom show up on copies. The pattern on the certified copy may simply be from the paper stock that the Hawaiian officials used to make the copy. The only reason to jump to the conclusion that it signifies a forgery is if you assumed that from the outset.
  2. Letters that don't line up are quite common in old typewritten documents. They can be caused by flaws in a particular typewriter, or by the paper slipping against the roller during the typing, or by the paper having been removed and then run through the typewriter again (back in August 1961, in this case) after a mistake or omission was discovered.
  3. Stray marks on the document are hardly surprising if you consider how busy and cluttered the doctor's and registrar's desks were likely to have been at the time. My own desks at home and work are usually cluttered; is this really so unusual? In 1961, carbon paper was a common presence in office environments. The various stray marks could easily have gotten there in the ordinary course of a busy day. Why assume some nefarious purpose? As William of Ockham suggested many centuries ago, the simplest explanation that fits the available facts is generally the best. The reason for the histrionic eyebrow-raising from the Birthers that erupted Wednesday is that they have a stake in not being convinced.
  4. Orly Taitz said that the entry in Box 9 for "Race of Father," which is "African," was not the current usage in 1961, which would have been "Negro." First of all, how does she know? If you read documents from the period, there were a variety of terms used for black Americans. In any case, President Obama's father was not American, he was African. The cries of "Aha!" by the Birthers on little points like this are part of their effort to hoodwink people (possibly including themselves), like the insistent claims by 9/11 Truthers that the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon was really a missile, despite people in nearby office buildings having witnessed the crash. A coworker of mine has retailed that particular Truther claim and many others, such as the claim that World Trade Center #7 could not have gone down the way it did unless explosives were planted unrelated to the airlines that crashed into WTC #1 and #2. But he wasn't an expert in those matters — he merely swallowed whole the conspiracy theories that were being peddled by people engaged in special pleading rather than any sort of dispassionate examination.
  5. The claim that the "K" in one place on the form is from a typewriter made after 1961 is based on what research and expertise? From what we know about the people trafficking in Birtherism, we can make the rebuttable presumption that it was just made up by someone, like much of what Donald Trump says. Trump said that he "read" that Obama had done poorly at Occidental College and then did poorly after he transferred to Columbia. Where did he read this? Obama's biographer and professors wrote no such thing. He was a good student, and so excelled at Harvard Law School that he became president of the law review. Renowned Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe has only the most glowing praise for Obama's performance as a student. The Birthers pile lies upon lies, knowing that many people are gullible and will think that all of this stuff cannot be made up. Sure it can. This conspiracy mongering is an industry.
  6. In box 18a, Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama, appears to have inserted her first name in parentheses as an afterthought. What, the Birthers ask accusingly, did she forget her own name? Maybe she wasn't in the habit of using her full name, and thought of adding the "Stanley" due to the formal nature of the document after she had signed her name. Again, why assume anything more nefarious? The reason is that the Birthers began with a conclusion that Obama was alien, and are determined to find a basis for it even if it isn't there.

Continue reading "Birthers continue down the rabbit hole; will mainstream news orgs follow them?" »

April 27, 2011

Is this Bud for you?

Is this Budweiser commercial gay-themed? You decide.

"Sideshows and carnival barkers"

From the President's comments this morning on the controversy over his birth certificate:

We've got some enormous challenges out there. There are a lot of folks out there who are still looking for work. Everybody is still suffering under high gas prices. We're going to have to make a series of very difficult decisions about how we invest in our future but also get a hold of our deficit and our debt -- how do we do that in a balanced way.

And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important debates. And there are going to be some fierce disagreements -- and that’s good. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And I am confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have.

But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted. We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other. We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.

We live in a serious time right now and we have the potential to deal with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids proud. And I have every confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come out on top just like we always have. But we’re going to have to get serious to do it.

I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them -- not on this.

More from the White House here.

