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168 posts from May 2011

May 31, 2011

Bernice King is leaving Eddie Long's megachurch


AP reports that Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., has resigned as an elder of Bishop Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia.

In December 2004, Rev. King joined Bishop Long in an anti-gay march to her father's grave. This was eloquently criticized at the time by Earl Ofari Hutchinson. It remains to be seen whether Bishop Long's disgrace will prompt Rev. King, who has long been rumored to be gay herself, to renounce her own public opposition to equal rights for gay people.

CAP launches new blog -- ThinkProgress LGBT

This just in from the Center for American Progress Action Fund:

I'm thrilled to announce that ThinkProgress is launching a new blog: ThinkProgress LGBT.

Like our predecessor, the Wonk Room, ThinkProgress LGBT will continue to unravel the latest conservative attacks against LGBT people, cover the ongoing campaigns for equality on the federal and state levels and provide exclusive on-the-ground coverage of LGBT issues from all of the the 2012 presidential candidates as we enter the primary season.

But the increased space and central devotion to LGBT topics will also allow us to solicit contributions from our LGBT policy team at the Center for American Progress and experts from around the country to provide more in-depth analysis of such important topics as advancing LGBT health equality and school safety.

So bookmark us – http://lgbt.thinkprogress.org/ – follow us on Twitter – @TPEquality – and contact me – ivolsky@americanprogress.org – with your ideas and suggestions. I'm very excited about all the LGBT news in the weeks and months ahead and look forward to hearing your feedback and comments!

Igor Volsky
Editor of ThinkProgress LGBT

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

Is American foreign policy "post-legal"?

Blogger Tom Engelhardt writes:

Is the Libyan war legal? Was Bin Laden’s killing legal? Is it legal for the president of the United States to target an American citizen for assassination? Were those “enhanced interrogation techniques” legal? These are all questions raised in recent weeks. Each seems to call out for debate, for answers. Or does it?

Now, you couldn’t call me a legal scholar. I’ve never set foot inside a law school, and in 66 years only made it onto a single jury (dismissed before trial when the civil suit was settled out of court). Still, I feel at least as capable as any constitutional law professor of answering such questions.

My answer is this: they are irrelevant. Think of them as twentieth-century questions that don't begin to come to grips with twenty-first century American realities. In fact, think of them, and the very idea of a nation based on the rule of law, as a reflection of nostalgia for, or sentimentality about, a long-lost republic. At least in terms of what used to be called “foreign policy,” and more recently “national security,” the United States is now a post-legal society. (And you could certainly include in this mix the too-big-to-jail financial and corporate elite.)

Meanwhile, at TNR, Joshua Kurlantzick writes on Why the world is becoming less free.

Will African gay/MSM groups start getting PEPFAR funds?

Paul Canning at LGBT Asylum News writes on the revised guidance on HIV/AIDS prevention for Men Who Have Sex With Men that was issued this month by the multi-billion dollar U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR):

The programme has come in for criticism for providing millions to church-run organisations promoting the unscientific prevention strategy of abstinence alongside providing no funding for programmes which address the needs of Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). In Uganda alone US$285 million was spent in 2009 on abstinence. PEPFAR has also had to operate under a Congressionally mandated pledge which prevents funding from going to organizations that assist sex workers.

The new guidance document shows strong leadership, said The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), in recognizing that human rights, legal barriers and homophobia must be addressed as part of an effective HIV response.

MSM in the global south are, on average, 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population, with infection rates among MSM now surpassing 30% in countries like Jamaica and Thailand. More than half of MSM around the world are without access to life-saving services like HIV education, testing and treatment. MSM programmes, such as those who are members of African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) are generally funded by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria or other countries. However USAid is a funder for a new mobile phone service for MSM which has just been launched in South Africa.

Although MSM are considered by the National AIDS Control Councils or Commissions of such countries as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to be a "most at-risk population", because homosexual acts are illegal, there are no policies or services targeting HIV interventions towards them. In some countries, provision of services have been specifically ruled out by governments, whereas in others they are quietly supported as part of national HIV/Aids programmes.

I have written about this here, here, and here.

Ben Cohen tackles anti-gay bullying

Straight former rugby star Ben Cohen talks to CNN about his new effort to combat anti-gay bullying.

