1486 posts categorized "Legal"

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)

SCOTUSblog denied press credentials

Supreme-court
(Photo courtesy Brittanica.com)

Politico reports:

SCOTUSblog, the Peabody Award-winning blog that covers the Supreme Court "gavel-to-gavel," has been denied a Senate press pass, which in turn means it cannot be issued a press credential for the Supreme Court. The site's publisher said in a post it will appeal the decision and may litigate the issue if necessary.

It is disgraceful that the go-to source for reporting and analysis on SCOTUS is treated this way. The powers that be need to get with the times.

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 09, 2014

Fischer: It's now a crime to be a Christian in America

From Right Wing Watch. Do not rely on Bryan Fischer for information.

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 07, 2014

Supreme Court won’t hear anti-gay photographer case

The Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it won’t take up a case in which a New Mexico photography business alleges its rights were violated when it landed in hot water for refusing to shoot a same-sex wedding ceremony.

In orders published Monday morning, the court listed the case, Elane Photography v. Willock, without comment as among the cases it won’t consider.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Elane Photography, which was found to have violated New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law for refusing to take a photo for the same-sex wedding ceremony for Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth in 2006. (The wedding was only ceremonial because the incident took place before the state legalized same-sex marriage.)

Thank the Goddess for small favors.

April 04, 2014

'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; elliot.imse@dc.gov

(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" »

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 • equal@glaa.org

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 28, 2014

Happy 100th birthday, Ed Muskie!

Senator Angus King (I-Maine) paid tribute on the Senate floor yesterday to the late Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine), whose 100th birthday would have been today.

(Hat tip: Gregory King)

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.

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

Senate confirms lesbian judicial nominee to federal bench

Metro Weekly reports. Congrats to Judith Levy.

Ugandan activists challenge Anti-Homosexuality Act in court

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

March 06, 2014

D.C. Council's action to decriminalize marijuana possession

Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday mentioned the D.C. Council's action to decriminalize mj possession. (He also mentioned the bill last fall.) Oh, what we have to do to get attention!

GLAA endorsed the "Simple Possession of Small Quantities Of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013," Bill 20-409, in our 2014 policy brief.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued the following statement:

In a country where many states are permitting medical marijuana, or have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, I do not expect Members of Congress to interfere with D.C.’s local right to pass its own law on marijuana decriminalization. If Members try to interfere, however, I will stoutly defend D.C.’s right to pass such legislation, just as 17 states have already done.

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.)

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.

February 28, 2014

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.

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.

February 26, 2014

D.C. police release long-awaited report on MPD handling of hate crimes

Chief Cathy Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department has released the long-awaited report on police handling of hate crimes. The effort was led by the D.C. chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. Thanks to GLOV, DCTC, and our other coalition partners for pressing for its release. More later, once I have a chance to read it. Right now I'm running to the Stein Club endorsement meeting on D.C. Council candidates.

(Hat tip: Tom Sherwood)

February 25, 2014

Michael Brown defends Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Law

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch shares this.

Right-wing evangelicals in America are demonstrating by their latest statements, in case you missed it before, that they would carry out the same brutal repression against LGBT people here as we are seeing in Russia, Nigeria, Uganda, and elsewhere, if they could.

Apple joins outcry over AZ anti-gay bill

As a user of several Apple products, I say thank you, Tim Cook, for your company's stance.

TPM: 'Religious Liberty' campaign may be backfiring for conservatives

Fanatics showing their true colors. Works for me.

Archbishop Tutu deplores #Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act

Tutu

U.S. Embassy Kampala shares:

Archbishop Tutu's plea to ‪#‎Ugandan‬ President ‪#‎Museveni‬ to reconsider the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill has made news around the world. He says, “We must be entirely clear about this: The history of people is littered with attempts to legislate against love or marriage across class, caste and race. But there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God…. Our diversity requires of us to be tolerant and compassionate and respectful of each other. ” Read on here: http://goo.gl/Cka3VQ

Amen. Wherever you are, join me tonight in lighting a candle of hope for our brothers and sisters in Uganda, that they find safety and preserve courage and hope.

