3311 posts categorized "Human Rights"

November 25, 2014

Remembering Marion Barry

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(Still from The Nine Lives of Marion Barry)

I have known Marion Barry since the early 1980s, and he was always courteous to me, even twenty years ago on election day when he arrived at Precinct 15 and I was standing outside wearing a Carol Schwartz campaign shirt. Indeed, he came right for me, all smiles. That was always one of his more charming qualities.

After his death early Sunday at age 78, I received requests for comment from several journalists. I was under the weather all day and did not send them my thoughts until Monday morning. Since I missed the news cycle, here are my comments.

In many ways Marion Barry resembled Bill Clinton: smart, politically astute, charming, and with a phenomenal memory. He didn’t just remember people’s names, he remembered their pets and what ailed them. People who disliked him used to dismiss his talents, which was a big mistake. He was the smartest politician in hometown D.C.

In his early years as mayor, before his addictions got the better of him, he appointed more gay officials than any mayor in the country. I remember him announcing the birth of his son Christopher from the stage at Gay Pride. He was an ally of the LGBT community throughout his mayoral years.

I was greatly disappointed when he opposed marriage equality, and said “Shame on you” to him after he led a chant (3:30 on the clip) at an anti-gay rally in Freedom Plaza in the spring of 2009. He replied, “I supported you on everything else.” That did not mollify me, but it was noteworthy that he and the only other “no” vote on marriage, Ward 7 councilmember Yvette Alexander, touted their pro-gay credentials from the dais rather than launching into anti-gay screeds. They were voting with their constituents; but they still, implausible as it seemed, were eager not to be thought anti-gay. That was a tribute to how far the LGBT community had come.

People are calling this the end of an era, but the Barry era really ended 16 years ago when Anthony Williams was elected mayor. After that, Marion was still a force in Ward 8, but not citywide. In recent years he could barely walk, but his mind was still sharp. I was still pleasant with him despite the harm he did to the city, because it cost me nothing and he was still one of our 13 councilmembers. He was a charmer to the end (when he wasn’t trash talking), and enjoyed reminiscing about past battles when he was on our side. It was clear that he would be re-elected in Ward 8 as long as he lived; now the question is when his constituents, so devoted to him, will move on.

November 22, 2014

The five craziest conservative reactions to Obama on immigration

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports. The right wing is losing it.

Moral courage in the face of hatred

November 21, 2014

Trump, unclear about his antecedents

November 20, 2014

Trans women tell GLAAD their experiences

In honor of Trans Awareness Week and the Transgender Day of Remembrance, our friends at GLAAD have released this video.

#SCOTUS denies stay in South Carolina marriage case

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

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The Transgender Day of Remembrance is being observed today around the world, as we can see in the photo above tweeted by Pepe Julian Onziema in Uganda. The observance in Washington, D.C. is at the Metropolitan Community Church at 474 Ridge St NW. Here's the description from the Facebook event page:

Doors Open at 6:00 PM - Program will start closer to 7:00 PM

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

According to The Transgender Day of Remembrance Website:

"The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn't perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who've died by anti-transgender violence."

November 19, 2014

President Obama previews primetime immigration address

More from the Associated Press.

Marriage victory in Montana

Earl Fowlkes elected Stein Club president

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(Earl Fowlkes, right, in Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports that Earl Fowlkes has been elected president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.

Earl received GLAA's Distinguished Service Award this past April. Here is his citation. Congrats to him and the other Stein officers for 2015.

Slackers at the Chalkboard

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(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

My post-election column is now up at the Blade. If you're dreading the holidays and could use a booster shot of snark, this could be just the thing. Here's an excerpt:

With Republicans winning the Senate and Obamacare on the run, a new Era of Good Feeling is surely around the corner. Vote suppression, gerrymandering, and truckloads of secret cash are just another way of saying, "The people have spoken!" Someone please turn this into lyrics for a new Christmas carol.

The best hope for Democrats is Republican overreach. By that I do not mean your right-wing uncle getting gravy on his sweater as he reaches across the table at Thanksgiving. I mean unhinged recklessness driven by hubris and Obama hatred. Profits are up, unemployment and deficits are down -- get that Muslim socialist out of the White House before he ruins us!

Republicans are furious at the President's unrepentant attitude, despite their own intransigence after past losses. Elections must have consequences when Republicans win. Talk of government shutdowns and impeachment is rising. But President Obama has little to lose by picking fights (by which I mean being president, black, and doing anything). If you abuse someone no matter what he does, he might as well stand his ground. That is what our 44th president, at long last, appears to be doing.

