1583 posts categorized "News"

July 26, 2014

We owe it all to Dear Leader

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)

July 24, 2014

Rick Perry preps for another presidential run with immigration standoff

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(Photo source unknown)

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.

Israel Is Destroying West Bank Houses To Punish Hamas’ Family Members

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(AP photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Very Old Testament. Bibi (and I mean you and your fanatical supporters and not your nation), may you reap what you sow.

July 21, 2014

President Obama signs executive orders on LGBT workplace protections

July 18, 2014

Obama to take executive action against anti-LGBT bias on Monday

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.

Calls for resignation mount for Minnesota archbishop in scandals

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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.

Déjà vu: NY father dies after police chokehold

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.

DOD: Chelsea Manning May Begin Transition in Prison

Advocate.com reports:

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.

Obama: evidence suggests Russia-backed separatists downed Malaysia Airlines

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.

"The cure for AIDS may have been on that plane."


Nobel-winning French virologist Françoise Barré-Sinoussi expresses grief and loss over the crash of flight MH17.
(Video courtesy The Australian)

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.
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(Photo courtesy The Guardian)

July 17, 2014

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks for the Freedom to Marry

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.

Florida Keys judge overturns gay marriage ban; state AG to appeal

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.

Connecticut Ruling Sparks Debate on Retroactive Gay Rights

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.

Trans sister of NBA star found dead in Baltimore

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.

NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children

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(Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Gaza City on killing of four Palestinian boys by Israel. Photo credit: NBC News)

NYT reports that Israel has begun its expected ground assault on the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald reports:

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.

R.I.P. Elaine Stritch

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.

July 15, 2014

World Health Organization says men who have sex with men should consider Truvada

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.

Republican ENDA backers dig in while LGBT supporters jump ship

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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)

From the comics: Archie to die saving gay friend's life

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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.

Holder: DOJ will file brief in marriage case before Supreme Court

But you knew that.

July 11, 2014

100 rubles says this isn't gay propaganda

HuffPost reports:

A Russian politician is referencing his country's "gay propaganda" law in hopes of overhauling the design of a banknote he's deemed pornographic.

Roman Khudyakov, a member of parliament for the nationalist LDPR party, wants to change Russia's 100-ruble banknote (worth less than $3), which depicts an image of a statue of Apollo that appears atop the Bolshoi Theater, Reuters originally reported. Khudyakov said he opposes the design because "you can see clearly that Apollo is naked, you can see his genitalia."

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How appropriate that the Bolshoi would be involved. Incidentally, and I hate to mention this, but in the photo of the sculpture it appears that the horses' penises have been cut off.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

First Denver same-sex couple gets marriage license after judge's ruling

The Denver Post reports:

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson was beaming as she awaited the first couple to walk through the doors.

"It's so gratifying," she said. "I'm so excited. I was just talking with someone on the phone, and I said, 'I didn't think it would ever happen in my lifetime.' "

Johnson began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, just hours after Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman rejected a request by the state to stop the Boulder clerk from continuing to do so. Hartman's ruling has potentially thrown open the doors as elected county clerks across the state consider whether they will begin issuing the licenses, despite the risk that they may later be declared invalid.

The ruling was the second defeat in two days in Colorado Attorney General John Suthers' effort to defend the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

Blade: GLAA opposes ENDA over religious exemption

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Blade reports:

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, D.C.’s leading non-partisan LGBT advocacy group, voted at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night to declare its opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.

GLAA becomes one of the first prominent local LGBT groups to join a growing number of national LGBT advocacy organizations that have announced their opposition to ENDA within the past two weeks.

GLAA's statement is here.

Wisconsin appeals gay marriage ruling

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday appealed a decision from last month that struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage.

The two Republicans filed a two-page notice of appeal that will soon be followed up with a full brief explaining their legal arguments.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in June found the state's gay marriage ban violated the U.S. Constitution, but she stayed her order so Van Hollen and Walker could pursue an appeal.

Thursday's filing puts the case before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. It comes amid a wave of court rulings across the nation striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to ultimately determine whether gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry.

The 7th Circuit is already hearing an appeal of a decision striking down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. The appeals court last week agreed to put that case on a fast track.

On Wednesday, Utah officials announced that they are appealing the 10th Circuit's ruling in their marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court, making Utah's gay marriage ban the first to be appealed to SCOTUS since the Windsor ruling in June 2013. Which case, if any, the high court will hear in the coming term remains to be seen.

July 09, 2014

Geidner: Three Reasons LGBT Groups Are Fighting Over A Bill That Isn’t Going To Become Law

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An interesting analysis by Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed.

