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July 02, 2014

Evangelism as Therapy

Reparative-therapy

My latest column is now online at Metro Weekly, arguing that faith-based advocacy should not be disguised as licensed healthcare. Here's an excerpt:

Encountering the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg in the D.C. Council Chambers on June 27 took me back five years to our battles over the District's marriage equality bill. This time it was a hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. Sprigg was furious at the attempt to deny choice to troubled teens seeking to overcome their gay desires.

One should always be skeptical toward right-wing busybodies who use "choice" as a rallying cry, and so it is in this case. Gay and lesbian teens whose ears are filled with cries of abomination know the sound of rejection. If choice is a concern, shouldn't they be given the choice of a supportive environment? And if professional therapy is the way to help, shouldn't we mention that homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973?

The anti-gay groups represented at the hearing, including FRC, PFOX, and the International Healing Foundation, are frozen in amber on homosexuality, which they deem forever sick, sinful, and illicit. With the pathologizing and criminalizing of gayness having ended in America, and with many faiths affirming LGBT lives, the dwindling band of demonizers resorts increasingly to shrillness and deception at home and proselytizing overseas.

The homophobes conceal their faith-based motivation behind a veil of pseudoscience. The trouble is, they dictate nature rather than observing it.

Read the whole thing here.

Tag: #BornPerfect

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

Panel_at_conversion_therapy_ban_hearing_in_DC_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key
(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)

Busy week

Please pardon my lack of blogging in recent days. It's been a busy time, with last Friday's long hearing on the bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors; writing my upcoming column over the weekend (which is about that hearing), in addition to some social obligations; and preparing testimony for this morning's hearing before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee on Bill 20-63, the "Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013" (which I'll post later).

So I'll try to catch up. Needless to say, we are not happy with the Hobby Lobby decision.

June 28, 2014

'Vicious' brings its camp stereotypes to PBS

The British sitcom starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as a long-time gay couple is coming to PBS, NYT reports. Good for them, but from the YouTube clips I've seen, Jacobi's over-the-top stereotypical queen is too much. Such a pair of world-class actors deserves better material. I have seen both of them in theaters give extraordinary, nuanced performances. Don't expect that here.

Self-Aware Bobby Jindal Is Tired Of 'Candidates Who Tell Us One Thing Then Go Do Another'

Another gem from Miranda Blue at RWW.

Ben Carson: gay marriage is a Marxist plot to impose the 'New World Order'

Miranda Blue of RWW reports.

Friday's hearing on bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors

I spent 5 hours on Friday in a D.C. Council hearing on a bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors (so you wouldn't have to). One highlight was Peter Sprigg of FRC expressing his fury over the bill. Special thanks to Bishop Rainey Cheeks and Rev. Graylan Hagler for their testimony, to Saul Cruz for representing GLAA, and to Alison Gill of HRC for coordinating the coalition effort. Frank Kameny would be rolling in his grave (if he had one) over the repeated invocations of NARTH and other quacks by our opponents. But we have the science, the DC Council, and 2 federal courts on our side.

Lots of groups got involved, including the DC Center, Wanda Alston Foundation, SMYAL, SPLC, The Trevor Project, American Academy of Pediatrics, PFLAG, National Association of Social Workers, American Counseling Association, Alliance for Progressive Values, People of Faith for Equality, plus survivors of reparative therapy. It was a fine demonstration of a broad and strong coalition effort. Thanks to all of them. But oh, how happy I was when Graylan Hagler's voice boomed from the witness table. It made up for so much nonsense and lies I had been listening to from our opponents.

Oh, and though HIV Testing Day and other matters kept Metro Teen AIDS from attending, they are submitting written testimony. Speaking of which, anyone is free to weigh in. From the hearing notice: "For those unable to testify at the hearing, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Copies of written statements can be emailed to rsmith@dccouncil.us or mailed to Rayna Smith at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Room 115, Washington, D.C., 20004. The record will close at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 11, 2014."

In the next few days I will post links to various groups' testimony over at GLAA's main website.

Stonewall 45

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Happy Stonewall 45. The reason New York City celebrates LGBT Pride on the last weekend in June is of course because it was on this day in 1969 that gay patrons during a police raid of the Stonewall Inn bar decided to stand their ground.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute reflected in 2011 on the impact of resistance: "Sometimes all it takes is one person or a few people saying, “We’re not going” to light the spark of a movement or a revolution." (Hat tip: Stephen H. Miller)

Contrary to legend, the gay rights movement did not start that night in 1969. People like Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny were already at work before then. But Stonewall was a crucial flashpoint that broadened the movement beyond the relative handful of people who were active before. So we celebrate. Nowadays (specifically since 2009), the celebration also happens at the White House, where President and Mrs. Obama will host a few hundred LGBT folk on Monday, June 30. (Nope, not me. I did attend in 2009, as Frank Kameny's date. And no, I could not resist doing my Jackie Kennedy impression: "This is the Blue Room. We decided to leave it just the way it was when President Blue lived here.")

