« June 2012 | Main | August 2012 »

66 posts from July 2012

July 31, 2012

Another court rules against DOMA

Meitzen-pedersen-high-thumb-350x490-2973Justin Snow at Metro Weekly reports:

Another federal judge has ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act.

An appointee of President George W. Bush, U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant today ruled in Pedersen et al v. Office of Personnel Management et al that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

In her more than 100-page ruling, Bryant writes that Section 3 of DOMA "obligates the federal government to single out a certain category of marriages as excluded from federal recognition."

The ruling was another defeat for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which is controlled by House Republicans and has sought to defend the constitutionality of DOMA since the Obama administration stopped doing so in February 2011.

The case was originally filed in the Federal District Court of Connecticut in November 2010 and centers around Joanne Pendersen and her wife, Ann Meitzen. Pendersen, who served in a civilian position for the U.S. Department of the Navy for 30 years, sued the federal government after Meitzen was denied coverage on her federal health insurance plan because of DOMA.

(Photo of Ann Meitzen and Joanne Pendersen courtesy of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.)

Mitt's Excellent International Adventure

Hillary_texting_on_Romney

In Mitt's latest foreign triumph, Romney's traveling press secretary Rick Gorka got angry and said to reporters questioning his candidate near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw:

Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.

That's an instant classic.

Coalition of African American Pastors denounces Obama on marriage

This just in. And yes, that's Bishop Harry "Daddy Bear" Jackson on the left in the group shot.

Democrats' platform drafting committee votes for marriage equality; 'wingers react

Pat Robertson reacts in the above clip to the decision by the platform drafting committee for the Democratic National Convention in favor of a plank supporting marriage equality. That, of course, became inevitable on May 9 with President Obama's statement of support. Meanwhile, Brian Brown of NOM says the Democrats "hope to kill off the institution of marriage at their convention in Charlotte." Sigh.

Eleanor Clift at The Daily Beast quotes a Democratic strategist making the point many of us have been making for some time:

It’s a net positive for Democrats as a whole because it generates a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in our base, and I don’t think we lose a single independent vote.

Mitt Romney's campaign issued a tepid restatement of his opposition to marriage rights for gay couples. I sure am hoping that does not satisfy Brown, Robertson and other anti-gay obsessives.

SCOTUS delays DOMA deadline

Chris Geidner, now at Buzzfeed, reports that the Supreme Court of the United States has granted House Republicans a delay in the Defense of Marriage Act case.

Prop 8 Closer Than Ever to Supreme Court

Matt Baume of AFER discusses the latest on the Proposition 8 case.

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog also has an update.

Gay rights activist murdered in Tanzania

Maurice_mjombaPink News reports the awful news:

Tanzanian gay rights activist Maurice Mjomba has been found dead at his house in Dar es Salaam.

Identity Kenya reports that Julius Lumanyika Kyaruzi, the coordinator at the Centre for Human Rights Promotion where Mjomba was a Training Coordinator confirmed Mr Mjomba, 29, had been found dead....

Mr Mjomba was a member of Stay Awake Network Activities, a group which deals sexual health education for men who have sex with men.

SANA said today: “We sadly announce that Moris Mjomba, one of our founding member, a friend and activist, was strangled by unknown person (s) the date of his death has not been confirmed yet. For more information, we will let you know.”

This hits me close to home, as my own partner Patrick survived a murder attempt in Dar es Salaam ten years ago. Notwithstanding the hate crimes that occur in the United States, activists here are far safer on the whole than our counterparts in the Global South. Condolences to Mr. Mjomba's colleagues, friends and family, and Godspeed to all who struggle against hate in the most dangerous parts of the world.

Matrix director comes out as transgender

Larry Wachowski has transitioned to Lana Wachowski. Congrats to her, and good luck on her upcoming film Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.

Besen: Chick-fil-A Dustup Shows Freedom for Fundamentalists Is a One-Way Street

Wayne Besen nails it with his commentary on the Chick-fil-A controversy:

Contrary to their insincere shrieks, there is no crisis of religious liberty for fundamentalist Christians. The problem is that they have been drunk on their own power for so long that they equate the exercise of religion with forcing others to live by their restrictive rules. Because they can no longer dominate, dictate and discriminate without pushback, they are whining that they are somehow suppressed.