Mumia, Mumia, Mumia, that's all, folks

Democracy Now reports that Mumia Abu-Jamal has been granted a new sentencing hearing. Meanwhile, the lefties who insisted on lionizing him are still fools, and the policeman he murdered is still dead.

Update: On Facebook, where I posted this comment, someone replied, "Hate speech alert." I replied, "Just the kind of smug reponse I would expect. Left-wing dogma is just as noxious as right-wing dogma. The main practical difference is that right-wing extremists have more power and influence--which is a pity, actually, since in my experience leftists are nicer people. But dogmatism stops thought. The inflation of Mumia is past absurd, and it is sad how some people cling to it as if it were some sort of substitute religion."

Romney can't help trying to score points on the Birther story

Mitt Romney today said, “What President Obama should really be releasing is a jobs plan.”

Ha ha! But seriously, Mitt, let's talk about the health care plan the President enacted. There's something familiar about it.

Orly Taitz: Obama's long-form birth certificate should say 'Negro' not 'African'

Orly-taiz-ca-dentist-cropped-proto-custom_2 The loony crap just doesn't stop coming. Now Orly Taitz weighs in.

I'm having too much fun today.

And this just in from The Onion: "Afterbirthers Demand To See Obama's Placenta."

"Highly Suspicious as to why he didn't wait longer to make them look even stupider"

James Wolcott in Vanity Fair nails the winguts:

They were hounding him for the birth certificate and now he's provided it and they're Highly Suspicious as to why he didn't wait longer to make them look even stupider. What do you take us idiots for, idiots?

They're claiming the release of the birth certificate is a distraction device (to draw away attention from gas prices, etc.) when they devised the device in the first place to de-legitimize a sitting, duly elected president.

And now of course they're clamoring again for Harvard grades and so on.

They're also praising Trump for "getting results," which is like lionizing Geraldo Rivera for opening Al Capone's vault, never mind that the contents proved to be zilch.

Reading the right wing today is like reading the annual Darwin Award citations.

Fox News gloats, says "No politician can run from the truth"

Barack-Obama1 In a parody of opportunistic, off-base self-righteousness, Lloyd Green at Fox News slams President Obama for taking so long to release his long-form birth certificate, saying "his lack of candor has cost him public trust" — as if there were anything for Obama to be candid about in this case, and as if the clown car of Republican presidential hopefuls have any hope of matching him in public esteem. After three years of nonstop vilification of Obama, he is not only still standing, he is President of the United States.

So please spell it out for us, Fox. What truth can Barack Obama no longer escape? The fact that he was born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961, just as he always said? What basis was there for questioning his American citizenship in the first place? Go on, guys, keep talking.

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness."

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

The Birther controversy has been a racist fabrication from the outset, useful mainly for revealing people's unscrupulousness and desperation. In that regard, President Obama's action this morning in releasing his long-form birth certificate is a smart tactical move. Those who made so much of it will now look silly (if anyone had missed it up to now), and those who respond with further conspiracy mongering will look even worse.

John McCain unleashed the crazies when he named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. Since then they have pretty much taken over the Republican Party, thanks to GOP incumbents' fear of challenging them. Their ascendancy in the 2010 election was a stray bullet from the recession. The prospects of the grownups in the party wresting it back from the whackjobs look pretty grim, given the success of Trump, a guy with the maturity level of a 12-year-old, in making himself look like a front-runner. His star will fade just like Palin's, and another will take his place.

I suppose that a Romney or Huntsman could still rescue the party from itself, but the Republican primaries are tailor-made for the crazies. Meanwhile, Obama keeps his cool, looking and acting like a president. In short, he wears better on voters than all the trash-talking wannabes. They can fool themselves all they like by focusing on the latest faddish concern, such as gasoline prices; but the election is still 19 months away. They will have shot their wad, and their credibility, long before then. The Republicans' problem is that you can't beat somebody with nobody. They made themselves hostage to extremists, and they need to pay a heavy price for it. But Democrats cannot afford to sit back and wait for that to happen; they have been handed a golden opportunity, and now must capitalize on it.

