Raw Story reports.
Oh dear lord.
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.
Conor P. Williams at TPM writes about the departure of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee from the group Students First.
Williams notes that education reform is extremely difficult, and that Rhee had her strengths. I grant that. But I confess that I disliked Rhee from the moment she took over DCPS. Her imperious manner, her contempt for large numbers of stakeholders (such as parents in the eastern half of the District), her undemocratic approach, and her demonization of teachers all worked against the cooperation essential to sustaining reforms. The people who cheered her and her tone-deaf boss Fenty should be ashamed of themselves; instead, they dug in and focused on getting revenge on his successor.
Reforming public institutions is hard. But efforts to bypass the hard slog of political give and take in favor of imposing top-down solutions, as demonstrated by the recent experience in Newark, NJ, are bound to have harsh encounters with reality down the road.
Jerry Markon, Wesley Lowery and DeNeen L. Brown report for The Washington Post.
Another great one passes. In this scene, accompanied by Hoagy Carmichael, Bacall sings to an adoring customer I imagine was her first gay fan.
Years ago, I worked a column around "How Little We Know" and the movie it's from, To Have and Have Not.
It seemed we would have Betty Bacall forever. She was 89.
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."
Genie, you're free. pic.twitter.com/WjA9QuuldD— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 12, 2014
The Motion Picture Academy posted the above tweet yesterday after the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams at age 63. Below is a performance Williams gave in England after Barack Obama's first presidential election victory. May he rest in peace.
Some tweets from Frank Mugisha in Entebbe, Uganda, where more than 100 brave Ugandans celebrated Pride Uganda 2014.
Arrived at the Pride venue all looking good happy faces, had to stop by Entebbe police station for last check.— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 9, 2014
Perhaps my best selfie ; Pride Uganda 2014 pic.twitter.com/hi5sDYBhvJ— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 9, 2014
What an awesome display of courage and grace, to celebrate their lives amid religious persecution and threats of mob violence.
Chris Johnson reports in the Blade. You can get the flavor from his tweets:
Daughtry skeptical about procreation argument. Responding to Qs, Tenn. lawyer refused to say why excluding gay couples advances procreation.— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) August 6, 2014
Sutton said ban "does seem harder to justify even on rational basis grounds" through lens of changing perception of purpose of marriage.— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) August 6, 2014
Marriage bans took a beating. 2 justices - Daughtry and Sutton - were skeptical of laws. Cook was quiet, but seemed to want to uphold them.— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) August 6, 2014
On the Oklahoma case: AP reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage is constitutional.
The appeal was filed Wednesday by an organization representing Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who was sued after refusing to grant a marriage license to a same-sex couple several years ago.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the couple last month, upholding a federal judge's ruling that found the ban unconstitutional. However, those rulings are on hold as the case moves through the courts, meaning same-sex couples haven't been allowed to marry in Oklahoma.
President and Mrs. Obama greet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the White House.
I could have sworn I read something about sanctions and travel restrictions.
Justin Snow at Metro Weekly reports.
Breaking news , I am officially legal . The constitutional court in Uganda has declared anti homosexuality law 2014 null and void— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 1, 2014
Frank Mugisha has just tweeted this great news from the constitutional court in Uganda. Congrats to him and his colleagues. This does not immediately protect LGBT folk there from mob violence. Lord knows what President Museveni or Martin Ssempa will say. They could stir up public backlash further. So our friends in Uganda must still be very careful. But the court's ruling is most welcome news. Stay tuned for details, but based on what was said in court yesterday, the ruling may be based on the fact that Speaker Kadaga held the vote on the bill without a quorum.
Update: Mugisha posted this follow-up:
Still in celebration mood safely made it out of court amidst crowd of journalists & demos' by anti gay groups - UG anti gay law nullified— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) August 1, 2014
Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Leo Dwyer, who represents my own single member district (ANC2B07), was arrested yesterday for a 3 a.m. incident at 17th and Corcoran Streets, in which he allegedly attacked a homeless man, threw his belongings into the street, and sprayed him with cleaning chemicals. Dwyer is a bartender at J.R.'s at 17th and Church Streets. More details will emerge in the next few days. But such an attack is shocking.