U.S. State Dept. calls for freedom of assembly in Russia

Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson at the U.S. State Department, issued this statement on Sunday:

We note with concern that in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counter-protesters, and that Russian security forces then detained people from both groups, including American citizens. Some protestors were seriously injured according to media reports.

Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process. We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.

Blogger Michael Petrelis comments on the Moscow Pride mess here. The Washington Blade reports on Dan Choi's involvement here. Dan's video from inside the paddy wagon is below.

LaBarbera's latest

Peter LaBarbera, leader of the inaptly named Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, continues his obsessive crusade against gay people. This consists of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies designed to prove that granting any legal protections to gay people constitutes an assault on people of faith, which of course he treats as monolithically anti-gay. Here he is in Chicago, railing against the new Illinois civil unions law.

May 30, 2011

Westboro Baptist Church vs. the Ku Klux Klan

The Westboro Baptist Church sent 3 protesters to try and grab a few headlines by appearing today at Arlington National Cemetary, CNN reports.  They were met by many more counter-protesters, including 10 members of an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan called the Knights of the Southern Cross (and about 70 other people).  Don't confuse them with this Knights of the Southern Cross, though it is likely all three groups hate gay people.

The Knights were asked if they were armed and refused to answer the question.  Here's a bit of advice I picked up long ago.

Never argue with a crazy person, people might not know the difference.

(via Boing Boing)

John Lithgow Performs Gingrich

I missed this press release when it came out.  But Lithgow does convey the epic nature of the words.

May 29, 2011

Streaming video of the Cato Institutes panel on the Proposition 8 challenge by David Boies, Chairman, Boies, Schiller & Flexner and Former Chief Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee; and Theodore B. Olson, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Former Solicitor General. With comments by the co-chairs of the advisory board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Robert A. Levy, Chairman, Cato Institute; and John Podesta, President, Center for American Progress.  Panelist spent about an hour discussing the case followed by a half hour question and answer period.

The moderator David Boaz mentions two recent PBS documentaries in his opening remarks, one about the Freedom Riders and one about Stonewall.  He says he perceives the civil rights movement as having progressed more rapidly than that for equal rights.  He should keep in mind that the NAACP was founded in 1909 and that the Freedom Rides were more than 50 years later.  Social change takes time.  It is worth noting yet again that oppoenents of civil rights turned to the ballot box to impede things (specifically including California).

Iowa Republican Supports Marriage Equality

The Des Moines Register reports that former Repbulican Iowa state Senantor Jeff Angelo has announced his support for marriage equality.  Not only that but the but he has formed a group to promote the cause among members of the Iowa GOP.  The conservate politician was a one time sponsor of an bill to enact a state constitutiional amendment barring marriage equality but claims his views have evolved after coming to know more Iowans that have same-sex couples in their families.  He no longer considers the issue as liberal but one of fairness.

“I don’t think this debate reflects the character of Iowans, the culture of Iowa,” he told The Des Moines Register last week. “Iowa is culturally a state that is very welcoming, that celebrates its people, is very protective of its people.”

While many (most?) gay rights advocates were taken by surprise when the Iowas State Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality they probably should not have been.  The state has long taken progressive positions on civil rights issues.  Slavery was ended in 1839 and in 1868 Iowa public schools were desegregated. Iowa was the first state to allow a woman to practice law, three years before the United States Supreme Court ruled on this.

Iowa is of course an early presidential primary state and the candidate that wins there will have a major boost toward winning the Republican nomination.  It remains to be seen how the marriage equality issue will affect the election.  The GOP has used the marriage issue to envigorate their base but in the last four years positions have shifted dramatically among Democrates but also independents.  If the leads to a win by a candidate with extreme views it may no longer be a political plus.

May 28, 2011

June 2 - LGBT Town Hall with Mayor Vincent Gray

The Washington Blade announces:

The Washington Blade is holding a town hall event with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Thursday, June 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.).

I find myself wondering why the first I hear of this event is less than a week before it is held. And I see nothing about it on the web page of the Mayor's Office for GLBT Affairs and nothing mentioning it in the schedule on DC.GOV It's a puzzle.  Suppose they gave a town hall and nobody came?

How Many Gay and Bisexual People Are There?

It is a hard question to answer.  It is even hard to decide how to classify sexual identy. You can ask.  This shows how many people will disclosel their sexual orientation to a stranger.  Since at various times and places being gay could lead to death, imprisonment, loss of job or home, disinheritance, lobotamy, castration or chemicals castration, confinement in a mental hospital, assault and more there is a certain reluctance toward casually revealing ones sexual orientation.