The truth comes out: gay rumors helped Cary Grant score with women

Randolph_Scott_and_Cary_Grant Cary Grant's daughter says, "Dad somewhat enjoyed being called gay. He said it made women want to prove the assertion wrong."

I love this. Look, folks, the notion that Cary Grant was gay was nothing but speculation, founded on nothing more than the fact that he and Randolph Scott once shared a house. Please. You do not need to recruit historical figures into gaydom for validation. Let's stop embarrassing ourselves with this sort of desperate nonsense. If there is real evidence, fine. But enough with the speculation and endless embroidering on next to nothing.

Trump is glad that we can finally move on from a distraction that he stoked

If there is a bigger ass in this country, is it running for President?

Obama releases long-form birth certificate

Obamabirthcertificatelongform

TPM reports:

"The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn't good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country," the White House's Dan Pfeiffer wrote in a blog post.

"Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate," wrote Pfeiffer. "They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting."

Check out the birth certificate here.

Naturally, Fox News has the headline, "White House Releases What it Says Is President Obama's Long-Form Birth Certificate."

There is no chance whatsoever of the Birthers ever being satisfied, because they don't want to be. As to the politicians who exploit them, those who double down on Birtherism at this point will prove themselves incontrovertible slime. Not that further evidence was needed.

Eddie Long close to settling with four alleged molestees

365gay reports.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Orange wins At-Large Council seat; Anderson, White win School Board seats

Unofficial results from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics show that, with 55,424 or just 12.16 percent of voters turning out for Tuesday's special election, Democratic former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange has won the At-Large D.C. Council seat. (Late last night, lack of sleep caused me to misread the turnout number as the percentage reporting. I guess it was hard to accept that barely 12 percent of voters cared enough to participate. I'll just say, if you didn't bother to vote, don't complain later.) Tim Craig reported before 11 p.m. that Orange had declared victory and Mara had conceded.

Orange won 28 percent of the vote. Republican Patrick Mara was a close second at 26 percent. Democrat Sekou Biddle, the interim holder of the seat, trailed with 20 percent. Biddle's failure to lead in any ward put him out of the running, breaking 20 percent only in Wards 3 and 4. He should be kicking himself for a lackluster effort, in which he did not even ask fellow councilmembers who endorsed him to do much. Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, offering comic relief, jumped the Biddle ship late in the race to back Orange.

The ward results show that the Council race broke down along familiar racial lines: Weaver led on his home turf in Ward 1; Mara led in predominantly white wards 2, 3, and 6; and Orange led in predominantly black wards 4, 5, 7, and 8. Orange built a huge lead in Wards 5, 7 and 8. Bryan Weaver is in fourth place at 13 percent. Joshua Lopez is in fifth at 7 percent. The rest barely registered.

In the Ward 4 State Board of Education race, D. Kamili Anderson beat Andrew Moss 41 percent to 37 percent.

In the Ward 8 State Board of Education race, Trayon White Sr., who in the early returns was running neck and neck with Philip Pannell (the longtime gay activist and Stein Club endorsed candidate), pulled ahead to win 33 percent to Pannell's 27 percent. Call it Marion Barry's revenge against his old friend Pannell for fighting him on marriage equality, which Barry opposed. This result is disappointing, but congrats to Philip on a spirited run.

The sparse showing at the polls yesterday leaves me wondering how many of my fellow citizens even knew that an election was taking place. When I arrived at Precinct 15 (16th & P Streets NW) to vote at about 9:30 Tuesday morning, the place was nearly empty; most signs outside the polling place (Foundry Methodist) were for Biddle, but there were no campaign workers in sight.

