Ah, the endless font of stupidity that is Rep. Louie Gohmert.
Ah, the endless font of stupidity that is Rep. Louie Gohmert.
October 11 was National Coming Out Day. It was also the third anniversary of the death of our colleague and friend, gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny. Here is a link to my blog post on the night of Frank's death in 2011. Frank's voice remains with us, exhorting us, as he did in 1969, to assert our full rights as gay people:
It is time to open the closet door and let in the fresh air and the sunshine.
It is time to doff and to discard the secrecy, the disguise, and the camouflage.
It is time to hold up your heads and to look the world squarely in the eye as the homosexuals that you are, confident of your equality, confident in the knowledge that as objects of prejudice and victims of discrimination YOU are right and they are wrong, and confident of the rightness of what you are and of the goodness of what you do.
It is time to live your homosexuality fully, joyously, openly, and proudly, assured that morally, socially, physically, psychologically, emotionally, and in every other way: Gay is good.
I find that after about 20 seconds, I can filter out Michele Bachmann and just listen to Pachelbel.
In lower Manhattan last night, a tribute in lights on the eve of today's 9/11 anniversary. Among the legacies of that awful day have been reckless military adventures abroad and threats to civil liberties here at home. Citizen, awake!
Mayor Gray has proclaimed September 29, 2014 "Robert 'Bob' King Day" in Washington, D.C.
We must object. Here are links to several stories and blog entries that detail King's efforts against marriage equality in the District.
Let us be clear: Bob King did NOT merely oppose marriage equality in D.C. He aggressively opposed us, stoked anti-gay bigotry, took money from anti-gay bigots for his efforts, and even asked the U.S. Congress to intervene in D.C. affairs because he didn't like what our own elected leaders had done. The latter is especially egregious.
As GLAA has stated:
The District has no business issuing official proclamations and ceremonial resolutions to honor people and organizations openly hostile to the LGBT community. Officials must put procedures in place to prevent such slip-ups. Good works in other areas do not excuse discrimination or bias.
Mayor Gray is a good friend who has done more than any other mayor for LGBT people in the District. But we cannot agree with his act to honor Bob King. Mr. King contacted me last year seeking to put the past behind us and work together for the sake of the District. I was interested in a reconciliation; but when he refused to express any regrets for his past anti-gay and anti-democratic actions, much less apologize for them, I declined to meet with him. We are not sore winners. But reconciliation requires a change of heart and mind. King merely said, "You won, and we lost." I was already aware of that. What I did not detect was any contrition, nor the slightest warmth in his voice. If you extend your hand to me in fellowship, I will reciprocate. If, on the other hand, you are merely a political operative who wants others to forget your transgressions without your having acknowledged them, it is another matter.
(Hat tip: Bob Summersgill)
AP reports some good news on the museum front.
This has been in the works for some time. Eight years ago, for example, the Smithsonian acquired about a dozen picket signs from the first gay rights picket at the White House, which was led by Frank Kameny in 1965. That acquisition was thanks to the Kameny Papers Project and the efforts of Charles Francis and Bob Witeck.
Congrats to our friend, photographer Patsy Lynch, for her contributions to the museum's collection. She commented on Facebook, "I am very honored and humble and excited to know that some of my work is now in a vaulted museum and will soon be available for more people to see."
Tell it, Martin. Words from 46 years ago that are as apt as when he spoke them, the day before he was taken from us.
Another great one passes. In this scene, accompanied by Hoagy Carmichael, Bacall sings to an adoring customer I imagine was her first gay fan.
Years ago, I worked a column around "How Little We Know" and the movie it's from, To Have and Have Not.
It seemed we would have Betty Bacall forever. She was 89.
