Mother Jones has published a lengthy profile of viciously anti-gay evangelical Scott Lively.
Mother Jones has published a lengthy profile of viciously anti-gay evangelical Scott Lively.
I missed this item from WaPo when it came out on Sunday. Good for the U.S. Embassy and the Russian athletes.
(Hat tip: Lisa Keen)
Evoking Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, a group of Western-state Republicans plans to enter the battle in favor of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, urging a federal appeals court to declare gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma unconstitutional.
The most prominent of the approximately 20 signers of the brief are former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, a longtime supporter of gay rights, and former Senator Nancy L. Kassebaum of Kansas, who said last year that she had reconsidered her former opposition to same-sex marriage. The document says that “marriage is strengthened” and “the social stability of the family unit are promoted” by allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
The document is a friend-of-the-court brief, being filed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver. That court is hearing appeals from Utah and Oklahoma to reinstate their restrictive marriage laws.
Thanks to Al Simpson and his colleagues.
(Hat tip: Charles Francis. Photo courtesy Made In Wyoming.)
Love the scarf. Will someone please strangle him with it?
I think this is Megyn Kelly talking to Bernie Goldberg, but I confess these Fox News models all start to look alike to me. I think Margo Channing had it right when she handed Max Fabian the bicarb: "One good burp and you'll be rid of that Miss Casswell."
I do not agree with Ross Douthat's distinction between racial discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination. I was in the room (as was the fabulous Bob Summersgill) at a crucial meeting in the fall of 2009 when the call by the Archdiocese of Washington for an Arizona-style religious exemption (among other things) was discussed. I said absolutely not. Any house of worship can bar me from its sanctuary, deny me its sacraments, and denounce me from its pulpit; and I have defended the right of our opponents so to do. But in the provision of public accommodations, discrimination cannot be countenanced. This is a diverse society, and LGBT folk will be equal members of it.
At least Douthat recognizes that he is losing.
Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz says, "It’s the (expletive) 21st century, man. Get over it."
Here's sending Big Papi a big wet smooch. If there is anyone in professional sports that I especially wanted not to be a homophobe, it is this big-spirited man who got a pass from the FCC for an f-bomb on television last April in Fenway Park, and who is the heart and soul of his championship team.
John Riley at Metro Weekly reports a disturbing story that illustrates a continuing problem of DC police profiling of transgender people, especially trans women of color.
Peter Montgomery at Religion Dispatches, who is a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way, reports on the situation for LGBT people in several countries around the world.
Amid calls (including by Sen. Patrick Leahy) for a freeze in American aid to Uganda in the wake of President Museveni signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act, Ugandan gay activists are saying such a move would be counterproductive. Gay Star News reports:
Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, has said he does not support aid cuts.
‘We can’t afford to create new victims,’ he said on Twitter this week. ‘We should go after the crazy politicians! Not innocent Ugandans.’
America's presence and aid dollars in Uganda give us leverage that we would lose if we withdraw. It is a very frustrating situation, to say the least, but we should not react in such as way as to leave LGBT Ugandans worse off. And we should seriously consider the views of Ugandans who are enduring the persecution.
Adam Polaski at Freedom to Marry reports the latest advances for marriage equality:
The pace of progress is so swift these days, it's hard to keep up. And really, people: Kentucky? Texas? Big wow.
My column this week, "Twice as Good," discusses why the fight to overcome racial privilege is an LGBT issue. Here's an excerpt:
When an All-Pro cornerback from the NFL's best defensive squad [Richard Sherman] needs to have his 3.9 GPA from Stanford cited to stop white people's quivering, we have a problem. Though not fatal for Sherman as it was for [Trayvon] Martin and [Jordan] Davis, [the racially charged treatment of him] showed the same instant demonization, the same culturally assigned otherness.
Why is this an LGBT issue? For one thing, African-Americans have been among the most prominent out gay people in pro sports: Brittney Griner in the WNBA, Jason Collins in the NBA (who just signed with the Brooklyn Nets), Michael Sam before the NFL draft. All lacked the privilege taken for granted by white heterosexual men. Facing greater bias, they summoned greater strength. As the Scandal character Olivia Pope is told by her father in the TV drama, "You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have." Many black overachievers grew up hearing this.
But it is not just that black and gay overlap. We must work together to defeat those who exploit fear and hatred to gain power. This requires refuting their lies repeatedly over time. The images of Sam's athletic prowess are a powerful antidote and promise a historic moment come May.
