3400 posts categorized "Human Rights"

January 25, 2015

Judge issues 14-day stay of order striking down Alabama marriage ban

January 23, 2015

Federal judge strikes down Alabama marriage ban

Marriage equality comes to the heart of Dixie.

January 22, 2015

Mayor Bowser names Sheila Alexander-Reid director of LGBT Affairs

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(Photo by Ron Simms, Jr.)

Congrats to Sheila Alexander-Reid and Terrance Laney, named by Mayor Bowser as Director and Deputy Director of what will now be called the D.C. Office of LGBT Affairs. Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports.

I am proud to note that Sheila was a 2007 winner of GLAA's Distinguished Service Award. We look forward to working with Sheila and Terrance.

Huckabee: states shouldn't follow SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

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(AP Photo / Susan Walsh)

Here's what Mike Huckabee told right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification:

If the courts make a decision, I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say well, that's settled, and it’s the law of the land. No, it isn't the law of the land. Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law. They can interpret one. And then the legislature has to create enabling legislation, and the executive has to sign it, and has to enforce it.

Dear Mike, no. Please check out the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the Constitution.

Those mythical 'no-go zones'

The Supreme Court won't end the gay marriage debate for Republicans

Linda Greenhouse at NYT explains why.

"Hero of the supermarket" wins French citizenship

Lassana Bathily, a Malian Muslim immigrant who saved several lives from terrorist Amedy Coulibaly earlier this month at a kosher supermarket, has been granted French citizenship. He had applied for it last summer. Congrats to him. When we overgeneralize about Islam, and talk as if we are in a religious war, we play into the hands of people like Coulibaly and hurt people like Bathily. That makes no sense.

January 21, 2015

State of the Union: These 3 Words Were Used For First Time Ever

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Lucas Grindley at Advocate.com reports:

Among the usual laundry list of American priorities and constituencies, the State of the Union address for the first time explicitly included lesbians, bisexual and transgender people.

It might be surprising, but never before had any president used the words "lesbian," "bisexual" or "transgender" when talking to the huge audience that watches the annual State of the Union. The reference came Tuesday as part of President Obama's description of the values that make us American.

Reaction to gay marriage in Obama's 2015 State of the Union

As the President celebrates the advance of marriage equality, Speaker Boehner keeps his grim face, the six SCOTUS justices maintain their practiced neutrality (they have cases pending, and were not there as a partisan cheering section), and one of the heroes of Selma rises to his feet.

It is worth noting that by using the phrase "civil right" about gay marriage last night, the President moved the discussion forward. Those of us who have been on the front lines of the marriage equality fight have studiously avoided using that phrase, because it has been a sore point with African American voters. We used phrases like "equal rights" and "human rights" instead. Here in D.C., when the Foundation for All D.C. Families hired Celinda Lake to do a poll on marriage equality in 2006, this was one of the points we examined.

The issue of messaging, where you consider your audience when framing your message, may seem cynical and calculating, but when you are trying to persuade people and win their votes, it is not helpful to start by pissing them off. This is a linguistic point on which white gay activists have respectfully let black leaders like Rep. John Lewis and President Obama take the lead. And if there is a greater moral authority than John Lewis, I would like to know who.

January 20, 2015

Kirchick: ISIS goes medieval on gays

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Jamie Kirchick at The Daily Beast has an interesting piece on the recent execution of gay men by ISIS by throwing them off a building ledge.

I have never understood how any god who demands such barbarity could possibly deserve anything but curses. Incidentally, if you think your god is any better, go back and re-read your holy book.

Incidentally, Kirchick is talking about radical Islam, not Islam in general. Just as social conservatives cherry-pick scriptural passages that suit them, those who prefer a less barbaric faith can do the same. This cafeteria approach to Holy Writ is done by everyone, but few admit it. The point is that you can believe what you want. You do not have to believe in a god that commands savagery.

