1195 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

January 06, 2015

Marriage equality comes to Florida

Joy erupts in a Miami courtroom as Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida lifts a stay and allows gay couples to marry. Congrats to all the happy couples and all who helped make this happen.

January 03, 2015

January 10 - Justice For Leelah Alcorn Rally & March

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On Saturday, January 10 at 2 pm, a rally and march will be held in D.C. for Ohio transgender youth Leelah Alcorn, who was recently driven to her death by intolerance and abuse. The rally will be held at Mt. Vernon Square/Washington DC Convention Center. The organizers write:

"My Death Needs To Mean Something"

Join us January 10th as we gather in honor of Leelah's wishes to stand up for the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people everywhere.

This event will consist of a few speakers followed by a march.

For more information on the circumstances surrounding the death of Leelah Alcorn, as well as to read her final message, please see the following (warning: suicide and transphobia trigger warnings apply): http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/12/transgender-teen-struck-and-killed-on-ohio-interstate-in-apparent-suicide/

If you or someone you know is transgender or gender non-conforming and feeling suicidal, please know that there is a suicide hotline dedicated to transgender people that you can call: http://www.translifeline.org/

January 02, 2015

Public Servant of the Year: St. Louis Alderman Antonio French

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My choice for Public Servant of the Year is St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who came to my attention in August 2014 as I looked on Twitter for firsthand accounts of the street protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of Michael Brown. His Twitter handle (@AntonioFrench) kept coming up. Lauren Williams at Vox described French in action:

Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman, has been a constant presence in Ferguson, Missouri, since Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. On Twitter and Vine, French has fearlessly documented the nightly protests. Friday night, after days of largely nonviolent demonstrations, a handful of what he calls "troublemakers" changed the tone and began looting several stores in the area. Read French's description of how he, local activist Anthony Shahid, and others tried to stop them, and why it was best for police to keep their distance and let the events play out....

In the photo below by Robert Cohen (@kodacohen) of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, French is helping to hold back some youths for their safety. French routinely put himself at risk to help others, and maintained a steady and reliable voice for justice. Kudos to him.

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January 01, 2015

Putting It Together in 2015

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(Photo by See-ming Lee, United Nations Africa Renewal)

My look at the year ahead in LGBT activism is now up at Bay Windows. Here's an excerpt:

From a liberal perspective, 2015 promises continued fights against right-wing aggressions that include vagina policing and other gender-based discrimination; attacks on church-state separation; xenophobia; quackery disguised as science; biased profiling and excessive force by police; and criminalization of healthcare issues.

None of these will be resolved by the likely nationwide victory for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, in the words of Ella Baker, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest." Here are some thoughts for the work ahead.

Read the whole thing here.

'Hispanic sounding name'

December 31, 2014

In orbit, 16 New Year celebrations

From the International Space Station.

Fox News hashtag #OverIt2014 backfires

Brendan James at TPM reports on the merriment.

Happy New Year from Sydney

Our Lives Matter PSA

Yesha Callahan at The Root reports on this PSA about black boys being profiled by the police.

Polar vortex, if you must come, bring a snow bunting

My memories of 2014 include this tweet by Philip Gourevitch of The New Yorker from last winter.

Favorited by David Mariner

Also, whether the new unpronounceable acronym is LGBTQIA. (Queer In Action?) We've been wrangling over what to call ourselves for decades. Aravosis weighs in at AMERICAblogGay.

2014 year in review: Athletes and Ambassadors

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My year-in-review is now up at the Washington Blade. Here is an excerpt:

Military and international. The transition to openly gay military service has gone so smoothly it has generated little news. The fight to end discrimination against transgender service members continues; two dozen have been discharged in the past two years. The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit by Sexual Minorities Uganda against Scott Lively for crimes against humanity can proceed. In diplomatic news, Ted Osius III joined a growing list of openly gay envoys when he was sworn in as ambassador to Vietnam.

