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152 posts from August 2011

August 31, 2011

Getting to marriage equality

Dc_blackgaymarriage Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, Irvine strikes an optimistic note in the final post in SCOTUS blog's online symposium on marriage equality:

I continue to believe that the Court will rule, five-to-four, in an opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, that laws prohibiting marriage equality violate the United States Constitution. Kennedy wrote the Court’s opinions in Romer v. Evans (1996) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and I think that he will see his longest-lasting legacy from over a quarter of a century on the Court being in the area of eliminating discrimination against gays and lesbians. I believe that his opinion will emphasize, as he did in Romer and Lawrence, the absence of any legitimate interest for prohibiting marriage by same-sex couples. As in Lawrence, and other opinions, he will point to the trend across the world.

Ultimately, the question for Justice Kennedy, the Court, and society is whether gays and lesbians are entitled to equal dignity and equal treatment under the law. There is only one possible answer to that question.

From his lips to Justice Kennedy's ears.

The whole symposium is available here.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan. Photo by The Afro)

How we look from six million miles

Six million miles

NASA/JPL released this photo of the earth and moon, taken August 26 by the Juno spacecraft from about six million miles out. JPL writes:

This is a remarkable sight people get to see all too rarely," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "This view of our planet shows how Earth looks from the outside, illustrating a special perspective of our role and place in the universe. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves."

The image was taken by the spacecraft's camera, JunoCam, on Aug. 26 when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away. The image was taken as part of the mission team's checkout of the Juno spacecraft. The team is conducting its initial detailed checks on the spacecraft's instruments and subsystems after its launch on Aug. 5.

Juno covered the distance from Earth to the moon (about 250,000 miles or 402,000 kilometers) in less than one day's time. It will take the spacecraft another five years and 1,740 million miles (2,800 million kilometers) to complete the journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft will orbit the planet's poles 33 times and use its eight science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud cover to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.

The solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:25 a.m. PDT (12:25 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 5 to begin its five-year journey to Jupiter.

(Hat tip: Andy Towle)

Man of Words

Mlk-statue My latest column looks at Martin Luther King's brilliance as a rhetorician, and how important that was to his effectiveness in challenging his fellow countrymen:

The greatest messaging challenge is for an activist pushing an unpopular cause against violent opposition. Martin Luther King, Jr. required singular courage and wisdom to lead a nonviolent movement for racial justice. His charisma was crucial; but his mastery of words set him apart. This was not immediately obvious, given his fondness for biblical metaphors that could feel archaic and overripe―his mountains of this and valleys of that.

But King knew what he was doing. His elevated language and preacher’s cadences took people out of their mundane mindset and stirred millions who had never set foot in a black Baptist church.

In launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott on Dec. 5, 1955, King carefully built toward this climax: "If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong." He danced on the edge of blasphemy as he steeled his listeners to embrace the righteousness of their cause and overcome their fear....

I write this on an anniversary [August 28]. Forty-eight years ago, King wrapped himself in tradition as he raised a mighty challenge: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Here he invoked the most powerful words of the past thousand years and brought them to life as no one had done since Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.

Read the whole thing here.

Owner of Club Allegedly Built With HIV/AIDS Funds Donated to Team Thomas

4a-Thomas-Jr-HarryMF_web DCist reports:

The Stadium Club plot thickens: a co-owner of the strip club -- which was allegedly built in part with city grant money meant to help house people with HIV/AIDS -- was one of the largest donors to Team Thomas, the under-investigation nonprofit run by Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. ...

Obviously, there are those out there who find such donations fishy, especially after yesterday's revelations concerning the gentleman's club. Thomas, after all, was staunchly against relocating strip clubs displaced by the construction of Nationals Park to Ward 5 in 2007, but then went so far to call such establishments good corporate neighbors earlier this year.

That's lovely, Councilmember. I can't improve on my comments from July 11.