Vincent Orange came into this with the advantage of name recognition. Mara made a go of it, but fell short. Perhaps without Weaver running as the local favorite in Ward 1, Mara could have closed the gap; but voter enthusiasm is not transferable. At this point, I have to agree with those who say that the D.C. GOP's inability to capitalize on the opportunity of a special election shows it to be irrelevant as a force in local politics. Mara has continued to boast of having knocked our friend, longtime Republican Councilmember Carol Schwartz, out of her seat in the 2008 primary; hey, congrats on that. Mara still has his seat on the State Board of Education.

No one can claim a mandate with a 12 percent voter turnout. If Vincent Orange is to be our new At-Large councilmember, he'll have to demonstrate by his actions that his recent friendly words to the LGBT community can be relied upon. In his previous stint on the Council, he was one of the least reliable. Mind you, this is a city where open homophobia has not sold well in three decades; so even a lackluster legislator beats the average in most other jurisdictions. Our long series of amendments to the domestic partners law in the past decade mostly passed on the consent agenda. To separate the wheat from the chaff, one must look at the rare controversies, such as Harold Brazil's demagoguery over D.C.'s version of Megan's Law back in 1999. Orange was not reliable there. And his turnaround on marriage equality came only after we had won. So I congratulate him, but trust must be earned. I understand that he has been helpful to the DC Center. That's a start.

All of our elected officials are likely to have a chance in the coming months to show their commitment to defending our city's laws and policies against congressional attacks, from marriage equality to abortions for poor women to school vouchers. We need leaders who do not pick and choose which anti-democratic riders on D.C.'s appropriations bill to support and which to oppose. D.C. policy should be made by D.C., not by the latter-day plantation masters on the Hill. The water-carrying by several District officials for Congress on school vouchers is a sad spectacle. Orange told GLAA that he will oppose both federal and local voucher programs. If he holds to that, and to his pledge to defend marriage equality, I will happily credit him for it.

Update: Freeman Klopott reports at The Examiner.

April 26, 2011

A Bit of Trivia

The Washington Post has run an article about how a gay couple were tossed out of a cab for exchanging a 'peck'.  I just want to add that they were picked on on Frank Kameny Way.

Kamenyway

Moscow Pride wins city approval

Moscowpride2 Good news from Nikolai Alexeyev in Moscow. With the anti-gay Yuri Luzhkov now gone as Mayor, Moscow has granted Moscow Pride a permit to hold its gay pride parade on May 28.

Of course, allowing the parade to happen and providing adequate police protection are two different things. In the past, police have stood by while thugs brutally attacked gay marchers.

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)

Re: King & Spaulding continued

I haven't often done this, but I cannot let my colleague Charlie Watson get away with portraying conservative gay blogger Andrew Sullivan as if he's in league with the religious right. This ignores such a mountain of contrary evidence as to be patently absurd.

Few in the country are more passionate, longstanding, or eloquent defenders of marriage equality than Andrew Sullivan. Yes, he has long been hostile toward the Human Rights Campaign. Yes, he can be quite acerbic and has a knack for pissing people off. But he has also defended gay families before many a right-wing audience, and has been vilified in the most personal terms on right-wing blogs — including many cheap shots over the years suggesting that he was suffering from AIDS dementia (how's that for a compelling argument?). Some have tried to deny his conservative credentials because of his open, unashamed homosexuality. Speaking of which, when Chris Matthews congratulated Andrew on the air one Sunday morning a few years ago on the occasion of his marriage to Aaron Tone, it struck a small blow for the normalization of gay relationships.

When gay conservatives make the case for equal protection for same-sex couples and their families, they are working in a part of the vineyard that they are much better suited to working than liberals. Thus, people like Andrew Sullivan serve a valuable purpose. Giving them credit does not require that one like them personally. He, like all of us who take up and persevere in vocations of activism and weighing in on controversial issues, understands that one doesn't do this to become popular. So he can well take care of himself. But while GLAA Forum, as a blog, is by its nature a forum where we can let our hair down, we should still be fair and factual. I happen to like HRC better than Andrew does, as you might expect given the help HRC has given GLAA over the years. Such disagreements are inevitable in any sturdy movement. I suppose one could argue that his anti-HRC sniping is unfair; but it's a bit silly to mention Andrew Sullivan in connection with the fight for marriage equality without acknowledging that he is one of its strongest advocates.

