3054 posts categorized "Human Rights"

April 23, 2014

Geidner: The New Book About The Marriage Equality Movement Gets The Big Things Wrong

Prop_8_team_outside_SCOTUS
(Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images)

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?"

April 17, 2014

No, Chad Griffin is not Rosa Parks

Chad-Griffin-by-Rex-Wockner-thumb-500x375-2371

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)

April 13, 2014

Walking While Trans

DC_Anti-PFZ_rally
(Photo by John Riley for Metro Weekly)

Planet Transgender reports:

Just days after Monica Jones was seen in this CBS video (embedded below) protesting the failed religious discriminatory law in Phoenix, she was offered a ride while walking to a bar. The driver turned out to be an undercover police officer who then arrested her for "manifestation of prostitution'.

This law is a vague statue which enables officers to arrest woman for no other reason than asking if they are police. The law is used to feed people to "Project Rose" as the city conducts massive drag nets hauling in dozens of individuals at a time. This profiling of woman by police is contested by the Arizona ACLU which notes that "The difference between 'innocent' and 'criminal' behavior often comes down to how a person looks.

A 2011 study in NYC found that 59% of transgender respondents said that they had been stopped by police. So over half of our sisters in NYC had they lived in Phoenix would have faced the prospect of "Project Rose".

In short, a transgender woman of color is simply assumed to be guilty. This makes things more convenient, except of course for the woman criminalized essentially for existing. The Monica Jones case illustrates why we are not done in our battle for equality and justice. Those of us who do not fit the police profile owe it to our trans sisters of color to stand up against this relentless legal assault on their existence.

On Friday, April 11, I participated in a rally outside the Wilson Building here in D.C. at which we expressed support for Monica Jones and called for repeal of the District's so-called Prostitution Free Zones law, which discriminates against transgender women and solves nothing. GLAA's views on PFZs are expressed here.

Metro Weekly reports. I am quoted at some length in the article.

Nevada GOP drops party platforms against gay marriage and abortion

Las Vegas Review-Journal reports a welcome bit of news.

April 11, 2014

Krauthammer on 'thought police'

Charles-Krauthammer

Check out Charles Krauthammer's latest column.

I hardly know where to start with Krauthammer's attempt to turn liberals into totalitarians. He blames "activists" for a grassroots effort by Mozilla employees and developers. He ignores the legal and constitutional issues at the core of the marriage equality fight and pretends it is all moral and philosophical -- because the religious bullies on his side of the aisle are determined to cast themselves as victims. He pretends that Obama had the same position as Brendan Eich in 2008, but Obama opposed Proposition 8. I was not happy with Obama's position back then, and criticized his slowness to "evolve" on the issue; but ballot measures were a key battleground, and Obama opposed their use to attack gays.

Krauthammer's argument on climate change is not with Obama but with scientists, who (despite his tendentious cherry picking) overwhelmingly agree that human activity played a role in it. And he mocks the reference to "change" instead of "warming" as if it is an evasion, when it more accurately reflects the science, which does not claim uniform effects. Here Krauthammer flirts with those who confuse weather and climate, though he knows better.

What is the point of all this furious and smug propagandizing? It is to make the relentless assault on gay families look like a mere dinner table argument, and to make those defending themselves look like the aggressors. It is to deflect attention from plutocrats like the Koch brothers who use fights on social issues to distract people from the harm being done to their own interests, as with Art Pope hijacking North Carolina and installing minoritarian government.

Just get everyone arguing over free contraceptives and women being sluts, and somehow the women whose reproductive freedom is under aggressive assault become the aggressors. All of this would be hilarious were it not so pernicious.

April 10, 2014

Marian Anderson at Lincoln Memorial, 75 years ago

Filmpreservation.org writes:

[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.

April 09, 2014

Sen. Alan Simpson Supports Freedom to Marry

Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson does this ad for Freedom to Marry. I've met him and his wife. Delightful people.

April 06, 2014

20 years later, commemorating the Rwandan Genocide

[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:

Continue reading "20 years later, commemorating the Rwandan Genocide" »

Citing Israel Policy, D.C. Jewish Community Center Pulls The Plug On The Shondes

The-shondes-900x600
(Photo by Frank Stefanko)

WAMU reports the demoralizing details.

The Shondes’ singer and bassist, Louisa Solomon, said, "The occupation is illegal, brutal, and unjust, and it is hard to imagine anyone with both a heart and a mind concluding anything else." Well, we can't have that kind of talk at DCJCC.

