782 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

February 25, 2014

Michael Brown defends Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Law

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch shares this.

Right-wing evangelicals in America are demonstrating by their latest statements, in case you missed it before, that they would carry out the same brutal repression against LGBT people here as we are seeing in Russia, Nigeria, Uganda, and elsewhere, if they could.

Schlafly and Solomon Suggest Ukraine-Style Uprising

The latest right-wing lunacy, courtesy Right Wing Watch.

Apple joins outcry over AZ anti-gay bill

As a user of several Apple products, I say thank you, Tim Cook, for your company's stance.

TPM: 'Religious Liberty' campaign may be backfiring for conservatives

Fanatics showing their true colors. Works for me.

Michael Sam responds to anti-gay lobbyist

NFL draft prospect Michael Sam has a few words for anti-gay lobbyist Jack Burkman, who is proposing legislation in the U.S. Congress to ban openly gay players from the NFL:

Archbishop Tutu deplores #Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act

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U.S. Embassy Kampala shares:

Archbishop Tutu's plea to ‪#‎Ugandan‬ President ‪#‎Museveni‬ to reconsider the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill has made news around the world. He says, “We must be entirely clear about this: The history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God…. Our diversity requires of us to be tolerant and compassionate and respectful of each other. ” Read on here: http://goo.gl/Cka3VQ

Amen. Wherever you are, join me tonight in lighting a candle of hope for our brothers and sisters in Uganda, that they find safety and preserve courage and hope.

February 21, 2014

Lee: Will it matter if gays zero-out in D.C. elections?

Mark Lee raises an interesting question in this week's Blade.

Rev. Kapya Kaoma: Those urging recalls of ambassadors are falling into anti-gay trap

Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an Episcopal priest from Zambia, writes at Political Research Associates:

[H]ad it not been for the presence of the U.S. and European embassies, African gays would have been massacred years ago, without any fear of consequences. For LGBTQ organizations to now demand they pull out of Uganda perilously compromises the lives of LGBTQ persons—who will not have anyone to turn to for safety, and strip our ability to monitor persecution.

I understand that we are all desperate to stop the progression of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. But threatening to leave the country will only boost the political power and credibility of leaders like Museveni, David Bahati, and Martin Ssempa—opening the door for African nations to expand further anti-LGBTQ laws, possibly even including executions and mass slaughter....

The withdrawal of the U.S. Ambassador from Uganda and Nigeria would also have some neo-colonial implications, which we should guard against. Uganda is not the first country to pass this Anti-Homosexuality Bill banning advocacy for LGBTQ issues—Russia was first. Nigeria followed, and many more nations are still to follow. How do we explain that no calls have gone out for the U.S. to sever diplomatic relations with Russia, but then call for the cutting of those ties to African nations? Frankly speaking, this move is an invitation for neo-colonial politics—which make even vicious dictators (like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe) heroes in the eyes of African people.

African nations are sensitive to neo-colonial and imperialistic attitudes of the West—hence they are likely to side with Museveni when he is condemned for his handling of homosexuality. The move will only make Museveni a hero not just among Ugandans, but also among his African allies—precisely what he is hoping for after watching his political power fade in recent years. If the West attacks him, and leaves the country, Museveni will have free reign to rule as the dictator he wants to be.

So what is the way forward?

African homophobia is promoted and propelled by religion. In Uganda, Christian leaders (paid for and encouraged by American evangelicals) have been demanding the bill for years, and pushing their followers to vote for the lawmakers who support it. Politicians will always be politicians—they are always looking for votes. In his attempt to win the Evangelical votes in 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama disagreed with same-sex marriage in a debate moderated by Pastor Rick Warren—one of very same U.S. evangelicals who worked with anti-gay pastors in Uganda. But to think that such dynamics only work in American politics is naïve at best, and dangerous, careless, and deadly at worst. Museveni needs votes to remain in power. So the answer to Uganda’s anti-gay bill lies in the primarily Christian electorate of Uganda. We should be demanding that Pope Francis speak directly to President Museveni and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, and urge Ugandan Roman Catholics to proclaim his already-stated opposition to any law criminalizing LGBTQ persons. U.S. Anglican, and Evangelical/Pentecostal leaders should equally speak to their friends in Uganda about the dignity and fundamental human rights of sexual minorities. And the American people must demand an end to the constant flow of exportation of homophobia from U.S. evangelicals like Scott Lively, Lou Engle, and Rick Warren to Ugandan pastors and politicians.

Open letters, petitions, and press releases will only give Museveni and Uganda lawmakers another reason to sign and enforce the bill.

Museveni to Western critics: Don't tell me how to run my house

Uganda President responds defiantly to Western critics of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, including the United States and Canada.

If he is so eager to reject Western influences, why does he embrace the existing anti-gay law in Uganda that comes from the old British penal code, and why does he swallow the poison of American evangelicals like Scott Lively?

AZ legislator opposes anti-gay bill

Arizona state legislator Chad Campbell explains what is wrong with SB1062.

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Another Hate Group for DC

The Washington Blade writes about a press conference yesterday announcing the formation of a new anti-gay organization.

Scott Lively of Defend the Family International and Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality unveiled the Coalition for Family Values at the National Press Club in downtown Washington. Greg Quinlan and Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania spoke at the press conference.

Scott Lively and this group support the adoption of gay propaganda laws in the US and around the world. In Russia reporters covering gay rights issues, such as the firing of a gay teacher, face fines and possible imprisonment. In the United States we have the Constitutionally protected freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Lively and his ilk think homosexuality is such a threat it justifies tossing the Constitution aside. Generally the media doesn't take kindly to organizations like Coalition for Family Values.

The answer to hate speech is more speech. Lets hope coverage of this group is about their anti-democratic agenda and not homofascists try to silence their enemies.

February 14, 2014

War Dispatches

My latest column surveys last week's events, from the Sochi Olympics to anti-gay persecution in Nigeria and Uganda, to America's anti-gay right. It was enough to make a person's head spin.

February 05, 2014

Howling at the moon: Dupont group decries noise

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Mark Lee at the Blade takes on the latest silliness from the NIMBYs of Dupont.

Another missed birthday

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Today another birthday passes that Trayvon Martin did not live to see. He would be in college now. But it wasn't just one prejudiced man that killed him. It was a culture of fear stoked by hate groups, exploited by politicians and gun manufacturers, and fed by the media. He or Jordan Davis could have been one of the teens I mentored or gave academic advice. They have so much to offer, their minds just beginning to mature and stretch in new directions, and out of the blue at any moment a seething hatred they did not earn can snuff them out. We have to push back against the hatred. We have to find more helpers to overcome it. Helping to nurture a young mind is the closest I will ever come to parenting. I don't want to outlive these kids. They deserve so much better from us than mourning.

The arbitrary pursuit of deadly confrontations by people emboldened by a gun and lubricated by a sense of untouchable privilege is itself a kind of drive-by shooting. For such a person to refer to others as thugs is like the leaders of the Catholic Church decrying others as child molesters. Clean up your own house first. We must confront this hypocrisy more forcefully in a creative and nonviolent way. We must touch our fellow citizens. And while we're at it, stop the arsonists like Fox News. But the media provide so much distraction, bread and circuses as the old phrase goes, that waking people from their complacency is a tall challenge.

Click here to see the set of draft policy principles developed by NAACP known as "Trayvon's Law." In summary:

  • Ending racial profiling;
  • Repealing stand your ground type laws;
  • Creating law enforcement accountability through effective police oversight;
  • Improving training and best practices for community watch groups; and
  • Mandating law enforcement data collection on homicide cases involving people of color.

February 04, 2014

PBS on Sochi and "homosexual propaganda"

@JeffreyBrown could be fined or jailed in Russia for this interview.

 

Russia has done similar things recently. Andranik Migranyan says that the majority of Russians want a law outlawing "homosexual propaganda". In this country we have a Bill of Rights that protects people who say things that the government or a majority of the public doesn't like.

Russians have a long history of authoritarian rule from the tsars through the Soviet Union and on to Putin. But as unrest about his continued reign grows (he has been in office far longer than their constitution allows) he needs to appeal to outside groups to maintain his power. And one of those is the Russian Orthodox Church. Giving support to this law has strengthened the churches support of Putin. On this issue opinion outside of Russia counts little.

Baryshnikov Wears Rainbow Scarf in Solidarity With Gay Russians

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(From left: Michael Merrigan, Robbie Sweeny, Mikhail Baryshinikov and Michael Petrelis. Photo courtesy Gays Without Borders and Boycott4Russia)

Michael Petrelis reports.

Marriage equality heads to court in Virginia; haters rally outside

Joe Jervis writes:

Tens of anti-gay protesters appeared this morning outside of the Virginia federal courthouse hearing opening arguments in AFER's marriage equality lawsuits. In the sparse group was failed Virginia lieutenant governor candidate and freak show crackpot E.W. Jackson. Today's protest was organized by NOM, the Family Research Council, and the Virginia Family Foundation.

AFER reports on what is going on inside the court.

Miss M retorts

Bette responds to a beast with wit and brevity.

January 30, 2014

Schlafly Claims 'Many Americans' Moving Out of Marriage Equality States In Protest

Right Wing Watch shares the latest fantasy from right-wing nut bag Phyllis Schlafly.

Rep. Grimm apologizes to reporter, invites him to lunch

TPM reports on Rep. Michael Grimm's contrition after being caught on camera threatening to throw NY1 reporter Michael Scotto off a third-floor balcony and break him "like a boy" when Scotto asked him an unwelcome question about a campaign financing scandal.

Talk dirty to me, throw me over the railing, pick up the check. Sorry, I'm not that into you....

Enforcing an executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors

Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality expresses the perplexity shared by many LGBT advocates as to why President Obama has refused to sign an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination against employees of federal contractors, as he promised during the 2008 campaign.

But as our friend Kurt Vorndran, legislative representative for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), points out, such an order would not be enforceable in practical terms unless the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) gets sufficient staffing and budget to enforce compliance. OFCCP was created by President Johnson through executive order in 1965, and expanded under Nixon. It was decimated (not eliminated) by Reagan. In other words, Reagan kept the window dressing. Right now, according to the DOL website, OFCCP has 800 staff. That is for all their EEO and affirmative action programs related to federal contracts nationwide. Firms they go after love to drag proceedings out as long as possible and then demand dismissal because the action is not timely.

House Speaker John Boehner says we have enough regulations already, but that is a mere slogan to conceal the GOP's long and relentless efforts to cripple the government's ability to regulate everything from food and medicine safety to employment discrimination. Then they decry government ineffectiveness. That is a most cynical game. The Obama administration has worked tirelessly in federal agencies to repair and restore the government's regulatory apparatus. But there is a limit to what you can do without the resources being budgeted for it.

So we need more than an executive order. We need the staffing and budget to enforce it. The devil is in the details.

Update: Kurt Vorndran adds:

In the last year of the Clinton Administration, OFCCP had an FTE level of 786. The G.W. Bush Administration decimated the office to a level of 585. By FY2011, the Obama Administration was able to restore the office to the approximate level before Bush (755 FTEs). While the office is now back to the level of staffing from 13 years ago, it has a tremendous backlog. Director Shiu has tried to make the office more efficient, but given an increase in workload since 2001, she has a tough job.

Enforcing a sexual orientation E.O. is also going to take resources as most of OFCCP's effectiveness and work comes not from individual complaint examinations but by compliance reviews. They are going to have to develop some innovative ways to do lgbt compliance reviews.

January 28, 2014

We Shall Overcome

LBJ_Overcome
It was March 15, 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson spoke to a join session of Congress to call for passage of the Voting Rights Act, just eight days after Bloody Sunday. In that speech he said, "And we shall overcome," echoing the great anthem of the civil rights movement. With Pete Seeger, who popularized that song, having just died at age 94, a fitting tribute would be for President Obama to invoke that phrase tonight from the same place where LBJ spoke it.

What the President could say tonight:

Today we mourn the passing of the great American singer and champion of justice, Pete Seeger. One of the songs with which he is most associated is "We Shall Overcome." Those words rang through this chamber in 1965, when President Johnson called for passage of the Voting Rights Act after peaceful demonstrators were brutally attacked by police in Selma, Alabama. At the head of that peaceful march was a brave young man who nearly died that day, but who survived to become a conscience of our nation. Congressman Lewis, please stand. Thank you, sir. Let us honor that generation, and the cause for which so many gave their lives, by passing voting rights reform. No one who loves this country should seek to win an election by means of voter suppression.

January 26, 2014

Gay libertarians defend discrimination as freedom of expression

Valerie Richardson at The Washington Times reports that some illustrious gay and pro-gay libertarians have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in defense of the right of anti-gay photographers, florists, and bakers to refuse their services to same-sex couples:

Those filing friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the ADF’s position [defending the anti-gay business owners] include some high-profile supporters of gay marriage, including Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute legal counsel; Eugene Volokh, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law professor; and Dale Carpenter, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

No. We are talking about licensed businesses. What our libertarian friends are effectively defending, as with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is the right of businesses to refuse their services to anyone of whom they disapprove (including based on religious beliefs). By their logic, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have applied only to discrimination by the government -- while restaurants, shops, hotels and other places of public accommodation would have been able to continue refusing service to African Americans. No way. But do not call the libertarians sellouts: they are being true to their principles. I just think they are wrong. At some point we must check our principles against reality.

A further point: Personally, I would not want to hire someone for my wedding who disapproved of us. But that should be our choice. It should not be the right of a licensed business owner to discriminate without penalty.

Birds attack peace doves released from Pope's window

AP reports:

Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds.

As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.

Oh, dear. This reminds me of Ben Franklin's proposal of the turkey as America's national bird. Our Founders went with the safer choice of a bald eagle. Granted, "peace eagle" would create some cognitive dissonance, but if you released one in a grand gesture with lots of witnesses, it's safe to say it would not be attacked by pigeons. Then you have the Swedish warship Vasa, which was so top-heavy that it keeled over and sank shortly after its launch in 1628, as dignitaries watched. Somewhere out there is bound to be a variable you didn't anticipate.

Nigerian woman disowns gay cat

Christian Walters reports at Towleroad.

January 22, 2014

GOP strategist can’t admit even one white person is racist toward Obama

The Raw Story reports. After five years of racial dog whistles against Obama, they persist in saying no, the racial appeals are all coming from the President.

Another example of how much of our current politics is not about honest disagreement, but about reflexive opposition and lies. GOP opposition to the Affordable Care Act cannot be policy-based, because it was conceived by the Heritage Foundation and pioneered by Obama's 2012 Republican opponent. Democrats wanted a more liberal program, and settled for the current program as a compromise. Republicans have done all they can to sabotage their own plan while brazenly blaming any problems on Obama. They do the same with the economy. They are morally treasonous.

January 21, 2014

Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina comes out

Kenyan-writer-Binyavanga--011

Influential Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, responding to a harsh anti-gay law passed in Nigeria, has revealed his homosexuality.

Wainaina's brave act in speaking out is an example of why the fight for LGBT equality in Africa will win. But it will be a long struggle. Bravo to him for stepping up.

January 20, 2014

Obama: pot safer than alcohol

In an interview with The New Yorker, President Obama says that he thinks marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and is concerned about what reporter David Remnick calls "the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities."

We at GLAA agree.

January 19, 2014

Rev. Anne Robertson and Cardinal Sean O'Malley's moving photo creates a stir

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With a small gesture -- a Catholic cardinal at an ecumenical worship service asks a woman to bless him -- a prince of the Church opens a tiny window of hope.

G.O.P. Advice for Christie: Pick a Better Team

From NYT. Yes, staff can be such a disappointment. I remember when Dick Nixon needed new staff (as the old were headed to the slammer), but it turned out he was stuck with himself.

LGBT Community Spends 65 Times More on Tobacco Than Civil Rights

The Advocate reports:

A new report from the U.S. Surgeon General reveals that LGBT people spend an estimated $7.9 billion on tobacco products annually — which is 65 times more money than pro-equality funders spend on all LGBT issues combined.

I wish you mean people would leave Mark Lee alone.

Contrary to Godwin's Law

An eloquent piece by Israeli writer Etgar Keret on the effort there to ban the word "Nazi."

January 17, 2014

The New York Times’ Gay Panic Reflex

Gawker nails the Gray Lady. Oh, pardon me, that sounded indelicate.

Being gay is not a crime. It is normal for a small portion of the population. If it is not considered icky or disreputable, then the basis for taboos like that of NYT make no sense. Their policy and squeamishness are vestiges from another time. They can hardly cite standards of evidence while forbidding the gathering or reporting of such evidence.

IOC member rips U.S. for including openly gay members in Olympic delegation

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(Mario Pescante, IOC member from Italy. Getty Images)

AP reports:

A senior Italian IOC member criticized the United States on Wednesday for including openly gay athletes in its official delegation for next month's Sochi Olympics.

"It's absurd that a country like that sends four lesbians to Russia just to demonstrate that in their country gay rights have (been established)," Mario Pescante said at an Italian Olympic Committee meeting in Milan on Wednesday, in comments widely reported by Italian media. "The games should not be an occasion and a stage to promote rights that sports supports daily."

Sorry, Mr. Pescante, but the situation is inherently political, as it was in Berlin in 1936. Politics is an aspect of human interaction. It is not a detachable accessory.

Marine Corps Tweets Out MLK Weekend Warning: ‘Don’t Be A Lone Shooter’

Think Progress reports.

Un-effing-believable.

January 14, 2014

Tony Perkins: Gay rights will cause human extinction

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Right Wing Watch shares the latest lunacy from Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.

I almost thought this idiotic old argument had been dropped out of embarrassment, but here it is rearing its silly head: If homosexuality is normalized, everyone will turn queer and stop reproducing, and humanity will die out.

It's just that irresistible.

Fox News: 137% of likely voters weighed in on Christie’s bridge scandal

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You do the math on this one.

Fox is 137 percent committed to accuracy.

(Hat tip: Cathy Renna)

January 11, 2014

Norton denied courtesy of testifying on anti-choice bill targeting D.C.

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At a hearing on January 9, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, denied Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) the courtesy of testifying on his bill, H.R. 7, which would, among other things, permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women, and define the D.C. government as part of the federal government for the purposes of abortion. (At present, the prohibition against the District spending its own locally-raised tax revenues on abortions for poor women is prohibited by a rider to the District's annual appropriations bill.)

It is a standard courtesy for a member whose district is targeted by a bill to be allowed to testify on it. All Rep. Franks would do was to point out that the single witness the Democrats were allowed at the hearing could be Norton (the Republicans were allowed three witnesses), despite the fact that the bill also had nationwide implications and the Democrats needed a witness to discuss those provisions. The normal practice would be to allow the affected member to testify over and above the witness allocation. But Franks, in addition to being opposed to women's reproductive freedom and to the District's right to govern its own affairs, is opposed to basic courtesy toward a colleague.

I attended the Congresswoman's news conference on Thursday morning protesting the action by Franks. Speaking at the news conference, in addition to Congresswoman Norton, were Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), ranking member of the subcommittee, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The District of Columbia government is not part of the federal government. That is a fact that no law can change. The law, however, can make a mockery of itself, and can cause injustice. Fortunately, H.R. 7 has no chance of passing in the U.S. Senate. This bill is but one example of the mischief that we can expect from Congress if Republicans take control of the Senate in this year's midterm elections.

The Congresswoman's statement, and the testimony she would have given against this egregious infringement on the rights of the District and of its women, can be read here.

January 09, 2014

Study Finds White Americans Believe They Experience More Racism Than African Americans

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Political Blind Spot reports.

Sure. Just think of all the black women who cringe in terror when I walk into an elevator. And all the times I was stopped on the highway by cops just for being white. And being the last served in a restaurant despite arriving long before groups that are already eating. And being followed around stores like I'm a criminal. And being seated at the boss's table at the annual banquet because I'm the only white manager in the company and they want to show their commitment to diversity. Oh, wait. None of those things ever happened to me. Never mind.

Or, as my friend Denise put it when she shared this article, "Some white folks are completely clueless." Denise herself is white, and is a veritable font of clues, which is a good thing. Here's to more people getting a clue.

January 07, 2014

What about those 900+ Utah gay marriages?

Chris Johnson at the Blade raises the question of what will happen to the more than 900 same-sex couples who legally married in Utah between December 20 and January 6, before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of Judge Shelby's ruling pending appeal.

I agree with Shannon Minter, Suzanne Goldberg, and the ACLU that the existing marriages should be deemed valid.

Apparently some people are comparing these 900+ SSMs in Utah to the ones done in 2004 in San Francisco by then-mayor Gavin Newsome. But as noted by the Blade, Newsome took executive action. Here we are talking about a federal court order. I cannot imagine how those marriages that were legal when entered into could be set aside pending appeal. The fact that these new facts-on-the-ground are inconvenient for our opponents might make an alternate version of me in a parallel universe weep for the phobes' wounded sensibilities, but they and alt-me can get over it.

This in-between state of being married pending appeal makes more visible the reality of our lives that are affected by this. It's hard for me to see the down side of that, notwithstanding the crocodile tears being shed by Utah Attorney General Reyes on the gay couples' behalf.

Adelante!