President Obama gave one of his finest speeches last night in announcing his executive action on immigration. Here is my favorite passage:
Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger -- we were strangers once, too. My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.
My friend Walter Dellinger, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1993 to 1996, explains in Slate that the President is on solid legal ground:
The idea that the immigration plan just announced by President Obama is a lawless power grab is absurd. As the Justice Department legal analysis that was just released amply demonstrates, much of the advance criticism of the president’s action has been uninformed and unwarranted. The opinion is well-reasoned and at times even conservative. The president is not acting unilaterally, but pursuant to his statutory authority. Wide discretion over deportation priorities has long been conferred on the executive branch by Congress, and it is being exercised in this case consistent with policies such as family unification that have been endorsed by Congress.
Dellinger's whole piece bears reading. Thank you and bravo, Mr. President.
Director Mike Nichols died on Wednesday at age 83. He was born in Germany and moved to the United States at age 7. He was a member of the comedy duo Nichols and May with Elaine May. In his long directing career, which encompassed stage, film, and television, he won about every award that could be won in his profession: Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Drama Desk, Golden Globe, Grammy, and Britain's BAFTA. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, and an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
Nichols seemed eternally young, always with another project. He was working on a production of "Master Class" with Meryl Streep for HBO when he died. Fortunately, much of his work remains available for viewing. I remember seeing "The Real Thing" in 1984 in Broadway, featuring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close. That he was adept in so many media put him in rare company. The partial lists of his work below convey his incredible range and output. At the bottom is a famous scene from "The Graduate" featuring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. He is survived by his wife Diane Sawyer and his children Max, Jenny, and Daisy. May he rest in peace.
On Broadway: Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), Uncle Vanya (1973), Streamers (1976), Annie (1977), The Real Thing (1984), Hurlyburly (1984), The Seagull (2001), Spamalot (2005), Death of a Salesman (2012), and Betrayal (2013).
On film: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967), Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), Silkwood (1983), Heartburn (1986), Biloxi Blues (1988), Working Girl (1988), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), The Birdcage (1996), Primary Colors (1998), Angels in America (2003), Closer (2004), and Charlie Wilson's War (2007).
Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports that Earl Fowlkes has been elected president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.
Earl received GLAA's Distinguished Service Award this past April. Here is his citation. Congrats to him and the other Stein officers for 2015.
13-year NBA veteran Jason Collins announces his retirement in a typically classy essay. The day after he came out, he was on ESPN with Shaq and Sir Charles, and they were talking to each other and kidding each other like the longtime colleagues they were. I couldn't stop smiling. We could not possibly have gotten a finer representative to make the breakthrough move that he did. Nothing but kudos and respect for you, Mr. Collins. A lot of other people need to step up, including people in the front offices of professional sports franchises; but your courage and grace made a difference. Thank you.
A federal panel voted Thursday in favor of partially lifting a 31-year ban against accepting blood donations from gay and bisexual men.
The current ban in the U.S. applies to any potential male blood donor who has had sex with another man since 1977, the start of the country’s AIDS epidemic. The FDA website states that these men are at an “increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.” The Department of Health and Human Service’s Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability examined data and heard testimony on Thursday from critics of the lifetime ban, who say it is discriminatory and now unnecessary, since technological advances have made the risk infinitesimal in most cases.
The panel then voted 16-2 in support of allowing men who have had sex with other men to give blood after being abstinent for one year, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The FDA is not obliged to follow the panel’s advice but Jennifer Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the agency, said “the meeting provided valuable information and perspectives that will help inform the FDA’s deliberations.”
Reuters reports some good news from Botswana:
A Botswana judge overturned a government ban on a gay rights lobbying group on Friday, a rare victory for African gay rights campaigners on a continent where homosexuality remains highly contentious.
Justice Terrence Rannoane ruled that the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) would be allowed to register and campaign for changes to anti-gay legislation but reiterated that it was still illegal to engage in homosexual acts.