Homeless people are among the most harmless of people in my experience. And "there but for the grace of God go I" is the appropriate attitude about them, in my view. If one cannot help them or speak to them in a civil manner, one should just walk by. Dwyer has a couple of challengers for his ANC post, and this attack, if reports are accurate, will quickly end it for him.
Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports:
The anti-marriage-equality movement seems to have anointed Ryan T. Anderson as its next intellectual leader. Anderson, who is now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, follows in the footsteps of his mentor Robert P. George and National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher in being able to talk about the marriage issue without spewing fire and brimstone or talking about how gay people make them want to vomit.
This kinder, gentler approach has endeared Anderson and his predecessors to a movement that’s trying to snatch its image away from the likes of Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson.
But it also can obscure the fact that Anderson’s supposedly intellectual arguments against marriage equality can still be far out of the mainstream.
John Riley of Metro Weekly reports:
The Board of Directors of Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), an organization dedicated to working with and empowering LGBTQ youth, announced early Thursday morning that it has named Sultan Shakir as its new executive director.
Shakir, a community organizer who most recently served as the youth and campus engagement program director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s top LGBT rights organization. He also previously served regional field director for HRC, the campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality during the legislative push to pass Maryland’s marriage equality law, and the political director during the organization’s successful attempt to defend the law at the ballot box in November 2012. Shakir was chosen following a search led by SMYAL board member and former board chair Betsy Pursell and conducted by Washington-based search firm LeaderFit.
Congrats to Sultan. GLAA gave him our Distinguished Service Award in 2010 for his work on the D.C. marriage equality effort as a regional field director for HRC.
A transgender girl was stabbed on a Metro train in Fort Totten yesterday in an apparent hate crime. The suspect has been arrested. WTOP report here.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a lower court ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriages and on the recognition of such marriages from other jurisdictions is unconstitutional, Justin Snow reports in Metro Weekly:
A federal appeals court found Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in a ruling handed down Monday.
With a 2-1 decision, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling finding Virginia law prohibiting same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling is here. The attorney general of North Carolin said after the ruling that he will no longer defend that state's same-sex marriage ban, as it will not hold up in court. Lyle Denniston discusses the ruling at SCOTUSblog. As he notes, the county clerks who defended the ban have a right to seek an en banc review by the full 4th Circuit; stay tuned on that.
Ari Ezra Waldman at Towleroad analyzes the lone dissent by Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, who during oral arguments kept calling gay relationships "new" and "different," echoing Justice Byron White's notorious opinion in the 1986 Bowers decision in which he framed the dispute over sodomy laws as whether the constitution guarantees a right to have gay anal sex. Of course the constitution lays out broad principles, and was never set up to be a list of permitted activities. Indeed, it specifies the powers of the three branches of the federal government, leaving all others to the states and the people. Conservative judges like Niemeyer were effectively rebuked in 2003 by Justice Anthony Kennedy's Lawrence decision, but they persist in their discredited, biased approach.
The celebrity superlawyer team of Boies and Olson, touted in NYT reporter Jo Becker's much-criticized book on the Prop 8 case, Forcing the Spring, were involved in the Virginia case. Be assured that they will be fighting like alley cats for the right to do the oral arguments if the Virginia case is taken up by SCOTUS.
The Catholic Bishops of Virginia slammed the 4th Circuit's decision, saying, "This action reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters." Their arguments, based on "natural law" and other doctrine dressed up in pseudoscientific drag, have been refuted many times -- as has their suggestion that voters should be able to deny a fundamental right like marriage to people they don't like. These bullies are losing, and the final blow at the Supreme Court, likely in the coming term, cannot come soon enough to suit me.
Good observation from Stephen H. Miller at IGF Culture Watch, in which he translates HRC's fellatial* flacking of the President's recent executive order:
Here’s how I would have put it: “Finally, after 5-plus years of ignoring pleas from a voting bloc that has disproportionately supplied funds, labor and votes to his party, President Obama ordered that contractors working for the federal government his administration oversees can’t discriminate against LGBT workers. If organizations claiming to be leading the fight for LGBT equality had exerted more pressure instead of acting as supplicant lapdogs, it would have happened much sooner....”