As a longtime defender of Israel, I increasingly find myself asking: If willful moral blindness is necessary for that defense, does it not undermine itself? As J Street understands, the West Bank Occupation is itself an existential threat to Israel. A two-state solution is the only sane path forward. Given demographic trends, if Israel stays on its current path, it will either stop being a Jewish state or it will stop being a democracy. It is unfathomable how the denial exemplified by DCJCC on this situation can possibly help Israel or the Jewish people.

I wrote to the leaders of DCJCC on this subject a year or two ago in response to an email I received from them. I got no response. If you have to hunker down and shut out contrary views, including from friends like me, you are not headed down a sustainable or happy path. This makes me inexpressibly sad.

April 05, 2014

Fox's Starnes denounces treatment of ex-Mozilla CEO

Fox News reporter Todd Starnes writes at Townhall.com to defend now-former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich:

Why not demand that those who oppose gay marriage relinquish the right to own property? Why not take away their right to vote? Why not take away their children? Why not just throw them in jail? Why not force them to work in chain gangs? Why not call for public floggings? Or better yet, let’s just strap them down on gurneys, stick a needle in their arm and rid the world of these intolerant anti-gay bigots once and for all.

I want to assure Mr. Starnes that I oppose those traditional conservative measures.

April 04, 2014

Signorile refutes Sullivan on forced resignation of Mozilla CEO

Michelangelo Signorile wrote a detailed response to blogger Andrew Sullivan's criticism of "left-liberal intolerance" for the downfall of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich this week.

I agree with Signorile. Eich was totally out of synch with his company's employees, for one thing. This was a case of the market working. The First Amendment's free speech provision prevents the government from silencing you. It does not prevent a company from firing you when they decide that your actions will do the company harm.

'Safe Bathrooms DC' Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

The D.C. Office of Human Rights announced on April 3:

D.C. Office of Human Rights

“Safe Bathrooms DC” Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Innovative reporting method uses Twitter (#safebathroomsDC) to accept complaints

Thursday, April 3, 2014

CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Policy & Communications – 202.481.3773; [email protected]

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Public bathrooms can present many challenges: inevitably long lines, empty paper towel holders, and faucets that manage to spray more water onto your clothes than into your hands. Yet these challenges are trivial when compared to those some transgender and gender non-conforming people face when using gender-specific public bathrooms. Fear of harassment or violence can create a stressful experience, and many people report scouring the neighborhood until they can locate a gender-neutral bathroom. Now, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) is asking community members to help make it a bit easier for the transgender and gender non-conforming community, with today’s launch of its Safe Bathrooms DC campaign.

Aimed at rapidly increasing the number of single-occupancy gender-neutral public bathrooms in the District, the campaign features photos of common bathroom challenges, and aims to encourage people to report non-compliant bathrooms using Twitter or the OHR website. The District is one of the few jurisdictions in the nation that requires all single-occupancy bathrooms at restaurants, businesses or other public places to be gender-neutral, without labels such as “male” or “female.” While in the past non-compliant bathrooms could be reported to OHR through the traditional complaint submission method, now community members can quickly alert OHR by tweeting the business name and location using the hashtag #safebathroomsDC, or by submitting a short five question form on the OHR website.

Continue reading "'Safe Bathrooms DC' Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms" »

Musings on a grim anniversary

Martin-Luther-King-Assassination

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered 46 years ago today. On the fortieth anniversary, I wrote about the legacy of that awful event for Washington and for the country. Those thoughts still hold today.

Coming Unglued
by Richard J. Rosendall
Metro Weekly
April 10, 2008


Walking along U Street Northwest on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination, there is little sign that the neighborhood was on fire forty years ago. Ben's Chili Bowl, one of the few establishments that survived the riots, has been joined in the past decade by a host of new restaurants and upscale apartments. The boom has brought gentrification and its attendant displacement of longstanding residents, though the area remains ethnically diverse.

My father attended nearby Cardozo High School in the 1930s when it was the all-white Central High. Central became Cardozo in 1950 when it was transferred to the Colored School District to relieve overcrowding as the city's white population shrank and the black population grew. I have heard unscrupulous realtors blamed for the "white flight" that took with it development capital in the postwar years, but the prejudice was there to be exploited.

Thoughts of decay and renewal, and the sad King anniversary, bring to mind Langston Hughes' musing on a dream deferred: "Maybe it just sags / like a heavy load. / Or does it explode?" The dream exploded in Los Angeles in 1992 when a jury acquitted four police officers videotaped beating Rodney King. It exploded in San Francisco in 1979 when Dan White, who killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, was convicted only of manslaughter.