But you can ask people how many people they estimate are gay and Gallup does.  Apparently U.S. Adults Estimate That 25% of Americans Are Gay or Lesbian.  Gallup offers a few implications from the results

Americans perceive that there is a large U.S. gay population -- one far larger than is likely reality. Perhaps more informative than the exact figure Americans give is the trend that more Americans now than in 2002 feel they have enough information to offer an estimate. This suggests Americans have had even more exposure to gays and lesbians, be it in their personal lives or through entertainment or other means. It is also noteworthy that demographics appear in most cases to be more predictive of views in this matter than are political or ideological leanings. This suggests Americans' estimates are based more on who they are -- and perhaps whom they know -- than on their worldview. Gallup also previously found those who personally know someone gay or lesbian to be more accepting on related issues. Combined with Americans' record support for legal gay relations and same-sex marriage, it is clear that America's gay population -- no matter the size -- is becoming a larger part of America's mainstream consciousness.

It would be interesting to know how estimates vary according to sexual orientation.  To my knowledge the most the gay community has suggested is 10% and lately it is often lower.  On the othere hand gay men are quite sure all male movies stars are gay along with most popular entertainers and anti-gay politicians and evangelists.  It is just a matter of time before the truth comes out about them.  Opponents of marriage equality have started saying that a minute percentage of the population should not be able to redefine marriage. But 25% is hardly minute.  Also many people say they don't know anyone nor have any family members who are gay.

May 27, 2011

Getting tough of countering marriage equality opponents


Earlier in the week Queerty asked if a more forceful response should be made to NOM's campaign against marriage in New York (which we pointed out). I thought I would present my own proposed mailer. See the next page for the reverse of the card and a few comments on the issue.

Continue reading "Getting tough of countering marriage equality opponents" »

Anti-Apartheid revolutionary Arthur Goldreich dies

ABNDigital reports:

The South African revolutionary, who was the front for the safe house where Nelson Mandela hid in the 1960s, has died. Arthur Goldreich was arrested at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia near Johannesburg in 1963 with most of the leadership, but escaped from police cells with fellow activist Harold Wolpe. He died in Tel Aviv - where he spent a large part of his life working as an academic - at the age of 82. ABN's Chris Bishop report.

Hail to this hero who risked everything to free South Africa.

(Hat tip: Joel Lawson)

Landing party quiz


Hey, you in the red uniform — don't go behind that boulder!

(Hat tip: Andy Burns)

Several Jewish Dems in Congress back Obama on Israel, characterize his stance accurately

Greg Sargent of The Plum Line reports:

Since it’s being widely reported that many leading Democrats in Congress are criticizing Obama’s stance on the pre-1967 lines, it’s perhaps also worth mentioning that a few Jewish Congressional Dems have stepped forward to defend him. What’s more, these courageous souls, who are considered good on Israel, are also characterizing Obama’s stance accurately, noting that Obama did not call for a return to pre-1967 borders, despite widespread and false claims to the contrary.

I'm not sure why this should be a huge surprise, but just to balance the record.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Eddie Long settles sexual coercion lawsuits


Rod 2.0 reports:

Surprise, surprise. Atlanta-based anti-gay mega-church pastor Eddie Long has apparently settled the four sexual coercion lawsuits filed against him and his church.

Long is accused of luring at least four young men into sexual relationships and using church funds to give them cash, gifts and cars. The cases have been settled and there will be no comment, attorneys for both sides tell the Atlanta Journal Constitution....

The four young men—Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande—filed sexual coercion lawsuits against Long and New Birth MBC last fall. The sexual relationships reportedly began when each of the plaintiffs were around 16 years old.

It's a pity there won't be a trial. That would have provided loads of fascinating revelations. It remains for Bishop Long (which sounds like a porn name) to explain to his remaining congregants why he found it necessary to settle with these four young men if their charges were false.

Bryan Fischer: outlaw blasphemy and profanity

AFA's Bryan Fischer once again lets fly with pearls of theocratic wisdom.