In another excellent commentary, NYT columnist Charles M. Blow blows to smithereens the claim by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) that Democrats are waging a "war on whites." Blow notes the Republican Party's extensive history of racially divisive politics and policies, going back to Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy which was based on exploiting white voters' fears of and hostility toward blacks. Here's a portion:
The racial divisiveness ... continues as Republicans trade racial terms for culture-centric euphemisms. Newt Gingrich, in 2011: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,” although most poor people of working age work. Paul Ryan, earlier this year: “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” And Bill O’Reilly said recently in a discussion about legalizing marijuana that the left’s position was that marijuana was harmless and “It’s blacks, you know, you get, you’re trapping the blacks because in certain ghetto neighborhoods it’s part of the culture.” ...
Whites are not under attack by Democrats; Republicans like Brooks are simply stoking racial fears to hide their history of racially regressive policies.
Talking about a "war on whites" is like calling marriage equality a threat to straight people. You might well call it a war on exclusivity, which is to say discrimination; but that is not what is being claimed. Those who practice this wedge politics are manipulating voters into voting against their own interests by exploiting fears. If we let cynical men divide us in this way, or if we become discouraged by partisan gridlock and withdraw from participating in elections, we hand over control to those who pick our pockets and line their own at the expense of the common good.
The video clip above was the first televised news bulletin of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, in which his press secretary, James Brady, received a head wound that would change his life forever. (When ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds gave the bulletin, it was not yet known that Reagan had been hit.) NYT reports on Brady's death earlier today:
James S. Brady, the White House press secretary who was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and then became a symbol of the fight for gun control, championing tighter regulations from his wheelchair, died on Monday in Alexandria, Va. He was 73.
His family confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.
On the rainy afternoon of March 30, 1981, Mr. Brady was struck in a hail of bullets fired by John W. Hinckley Jr., a mentally troubled college dropout who had hoped that shooting the president would impress the actress Jodie Foster, on whom he had a fixation. Mr. Hinckley raised his handgun as Reagan stepped out of a hotel in Washington after giving a speech.
I remember the date of those awful events at the Washington Hilton Hotel because it happened to be my twenty-fifth birthday. A few times in the years that followed, I encountered Jim and Sarah Brady at La Fonda Restaurant on 17th Street (which closed in the 1990s), where he would have to be assisted down the few stairs to the restaurant. They were gracious and unpretentious people, who became gun control advocates after Jim's debilitating injury from the assassination attempt. At this point, the prospects of any kind of gun control have never been more grim, with the nation held hostage by an astonishing level of ideological fervor over the need for guns and more guns. The Bradys tried to make a difference. Here's to both of them.
Pretty well sums it up. Lovely singing by Andy Williams.
Mandela the master politician at work, a few months after his release from prison. In the full video of this 1990 town hall meeting in NYC (here and here), Madiba's questioners from the audience are stacked with right-wing tools trying to bait him. As this clip shows, they woefully underestimated him. At another point, he said, "Some people make the mistake of assuming that their enemies must be our enemies." Cheers erupted. I understand those cheers much better now than I did then.
Gay actor George Takei tells of when soldiers with bayonets came to his Los Angeles home when he was 5 and sent his family to a Japanese-American internment camp on a presidential order, without due process. He then talks about his heroes, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in American military history. And he explains why he loves America and is committed to democracy.
Happy Stonewall 45. The reason New York City celebrates LGBT Pride on the last weekend in June is of course because it was on this day in 1969 that gay patrons during a police raid of the Stonewall Inn bar decided to stand their ground.
David Boaz of the Cato Institute reflected in 2011 on the impact of resistance: "Sometimes all it takes is one person or a few people saying, “We’re not going” to light the spark of a movement or a revolution." (Hat tip: Stephen H. Miller)
Contrary to legend, the gay rights movement did not start that night in 1969. People like Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny were already at work before then. But Stonewall was a crucial flashpoint that broadened the movement beyond the relative handful of people who were active before. So we celebrate. Nowadays (specifically since 2009), the celebration also happens at the White House, where President and Mrs. Obama will host a few hundred LGBT folk on Monday, June 30. (Nope, not me. I did attend in 2009, as Frank Kameny's date. And no, I could not resist doing my Jackie Kennedy impression: "This is the Blue Room. We decided to leave it just the way it was when President Blue lived here.")