(Hat tip: Bob Summersgill)


Meryl Streep's upcoming appearance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady is already causing Oscar buzz; but here is an iron lady for you. Angela Lansbury was 85 years old when she sang this number from A Little Night Music earlier this year in tribute to Stephen Sondheim on the occasion of his Olivier Award. And she didn't just do it in a concert; she played the role on Broadway, eight times a week, in her eighties. Here's to longevity. The composer, also in his eighties, who gave her her start as a Broadway leading lady in Anyone Can Whistle nearly fifty years ago, looks on with pleasure and affection. As Lansbury enacts falling asleep at the end, you think she's about to fall over. She does not fall over. She's a tank.

August 30, 2011

LGBT Asylum News roundup

Blind justivce Here are the latest international news items from Paul Canning at LGBT Asylum News:





Bigotry in Charlotte

Right Wing Watch shares an amazingly vicious piece on Charlotte Pride from an anti-gay activist named Michael Brown (no relation to the LGBT-friendly D.C. Council member), published by the American Family Association. I don't care to quote from it, but follow the link if you want to see how many bigoted bells Brown manages to ring. He even manages to treat an HIV testing truck as disreputable. Brown himself (and I know this will come as a shock) looks gay.

August 29, 2011

Nadine Winter, former D.C. Council member, dies

Winter Former D.C. Council Member Nadine Winter, who represented Ward 6, died on August 26.

Ms. Winter, a community activist and social worker, was one of the first representatives elected to the Council in 1974 after the advent of Home Rule. She was defeated in 1990 by Harold Brazil (who won at At-Large seat in 1996, after which the Ward 6 seat was won by Sharon Ambrose in a special election). As I recall, Nadine was not a reliable ally on LGBT issues, though I don't recall the details. I do recall that she got into fights with her Ward 2 counterpart, John Wilson (who went on to be elected Council Chair in 1990, and died in 1993). Unfortunately, GLAA's online archive is spotty prior to 1996. We are asking some old-timers for their reminiscences, and I'll post updates here as I receive them.

A bio of Winter can be found at The History Makers.

Loose Lips reports, "Winter's body will lie in state at the Wilson Building on Thursday [September 1] from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m."

AFER on today's court hearing on releasing Prop 8 trial video

This just in from Chad Griffin at American Foundation for Equal Rights:

Today, we saw once again the real motivation of the anti-marriage forces that passed Prop. 8.

They argued, shamelessly, that the video recording of a trial--which was conducted in an open courtroom and of which the transcripts are public record--should be hidden from the American people, locked away forever.

At the American Foundation for Equal Rights, we are fighting back.

Please support our ongoing work to win the freedom to marry nationwide by making a donation today.


They used fear and lies (fueled by a $45 million war chest) to strip gay and lesbian Californians of the freedom to marry. During trial, they presented not a single shred of credible evidence to defend the discriminatory measure. And when they didn't like the thoughtful, thorough decision that ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional, they tried to get the decision thrown out. They attacked the credibility of the judge who heard the case because he's gay and in a long-term relationship.

Now they are trying to deprive Americans from seeing what happened during the historic Prop. 8 trial. Chief Judge Ware said that he will issue a ruling on the matter promptly.

A week from tomorrow we'll be back in court. This time though, everyone will be able to watch Ted Olson address the California State Supreme Court. He'll be arguing why the proponents of Prop. 8, "Protect"marriage.com, are unable to appeal the historic decision that ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional. I hope you will tune in again next Tuesday to witness this historic event.

Thank you for your continued interest, support and efforts to ensure that all Americans will soon be able to marry the person they love.

Very truly yours,

Chad Griffin
Board President
American Foundation for Equal Rights

P.S. It is only because of the incredible support of people like you that we are able to do the work that we do.

August 27, 2011

Irene is on the way

Here's what is coming out way (vis Astronomy Picture of the Day). And you know someone will blame us, don't you?

