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August 16, 2014

Man of the Week: Antonio French

"We're better than this." St. Louis Alderman @AntonioFrench (L) urges calm in the streets of Ferguson. Many protesters spent Friday night protecting stores from looters. Below is a message from one of his young supporters urging people to help protect the neighborhood tonight. Here we see an inspiring example of citizen leadership.

Mike Brown eyewitness crime scene video, Ferguson, MO

This chilling video was one of the first taken on the scene after a police officer killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown a week ago in Ferguson, Missouri. Imagine this was your street. Can you? Solving the problem may depend on it.

(Hat tip: Antonio French)

Suspected Looters

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Kinda sorta.

(Hat tip: Lauren Chief Elk - ‏@ChiefElk)

The Imitation Game

Churchill said this alleged security risk should have gotten a peerage. He needed to break an unbreakable Nazi code, so he invented the modern computer. Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. American release November 21.

August 15, 2014

They'll always have Vegas

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Rev. Graylan Hagler is a candidate for At-Large Council.

August 14, 2014

'All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper'

Tell it, Martin. Words from 46 years ago that are as apt as when he spoke them, the day before he was taken from us.

August 13, 2014

Sectarian Scavengers

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(Photo by Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons)

My latest column is now up at Metro Weekly. It is subtitled, "Amid war and plague, right-wing Americans export religious intolerance." Here's an excerpt:

In Entebbe on August 9, more than one hundred LGBT Ugandans celebrated the first Pride Uganda since the Constitutional Court overturned the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) for being passed without a quorum. Entebbe is on Lake Victoria, and the paradise suggested by some of the photos would not make you think the revelers risked mob violence, unless you noticed the masks some wore.

A British name for an African lake is a relic of the same colonial legacy that keeps homosexuality illegal despite AHA being tossed out. African leaders are strangely selective in their outrage over Western influences. They embrace foreign laws, religions, and aid while treating sexual minorities who have always lived among them like hostile aliens. American evangelicals like Scott Lively incited the persecution with the slander that gays recruit and sexually abuse children. This pious vulture denies any responsibility for the consequences, including LGBT Ugandans being hunted like animals.

Read the whole thing here.

August 12, 2014

Tony Perkins: Christian Businesses Should Donate Profits From LGBT Customers To Ex-Gay Ministries

Here's a new one. Thanks to Ian Silverstone at Right Wing Watch.

Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014

Another great one passes. In this scene, accompanied by Hoagy Carmichael, Bacall sings to an adoring customer I imagine was her first gay fan.

Years ago, I worked a column around "How Little We Know" and the movie it's from, To Have and Have Not.

It seemed we would have Betty Bacall forever. She was 89.

'Oblivion together does not frighten me, beloved'

I was looking around for something that would make you smile amid all the horrors going on in the world, and here it is in the form of an unorthodox marriage proposal. Be sure to watch to the end.

(Note: the title of this blog entry is a line spoken by Diana Muldaur in an episode of the original Star Trek. Extra points if you guess correctly to whom she said it. And no, I did not look it up, because I've had this silly stuff in my head for the past 46 years.)

International Youth Day

Today is International Youth Day. Here's an excerpt from a joint statement by ORAM and IGLYO on "the perils facing particularly vulnerable young people, including young LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees":

ORAM and IGLYO call on governments, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, refugee professionals, LGBTQI activists, youth service providers, and youth leaders to:

1. Reinforce capacity building and LGBTQI training for service providers and refugee professionals, teaching them to utilize safe and non-discriminatory screening methods.

2. Create new networks and platforms of dialogue between youth groups, LGBTQI groups, refugee professionals and young LGBTQI refugees, enhancing experience-sharing and awareness-raising.

3. Create safe spaces for young LGBTQI refugees to express their fears and hopes, helping them embrace their identity and break the silence often accompanying internalized homophobia or transphobia.

4. Encourage states to adopt and enforce international human rights law applicable to sexual orientation and gender identity, such as, Principle 23 of the Yogyakarta Principles[2], to ensure that LGBTQI persons and youths are not extradited, removed, or expelled to any state where they may face persecution, degrading treatment or punishment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Don't shoot

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NYT reports on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by police.

