Contact Us

Have a suggestion for an item? Send it along using our contact page.

Enter your email address to join the GLAA Announcements list

About GLAA Forum

GLAA is pleased to offer an online site for discussion of affairs that affect the quality of life of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities of the District of Columbia. Through this social networking media GLAA aspires to connect to new generations of LGBT advocates and straight allies and to strengthen our organization's abilities to communicate and broadcast to a broad and diverse population.

We warmly invite you to join us at our regularly scheduled membership meetings, held the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Please visit www.glaa.org for a list of meeting dates and locations and other important information regarding our group's mission and projects.

Support GLAA

GLAA is an all volunteer organisation. Our expenses are paid by our yearly Awards Banquet and by membership dues and contributions. If you would like to join GLAA this can be done through PayPal or through our membership form.

April 08, 2015

Taking the Ball from the GOP

Cartoon_150408_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Ranslem
(Washington Blade editorial cartoon by Ranslem)

My latest Blade column takes a look at how the GOP's overreach has exposed its weak game. Here is an excerpt:

Republicans had a bad week last week. When not failing in their effort to sabotage nuclear nonproliferation negotiations, they were denouncing the Indiana and Arkansas legislatures for undermining their so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts by adding clarifying language. Retail giant Walmart was instrumental in pressuring Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to demand a fix to that state's RFRA.

The only homophobes who had a good week were the owners of Memories Pizza, who received over $800,000 in donations in a right-wing media scam that hailed them as Christian martyrs for refusing to fill the previously unknown demand for pizza at gay weddings.

Read the whole thing here.

Springfield voters repeal LGBT rights protections

Tell me again why my rights should be subject to my neighbors' veto? The U.S. Constitution guarantees a republican form of government. It says nothing about plebiscites.

April 07, 2015

SC cop faces murder charge after shooting man in back

Without this video, the officer would likely have gotten away with it.

Evan Wolfson eats his Wheaties

EvanWheaties

April 04, 2015

The #Indiana Memories Pizza fundraiser is a conservative media scam

Forward Progressives reports on "another publicity stunt designed to gin up the conservative base."

CO: shop not wrong for refusing anti-gay cake

In the minds of some on the right, a shop that discriminates out of bias against a gay customer is the same as one that refuses to participate in an expression of anti-gay bias. This Colorado ruling shows otherwise.

What the Indiana fix does and doesn't do

HRCIndianaGraphic

The Human Rights Campaign reports:

Facing tremendous economic damage and mounting public pressure from fair-minded Americans and business leaders, today Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation limiting the damage of the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) but falling far short of providing a full solution. The measure fails to explicitly ensure that the RFRA won’t be used to undermine the full scope of Indiana existing non-discrimination laws, and does not add LGBT non-discrimination protections to the state’s civil rights laws.

In response, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released a graphic explaining the new law and the risks for LGBT Hoosiers that remain.

April 03, 2015

Sarah Brady dies at 73

One evening thirty years ago, as I approached La Fonda Restaurant at 17th and R Streets NW (which has been gone for twenty years now), a friend and I saw White House press secretary Jim Brady being helped down the few steps into the restaurant and back into his wheelchair by his wife Sarah and a friend. Mrs. Brady urged us to go ahead of them. We said we were in no hurry, and to take their time. I remember the exact day in 1981 when Jim was gravely injured by a bullet from John Hinckley meant for President Reagan, because it was my 25th birthday. The Bradys received bipartisan respect from the people of Washington. No public servant should have to face gunfire. And the Bradys were nice people.

The 1993 Brady Act required background checks on firearm purchasers. In later years, politics shifted to the point where even background checks were blocked. America's Wild West infatuation with guns has only gotten worse. It is a sad thing to contemplate as we mark Sara Brady's passing. Her husband died eight months ago. May they both rest in peace.

Buchanan to Hannity on Iran: 'You're hysterical'

This delightful clip of Pat Buchanan schooling Sean Hannity on Iran makes me think that a reality show called "Battle of the Wingnuts" could be a smash hit.