Regarding the Empire State Building's tower lights, ESB's website explains:
The international icon of the New York skyline, since 1976 the Empire State Building’s tower lights have maintained a tradition of changing color to recognize various occasions and organizations throughout the year.
Everything changed in 2012, when ownership installed a new computer driven LED light system. The system is capable of displaying 16 million colors, which can change instantaneously.
We stage dazzling light shows celebrating holidays and events, often synchronized to music broadcast simultaneously on Clear Channel radio stations. Just search "Empire State Building Light Shows" on YouTube to see the shows!
(BTW, June 27 is sometimes given as the date of the start of the uprising. It was the night of June 27/28, and it happened after midnight.)
Our friend David Boaz at Cato Institute sends the following, which I publish with his permission:
In the moving HBO documentary “The Case against 8,” Chad Griffin jokes at one point that if the chairman of the Cato Institute supports marriage equality, maybe he should rethink his position. Of course he’s joking. But the implication is that it’s some sort of surprise to find a libertarian scholar supporting equality under the law, perhaps because of the mistaken impression that the Cato Institute is, or libertarians in general are, are “right-wing.” In fact, of course, libertarians were ahead of liberals on gay rights. The Libertarian Party Platform of 1972 called for an end to laws regulating voluntary sexual behavior, and the Party issued a pamphlet in 1976 that endorsed marriage equality. Cato’s amicus brief was cited in the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision. Indeed, in this Cato video from 2011 John Podesta says you probably had to be a libertarian to have supported gay marriage 15 years earlier:
Here’s the Cato Institute chairman’s take on Griffin’s comment, along with a video clip:
Executive Vice President
1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Check out my blog: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/author/david-boaz/
and my books: Libertarianism: A Primer (the theory); The Libertarian Reader (the history); The Politics of Freedom (essays on politics, policy, and libertarianism); and The Libertarian Vote (ebook on libertarians in the electorate).
As it happens, I mentioned Cato's support for marriage equality in my latest column, "When Rights Collide." Those suffering from what philosopher Stephen Toulmin called "hardening of the categories" would do well to recall Hamlet: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Our old friend Bob Alfandre has died at age 87, the Blade reports:
Robert “Bob” Alfandre, a prominent D.C.-area homebuilder and philanthropist who contributed to LGBT rights and AIDS-related causes, died June 12 in his home in Washington following a long battle with cancer. He was 87....
Rev. Jerry Anderson, an Episcopal priest, said he met Alfandre in the 1980s through All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church in D.C., where Alfandre was a parishioner and Anderson served as director of the D.C. group Episcopal Caring Response to AIDS. He said he and Alfandre became friends and kept in touch after Anderson moved to Miami and later to Los Angeles.
“He was a wonderful human being,” said Anderson. “He was one of those gay men who responded immediately and wholeheartedly to the AIDS epidemic. He was a very generous, passionate advocate for the AIDS cause.”
Anderson and Rev. John Beddington, current pastor of All Souls Episcopal Church, said Alfandre had a wry sense of humor and became admired for lifting up the spirits of his friends and associates, including people with AIDS.
Anderson said Alfandre often hosted fundraisers and social gatherings at his home in D.C.’s Kalarama section and often invited AIDS patients. He said he has especially fond memories of a party Alfandre hosted for residents of the Carroll Sledz House, a Whitman-Walker facility that Alfandre initiated and funded in honor of his late partner.
Bob was a warm and generous man. Condolences to all his family and friends. There is an online guest book to which you can post condolences. The Blade reports:
A visitation was scheduled for Friday, June 20, from 6-8 p.m. at Joseph Gawler’s, 5130 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. A funeral service was scheduled for Saturday, June 21, at 11 a.m., at All Souls Episcopal Church, 2300 Cathedral Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.
Happy Juneteenth. Here's my latest column at Metro Weekly. I'll talk with Mark Thompson about it this evening at 7 pm EDT on Make It Plain on SiriusXM Progress, Channel 127.
