1125 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

December 17, 2014

Cutting Holes in the Law

Worn_US_Flag_insert_by_Bigstock

My column for this week is now online at the Blade. Here is an excerpt:

The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a bill modeled on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which featured in the Hobby Lobby case. The Michigan measure may allow emergency medical technicians to invoke sincerely held religious beliefs in refusing to serve LGBT people.

Where will religious demands in daily commerce end? If you view conscience clauses only in terms of gay families, the problem might seem limited. But what about people who object to interracial marriage or to second or third marriages after divorce? Assuming that gay conservatives are motivated by more than axe grinding against gay liberals, why does their solicitude for the religious right appear reserved for gay-related cases?

If an anti-gay Christian receives legal exemptions, why should a Christian Scientist parent opposed to modern medicine not be exempt from child welfare laws? Why should a Muslim devoted to the subordination of women (which, to be fair, is disputed within Islam) not invoke Sharia Law? Satanists, amusingly, have already responded to a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state capitol by demanding equal placement of a monument to the demon Baphomet.

Read the whole thing here.

Obama announces historic change in Cuba policy

Bravo, bravo, bravo, Mr. President. This is long overdue. Thank you for showing leadership.

December 16, 2014

Cory Booker defends D.C. home rule

I neglected to post this several days ago when Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spoke out against congressional interference with D.C. voters' choice to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Thank you, Senator.

Cleveland's Hawkins: 'A call for justice shouldn't warrant an apology'

Cleveland.com reports:

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins defended his wearing a "Justice for Tamir Rice" shirt during warm-ups before Sunday's game against the Bengals.

"My wearing of the T-shirt wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department," Hawkins said. "My wearing of the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason to innocent people."

Hawkins made the statement the day after Cleveland police union president Jeff Follmer called Hawkins' shirt "pathetic" and said Hawkins should stick to playing football.

Bravo, Mr. Hawkins.

December 15, 2014

Stop Corizon from running D.C. Jail healthcare

GLAA sent letters like this one to all D.C. Council members on Monday afternoon:



Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Fighting for equal rights since 1971
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, DC 20013


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chairman
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Chairman Mendelson:

We urge you to vote against the Office of Contracting and Procurement's recommendation to award the new five-year D.C. Jail healthcare contract to Corizon, a for-profit company with a bad track record.

This is especially scary for people with HIV, transgender people, and anyone with mental health or medical issues. Quality mental healthcare during incarceration is important to successful reintegration into society.

Continue reading "Stop Corizon from running D.C. Jail healthcare" »

Shift Happens. Seriously.

Brian Steinberg at Variety reports that as of today, Phil Griffin at MSNBC is rolling out a streaming video portal called "Shift by MSNBC." You can see their opening slogan in my retweet above, "Shift happens" (hashtag #ShiftHappens). Here are a few telling excerpts from Sternberg's piece:

Among the new offerings is “The Briefing,” a political program hosted Monday and Fridays by Luke Russert

Luke Russert, because experience (doesn't) count. And this:

[Richard] Wolffe, who has written extensively on the Obama presidency and Spanish cooking, will host a show on books.

(Hat tip: Matt Yglesias)

December 13, 2014

Somehow, a horse in a wedding dress refutes marriage equality

Why is a horse in a wedding dress any more related to gay couples than to straight couples? Gay people are not seeking to marry horses, but other human beings. But somehow, this sort of stunt seems to persuade some people.

Fischer: Terror suspects have no right not to be tortured

More of the angry tribal deity perspective from AFA's Bryan Fischer.

Sen. Warren goes after Citigroup and its bailout provision

Sen. Elizabeth Warren lets Citigroup have it.

Update:

Thousands gather in D.C. to protest police killings

A shot of Freedom Plaza Saturday as protesters gathered. Associated Press reports.

December 11, 2014

Ted Osius III sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

NBC News reports:

The first openly gay U.S. ambassador to serve in East Asia, Ted Osius III, was sworn in Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry, signaling another important step forward for LGBT rights in the region as well as for the government agency.

Osius, who will serve in Vietnam, now becomes the 7th openly LGBT person named as an ambassador under the Obama administration, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"Not long ago, that would have literally been impossible. And when Ted first joined the Foreign Service, being open about who you love was grounds for having your security clearance yanked," Secretary Kerry said in a statement. "Today, the LGBT community is embraced by the Foreign Service and well beyond."

December 13 - #Justice4All march in DC

Congress and Initiative 71

Also:

Chris Rock explains it all for you

Or this

Chris Geidner mistaken for Harvard professor in Chinese takeout dispute; hashtag #BlameChrisGeidner

Chris_geidner

Poynter reports that our friend, BuzzFeed reporter Chris Geidner, has somehow been confused for the Harvard Business School professor who got into a big fight over a $4 overcharge at a Chinese takeout.

One of my unhelpful comments was:

Screw you PC weaklings! Geidner doesn't apologize! #GeidnerianExceptionalism

Also:

It is a damned lie that Chris Geidner engaged in classified pillow talk with Dianne Feinstein!