August 26, 2011

Rick Perry signs NOM marriage pledge

The National Organization for Marriage has issused the following statement

Kudos to Gov. Rick Perry for making it clear: he's a marriage champion!," said Brian Brown, president of NOM.  "The purpose of NOM's Marriage Pledge is to move from vague values statements to concrete actions to protect marriage. Gov. Perry joins Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum as a signer of NOM Marriage Pledge.  By doing so, Perry makes crystal clear that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, gay marriage is going to be a bigger issue in 2012 than it was in 2008, because the difference between the GOP nominee and Pres. Obama is going to be large and clear.  We look forward to demonstrating that being for marriage is a winning position for a presidential candidate.

New LGBT-friendly mosque to host community meeting

Rainbow crescent Lou Chibbaro reports at the Blade:

D.C.’s Light of Reform Mosque, which formed in February and provides weekly prayer services for LGBT Muslims and others, is hosting a community forum in Washington in October that will discuss LGBT-related issues pertaining to the Islamic faith, according to Imam Daayiee Abdullah.

Abdullah said the forum will take place Oct. 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Human Rights Campaign building at 17th and Rhode Island Ave., N.W. He said U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) will be among the speakers at the event.

The forum is being sponsored by Muslims for Progressive Values USA....

This is a welcome and much-needed development. I wrote about the pain of a gay Muslim friend here. It is hard for people to overcome an upbringing filled with anti-gay lies. The more efforts to organize and offer a different perspective and a supportive hand, the better.

August 25, 2011

Rev. Dennis Wiley further refutes black opposition to LGBT rights

More wisdom from our friend Pastor Dennis Wiley on the false divide between black civil rights and LGBT rights.

Oh, BTW, when I say "false divide" I do not mean that there is no difference between the two. I have said over and over again that all struggles are different. But they are interconnected, as Pastor Wiley says, and the populations involved overlap.

Another religious perspective on homosexuality is offered by Rev. Amy Butler of Christ at Calvary Baptist Church.

Moammar, crazy in love

(Photo by Sergey Ponomarev, File/Associated Press)

Libyan rebels who overran Moammar Gadhafi's compound yesterday found a variety of goodies, but one bit of booty showed the despot's soft spot for former American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This is not new. Look at how smitten he sounded in a 2007 Al-Jazeera interview:

I support my darling black African woman. I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. ... Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. ... I love her very much. I admire her, and I’m proud of her, because she’s a black woman of African origin.

Hey, even a murderous madman is only human. I remember how hot Condi looked in her dominatrix outfit, especially the boots.

Bayard and Malcolm, 1962

As we anticipate this weekend's official dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Tidal Basin in Washington, here's a fascinating bit of historic video, from the documentary Brother Outsider about Bayard Rustin, the lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Here, Rustin is shown in a 1962 debate with Malcolm X. This clip includes a photo of the two sitting together talking. I confess that had I been sitting that close to Malcolm X, I'd have had trouble remembering what I was talking about. He had a compelling physical presence.

The DC earthquake was a sign from God

According to Pat Robertson.  Could it be He has chosen to smite the people of Mineral for electing Eric Cantor?  And I don't know what a full-on hurricane strike on Virgina Beach would mean.  It might indicate divine impatience with the Christian Broadcasting Network, or it might just be assistance in putting out the fire in the Great Dismal Swamp.  Interpreting nature is a tough job.

DADT Drama - coming out in the military

This guy has been making videos for a month or so about his process of coming out while being in the military.

The fears he expresses seem so authentic it really takes me back. September 20th is still a ways off.

August 24, 2011

HRC: NOM exposed

The Human Rights Campaign details the perfect losing record of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage in its attempts to circumvent campaign finance laws:

NOM has filed a raft of lawsuits to shield its donors from public disclosure. But, as this memo outlines, courts and state election boards have consistently disagreed and rejected NOM’s challenges. Donor disclosure is uniformly required across the country for federal, state and local campaigns and is widely accepted as a vital means to ensure that elections are conducted transparently and fairly.

The latest in NOM’s string of legal defeats came on August 11 when the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the group’s challenges in Maine and Rhode Island. On its Law Blog, the Wall Street Journal put the cases into perspective. “The 1st Circuit issued rulings in two cases that raise an important campaign finance issue: the extent to which states can require advocacy groups to report details about their expenditures in support of candidates or political causes.”