July 03, 2014

GLAA supports increasing Office of Police Complaints access to police information

On July 2, I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-63, the "Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013." Here is a portion:

We support Bill 20-63 with a requested change. The Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013 would, as the summary says, "give the Office of Police Complaints access to information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies to improve the monitoring and evaluation activities of the Police Complaints Board."

This proposed reform has been kicking around the Council for several years. We thank Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Cheh and Bowser for re-introducing it. However, when they introduced similar legislation in 2009, the City Paper reported that the bill specified that the board "shall have unfettered access to all information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies...."

By contrast, the current bill refers to "reasonable access." The difference between "unfettered access" and "reasonable access" is the difference between real access and mere rhetoric about access. "Reasonable access" is a vague and slippery term that can mean anything and nothing. If our intent with the present bill is to enhance police accountability by granting OPC statutory access to information, that access should be clearly stated and not conveyed by ambiguous wording that effectively turns it from a requirement into a suggestion. We urge that you restore the bill's teeth by changing "reasonable" back to "unfettered."

Read the whole thing here. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is strongly opposed to the bill, which she hyperbolically said would endanger the public safety. Once again the Bad Cathy comes roaring back! I am sorry, but OPC needs unfettered access to the data in question to do its job. Chief Lanier is wrong. The Council should pass the bill.

Thanks to Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, the new Executive Director at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, who agrees with GLAA on this and who presented excellent testimony.

July 02, 2014

Federal court strikes down Kentucky's gay marriage ban

Equality's march continues.

Twin Cities archbishop accused of child molestation

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(Photo: KARE)

Local news station KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul reports:

Archbishop John Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has been accused of inappropriately touching a minor in 2009.

In light of the accusation, the Archbishop will step down from public ministry while the church and St. Paul Police investigate the incident. The accuser alleges Nienstedt touched his buttocks during a "public photo session" following a confirmation ceremony.

I am shocked, shocked to learn that a homophobic archbishop has been accused of such a thing.

Tea Partiers block buses carrying undocumented immigrants

A crowd of irrational xenophobes blocks buses in which federal authorities were transferring undocumented immigrants who had been detained. Reuters reports:

As the buses neared their destination, some 150 protesters waiving American flags and shouting "Go home - we don't want you here," filled a street leading to the access road for the Border Patrol station, blocking the buses from reaching the facility.

The demonstrators disregarded orders from police to disperse, but officers did not attempt to intervene physically to break up the demonstration.

After about 25 minutes, the buses backed up, turned around and left. A board member of the union representing border patrol agents, Chris Harris, said the buses would likely be rerouted to one of six other Border Patrol stations in the San Diego sector.

Clash over gay conversion therapy at D.C. Council hearing

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade and Metro Weekly report on the June 27 hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. My caption for the above photo, in which notorious reparative therapist Christopher Doyle is testifying, is me (over his shoulder) saying, "Who are these creepy guys?" and Alison Gill of HRC (at left) saying, "I thought they were your friends."

Here are links to testimony from GLAA, HRC, American Counseling Association, therapy survivor Andrew "Jud Brown", and the anti-gay Family Research Council.

Where a company is deemed more of a person than a woman is

John Oliver gave an excellent take on the Hobby Lobby ruling the day before it was issued.

The fact that court observers saw this one coming is no comfort. Building on the corporations-are-people ruling in Citizens United, SCOTUS on Monday effectively ruled that a closely held corporation has more rights of personhood than a woman does. The notion that a company's religious views (what an absurd phrase) trump the religious rights of its employees is not only topsy-turvy, it threatens to turn every shop into a law unto itself.

Here is an excerpt of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's scathing dissent:

Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. … The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

Our friend Jonathan Rauch has an interesting take on Hobby Lobby's religious liberty claims:

Religious folks are pushing the envelope really far when they say it’s a major intrusion on their religious conscience to have to buy an insurance policy that covers choices that other people make. To me that’s kind of picking a fight. And I am very sympathetic to religious liberty claims.

I agree with the dissenting opinions in the Hobby Lobby ruling, which say, “If you find your religion being burdened by something so indirect then when does it end?” If religious folks try to withdraw too much from practices of ordinary society—if they push too hard for the right not to participate—it will backfire. It sends a bad message about their inclusivity and their willingness to engage with society.