"In a democratic society such as ours, freedom of expression, assembly and association are important values duly protected by our constitution," Rannoane said.
Multiple developments this week on marriage equality. Above, victory in Kansas. Below, developments in MS and SC.
The Clarion-Ledger on marriage in Mississippi:
Analysis: Judge likely will overturn gay marriage ban
Meanwhile, Justice Thomas weighs in.
Pope Francis has made official what we've known for weeks, Think Progress reports:
Pope Francis has officially demoted Cardinal Raymond Burke, a prominent American Cardinal who has been highly critical of the pontiff’s increasingly progressive tone when discussing issues such as homosexuality and abortion.
Burke, who made waves in 2004 for saying that voting for a pro-choice candidate is “a serious sin,” has been an unusually outspoken detractor of Pope Francis since he ascended to the papacy in 2013. When the pontiff declared last year that the Catholic church was too “obsessed” with culture war issues such as abortion, for instance, Burke responded by saying that the church “can never talk enough” about the “massacre of the unborn.” And while Francis answered a question about gay priests by saying “who am I to judge?” last July, Burke told LifeSiteNews in October that homosexual acts are “always and everywhere wrong, evil.”
But on Saturday, the Vatican announced that Burke, who was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has been removed from his influential position as head of the Apostolic Signatura — the Vatican’s highest court — and reassigned to a largely ceremonial role as the Patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta.
Do I hear singing?
"Glitter and be gay,
That's the part I play,
Trying on a Maltese Cross.
Forced to bend my soul
To a lesser role,
Gold embroidered vestments
Turned at once to dross."
(Apologies to Richard Wilbur.)
Mark Joseph Stern writes in Slate:
Thursday’s 2–1 decision by the 6th Circuit upholding four states’ gay marriage bans is a deeply obnoxious slog that I would not recommend even to the most eager masochist. Its author, Judge Jeffrey Sutton, seems to fundamentally misunderstand the constitutional arguments behind marriage equality: Instead of analyzing the 14th Amendment’s dual guarantees of liberty and equal protection, he simply states that gay people have no business fighting for their civil rights in court. After a while, Sutton’s repeated insistence that it’s not a federal judge’s duty to enforce the constitution makes you want to grab him by the shoulders and ask, then what in the world were you hired for?
Luckily, someone has already done that for us: Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, the dissenter in the case. Daughtrey’s opinion isn’t just blistering; it’s a scorching, bitterly funny, profoundly humane excoriation of Sutton’s sophistry.
Stern quotes three fine passages by Daughtrey:
The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy. But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal. … Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it. Because I reject the majority’s resolution of these questions based on its invocation of vox populi and its reverence for “proceeding with caution” (otherwise known as the “wait and see” approach), I dissent.
President Barack Obama will nominate Brooklyn federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch to replace the retiring Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general and if confirmed, she would become the first black woman to serve in the post, the White House said on Friday.
The 55-year-old North Carolina native and Harvard-trained lawyer has deep experience in both civil rights and corporate fraud cases. Lynch is known for a low-key personality and stirred little controversy during two tenures as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
If confirmed, Lynch would be the first black woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States. She has been confirmed to posts at the federal level twice before.
Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch catalogs the top ten unhinged statements by an anti-gay loon who is now a member-elect of the Colorado state House of Representatives. What's this we're hearing about the GOP having exorcized its Tea Party demons? Establishment media types have invented that blatantly false new bit of conventional wisdom out of thin air. Klingenschmitt, by the way, is an exorcist. (I was going to say "a real exorcist," but only someone whose mother eats kitty litter would say such a thing.)
Awful news today. D.C. Attorney Van Teasley, seen above in testimony from 2008 on the bias-related murder of Tony Randolph Hunter, was found bound, gagged, and strangled in his vacation home in the Dominican Republic.