Given the recent historical record, states do in fact take disclosure, and legal compliance, in earnest. NOM has unsuccessfully challenged disclosure laws in Maine, Minnesota, New York, California, Rhode Island, and Iowa.

BTW, I wish to go on record opposing Joe Jervis's habit of including the label "bovine spongiform encephalopathy" whenever he blogs about NOM's Maggie Gallagher. That's just rude. As to his use of a monster photo from possibly the worst-ever episode of the original Star Trek series, I have no comment.

Beck in the Promised Land


Glenn Beck's rally in Israel is now history. He told the assembled pilgrims that "to overcome fear we just need one thing. Courage." This reminds me of the following movie dialog:

Cowardly Lion: Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?

Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman: Courage!

Beck, when he was finished weeping, reportedly exited the stage to a tune from Fiddler On The Roof. I regret to say that it was not "If I Were a Rich Man."

LGBT Asylum News roundup

Davidbahati1-296x300 Here are the latest international news items from Paul Canning at LGBT Asylum News:

(Photo of anti-gay Uganda MP David Bahati)

God to fundies: STFU with your stupid earthquake explanations

Buzzfeed conveniently compiles examples of people blaming yesterday's earthquake on The Gays.

As it happens, I heard this morning from God Herself, who sounds remarkably like the Voice of the Metro that says, "Please stand back and allow the doors to close." God told me two things. First, She wants all the stupid people who look for divine purposes behind every natural disaster to shut the fuck up. Second, She is amused and pleased with the people who noticed that the epicenter of the quake was in Eric Cantor's congressional district.

August 23, 2011

I'm all shook up

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

I was sitting at my desk at work at about 1:51 pm EDT when the floor and the everything else began to shake. I stood in the nearest doorway, wondering what good that would do me if the three floors above me collapsed. We occasionally feel a rumble in the Frances Perkins Building (HQ of the U.S. Department of Labor) when a large truck passes through the I-95 tunnel beneath the building, but this was a much more violent shaking.

Had the quake lasted any longer, I'd have raced for the exit. Someone quickly learned by phone that it was also felt in Virginia, which confirmed that it was indeed an earthquake and not some localized event. I decided to head home to check for damage in my 1950s-era apartment building; happily, there is no visible damage, and no books or bottles fell from my shelves. Nor did I see smoke rising anywhere on my walk home. (I avoided the subway, since I figured they'll want to check the tracks etc.)

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that it was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter near Mineral, Virginia, 84 miles from Washington. Due to the east coast's differences from the west coast, this quake was felt along the entire east coast and as far as Detroit and Toronto. So far, and cross your fingers, no major damage has been reported.

One thing I feel sure of: it was not God's punishment for Washington's wicked ways. For one thing, we can assume that She has better aim. For another, if God were inclined to punish our wickedness with natural disasters, we'd have been turned to cinders long ago.

Well, it's a lovely day in Washington, since Hurricane Irene won't arrive until the weekend. One of the sidewalk cafes on 17th Street would be a fine place to park myself as I await the aftershocks. I hope all our readers emerged unscathed.

Update: D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier just sent the following message to the Special Liaison Unit listserv:

As Chief of Police, I'd like to provide a quick update in the aftermath of this afternoon's confirmed earthquake.

1) DC Police officers are maintaining a heavy police presence in the community. Our helicopter has been flying over for visual assessments with no major damage noted.

2) Please remain calm and report any smell of gas or persons in distress to 9-1-1. Cell phone service is sketchy, but it appears cell phone towers are gradually restoring service.

More updates to come.

Update 2: Here's an early photo of the devastation (hat tip to Craig Howell). Let's hope that's the worst of it.

Update 3: TracyDC comments on a WaPo blog:

My two favorite comments on Twitter come from 1.) DC: "Was all set to loot in Dupont circle, then realized all we have are taco and cupcake stores" and 2.) Toronto: "Looting in the streets of Toronto. Well... we're still lining up and paying for things. But we're not saying 'thank you'."