In related news, this just in from the Williams Institute: New Report Finds Similar Patterns of Racial Disparities Among Individuals in Same-Sex and Different-Sex Couples.
LGBT activists in D.C. won a major victory Thursday morning in the area of transgender health care. From Mayor Gray's office:
Today, the District of Columbia advanced the rights of the city’s transgender community by prohibiting discrimination in health insurance based on gender identity and expression. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) is issuing a bulletin to District health insurance companies addressing the application of anti-discrimination provisions in the insurance code, including recognizing gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder, as a recognized medical condition....
This action follows DISB’s March 15, 2013 bulletin notifying health insurers to remove language that discriminated on the basis of gender identity and expression from their policies and permit those with gender dysphoria to obtain medically necessary benefits. Today’s action goes one step further in protecting this community’s health insurance rights by affirming that gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition and thereby treatment, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit....
Moreover, individuals with gender dysphoria are entitled to receive any medically necessary benefits and services under individual and group health insurance policies covering medical and hospital expenses. In determining the medical necessity of services and benefits provided to individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria, insurance providers must refer to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, known as WPATH, the recognized standard of medical care for transgender individuals requiring treatment for gender dysphoria. These benefits are not newly mandated, but rather clarify District law to assure that individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria are afforded the same benefits under health insurance policies as individuals seeking medically necessary treatment for non-gender identity or expression-related conditions.
With this executive action, a major unfinished piece of the LGBT equality agenda in D.C. is won. Thanks to all who helped make this possible, including our fellow advocates (especially the fabulous Andy Bowen) and Vince Gray for his leadership. There is no mayor or governor in America with a stronger record on behalf of transgender citizens. Today he earned his championship point all over again.
Right Wing Watch shares the latest lunacy from the president of Tea Party Nation, in reaction to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of SB1062.
Weighing in from another moon base, Tucker Carlson said on Fox News that requiring businesses to provide equal services to gay customers is fascism.
When you've gone too far for John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Mitt Romney, you might want to take a reality check. On the other hand, blogger Andrew Sullivan worries about a backlash:
As for the case for allowing fundamentalists to discriminate against anyone associated with what they regard as sin, I’m much more sympathetic. I favor maximal liberty in these cases. The idea that you should respond to a hurtful refusal to bake a wedding cake by suing the bakers is a real stretch to me.
Yes, they may simply be homophobic, rather than attached to a coherent religious worldview. But so what? There are plenty of non-homophobic bakers in Arizona. If we decide that our only response to discrimination is a lawsuit, we gays are ratcheting up a culture war we would do better to leave alone. We run the risk of becoming just as intolerant as the anti-gay bigots, if we seek to coerce people into tolerance.
Unless one is prepared to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this is absurd. Licensed businesses are not entitled to discriminate against their customers. That is a price we pay for living in a diverse society. In any case, Andrew shows no sign of having researched the number and geographic distribution of non-homophobic Arizona bakers. What if you live in a small town with only one bakery, and it puts a "No Homos" sign in its window?
As a general rule, I don't want hostile people preparing food for me. But that should be my choice. As a participant in the local economy, I want to be treated with respect. A gay version of Jim Crow is not acceptable. When we talk about LGBT equality, we do not add an asterisk that says "unless it makes someone uncomfortable." Whatever the legal standard is for everyone else, that is what should apply to us as well. Libertarians generally think that non-discrimination laws should only apply to the government; but that is not the status quo, and their view, while intellectually coherent, is not popular and is not about to be enacted. As for a backlash, we've been fighting one since before I started my activist career in the late 1970s. We are winning the culture war that was launched against us by people who thought everyone should be forced either to believe and talk and act the same as them or to disappear. Well we did not disappear.
As my colleague Bob Summersgill noted a few days ago, D.C. Councilmember Yvette Alexander tried in 2009 to add a religious exemption provision to D.C.'s marriage equality bill during its committee markup. The vote on that amendment was 4 to 1 against. The Archdiocese of Washington wanted a number of similar carve-outs added to let them violate the D.C. Human Rights Act, and then-Judiciary chairman Phil Mendelson (with our strong backing) refused.
Most Americans already think that using religion as a pretext for discrimination is wrong. They are right about that. In such a religiously diverse society, we cannot allow pharmacists or restauranteurs or automobile mechanics or hospitals or city clerks to refuse service based on their religious beliefs. If we are to avoid being at one another's throats, we simply must be more tolerant of our differences. The problem is that the ones most loudly demanding a religious exemption actually just want right-wing Christians like them to have that right. This is a ploy to preserve privilege in the guise of religious freedom. And as we see in Arizona, it is not working. As Intel and Apple and Delta Airlines pointed out, it's bad for business.
