1691 posts categorized "News"

December 20, 2014

Two police officers killed by ambush in Brooklyn; suspect dead by his own hand

NYT reports the awful news.

I agree with Jeffrey Wright. Citizens and police must stand together against violence and for justice for all. Otherwise madmen, provocateurs, and sociopaths will rule the day. My heart goes out to the families of the slain officers, and all who are the victims of senseless violence.

Prosecutor in Ferguson case knew some grand jury witnesses were lying

Bob_McCulloch
(Photo by Reuters)

Mike Hayes at BuzzFeed reports:

In his first interview since announcing Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting of Mike Brown, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch told radio station KTRS that he allowed witnesses he knew were lying to testify to the grand jury.

As Shaun King at Daily Kos points out, the perjurer whose testimony most lined up with that of Wilson was Witness #40, who turns out to be a white supremacist named Sandy McElroy. No perjury charges are being contemplated.

McCulloch should be fired at minimum and possibly disbarred. This is not justice. Anyone who could defend him after this is not really disagreeing, they just don't give a crap. We cannot accept this.

Chinese Court sides with gay man in electroshock therapy case

CHINAGAY-articleLarge
(Photo by Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

NYT reports:

In a victory for gay rights advocates in China, a Beijing court ruled on Friday that a Chinese clinic must pay compensation to a gay man who sued it for giving him electric shocks intended to change his sexual orientation.

Stating that homosexuality is not a mental illness, the Haidian District People’s Court ordered the Xinyupiaoxiang Counseling Center in the southwestern city of Chongqing to pay 3,400 renminbi, or $560, for costs incurred by the plaintiff, Yang Teng. It also ordered Baidu, China’s leading search engine, which was also named in the lawsuit, to remove the advertisement that Mr. Yang said led him to the clinic.

China bears watching. Now the world's largest economy, it has been a friendlier place for gay activists than one might have expected from a totalitarian state. Congrats to Yang and best of luck to his comrades for continued progress.

December 19, 2014

Persecution in Egypt continues

December 18, 2014

Soccer stadium deal gets final Council approval

Tim Cook makes large donation to HRC

ACLU of Florida responds to Pam Bondi

Holder: Title VII prohibits anti-transgender discrimination

Bilerico reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under the category of sex-based discrimination. This is a big step forward.

Continue reading "Holder: Title VII prohibits anti-transgender discrimination" »

14-year-old exonerated, 70 years too late

10801785_10152404092691455_2156699316442878438_n

George Stinney, wrongly convicted and executed in 1944 at age 14 in South Carolina, was exonerated Wednesday by circuit court Judge Carmen Mullen. When he went to the electric chair, he was so small he had to sit on a phone book for the execution.

We do not have the knowledge of gods. There are too many people with motives to lie, to make false accusations, to seek out a scapegoat, to set an example. We should abolish the death penalty if only for this reason. It is good for Stinney's name to be cleared at long last; but his life was stolen. The sadness of this is beyond adequate expression.

December 15, 2014

Shift Happens. Seriously.

Brian Steinberg at Variety reports that as of today, Phil Griffin at MSNBC is rolling out a streaming video portal called "Shift by MSNBC." You can see their opening slogan in my retweet above, "Shift happens" (hashtag #ShiftHappens). Here are a few telling excerpts from Sternberg's piece:

Among the new offerings is “The Briefing,” a political program hosted Monday and Fridays by Luke Russert

Luke Russert, because experience (doesn't) count. And this:

[Richard] Wolffe, who has written extensively on the Obama presidency and Spanish cooking, will host a show on books.

(Hat tip: Matt Yglesias)

December 13, 2014

Thousands gather in D.C. to protest police killings

A shot of Freedom Plaza Saturday as protesters gathered. Associated Press reports.

December 11, 2014

Ted Osius III sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

NBC News reports:

The first openly gay U.S. ambassador to serve in East Asia, Ted Osius III, was sworn in Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry, signaling another important step forward for LGBT rights in the region as well as for the government agency.

Osius, who will serve in Vietnam, now becomes the 7th openly LGBT person named as an ambassador under the Obama administration, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"Not long ago, that would have literally been impossible. And when Ted first joined the Foreign Service, being open about who you love was grounds for having your security clearance yanked," Secretary Kerry said in a statement. "Today, the LGBT community is embraced by the Foreign Service and well beyond."

Perkins says conversion therapy ban will help gays recruit children

Because he says so. Pay no attention to the science. Just make stuff up. Sorry Tony, but you're losing the argument.

Congress and Initiative 71

Also:

December 10, 2014

Congressional spending bill blocks funds to implement marijuana legalization

City Paper reports.

In summary: The people of the District of Columbia have the right to govern ourselves, except when we don't. The fight continues.

December 08, 2014

Marriage News Watch: Dec. 8

Matt Baume of AFER gives a marriage equality update.

Michigan 'Religious Freedom' bill allows anyone to deny service to LGBT people

Michigan_RFRA_meme

NewNowNext reports:

Over the weekend, Republicans in the Michigan Statehouse passed a “license to discriminate” bill that would give just about anyone the right to refuse service to LGBT people if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an EMT to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.

The measure is similar to one in Arizona that even right-wing governor Jan Brewer thought went too far and vetoed.