Update 4: Chief Lanier has posted the following update:

Dear Community Members,

I would like to thank everyone for remaining calm during this time. I am currently riding with officers to assess, for myself, the traffic and other public safety measures in the District. We are also working with emergency personnel from neighboring jurisdictions.

We have held over our earlier day-work shift of police officers to assist with traffic congestion and will continue to respond to emergency calls. Please reserve 9-1-1 for emergencies where firefighters, ambulances or police officers are needed.

You can also help us by checking on neighbors, particularly the elderly.

Thank you for your attention to this message.

Register for DC's Emergency Alerts: https://textalert.ema.dc.gov/register.php

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police

Update 5: This came in at 10:26 pm Tuesday night from Chief Lanier:

As I receive information from other agencies regarding the structural safety of homes and buildings, I'd like to share the following tips with our neighbors.

- An earthquake of today's magnitude may break gas, electrical, and water lines. If you smell gas, you should open windows, shut off the main gas valve, and do not turn any electrical appliances or lights on or off. Report suspected gas leaks immediately to 9-1-1 and leave the building.

- Once you have exited your building, do not re-enter the building until a utility official has declared it safe for entry.

- Should you experience electrical wire shortages, shut off the main breaker box.

- If water pipes are damaged, shut off the supply at the main valve to avoid household floods.

- Those with chimneys should have them inspected for cracks and damages.

- Should you have to relocate due to safety concerns, if possible, collect all family vital documents and any needed medications. Be sure to check on elderly neighbors and report to our Yahoo Police Groups any suspicious activity.

This should conclude all police updates for the evening, unless important announcements are needed. Remember to sign up for DC Alerts for the latest in emergency announcements from Mayor Gray and the DC Emergency Management Agency.

Thank you for your attention to this message.

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police

Hurricanes and Earthquakes

Right Wing Watch has issued an apology,

(via JoeMyGod)

Here comes Irene


Weather.com projects the course of Hurricane Irene. It's supposed to be down to a Category 1 by the time it hits D.C. and the Delaware beaches on Sunday, but it will hit Florida and the Carolinas as a Category 3. Don't plan on a visit to the shore this weekend.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Marriage Equality

on the radio.

Anti-gay state clerk claims SHE is the victim of discrimination

Edge on the Net reports:

A New York own clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the state’s new law providing family parity says that people marrying animals might be one consequence of the new law.

The clerk, Rose Marie Belforti, told Citizen Link in an Aug. 19 posting that she will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because "God is the final word," and says that she will turn to a legal group that promotes Biblical law if her superiors refuse to allow her to delegate the job of issuing the licenses to same-sex couples....

Belforti told Citizen Link that she thought "another agenda" might be at work "than just allowing same-sex couples to be married. We know what a bride is, we know what a groom is -- but if we choose to be a ’spouse,’ does that even limit (marriage) to a human being? Do you know what I’m saying?"

Belforti also said that if she needed to, she would seek assistance from the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group that describes itself as "defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and direct litigation."

The only way Ms. Belforti's religious rights are infringed by her obligation to do her job is if her religious freedom entitles her to impose her beliefs on others--which undermines religious freedom by privileging one faith over others. The only way our pluralistic society can work is for people working in the public sphere not to impose their religious beliefs on others. And it is telling that the people citing their faith in demanding the right to discriminate against gay couples do not make similar demands regarding mixed-faith couples or divorced people seeking to remarry. This sort of picking and choosing makes it clear that religion is merely a pretext and not the real motivation, which is pure bigotry.

A marriage bureau clerk is no more entitled to impose her own rules than a pharmacist (who is licensed by the state) or a police officer. Such demands reveal a fundamental refusal to face the reality that we have a diverse society. If everyone shared the same religious convictions, this would be less of a problem. But we don't, and the people who insist on discriminating in the course of doing their public-sector jobs know that we don't.