Here's an excerpt:
On April 7, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) declined to hear the Elane Photography case, in which an Albuquerque studio refused to take commitment ceremony photos of Vanessa Willock and her same-sex partner, Misti Collinsworth. This left in place the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that Elane Photography's claimed free speech right "directly conflicts with Willock's right ... to obtain goods and services from a public accommodation."
If you think this pleased all gay rights advocates, you are wrong. An amicus brief supporting the photographer was filed on behalf of the Cato Institute, Eugene Volokh, and Dale Carpenter, all marriage equality supporters. Volokh explained that "wedding photographers ... have a First Amendment right to choose what expression they create, including by choosing not to photograph same-sex commitment ceremonies."
SCOTUS will rule this month in the Hobby Lobby case, concerning a company's right to deny employees contraceptive coverage based on the owners' religious objections. In contrasting briefs, Cato defended Hobby Lobby's free exercise rights, while Lambda Legal wrote that ruling for Hobby Lobby "would transform our equal opportunity marketplace into segregated dominions within which each business owner with religious convictions 'becomes a law unto himself.'"
Meanwhile, LGBT groups differ over the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. DC's Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which I lead, is among those that support ENDA but favor a narrower exemption. Religious groups are protected in their core religious function; outside it is another matter. Why should anti-LGBT discrimination enjoy exemptions beyond those applying to discrimination under Title VII?
LGBT people are not the only historically oppressed group asked to subordinate their interests....
Click on the above link for the whole thing.
On this day in 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Loving v Virginia that state anti- miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. Responding decades later to discrimination against gay couples, Mildred Loving expressed support for marriage equality. Here's to the memory of her and her husband, and those who helped them fight for equality.
This haunting blend of current and historic photos says more than I can after watching ceremonies at Omaha Beach yesterday marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy. In the video of the ceremonies below, my favorite part is near the end, when President Obama interacts with the old soldiers, now in their 90s, who were there 70 years ago. In his remarks he mentioned that his maternal grandfather was in Patton's army that followed the invasion to liberate Europe from the Nazis. These moments are important as more than just ceremonies; they are a reminder of the cost of war. By June 6, 1944, my father had been a prisoner of war for nearly 16 months, having been captured in Tunisia at Kasserine Pass in February 1943. This year he would have turned 96.
Our left coast friend Mike Petrelis writes:
Take a look at this photo snapped on Friday in front of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Manhattan, as the National Park Service announced a project to identify and designate additional sites of relevance to LGBT and American history, and see what's wrong with it....
At the lectern bearing the seal of the Secretary of the Interior is millionaire and gay political strategist Tim Gill, who has donated $250,000 to the Department of Interior's project, on the left is Democratic gay New York City Councilmember Corey Johnson and a member of the National Park Service wearing a green uniform. Also speaking at the event was Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
Notice how there are no drag queens, no people of color and no veterans of the Stonewall Riot. Representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are two white men, hardly displaying the diversity of our community and especially those who stood up to the Mafia bosses and New York Police Department in the sweltering month June 1969.
Gill, it should be noted, is a philanthropist who through his foundation has donated an estimated $240 million to the cause of LGBT equality. He is to be commended for his generosity and vision. But Mike raises a very good question. The announcement at Stonewall should have been more representative.
NYT talks to Larry Kramer on the occasion of the TV version of his landmark play The Normal Heart. Congrats to him.
However. "We have no power in Washington, or anywhere else," says Kramer, who doesn't do nuance. In the week of Frank Kameny's 89th birthday, I say what he once said to Kramer in Lambda Rising bookstore: Larry, you are wrong.
That we haven't won everything doesn't mean we won nothing. Kramer has done much to admire; but his boorishness and disrespect are gratuitous and increasingly ridiculous.
(Photo of Larry Kramer by David Shankbone)
On what would have been Harvey Milk's 84th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service and the Harvey Milk Foundation hosted a ceremony at the White House unveiling the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp.