The truth is, Chick-fil-A should be able to open wherever it wants in the same way that I should be able to marry in any state that I want. However, as long as fundamentalists insist on a puritanical pecking order where the "moral" majority rules, they have no basis in which to complain when they can't have their fowl in Boston. The fundamentalists must decide if they want dominion or democracy, but it is doubtful that both ideas can co-exist in the free society they claim to cherish.

July 29, 2012

Sadly he is wrong

Marriage equality is about politics.  It is politics that led the Republican presidential nominees to fall all over themselves to take the most anti-gay position.  (Romney won that contest on both counts.)  President Obama  considers the political ramifications of his position on LGBT issues as well.  Supporting marriage equality greatly adds to his appeal to young voters, liberals and gay voters.  But it also alientates the religious right and some conservative black voters.  It is likely that few change votes based LGBT issues it does contribute to the intensitity of support.  Romney has pandered to the 'values voters' to such an extent that he even pledged to reinstate DADT if elected.  While this got him the nomination the general public overwhelmingly supported repealing the law.  When he abandons this in the general election this will demoralize a Republican base that skeptical of Romney's right wing credentials.  After all he ran to to left of Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts.

July 27, 2012

Bloomberg: No Chick-fil-A ban in NYC

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg takes issue with several other U.S. mayors who have said that the homophobe-owned Chick-fil-A restaurant chain is unwelcome in their cities. Politicker reports:

“They’re all friends but I disagree with them really strongly on this one,” Mr. Bloomberg said of his mayoral colleagues. “You can’t have a test for what the owners’ personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city. You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit, that’s just not government’s job.”

Mr. Bloomberg went on to argue that blocking a business based on their political beliefs opens a potential slippery slope where liberal cities block conservative establishments and vice versa with conservative cities.

“Freedom of speech — everybody’s in favor of it as long as it’s what they want to hear,” he explained. “Well the only way that you have your freedom of speech is if you give other people freedom of speech. … This is just a bad idea and it’s not going to happen in New York City.”

I hate being odd man out, but I believe Bloomberg is right about this.

Why Marriage Matters | Freedom

The Pride Foundation writes:

Republican State Senator Cheryl Pflug shares her thoughts on the freedom to marry for all. www.WhyMarriageMattersWashington.org

Why Marriage Matters Washington is a public education campaign to help spread the word about the importance of the freedom to marry here in Washington by equipping supporters with the tools they need to share their personal story about why marriage matters to them.

Why Marriage Matters is a project of Pride Foundation. Pride Foundation is the Northwest's LGBTQ Community Foundation and a leader in bringing people, ideas, and resources together to ignite change that advances equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

In related news, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife Mackenzie donated $2.5 million to the fight for marriage equality in Washington state. Bravo and brava.

First Lady hosts Let's Move! London

Michelle_and_wrestler
(First Lady Michelle Obama is hoisted by U.S. Olympic wrestler Elena Pirozhkova at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility in East London. White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Let's Move! London today, receiving a rather warmer reception than her husband's Republican challenger.

#Romneyshambles

CarlLewis_vsnt9goy_144hqpv9American Olympic great Carl Lewis sums it up regarding Mittens' Great British Charm Offensive:

Every Olympics is ready, I don't care whatever he said. I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country. Are you kidding me, stay home if you don't know what to say.

Romney_guide_to_intl_diplomacy

(Photo of Carl Lewis by Associated Press)

July 26, 2012

PM Cameron responds to Romney's criticism of London Olympics

Score one for Prime Minister Cameron.

July 24, 2012

D.C. gay couple attacked in suspected hate crime

DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

Metro Weekly reports.

Now on HuffPo: Racial Privilege and Common Struggle

My latest article on The Huffington Post, published this morning under Gay Voices, is titled "Racial Privilege and Common Struggle." It contains my reflections on listening, learning, and bridging cultural differences to build coalitions for LGBT rights in D.C. Please check it out and join the discussion in the comments section.

Anti-gay FL pastor demands use of public high school

HuffPo reports:

A South Florida pastor, whose sermons include "Bible Says Gays and Sex Addicts Can Change and Should Change," is under review by the Miami-Dade school district for his Sunday services held inside North Miami Senior High School.