DeMint: last chance to save America

More apocalyptic rhetoric from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who says there can be no compromising or cooperation with Democrats:

I think it's out last chance. I really think it's now or never. Just looking at the financial situation of our country and just the polarization of views between the two parties. I mean, we have one that is really pushing toward centralization, collectivization, secularism - and we have some good people in that party; some of them are my best friends - but frankly they do not believe in individualism, they do not believe in the type of moral values that we do and we cannot compromise with them. You cannot cooperate with someone who does not have your values, does not share your vision, and does not have your goals.

Yeah, it's those awful Democrats who want to destroy America, but he is ready to shut down the government and force the U.S. to default on its debt if he doesn't get his way. What Bedlam do the people live in who think that makes sense?

Harry Jackson: MLK would oppose gay marriage

Right Wing Watch shares this video of anti-gay stalwart Harry Jackson, who continues to invoke the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. in support of his homophobia. Here's part of what Jackson says:

There were members of his family who were for gay marriage, others were against. I know this: King basically spoke from two vantage points that he thought were very, very sacred within the American culture - one was the Bible and the other was the Constitution. And I think what we're dealing with here is that from a biblical perspective, King no doubt would have been with us biblically. And I think, again, the lines of what is exactly the right of an American to do, I've got a hard time believing that "the pursuit of happiness" crosses into some of these areas. So I think that King would be with us, as a preacher first.

Hey, Harry, your sound bites need a bit of work. Just sayin'.

May 26-30 - DC Black Pride

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, which means D.C. Black Pride is here. The Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony is from 7-10 p.m. this evening (Friday, May 27) at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel at 14th & K Streets NW, which is the Black Pride headquarters hotel. Admission is free.

Black Pride weekend also features workshops, a writer's forum, a film festival, a poetry slam, a retro dance night, a Sunday church service, and a Health and Wellness Festival. For a complete schedule of events, visit their website.

Besen: "Pro-Family" groups ignore real marriage crisis in obsession with gays

Wayne Besen writes at HuffPo:

It seems that America could use a genuine pro-family movement instead of hate groups using "family values" as a cover for their anti-gay activities....

The statistics are quite telling and perverse. In the name of saving marriage socially conservative groups helped elevate anti-gay Republicans, which enacted policies that led to great income disparity — which depresses marriage rates. Nice going, fundies!

This is similar to the way social conservatives try to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which leads to unplanned parenthood and higher abortion rates. Or, how they promote abstinence-only programs in schools, which also backfire. It seems that right wing social engineering consistently boomerangs.

Of course, the anti-gay groups are not especially concerned about the family. They just hate queers.

Gay Ugandan wins asylum in U.S.

Mworeko Metro Weekly reports that U.S. officials have granted asylum to gay Ugandan Moses Mworeko:

While the ongoing uncertainty of Uganda's "kill the gays" bill – a for-now tabled proposal to radically reinforce Ugandan law, which already criminalizes homosexuality – has Ugandan gays and lesbians fearing for their futures, one gay Ugandan is finally breathing easy. Earlier this month, Kushaba Moses Mworeko, received his official notice that the United States has granted his request for asylum.

"The letter says I have asylum status indefinitely," says Mworeko, who arrived in the U.S. from Uganda in October 2009. "After one year, I have to apply for permanent residency."

Congratulations and best of luck to Moses.

HRC endorses Obama for re-election

The Human Rights Campaign makes the inevitable endorsement early. Metro Weekly and Washington Blade report.

Mayor Bloomberg calls on New York State to legalize same-sex marriage

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls on the state legislature to enact civil marriage equality. Gay City News reporter Andy Humm is not impressed:

Bloomberg's speech today amounted to hollow words. He is the sole reason that Republicans are in the majority in the NYS Senate as he has propped them up literally with MILLIONS of dollars in just the last several years. And he has repeatedly said that he will NOT stop donating to Senators who oppose marriage equality — who also happen to be the ones who oppose GENDA, the AIDS bills we need, and virtually everything else of a progressive nature. Let Bloomberg put his money where his mouth is: Stop funding bigots. It is sickening to watch the gay establishment and average gay people fawn over him like some kind of hero when he is in fact the main reason we don't have marriage equality in New York.

Another Catholic diocese ends adoption and foster-care program in objection to gay rights law

"Bigotry First" remains the unofficial slogan of Catholic officials faced with the choice of ending anti-gay discrimination or losing public funds. The latest case, as AP reports, is in Rockford Diocese in Illinois:

A Catholic diocese in northern Illinois said Thursday that it will end its state-funded adoption and foster-care program rather than comply with a new law that would require it to place children with gay or unmarried couples, and officials said other dioceses would decide quickly whether to follow suit.