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(Photo credit: AP/Matt Sayles)

June 25, 2014

Jury finds HIV/AIDS grant money was used to build D.C. strip club

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(Photo: J.M. Eddins Jr./The Washington Times)

Matthew Cella at The Washington Times reports on a matter that we have been following for a few years:

A D.C. jury found that a nonprofit group and its director misappropriated more than $300,000 from the city’s HIV/AIDS program for renovations on a proposed job-training center that instead was used to open a strip club.

The jury found damages of $329,653 against the nonprofit Miracle Hands Inc. and its director, reformed gangster Cornell Jones, after a four-day trial in D.C. Superior Court.

GLAA wrote about this in our 2012 policy brief, which provides some context:

The contrast between Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.'s vehement opposition to gay strip clubs in 2007 and his support for straight-oriented strip clubs in 2011 suggests a gaping double standard that he has not credibly explained. [Note: As we go to press, Councilmember Thomas appears set to resign as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. We are not deleting this material because the issue continues to stir debate.] WAMU reported that Thomas "has supported the applications of the clubs and says these upscale strip clubs can be good corporate neighbors." Thomas denied being influenced by campaign donations, despite a Washington Times report (in June 2011) that "Keith Forney, a co-owner of the Stadium Club whose companies have received more than $90 million in D.C. construction funds since 2000, made separate payments to Team Thomas in 2008 and 2009 totaling $6,000." On top of this, former crack cocaine kingpin Cornell Jones is accused of diverting more than $300,000 in District HIV/AIDS funds to renovate the club. The city owes us a single standard that neither depends on campaign cash nor involves misuse of public funds.

At last, some justice in the case. As the Times story quotes D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, the verdict “should serve as a warning to all those who would attempt to misuse District grant funds.”

House Appropriations Committee votes to block D.C. mj decriminalization

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DCist reports:

An amendment introduced by a Republican Representative from Maryland to block the implementation of D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law passed 28 to 21 in the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Andy Harris, a physician, introduced the amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, saying today marijuana is "dangerous to the developing brain."

As D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton notes:

D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization bill is undergoing a 60-day congressional review period and is expected to take effect in mid-July. As expected, Republicans are using a rider rather than the disapproval process set forth in the Home Rule Act to try to block D.C.’s decriminalization bill.

Norton's statement includes the following:

“Representative Harris is not only trying to overrule the will of my constituents, to whom he is not accountable, he is acting contrary to the laws of his own state, which recently decriminalized marijuana,” Norton said. “It is particularly offensive that he is trying to impose on another Member’s district what he was unable to do democratically in his own. Before tomorrow’s markup, I hope Representative Harris realizes that his amendment violates his own professed principles of local control of local affairs. Even those who profoundly disagree on particular local laws adhere to the most basic American principle of local control. Representative Harris can’t overturn the marijuana decriminalization laws of the 18 states that have decriminalized marijuana so he has stooped to using autocratic, anti-democratic power to seek to overturn our local laws. His constituents are going to be surprised to learn that their Member, who argues for limiting the federal government’s power over even traditionally federal matters, is offering an amendment that would insert the federal government into a local government’s local affairs. Representative Harris has been in Congress for two terms, but has only managed to introduce 10 bills this Congress, and he has not introduced a single amendment on the House floor this Congress. Surely, he should spend more time focused on bills and amendments to benefit his own Maryland constituents instead of introducing an amendment that will harm minorities, especially African Americans, in my district. Our allies in Maryland and across the country are prepared to help us prevent this amendment from being enacted.”

GLAA's policy brief for 2014, Building on Victory, states the following:

It makes no sense for the relatively benign marijuana to be proscribed while alcohol, a proven killer, is legal. Tommy Wells' bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts, Bill 20-409, is a good beginning. We support David Grosso's legalization and regulation bill, Bill 20-466. We understand the District's caution regarding Congress; but in light of developments elsewhere, and considering the damage done to lives by incarceration for victimless crimes, we are glad that the District has joined the nationwide discussion of this issue.

Thanks to Congresswoman Norton for fighting for the District. We have some work ahead of us.

Judge overturns Indiana's gay marriage ban, no stay, weddings begin

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(Photo credit: Fox59)

IndyStar reports on the latest step in the march toward marriage equality.

Above is a photo of Craig Bowen and Jake Miller, the first same-sex couple granted a marriage license in Indianapolis. Marion County Clerk Beth White, with the most matter-of-fact statement, says it all (and sorry, but embedding is disabled for the video): "We're ready for people to come and exercise these rights that they now have."

10th Circuit Court upholds same-sex marriage

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(Keith Johnson | Tribune file photo)

SLTrib reports:

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that states outlawing same-sex marriage are in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

By upholding a Utah judge’s decision, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver became the first appeals court to rule on the issue, setting a historic precedent that voter-approved bans on same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment rights of same-sex couples to equal protection and due process.

