My column this week looks at indecency. Here is an excerpt:
It is amazing what indecent things some people say and do in the name of decency.
If your Christian parents throw you out of the house for being gay, and they cite Scripture, it is probably St. Paul, specifically 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Regarding the reference to homosexuality, Bible Gateway explains, "The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts." But let's not quibble over translations, nor scour the Bible Concordance for the precise connection between God's kingdom and kicking out children. The point is that some people really believe this crap, and it's causing harm, and it's time we stopped being shy about it.
After organizers of New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade decided to allow an NBC-affiliated LGBT group to march, the Catholic League's Bill Donohue envisioned gay marchers masturbating in the street. Father Charles Pope, blogging for the Archdiocese of Washington, called the parade an "anal sex" celebration. These gentlemen are quieter about the papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic fleeing to Rome to avoid justice for abusing shoeshine boys.
Mayor Gray has proclaimed September 29, 2014 "Robert 'Bob' King Day" in Washington, D.C.
We must object. Here are links to several stories and blog entries that detail King's efforts against marriage equality in the District.
Let us be clear: Bob King did NOT merely oppose marriage equality in D.C. He aggressively opposed us, stoked anti-gay bigotry, took money from anti-gay bigots for his efforts, and even asked the U.S. Congress to intervene in D.C. affairs because he didn't like what our own elected leaders had done. The latter is especially egregious.
As GLAA has stated:
The District has no business issuing official proclamations and ceremonial resolutions to honor people and organizations openly hostile to the LGBT community. Officials must put procedures in place to prevent such slip-ups. Good works in other areas do not excuse discrimination or bias.
Mayor Gray is a good friend who has done more than any other mayor for LGBT people in the District. But we cannot agree with his act to honor Bob King. Mr. King contacted me last year seeking to put the past behind us and work together for the sake of the District. I was interested in a reconciliation; but when he refused to express any regrets for his past anti-gay and anti-democratic actions, much less apologize for them, I declined to meet with him. We are not sore winners. But reconciliation requires a change of heart and mind. King merely said, "You won, and we lost." I was already aware of that. What I did not detect was any contrition, nor the slightest warmth in his voice. If you extend your hand to me in fellowship, I will reciprocate. If, on the other hand, you are merely a political operative who wants others to forget your transgressions without your having acknowledged them, it is another matter.
(Hat tip: Bob Summersgill)
No, Todd, they won't. Unlike Canada, which you cite, America has something called the First Amendment. And we at GLAA have defended our opponents' First Amendment rights time and again. Here is the latest example.
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
The loss of extraordinary transgender health activist Andrew Cray last week at age 28 has been hard for a lot of us to get our minds around. The August 30 memorial service at St. Thomas Church in Dupont Circle helped, as gatherings of love and respect do. Working through his illness, Andrew played a crucial role in getting the details right for Mayor Gray's historic executive action earlier this year to guarantee transgender people non-discriminatory access to health care. The service was led beautifully by Bishop Gene Robinson, who had worked with Andrew at the Center for American Progress and had officiated at Andrew's wedding to Sarah McBride six days before. The mutual grieving and celebration of Andrew among the CAP staff and local and national LGBT activists at the service was especially poignant in that he had helped so many people in such a short life.
Here is the eulogy given by Sterling Washington, Director of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs:
Before Amy reads the condolence letter from Mayor Gray, I wanted to say a few words about Andrew Cray. I admit to struggling with what those words would be, which is a bit unusual for me. This all seemed to happen so fast and I haven't had time to wrap my head around it. And I know that if it is difficult for me, it is unbearably arduous for his family. After all, it was just six days ago that Andy and Sarah were married and now we are eulogizing him.
To say he was an indefatigable activist is an understatement. Andrew Cray did more in his 28 years than so many accomplish in a lifetime. And he did so in service to others. For example, he worked closely with the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs last September to educate the LGBT community about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the local DC Health Benefits Exchange. But, Andrew's most enduring work with the Office involved his legal research and advice when the District moved to bar discrimination against the transgender community in health insurance. This was no easy task and was a year in the making. As we approached the end of the process, there were several surreptitious calls late at night between my Office and a handful of advocates – Andy Bowen, Kellan Baker, and Andrew. Sometimes, it involved Kellan carrying messages to Andrew, whose health had really begun to deteriorate by that point. You see, Andrew was among a handful of legal experts in the country who understood the verbiage needed to ensure our policy was as inclusive as it could be. To be clear, many activists had begun laying the groundwork for this years ago; however, when it came to shaping and actually writing the policy clarification, Andrew was invaluable. Because of his work and that of a handful of advocates, the District has the most comprehensive policy barring discrimination in health insurance (including Medicaid) on the basis of gender identity of any jurisdiction in the country. We are mourning Andrew today, but the fruits of his labor will live on and help so many get the life-saving procedures they so desperately need. And not just here in DC. On Thursday – the day that Andrew died – the city of Cincinnati decided that it would cover gender reassignment surgeries.
Aside from his work, Andrew's passing leaves a hole in the heart of so many of us here. And that is harder to speak to. His love, energy, and friendship still endures albeit in a different state now. And we will carry with us every day the memory of those and we are indeed changed – in a positive way - because our lives were touched by his.
Mayor Gray's condolence letter was read by GLBT Affairs Deputy Director Amy Loudermilk.News reports at the Blade and Think Progress. Cray wrote an op-ed at Advocate.com in March of this year. May this beautiful young man rest in peace. He has certainly left the world better than he found it.
Marc Santora reports in NYT:
The organizers of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade said on Wednesday that they were lifting a ban on gay groups participating in the march, ending a policy that had prompted protests, court battles and bitter debate for decades.
The decision to allow a gay group to march under its own banner, first reported by The Irish Voice, came as Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to once again boycott the parade and the organizers faced pressure from employees of NBC Universal, which broadcasts the festivities.
New York gays are not all happy at the decision.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today praised federal court Judge Martin Feldman for ruling today that the US Constitution does not preclude the state of Louisiana from defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that voters made a rational decision in doing so when they adopted the state's marriage amendment. Feldman becomes the third federal judge to have ruled that traditional marriage laws are not unconstitutional, and the first since the US Supreme Court issued their decision invalidating a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A state judge in Tennessee has also ruled that the US constitution does not prohibit states from defining marriage a one man and one woman.
"Here we see the house of cards collapsing that supported the myth that redefining marriage is inevitable," said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "This decision by Judge Feldman in Louisiana is a great win for the cause of marriage, coming as it does on the heels of other pro-marriage court victories, that puts the lie to the claim that it is inevitable the US Supreme Court will redefine marriage. To the contrary, we believe they will leave this issue with the states."
Matt Baume of AFER gives an update on marriage equality cases.
If Rams can discriminate against a homosexual because his behavior doesn't measure up, so can bakers and photographers.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) August 31, 2014
AFA's Bryan Fischer rather desperately misrepresents the Rams' football-based decision to cut Michael Sam in order to make an unrelated point. Meanwhile, Breitbart in its report completely ignores Sam's strong performance in pre-season games, going back instead several months to before he was drafted.
Lucas Grindley reports at Advocate.com on Sam's situation. As Cyd Zeigler at Outsports says, the Rams' decision was based on the fact that it already has a strong defensive line. The fact that Sam was overlooked by every other NFL team, including teams like the Bengals and Patriots that needed pass rushers like him, suggest that something other than his merits was at play. Shame on the NFL.
Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports:
A World Congress of Families event in Melbourne this week was supposed to feature speeches by three Australian government officials, including social services minister Kevin Andrews. Instead, all three have backed out in the face of criticism of the Illinois-based group’s promotion of harsh anti-gay and anti-choice laws around the world.
In addition, the Australian politicians had come under fire for the conference’s sponsorship by Catch the Fire ministries, a group run by far-right politician Danny Nalliah who has blamed wildfires on abortion rights and frequently lashes out against "multiculturalism." (Nalliah also happens to be an ally of bizarre birther WND columnist and RWW favorite Lord Monckton).
Andrews’ decision to back out of the WCF event is especially galling since the group had been planning to present him with its “Natural Family Man of the Year” award. In a somewhat confusing statement, Andrews criticized those asking him to back out of trying to “shut down debate” while agreeing with them that the WCF summit represented “intolerance.”
Richard Wolf at USA Today examines the pros and cons of various state marriage equality cases being chosen for review by the Supreme Court of the United States. My bet is on Utah.
My column this week discusses the police abuses and racial injustice exposed by a recent police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Here's an excerpt:
When civil disorder followed the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, it was fueled by police aggression that exacerbated existing community mistrust.
Ferguson police, overwhelmingly white in a community two-thirds black, offered a case study in how not to handle lawful protests. While failing to release a proper incident report and initially withholding Wilson’s name, they put out information to imply Brown deserved his fate. Never mind the double standard whereby (say) gun-waving white radicals like Cliven Bundy in Nevada are spared deadly force.
As police innovated daily escalations (infringing First Amendment freedoms, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at reporters and peaceful protesters), community leaders including Alderman Antonio French urged restraint, blocked looters, and transmitted events on social media. Capt. Ron Johnson of the state highway patrol showed maturity by replacing riot gear with respectful community engagement, though events (and some headstrong officers) outflanked him.
Live tweets and subsequent reports reveal belligerent officers with a history of abuse. While demonstrators chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” outsiders instigated violence that gave police an excuse to “drop the hammer,” as SiriusXM radio host Mark Thompson put it. A Missouri GOP official called on-scene voter registration efforts “disgusting.” So pointing guns at protesters is not a provocation, but registering voters is?
Read the whole thing at Metro Weekly.
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate has excerpted a string of audio clips from Tuesday's 7th Circuit hearing on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans, in which conservative Judge Richard Posner quietly and brutally exposes the bankruptcy of the state governments' position.
Listening to the audio has a much more powerful impact than just reading Posner's words on the page. I think this is going to be a legendary moment when the history of this struggle is written. Judge Posner is devastating.
The Daily Mail reports on Tuesday's hearing before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans:
Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to "tradition" as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.
"It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away," the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, Posner said, derives from "a tradition of hate ... and savage discrimination" of homosexuals....
Posner, who has a reputation for making lawyers before him squirm, cut off Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher just moments into his presentation and frequently chided him to answer his questions.
At one point, Posner ran through a list of psychological strains the children of unmarried same-sex couples suffered, including having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmates' parents were married and theirs weren't.
"What horrible stuff," Posner said. What benefit to society in barring gay marriage, he asked, outweighs that kind of harm to children? ...
At one point, a visibly uncomfortable Samuelson struggled to offer a specific reason for how gay marriage bans benefit society. He then noted a yellow courtroom light was on signaling his allotted time was nearly up.
"It won't save you," Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Bill Clinton appointee, told him, prompting laughter in court.
(Photo of Judge Richard Posner courtesy University of Chicago Law School)
Justin Snow reports at Metro Weekly:
More than three months after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the White House voiced support for a review of the military’s ban on transgender service, a new report finds the Pentagon could immediately open the armed services to transgender Americans in a way that is consistent with military readiness and core values.
Video of Michael Brown's funeral service, held Monday at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. May he rest in peace.
Beautiful New Yorker cover this week, by Eric Drooker. Hands up, don't shoot.
Kyle Mantyla reports at Right Wing Watch on the latest lunacy from Bryan Fischer of AFA.
Anti-gay crackpot Eugene Delgaudio's latest cry against gay people taking away his religious liberty.
Fayetteville, Arkansas mayor Lioneld Jordan strongly advocated an anti-discrimination ordinance in the early hours of August 20. It was then passed by the city council. Congrats to the people of Fayetteville and their elected leaders.
Florida AG Pam Bondi says y'all can just stay in limbo until SCOTUS rules.
Rep. John Lewis, renowned civil rights champion and veteran of the Freedom Rides and Bloody Sunday, marches in Atlanta to show solidarity with the peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
Meanwhile in Ferguson, the protests are being infiltrated by violent outside agitators.
John Oliver nails it once again.
Save the Date: Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014 takes place Thursday, November 20th.
(Hat tip: David Mariner)
Jerry Markon, Wesley Lowery and DeNeen L. Brown report for The Washington Post.
Video of Ferguson, Missouri on August 11, taken by Alderman Antonio French.
Then another standoff. Myself and others tried to hold back the crowd. I pleaded for both sides to stand down. pic.twitter.com/0D8qOnxdxV— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 16, 2014
"We're better than this." St. Louis Alderman @AntonioFrench (L) urges calm in the streets of Ferguson. Many protesters spent Friday night protecting stores from looters. Below is a message from one of his young supporters urging people to help protect the neighborhood tonight. Here we see an inspiring example of citizen leadership.
This chilling video was one of the first taken on the scene after a police officer killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown a week ago in Ferguson, Missouri. Imagine this was your street. Can you? Solving the problem may depend on it.
(Hat tip: Antonio French)
Tell it, Martin. Words from 46 years ago that are as apt as when he spoke them, the day before he was taken from us.
My latest column is now up at Metro Weekly. It is subtitled, "Amid war and plague, right-wing Americans export religious intolerance." Here's an excerpt:
In Entebbe on August 9, more than one hundred LGBT Ugandans celebrated the first Pride Uganda since the Constitutional Court overturned the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) for being passed without a quorum. Entebbe is on Lake Victoria, and the paradise suggested by some of the photos would not make you think the revelers risked mob violence, unless you noticed the masks some wore.
A British name for an African lake is a relic of the same colonial legacy that keeps homosexuality illegal despite AHA being tossed out. African leaders are strangely selective in their outrage over Western influences. They embrace foreign laws, religions, and aid while treating sexual minorities who have always lived among them like hostile aliens. American evangelicals like Scott Lively incited the persecution with the slander that gays recruit and sexually abuse children. This pious vulture denies any responsibility for the consequences, including LGBT Ugandans being hunted like animals.
Today is International Youth Day. Here's an excerpt from a joint statement by ORAM and IGLYO on "the perils facing particularly vulnerable young people, including young LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees":
ORAM and IGLYO call on governments, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, refugee professionals, LGBTQI activists, youth service providers, and youth leaders to:
1. Reinforce capacity building and LGBTQI training for service providers and refugee professionals, teaching them to utilize safe and non-discriminatory screening methods.
2. Create new networks and platforms of dialogue between youth groups, LGBTQI groups, refugee professionals and young LGBTQI refugees, enhancing experience-sharing and awareness-raising.
3. Create safe spaces for young LGBTQI refugees to express their fears and hopes, helping them embrace their identity and break the silence often accompanying internalized homophobia or transphobia.
4. Encourage states to adopt and enforce international human rights law applicable to sexual orientation and gender identity, such as, Principle 23 of the Yogyakarta Principles, to ensure that LGBTQI persons and youths are not extradited, removed, or expelled to any state where they may face persecution, degrading treatment or punishment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
NYT reports on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by police.
If you think that racial discrimination had nothing to do with it, check this out from the LA Times:
"Blacks make up 65% of Ferguson's population, yet they accounted for 93% of arrests after traffic stops, 92% of searches and 80% of traffic stops in the city last year, according to a racial profiling report by the Missouri attorney general.
"Blacks in Ferguson are twice as likely as whites to be stopped by police even though police find contraband for 34% of whites stopped, versus 22% of blacks, said Scott Decker, a criminologist on a team contracted by the attorney general's office to compile the data."