After Local 10 reported that Jack Hakimian's sermons compared homosexuality to drug abuse and witchcraft, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho expressed his concern with such use of public school property.

The sermons "appear to be contrary to school board policy, as well as the basic principles of humanity, and I have asked for immediate legal review to seek the termination of the contract that is involved. ... I am making this decision not on the basis of policy or politics but as a rejection of prejudice and intolerance," Carvalho told Local 10.

This minister is entitled to spew his intolerant views. He is not entitled to use public buildings to do it.

Video highlights from Day 2 at AIDS 2012

Featuring Anthony Fauci, Phill Wilson, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, and Elton John.

You knew it was coming: Fischer blames liberals for Aurora shooting

Thanks to Right Wing Watch for monitoring this crap.

July 23, 2012

Wonderful news item of the day: Olympians crash Grindr

SFist reports:

Within a few minutes of Olympic athletes arriving in London on Sunday for the games, same-sex buddy locater Grindr crashed, either due to a massive influx of hot gay-sex seeking athletes or a brilliant marketing campaign. As one Londoner explained to People UK, "It happened almost as soon as the teams got here. Either loads of athletes were logging on to meet fellow Olympians or were looking to bag a local."

This is somewhat astounding as there are reportedly only 14 openly gay athletes participating in the Olympiads.

Now stop your insinuations right there. After all, those young, buff athletes are only human, it's a male bonding thing, and as Mr. Sondheim pointed out, there's no place like London.

What's the matter with these people?

This is a generic rant. Please insert the news story of your choice here.

Cantor comes out for tolerance

Forgive my failure to provide a photo, because I can't stand to look at him, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Earthquake Epicenter) has come out for an inclusive Republican party. Basically, just because he wants to deny us equality under the law doesn't mean he's not willing to take our money. Also, Muslims will be happy to know that Cantor is more familiar than Michele Bachmann (R-Bedlam) with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and the Article VI no-religious-test clause.

Not surprisingly, the Family Research Council disagrees.

Actually, I ought to welcome Cantor's statement as a step in the right direction. I also ought to get more exercise and eat fewer carbs. Hey, Cantor, stop your party's attacks on gay families and we can talk.

Dr. Sally Ride dies at 61

Sally_ceo_at_desk

Physicist and former astronaut Sally K. Ride died today. Her science education company, Sally Ride Science, issued this statement:

Sally Ride died peacefully July 23, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.

Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the President and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.

Sally’s historic flight into space captured the nation’s imagination and made her a household name. She became a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers and a hero to generations of adventurous young girls. After retiring from NASA, Sally used her high profile to champion a cause she believed in passionately—inspiring young people, especially girls, to stick with their interest in science, to become scientifically literate, and to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering.

In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.

It appears that this statement was the first public acknowledgment that Ride had a same-sex partner. Condolences to Ms. O'Shaughnessy and all of her family.

DC Appleseed releases seventh HIV/AIDS report card

DC Appleseed has released its seventh HIV/AIDS report card for the District of Columbia. Here is the summary from its news release:

This latest report card (the seventh) shows that in several areas the District has become a leader in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic:

  • The Office of the State Superintendent of Education included a Health Education Assessment – with questions on HIV/AIDS - in this spring’s standardized testing. No other jurisdiction conducts standardized tests for health and sexual education.
  • The District distributed over 4.6 million condoms in FY 2011 and its successful DC Female Condom Project has become a national model for promoting prevention alternatives and its successful social marketing campaign.
  • The number of public-support HIV tests continued to rise, totaling 122,356 in FY 2011, far exceeding numbers reported in other jurisdictions. The District has also continued partnerships that offer testing in non-traditional locations.
  • HIV Surveillance has progressed by significantly since 2005 and the District has become a national leader in the use of epidemiologic data to track the epidemic and improve the health outcomes of people living with HIV/AIDS.