Continue reading "Musings on a grim anniversary" »

Judge to end Ohio ban on recognizing gay marriage

AP reports:

A federal judge said Friday that he will strike down Ohio's voter-approved ban on gay marriage, a move that stops short of forcing Ohio to perform same-sex weddings but will make the state recognize gay couples legally wed elsewhere.

Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

"I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio's recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Black said. "(They're) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married."

Brick by brick, as Lorraine Hansberry once put it.

April 03, 2014

GLAA renews call to repeal 'Prostitution Free Zones'

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Fighting for equal rights since 1971
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, DC 20013
(202) 667-5139 • [email protected]

April 3, 2014

To:Councilmembers Tommy Wells, Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, Anita Bonds, Muriel Bowser
Cc:Councilmember David Grosso, Council Chair Phil Mendelson
Subject:Please repeal Prostitution Free Zones

Dear Members of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety:

It has come to our attention that Councilmember David Grosso is preparing to introduce a bill to repeal so-called Prostitution Free Zones. It will likely be referred to your committee.

We strongly support repeal of PFZs, as we have previously testified.

The use of Prostitution Free Zones (or PFZs) facilitates discriminatory police profiling of transgender people.[1] It is also a constitutionally questionable practice. As our colleagues from the DC Trans Coalition note:

  1. The Attorney General has determined that PFZs can't be defended in court and are likely unconstitutional.
  2. MPD has suspended PFZ implementation and is working to rescind its PFZ general order.
  3. Eliminating PFZs is a step toward reducing violence against sex workers.
  4. PFZ repeal makes sense from a public health perspective.

We agree with the 2005 testimony of Stephen M. Block, then legislative counsel for ACLU of the Nation's Capital, concerning the bill authorizing temporary PFZs that was then under consideration. I will summarize some of his citations.

Continue reading "GLAA renews call to repeal 'Prostitution Free Zones'" »

Mississippi governor to sign anti-gay 'religious freedom' bill into law

Reuters reports on the latest salvo in the far right's campaign to package their anti-gay fanaticism in the garb of religious freedom.

March 31, 2014

Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

I emailed the following this morning. You may wish to send your own message.

From:Richard Rosendall
Date:Monday, March 31, 2014
To:Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, [email protected]
Subject:Please denounce rally statements by Archbishop Ntagali

Dear Archbishop Welby:

I have been reading the Twitter feed from Ugandan gay rights leader Frank Mugisha on the rally held today in that country celebrating the Anti-Homosexuality Act:
https://twitter.com/FrankMugisha

One of the speakers at the rally is Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. He celebrated the Ugandan church's having cut ties ten years ago with the Episcopal church in America over homosexuality. His statements, as reported by Mugisha, include "Homosexuality is the devil's agenda in Uganda," and "We have to be focused, without fear to fight the battles facing us, battles facing our families."

Ntagali is effectively endorsing persecution and murder. He should be expelled from the Anglican Communion. Your predecessor was so afraid of schism that he allowed the African bishops to behave disgracefully with no consequences, and even pandered to their threats over the participation of Americans at the Lambeth conference. But a problem like the aggressive bigotry and inhumanity of the African bishops cannot be dealt with by avoidance. What is the point of keeping someone at the table who is poisoning the food?

I appreciate that you have publicly argued with Ntagali over the treatment of gay people by the church. You have stated that some gay couples have loving, stable, and monogamous relationships, and that we deserve the "best pastoral care and friendship," but you still support the Church of England's opposition to active homosexuality (that last phrase is according to the BBC). I am sorry, but this will not do. To be merely tolerated and told we must embrace lifelong celibacy is not acceptance and is not humane. Our love and its expression are as good as anybody else's. We are a threat to no one. We are entitled to equal protection as citizens.

I urge you at a minimum to denounce the participation and remarks by Archbishop Ntagali at the anti-gay rally in Uganda, and not to put a facade of unity before the rights of LGBT people whom some Anglican leaders are persecuting.

I have been in contact in recent days and weeks with persecuted and hunted Ugandan friends. I am grateful to hear from them at all, as it means they are still alive. Asylum efforts are not enough, because most LGBT Ugandans will remain in their country, whose leaders avoid addressing real problems in favor of scapegoating a minority. Words fail in expressing my admiration and respect for Frank Mugisha, who holds his head up and speaks out despite being in grave danger. Please add your respected voice for decency in the face of this mounting horror.


Yours sincerely,

Richard J. Rosendall
Washington, D.C.