Officials from the Rockford Diocese said they were forced to terminate state contracts worth $7.5 million after lawmakers failed to pass an amendment exempting religious groups from provisions of the state’s new civil unions law, which will let gay and lesbian couples form civil unions, a rough equivalent to marriage. The law takes effect June 1.

Religious liberty does not include a right to a public subsidy for discrimination. We need to repeat this message until it sinks in. And where Catholic Charities stops providing services rather than ending discrimination, other providers must be found or developed. When Catholic Charities pulled out of adoption services in D.C. over our marriage equality law, a Baptist-run charity took over. One thing that cannot be accepted is bullying from Holy Mother the Church, Inc.

Capehart on straight athletes pushing for gay rights

Jonathan Capehart writes about Ben Cohen and Hudson Taylor and how far we've come — and how far we have to go — in combating homophobia in professional sports.

May 26, 2011

Peter Sprigg: gays don't trust black people

Right Wing Watch provides the above video of Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council. Mr. Sprigg says, regarding the motion by the anti-gay right to have Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling against Proposition 8 thrown out on the grounds that he is in a long-term gay relationship:

This motion is now being heard by Judge Walker's successor, and I just learned yesterday that some homosexual activists are in a bit of a panic. Why? Because the new judge is African American, and homosexual activists distrust African Americans because of their high levels of support for a traditional definition of marriage. [Applause]

Oh, where to begin? This statement is so preposterous, I'll just run through some thoughts that come to mind:

  • Sprigg's effort at wedge politics would have better long-term chances if the two populations he is trying to drive apart — gay people and black people — were separate and distinct. But in fact, there are a great many gay African Americans. Does Sprigg think they distrust themselves?
  • Speaking of gay African Americans, I can't wait to see the reactions of people like Don Lemon, Jonathan Capehart, and Keith Boykin to Sprigg's assertion.
  • As it happens, this weekend is Black Pride weekend in Washington, D.C., and there is a long list of black gay friends and colleagues whose reactions to this absurdity I look forward to hearing, including (in no particular order) Earl Fowlkes, Cornelius Baker, Ernest Hopkins, Jeff Richardson, Brian Watson, Ronald King, Sharon Farmer, Sheila Alexander-Reid, Earline Budd, Sultan Shakir, Michael Crawford, Nick McCoy, Alan Sharpe, Philip Pannell, Michael Sainte-Andress, Donna Payne, Courtney Snowden, Ron Simmons, Carlene Cheatam (though she recently moved to New Jersey), Chris Bates, Mandy Carter, David Richardson, Jasper Hendricks, Dr. Sylvia Rhue, Rev. Rainey Cheeks, Rev. Dyan Abena McCray, Courtney Williams, Donald Burch, Brad Lewis, Rhoma Battle, Lateefah Williams, Marc Morgan, Toni Collins, Valerie Papaya Mann, Sterling Washington, Buddy Sutson, ABilly S. Jones, and I could go on.
  • As it happens, Mr. Sprigg was a regular presence in the D.C. Council chamber when our marriage equality law was being discussed and passed. So he is well aware that the majority-black D.C. Council voted for civil marriage equality. I daresay the District's LGBT community has far more trust in our councilmembers than Mr. Sprigg does.
  • Sprigg and his cohorts love to pretend that gay people are all godless and that anti-gay fanatics have a monopoly on faith. So I'd love to know if he thinks gay folks distrust the dozens of African American Clergy who are members of DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality.
  • Opponents of Prop 8 include the California chapters of NAACP, the National Black Police Association, the National Black Justice Coalition, and conservatives like Ward Connerly. Undoubtedly we have more work to do to strengthen our broad coalition for equality; but the existence of this coalition, which crosses racial and other lines, belies Mr. Sprigg's claim.
  • On the other hand, many of the black ministers who are Sprigg's allies against gay equality are closet cases; it seems likely that those conflicted souls do not trust themselves. I suspect, however, that this is a subject that Mr. Sprigg would rather not explore. But if any of those closeted ministers need guidance in finding their way toward self-acceptance, there are many LGBT-affirming African American clergy, both gay and non-gay, who would be glad to extend a helping hand. See the DC Clergy United link above.