A similar issue arose during the D.C. marriage equality fight in 2009, and the overbroad religious exemption demanded by the Archdiocese of Washington was rejected by Phil Mendelson, then chair of the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee, at GLAA's urging.

December 06, 2014

Human Rights Amendment Act advances longtime GLAA goals

One of the bills that received unanimous approval on its final reading at the D.C. Council meeting on December 2 was Bill 20-803, the Human Rights Amendment Act. This bill enacted the recommendations in Sections 5.1 and 5.5 of GLAA's 2014 policy brief, "Building on Victory." Here is the bill summary:

To amend the Office of Human Rights Establishment Act of 1999 to require the Director of the Office to have a demonstrated professional background in human rights law, and to amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to require the annual report include information on investigations and public hearings undertaken by the Office, and to repeal the exemption [known as the Armstrong Amendment] allowing religiously-affiliated educational institutions to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Thanks to Councilmember Tommy Wells, who introduced the bill and steered it through the Judiciary Committee. I blogged about the September 29 hearing here. A lawyer for Catholic University testified against the bill, falsely claiming that it would require the university to indicate its approval of a gay student group; in fact, it would only require the University to grant gay groups the same amenities as other student groups. Congress could act to overturn or block implementation of the bill, though that would require a presidential signature or a veto override. In the meantime, this is an overdue action in which the Council has resoundingly indicated its agreement with GLAA that the Armstrong Amendment (which was imposed by Congress a quarter century ago) needs to go.

The Washington Blade reported on the hearing and the final passage. Metro Weekly reports on the final passage.

December 02, 2014

D.C. Council passes bill to protect ‪#‎LGBT‬ youth from ‪#‎ConversionTherapy‬

NCLR writes:

Today, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

When signed into law, Washington, D.C. will become the third jurisdiction—behind California and New Jersey—to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from practices that are known to cause severe depression and even suicide.

“Today, the DC Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved,” said Samantha Ames, NCLR staff attorney and coordinator of the #BornPerfect campaign at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “The Council has used its authority to protect our most vulnerable youth from dangerous and discredited pseudoscience that tells them who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

NCLR, in conjunction with other organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill, which was authored by Councilmember Mary M. Cheh. A broad range of groups supported the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, including national LGBT organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, reproductive justice groups, and civil rights organizations.

Earlier this year, NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign to protecting LGBT youth across the country from conversion therapy over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.

Learn more about #BornPerfect at www.NCLRights.org/BornPerfect.

GLAA is proud to be part of the coalition that pushed for this bill. Now it goes to Mayor Gray for his signature, then to the Hill for the requisite congressional review period. Our youth will be that much safer for our collective effort, and the national movement to protect minors from these dangerous practices will get a boost.

Thanks to NCLR and all our coalition partners. Special kudos to Alison Gill, formerly of the Trevor Project and now Senior Legislative Counsel with the Human Rights Campaign, who served as coordinator.

More on the bill here.

November 30, 2014

Darren Wilson resigns, no severance package

November 27, 2014

Republicans want to ban Obama from delivering State of the Union

Oh please, please, please. Go ahead, you reckless, treasonous fanatics. You are on a hellhound train and you cannot stop and cannot get off.

November 26, 2014

Marriage victories in Arkansas and Mississippi

November 23, 2014

Marion Barry dies at 78

The Mayor for Life is dead. May he rest in peace.

November 21, 2014

'We were strangers once, too'

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.

November 20, 2014

#SCOTUS denies stay in South Carolina marriage case

Director Mike Nichols dies at 83

GTY_Mike_Nichols_ml_141120_16x9_992

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).

November 19, 2014

Marriage victory in Montana

Earl Fowlkes elected Stein Club president

Vince_Gray_and_Earl_Fowlkes_Jr_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key
(Earl Fowlkes, right, in Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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.

Jason Collins retires

Jason collins 98 on court

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.

SC AG asks Chief Justice Roberts for stay of 4th Circuit marriage ruling

November 18, 2014

Good marriage news from South Carolina and Kansas

November 14, 2014

Montana: federal judge cancels marriage hearing, will rule soon

Williams Institute study: Global acceptance rising

U.S. Panel Supports Lifting Ban on Blood Donations from Gay Men

Alg-blood-donation-jpg
(Photo by Malaysia Blood Donors Society)

Time reports:

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.”

Botswana Gay Rights Group Wins Legal Recognition

Botswanarap

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.

Marc Solomon's Winning Marriage hits shelves

A busy week for marriage equality

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

Reuters:
Gay marriage advocates get victories in Kansas, South Carolina

Meanwhile, Justice Thomas weighs in.

November 12, 2014

Science vs. Know-Nothingism

20141112-comet-hp-slide-1LNN-jumbo

Lay these two news items side by side: The European Space Agency today landed a space probe on a comet. Meanwhile in America, Sen. Ted Cruz appears set to become chair of the Subcommittee on Science and Space. We can either fight the Know-Nothings, or consider moving to Darmstadt.

November 09, 2014

Francis makes Cardinal Burke's demotion official

10615367_10152805020535682_3948835244431313181_n

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.)

November 08, 2014

The great dissent by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d08bdfe1970c-800wi

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.

Continue reading "The great dissent by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey" »