D'Souza compares himself to MLK; hilarity ensues

The above tweet, and the hashtag #aninterestingparallel, is part of the mockery in response to conservative provocateur Dinesh D'Souza's comparison of himself to Dr. King as a way of bashing President Obama. Raw Story reports.

AFA demands Ginsburg and Kagan recuse themselves from gay marriage case

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David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

The American Family Association has issued a call claiming two liberal Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves from ruling on the same-sex marriage cases the Court just accepted Friday.

"Kagan and Ginsburg: Recuse Yourselves!" reads the press release. "Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from making any same-sex marriage decisions because they have both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies," it adds.

Other Supreme Court justices have officiated at different-sex weddings, so its unclear why officiating at a legal same-sex wedding should make any difference.

Hilarious. Dear Bryan Fischer: when you get Justices Scalia and Thomas to recuse themselves, come back and talk to me.

Tweeting @Pontifex

I figure someone at the Vatican reads the papal Twitter feed. So I offer my two cents.

January 19, 2015

BeBe Winans - I have a dream

A lovely song inspired by Dr. King's most famous speech.

(Hat tip: Mark Thompson)

January 17, 2015

A note to @Pontifex

January 16, 2015

Nothing Is Sacred

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(Washington Blade cartoon by Ranslem)

Here's an excerpt from my latest column, concerning the deadly terrorist attacks last week in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket:

Conservative pundits indignantly asked why there were no condemnations by Muslim leaders of the attacks, when in fact there was a flood of them. On the other hand, it was jarring when several despotic regimes sent representatives to a massive Paris march for the murdered cartoonists despite their own repression of journalists.

Any facile sorting of friend from foe was refuted by news reports. The last victim in the Charlie Hebdo attack was Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet. During the kosher market incident, Muslim employee Lassana Bathily saved several hostages from terrorist Amedy Coulibaly by hiding them in a walk-in freezer.

A news report referred to Coulibaly's "fluent French and broken Arabic." Having come home to roost, the West's imperialist chickens are less likely to fit the profile. Only cooperation across faiths and cultures can save us from endless retributive justice. Defending secular freedoms against racism and sectarianism is the best response to Marine Le Pen.

Read Blade editor Kevin Naff's bracing editorial here.

The Dream of Reconciliation

The New Yorker writes:

Barry Blitt drew next week’s cover, inspired by the photographs of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that are everywhere again. “It struck me that King’s vision was both the empowerment of African-Americans, the insistence on civil rights, but also the reconciliation of people who seemed so hard to reconcile,” he said. “In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things. Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early. It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.”

Beautiful.

Pope Francis: Same-sex marriage is harming the family

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Rhuaridh Marr reports at Metro Weekly that Pope Francis said this in the Philippines:

The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage.

At last we have an answer to the question, "Is the Pope Catholic?": Sadly, yes.

SCOTUS takes 6th Circuit marriage cases

Lyle Denniston reports at SCOTUSblog:

Taking on a historic constitutional challenge with wide cultural impact, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex marriage. The Court said it would rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state. A total of two-and-a-half hours was allocated for the hearings, likely in the April sitting. A final ruling is expected by early next summer, probably in late June.

The Court fashioned the specific questions it is prepared to answer, but they closely tracked the two core constitutional issues that have led to a lengthy string of lower-court rulings striking down state bans. As of now, same-sex marriages are allowed in thirty-six states, with bans remaining in the other fourteen but all are under court challenge.

UPDATE 7:51 p.m. The Obama administration will file a brief in the same-sex marriage cases, supporting equal access to marital rights in all of the states, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

At last!

I really hope that counsel for our opponents boils it down during oral arguments by saying, "Your Honors, what about the chirren?!!" and sitting back down.

Pope Francis: there are limits to free speech

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(AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino)

@Pontifex reacts to the Charlie Hebdo murders by reminding us that Holy Mother the Church, Inc. is not a democracy. There are limits to freedom of expression, he says, and he doesn't mean things like falsely crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater. He means offending someone's religion. Well I am sorry, Your Holiness, but you are wrong. Put me on the rack if you don't like it. Oh, that's right, you don't have the power to do that any more. Well that's a relief.