February 24, 2014

Museveni signs Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law

Museveni_AA
(Photo courtesy African Arguments)

The news from Uganda today could hardly be worse. President Museveni said during the signing at State House Entebbe:

Homosexuals are nurtured but not natured. No study has shown that one can be a homosexual purely by nature. Since nurture is the cause, that is why I have agreed to sign the Bill into law,” Museveni said during the public signing of the Bill into law.

It is interesting and darkly amusing, if also preposterous and hypocritical and damning, that Museveni relies on junk science while ignoring reputable scientists, and wraps his actions in anti-colonial rhetoric notwithstanding the fact that the bill he signed was pushed by American evangelicals and reinforces the colonial-era British Penal Code. What in heaven's name is African about that?

His action is really about seizing on a scapegoat to throw to the mob to distract them from his own misrule. It is a tragic day. Many lives will be destroyed for the sake of his opportunism, and not a soul will be helped. I have been getting desperate pleas by email from gay Ugandans. I respond by sending them links to various resources that may be of help. But those groups are undoubtedly being swamped.

If you are a praying person, pray for Uganda and its LGBT people. They are in grave danger.

The White House press secretary issued a statement today:

Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality. As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world.

February 21, 2014

Rev. Kapya Kaoma: Those urging recalls of ambassadors are falling into anti-gay trap

Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an Episcopal priest from Zambia, writes at Political Research Associates:

[H]ad it not been for the presence of the U.S. and European embassies, African gays would have been massacred years ago, without any fear of consequences. For LGBTQ organizations to now demand they pull out of Uganda perilously compromises the lives of LGBTQ persons—who will not have anyone to turn to for safety, and strip our ability to monitor persecution.

I understand that we are all desperate to stop the progression of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. But threatening to leave the country will only boost the political power and credibility of leaders like Museveni, David Bahati, and Martin Ssempa—opening the door for African nations to expand further anti-LGBTQ laws, possibly even including executions and mass slaughter....

The withdrawal of the U.S. Ambassador from Uganda and Nigeria would also have some neo-colonial implications, which we should guard against. Uganda is not the first country to pass this Anti-Homosexuality Bill banning advocacy for LGBTQ issues—Russia was first. Nigeria followed, and many more nations are still to follow. How do we explain that no calls have gone out for the U.S. to sever diplomatic relations with Russia, but then call for the cutting of those ties to African nations? Frankly speaking, this move is an invitation for neo-colonial politics—which make even vicious dictators (like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe) heroes in the eyes of African people.

African nations are sensitive to neo-colonial and imperialistic attitudes of the West—hence they are likely to side with Museveni when he is condemned for his handling of homosexuality. The move will only make Museveni a hero not just among Ugandans, but also among his African allies—precisely what he is hoping for after watching his political power fade in recent years. If the West attacks him, and leaves the country, Museveni will have free reign to rule as the dictator he wants to be.

So what is the way forward?

African homophobia is promoted and propelled by religion. In Uganda, Christian leaders (paid for and encouraged by American evangelicals) have been demanding the bill for years, and pushing their followers to vote for the lawmakers who support it. Politicians will always be politicians—they are always looking for votes. In his attempt to win the Evangelical votes in 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama disagreed with same-sex marriage in a debate moderated by Pastor Rick Warren—one of very same U.S. evangelicals who worked with anti-gay pastors in Uganda. But to think that such dynamics only work in American politics is naïve at best, and dangerous, careless, and deadly at worst. Museveni needs votes to remain in power. So the answer to Uganda’s anti-gay bill lies in the primarily Christian electorate of Uganda. We should be demanding that Pope Francis speak directly to President Museveni and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, and urge Ugandan Roman Catholics to proclaim his already-stated opposition to any law criminalizing LGBTQ persons. U.S. Anglican, and Evangelical/Pentecostal leaders should equally speak to their friends in Uganda about the dignity and fundamental human rights of sexual minorities. And the American people must demand an end to the constant flow of exportation of homophobia from U.S. evangelicals like Scott Lively, Lou Engle, and Rick Warren to Ugandan pastors and politicians.