Health. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led 80 senators and House members in urging an end to the lifetime ban on blood donations by men who have had sex with men, calling for science to replace stereotypes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for wider use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, despite strong opposition by Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. There have been no new HIV infections among more than 500 Kaiser Permanente customers using PrEP. New York and the District of Columbia adopted rules forbidding health insurers from denying medically necessary treatment to transgender people. D.C. joined California and New Jersey in passing legislation banning "ex-gay" conversion therapy for minors.

Media. Schadenfreude was rampant after Sean Eldridge failed in his bid to buy a congressional seat and husband Chris Hughes provoked a mass walkout at The New Republic by sacking top editors. Hughes was faulted for wrecking a century-old magazine in his effort to create a "vertically integrated digital media company," that is, a word salad. Former TNR writer Jamie Kirchick at The Daily Beast dubbed them "America's worst gay power couple," but their youthful hubris and confusion of wealth for wisdom transcend sexual orientation.

Read the whole thing here.

December 30, 2014

Klingenschmitt praises Fayetteville for voting 'against the Devil'

Right Wing Watch reports. He aggressively opposes non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, yet HE is the one being persecuted.

December 28, 2014

Jane Elliott, in your face on racism

Jane Elliott is interviewed on her approach to teaching about racism, and how white people are conditioned from before birth to believe in white superiority.

Someone this aggressive, who says she doesn't care what people think of her, is just the sort of in-your-face type that some people applaud who want to vent more than win people over. No. You are racist or not based on what you believe and say and do. If you don't know who I have worked with and what I have stood for, yet you "know" I am racist because of my appearance, then you don't know what you are talking about and you don't know the meaning of respect. Respect must be reciprocal in order to exist in any living sense. All must be prepared to listen and learn. This teacher evidently knows a lot about racial conditioning, yet she talks to a person of color as if she doesn't care what he thinks and has nothing to learn from him. What's wrong with this picture?

Some of us objected from an early age to being treated like sheep. We resisted the conditioning. If you say you want to fight racism but refuse to acknowledge that, it raises the question of whether you enjoy being brutally blunt more than changing minds.

The officer who did not turn his back

Kudos to the brave officer who resisted peer pressure and did not turn his back on Mayor de Blasio. He doubtless knows that having "the talk" with one's black son (see Springsteen, "41 Shots") is simply responsible parenting, not advocating violence against police.

December 27, 2014

Joe Califano whitesplains it all for you

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(Photo by Yoichi R. Okamoto/LBJ Library)

Joseph Califano, who served as President Johnson's top domestic affairs assistant, slams the new Selma movie in WaPo. He actually claims that "Selma was LBJ’s idea."

Lauren Victoria Burke responds at Crew of 42:

What? In an interesting column in the Washington Post, former LBJ aid Joe Califano claims that it was LBJ who came up with the Selma march. What in the world Califano is talking about is anyone’s guess. Below is the Selma episode of Eyes on the Prize.

December 25, 2014

The Queen's Christmas speech focuses on reconciliation

I do not have a fixation on the British royal family as do some Americans I know. But I have to give Her Majesty credit for delivering a very fine speech this Christmas.

And the tiara goes to....

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(Photo by Pete Souza, The White House)

White House photographer Pete Souza writes on Instagram:

Still editing 2014 Year in Photos. I may include this one even though it's a posed photo. This is from the annual White House Science Fair. The kids from Girl Scout Troop 2612 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, convinced the President to wear a tiara with them for their group photo. The girls had exhibited a Lego flood proof bridge project.

Conservatives, of course, won't be able to resist jumping on this image to prove that the President is acting like a king. I suppose it will also be seized upon by conspiracy theorists like former comedian Dick Gregory who say (and I am not making this up) that the President is secretly homosexual. Mister Cool doesn't worry about that stuff. He just brushes it off and goes about his business.