I warned everyone a year ago not to commit the sin of wishful thinking with this charming pope. He is not quite the liberal some people were hoping for.

There is no faith but theirs

This 'winger video appears to suggest that the fired Atlanta fire chief was the only Christian working for the Atlanta government. I mean, if Atlanta will no longer allow Christians to hold jobs, then either there's a massive purge about to happen, or he was the only one. Never mind the fact that the mayor who fired him was also Christian. If you don't agree with the most extreme and intolerant version of Christianity, the nut jobs won't even acknowledge your faith. Because there is no religion but theirs. And guess which major party is fine with this insanely obnoxious and socially destructive position?

January 14, 2015

Kordale and Kaleb defend their family in powerful Nikon ad

Chris Witherspoon at The Grio reports on this powerful ad featuring Kordale and Kaleb Lewis defending their family.

January 13, 2015

'Knowledge starts as offendedness': Jonathan Rauch on Free Speech

Amen, Brother Rauch.

Court strikes down South Dakota gay marriage ban

The Blade reports:

A federal judge in South Dakota became the latest to rule against a ban on same-sex marriage on Monday, striking down the state’s law on the basis that it violates rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

In a 28-page decision, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, a Clinton appointee, grants summary judgement to plaintiff same-sex couples in the case, saying South Dakota’s marriage ban runs contrary to their rights to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution.

“In Loving, the Supreme Court addressed a traditionally accepted definition of marriage that prohibited Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving from marrying,” Schreier writes. “Because Virginia’s laws deprived that couple of their fundamental right to marriage, the Court struck down those laws. Little distinguishes this case from Loving. Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry. South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.”

The decision is stayed pending appeal.

January 12, 2015

SCOTUS denies Louisiana case, reschedules 6th Circuit cases for consideration Jan. 16

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Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reports:

The Supreme Court, returning from its winter recess, decided on Monday not to take on a same-sex marriage case that remains under review in a federal appeals court, but otherwise took no action on that constitutional controversy. The Court made no comment as it turned down a plea by same-sex couples in Louisiana to review that state’s ban, which had been upheld by a federal trial judge in New Orleans (Robicheaux v. George).

The four same-sex marriage cases challenging the Sixth Circuit’s ruling that upheld four states’ bans have now been set for consideration by the Justices at their Conference on Friday of this week.

Fifth Circuit poised to strike down gay marriage ban

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(Photo by Chris Geidner/BuzzFeed)

From Friday. Chris Gender reports that the Fifth Circuit hearing on marriage equality was sounding very good for our side:

More than halfway through the morning’s arguments, an exasperated Justin Matheny, the assistant attorney general in Mississippi charged with defending the state’s ban, tried to change his tune during his rebuttal arguments.

When it became clear that the three-judge panel was leaning against upholding the bans, Matheny acknowledged that the “trajectory” for marriage rights for same-sex couples is “undeniable” — but added his new argument: “it’s not there yet.”

Judge Patrick Higginbotham, born in Alabama almost eight decades ago and appointed to the appeals court by President Reagan more than three decades ago, spoke up. And though the older judge was hard to hear at times, he spoke loudly and clearly when he responded to Matheny: “Those words, ‘Will Mississippi change its mind?’ have resonated in these halls before.”

Boom.

Netanyahu and Abbas join heads of state at Paris march against hatred

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(Reuters photo)

The Independent reports:

France’s President Francois Hollande asked Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend Paris’s phenomenal march against hatred on Sunday, claiming that his presence would be divisive, it has been reported.

The unity rally in Paris was fronted by more than 50 world leaders, who all linked arms as they led the march from the Place de la République in eastern Paris, where 1.5 million people gathered to honour the 17 victims of last week’s bloody massacre that left the country reeling.