He has a point.
(* Nod to Andrew Sullivan)
The utter incapacity of some politicians to feel shame or be self-aware is almost charming. Almost. The photo op shown above turns it into something very ugly. This nitwit is unfazed by having made a mockery of himself in 2012, and is now calling out the Texas National Guard to shoot at what his predecessor's once called "the little brown ones." I wonder what more refined conservatives are thinking these days as so many on their side of the partisan divide overrun their genteel bigotry with a cruder variety.
Very Old Testament. Bibi (and I mean you and your fanatical supporters and not your nation), may you reap what you sow.
The Blade reports:
President Obama is set on Monday to take executive action to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees working for federal contractors and the federal government, the Washington Blade has learned.
In a conference call with reporters on Friday, senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Obama plans to amend existing executive orders barring discrimination against workers to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Laurie Goodstein at NYT reports:
Just two years ago, the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis was making headlines as a leader in the battle against same-sex marriage. But for the last year and a half, the archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, has been battling to hold onto his post in the face of a series of scandals, which further deepened on Tuesday with the filing of an explosive affidavit by the former chancellor of the archdiocese.
Your Holiness, why does this man still have a job? Kindly stop apologizing and take action.
25 years after Do the Right Thing, NYPD cops are still using the chokehold. The Root reports:
Witnesses say that Eric Garner was breaking up a fight when police approached him about selling untaxed cigarettes. A struggle ensued, a police chokehold was applied and moments later Garner was dead.
This is excessive, barbaric, and unacceptable. As Radio Rahim would say, #fightthepower.
Mayor de Blasio vows a full investigation.
WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning has been approved to begin receiving hormone replacement therapy while serving her 35-year prison sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Associated Press reports.
This is the right decision. Denial of healthcare is not an appropriate form of punishment. All prisoners are entitled to proper healthcare, and transgender prisoners are no exception.
Update: London-based Russia Today reporter Sara Firth has resigned in protest over the lies her employer demanded regarding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Good for her.
There have been reports that more than 100 of those aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 were on their way to the World AIDS Conference in Melbourne. If so (and there have been conflicting reports), the crime of the downing of the commercial jetliner might also be devastating for AIDS research.
One of the passengers was eminent AIDS researcher Dr. Joep Lange, executive scientific director of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and former president of the International AIDS Society. Dr. Lange once said, "If we can get a cold can of Coke to any part of Africa, we can certainly deliver AIDS treatment." That remains true.
The Guardian reports that a team of OSCE inspectors was barred from the crash site by Russian-backed rebels:
The commander of the rebel unit, a man called Ilya who is known as Commander Glum, expressed annoyance as the OSCE team stood its ground, keen to access the scenes of carnage. 'OSCE came here without negotiating,' he shouted, as they prepared to leave...We didn’t agree to meet the OSCE here, go away,' he added, firing a warning shot. The five-strong convoy departed rapidly.
Freedom to Marry reports:
Tallahassee Mayor John Marks shares why he supports the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. "This is the right thing to do. Individuals have rights and freedoms, and we need to allow everybody to have those same rights and those same freedoms."
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports:
For the first time in [Mississippi's] history, a sitting mayor has publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage, an announcement preceded by a wave of Mississippi towns approving anti-discrimination resolutions for LGBT residents during the first half of 2014.
Waveland Mayor David Garcia added his name to the Freedom to Marry – and LGBT rights group – list of U.S. mayors who support same-sex marriage.
Steve Rothaus and David Smiley of The Miami Herald report:
A Florida Keys judge overturned the state’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples seeking to wed be allowed to marry.
Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia — overjoying gay rights advocates and outraging opponents of same-sex marriage —ordered the Monroe County Clerk’s Office to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Tuesday morning....
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi swiftly announced she would appeal Garcia’s ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal.
Dave Collins reports for AP:
A new Connecticut Supreme Court ruling is adding to the debate on whether gay marriage rights should be applied retroactively and qualify same-sex couples for rights and benefits for which they weren't entitled before state laws allowed them to marry.