On the other hand, the District’s improvements in surveillance data demonstrate that notwithstanding the enhances the District has made in employing the key tools to address the epidemic, the city is still not seeing the needed results from these tools. This was to be expected. As Dr. Gregory Pappas, Senior Deputy Director of the DC Department of Health HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration said on the Kojo Nnamdi Show discussing the Sixth Report Card, “Even if the District got all A’s, we still wouldn’t be doing enough to address this epidemic.” The District’s latest surveillance report (released last month) does not show the progress we want to see in terms of key measurements -- including reduced new infections, reduced late testers, reduced viral loads, and reduced deaths. It is clear, as Dr. Mohammad Akhter, Director of the Department of Health said at the time of the release of the District’s latest surveillance report, “we have a long way to go.”

July 21, 2012

Quilt panels at National Building Museum

NAMES Project Quilt at National Building Museum
(Photo by Kevin Allen)

The National Building Museum provides a spectacular setting for portions of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, as part of Quilt in the Capital 2012. The Museum writes:

In 2012, the AIDS Memorial Quilt turns 25 years old, and the International AIDS Conference in July will provide a plat­form to display the full Quilt in Washington for the first time in 16 years. From July 21-25, 2012, the National Building Museum will join a select group of venues in the Capital Region in presenting the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The expansive­ness of our climate-controlled Great Hall provides an opportunity to replicate the experience of walking among the Quilt panels on the Mall in a spectacular indoor setting. Panels will be laid out on the floor of all three courts of the Great Hall and visitors will walk among them, just as they do on the Mall. The Museum also provides the distinctive opportunity to view the Quilt from above, as visitors will be able to look down from the balconies surrounding the Great Hall.

The Museum’s presentation of the Quilt will be one of the largest installations off the Mall, and will include 500 panels many of which will pay specific tribute to designers, architects, engineers, and others connected to the building industry who have lost their lives to AIDS. It will also commemorate veterans who have died from AIDS....

While the panels are on site, Quilt Docents will be at the Museum to answer questions and enrich the experience of visitors.

July 20, 2012

Wingnut update: FRC's Boykin speculates that Obama is member of Muslim Brotherhood

Family Research Council VP Jerry Boykin wonders if President Obama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

Romney addresses Colorado shooting

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney set aside his campaign speech and spoke about last night's tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

President addresses Colorado shooting

President Obama cut short a campaign event today and talked instead about the shooting tragedy last night in Aurora, Colorado.

The 14 Openly Gay Athletes Of The 2012 Olympics

BuzzFeed Sports provides pics and mini-bios.

Fake Ben Franklin quote

Two_wolves_and_a_lamb

Wikiquote explains (scroll down) why the alleged Ben Franklin quote above, with its strong tinge of libertarianism, is misattributed:

Widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin on the internet, sometimes without the second sentence, it is not found in any of his known writings, and the word "lunch" is not known to have appeared anywhere in english literature until the 1820s, decades after his death.

HIV in Washington

The PBS Newshour has been airing profiles in preparation for the International AIDS Conference here this weekend.

They note the epidemic nature of HIV which is seldom done in the media.  Each person who contracts HIV passes it on several other people before it is detected and as the virus gains more of a foothold in the community the rate of infection increases.  Many thousands have died due to the inadequate response to this disease in he early years.  Spending government resources to fight a disease perceived as only afflicting homosexuals was not a priority so the disease has established itself firmly in the gay male population.  And now it is growing in the African American and Latino communities where it still isn't considered important.

Washington D.C. has some special factors.  We have our Congressional overlords that pander to a conservative base by blocking best practices for infection control.  They try and impose abstinence only education and bar needle exchange programs funded by the city. We have a political elite that for too long considered HIV funding to be just another source of pork to be divvied up.  And the epidemic rages on.

There are other D.C. specific stories on the PBS Newshour website.

Africa-newshour

July 19, 2012

Bane v. Bain

We have Rush Limbaugh to that for ths meme:

HRW: Police Practices Fuel HIV Epidemic

This morning I attended a news conference held by Human Rights Watch releasing its disturbing report titled, "Sex Workers at Risk: Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution in Four US Cities." The cities studied are NYC, DC, LA, and SF. HRW states:

Police in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and San Francisco are confiscating condoms from sex workers and transgender women, undermining health department campaigns to reduce HIV, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 112-page report, “Sex Workers at Risk: Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution in Four US Cities,” documented in each city how police and prosecutors use condoms to support prostitution charges. The practice makes sex workers and transgender women reluctant to carry condoms for fear of arrest, causes them to engage in sex without protection, and puts them at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The report was released prior to the 19th International AIDS Conference, in Washington, DC, starting on July 22, 2012. The US response to the epidemic will be in the spotlight before 20,000 delegates gathered from around the world. The four cities investigated are among the hardest-hit in the US, with over 200,000 people living with HIV among them.