In an unprecedented show of solidarity, the Israeli Prime Minister was seen marching just four people apart from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, while Prime Minister David Cameron’s appearance marked his first ever street march. Demonstrators carried placards brandishing the phrases “I am Charlie” and “I am Jewish”.

Well there's a shot you don't see every day. British PM David Cameron is out of frame to the left.

Notably absent from the massive rally, which was attended by some three million people, was any representative from the Obama administration. This report from WSJ is an example of the coverage. Of course the right wing would have attacked the President whether he attended or not. Had he been there, "Obama marches with Abbas" would have been one of the headlines. I thought he should have gone. I am sure we will hear more on this, since endless attacks on this president are what some people seem to live for.

Hundreds march in D.C. to honor Leelah Alcorn

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(Photo by Michael Key, Washington Blade)

The Blade reports:

More than 300 people marched through downtown Washington on Saturday to honor a transgender Ohio teenager who committed suicide late last month. American University student Jes Grobman; Rev. Wendy Moen of First Trinity Lutheran Church and Lourdes Ashley Hunter, co-founder of the Trans Women of Color Collective, are among those who spoke on the steps of the Carnegie Library in Mount Vernon Square during a pre-march rally. They proceeded to march to the Justice Department where they read a list of demands that include a federal ban on so-called conversion therapy to minors.

Acorn's voice has certainly not been stilled. The outpouring of protest across the country since her death is a welcome sign of the strengthening transgender rights movement. We have a long way to go to gain equality for transgender citizens (and on the ground, not just on paper), and in particular to protect sexual minority youth.

January 09, 2015

While Europe gathers to rebuke terror, Bill Donohue blames the victims

NYT describes the above video:

Explosions and gunfire were heard at a printing plant outside Paris where the two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo attacks were killed.

As people across Europe gathered to express their outrage at the military-style execution of a dozen people at the satirical Paris weekly, Charlie Hebdo, Catholic League troll Bill Donohue blamed the victims for bringing it on themselves.

Below, a massive rally at the Place Royale in Nantes, France was one of many across Europe in solidarity with those murdered at the satirical Paris weekly, Charlie Hebdo.

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'A medieval form of unreason'

Frank Kameny would have said much the same.

January 08, 2015

ICYMI: Putting It Together in 2015

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My column looking at the year ahead appears in this week's Blade, revised a bit. Here's an excerpt:

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

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

Curb the language cops. We will win the marriage fight even if some use the misleading phrase "gay marriage." If people who are not belligerent use the wrong pronouns or otherwise display their ignorance, be like my amazingly patient transgender friends and politely clue them in. Creating change requires the politics of addition; we must always seek new ways to connect with people.

Read the whole thing here.

Dinesh D'Souza's hypocrisy on Islamists

Dinesh D'Souza accuses liberals of coddling radical Islamists.

But he himself has actually made common cause with conservative Islamists, as I discussed in a book review in 2007:

His latest book’s provocation starts with the title: The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. But he goes beyond Jerry Falwell’s notorious blaming of feminists, gays and lesbians, the ACLU and People for the American Way. D’Souza actually makes common cause with “traditional Muslims,” who he claims hate America not for our presence in the Middle East but for our decadent culture. Minimizing the vast differences between Western traditions and Islamic and Middle Eastern ones, he calls for making America more tolerable to Islamic obscurantists whose tradition includes no Reformation, no Enlightenment, and no commitment to the personal freedom that has been the engine of the West’s economic success.

Charging the left with a “campaign of cultural imperialism,” D’Souza shows no grasp of free markets. If the success of capitalism and global communication has enabled many young Iranians, for example, to embrace American popular culture, that hardly constitutes a leftist conspiracy.

D’Souza equates licentiousness with leftism, which does not explain why so many otherwise liberal social movements had strong conservative elements: suffragists who were anti-abortion; communists who were homophobic; feminists who advocated censorship; and ministers in the civil rights movement who objected to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s association with Bayard Rustin, a leading organizer and strategist who was gay.