If you think that racial discrimination had nothing to do with it, check this out from the LA Times:

"Blacks make up 65% of Ferguson's population, yet they accounted for 93% of arrests after traffic stops, 92% of searches and 80% of traffic stops in the city last year, according to a racial profiling report by the Missouri attorney general.

"Blacks in Ferguson are twice as likely as whites to be stopped by police even though police find contraband for 34% of whites stopped, versus 22% of blacks, said Scott Decker, a criminologist on a team contracted by the attorney general's office to compile the data."

Robin Williams, R.I.P.

The Motion Picture Academy posted the above tweet yesterday after the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams at age 63. Below is a performance Williams gave in England after Barack Obama's first presidential election victory. May he rest in peace.

August 09, 2014

Pride Uganda 2014

Some tweets from Frank Mugisha in Entebbe, Uganda, where more than 100 brave Ugandans celebrated Pride Uganda 2014.

What an awesome display of courage and grace, to celebrate their lives amid religious persecution and threats of mob violence.

August 07, 2014

Marriage bans take a beating in Sixth Circuit arguments

Chris Johnson reports in the Blade. You can get the flavor from his tweets:

Tenth Circuit marriage ruling appealed to SCOTUS

On the Oklahoma case: AP reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage is constitutional.

The appeal was filed Wednesday by an organization representing Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who was sued after refusing to grant a marriage license to a same-sex couple several years ago.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the couple last month, upholding a federal judge's ruling that found the ban unconstitutional. However, those rulings are on hold as the case moves through the courts, meaning same-sex couples haven't been allowed to marry in Oklahoma.

Huckabee: Obama 'worthy of impeachment'

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:

Mike Huckabee appeared on Monday’s edition of Iowa-based Steve Deace’s radio talk show, where he said President Obama “absolutely” deserves to be impeached but cautioned that Republicans should not pursue impeachment at this time since the GOP doesn’t have the votes to convict him in the Senate.

Blow: War Against Whites? I Think Not

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In another excellent commentary, NYT columnist Charles M. Blow blows to smithereens the claim by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) that Democrats are waging a "war on whites." Blow notes the Republican Party's extensive history of racially divisive politics and policies, going back to Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy which was based on exploiting white voters' fears of and hostility toward blacks. Here's a portion:

The racial divisiveness ... continues as Republicans trade racial terms for culture-centric euphemisms. Newt Gingrich, in 2011: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,” although most poor people of working age work. Paul Ryan, earlier this year: “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” And Bill O’Reilly said recently in a discussion about legalizing marijuana that the left’s position was that marijuana was harmless and “It’s blacks, you know, you get, you’re trapping the blacks because in certain ghetto neighborhoods it’s part of the culture.” ...

Whites are not under attack by Democrats; Republicans like Brooks are simply stoking racial fears to hide their history of racially regressive policies.

Talking about a "war on whites" is like calling marriage equality a threat to straight people. You might well call it a war on exclusivity, which is to say discrimination; but that is not what is being claimed. Those who practice this wedge politics are manipulating voters into voting against their own interests by exploiting fears. If we let cynical men divide us in this way, or if we become discouraged by partisan gridlock and withdraw from participating in elections, we hand over control to those who pick our pockets and line their own at the expense of the common good.

August 06, 2014

DREAMers confront Rep. Steve King and Sen. Rand Paul

Rachel Maddow reports. DREAMers Erika Andiola & Cesar Vargas confronted Rep. Steve King at a fundraiser in Okoboji, Iowa for trying to end President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Notice how Sen. Rand Paul flees as soon as Andiola mentions she is a DREAMer. An aide to Paul claimed he had to get to another event. Sure.

Steve King is wrong and disrespectful. Rand Paul is a weasel.

Tea and crumpets

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KAL's cartoon, from The Economist.

Meanwhile, in NYT, a clear, sensible voice on Israeli colonialism that most Americans just don't want to hear.

Obamas greet Museveni in White House

President and Mrs. Obama greet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the White House.

I could have sworn I read something about sanctions and travel restrictions.

Gay reporter makes Archbishop Nienstedt squirm

Fox 9 reporter/anchor Tom Lyden, who is openly gay and in a long-term relationship, interviews Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt. CityPages reports:

Fox 9 reporter/anchor Tom Lyden's interview with the archbishop was especially noteworthy. Lyden, who's married to a man he's been in a relationship with for more than two decades, grilled Nienstedt about his own sexuality and anti-gay views. The line of questioning culminated in the archbishop acknowledging that his beliefs about the sinfulness of same-sex sexual relations don't seemingly make much sense at all.