The Equal Protection clause protects everyone, not just people who agree with Ms. Belforti. And the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment is accompanied by the Establishment clause which prohibits establishing religion. Her right to extend her fist ends where my nose begins. Her sense of entitlement apparently blinds her to the consideration of how she would like it if the roles were reversed. So SHE is the one demanding a special right, not gay couples who are simply doing what is routine for their fellow citizens.

August 22, 2011

Wiley: Gays Are Us: Why LGBT Equality Is Not a “White” Issue

(Pastor Dennis Wiley accepts Distinguished Service Award at GLAA reception, April 20, 2010)

Rev. Dr. Dennis W. Wiley, co-pastor of D.C.'s Covenant Baptist Church, co-chair of DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality, and a 2010 winner of GLAA's Distinguished Service Award, has a thoughtful essay at the Center for American Progress on the connection between black civil rights and LGBT rights:

At last month’s 102nd annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a historic workshop focused on overcoming homophobia within the black community. As an African American, heterosexual, male pastor of a traditionally black Baptist church in the inner city of Washington, D.C., I was glad to see this legendary organization take this small but important step in its increasingly inclusive perspective on civil rights.

There are some, however, including the Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr., an NAACP national board member, who see no parallel between gay rights and civil rights. Expressing this conviction at a rally last May, he demanded that the gay community “stop hijacking the civil rights movement.”

This statement, subtly suggesting that “civil rights” is a black issue and “gay rights” is a white issue, implies that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, equality is not a priority for black people....

One of the problems with this “either/or” approach—that this issue is either “black” or “white”—is that it creates a false dichotomy between LGBT issues and other issues of social justice. Another is that it fosters a hierarchy of oppression in which certain matters are placed at the top of the political agenda while others are tabled.

The greatest problem with this approach is its failure to highlight how multiple forms of oppression are interconnected. This failure to “connect the dots” deceives black and other marginalized groups into believing that dealing with vital issues impacting our communities can, at best, be postponed indefinitely, or, at worst, be ignored completely.

The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s offers several examples of this type of failure to connect the dots....

Wiley points out that women's rights and gay rights were ignored by the civil rights movement despite the participation by women and gays. Far from being an act of sacrilege, recognizing that the civil rights movement left some unfinished business is a way of keeping faith with our forebears by confronting our own challenges. Read the whole of Pastor Wiley's excellent article here.

(Hat tip: Ron Swanda)

Obama and the lessons of Libya

(Barack Obama addresses 100,000 people in Berlin on July 24, 2008. Photo by EPA/Rainer Jensen)

Zack Beauchamp at Andrew Sullivan's blog considers the lessons of Libya. He also knocks down the extremely foolhardy suggestion that America seize Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi.

It is pretty clear that for many hawks on the right, a peaceful and prosperous world order is less important than the need for America to stomp around the globe noisily demonstrating how big and powerful it is. Obama does not suffer from their Superpower Insecurity Complex, and his quiet strength borne of cooperation is being vindicated in Libya. BTW, what's with this angry insistence by the right wing that America must never apologize? If we expect other countries to correct their wrongs, shouldn't we acknowledge our own? It's a brittle America that cannot afford to be honest about its past mistakes. Obama, who is highly popular around the world, is trying to rebuild America's relationship with the rest of the world. As is his habit, he is playing a long game and is being underestimated by his political opponents.

NDP leader Jack Layton dies in Canada

Jack_LaytonPride Jack Layton, pro-gay head of Canada's New Democratic Party, has died. NYT discusses the implications. HuffPo shares his final letter. Joe Jervis notes that Layton was the only party leader to whip Canada's 2005 marriage-equality bill for supportive votes.

We join our Canadian brothers and sisters in mourning this friend and champion.

On Libya, right-wing hawks unfazed by the facts in their scorn for Obama

2_61_100507_Obama As President Obama's approach to the rebellion in Libya appears on the verge of success, right-wing hawks cling to their Obama-is-weak-and-apologetic talking point and scorn the President for not going all-out and knocking off Muammar Gadhafi sooner — as if that approach had been a brilliant success the last two times out under Obama's Republican predecessor.