January 07, 2015

Charlie Hebdo and the defense of blasphemy

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(Photo by Thibault Camus / The Associated Press)

NYT reports on today's attack in Paris by masked gunmen at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 and wounded 10. Condolences to the families of the victims.

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Some in the West say that people have no right to offend other people's religions. Some assert that Christians would never tolerate blasphemy against their own religion. Both assertions are wrong. Freedom of speech means nothing if not the right to offend.

Some of our most honored literature contains blasphemies. For example, Nobel winner Günter Grass in his greatest novel, The Tin Drum, has his lead character pray to Jesus (quoting from memory), "Athlete of Athletes ... world's champion hanger on the cross by regulation nails, who lasted the longest time and earned the highest possible number of points...." He describes seagulls descending on a horse's head that had been used to fish for eels on the Baltic Sea as "the Holy Ghost descending to feast the Pentacost."

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Grass has lived to a ripe old age. 26 years ago, he led a consortium of writers in guaranteeing publication of the German translation of The Satanic Verses (which btw I read and enjoyed in its English original, as I have several of Salman Rushdie's novels, one of which, The Moor's Last Sigh, has Hindu blasphemies). Whether it's serious lit or South Park, irreverence is essential to our freedoms and must be defended.

January 06, 2015

Council member Charles Allen introduces surrogacy reform bill

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen this morning introduced the "Collaborative Reproduction Amendment Act of 2015," which was co-introduced by all of his colleagues. As I said to several CMs on Monday in urging them to co-introduce:

[This bill] will legalize and regulate surrogacy parenting agreements. A coalition of advocates has been working on this with former Judiciary Chair Tommy Wells and his staff, principally Anne Phelps (who is now working for Charles), for the past two years. Given its complexity and the crush of other business before the committee, it did not get done last year.

This bill is a top legislative priority for GLAA. It represents the last big piece of family law in need of modernizing to bring it in line with the District’s policy of equality for all families.

GLAA’s statement on surrogacy from our 2014 policy brief is here:
http://www.glaa.org/archive/2014/buildingonvictory.htm#_Toc24

Jeb Bush stumbles on marriage, settles on the rule of law

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(Jeff and Todd Delmay marrying Monday in Miami. By Angel Valentin for The New York Times)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush stirred memories of his brother George from 2004 as he strove both to pander to the anti-gay right and to strike a civil tone in discussing the arrival of marriage equality in Florida. Here he is on Sunday:

It ought be a local decision — I mean, a state decision. The state decided. The people of the state decided. But it's been overturned by the courts, I guess.

And here he is on Monday, revising and extending his remarks:

We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law. I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.

Sound familiar? Here is what I wrote in Salon in March 2004:

After calling for a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage without once mentioning the dreaded words "gay" or "lesbian," President George W. Bush ended on a conciliatory note: "We should also conduct this difficult debate in a manner worthy of our country, without bitterness or anger. In all that lies ahead, let us match strong convictions with kindness and goodwill and decency." This reminds me of Dame Edna Everage, who, after saying something horribly cruel about her bridesmaid Madge Allsop, habitually adds, "I mean that in a nurturing and caring way."

I would love to have Jeb explain to me what religious liberty has to do with this. The anti-gay right throws that expression around all the time, but its only meaning here is their liberty to infringe on mine. How long will the Republican Party and its purported leaders cling to this degrading nonsense?

Marriage equality comes to Florida

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

January 03, 2015

January 10 - Justice For Leelah Alcorn Rally & March

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

"My Death Needs To Mean Something"

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

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

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

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

January 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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January 01, 2015

Putting It Together in 2015

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing here.

Dan Savage on Leelah Alcorn's parents

He doesn't mean that literally, of course. But their treatment of their transgender daughter was tantamount to throwing her in front of that tractor trailer. A child is not a parent's property, to be sculpted or abused at the parent's whim. We are talking about a human being with a mind and spirit and life and talents and dreams of her own. We have to protect our youth better than that.