Ugandan archbishop speaks at rally celebrating anti-gay law in Uganda

Stanley_ntagali-church-of-uganda

I am reading Frank Mugisha's Twitter feed. One of the speakers at the rally in Uganda celebrating the Anti-Homosexuality Act is Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. Indeed, he is delivering the "message of the day." He celebrates the Ugandan church's having cut ties ten years ago with the Episcopal church in America over homosexuality. Here are some of Mugisha's tweets and retweets.

Continue reading "Ugandan archbishop speaks at rally celebrating anti-gay law in Uganda" »

March 28, 2014

Transgender rights bill passes Maryland House

Metro Weekly reports:

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations by a vote of 82-57 on Thursday, setting it up to to be signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

The bill, SB 212, takes protections for transgender people that already exist on a local level in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Montgomery County and extends them to the state's remaining 20 counties. The measure previously passed the state Senate earlier this month on a 32-15 vote.

Congrats to our Maryland colleagues on this landmark victory.

Gov. Snyder: Michigan Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder refuses to recognize 300 legal same-sex marriages conducted in the state after Judge Friedman's March 21 ruling and before a stay was issued pending appeal. Gov. Snyder's action is illegal. A legal marriage is a legal marriage. But the desperate, last-ditch obstruction by the radical right will continue until SCOTUS finishes the work of recognizing our families nationwide.

Robertson On Stoning Gays; Satan Leads Gay Rights Movement

Right Wing Watch shares the latest nuttiness from Pat Robertson.

March 21, 2014

Michigan marriage ruling: 'Loving has profound implications for this litigation'

Another victory in federal court, this time in Michigan. Senior U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman, citing Loving v. Virginia and U.S. v. Windsor, ruled in that state's gay marriage case, DeBoer v. Snyder:

IT IS HEREBY DECLARED that Article I, § 25 of the Michigan Constitution and its implementing statutes are unconstitutional because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Here is Judge Friedman's conclusion:

In attempting to define this case as a challenge to “the will of the people,” Tr. 2/25/14 p. 40, state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples. It is the Court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up “to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2694. Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.

Read the court's ruling here.

Congrats and thanks to all who worked to make this ruling possible. A luta continua.

March 19, 2014

195 Democratic lawmakers urge Obama to sign LGBT executive order

Metro Weekly reports:

Nearly every Democratic member of the Senate and 148 Democratic members of the House of Representatives urged President Barack Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from LGBT workplace discrimination in a letter sent Tuesday.

With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) having hit a wall in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives after passage in the Senate last year, members of the House and Senate called on Obama “to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.”

Please do it, Mr. President.

March 14, 2014

Fischer: gay activists have brainwashed people into saying 'yes' to gay marriage

AFA's Bryan Fischer says the truth is always in fashion. And there he sits in his studio, proudly unfashionable.

March 13, 2014

Ugandan activists challenge Anti-Homosexuality Act in court

BuzzFeed reports. Bravo and best wishes to Frank Mugisha, Julian Pepe Onziema, and their fellow petitioners.

Barney Frank on export of hate by American evangelicals

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March 10, 2014

Meet the American Pastor Behind Uganda's Anti-Gay Crackdown

Mother Jones has published a lengthy profile of viciously anti-gay evangelical Scott Lively.

March 06, 2014

Russian LGBT athletes hold Open Games despite official harassment, cancellations

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)

March 04, 2014

Republicans From the West Give Support for Gay Marriage

2006-Simpson-mug

NYT reports:

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.)

Mugabe: 'I understand we have a group of homosexuals in this country'

N-ROBERT-MUGABE-UGANDA-GAY-large570
(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Love the scarf. Will someone please strangle him with it?

Fox news babe asks a civil rights question, doesn't like the answer

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."

March 02, 2014

Douthat: The Terms of Our Surrender

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.

David Ortiz would welcome a gay teammate

David_Ortiz
(Photo courtesy USA Today Sports)

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.

D.C. activists critical of MPD actions that led to transgender woman's arrest for an expired driver's license

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.

March 01, 2014

Global LGBT recap

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.

February 28, 2014

Gay Uganda’s plea: ‘Don’t cut aid, you’ll make it worse’

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.

The latest on marriage equality

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.

Twice as Good

Richard_sherman_tips_ball
(Richard Sherman's winning NFC championship play. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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.

February 27, 2014

Mayor Gray acts to end anti-transgender discrimination in health care

Vince_Gray_by_MW

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.

Tea Party Nation: Brewer's Veto Imposed 'Slavery,' Mandatory Penis Cakes For 'Homosexual Weddings'

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.