“Sex workers in each city asked us how many condoms it was legal to carry,” said Megan McLemore, senior health researcher at Human Rights Watch. “One woman in Los Angeles told us she was afraid to carry condoms with her and sometimes had to use a plastic bag instead of a condom with clients to try to protect herself from HIV.”

This police practice, which undermines public health policy, is outrageous beyond words. Past experience has shown that we cannot expect D.C. police to stop this practice just by lobbying the brass; we must get the law changed to prohibit the confiscation of condoms or the use of possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution. We will be talking with our usual coalition partners on that score; stay tuned.

Part of the problem is denial, coupled with the treatment of the most at-risk populations as disposable people — which makes even less sense considering that the people in question are intermingled with the general population. If you put us all on an isolated island, it would be one thing; as it is, the practice is both bigoted AND idiotic. Who do the police think are hiring the sex workers? This is just another example of people preferring to do harm than to confront the reality of sex and its attendant risks, and criminalizing public health problems instead of adopting and implementing realistic policies to mitigate them.

July 18, 2012

A midsummer day's rally

07182012_grayrally
(Photo courtesy of DCist)

Surprisingly after all these years, today for the first time I participated in a rally with the Rev. Willie Wilson. The world is still young.

The main thrust of the rally was to call for an end to the rush to judgment and give Mayor Gray the chance to receive justice through the courts and not a media feeding frenzy.

I wrote about the subject on Huffington Post.

July 24 - Whitman-Walker Health's "Return to Lisner"

Friends,

GLAA is proud to be a co-sponsor for Whitman-Walker Health's "Return to Lisner" event.  Please join us for the 29th Anniversary of Washington, DC's first AIDS forum — an emotional discussion of the progress we have made, the people we have lost, and the future of the fight against HIV and AIDS. At the first forum at GWU’s Lisner auditorium, HIV and AIDS were terrifying new terms. We were mired in fear and helplessness. HIV was a death sentence and HIV pat! ients were turned into social outcasts. AZT wasn’t even in testing. Now, 29 years later, we return to Lisner to discuss how far we have come.

Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White, will be with us us along with a panel of doctors, community leaders, and HIV and AIDS prevention advocates to remember the hardships we have overcome and discuss the challenges we still face.

Tom Sherwood will serve as moderator for the event.

Gather together with us on Tuesday, July 24 at the place where the historic first forum was held 29 years ago.  Come lend your voice to our community as we memorialize our progress and envision our future in the ongoing struggle against the trauma, stigma, and heartbreak of the HIV and! AIDS epidemic.

We hope you will join us.

Note: Registration is free, but space is limited.  Registering now will guarantee you a seat for this special event.  To register, click here.
    
Event Details
7:00 pm, July 24, 2012
Lisner Auditorium
730 21st St. NW
Washington, DC 20052
    