Cutting holes in the law

Tattered_flag

Given the persistence of would-be discriminators in portraying themselves as victims, I reiterate what I wrote in December on faith-based exemptions: "To preserve civil society, we cannot permit ad hoc exclusions from equal protection."

IndyStar editorial: A historic step forward for Indiana

For the first time, [Indiana] elected leaders have inserted the phrases "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" into a state law that protects against discrimination. And there are promises — credible promises — to go farther in the future.

A note of caution:

Obama: framework would cut off every path Iran has to develop nuclear weapons

To those who say there's not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrats and Republicans regarding the Middle East because both support Israel and both use American military, look at this: a Democratic president using multilateral diplomacy while Republicans, aggressively and willfully ignorant of recent history, clamor for another preemptive war. This negotiation is not finished, but congrats and thanks to the president and Secretary of State Kerry for their persistence.

Phase 1 reopens

Suspect arrested in Hotel Donovan murder

NY Boy Scouts affiliate defies ban on hiring adult gays

An admirable development in New York.

Somali Militants Kill 147 at Kenyan University

NYTreports on a horrific attack in eastern Kenya.

April 02, 2015

Final Four coaches issue joint statement against Indiana law

What a remarkable outpouring we have seen of LGBT-affirming statements in response to Gov. Pence's signing of an anti-gay law disguised as a defense of religious freedom.

April 01, 2015

Class act on the mound in Oakland

What a fine way of turning a negative into a positive.

In response to hate, a Kentucky high school team finds its strength

I love this story.

Ark. Gov. Hutchinson will not sign 'religious freedom' bill without changes

Thanks to Hutchinson's son Seth, and to Walmart and other companies that weighed in with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Below, hundreds rally for changes to the Arkansas RFRA bill. Our voices, and the looming consequences for persisting in bigotry, are having an effect.

Trevor Noah: Live at the Apollo

Trevor Noah, the young South African comedian chosen as Jon Stewart's successor as host of the Daily Show, has stirred some controversy due to his past material. Here he talks about race in South Africa and in America. Not the safest of subjects, but he is smart and has a facility for voices. His black Hitler is quite good.

Bowser bans D.C. government travel to Indiana

Thanks to Mayor Bowser for this sensible action that makes it clear that Indiana’s extreme RFRA law cannot be squared with the District’s values. She has added our city’s voice to the growing chorus of condemnation around the country. This nationwide reaction is a welcome illustration of how times have changed.

March 31, 2015

Backlash to a bad bill and a disastrous interview

Above is the notorious interview in which Indiana Gov. Mike Pence repeatedly refuses to answer George Stephanopoulos's question on Sunday. Here are several takes on the matter, which has stirred up a huge nationwide reaction:

Here are some thoughts of mine:

  1. Contrary to Gov. Pence, the Indiana RFRA is not the same as the 1993 federal version, nor the Illinois version Obama voted for 17 years ago.
  2. A lot has happened since the 1990s. The religious right routinely plays the victim as a cover. Their real objection is that everyone does not believe the same as they do.
  3. Without an anti-gay motivation, there is no reason for the law at all. That motivation has been amply reported in the past few days--the statements, the 'phobes in the signing photo, the bakers and florists etc.
  4. Most Americans support anti-discrimination laws, which are not just a basis for lawsuits, they are a statement of public policy. It matters which symbolic statement you make.
  5. Indiana has no LGBT protections in public accommodations. If there is no intent to discriminate, they should clarify that by adding LGBT protections.
  6. The libertarian view on anti-discrimination laws is at least coherent, which I respect, but it lost the public policy argument long ago, and I don't see libertarians demanding repeal of the Civil Rights Act beyond its application to the government. It has seeped in too deeply.
  7. The public reaction to the Indiana law has shown a sea change in views on the place of gay folk in society. That is a good thing in itself. If the backlash means businesses making clear their support for their gay employees and customers, and posting "We serve everyone" signs, that is surely welcome.
  8. At the same time, the doubling down by Republican presidential candidates, and by politicians in Arkansas, in their eagerness to pander to their base by making an anti-gay statement, shows how out of step the GOP is politically.
  9. We are too diverse religiously to cohere socially if we go down the road of encouraging people to impose their religious anathemas in the public square, whether that be in shops, pharmacies, or professional services. It is true that much of this can be handled by the market; I certainly would not demand that someone who despises me prepare food for me and my guests. But again, a clear statement of public policy is a good in itself.
  10. Anyone who wants to go off on their own like Thoreau should try it. I don't know where that would be. Short of that, we are interconnected in innumerable ways on a daily basis, and I will not consent to being carved out from equal protection at people's whim.