Click here for the 30-minute raw video of the interview.

August 04, 2014

Third Florida judge rules against gay marriage ban

Justin Snow at Metro Weekly reports.

Limbaugh: Left will politicize Ebola

I was replying to this:

R.I.P. James Brady

The video clip above was the first televised news bulletin of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, in which his press secretary, James Brady, received a head wound that would change his life forever. (When ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds gave the bulletin, it was not yet known that Reagan had been hit.) NYT reports on Brady's death earlier today:

James S. Brady, the White House press secretary who was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and then became a symbol of the fight for gun control, championing tighter regulations from his wheelchair, died on Monday in Alexandria, Va. He was 73.

His family confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.

On the rainy afternoon of March 30, 1981, Mr. Brady was struck in a hail of bullets fired by John W. Hinckley Jr., a mentally troubled college dropout who had hoped that shooting the president would impress the actress Jodie Foster, on whom he had a fixation. Mr. Hinckley raised his handgun as Reagan stepped out of a hotel in Washington after giving a speech.

I remember the date of those awful events at the Washington Hilton Hotel because it happened to be my twenty-fifth birthday. A few times in the years that followed, I encountered Jim and Sarah Brady at La Fonda Restaurant on 17th Street (which closed in the 1990s), where he would have to be assisted down the few stairs to the restaurant. They were gracious and unpretentious people, who became gun control advocates after Jim's debilitating injury from the assassination attempt. At this point, the prospects of any kind of gun control have never been more grim, with the nation held hostage by an astonishing level of ideological fervor over the need for guns and more guns. The Bradys tried to make a difference. Here's to both of them.

'Meet me after service for some one-on-one praying'

Our friend the comedian Sampson was back in town over the weekend. For those who missed him, here is a clip from his 2013 show at the historic Howard Theatre.

Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver: gay marriage will destroy Western civilization

We have heard this endlessly, of course; but I've never been clear as to exactly how my right to marry the man I love could endanger all of Western civilization. Still waiting for that explanation.

Anti-LGBT Columnist: Take Children Away From Gay Parents

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:

An anti-LGBT activist writing for Alan Keyes’s Renew America this weekend called gay adoption “a crime against humanity” that must be stopped.

“If, as a society, we claim to truly be against the abuse and harm of our children, then we have a moral responsibility to keep them out of the hands of gay couples, whether ‘married’ or not,” Tim Dunkin of Conservative Underground wrote. “Don't let perverts corrupt our kids while trying to live out an impossible fantasy.”

But he wasn’t done there. He went on to insist that “handing children over to gays to be raised” is actually “worse” than “locking them in hot cars for hours on end,” writing that no society should “allow gays to ‘recruit’ children into the constellation of ‘queer’ lifestyles.”

Happy birthday, Mr. President

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(President Obama and Frank Kameny on June 17, 2009. Photo: Reuters / Larry Downing)

Today is President Barack Obama's 53rd birthday. Many happy and healthy returns, Mr. President.

Christian Carter, picking up after Marion Barry

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The above is my response to At-Large D.C. Council candidate Christian Carter, who tweeted this morning in response to City Paper reporter Will Sommer's unflattering coverage of Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry. Marion, a charming rogue and wily politician, has long had a penchant for invoking the history of racial injustice to get himself out of jams. Evidently Mr. Carter is eager to pick up the baton from the aging former mayor and current councilmember from Ward 8.

Granted, Marion remains invulnerable in Ward 8, whose voters gave him nearly 73 percent of the Democratic primary vote in 2012; but Mr. Carter is running at-large. If Carter wants to challenge Sommer's "Loose Lips" reporting, he should cite specifics instead of just talking trash.

LL's latest on Barry is here.

(Photo of Christian Carter from Twitchy.com)

August 01, 2014

I Can't Breathe: a Broadway protest of the killing of Eric Garner

The Daily News today reports that the NYC Medical Examiner has ruled that Eric Garner was killed by a police chokehold, a restraining tactic that is still being used despite being long forbidden.