Community Co-Sponsors

AIDS 2012 REUNION  •  AIDS ALLIANCE FOR CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES  •  AIDS INSTITUTE  •  AIDS UNITED  •  ALL SOULS UNITARIAN  •  AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR AIDS RESEARCH  •  BET MISHPACHAH  •  BROTHER, HELP THYSELF  •  BURGUNDY CRESCENT VOLUNTEERS  •  CAPITAL AREA GAY AND LESBIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE  •  CAPITAL PRIDE  •  CHILDREN’S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER-APEP  •  CMS HEALTH INITIATIVES  •  COMMUNITY EDUCATION GROUP  •  CORNERSTONE  •  DAMIEN MINISTRIES  •  THE DC CENTER  •  DC LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS  •  DIGNITY WASHINGTON  •  FOOD &! amp; FRIENDS  •  FOUNDRY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH  •  GAY MEN’S CHORUS OF WASHINGTON  •  GAY MEN'S HEALTH CRISIS  •  GERTRUDE STEIN DEMOCRATS  •  GAY AND LESBIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION  •  GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE  •  HEALTH HIV  •  HEART TO HAND   •  HIV WORKING GROUP  •  HOPE DC  •  HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN  •  INOVA JUNIPER PROGRAM  •  INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICIANS IN AIDS CARE  •  LA CLINICA DEL PUEBLO  •  MAUTNER PROJECT  •  METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH-DC  •  METRO TEEN AIDS  •  N STREET VILLAGE  •  THE NAMES PROJECT FOUNDATION  •  NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PEOPLE WITH AIDS  •  NATIONAL COALITION FOR LGBT HEALTH ! ; •  NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE  •  NATIONAL MINORITY AIDS COUNCIL  •  PETS DC   •  PFLAG OF DC  •  PROMISING FUTURES / STREETWIZE FOUNDATION  •  SEXUAL MINORITY YOUTH ASSISTANCE LEAGUE  •  START AT WESTMINSTER  •  TEAM DC   •  TRANSGENDER HEALTH EMPOWERMENT INC.  •  UNITY HEALTH CARE  •  US HELPING US, PEOPLE INTO LIVING   •  WASHINGTON AIDS PARTNERSHIP

July 19 - News conference on police confiscation of condoms

Forwarded by request.

*** News Conference Invitation ***

U.S. Sex Workers Put at Risk for HIV
by Police Confiscation of Condoms

Human Rights Watch is pleased to invite you to a news conference in Washington, DC on Thursday, July 19, 2012, at 9:30 a.m. for the launch of a new report “Sex Workers at Risk: Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution in Four U.S. Cities.”

Washington, DC public officials and sex worker and transgender rights activists from DC, Los Angeles and New York will speak (to be confirmed andupdated).

In four of the nation’s major cities — New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco — police stop, search and arrest individuals using condoms as evidence to support prostitution charges, making sex workers reluctant to carry condoms. Despite millions of government dollars spent on promoting and distributing condoms as an effective method of HIV prevention, some groups most at risk of infection — including sex workers, transgender women and LGBT youth — are afraid to carry them and therefore engage in sex without protection as a result of police harassment. Outreach workers and businesses are unable to distribute condoms freely and without fear of harassment as well.

From July 22-27, 2012, Washington, DC will be the site of the 19th International AIDS Conference — putting the US response to the AIDS epidemic in the spotlight. This is an extraordinary opportunity toenact policies that protect those at risk of HIV and to eliminate practicesthat undermine HIV prevention such as the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution.

What: Release of Sex Workers at Risk: Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution in Four U.S. Cities

When: Thursday, July 19, 2012, at 9:30 a.m.

Where: National Press Club, Zenger Room, 529 14th St NW Washington, DC

To RSVP, please contact:
Darby Hickey, +1 202-250-4869; darbyhickey@gmail.com

Please RSVP by Wednesday, July 18.

For more information and to schedule interviews, please contact:
In New York, Megan McLemore (English): +1 646-784-4827; or mclemom@hrw.org
In New York, Rebecca Schleifer (English, Spanish): +1-917-349-7177; or schleir@hrw.org

Note to journalists: The report is under embargo until the news conference. Copies of the full report will be available.

July 17, 2012

DOJ's colonialist targeting of D.C. officials

Now at Huffington Post: I critique the rush to judgment on D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and the colonialist treatment of D.C. by federal officials. Here's an excerpt:

Why am I not jumping on this bandwagon? ... I take pause from the behavior of U.S. Attorney Ron Machen's office, whose slow dribbling out of information has set off a media feeding frenzy and a rush to judgment that serve neither justice nor the city's interests. The prosecutorial targeting of Gray and other top D.C. officials also picks at the scab of colonialism which has long characterized the federal government's treatment of the nation's capital and its residents, most recently prompting Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) to try to substitute his abortion policy for that favored by D.C. voters.

According to its own website, "The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is unique among U.S. Attorney's Offices in the size and scope of its work. It serves as both the local and the federal prosecutor for the nation's capital.... In both roles, the Office is committed to being responsive and accountable to the citizens of the District of Columbia." That fine bit of rhetoric notwithstanding, the U.S. Attorney for D.C. is a creature of the U.S. Department of Justice, not our city's local government. As the DOJ website says, the arrangement is unique. This is a continuing sore point, and is part of the taxation without representation to which the District's residents are still subjected 239 years after American patriots rebelled against British tyranny by staging the Boston Tea Party.