But the court stayed the implementation of their decision, pending an anticipated appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court....

The split ruling affects all states in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

Read the ruling here.

A yoga tax by any other name

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(Photo credit: Washington City Paper)

The D.C. Council on Tuesday, by a vote of 9-4, upheld the so-called yoga tax (or wellness tax or gym tax) as part of the tax reform package in the 2015 budget. Does this mean all the kvetching over this trivial matter will finally stop? One can always hope, but Lane Hudson, one of the leaders of the protest against the tax, says he's only just begun. Or something.

Meanwhile, Miss Emily Litella, disguised as Marion Barry, came out squarely against the yogurt tax.

June 22, 2014

'Reparative therapy' platform plank misunderstood, Republican delegate says

This guy says he doesn't want to be misunderstood as being anti-gay. He just wants to preserve dangerous quackery as an option.

June 20, 2014

Robert Alfandre, 1927-2014

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Our old friend Bob Alfandre has died at age 87, the Blade reports:

Robert “Bob” Alfandre, a prominent D.C.-area homebuilder and philanthropist who contributed to LGBT rights and AIDS-related causes, died June 12 in his home in Washington following a long battle with cancer. He was 87....

Rev. Jerry Anderson, an Episcopal priest, said he met Alfandre in the 1980s through All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church in D.C., where Alfandre was a parishioner and Anderson served as director of the D.C. group Episcopal Caring Response to AIDS. He said he and Alfandre became friends and kept in touch after Anderson moved to Miami and later to Los Angeles.

“He was a wonderful human being,” said Anderson. “He was one of those gay men who responded immediately and wholeheartedly to the AIDS epidemic. He was a very generous, passionate advocate for the AIDS cause.”

Anderson and Rev. John Beddington, current pastor of All Souls Episcopal Church, said Alfandre had a wry sense of humor and became admired for lifting up the spirits of his friends and associates, including people with AIDS.

Anderson said Alfandre often hosted fundraisers and social gatherings at his home in D.C.’s Kalarama section and often invited AIDS patients. He said he has especially fond memories of a party Alfandre hosted for residents of the Carroll Sledz House, a Whitman-Walker facility that Alfandre initiated and funded in honor of his late partner.

Bob was a warm and generous man. Condolences to all his family and friends. There is an online guest book to which you can post condolences. The Blade reports:

A visitation was scheduled for Friday, June 20, from 6-8 p.m. at Joseph Gawler’s, 5130 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. A funeral service was scheduled for Saturday, June 21, at 11 a.m., at All Souls Episcopal Church, 2300 Cathedral Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.

June 19, 2014

Presbyterian Church Votes To Allow Gay Marriage

HuffPost reports:

In a monumental move, the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination voted Thursday to change its definition of marriage and allow its pastors to officiate same-sex ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal.

By a vote of 429-175, leaders of the 1.76 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) voted during the biennial General Assembly in Detroit to change the denomination's Book of Order to describe marriage as being between "two people."

The decision opens a path toward gay marriage across the denomination's 10,000 churches.

A majority of the church's 173 regional bodies, called Presbyteries, must now approve the decision before it's official, a process that can take up to a year. But after years of failed efforts to get the church to approve gay marriages, LGBT activists and pastors said they were optimistic.

It took a long time to reach this moment. But the moment finally came.

Spate of anti-trans robberies hits Eastern Avenue corridor

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Police Chief Cathy Lanier posted the following Wednesday night on the MPD-SLU listserv:

Good evening,

I want to take this opportunity to share a recent pattern that has emerged in PSA 608, along the Eastern Avenue corridor and side streets. Between June 10th and June 18th, during the hours of 2:00 am and 6:00 am in the morning, with the exception of one, there have been five robberies in which the victims are all transgender. In each case the victim is approached by one or more suspects and demands are made for their purse. The descriptions of the subjects are not the same. There were guns displayed in at least two of the robberies and verbal threats were used in others. In the most recent robbery, on June 18th at 2:30 am, MPD arrested two juveniles and recovered the property that was stolen from the victim. At this time, we do not believe that these robberies are related as MPD has been provided varying descriptions by the victims.

If any member of the community has information related to these robberies, we are requesting that you contact MPD at 202-727-9099. Additionally anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by test messaging 50411. We have also requested the support of our community advocates to provide outreach to the victims in these cases. The Sixth District is working with both MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLU) and The Prince Georges County Police Department to enhance patrols and investigate these crimes.

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police