The telltale bill signing photo

Spot_the_phobe

Crooks and Liars reports on who was standing behind Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in the private bill signing ceremony for the so-called "religious freedom" bill.

Bryan Fischer on #BigGay

March 26, 2015

Quick backlash to reckless Indiana 'religious freedom' law enactment

Advocate reports on the quick and harsh reactions to Indiana Governor Pence signing what is in fact a religious supremacy bill, not a religious freedom bill--unless you mean the freedom to discriminate and split apart our diverse society.

My God is not a bully. I will not worship a god who is a bully. I will not obey a bullying god. I will not attend a bullying church. I will not respect bullying clergy. I will not remain silent as religious bullies seek to impose their beliefs on others in the guise of "religious freedom" bills. I live in a religiously and culturally diverse society, where faith-based discrimination in the public square undermines the civic order and social cohesion. I will fight the bullies. I will demand that editors and reporters call religious supremacy what it is, and not let them swallow the right-wing spin about religious freedom. Please join me in this recognition and this fight to uphold secular American values.

Indiana governor signs religious supremacy bill

Mike_Pence_insert_public_domain

Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow businesses to deny service to same-sex couples.

We have a lot of fighting ahead. It is not religious freedom our opponents want, but religious supremacy. And we've got to say so. We've got to challenge editors and headline writers to stop swallowing the right wing spin. I don't mean to pick on the Blade, where I am a columnist. Almost everyone is making this mistake. We have to stop parroting this false framing of the issue. The public desperately needs to be better educated on what is truly at stake.

Norman Scribner dies at 79

Norman_Scribner

WaPo reports:

Norman O. Scribner, founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, one of the region’s preeminent symphonic choirs, died March 22 at his home in the District. He was 79.

The cause was a heart attack, said a son, Matthew Scribner.

The late Washington Post music critic Paul Hume once called Mr. Scribner “one of Washington’s finest musicians and one of the most gifted choral conductors in the country.”

Rest in peace, Norman. I sang under him for a while in the 1980s, which enabled me to experience some great music and musicians from the stage. At one point we were doing a Russian piece, possibly Boris Godunov (Washington's symphonic choruses sang many Russian pieces during Mstislav Rostropovich's tenure at the National Symphony), and they had scores in Cyrillic for the purists, one of whom was a ferocious Zionist who told me that Democracy was inimical to Israel's interests. I haven't seen Binyamin since then (I'm kidding, Bibi Netanyahu as far as I know never sang with Choral Arts). Anyway, Norman was a big guy and could be intimidating, but was a pleasure to work with.

In 1986, when I was promoting the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's first concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (featuring guest soloist Maureen Forrester in the Brahms Alto Rhapsody), Norman graciously lent us the Choral Arts Society's mailing list. I remember him telling me that the flyer we mailed "struck all the grace notes."

Once in the 1990s, the Gay Men's Chorus sang Norman's setting of the "Ode to St. Cecilia," the patron saint of vocal music. Jim Holloway, GMCW's director at the time, was often a rehearsal accompanist for Norman, and they struck up a musical friendship. So after several weeks of rehearsing, Norman joined us at the dress rehearsal for a run-through. He was delightful as always. But I remember teasing him during a break by saying that a line from the text, which (regarding St. Cecilia) mentioned "her sacred organ's praise" (meaning she sang), came out "her sacred organ sprays" if we didn't enunciate clearly. He reacted with mock horror. Choristers find ways of amusing themselves during long rehearsals.