Prop 8 backers seek to vacate Judge Walker's ruling based on his gay relationship

Attorneys for Proposition 8's proponents have filed a motion with retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's successor seeking to vacate his ruling that the anti-gay is unconstitutional, after he mentioned his long-term gay relationship. One News Now, the news arm of the anti-gay American Family Association, reports:

Lawyers for the ban's backers argue that the judge's relationship status, not his sexual orientation, gave him too much in common with the couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban in his court. The judge should have recused himself or at least revealed the relationship to avoid a real or perceived conflict of interest, the lawyers say....

Walker has said that he did not consider his sexual orientation to be any more a reason for recusal than another judge's race or gender normally would be. A spokeswoman said Monday that the judge wouldn't comment on the motion.

American Foundation for Equal Rights President Chad Griffin, whose group has funded the legal effort to strike down Proposition 8, scoffed at the notion that the judge's personal life could imperil his ruling. Griffin noted that the Obama administration recently had decided to stop defending the federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage after determining that it, too, was unconstitutional. "This motion is another in a string of desperate and absurd motions by the proponents of Proposition 8, who refuse to accept that the freedom to marry is a constitutional right," he said....

Indiana University Law School professor Charles Geyh, an expert on judicial ethics, said that without more evidence that Walker stood to personally benefit if same-sex marriages were legal in California, he found it difficult to imagine that the particulars of the judge's same-sex relationship provided marriage traditionalists with an avenue for reversing his ruling. "It really implies it would be fine if he were essentially surfing at bars and had a new partner every night because he wouldn't want to be married," he said. "I don't see that as advancing their cause."

Proposition 8's sponsors also have been trying to get the federal appeals court to order Walker to return his personal video copy of the trial. The judge has been using a three-minute segment of one of their witnesses being cross-examined for a lecture he's been giving on cameras in the courtroom.

If that's how even AFA reports this, you can tell that the motion to vacate is a long shot. Our opponents claim that heterosexual marriage is imperiled by allowing same-sex couples to marry; so by their logic, heterosexual judges with long-term partners should also recuse themselves. Sorry, but the only way that their motion can succeed is if the case is pre-judged in their favor, regardless of the arguments. Judge Walker's 136-page ruling stands on its own. Our initial reaction to that ruling is here.

Update Adam Serwer has nothing nice to say about the motion to vacate Judge Walker's ruling.

King & Spaulding continued

So lots of news about the DOMA defense in the last 24 hours  And everybody seems to be a winner.  Andrew Sullivan and the religous right can protray HRC and gay rights advocates a bullies seeking to deny access to the courts, HRC can claim a victory, and Paul Clement remains at the head of the legal team.    King and Spaulding lose the name on their letterhead that was called the jewel of the Bush administration legal team.

I suspect the internal politics at King and Spaulding played a much bigger role in this than any outside pressure.  I was rather shocked to learn that there was a clause in the contract denying employees of the firm the right to express opinions in support of gay rights.  I can see where the Republicans would want this clause, it wouldn't be real good to find employees of the legal team arguing the opposite position.  And I wonder how legally defensible this would be.  I cannot imagine that a Washington DC jury wouldn't compensate someone fired for supporting gay rights. The HRC rated the firm in its support of LGBT rights.  Employees and partners in the firm might agree that DOMA should be defended in court.  But would they like their freedom of speech taken away?

Quote of the day - Richard Socarides

Greg Sargent quotes Richard Socarides of Equality Matters in response to attorney Paul Clement's claim that he is defending DOMA as part of a lawyer's duty to defend "unpopular causes":

“He tries to make the case that lawyers should represent unpopular causes — but this is not merely an unpopular cause, this is an un-American cause,” Socarides said. “If a lawyer represents an unpopular client who’s defending an important principle, that is what the legal system is about. If the client is unpopular but the principle is important, then it’s important to do.”