And:

Or was it Lindsey Graham that Chris Geidner didn't sleep with? #ewww

(Hat tip: Chris Geidner)

December 10, 2014

Goodbye, Crazy Eyes

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Bedlam) says farewell.

"America's worst gay power couple"

Jamie Kirchick in The Daily Beast lays into Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge. Hughes has just wrecked the century-old brand of The New Republic, while his husband just blew a big wad in a failed effort to buy a congressional seat. Money can buy you a lot, but not good judgment or credibility.

Congressional spending bill blocks funds to implement marijuana legalization

City Paper reports.

In summary: The people of the District of Columbia have the right to govern ourselves, except when we don't. The fight continues.

Malala Yousafzai Nobel Peace Prize Speech (video)

BBC reports:

Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi have received the Nobel Peace Prize awards....

Ms Yousafzai said she was there to stand up for the rights of forgotten and frightened children, and raise their voice rather than pity them.

Mr Satyarthi said receiving the prize was "a great opportunity" to further his work against child slavery.

December 08, 2014

Michigan 'Religious Freedom' bill allows anyone to deny service to LGBT people

Michigan_RFRA_meme

NewNowNext reports:

Over the weekend, Republicans in the Michigan Statehouse passed a “license to discriminate” bill that would give just about anyone the right to refuse service to LGBT people if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an EMT to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.

The measure is similar to one in Arizona that even right-wing governor Jan Brewer thought went too far and vetoed.

A similar issue arose during the D.C. marriage equality fight in 2009, and the overbroad religious exemption demanded by the Archdiocese of Washington was rejected by Phil Mendelson, then chair of the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee, at GLAA's urging.

LeBron: 'I Can't Breathe'

December 07, 2014

A question for Pope Francis

The President on continued job growth

Another month of job growth. I have heard from some quarters what a disastrous president Barack Obama has been. For such people, the facts simply cannot be allowed to count.

Season's Bleedings

My column this week is about a travesty of justice in the Michael Brown case in Missouri. Here is an excerpt:

What is the fuss about? Succinctly: A police officer who was more an occupier than a protector used deadly force to subdue a jaywalker, then prosecutors presented the case for his defense.

As protests sprang up across the nation and overseas last week, Wilson resigned from the force. St. Louis County police shut down a vigilante operation by the Oath Keepers militia. Twenty-year-old Deandre Joshua was murdered during the unrest on the night of November 24. When President Obama said after the grand jury announcement, "[T]here are still problems and communities of color aren't just making these problems up," reactions from the right would make you think he had torched a storefront.

Carlton Lee, Michael Brown Sr.'s pastor, received dozens of racist death threats in recent weeks, and his church, far from the riots, was burned down as he was off trying to keep the peace. Vowing to rebuild at a Sunday service beside the ruins, he urged love in response to the haters.

It is an old struggle....

Read the whole thing here.

Banned from a gay dads' group for raising Michael Brown

Activist Doug Kerr writes at HuffPost:

Watching the events unfold in the suburbs of St. Louis that night, however, I felt a tremendous anger rise up in me as a father. I decided to post a comment in the group about how angry I was and how scary it feels to raise a black son in this world today. There are thousands of other black and white gay families raising black kids, and on a night like this surely they must also be feeling rage, fear and despair.

First the thread was shut down, then he was expelled. Shaking my head.

December 06, 2014

Tempe pastor cites Leviticus in calling for mass killing of gays

Pastor Steven Anderson of Tempe, Arizona cites Leviticus 20:13 in calling for killing all gay people. I am sure he did not intend to make the case for religion as mental illness, but see for yourself.

December 02, 2014

D.C. Council passes bill to protect ‪#‎LGBT‬ youth from ‪#‎ConversionTherapy‬

NCLR writes:

Today, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

When signed into law, Washington, D.C. will become the third jurisdiction—behind California and New Jersey—to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from practices that are known to cause severe depression and even suicide.

“Today, the DC Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved,” said Samantha Ames, NCLR staff attorney and coordinator of the #BornPerfect campaign at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “The Council has used its authority to protect our most vulnerable youth from dangerous and discredited pseudoscience that tells them who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

NCLR, in conjunction with other organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill, which was authored by Councilmember Mary M. Cheh. A broad range of groups supported the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, including national LGBT organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, reproductive justice groups, and civil rights organizations.

Earlier this year, NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign to protecting LGBT youth across the country from conversion therapy over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.

Learn more about #BornPerfect at www.NCLRights.org/BornPerfect.

GLAA is proud to be part of the coalition that pushed for this bill. Now it goes to Mayor Gray for his signature, then to the Hill for the requisite congressional review period. Our youth will be that much safer for our collective effort, and the national movement to protect minors from these dangerous practices will get a boost.

Thanks to NCLR and all our coalition partners. Special kudos to Alison Gill, formerly of the Trevor Project and now Senior Legislative Counsel with the Human Rights Campaign, who served as coordinator.