(Postscript: the ferocious Zionist I mentioned might have been from what was then called the Oratorio Society, which I also sang with in the 80s. It's hard to keep my symphonic choruses straight, especially since they joined forces for large works. The guy was bearded, and had the look of a deranged prophet. He was a good singer.)

(Photo by Neshan Naltchayan/Courtesy of Choral Arts Society of Washington)

Go to a revolution and cure your writer's block

Salman Rushdie delightfully recounts how he cured his writer's block in 1986 by going to a revolution. The punchline is great even though you can see it coming a mile off.

March 24, 2015

Ghosts in the Courtroom

Frank_Kameny_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Doug_Hinckle
(Frank Kameny; Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

My column this week examines the Mattachine Society of Washington's amicus brief in the marriage cases before SCOTUS--featuring newly unearthed original documents that show decades of anti-gay animus in the federal government--animus dismissed in 2013 by Chief Justice Roberts in his dissent in Windsor as "snippets of legislative history."

Cropping up again and again is Frank Kameny, original MSW founder, whose fearlessness, brilliance, and doggedness was a continued thorn in the side of those persecuting us. Bravo to Charles Francis and Pate Felts for their sleuthing, and to McDermott Will & Emery as counsel of record.

Here is the lede:

The late gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny's exhortations ring in my ears as I anticipate arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license same-sex marriages.

Read the whole thing here.

The questionable ethics of #Corizon

GLAA's concerns about Corizon are stated here.

Trump brings 'birther' charge against Cruz

Ilya Shapiro at Cato Institute explains why Cruz is eligible to run. It has to do with the Nationality Act of 1940.

Phase 1 reopening postponed

Phase1

Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports:

The Capitol Hill lesbian bar Phase 1, which has been closed for renovation since early January was scheduled to reopen last Friday, March 20, according to an ad that the club placed in the Jan. 19 issue of Metro Weekly.

But customers attempting to go to Phase 1 on Friday night discovered that the door was locked and noticed through a window on the door that the bar was dark and empty, adding to the mystery surrounding its future.

Apparently, posting a note on the door was too much trouble for the owner.

March 23, 2015

Media flap over Aaron Schock

Schock

Blade editor Kevin Naff has an excellent takedown of the absurd attack on gay media by WaPo's Steven Petrow over the fall of Rep. Aaron Schock. Naff writes:

The LGBT media outlets speculating about Schock are doing so because we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. Ask David Dreier, Mark Foley or Larry Craig, to name a few. Schock invites this speculation with the obnoxious, preening persona that he’s cultivated via Instagram, Twitter and Men’s Fitness photo shoots. He has spent more time developing a social media following than on crafting legislation in Congress.

Naff has much more, all of it spot-on. If Aaron Schock is a victim, I am a power forward for the Blue Devils. For some reason, the Post has become a throwback to an earlier time when "gay" meant "icky" and the Establishment wagons were circled as in 1942 with Sen. David Walsh. 73 years later, some things haven't changed.

A Cruz I'd rather look at

Starbucks ends #RaceTogether initiative

Hardly shocking news, given the mockery Starbucks brought upon itself with this ill-thought-out initiative.

One further thought: The racial oppression in the history of the coffee trade is hardly redeemed by Starbucks hiring lots of black baristas.

Indiana House passes bill to grant faith-based exemption to laws

This new trend in statehouses is as radical as it is popular. It is not about religious freedom, but about religious supremacy. It is an assault on the secular sphere where citizens of many backgrounds and faiths encounter one another. Such laws would undermine any civil society in which everyone is not the same. What other reckless measures will the far right think up?

Jon Stewart on Schock, Netanyahu, and Hart

In case you missed it.

Marriage News Watch: Texas

Pope Francis Dines With LGBT Inmates In An Italian Prison

I remain skeptical of his intentions regarding policy, and I am a policy man; but this pope's pastoral instincts are flawless. Thank you, @Pontifex.