Open letters, petitions, and press releases will only give Museveni and Uganda lawmakers another reason to sign and enforce the bill.

NOM abandons effort to force marriage amendment onto Indiana ballot in 2014

Brian-brown-300x220

Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), issued this statement today:

After reviewing all legal options, the National Organization for Marriage has decided not to bring litigation seeking to allow voters to have the right to vote on the marriage amendment in 2014. While we believe a strong legal case can be made that the amendment could appear on the ballot this year, we think that the time and expense of such an effort would be better devoted to holding legislators accountable for their votes, and to preparing to elect a strong pro-amendment Legislature to pass the pending amendment in 2015. Accordingly, we will be working with our allies in the state to impact elections this year, beginning with the upcoming May primary races. We look forward to continuing to educate Hoosiers about the importance of the unique nature of marriage as society’s only institution that brings men and women together for the benefit of the couple and any children born of their union.

AZ legislator opposes anti-gay bill

Arizona state legislator Chad Campbell explains what is wrong with SB1062.

AZUrgent

February 14, 2014

Reactions to judge's ruling against Virginia same-sex marriage ban

A happy day in Virginia.

Meanwhile, an opponent blames Valentine's Day:

War Dispatches

My latest column surveys last week's events, from the Sochi Olympics to anti-gay persecution in Nigeria and Uganda, to America's anti-gay right. It was enough to make a person's head spin.

Cohen and Lithwick: Gay Marriage Can’t Lose in the Courts

164726470-plaintiff-edie-windsor-an-83-year-old-lesbian-widow.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge
(Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

David S. Cohen and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate discuss the import of the perfect record for marriage equality since the Windsor ruling last June at SCOTUS.

February 10, 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder addresses HRC New York gala

AG Eric Holder describes Justice Department efforts to protect LGBT families.

February 05, 2014

Obama nominates second gay black judge to federal bench

Gayles
(Circuit Court Judge Darrin Gayles)

Metro Weekly reports.

Another missed birthday

Trayvon and Dad

Today another birthday passes that Trayvon Martin did not live to see. He would be in college now. But it wasn't just one prejudiced man that killed him. It was a culture of fear stoked by hate groups, exploited by politicians and gun manufacturers, and fed by the media. He or Jordan Davis could have been one of the teens I mentored or gave academic advice. They have so much to offer, their minds just beginning to mature and stretch in new directions, and out of the blue at any moment a seething hatred they did not earn can snuff them out. We have to push back against the hatred. We have to find more helpers to overcome it. Helping to nurture a young mind is the closest I will ever come to parenting. I don't want to outlive these kids. They deserve so much better from us than mourning.

The arbitrary pursuit of deadly confrontations by people emboldened by a gun and lubricated by a sense of untouchable privilege is itself a kind of drive-by shooting. For such a person to refer to others as thugs is like the leaders of the Catholic Church decrying others as child molesters. Clean up your own house first. We must confront this hypocrisy more forcefully in a creative and nonviolent way. We must touch our fellow citizens. And while we're at it, stop the arsonists like Fox News. But the media provide so much distraction, bread and circuses as the old phrase goes, that waking people from their complacency is a tall challenge.

Click here to see the set of draft policy principles developed by NAACP known as "Trayvon's Law." In summary:

  • Ending racial profiling;
  • Repealing stand your ground type laws;
  • Creating law enforcement accountability through effective police oversight;
  • Improving training and best practices for community watch groups; and
  • Mandating law enforcement data collection on homicide cases involving people of color.