Steve Kornacki writes in Salon:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy [said] on Monday that "the end of Gadhafi and his regime is now inevitable and near."

If Sarkozy is right, then it will be the outcome that hawks on the right have been saying they wanted all along. That it is now on the brink of being achieved five months after the implementation of the no fly zone would seem to suggest that, just maybe, there was actually some wisdom to "leading from behind." At the very least, it exposes the attacks of Krauthammer, Romney and others for what they were: overheated efforts to reinforce the Obama-as-Carter caricature they’ve been pushing since the start of his presidency. Nor is it the first time Obama has defied this caricature: Remember when our "weak" and "naïve" president announced that Osama bin Laden -- the man who had eluded George W. Bush for nearly eight years -- had been killed?

And Alex Pareene writes:

There's no point in countering McCain and the Journal's arguments with reason, of course, because these are not actually fact-based responses to news, they're just rote recitations of Republican dogma: Obama weak! (Except domestically, where he is an autocrat.)

And this is the "respectable" Republican talking point. The line from the real nuts -- I'm guessing something along the lines of "radical Obama allows Muslim Brotherhood to seize control in Libya" -- will begin bubbling up from the sewers to talk radio and Fox News and Michele Bachmann's campaign soon enough.

In other words, Republicans will slam Obama as incompetent or treasonous no matter what he does, and no matter how successful he is in achieving goals the Republicans share. Boy oh boy, do we need to punish them for this cynicism. Remember the GOP campaign slogan in 2008, "Country First"? They clearly don't.

An Ex-gay Superstar

Welcome To Confessions of An Ex-Gay Superstar from Randy Thomas on Vimeo.

Towleroad led me to this video by former Exodus International vice president Randy Thomas. You can always depend on those snarky commenters to have something good to say. Mike offered "I had to stop the video. That guy is so flaming, my iPhone overheated!"

I know someone who is ex-gay.  He didn't need to join a group to do this.  He just stopped dating men and went back to dating women.  (So technically he is bisexual).  I also know someone who is ex-straight.  He married his wife to become straight (it didn't work) and she married him to escape a violent father who sexually abused her.  Getting married got her away from the house and with a man who wasn't like other men with their nasty sexual interests.  They had two children together.  (Her second husband was a violent mentally-ill homeless man.  When he would break into the house in a drunken rage the children would hide in the closet.)  Thomas doesn't give any indication what his relationship status is.  There are a lot of women looking to meet a man like him.


That's Estertainment

On the lighter side, our left-coast friend Ester Goldberg shares her latest dish on fame whores and other appalling people.

In Zimbabwe, outed gay journalist 'not going anywhere' - despite Mugabe's threats

Mukondiwa Another brave Zimbabwean stands up to murderous country-wrecker Robert Mugabe. Paul Canning reports at LGBT Asylum News:

A gay journalist, Robert Mukondiwa, discovered in flagrante delicto with a man in Namibia whilst covering a visit by President Mugabe says he is "not going anywhere". This is despite the news of the outing apparently reaching Mugabe who reportedly asked who was 'protecting him'.

Mukondiwa is a senior Zimbabwean journalist. Last year he was reportedly caught having sex with another reporter in the newsroom of government owned The Herald by a security guard.

As America prepares to dedicate the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, it is good to keep in mind brave people like Robert Mukondiwa who today are risking their lives standing up to injustice. If you pray, pray for his safety.

TWO: In Extravagant Visit, Morally Compromised Pope Lectures Europe On Morality


Wayne Besen writes at Truth Wins Out:

It was bad enough that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Madrid cost $72 million dollars during a worldwide economic downturn. (I don’t understand why it costs so much. The Rolling Stones are just as famous and tour all of Europe for considerably less).

However, it is galling that the pontiff, who is presiding over a worldwide pedophile-scandal, claimed moral superiority over the majority of fiercely secular Europeans. At Sunday Mass, the Pope warned Catholics that they “will be swimming against the tide in a society with a relativistic culture, which wishes neither to seek nor hold on to the truth.”