Zach Ford at Think Progress gives us 5 Amazing Harvey Milk Quotes That Are Too Long To Fit On His New Stamp.
Meanwhile, there's a Harvey Milk musical.
Please follow this link to the "OpenVault" page at WGBH Boston, since I cannot embed the video.
Our friend Michael Bedwell brings to our attention an archival video of a televised debate from May 1974 on what we now call marriage equality. It was done in the form of a mock trial. The witnesses included Elaine Noble (for) and Dr. Charles Socarides (against). It is a bracing hour of debate from long before marriage equality was on the minds of many LGBT activists (though GLAA first testified on the subject before the D.C. Council the following year).
I told Frank that I had seen this back in the 1970s, and that he was brilliant, and it had had a great effect on me. He said he had no recollection of having done it. He forgot more accomplishments than other people had accomplishments.
[D]ocuments newly obtained by a gay-rights group offer new details about the views that drove the government’s sometimes obsessive effort to identify and fire gays in government jobs....
“These memorandums were not meant for the outside world to see,” said Charles Francis, a gay-rights advocate with the Mattachine Society of Washington. “It’s a tide of human indignation.” ...
Mr. Francis, working with pro bono lawyers at one of the nation’s largest law firms, McDermott, Will & Emery, has used public-records requests to collect hundreds of documents in which gays or policies toward them were discussed. The government has identified thousands more, and Mr. Francis says he plans to someday make the records public as part of what he calls “archive activism.”
Charles writes on Facebook:
The inspiration for this is Allan Berube, the LGBT community historian, who discovered a cache of 300 letters from gay and lesbian service members, and turned that into "Coming Out Under Fire". We have only professionalized that passion.
Congrats to Charles on this story. I am proud to be part of the new Mattachine and its archival rescue efforts.
A video from the Mayor's office on GLAA's 43rd anniversary reception, held April 30. When they arrived to tape the event, they had no idea we would be honoring Mayor Gray for his service to the LGBT community. That was a surprise.
Brian Cury, CEO & Founder of EarthCam, writes of this video:
It's been a heroic undertaking to rebuild downtown New York City after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Within days of this national tragedy, I personally installed a camera to webcast the rescue and recovery for the families, and the world, to see the brave determination of first responders. As the recovery effort continued, we installed more cameras to document the rebuilding and construction of the site. This commemorative time-lapse honors the victims of 9/11 and is dedicated to their families and friends, with special gratitude to the first responders and the steadfast construction teams.
Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports:
When gay rights pioneers Frank Kameny and Jack Nichols co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. in 1961 as the first gay advocacy organization in the nation’s capital, conditions were so hostile toward gay people that Kameny initially was the only one to use his real name on the group’s membership list.
More than 50 years later, gay public affairs consultant Charles Francis and Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance President Rick Rosendall reinstated the lapsed corporate charter for the Mattachine Society of Washington shortly after Kameny’s death in October 2011.
Francis and Rosendall along with a new board of directors have since reshaped the group’s mission to conduct archival research to uncover long forgotten government documents that show in chilling detail how federal policies were put into place to ban gays from the federal workforce.
Congrats to Charles and thanks to the Blade for the story. I am proud to be associated with this important project. Mattachine is having an event on May 21:
Cordially invites you to a dynamic evening & reception with The 10th Archivist of the United States
DAVID S. FERRIERO
Historian & Author of “The Lavender Scare”
DAVID K. JOHNSON
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
THE MCDERMOTT BUILDING Capitol Room – Ninth Floor 500 North Capitol Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001
Kindly RSVP to: MattachineSocietyDC at gmail dot com
The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. conducts original archival research and educational programs that focus on gay and lesbian, political and policy history.
There are certain public events that become indelible in our memory. One such is the moment when Pee Wee Reese stopped a baseball game during a road trip, walked over to his Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson, and put his arm around his shoulder in silent rebuke to the racist fans who were screaming epithets at the brave man who broke the color line in baseball.