“But this is not an important principle,” Socarides continued. “The only principle he wishes to defend is discrimination and second class citizenship for gay Americans. It’s very wrong.”

Update: Andrew Sullivan takes strong issue with Socarides:

This is an offensive attack on liberal democracy. There is no "appropriate" or "inappropriate" principle in defending even the most unpopular laws or vile individuals. It is precisely unpopular or despised laws and individuals that deserve legal defense, unfettered by political constraints.

To put pressure on lawyers defending clients or laws because lobby groups don't like them is deeply illiberal. It remains disgusting, for example, that rightwing groups targeted lawyers defending terror suspects and Gitmo prisoners. When the far right did this, it was despicable. Now that the left is doing it, it remains just as despicable.

Memo to the gay rights leadership: the ends do not justify the means. Let DOMA have the most robust defense it can possibly muster and let us argue just as passionately for its unconstitutionality. When civil rights groups bully, they lose the moral high-ground. When you have men like David Brock leading the charge - and there are no means he has ever eschewed to achieve his ends - the danger is that we prove the far right's point. We must be better than them.

Disagreeing with Tony Perkins makes you part of a 'cabal'

TonyPerkinsFace Joe Jervis quotes Tony Perkins of the so-called Family Research Council responding to the withdrawal by the law firm King & Spaulding from the defense of DOMA:

Looking for attorneys that won't buckle under pressure? Don't bother contacting King & Spalding. In a stunning announcement, the Atlanta-based firm just dropped the most high-profile client on its books: the U.S. House of Representatives. Barely a week ago, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hired King & Spalding to go to bat for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when the Obama administration refused. Within hours, the homosexual community was up in arms.

Led by the so-called Human Rights Campaign, activists promised to target the firm until its attorneys dropped the case. Five days later, they did. Unable -- and unwilling -- to take the heat, King and Spalding took the cowardly way out. Once again we see how the activists who are trying to redefine marriage want to shut down any and all public debate. King & Spalding have proven that they are not advocates for the law -- but for a small but influential cabal that want to undermine policy and society.

The sad thing about Perkins is not just that he thinks gay people are wrong and depraved and should be imprisoned or exiled on a desert island somewhere (or some such nonsense), but his insistence on claiming that gay people want to undermine society. Just by existing and going about our lives without shame, we are trying to destroy society. Aside from his utter failure to explain plausibly how society is undermined merely by granting equal protection to its gay citizens, does Perkins really think that gay people "decided" to be gay out of a desire to destroy society? No doubt he also thinks that all criminals are exactly like Snidely Whiplash of Rocky and Bullwinkle, twirling their moustaches and laughing with gleeful wickedness. So whenever a gay couple is making love, they are doing so only in the hope that Tony Perkins or one of his fellow whackjobs is peering at them through the window and being horrified. Because, you know, it would just be too weird if we had lives of our own that weren't somehow about offending righteous people like Tony Perkins.

In other words, Perkins can only see the world as a cartoon. But gay people are real flesh-and-blood people, with lives and loves and hopes and dreams just like anyone else. We are not stock characters from a cheap melodrama, and Tony Perkins is not Lillian Gish fainting on an ice floe, drifting helplessly toward the waterfall and certain doom. On the other hand....

Rachel Maddow: Closeted Gay Anchors 'Have A Responsibility To Come Out'

Rachel Maddow, in an interview published Monday, urged gay anchors to come out. She made no mention of Anderson Cooper.

April 25, 2011

Twinkle Twinkle This


Edward Reid Sings Nursery Rhymes to Run backing... by UCANLEARNPOKERdotCOM

Edward Reid, a Glasgow drama teacher, wows Britain's Got Talent with an unusual performance of several nursery rhymes. Brilliant.