GLOV Chair Paul Tupper writes:
It is with sadness that I share with you that a member of the GLOV family, Van Teasley, was found slain in his vacation apartment in the Dominican Republic on Friday. Rather than detail the circumstances of his death, which you can find online, I’m going to try to honor him by focusing on this contributions to GLOV and DC’s LGBT community.
In 2008, Van, a longtime Washington defense attorney, helped coordinate a candlelight vigil for Tony Randolph Hunter, a hate crime victim who eventually died from injuries suffered during his attack. Many of you may remember that the case sparked outrage in DC’s LGBT community because of how the case was investigated by the police and how it was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The assailant was eventually offered a chance to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, for which he served the maximum sentence of six months in jail. During this time Van also joined GLOV leadership in testifying before the City Council at a Judiciary Public Hearing on Hate Crimes, articulating how such crimes and how they are often mishandled have long-lasting impacts on our community.
In full disclosure, I never met Van. But as I research him and his work with GLOV, it’s clear to me that his contributions continue to be the blueprint for which we advocate for DC’s vulnerable citizens. I understand he was much loved by many and won’t be soon forgotten. He will forever hold an important place in GLOV’s history. Please keep him and his loved ones in your thoughts during this very difficult time.
If you knew Van and would like to share stories about him, I invite you to do so on GLOV’s Facebook page.
We can take inspiration from Van's eloquent cry for justice on behalf of Tony Hunter. Whether justice can be obtained in his case remains to be seen. In the meantime, our hearts go out to his family and friends. That such hatred continues to kill us is a sobering reminder of the work that remains. Let us channel our outrage into conquering the hate, even if the lives we save are people we never know.
The top-polling contender in the District's first election for an attorney general is Karl Racine, who is the first African American to have been named managing partner at a top 100 law firm. I met with him earlier this fall and was impressed. Many friends in the legal profession are supporting him.
While the only AG candidate to send a statement to GLAA is Lorie Masters (GLAA is not rating candidates in the AG race, but invited them to send us statements), Racine is interviewed today by Metro Weekly. Here is an excerpt of his comments:
I have always been deeply concerned with making sure that the same opportunities are available to others regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other trait.
As Managing Partner at Venable, I was responsible for hiring, promoting, and training our attorneys, and emphasized the importance of ensuring diversity in doing so. I drafted, implemented, and enforced clear policies regarding equal treatment and equal opportunity. I specifically hired a diverse team, including women, minorities, and LGBT individuals, and promoted many of these individuals to positions of prominence within the firm. Furthermore, I strongly believe in the power of proactive diversity training. Intolerance is based on ignorance, but can be addressed through creative programs such as our firm-wide book clubs dedicated to educating employees on issues of diversity.
On a personal level, I am a long-time volunteer with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the primary community-based provider of HIV/AIDS services in the city. I have taken numerous pro bono cases representing people living with HIV/AIDS and helped them obtain social security benefits. I also took on pro bono work representing the Clinic itself. To further support Whitman-Walker’s work, I encouraged my Venable colleagues and other friends to take on additional projects, earning Venable the Clinic’s “Going the Extra Mile Law Firm Award” in 2004, among other honors.
In addition to my work with Whitman-Walker, I have volunteered with the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Legal Advice Program at Bread for the City, which provides vulnerable residents with comprehensive services such as housing, food, legal assistance, and medical care. I am also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession.
As Attorney General I will treat each and every resident of the District with dignity, respect and with equality before the law.
While GLAA is not rating AG candidates, I personally have concluded that Masters and Racine are the most qualified based on their experience, and I am supporting Racine. The District has seen several public officials taken down by scandal. Choosing as our first elected attorney general a man who has played a pioneering role as an African American among top law firms would be a feather in our cap and a reminder of the talent, accomplishment, and leadership available in our city.
Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out in Businessweek.
I am so inspired by his bravery, I want to announce that I am gay too. There. A burden lifted!