That’s rich coming from a man who held a key leadership position in a church where a shocking number of clergy raped children, then were systematically shuffled around from church to church to protect the institution’s reputation. Can anything possibly be more relativistic and less truthful than the way the Vatican handled (and continues to handle) this sickening crisis?

Emperor Palpatine, as Jeff Jervis calls him, seems to think that his 15th Century vestments give him the moral authority he needs, regardless of his own record. How convenient, as the Church Lady would say.

Bayard Rustin, the March on Washington's forgotten man

Rustin4 The Washington Post has a big feature story today on Bayard Rustin, the brilliant, openly gay civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom:

It was around this point in August 1963, in the sweltering days before the March on Washington, that Eleanor Holmes Norton was waiting for someone to say something really nasty about her boss.

She was a march volunteer. The boss was Bayard Rustin, the march's chief organizer and the man widely viewed as the only civil rights activist capable of pulling off a protest of such unprecedented scale.

And he was gay. Openly gay. That year again? 1963....

[F]or hundreds of civil rights veterans, Aug. 28 will also always be Bayard's Day, the crowning achievement of one of the movement's most effective, and unconventional, activists.

"When the anniversary comes around, frankly I think of Bayard as much as I think of King," says Norton. "King could hardly have given the speech if the march had not been so well attended and so well organized. If there had been any kind of disturbance, that would have been the story."

Action alert: Uganda 'Kill gays' bill 'back within fortnight', reintroduction 'by stealth'


Paul Canning reports at LGBT Asylum News:

According to two journalist sources in Uganda, the infamous 'kill gays' bill will be revived in that nation's parliament "within two weeks". Other reports have said this will happen 'by stealth'.

The journalists spoke confidentially to a longstanding contact of LGBT Asylum News from a diplomatic background and with extensive Ugandan contacts.

The contact warned that both EU and American pressure on Uganda's leadership to stop the bill, including threats to foreign aid support in the Ugandan government's budget, will have to be quickly revived.

In this regard, a new project called OneFamilyOneVoice has been launched to fund and conduct intensive private lobbying of Ugandan officials to block the anti-gay bill, whose consequences will be catastrophic if passed. I attended a forum on the new project last week in Washington featuring Ugandan human rights activists and anti-Museveni ex-pats.

If you can contribute to the effort by OneFamilyOneVoice, click here.

(This project has been organized quickly due to the emergency situation, so I don’t have a lot of polished text to share; and the danger the Ugandan activists and insiders face is grave, so names are not being bandied about. But the project is being led by an experienced Ugandan activist who has been vouched for by colleagues here in Washington for whom I have a lot of trust and respect, so I have donated $75 to the effort. I met with the anti-Museveni ex-pats several months ago to discuss possible mutual efforts, and shared information on the coverage of the Ugandan situation by Box Turtle Bulletin. The fact is, if we wait for a polished organizational presentation by OneFamilyOneVoice before acting, it will likely be too late.)

Paul Canning offers additional stories on Uganda:

(Photo: the Musevenis with the Obamas)

Update: Uganda's Daily Monitor reports that Museveni's cabinet has thrown out the bill. I am not inclined to trust this. In any case, David Bahati, the bill's sponsor, insists that the bill now belongs to Parliament and is determined to go forward with it. Stay tuned.

LGBT Asylum News roundup


Here are the latest international news items from Paul Canning at LGBT Asylum News:

(Photo from Honduras)

Gov. Perry and friends

Right Wing Watch compiled this video of the whackjobs with whom Texas Gov. Rick Perry partnered for his recent prayer rally.

August 21, 2011

DADT ends September 20th

Ii's less than a month away.

"Wouldn't you like the Holy Ghost to come on you like that?"

It's a Tommy Bates revival, folks! You can call it Invasion of the Mind Snatchers and add an ominous underscore, but only Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will, Olympia, Tiefland) could make it any scarier than it is just by watching the raw video.

(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)