The moment captured in the above screen shot from ESPN, from 7 pm EDT on Saturday, May 10, 2014, is such a moment for me. As the headline writer at HuffPost (see below) perceived, it was a defining cultural moment. Collective expectations will change, including for sexual minority children and youth who will see themselves validated and affirmed by this natural expression of celebration and release.
Of course we will move on from this moment; but it will always remain as a milestone of our journey toward freedom and equality. Maybe it is easy to take for granted now, at least for those of us in liberal urban enclaves or college towns; but, as Sidney Poitier said as he accepted the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field from Anne Bancroft, "It is a long journey to this moment."
In our lives, the moment flies past us and is gone. In our memories, it is a bright flash that illuminates all around it, and sustains us in moments of setback and frustration and despair. Do not be intimidated or embarrassed or ashamed by the belittling and dismissive comments of those who find it necessary to treat this moment as nothing, who suggest that we are silly drama queens for making a big deal of it. It damn well is a big thing. Is it everything? Of course not. That moment between Reese and Robinson, or the one between Bancroft and Poitier, was a milestone, not the end of the journey. We need our milestones.
More pics of Sam and his boyfriend here.
Joy and history have never been more closely linked than in this moment, when Michael Sam got the call from the St. Louis Rams that he is in the NFL.
The video of the announcement is here.
In case you missed it: One of the smartest analyses I've seen on NYT reporter Jo Becker's book on the Prop 8 case is this Tobias Wolff piece in The New Republic. A taste:
Or there is the passage in which Becker describes the decision by lawyer Ted Olson to take on the case. Olson proclaims, “I will not just be some hired gun. I would be honored to be the voice for this cause,” only to explain three sentences later that the cost of this not-a-hired-gun honor will be a discounted fee of $2.9 million plus expenses. David Boies, too, agrees to sign on for the “deeply discounted fee” of $250,000 plus expenses. (Public records indicate that the totals ran north of $6 million.) Becker must be lampooning these rich mega-lawyers for their capitalist rendition of pro bono legal representation, and she is not gentle.
Randy Shulman writes in the 20th anniversary issue of Metro Weekly:
It seems just like yesterday.
Running around frantically in my tiny apartment at the corner of 17th and T Streets, scrambling to get the very first issue of Metro Arts & Entertainment Weekly written and to the printer. I don't have clear, detailed memories of it, apart from recalling that pages were laid out in PageMaker on a monochrome IBM computer (floppy disks!), printed out on a cheap black and white laser printer, and then pasted onto templates through the aid of a hot-glue gun. The pages were then bound into a loose-leaf three-ring binder -- "the book," as it came to be known -- which was then raced to the printer by car and handed off, relay style, to the camera department. From there, I always said, "It's in God's hands." God, in this case, being the printing press, which would not break down and create a distribution delay. God forbid.
I remember franticness. Followed by relief. Followed by exhilaration. Followed by a lot of celebratory alcohol. Followed by a hangover. Rinse and repeat.
In the ensuing years the changes came. Many changes -- to the name, to the logo, to the format, to the way we submitted our files to the printer, to the staff -- and through them all we've remained consistent to our mission to create a magazine -- and a website -- that speaks to the LGBT community, locally and beyond, in a literate, interesting and, whenever possible, unique way. A magazine that covers things that are more than just LGBT-oriented, because as LGBT people, we are interested in things beyond our own microcosm.
Follow the above link for the rest. Congrats to Randy and the staff at Metro Weekly on their 20th anniversary. I am proud to be on their masthead as a contributing writer.
Right Wing Watch reports:
On today's episode of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton explained that women were not given the right to vote when the Constitution was written because the Founding Fathers were trying to protect the institution of the family by giving every "family" a right to vote through the male head of the household.