Read the whole thing here.

Solomon: Progressives looking for answers from marriage movement

Chris Johnson at the Blade talks to Freedom to Marry's Marc Solomon.

Marriage News Watch

An update from Matt Baume at AFER. (From Monday)

SC AG asks Chief Justice Roberts for stay of 4th Circuit marriage ruling

A tree for Emmett Till at the U.S. Capitol

Janet Langhart Cohen was on Joe Madison's show on SiriusXM's Urban View 126 yesterday to talk about the planting of a tree on Capitol Hill commemorating Emmett Till, who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 and whose murderers were let off by an all-white jury. We know Emmett's name, as we do not know the names of the thousands of others who met similar fates, because his mother Mamie had the courage to order an open casket and allow Jet Magazine to photograph her son's horrifically mutilated face. Her words, "I want them to see what they did to my son," are one of the most powerful statements ever made by an American.

Jet founder John Johnson's unhesitating decision to print the photo and story of Till's murder helped galvanize African Americans for the civil rights struggle; the Montgomery Bus Boycott began later the same year. Thanks to Mrs. Cohen for her efforts to get a living memorial for Till, and to Joe Madison for sharing the video. As Madison notes, the sycamore's location across from the Russell Senate Office Building is particularly apt, given Richard Russell's unreconstructed racism and ferocious opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

November 18, 2014

Donnie Swaggart says gay rights activists want to behead Christians

Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reports the latest from the unhinged religious right. It would appear to be a simple case of projection by Mr. Swaggart.

Pope welcomes anti-gay activists at Vatican conference on traditional marriage

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(Photo courtesy The Independent)

The New Civil Rights Movement provides a long list of anti-gay obsessives who attended the Vatican conference on traditional marriage, and quotes this:

"We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis," the Pope told his very-willing audience. "This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable."

"We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment."

"Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact."

Temporary? I have remained committed to my foreign partner for 13 years despite many barriers to our happiness. The complementarity nonsense was refuted centuries before Christ by Plato. In pastoral terms, this conference with so many anti-gay fanatics is I think the first wrong step ‪#‎Pontifex‬ has made in his public ministry. As someone observed, he is talking about us when he should be talking with us.

The Independent also reports.

I have previously counseled caution. The Pope's pastoral instincts are admirable, but he has shown no sign of intending to change Catholic doctrine regarding gay people, women's vocations to the priesthood, or contraception.

Good marriage news from South Carolina and Kansas

'Dress for the job you have, not the job you want'

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What Mr. Oliver said. BTW, I want to meet the young man in that iconic August photo from Ferguson and tell him how awesome he is. He became John Lewis, Hosea Williams, and six hundred marchers in Selma, right there on W. Florissant. Awesome courage. And thank goodness photojournalists were there, also risking their lives to bring us the story.

November 14, 2014

Montana: federal judge cancels marriage hearing, will rule soon

Williams Institute study: Global acceptance rising

Tony Perkins Will Attend Upcoming Vatican Marriage Meeting

Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports.

Botswana Gay Rights Group Wins Legal Recognition

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Reuters reports some good news from Botswana:

A Botswana judge overturned a government ban on a gay rights lobbying group on Friday, a rare victory for African gay rights campaigners on a continent where homosexuality remains highly contentious.

Justice Terrence Rannoane ruled that the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) would be allowed to register and campaign for changes to anti-gay legislation but reiterated that it was still illegal to engage in homosexual acts.

"In a democratic society such as ours, freedom of expression, assembly and association are important values duly protected by our constitution," Rannoane said.

Marc Solomon's Winning Marriage hits shelves

A busy week for marriage equality

Multiple developments this week on marriage equality. Above, victory in Kansas. Below, developments in MS and SC.

The Clarion-Ledger on marriage in Mississippi:
Analysis: Judge likely will overturn gay marriage ban

Reuters:
Gay marriage advocates get victories in Kansas, South Carolina

Meanwhile, Justice Thomas weighs in.

Onziema honored in UK

Congrats to our friend Pepe Julian Onziema on his Hero of the Year award from Stonewall UK. A well-deserved honor for an extraordinary man.

Who are the real thugs?