Kidding aside, maybe courage isn't quite the right word. Sacrifice might be closer to the mark. For an intensely private person to discuss his private affairs can indeed be a big deal for that person. Of course, just mentioning you are gay is not giving blow by blow sexual details. Few straight people consider their sexual orientation a secret. That is one of the most pernicious double standards, enforced socially and tacitly. And for such an eminent man of business to break that silence is a great gift.
42 weighs in:
Amanda Terkel at HuffPost reports:
GOP House candidate Nan Hayworth released a new ad Wednesday featuring her son, who is gay, assuring voters that his mother is not an "extremist."
"As a gay man, coming to terms with who I am wasn't easy, but my parents love me for who I am and for whom I love," says her son, Will, in the ad. "So when I hear vicious negative attacks against Nan Hayworth, I have to speak out. Nan Hayworth is no extremist. She's my mom. She's kind. She's compassionate. She's always been there for me. And she'll always be there for you."
Hayworth is attempting to defeat Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) in New York's 18th District. Maloney, who is gay, ousted Hayworth from the seat in 2012.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, was unimpressed with Hayworth's new ad. In a statement, the group criticized Hayworth for her policy positions, saying that just because she has a gay son doesn't mean she's a champion of LGBT rights.
HRC notes that while in office, Hayworth did not support same-sex marriage, did not support DOMA repeal, and did not support the Uniting American Families Act (to keep binational couples from being separated).
I agree with HRC on this one.
Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, has announced that it will soon offer health benefits to employee’s same-sex spouses despite the objections of Catholic archbishop George J. Lucas, reports KETV7 ABC.
Creighton UniversityOutlining the decision in a letter sent Monday to trustees, President Rev. Timothy Lannon, said that although Creighton continues to support the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage, the university is taking this step to meet the needs of its employees and remain competitive with other universities that already offer similar benefits.
Lannon added that 21 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S. already offer similar benefits.
George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, reacted predictably:
I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice; both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman and the meaning of human life and love.
Here's to superseding divine law.
(Hat tip: Craig Howell)
Your Honor, we cannot sleep knowing that down the street those homosatanists are doing the thing that makes Jesus puke!
Houston Chronicle reports:
Convinced by clergymen from across the country that she had entered a raging national debate on religious freedom she wanted no part of, Mayor Annise Parker on Wednesday agreed to withdraw controversial subpoenas the city issued to five local pastors in connection with a lawsuit over Houston's equal rights ordinance.
The mayor's announcement came amid an unabated firestorm over the subpoenas, particularly among Christian conservatives and Republican politicians, who blasted Parker for trying to "silence the church."
Parker's decision represented the only viable political option, said University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, a specialist in religious liberty law. Seeking so much material was inflammatory, he said, adding that much of what the city seeks can be obtained through other means.
Did Mayor Parker not anticipate the right-wing backlash? If there is any way she could have handled it worse, I would like to know how.
I am quoted in this article by Carlos Maza and Joe Strupp at Media Matters. They report:
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat apologized for appearing at a fundraising event for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extreme anti-gay legal group working to criminalize homosexuality....
As Media Matters noted, ADF is one of the most extreme anti-gay legal groups in the country, fighting against even basic legal protections for LGBT people and working internationally to repress LGBT human rights, including supporting Belize's draconian law criminalizing gay sex.
On Wednesday, Douthat explained that he did not know ADF's event was a fundraiser and said he plans to decline the honorarium he received from the event.
I note that my quote (follow the link) was given before word of Douthat's apology. I am glad that he apologized and will not accept the honorarium.
Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports on the unhappy news from Dallas. I have no reason to think this is anything but a football decision, as the Cowboys defense situation has changed since Michael Sam was signed. He is the picture of grace in his comments on Twitter:
I want to thank the Jones family and the entire Cowboys organization for this opportunity, as well as my friends, family, teammates, (1/3)— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) October 21, 2014
and fans for their support. While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an (2/3)— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) October 21, 2014
opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday. (3/3)— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) October 21, 2014
AZ: "This court is bound by precedent set by Ninth Circuit. Plaintiffs entitled to permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of [ban]."— Robbie Kaplan (@kaplanrobbie) October 17, 2014
Good news from Arizona! Lily Hiott-Millis at Freedom to Marry reports:
Today, October 17, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedgwick ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Arizona in two federal legal cases that challenged the state’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment.