More on the bill here.

December 01, 2014

Lambda Legal: end HIV criminalization

Lambda Legal issued this by news release:

On World AIDS Day 2014, Lambda Legal urges those tasked with enforcing U.S. criminal law - from governors to prosecutors to police detectives - to halt the criminal prosecution of people based on their HIV status, thereby assisting efforts to combat the misconceptions, fear, stereotypes, discrimination and stigma faced by people living with HIV that fuel the epidemic in the U.S. and around the world.

HIV criminalization is a striking example of how misinformation, stereotypes and unfounded fears affect people living with HIV and of the government engaging in discrimination that perpetuates these stigmatizing messages. Imposing unjustified and unnecessary criminal prohibitions on people with HIV has led to a society where people are - among other forms of oppression - imprisoned, classified as felons and forced to register as sex offenders, based on outdated and inaccurate information regarding HIV.

We have not come nearly far enough in educating the public about HIV and in reducing stigma and discrimination. Fear and ignorance about HIV and discrimination against people living with HIV remains a serious problem that both marginalizes people and poses barriers to treatment and care.

Lambda Legal remains committed to securing equal protection and equal rights for this community - because living with HIV is not a crime. Lambda Legal's commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination began more than twenty-five years ago in 1983 when we filed the nation's first challenge to AIDS discrimination and helped secure a court order stopping the efforts of neighbors to evict a doctor from his offices because he treated HIV-positive patients.

That commitment remains strong today. People living with HIV have a right to work and live free from discrimination, and laws, policies and other governmental actions should be based on sound science rather than fear and bias.

See the relevant portion of GLAA's 2014 policy brief.

World AIDS Day: 7 facts about the disease

Above, Helen Bygrave of Doctors Without Borders talks to AFP.

USA Today reports 7 facts about AIDS:

  1. An estimated 34 million people have HIV/AIDS worldwide. In the USA, an estimated 1.2 million people live with HIV and one out of every seven are not aware they have the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Sub-Saharan Africa has the most people living with HIV in the world and 70% of all new HIV infections occur there. In 2013, there were an estimated 24.7 million cases in the region, according to the World Health Organization.
  3. In the USA, the number of new HIV infections reported have decreased from approximately 130,000 a year to 50,000 a year since the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, according to the CDC.
  4. There is no cure for HIV, but antiretroviral drugs (ART) have helped people live longer with the virus. In 2013, 12.9 million people received the drug therapy, according to the World Health Organization.
  5. From 2005 to 2013, AIDS-related deaths globally have decreased by almost 40% across age groups. However, deaths for children ages 10 to 19 have not decreased, according to UNICEF.
  6. In the USA, HIV primarily occurs in urban areas with a population of 500,000 people or more. Hardest hit areas in 2012 included Atlanta, Miami, Baton Rouge, La., New Orleans, Memphis and Baltimore, according to the CDC.
  7. The group most affected by HIV in the USA remains gay or bisexual men. Male-to-male sex accounted for 63% of new HIV infections in 2010, according to the CDC. The CDC reports that African Americans are disproportionately affected. In 2010, they made up 14% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 44% of new HIV infections.

Prince Harry shares a secret for #WorldAIDSDay

CBS News reports.

November 30, 2014

Calling out Don Lemon

CNN's Don Lemon has been embarrassing a lot of us lately with his stupid comments on a number of topics. His comments this past week from Ferguson were too much for one Charles Wade. More on this here.

Tweets of the times

Season's Greetings

Darren Wilson resigns, no severance package

November 28, 2014

Corporate liberal Hillary rakes it in

Hillary_at_UCal_with_Teleprompter
(Photo: AP / Nick Ut)

Rosalind S. Helderman and Philip Rucker at WaPo report:

When officials at the University of California at Los Angeles began negotiating a $300,000 speech appearance by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the school had one request: Could we get a reduced rate for public universities?

The answer from Clinton’s representatives: $300,000 is the “special university rate.”

Maybe Hillary's new populist slogan will be, "Time to Get Yours." She could model herself after Prosperity Gospel televangelists. That would make me want to hurl, but it would at least be coherent. I do not see how this naked greed helps her politically. Oh, I can think up excuses, and the hacks will dutifully toss them out on command. But who will buy them?

By the way, in the above photo, doesn't she look a bit like Thomas Jefferson?

November 27, 2014

2014 Medal of Freedom ceremony

This year's honorees include James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, the civil rights workers who were murdered fifty years ago during Mississippi Freedom Summer. Family members accepted for them.

Republicans want to ban Obama from delivering State of the Union

Oh please, please, please. Go ahead, you reckless, treasonous fanatics. You are on a hellhound train and you cannot stop and cannot get off.

A proud moment for Dan Snyder

Huckabee defiles Holocaust tour

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, not content with comparing abortion to the Holocaust, declares that gay marriage destroys the foundation of civilization.

November 26, 2014

Marriage victories in Arkansas and Mississippi