The targeting of D.C. officials reminds me of the stop-and-frisk policy of police in New York City, which mainly targets blacks and Latinos. A D.C. police official once admitted to me that if he picked any commercial establishment and brought in city regulatory and fire code inspectors, he could find a violation if he looked hard enough. (He was conceding that this would be unjust.) I do not condone lawbreaking, but the targeting of D.C. officials by a prosecutor not answerable to us does not please me any better.

Contrary to the cries that Washington's well-being requires an immediate resignation, our city is thriving. Gray has been an effective mayor. Crime is down and the city's population is up. Construction cranes proliferate across the skyline. The D.C. Council is taking a two-month break. And the mayor has not been charged with any crime.

I have a feeling that some of you will disagree with me on this. Please follow the link to HuffPo and join the online discussion.

July 14, 2012

Rev. Evans to Mayor Gray: It's God's punishment

Anthony_EvansThe following letter to Mayor Vincent Gray from anti-gay Rev. Anthony Evans was copied to me and members of the press yesterday. Evans tells the Mayor that his current problems are a punishment from God for supporting gay marriage, which he says was also the reason for the woes faced in recent months by former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. and former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown. Evans also claims that the gay community has abandoned Gray.

National Black Church Initiative
P.O. Box 65177
Washington, DC 20035
202-744-0184
dcbci2002@gmail.com
www.naltblackchurch.com


July 13, 2012

Honorable Vincent Gray
Mayor
District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mayor Gray:

We wanted you to know that we are deeply in prayer for you, your entire family and your current administration during these difficult times. I know it is not easy being under this much scrutiny at a time when the District has their fiscal house in order. You have been and remained to be a very effective mayor. I wanted to have an opportunity to share with you our sincere thoughts on what needs to happen during this time so that God’s healing can begin to take place. The entire District is not opposed to you. There are many who still love, admire, and remain supportive of your leadership. We do pray that everyone involved will tell the truth. As the Scripture says, the truth will set you free.

Mr. Mayor, I consider you both a colleague and a friend. And as a cleric, my job is to offer you God’s eternal grace and mercy through Christ Jesus. This is why I have been in deep prayer for you and your able staff. That being said, I am equally compelled to offer you a solution to overcoming your current troubles. We never know the motives of our friends or those who oppose us. This is why we pray that the truth will come forth and unshackle you from this modern political tragedy.

As you recall, a good six months ago before the mayoral race, you were gracious to meet with me and 22 other clergy including nine Bishops to talk about a number of issues confronting the city at that time while you were chair of the DC City Council. Paramount to those issues was the proposed legislation of legalizing gay marriage. We prayed and pleaded with you in the name of Jesus to not support that piece of legislation. You said, “By supporting gay marriage it will not harm my soul.” After such a statement, many of the clergy present were stunned for such a defiant stance against the Word of God. Since then, as you know, we believe that God through Christ took away and chastised then Mayor Adrian Fenty, Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., and Chairman of the Council Kwame R. Brown. Now, you are going through a similar fate after you were dually warned that God will not tolerate such disobedience. I hope that you do not consider this recollection as unchristian or harsh because it is neither. The purpose is to allow you to understand your current troubles in the context of God’s Word. Mr. Mayor, a friend and a subordinate and even your religious advisor may not tell you the truth that your support of same sex marriage has no connection to your current tribulations. Earlier in this letter, I expressed my deep love for you and your family. And part of Christian love is to tell your friends the truth and God’s truth for by doing so you invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to begin God’s divine healing.

Continue reading "Rev. Evans to Mayor Gray: It's God's punishment" »

July 11, 2012

D.C. Human Rights commissioners sworn in by Mayor

CHR_swearing-in

Thirteen members of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights were sworn in on Wednesday afternoon by Mayor Vincent Gray, after being confirmed by the D.C. Council in June. Among the new commissioners are transgender activists Earline Budd and Alexandra Beninda, both endorsed by GLAA. Congrats to all of the commissioners.

(Photo by Julius Agers)