Of course, none of that gets to the underlying point, which is that only sheer anti-gay bias could lead to the notion that gay judges are inherently unable to render impartial decisions. Judge Walker's ruling deserves to be evaluated on its merits and not on an ad hominem basis. The defenders of Prop 8 claim that same-sex marriage is a threat to what they call traditional marriage (meaning heterosexual marriage), in which case their logic would suggest that straight judges would also have difficulty being impartial.

No More Down Low TV

It's Memorial Day weekend so that means it's time for the 21st DC Black Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.  And enjoy this episode of No More Down Low TV and the discussion of LGBT acceptance in the hip-hop community.


May 25, 2011

Equality Maryland faces possible shutdown

The disintegration of our Maryland counterpart continues, as Yusef Najafi reports for Metro Weekly.

More here.

Up the Queen

The President makes a protocol breach at Buckingham Palace by beginning his toast before the playing of "God Save the Queen." Seriously, screw these people. Oops, there go my chances for an appointment to the Court of St. James.

Update: Incidentally, in case I was unclear, the target of my cursing was the British royalty and not our wonderful President. Our war to rid ourselves of the British Crown ended 228 years ago, with another flare-up 199 years ago that resulted in the White House being burned but which eventually resulted in another American victory. I am happy that England is an ally of the United States; but we are not British subjects, and Her Majesty and the rest of her brood are not superior to the rest of us in any discernible way. The obsession that some of my fellow countrymen have for that family eludes my comprehension. Vice President Rockefeller reportedly committed a terrible breach of protocol back in the 1970s by taking the Queen's arm as they were walking up or down the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. Well that's just awful. How did we manage to go on?

How To Deal with Slurs

Is this video not safe for work? Perhaps.

This PSA aired on Glee last night.  It uses a lot of slurs against various groups to  highlight that while all of these other terms are considered vulgar expressions of prejudice, the same is true of slurs toward the developmentally delayed.

I seldom here the term vulgar used any more.  Vulgar language is using words that nice people don't use.  Nice people don't use racist or anti-semitic language.  And using bigoted terms towards gay people is becoming less acceptable as well, much to the chagrin of the certified hate groups.  [I wonder if is a mark about how pervasive sexism is that they didn't have a woman saying 'It's not acceptable to call me a B-word'?]

People are judged by the language they use.  If you have been told that something you are doing is offensive yet make no effort to stoping doing it everyone knows you are either a bigot or an insensitive clod.  Good to know.

So what about 'taking back the word'?  I judge people who are gay yet who use anti-gay slurs as well.  I think they are idiots.  When I meet a 20 year old I rather resent the claimed familirity from using anti-gay slurs that wouldn't be acceptable from by oldest friend who is straight.  While I understand the motivation they are wrong.  Doctor Laura got a lesson in whether it is possible to 'take back the word' when she repeatedly made racial slurs on her radio show last year.  While language does change, when I was a child saying 'damn' and 'hell' were unacceptable, until racism, religious and anti-gay bigotry, and sexism remain slurs against these groups will be unacceptiable to nice people.

Their hearts were in the right place when they made this PSA.  But I think they could have been more educational.  I believe an acceptable term for someone who has mental retardation is developmentally delayed.  Also, I am not sure you get a pass on using bad language because you are trying to do good.

Palin running after all?

Palin_Book_0236a Andrew Sullivan looks at indications that Sarah Palin is planning to run for President in 2012. Exhibit A is the inaptly named propaganda film "Undefeated" that was created for her and is running next month in Iowa. Andrew writes:

It may be a testing of the waters. But it has a crucial Palin aspect. It is entirely controlled by her; it is designed as pure propaganda; she is running against the media; she is running as a victim; she is running for revenge.

Meanwhile, former Palin aide Frank Bailey has just published Blind Allegiance, his tell-all book on half-term former governor. Of course we already know she's a vindictive, unscrupulous fame whore with a voice that could cut glass. Those appear to be the very reasons she is popular with a certain crowd. When I am watching TV, I have to keep my remote control close so that I can quickly hit the Mute button or change the channel when a clip of her comes on. Forget about waterboarding: if you want to torture me, tie me down and force me to listen to her nonstop until I crack. It shouldn't take long.