Uganda's new anti-gay bill

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Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, a pro-gay ally in Uganda who was featured in the 2013 documentary film God Loves Uganda, writes at Political Research Associates:

Reports of the new anti-gay bill—“Prohibition of the Promotion of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill of 2014” being considered in Uganda have caught the world unaware. Supporters of Uganda’s LGBTQ community had hoped that the Uganda court’s striking down of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA, formerly known as the “Kill the Gays Bill”), as well as president Yoweri Museveni’s subsequent meetings with President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, had buried the tide of anti-LGBTQ persecution in Uganda. But, then the news came—the new bill is in the pipeline. Unlike the “Kill the Gays” proposal, this new potential law is a virtual copy of the recently-passed anti-gay laws in Russia and Nigeria banning recruiting into, or “promotion” of homosexuality—all guided by U.S. exporters of homophobia and sexism.

The new proposed law is a response to international outrage to both the death penalty and life imprisonment for homosexuality previously proposed by the country’s parliament. By tailoring down the punishment for being an LGBTQ person to 5-7 years imprisonment, the authors hope to appear more moderate and assuage some of the international outrage of their treatment of sexual minorities.

But while this new proposal is sure to draw continued (and deserved) international headlines, the Western world’s near-exclusive focus on Uganda, while ignoring identical legislation in countries like Nigeria, have left the African social justice community vulnerable to anti-gay activists....

Local LGBTQ organizations that are on the ground and working day and night to educate and change hearts throughout Africa are fully capable of turning this trend around, if only the spigot of U.S.-based anti-LGBTQ and anti-women money, resources, and talking points were turned off.

November 09, 2014

Francis makes Cardinal Burke's demotion official

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Pope Francis has made official what we've known for weeks, Think Progress reports:

Pope Francis has officially demoted Cardinal Raymond Burke, a prominent American Cardinal who has been highly critical of the pontiff’s increasingly progressive tone when discussing issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

Burke, who made waves in 2004 for saying that voting for a pro-choice candidate is “a serious sin,” has been an unusually outspoken detractor of Pope Francis since he ascended to the papacy in 2013. When the pontiff declared last year that the Catholic church was too “obsessed” with culture war issues such as abortion, for instance, Burke responded by saying that the church “can never talk enough” about the “massacre of the unborn.” And while Francis answered a question about gay priests by saying “who am I to judge?” last July, Burke told LifeSiteNews in October that homosexual acts are “always and everywhere wrong, evil.”

But on Saturday, the Vatican announced that Burke, who was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has been removed from his influential position as head of the Apostolic Signatura — the Vatican’s highest court — and reassigned to a largely ceremonial role as the Patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta.

Do I hear singing?

"Glitter and be gay,
That's the part I play,
Trying on a Maltese Cross.
Forced to bend my soul
To a lesser role,
Gold embroidered vestments
Turned at once to dross."

(Apologies to Richard Wilbur.)

November 08, 2014

The great dissent by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey

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Mark Joseph Stern writes in Slate:

Thursday’s 2–1 decision by the 6th Circuit upholding four states’ gay marriage bans is a deeply obnoxious slog that I would not recommend even to the most eager masochist. Its author, Judge Jeffrey Sutton, seems to fundamentally misunderstand the constitutional arguments behind marriage equality: Instead of analyzing the 14th Amendment’s dual guarantees of liberty and equal protection, he simply states that gay people have no business fighting for their civil rights in court. After a while, Sutton’s repeated insistence that it’s not a federal judge’s duty to enforce the constitution makes you want to grab him by the shoulders and ask, then what in the world were you hired for?

Luckily, someone has already done that for us: Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, the dissenter in the case. Daughtrey’s opinion isn’t just blistering; it’s a scorching, bitterly funny, profoundly humane excoriation of Sutton’s sophistry.

Stern quotes three fine passages by Daughtrey:

The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy. But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal. … Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it. Because I reject the majority’s resolution of these questions based on its invocation of vox populi and its reverence for “proceeding with caution” (otherwise known as the “wait and see” approach), I dissent.

Continue reading "The great dissent by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey" »

Judge Sutton's desperate effort to hold back the marriage equality tide

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(Photo of Judge Jeffrey Sutton by Associated Press)

Jay Michaelson at The Daily Beast looks at the ruling by Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton upholding gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

One of Sutton's arguments, designed to establish a rational basis for preventing gay couples from marrying, is the so-called natural law argument, which says that we are violating "nature's laws." As I have said before, natural law is merely religion in pseudo-scientific drag, cooked up by people who haven't the slightest understanding or respect for the scientific method. It amounts to a more polite rephrasing of the great line by playwright Christopher Durang's Sister Mary Ignatius, "You do the thing that makes Jesus puke." Instead of studying what nature has actually produced in all its diversity, they try to dictate to nature to stay within their comfortable boxes. Or, if you will, instead of studying God's creation, they tell God what to do. It's both bad science and presumptuous religion.