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.
As a user of several Apple products, I say thank you, Tim Cook, for your company's stance.
Fanatics showing their true colors. Works for me.
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:
Jack Burkman is going to need a Delorian, not some bogus bill, if he wants to prevent gay athletes from being in the locker room— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) February 25, 2014
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.
Someone on Facebook today saw this link to a White Privilege Conference (being held March 26-29 in Madison, WI) and figured it was for defending white privilege. Others urged him to click through and read about it, that it was actually to get people to deal with their white privilege, and it wasn't about white-bashing either, but was constructive.
My FB comment: I figured the intent was progressive, since people who want to preserve their white privilege usually deny having any.
The news from Uganda today could hardly be worse. President Museveni said during the signing at State House Entebbe:
Homosexuals are nurtured but not natured. No study has shown that one can be a homosexual purely by nature. Since nurture is the cause, that is why I have agreed to sign the Bill into law,” Museveni said during the public signing of the Bill into law.
It is interesting and darkly amusing, if also preposterous and hypocritical and damning, that Museveni relies on junk science while ignoring reputable scientists, and wraps his actions in anti-colonial rhetoric notwithstanding the fact that the bill he signed was pushed by American evangelicals and reinforces the colonial-era British Penal Code. What in heaven's name is African about that?
His action is really about seizing on a scapegoat to throw to the mob to distract them from his own misrule. It is a tragic day. Many lives will be destroyed for the sake of his opportunism, and not a soul will be helped. I have been getting desperate pleas by email from gay Ugandans. I respond by sending them links to various resources that may be of help. But those groups are undoubtedly being swamped.
If you are a praying person, pray for Uganda and its LGBT people. They are in grave danger.
The White House press secretary issued a statement today:
Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality. As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world.
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.
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?
A happy day in Virginia.
Meanwhile, an opponent blames Valentine's Day:
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.
David S. Cohen and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate discuss the import of the perfect record for marriage equality since the Windsor ruling last June at SCOTUS.
AG Eric Holder describes Justice Department efforts to protect LGBT families.
From Right Wing Watch:
Right Wing Watch reports on the extreme rhetoric and activities of key right-wing figures and organizations by showing their views in their own words. In this video, Alexey Komov, World Congress of Families' representative in Russia argues about communism, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 with Accuracy In Media's Cliff Kincaid (offscreen), while WCF's Larry Jacobs tries to intervene.
Back slowly away.
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
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:
Michael Petrelis reports.
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.
a network of Ugandan LGBT activists living in the Diaspora is echoing the voice of our comrades on the ground in Uganda, by calling to action allies of the Ugandan LGBT struggle and all those that support equality and dignity for all, to organize your communities to action against the recent passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 by the Parliament of Uganda.
This will take place Tuesday, February 4, 1914 at 2:00 pm at the Ugandan Embassy located at 5911 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20011. GLAA is not an organizer of this event.
Bangor Daily News reports:
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday guaranteed the right of a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the gender with which he or she identifies.
It is the first time any court in the nation has ruled it is unlawful to force a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the sex he or she was born with rather than the one with which the child identifies, according to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders of Boston, which represented the girl and her family.
Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality writes:
This is a huge victory for students. The decision is thoughtful and dead on. Congratulations to the Maines family and GLAD.
Right Wing Watch shares the latest fantasy from right-wing nut bag Phyllis Schlafly.
My column for this week is the most popular item (for the moment) at Metro Weekly: confronting anti-LGBT intolerance abroad requires that we also look at its agents closer to home:
reports that Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York have written to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda criticizing those countries' anti-gay laws.
Actress Goldie Hawn had no idea what she was wading into last week when she tweeted from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, "Met the wonderful President of Nigeria," and posted a photo of herself with Goodluck Jonathan. She quickly learned that Jonathan recently signed a harsh anti-gay law that set off a wave of arrests. She deleted her tweet, expressed horror, and apologized.
Hawn's gaffe was useful in drawing attention to a problem with ramifications far beyond the salons of Davos. In the city of Bauchi in northern Nigeria on Jan. 22, thousands disrupted a Shariah court by throwing stones and demanding the quick conviction and execution of 11 men on trial for their membership in gay organizations.
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.
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.