Responding to a question from a listener who argued that the Founding Fathers denied women the right to vote not out of sexism but rather based on the biblical principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand, Barton said that this interpretation was exactly right because not allowing women to vote was designed "to keep the family together":
Those who think Mr. Jefferson did not entertain the idea of a "wall of separation" should try reading Mr. Jefferson. His January 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists includes this:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
Cliven Bundy's "they were better off as slaves" idea, loony as it is, has a very long provenance. The longtime Virginia and Kentucky state songs, for example, evoked nostalgia for antebellum times when slaves were happy on the plantation. Clearly some people still cling to this. As it happens, many plantations have been preserved. Why not offer these nostalgic white folks the experience of what it was like? And I don't mean for a weekend.
Meanwhile, Alan Keyes explains that Bundy is not racist, you are.
Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed critiques Jo Becker's book on the court fight over Proposition 8, which is being widely criticized. As Chris says, "A 434-page book about a lawsuit that promised to bring marriage equality to all Americans, but only resulted in restoring marriage equality in California, is a tough sell."
Regarding the above photo of the plaintiffs and legal team, my first question was, "Which one of those guys is Tom Cruise?"
NYT reporter Jo Becker's new book, Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, includes this preposterous statement:
This is how a revolution begins. It begins when someone grows tired of standing idly by, waiting for history’s arc to bend toward justice, and instead decides to give it a swift shove. It begins when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in the segregated South. And in this story, it begins with a handsome, bespectacled thirty-five-year-old political consultant named Chad Griffin, in a spacious suite at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco on election night 2008.
What pretentious, ahistorical rubbish. The marriage equality movement was a reform movement, not a revolution, and did not begin in 2008. A lot of people were working for marriage equality long before then. We were not standing idly by but laying the groundwork in a variety of ways: strategizing, researching, organizing, educating, lobbying, fundraising, litigating, debating, testifying, writing and advocating in cities and states across the country. We were building support among lawyers, legislators, and opinion makers. We were developing talking points and winning people over in countless difficult conversations and sustained efforts over many years in our families and neighborhoods and faith communities. The assertion that Chad Griffin started it is ridiculous and insulting and discredits Becker's entire book. I hope Griffin has the sense and perspective and respect to distance himself from this hyper-inflated nonsense.
Andrew Sullivan, who was advocating for marriage equality two decades before Griffin came along, offers a bracing take-down to Becker's "jaw-dropping distortion."
I remember Evan Wolfson being viciously attacked in the 90s by gay people for his marriage advocacy. I remember the vitriol Sullivan endured back then as well. How lovely it must be for them, after so many years of trenchant advocacy on the front lines and taking the debate to places others didn't dare go (and would have been unprepared to handle), to be treated like fluffers by people who arrived fairly late in the struggle and stood on the shoulders of those who came before.
For D.C.'s part in the struggle, you can look at the timeline that Bob Summersgill and I prepared, at my oral history shot by students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High Schools, and at my December 2013 article on the lessons from our victory.
(Photo of Chad Griffin by Rex Wockner)
[I]n early 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution declined music impresario Sol Hurok's request to book Marian Anderson into its Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Her race was evidently the reason. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt then resigned from the DAR, an act that increased public awareness of the controversy. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes arranged for a concert on the Lincoln Memorial steps. On April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang before a live audience of seventy-five thousand and a national radio audience of millions more.
Mrs. Roosevelt's immortal resignation letter to the president general of the DAR began, "I am afraid that I have never been a very useful member of the Daughters of the American Revolution...." It was politely devastating. Any course in rhetoric should include it.
[Above, the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda tells the story of how hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, hid and protected 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees during the Rwandan Genocide. Rusesabagina's story was told by Philip Gourevitch in his book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.]
20 years ago the horror was already planned, and needed only surface-to-air missiles to set it off. Wiki reports: "On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying [Rwandan President Juvénal] Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on its descent into Kigali, killing all on board. Genocidal killings began the following day: soldiers, police and militia quickly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans' national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi. These forces recruited or pressured Hutu civilians to arm themselves with machetes, clubs, blunt objects and other weapons to rape, maim and kill their Tutsi neighbors and destroy or steal their property."
The commemoration to be held in Kigali tomorrow, April 7, will not include a representative of France. Al Jazeera reports: