3482 posts categorized "Human Rights"

March 26, 2015

Quick backlash to reckless Indiana 'religious freedom' law enactment

Advocate reports on the quick and harsh reactions to Indiana Governor Pence signing what is in fact a religious supremacy bill, not a religious freedom bill--unless you mean the freedom to discriminate and split apart our diverse society.

My God is not a bully. I will not worship a god who is a bully. I will not obey a bullying god. I will not attend a bullying church. I will not respect bullying clergy. I will not remain silent as religious bullies seek to impose their beliefs on others in the guise of "religious freedom" bills. I live in a religiously and culturally diverse society, where faith-based discrimination in the public square undermines the civic order and social cohesion. I will fight the bullies. I will demand that editors and reporters call religious supremacy what it is, and not let them swallow the right-wing spin about religious freedom. Please join me in this recognition and this fight to uphold secular American values.

March 24, 2015

Ghosts in the Courtroom

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(Frank Kameny; Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

My column this week examines the Mattachine Society of Washington's amicus brief in the marriage cases before SCOTUS--featuring newly unearthed original documents that show decades of anti-gay animus in the federal government--animus dismissed in 2013 by Chief Justice Roberts in his dissent in Windsor as "snippets of legislative history."

Cropping up again and again is Frank Kameny, original MSW founder, whose fearlessness, brilliance, and doggedness was a continued thorn in the side of those persecuting us. Bravo to Charles Francis and Pate Felts for their sleuthing, and to McDermott Will & Emery as counsel of record.

Here is the lede:

The late gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny's exhortations ring in my ears as I anticipate arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license same-sex marriages.

Read the whole thing here.

March 23, 2015

Starbucks ends #RaceTogether initiative

Hardly shocking news, given the mockery Starbucks brought upon itself with this ill-thought-out initiative.

One further thought: The racial oppression in the history of the coffee trade is hardly redeemed by Starbucks hiring lots of black baristas.

Indiana House passes bill to grant faith-based exemption to laws

This new trend in statehouses is as radical as it is popular. It is not about religious freedom, but about religious supremacy. It is an assault on the secular sphere where citizens of many backgrounds and faiths encounter one another. Such laws would undermine any civil society in which everyone is not the same. What other reckless measures will the far right think up?

Jon Stewart on Schock, Netanyahu, and Hart

In case you missed it.

Marriage News Watch: Texas

'Religious Freedom' Bills Fail, As More People See What They’re Really About

Interesting read from The Daily Beast on the backlash to the anti-gay backlash.

(Hat tip: Robert Naylor, Jr.)

Puerto Rico drops defense of same-sex marriage ban

States propose wave of anti-LGBT bills

Many of us have been saying that increasingly, the fight for LGBT equality will be in the states. Well here it is.

Norton Gearing Up for Defense in the House of D.C.’s Anti-Bias Bills

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Contact: Benjamin Fritsch – o: 202-225-8050, c: 202-225-8143
March 23, 2015

Norton Gearing Up for Defense in the House of D.C.’s Anti-Bias Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Following what appear to be new threats against two anti-discrimination bills recently passed by the District of Columbia Council, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that she will oppose any effort to overturn the bills in the U.S. House of Representatives as strongly as she indicated last week she would oppose the disapproval resolutions introduced in the Senate. In an interview with Roll Call, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over D.C., said about the D.C. bills, “we want to take some action in the House too” and that “we’re still working on that.” The two bills are the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, which prohibits employers in D.C. from discriminating against employees based on their personal reproductive health decisions, and the Human Rights Amendment Act, which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from discrimination by educational institutions in the District.

“I still hope that Chairman Chaffetz will respect D.C. home rule as he said he would when he took the chairmanship of the Committee,” Norton said. “I was not surprised that Senator Ted Cruz would leap at the opportunity to introduce two disapproval resolutions last week, perhaps in anticipation of announcing his bid for presidency at Liberty University, where reproductive choice and sexual orientation are hot-button issues. I recognize that the District’s protection of employees who do not want to answer to their employers on their reproductive choices as well as its protection of LGBT students who are singled out for discrimination at their own universities may not be the policies of other jurisdictions. We who live in the nation’s capital are American citizens and demand the same respect that is given to citizens in other jurisdictions whose local governments pass similar legislation. I appreciate the more than 50 organizations that have stepped up to oppose these disapproval resolutions. The broad coalition fully recognizes that D.C. residents not only deserve their support, but also that attempts to curtail rights here can easily spread to other parts of the country.”

Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, all D.C. bills must be transmitted to Congress for a review period before they can take effect. The anti-discrimination bills were transmitted for a 30-legislative-day review period on March 6, 2015. A bill takes effect at the expiration of the review period unless a resolution of disapproval is enacted into law during that period. Norton has prevented a disapproval resolution from being enacted into law since 1991.

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Catholic bishops, including Cardinals Wuerl and O'Malley, urge congressional overturn of D.C. anti-discrimination bills

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(Wuerl at left, O'Malley at right. Photo credit: Ed Pfueller, Catholic University of America)

More lies from Catholic Church leaders urging Congress to interfere with DC anti-discrimination legislation related to LGBT students and reproductive health. These clerics do not want religious freedom, they want religious supremacy. (Reported by Roll Call)

March 19, 2015

UVA student Martese Johnson: My head is 'bloodied but unbowed.'

UVA honor student Martese Johnson faces the press as his lawyer speaks for him. This brought tears to my eyes. Our young men deserve better than this.

Senators Working To Subject Children To Religious Discrimination At School

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Republican Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and James Lankford (OK) have introduced a resolution of disapproval against two bills passed by D.C., one prohibiting employer discrimination for reproductive healthcare decisions, the other protecting LGBT students. Cruz and Langford claim that the bills are attacks on religious freedom.

Cruz is setting a pattern of fibbing about legislation. Last week he demanded the repeal of the non-existent federal Common Core law. His cries of religious freedom being under attack are the opposite of the truth. He is defending discrimination. A growing GOP trend is to dress up anti-LGBT discrimination as religious freedom. What they want is not freedom but supremacy.

As you may know, one of the two targeted bills, the Human Rights Amendment Act, which among other things repeals the noxious, congressionally imposed Armstrong Amendment dating from the late 1980s, was requested by GLAA. Here are other news stories on the senators' disapproval resolution:

CA: gay death penalty ballot measure will likely proceed to signature gathering stage

Because Jesus, or something.

Ted Cruz, champion of local control

In related news, our fab Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton stirs the pot:

Starbucks #RaceTogether conversation starters

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My friend Lateefah on Facebook asked, "Ok, out of sheer curiosity, I have to ask. Have any of you been engaged in a conversation about race while in Starbucks?"

I replied:

I thought of ordering a "Malcolm Xpresso and please don't weaken it with cream," but I didn't want to start trouble, and I don't like Starbucks coffee, so I skipped it. But now I keep thinking of things to say to start a dialog in the coffee line:

  • "Tom Robinson should have been more gangsta and told that cracker freak Boo Radley to mind his own business."
  • "Who stole my black crayon?"
  • "So I told that white b*tch Shirley Temple to take her hands off Bojangles and get over her Mandingo complex."
  • "I would have voted for him, but he wasn't black enough."
  • "Is it racist if I order a pound of Blonde Veranda Blend?"
  • "You know, these 15-second seminars on race are how I am doing my part for reparations."
  • "I know how to pronounce Ta-Nehisi properly. What more do you people want from me?!!"

I'm just trying to help.

(Ducking now)

UVA honors student Martese Johnson arrested, bloodied by cops

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This latest disgusting example of excessive force by police is causing outrage at UVA and across the country. If you want people to respect the system, the system must respect them.

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D&G, call your marketing office

Can you say hypocrisy?

Russian man jailed for torturing gay teens faces new charges

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Gay Star News reports:

A Russian man who was jailed after torturing gay teens and driving them to suicide is facing new charges.

Maxim Martsinkevich, the leader of the anti-LGBTI group Occupy Pedophilia, is being charged with robbery, hooliganism and causing property damage.

In addition the investigators have also charged the homophobic leader, also known as 'Machete', with 'inciting hatred'.

CBS News reports on #transgender man dismissed by Navy

The struggle for equal service continues.

March 18, 2015

Respectability politics and the race debate

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(Photo credit: MSNBC/Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Eric Thayer)

Brittney Cooper at Salon has an excellent response to a recent piece by WaPo's Jonathan Capehart on the lessons from Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, and Ferguson. Here's an excerpt:

Moderate Black people – Barack Obama included – continue to believe that the way to bring white people into the anti-racist fold is by conceding some ground in order to gain more ground. It’s an old debate tactic, but it only works if everyone plays fair. There are two problems with this. First, those with racial privilege generally don’t play fair in racial discussions. More than that, they play downright dirty, denying the persistence of racism, trotting out erroneous statistics, blaming Black behavior for white racism. The Ferguson Police Department, for example, has conceded nothing even after being found guilty of decades of egregious, consistent and systematic violations of the rights of Ferguson’s Black citizens. Second, Capehart implicitly concedes that it is Black people who must prove that incidents are racially inflected, rather than white people who must prove that they are not. Since we now know for a fact that Darren Wilson policed in a racially hostile city and police department, and since Ferguson residents – Michael Brown included – knew that long before a Justice Department report merely affirmed their experience, it is perfectly reasonable for Black folks to view Ferguson police and police around the country with suspicion.

Starbucks #RaceTogether moment: "I’m actually black, but you assumed otherwise"

Joanna Rothkopf at Salon writes:

On Tuesday evening’s edition of MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” host Chris Hayes spoke with “CBS Sunday Morning’s” Nancy Giles and video blogger, writer and DJ Jay Smooth about Starbucks’ bizarre attempt at rectifying hundreds of years of systemic racism in the United States.

Score one for Jay Smooth.

The sad decline of Walter Fauntroy

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(Walter Fauntroy testifies against marriage equality in 2009; photo by Metro Weekly)

WUSA9 News reports:

A bench warrant is on file in Prince George's County for D.C. icon Walter Fauntroy. The pastor and former civil rights leader is believed to be in Africa. His passport has been revoked by the U.S. State Department.

Fauntroy's disappearance has been discussed quietly around town since he apparently came close to being killed around the time of Qadafi's fall in 2011. Prior to that, I heard him give a number of delusional, self-aggrandizing speeches. He was part of the ineffectual group of ministers that opposed marriage equality in DC, and like others in that group appears to be an overcompensating closet case.

Twelve years ago I spoke to Fauntroy in the fellowship hall at Israel Baptist Church, and tried respectfully to convince him that the backers of the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment with whom he allied himself were the same people Dr. King criticized in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and that he was dishonoring his old associate Bayard Rustin in the process. I might as well have chatted up the food on the buffet table.

For years Fauntroy was a fixture at ineffectual rallies for DC Statehood. Because of his background in the civil rights movement, few criticized him publicly. His homophobia was as out of date as his boasting of his closeness to Qadafi. He lived in the past for a long time, and had many enablers. Now his mental state is in question. He has become a sad footnote in the post-Benjamin Jealous era of cooperation between the civil rights and LGBT rights movements, in which many ministers are on the side of equality, as Dr. King's widow was.

March 16, 2015

Laws to Stop Marriage Equality Grow Increasingly Weird

The latest marriage news roundup from AFER. Our opponents grown more desperate by the week.

March 14, 2015

Norton slams conservative attacks on pro-choice, pro-LGBT D.C. legislation

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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued the following news release on March 10 (and pardon my tardiness):

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today reaffirmed her commitment to defend two anti-discrimination bills that the District of Columbia transmitted to Congress on March 6, after the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations once again called on Congress to pass disapproval resolutions to overturn these two bills during the congressional review period. The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act would prohibit D.C. employers from discriminating against employees based on their personal reproductive health decisions, and the Human Rights Amendment Act would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender D.C. students from discrimination.

“The Heritage Foundation and its social conservative allies are trying to start a new social issues war using District of Columbia local laws in a Congress that has yet to show it can govern the nation,” Norton said. “They picked the wrong jurisdiction, and they picked the wrong issues. We are not going to have our local citizens answering to employers on their personal reproductive health care decisions. And we are not going to have our LGBT students stigmatized and denied by their own universities and schools. We are already working with a broad coalition representing local and national organizations to defend D.C.’s local anti-discrimination laws from congressional interference.”

Bill 20-0790, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, was transmitted to Congress on March 6 for its congressional review period. The projected Law Date is April 17.

Bill 20-0803, the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014--which was written at the request of GLAA and (among other things) repeals the congressionally-imposed Armstrong Amendment--was transmitted to Congress on the same date, and has the same projected law date of April 17.

The right-wing group Heritage Action issued an alert attacking these two bills on January 29. Its characterization of the bills is inaccurate. GLAA is working with Congresswoman Norton and allied groups to defend both bills from congressional interference.

March 13, 2015

Unraveling the Church Ban on Gay Sex

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(Photo of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone courtesy Huffington Post)

Gary Gutting in NYT writes:

Last month, Salvatore Cordileone, the archbishop of San Francisco, made controversial changes to a handbook for Catholic high school teachers in his jurisdiction. The changes included morals clauses, one of which forbids those teachers from publicly endorsing homosexual behavior. There are plausible legal and educational objections to this move. But there is a deeper issue, one that raises fundamental questions about Catholic teachings on homosexuality and other sexual matters.

The archbishop has justified of his decision on the grounds that homosexual acts are “contrary to natural law.” Unlike many religions, Catholicism insists that its moral teachings are based not just on faith but also on human reason. For example, the church claims that its moral condemnation of homosexual acts can be established by rigorous philosophical argument, independent of anything in the Bible.

The primary arguments derive from what is known as the “natural-law tradition” of ethical thought....

Bah. "Natural Law" is religious dogma in pseudoscientific drag. If Cordileone were interested in nature, he would observe the widespread presence of homosexuality to be found in it, rather than dictating to nature as he does. He is lecturing past the graveyard.

Even most Catholics ignore Church teachings on sex, which are outdated and centered on control, not understanding. The RCC morally bankrupted itself with decades of facilitation and coverup of child rapes, and worsened it by evading justice and hiding money to avoid paying judgments. Many bishops remain arrogant, corrupt, intolerant, and steeped in misogyny.

If there is a sin, it is acting like sheep when God did not make us sheep. Let the bishops get their minds around that, respect the laity and women's religious, and stop their bullying, or they will slide further into irrelevance.

March 11, 2015

Who Tells the History

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(Washington Blade editorial cartoon by Ranslem)

My Blade column this week examines the state of justice in America fifty years after Selma. Here is an excerpt:

The Edmund Pettus Bridge gleamed in the afternoon light when President Obama spoke there on March 7 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Yet Transportation for America includes it on a map of America's 70,000 structurally deficient bridges. Completed in 1940, it is named for a former U.S. Senator who was a Confederate general and a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.

The back side of a billboard welcoming Obama featured one from admirers of Klan founder and Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. Beneath an equestrian portrait of Forrest was the slogan, "Keep the skeer on 'em." Thus as we honor nonviolent resistance, others wax nostalgic about lynching.

Obama did not mention the Forrest billboard but did mention last week's Justice Department report on the Ferguson Police Department. He said that while the report shows that the fight for justice is not finished, America has made a lot of progress. He cited advances not only by African Americans but also by women and gay people. "To deny ... this hard-won progress ... would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better."

Obama tacitly rebuked the right wing's patriotic posturing by celebrating the reforming impulse: "It's the idea held by generations of citizens who believed ... that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo."

Read the whole thing here.

March 10, 2015

LGBT groups issue report card on Metropolitan Police Department

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A coalition of LGBT groups in D.C. today issued their Report Card: Status of Metropolitan Police Department Implementation of Recommendations from the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force and Community Response.

The groups signing the report card include Casa Ruby, The DC Center for the LGBT Community, DC Trans Coalition, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, HIPS, and Rainbow Response Coalition. GLAA is proud to be in this company. Thanks to Jason Terry of DCTC for drafting the community response. He is presenting the report card at today's Performance Oversight Hearing on MPD being held by the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary.

Here is the report card's introduction:

In February 2014, Chief Cathy Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) released the findings of the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force (HCATF) she convened in December, 2011, accompanied by the departmentʼs response to the Task Forceʼs recommendations. Shortly thereafter, a coalition of community organizations released its own response, including recommendations not addressed in the HCATF reportʼs findings. Less than a week later, on March 19, 2014, MPD presented to the community a plan outlining “Next Steps” in its efforts to implement the Task Forceʼs recommendations. Now, nearly a year out from these proposed actions, we (the community) revisit the recommendations made by the Task Force and Community Response to evaluate what progress has been made.

The HCATF report highlighted serious problems in the functioning and effectiveness of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) and Affiliate Liaison program, a growing lack of trust in the police among transgender residents and the broader LGBTQ communities, the absence of a comprehensive, standardized training curriculum on LGBTQ hate crimes and cultural competency, the ineffectiveness of the Critical Incident Team (CIT), and several other issues requiring departmental action. In addition to these, the community coalition identified other outstanding issues not mentioned in the report but central to LGBTQ communitiesʼ relationship with MPD and included recommendations for action. These included both elaboration on matters included in the report and issues not addressed such as LGBT intimate-partner violence (IPV), interactions with LGBTQ youth, and interactions with sex workers.

To facilitate the review of the recommended actions put forth last March, we have prepared a list organized by topic and source of recommendation following the structure of the HCATF report and the MPD and community responses. Our assessment reflects information shared with community organizations by MPD. We offer this report card as a way to assess how much progress has been made over the last year, and to invite MPD to respond with updates on its activities to date.

March 08, 2015

SNL mocks Ben Carson

Sometimes an apology comes too late.

Saluting a brave and decent man

Selma director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo with Rep. John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Filming on the bridge

Just as David Lean had to film Lawrence of Arabia in the desert, Ava DuVernay had to film her Blood Sunday scene on the real bridge.

March 07, 2015

"We are the gay Americans..."

Obama at the bridge

President Obama spoke today at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. A very fine moment.

A Call from Selma

This latest entry in NYT's "Op-Doc" series is by Andrew Beck Grace and features Rev. Clark Olsen remembering the day in Selma, Alabama fifty years ago when his colleague Rev. James Reeb was murdered for supporting voting rights. He notes with great emotion that at the time, the murder of young black activist Jimmie Lee Jackson got very little attention, while the murder of a white minister was so shocking that it helped President Johnson pass the Voting Rights Act.

Fifty years later, DOJ's Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department shows that we have still not overcome.

March 05, 2015

Focus on the Family: We are a Christian Nation

CitizenLink, founded by Focus on the Family, offers this video purporting to prove that America's founders viewed this as a Christian nation. Never mind the First Amendment's opening words, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." They provide quotes from several Founders, the first of which is lexicographer Noah Webster, who was all of 17 on July 4, 1776. Setting that goof aside, they treat any positive reference to God by our forebears as proving that this is a Christian nation, which is not at all the case. And the Founders were by no means fundamentalists. Today's religious bullies would hardly recognize Deists as Christians at all.

Ben Carson blames the media

Ben Carson tells Sean Hannity that his anti-gay comments were somehow the media's fault, and said he's not going to talk about gay rights any more. Sure.

March 04, 2015

Cal Thomas: gay marriage is a sign of the End Times

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(Photo credit: Liberty University)

Michelangelo Signorile went on the prowl at CPAC last weekend, and got some fun revelations from right-wing columnist Cal Thomas. I hadn't checked in with Cal in a while, but he seems even crazier than he was thirty years ago. Here's a sample:

“If you read the Scriptures, as I do, in both testaments all of these things are forecast in prophesies, in the book of Daniel and what Jesus and Paul said, so I'm not worried about it,” Thomas continued, describing his surprising reaction to the Supreme Court possibly ruling in favor of marriage equality. “I say everything is right on schedule. I’m trying to shore up my own family first and, hopefully, that will be an example to other people… If you look at not only what Jesus said, but Paul the Apostle, about what things would be like in the end times, people will be lovers of lies rather than the truth. They will elevate things that are called abomination in scripture to normality… All of the prophesies up to the final ones have come true. And that’s why I say that everything is right on schedule.”

David Koch supports marriage equality

The incongruities in the political alliance between the social right and plutocrats are illustrated in this report from Politico.

Holder discusses DOJ Ferguson investigation findings

The U.S. Department of Justice has released its investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. The report contains some terribly disturbing material.

At the same time, DOJ announced it is not charging Officer Darren Wilson for violating Michael Brown's civil rights. So a damning report, but a killer goes scot-free. We shake our heads. The long struggle for justice continues.

March 03, 2015

Alabama Supreme Court tries to countermand federal court ruling

This attempt at nullification will not last long. For more, check out @ChrisGeidner on Twitter.