Sutton, by the way, is a respected conservative jurist. But as for those who say that the Sixth Circuit ruling sets back the cause of marriage equality, that is only true if you ignore the fact that this almost certainly propels the issue of marriage equality back to the Supreme Court of the United States, by creating a conflict among the federal circuit courts. That's less like losing and more like luring your enemy into a trap. Not that I am calling marriage opponents my enemies. We are all loyal Americans with an honest disagreement. If you ignore our opponents' endless lies and slanders, that is.

Fischer: God kicked Native Americans off their land as punishment for sins

If you had any doubts that the brand of religion practiced by the likes of AFA's Bryan Fischer is a conglomeration of the worst human impulses, check out his vile comments in this video.

(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)

November 07, 2014

And now Kansas

Sixth Circuit ruling against marriage equality sets up #SCOTUS review

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed reports here and here.

Federal judge strikes down Missouri ban on same-sex marriage

Metro Weekly reports.

November 06, 2014

Summoning the Ancestors

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

November 04, 2014

'Your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have….'

On this day when many elections may be swayed by aggressive voter suppression laws, it is worth re-watching this powerful speech by Rep. John Lewis, who put his life on the line five decades ago for civil rights and voting rights.

October 31, 2014

Vote for Initiative 71

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GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014," and urges you to vote for it.

We have included it in our ratings ad, discussed it in our policy brief, Building on Victory, and discussed it in our testimony this week before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee decrying racial disparities in police stops:

[W]e appreciate the work of our friends at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, which reported in 2013 on the dramatic racial disparity in marijuana arrests in the District:

"Officers from fifteen different police forces … made marijuana arrests in 2010, however MPD officers made 4,996 of the 5,393 total arrests, or almost 93%.... PSA 602, located in Anacostia, had a 2010 marijuana arrest rate of 2,488 per 100,000. By contrast, PSA 204, located in Woodley Park, had a marijuana arrest rate of just 33 per 100,000."

Given the roughly equal rates of self-reported marijuana use by white and black citizens, the disparity in enforcement must be confronted by this committee. In the meantime, the people are changing the law. GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014." This will not end all problems associated with the disastrously counterproductive war on drugs, but it is a start.

Unfortunately, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, who leans conservative on many issues, is not quite with the program, judging by her comments on Twitter:

I replied to her this morning:

Do not think for a moment that your vote doesn't matter. Please vote on or before November 4, and make sure to vote for Initiative 71. It will be a vote for fairness and justice.

October 30, 2014

GOP candidate puts gay son in ad; HRC isn't having it

Amanda Terkel at HuffPost reports:

GOP House candidate Nan Hayworth released a new ad Wednesday featuring her son, who is gay, assuring voters that his mother is not an "extremist."

"As a gay man, coming to terms with who I am wasn't easy, but my parents love me for who I am and for whom I love," says her son, Will, in the ad. "So when I hear vicious negative attacks against Nan Hayworth, I have to speak out. Nan Hayworth is no extremist. She's my mom. She's kind. She's compassionate. She's always been there for me. And she'll always be there for you."

Hayworth is attempting to defeat Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) in New York's 18th District. Maloney, who is gay, ousted Hayworth from the seat in 2012.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, was unimpressed with Hayworth's new ad. In a statement, the group criticized Hayworth for her policy positions, saying that just because she has a gay son doesn't mean she's a champion of LGBT rights.

HRC notes that while in office, Hayworth did not support same-sex marriage, did not support DOMA repeal, and did not support the Uniting American Families Act (to keep binational couples from being separated).

I agree with HRC on this one.

Jesuit-run university in Nebraska to offer same-sex benefits despite Church objections

Towleroad reports:

Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, has announced that it will soon offer health benefits to employee’s same-sex spouses despite the objections of Catholic archbishop George J. Lucas, reports KETV7 ABC.

Creighton UniversityOutlining the decision in a letter sent Monday to trustees, President Rev. Timothy Lannon, said that although Creighton continues to support the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage, the university is taking this step to meet the needs of its employees and remain competitive with other universities that already offer similar benefits.

Lannon added that 21 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S. already offer similar benefits.

George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, reacted predictably:

I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice; both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman and the meaning of human life and love.

Here's to superseding divine law.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)