A Christmas thought

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(Photo courtesy Voice of America)

A Christmas thought: many of my friends have beliefs that I do not share. Yet none of them has tried to coerce me into adopting or conforming to them. Indeed, some have worked to help protect us from their more belligerent and bullying co-religionists. As a Catholic who left the church 44 years ago, I like many others have been impressed and moved by the Christlike behavior of the first Jesuit Pope, though I remain skeptical that we share the same policy goals.

Which brings us back to our diversity of beliefs and mutual tolerance. We don't have to be the same to give each other credit and respect. And we don't have to get bossy to teach. Blessings to all who have enriched my life with their humor, passion, insights and perspectives, and who have taught by their example. The most awesome examples of courage, generosity, caring and resilience I saw this year were from persecuted LGBT Ugandans. You have given me more than you know. Here is to finding new and fruitful connections in the year ahead, and learning to our benefit that it is not always about us.

December 23, 2014

Marriage equality cases headed to 8th Circuit, SCOTUS conference

U.S. drops The Gambia from free trade agreement over human rights abuses

FDA lifts blood donation ban for gay men, sort of

Vox.com reports. Basically, if you've been celibate for the past year, step right up. I can hear Frank Kameny denounce this from beyond the grave. And he doesn't have a grave. Never mind, sore subject.

December 22, 2014

Unity in mourning lost fathers

In the saddest of moments, a glimmer of hope for understanding and reconciliation.

Mayor de Blasio calls for suspension of protests in NYC

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(Photo by Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Marc Santora at NYT reports:

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday called for protesters to suspend demonstrations in the aftermath of the killing of two New York police officers, who were gunned down in Brooklyn as they sat in their patrol car.

“It’s time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in due time,” Mr. de Blasio said in a speech. “That can be for another day.”

The mayor’s call came a few hours after the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said that the killing of the officers on Saturday was a “direct spinoff of this issue” of the protests that have roiled the nation in recent weeks.

Dear protesters, ignore him and exercise your First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceable assembly (which, btw, do not disappear because police plant provocateurs). Dear Mayor, please grow a pair. The police union, Rudy Giuliani, and Fox News have cynically exploited the murders of two police officers by a suicidal madman to attack the protesters, the mayor, and President Obama. This amounts to saying that any criticism of police amounts to calling for them to be murdered. We cannot accept this pernicious logic. It is not the protesters who want to start a war, it is those among the police and their defenders who spew slanders in every direction. Calling for police reform is not calling for their murder. The lies must be responded to, not pandered to.

Obama schools GOP hawks and Putin

President Obama, in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, makes short work of Russia's Vladimir Putin and Republicans who call him weak on national security.

(Hat tip: Occupy Democrats)

Indict American war criminals, starting with Cheney

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(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

I agree with The New York Times.

For years I've thought that we cannot be like countries where leaders of the outgoing regime are jailed by the incoming one. The resulting political turmoil would not be worth it. But I am changing my mind. Dick Cheney's brazen, no-apologies trash talk has helped me reconsider. If he had the sense to choose a quiet retirement it might be one thing; but he continues his provocations and his aggressive contempt for international norms to which America is a signatory, and for simple decency. So we got the turmoil anyway. Meanwhile, the lack of justice looms larger. Indict him or give him a one-way ticket to The Hague.

December 21, 2014

TLC to Air ‘My Husband’s Not Gay’ Special in January

December 20, 2014

Two police officers killed by ambush in Brooklyn; suspect dead by his own hand

NYT reports the awful news.

I agree with Jeffrey Wright. Citizens and police must stand together against violence and for justice for all. Otherwise madmen, provocateurs, and sociopaths will rule the day. My heart goes out to the families of the slain officers, and all who are the victims of senseless violence.

December 19, 2014

Persecution in Egypt continues

December 18, 2014

ACLU of Florida responds to Pam Bondi

December 17, 2014

Cutting Holes in the Law

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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.