Ugandan constitutional court overturns Anti-Homosexuality Act

Frank Mugisha has just tweeted this great news from the constitutional court in Uganda. Congrats to him and his colleagues. This does not immediately protect LGBT folk there from mob violence. Lord knows what President Museveni or Martin Ssempa will say. They could stir up public backlash further. So our friends in Uganda must still be very careful. But the court's ruling is most welcome news. Stay tuned for details, but based on what was said in court yesterday, the ruling may be based on the fact that Speaker Kadaga held the vote on the bill without a quorum.

Update: Mugisha posted this follow-up:

Rep. Hastings slams #GOPlawsuit against Obama

Rep. Alcee Hastings slams the House GOP lawsuit against President Obama over enforcement of the Affordable Care Act.

Rick Scarborough: 'a miracle' God has not nuked USA over gay ambassadors

The latest from the unhinged religious right. Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch reports:

Vision America's Rick Scarborough recently spoke at a church in Florida as part of a "Give Me Liberty Tour" where he declared that every day that passes without God destroying this country is a miracle, especially since President Obama is appointing gay ambassadors to represent America before other nations.

"This thing could all come crashing down," Scarborough warned, saying that if a "series of dirty bombs" or one massive nuclear blast were to destroy America, it would be "perfectly just ... because we have squandered our grace in this country."

And to demonstrate just how vile this nation has become, Scarborough pointed to the fact that our foreign embassies celebrate LGBT Pride Month and that President Obama has appointed several gay ambassadors, agreeing with Islamic fundamentalists that American is now the "Great Satan."

9 former leaders of 'ex-gay' movement apologize

Maya Rhodan at Time reports.

ANC commissioner accused of hate crime

Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Leo Dwyer, who represents my own single member district (ANC2B07), was arrested yesterday for a 3 a.m. incident at 17th and Corcoran Streets, in which he allegedly attacked a homeless man, threw his belongings into the street, and sprayed him with cleaning chemicals. Dwyer is a bartender at J.R.'s at 17th and Church Streets. More details will emerge in the next few days. But such an attack is shocking.

Homeless people are among the most harmless of people in my experience. And "there but for the grace of God go I" is the appropriate attitude about them, in my view. If one cannot help them or speak to them in a civil manner, one should just walk by. Dwyer has a couple of challengers for his ANC post, and this attack, if reports are accurate, will quickly end it for him.

July 31, 2014

This evening on Make It Plain on SiriusXM Progress

I will be Mark Thompson's guest at 7 pm Eastern Time this evening on SiriusXM Progress, Channel 127, to discuss my column for this week, "Blood on a Beach," concerning the current conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The photo below, taken from the International Space Station, shows the border between Israel and Egypt and the Mediterranean coastline.

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Heritage Foundation fellow uses nullification argument against marriage equality

Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports:

The anti-marriage-equality movement seems to have anointed Ryan T. Anderson as its next intellectual leader. Anderson, who is now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, follows in the footsteps of his mentor Robert P. George and National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher in being able to talk about the marriage issue without spewing fire and brimstone or talking about how gay people make them want to vomit.

This kinder, gentler approach has endeared Anderson and his predecessors to a movement that’s trying to snatch its image away from the likes of Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson.

But it also can obscure the fact that Anderson’s supposedly intellectual arguments against marriage equality can still be far out of the mainstream.

Read the whole thing here.

SMYAL taps Sultan Shakir

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John Riley of Metro Weekly reports:

The Board of Directors of Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), an organization dedicated to working with and empowering LGBTQ youth, announced early Thursday morning that it has named Sultan Shakir as its new executive director.

Shakir, a community organizer who most recently served as the youth and campus engagement program director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s top LGBT rights organization. He also previously served regional field director for HRC, the campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality during the legislative push to pass Maryland’s marriage equality law, and the political director during the organization’s successful attempt to defend the law at the ballot box in November 2012. Shakir was chosen following a search led by SMYAL board member and former board chair Betsy Pursell and conducted by Washington-based search firm LeaderFit.

Congrats to Sultan. GLAA gave him our Distinguished Service Award in 2010 for his work on the D.C. marriage equality effort as a regional field director for HRC.

Transgender girl stabbed on Metro train; culprit arrested

A transgender girl was stabbed on a Metro train in Fort Totten yesterday in an apparent hate crime. The suspect has been arrested. WTOP report here.