Attorney General Horne has said that he will not appeal the ruling meaning that marriage licenses could be issued as soon as today.
Tim Hauser, founder of famed close harmony group Manhattan Transfer, has died at age 72. As a fellow former member of the Villanova Singers and Spires (though I never had the pleasure of meeting him), I tip my hat to our illustrious alum. Well done! I expect he is meeting another alum, Jim Croce, on the other side.
Azeen Ghorayshi of the Guardian reports:
Researchers in Taiwan have taken the unusual step of naming a newly identified species of snail in recognition of same-sex marriage rights. Dubbed Aegista diversifamilia, the hermaphroditic species was so named to reflect the “diversity of sexual orientation in the animal kingdom”, said Dr Yen-Chang Lee, who co-authored the study published on Monday in the journal ZooKeys.
Today GLAA received the following media inquiry:
My name is Manon Verchot, I am a journalist working at TreeHugger.com. I'm writing a piece about a new species of snail being named in celebration of same sex-marriage (http://bit.ly/1tZE2Jk) and I would love to get a statement from your organisation addressing what your thoughts are on this and what you think it means (if anything).
I will be publishing this piece Thursday morning, I would really appreciate it if you could get back to me before then.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I like to be helpful to members of the press, so I replied:
It seems like a lovely tribute, though I am somewhat reticent because inevitably some confused social conservative will complain that the next thing you know, someone will want to marry his pet snail. As it happens, I have no pet snail, and do not wish to marry one. Thus what began so pleasantly ends up with my having to deny amorous feelings toward gastropods.
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
On a more serious note, those interested in the extensive examples of homosexuality that scientists have observed among animals should take a look at Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl.
Here are the relevant paragraphs from the bulletin issued today by the Synod of Catholic Bishops, which, as you will see, strike a more positive tone without being everything a self-affirming gay Catholic might have hoped:
Welcoming homosexual persons
50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.
Read the bulletin here. New Ways Ministry welcomes the news. Thomas Reese at National Catholic Reporter writes, "Synod document offers new style of being church." (Hat tip for NCR article: Jonathan Rauch)
CNN reports. I confess I never thought that masturbation would come up in this campaign.
AP surveys the remarkable legal developments of the past week. Here's a portion:
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Friday that appears to have cleared the way for gay marriages in conservative Idaho. Gay rights supporters are cheering in Boise as state officials were trying to determine when weddings might take place. At least one county clerk in Idaho began issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Meanwhile, a federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state's gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately. The ruling follows Monday's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeals of cases before the 4th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over North Carolina.
As our opponents continue to make noise and talk about the downfall of civilization, it is good for us to savor the simple happiness and decency of so many families gaining legal protections and recognition that they never had before. In winning these battles, we are helping make America live up to its founding principles. This is not the end of the struggle for marriage equality, but it is a sweet moment.
Houston Chronicle reports on the brief that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, filed with the Fifth Circuit on Friday in that state's fight against marriage equality:
Writing in a brief filed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Abbott said the state was not obligated to prove why gay marriage might be detrimental to the economic or social well-being of Texans. It was only required to show how opposite-sex marriage would be more beneficial for its citizens.
“The State is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” the brief read. “It is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.”
Abbott may not be charged with contempt of court, but the contempt he shows for the court, the truth, and real families in his preposterous brief could hardly be more clear. It must at last be recognized: we are no longer talking about disagreements, but about lies. Desperate, insulting, cynical lies. Stopping me from marrying the man I love does nothing to advance any state interest. The notion that straight people's marriages are somehow devalued by allowed gay couples to wed should leave any decent and honest person's mouth agape. The final resolution of this nonsense cannot come soon enough.