Although no states that allow gay marriage have made their laws retroactive, many same-sex partners believe they should have received Social Security survivor payments, tax breaks, inheritances and other benefits that were afforded only to heterosexual married couples before gay marriage laws were passed.
The Connecticut high court ruled unanimously Wednesday that a woman whose wife died amid a medical malpractice case may sue a doctor over the loss of her wife's companionship and income, even though that right to sue was limited to heterosexual married couples at the time. Legal experts called the decision the first of its kind in the country.
HuffPost reports on the murder of trans woman Mia Henderson in Baltimore early Wednesday morning.
The violence keeps happening. Condolences to Mia and her family, and may those responsible be found and brought to justice.
Meanwhile, Transgender Lobby Day was held on Capitol Hill Tuesday by the National Center for Transgender Equality and five other groups. The need for both cultural and political work on behalf of trans equality is all too apparent.
Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).
Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience reporting on that region. He has covered dozens of major Middle East events in the last decade for CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera English, where his reporting on the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza made him a star of the network. NBC aggressively pursued him to leave Al Jazeera, paying him far more than the standard salary for its on-air correspondents.
Yesterday, Mohyeldin witnessed and then reported on the brutal killing by Israeli gunboats of four young boys as they played soccer on a beach in Gaza City. He was instrumental, both in social media and on the air, in conveying to the world the visceral horror of the attack.
NBC, you are beneath contempt.
NYT reports that legendary Broadway actress and comedian Elaine Stritch has died at age 89. May she rest in peace.
The video above shows her onstage in 2002. Below, she appears with David Letterman in 1996.
Tony Merevick at BuzzFeed reports:
The World Health Organization announced Friday that for the first time, it “strongly recommends” that men who have sex with men should consider antiretroviral drugs along with the use of condoms as an additional method of preventing HIV infection.
The health agency said that new prevention options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — currently in the form of a daily pill containing two drugs — are needed alongside condom use to reduce HIV infection rates among men who have sex with men, a key population in which infection rates remain high.
Metro Weekly reports.
I heard the same yesterday from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who was interviewed by Atlantic Editor-at-large Steve Clemons at a Women of Washington event at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. She criticized the bill's LGBT critics for insisting on perfection, and described the religious exemption as moderate and reasonable, while acknowledging that ENDA (which has passed the Senate) only has 9 Republican co-sponsors in the House.
Sorry, Congresswoman, but nine Republicans do not a surge of bipartisan support make. As for a reasonable religious exemption, why should the standard be any different for LGBT people than for the groups protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? I am sorry, but ENDA only focuses on employment discrimination to start with, and to have an overly broad religious exemption on top of that gives us little to rally around.
Ros-Lehtinen also mentioned she is pro-life. If one of her fellow Republicans is elected president in 2016, and has a chance to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she will doubtless be pleased at the likely loss of women's reproductive rights. The gay rights movement gained a great deal from the women's rights movement. Indeed, the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas that overturned remaining state anti-sodomy laws grew out of a string of constructive-due-process rulings starting with Griswold v. Connecticut and continuing through Eisenstadt v. Baird and Roe v. Wade.
I would love to know how Ros-Lehtinen squares supporting my rights while pulling out one of the foundations of our movement. But given the glib political answers she gave to several questions, it wouldn't leave me any more enlightened. I thanked her afterward for her support of gay rights, but given that, the last time I checked, she was the only member of the Republican caucus to have gotten a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign, if this is the best the GOP can do, we shouldn't get our hopes up.
(Photo of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen courtesy The Washington Post)
Granted, I haven't paid much attention to the comics in a very long time, but they've certainly goosed up Archie from the piffle I remember. Rolling Stone reports:
Archie Andrews fans already know that their beloved, red-haired comic book icon is going to die while trying to save a friend's life. Now Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater has offered more specifics about the character's sacrifice: Archie will perish after intervening in an assassination attempt on the series' first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, The Associated Press reports.
Really, Mr. Goldwater? Assassinations? I think I'll send this to the reader who ranted at me from Rehoboth for interrupting his beach reading with my views on current affairs.