The right candidate with the right message


Jerry Zremski of The Buffalo News explains for TNR the victory yesterday of Democrat Kathy Hochul in New York's heavily Republican 26th Congressional District. It was a resounding rejection of Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system (which all but four House Republicans voted for on April 15), and is very good news for Democrats hoping to retake the House in 2012.

(Photo of Congresswoman-elect Kathy Hochul by the Associated Press)

May 24, 2011

Citizenship test

(Barack Obama in Grant Park, Election Night 2008. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

The nation's capital is getting ready to celebrate as DC Black Pride 2011 arrives this week, but the media of late have been marred by race-based attacks — both subtle and blatant — on our first African-American president. I offer some thoughts in my column this week:

Appeals to race remain popular at both ends of the political spectrum. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on May 13 called President Obama "the most successful food stamp President in American history." And Princeton Professor Cornel West, in a May 16 interview with Truthdig, called Obama "a black mascot for Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats."

Gingrich also said, "I always say that to become an American citizen, immigrants ought to have to learn American history. [applause] But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as a native born American, you should have to learn American history. [applause] You realize how many of our high school graduates because of the decay of the educational system, couldn’t pass a citizenship test."

That statement, ironically, is likeliest to persuade those unfamiliar with voting rights history. Poll tests were barred by the 1965 Voting Rights Act because they were used to deny black people the vote. And as Gingrich must know, the citizenship test for immigrants already includes history questions. His rhetorical ploy is doubly noxious. First, he ignores brutal discrimination that occurred in his own lifetime. Second, he deplores the alleged ignorance of others while spreading misinformation himself and overlooking his own party’s current thralldom to Know-Nothingism. After the speech, he denied blowing racist dog whistles; but of course deniability is the whole point of dog-whistle politics.

As for Professor West, his nasty line about "a black mascot for Wall Street oligarchs" prompts the question of who pays his salary at Princeton.

Read the whole thing here.

Rep. Kriesel's full speech on gay marriage, bucking the GOP

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry writes:

Watch this powerful speech against the anti-gay constitutional amendment now foisted onto the November 2012 ballot in Minnesota as part of the anti-marriage campaign pushed by NOM and its ilk.

Wyoming senate votes down anti-gay bill

The overwhelmingly Republican Wyoming state senate lives up to the state's monicker, "The Equality State."

(Hat tip: Dale Carpenter)

Does new Tennessee law fall afoul of Romer v. Evans?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has signed a bill prohibiting municipalities in the state from passing nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBT people. The new statewide law invalidates Nashville's strong human rights ordinance.

I am wondering if this falls afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1996 ruling in Romer v. Evans. Here is the concluding paragraph from that ruling:

We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws. Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Colorado is affirmed.

I am hereby asking anyone with relevant legal expertise to weigh in.

Ok, Joakim Noah is fined $50,000; but do we have to talk like dweebs about it?

Joakim_noah Cindy Boren blogs at WaPo:

Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 by the NBA for an antigay slur he hurled at a fan during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night.

“The fan said something that was disrespectful towards me,” Noah said a few hours before the fine was announced. “And I went back at him. Got it on camera. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not like that. I’m an open-minded guy. I said the wrong thing and I’m going to pay the consequences — deal with the consequences — like a man. I don’t want to be a distraction to the team right now.” ...

Why the difference in fines, particularly for a second incident at a time when the league is broadcasting an awareness-raising ad about the power of words?

“Kobe’s fine included discipline for verbal abuse of a game official,” NBA spokesman Mark Broussard said.

Noah also earns less than Bryant; the fine, according to ESPN, is 1.6 percent of Noah’s $3.1 million annual salary.

“We need to get to a point where you don’t use an antigay slur to respond to events,” Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “It’s just plain unacceptable. At a time when the N.B.A. and a growing number of pro athletes are publicly standing up for equality, it’s too bad Mr. Noah worked against their efforts last night. That said, we’re pleased he quickly realized the error of his ways and apologized.”

I think the fine is appropriate, and I am not terribly concerned about the amount. $50,000 is a serious fine. But I would like to comment on the statement by Joe Solmonese. Is it really necessary in these situations for us to sound like the host on Romper Room? "Now children, it's wrong to use anti-gay slurs." Yes, that statement is true, and yes, there are still plenty of people who need to hear the message. But we could sound more courtside and less Sunday-school while we're saying it. I don't know, how about "Hey Noah, cut that crap out." Or, "That ain't cool." We can brainstorm. But for God's sake, this isn't Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.