Regarding the Empire State Building's tower lights, ESB's website explains:

The international icon of the New York skyline, since 1976 the Empire State Building’s tower lights have maintained a tradition of changing color to recognize various occasions and organizations throughout the year.

Everything changed in 2012, when ownership installed a new computer driven LED light system. The system is capable of displaying 16 million colors, which can change instantaneously.

We stage dazzling light shows celebrating holidays and events, often synchronized to music broadcast simultaneously on Clear Channel radio stations. Just search "Empire State Building Light Shows" on YouTube to see the shows!

(BTW, June 27 is sometimes given as the date of the start of the uprising. It was the night of June 27/28, and it happened after midnight.)

Friendly power

Imagine what a highly intelligent, 8-ton predator could do to a lone kayaker if it wanted. But this beautiful orca was just playfully checking him out. What an awesome moment.

June 26, 2014

Catholic bishops react to Indiana marriage ruling

Tobin-front

Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Indianapolis, along with five other Indiana bishops, issued the following statement on yesterday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Young overturning Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages:

The dignity of the human person, rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God, is a fundamental principle of Catholic social teaching. The Church upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, whom we accept and love as our brothers and sisters.

At the same time, the Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of marriage as a natural union established by God between one man and one woman, intended towards the establishment of a family in which children are born, raised, and nurtured. This is not simply a matter of belief. It is at the very heart of the nature of marriage. Thus, it is not within the power of any institution, religious or secular, to redefine marriage since it is God who is its author.

Today’s decision by Richard L. Young, Chief Judge United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, to redefine the institution of marriage as an emotional partnership between two consenting adults regardless of gender ignores this fundamental and natural truth of marriage and opens its definition to the whims of public opinion.

With deep respect for all our brothers and sisters, we nevertheless see no basis in law or in nature for any definition of marriage that seeks to expand it beyond that of a covenant between one man and one woman. Our position on this matter seeks only the common good of all men and women as well as the health and well being of families.

As pastors, we will continue to preach and teach the truth of marriage as it is ordered by God, encouraging all people to embrace the fullness of that truth, while upholding the dignity of all persons. We will continue to work through the Indiana Catholic Conference to encourage our legislators and judges to uphold this truth as well. We urge all involved in this issue to conduct themselves with mutual respect and civility in public discourse.

Notice the utter blindness to church-state separation. As Frank Kameny would say, "Your God may say that. Mine does not." We are free to believe differently than His Excellency. In addition, his statements about nature are an attempt to dictate what nature is rather than observe it. That suggests unfamiliarity with, if not hostility toward, the scientific method.

Libertarians and Gay Marriage

Boaz_david

Our friend David Boaz at Cato Institute sends the following, which I publish with his permission:

In the moving HBO documentary “The Case against 8,” Chad Griffin jokes at one point that if the chairman of the Cato Institute supports marriage equality, maybe he should rethink his position. Of course he’s joking. But the implication is that it’s some sort of surprise to find a libertarian scholar supporting equality under the law, perhaps because of the mistaken impression that the Cato Institute is, or libertarians in general are, are “right-wing.” In fact, of course, libertarians were ahead of liberals on gay rights. The Libertarian Party Platform of 1972 called for an end to laws regulating voluntary sexual behavior, and the Party issued a pamphlet in 1976 that endorsed marriage equality. Cato’s amicus brief was cited in the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision. Indeed, in this Cato video from 2011 John Podesta says you probably had to be a libertarian to have supported gay marriage 15 years earlier:

http://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-video/constitutional-case-marriage-equality

Here’s the Cato Institute chairman’s take on Griffin’s comment, along with a video clip:

http://www.cato.org/blog/case-against-8

David Boaz
Executive Vice President
Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202)842-0200
http://www.cato.org/people/boaz.html

Check out my blog: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/author/david-boaz/
and my books: Libertarianism: A Primer (the theory); The Libertarian Reader (the history); The Politics of Freedom (essays on politics, policy, and libertarianism); and The Libertarian Vote (ebook on libertarians in the electorate).

As it happens, I mentioned Cato's support for marriage equality in my latest column, "When Rights Collide." Those suffering from what philosopher Stephen Toulmin called "hardening of the categories" would do well to recall Hamlet: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

June 25, 2014

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

Stadium_club
(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

510px-Andy_Harris,_Official_Portrait,_112th_Congress

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."

#BornPerfect: the Campaign to End Conversion Therapy

On Friday, June 27 at noon in the D.C. Council chamber, GLAA and others will testify on Bill 20-501, to prohibit so-called conversion therapy for minors. The above video from National Center for Lesbian Rights, with whom GLAA is in coalition, is from their #BornPerfect campaign against this dangerous and discredited junk medicine.

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.

Cochran beats back Tea Party challenger

Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly defeated Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in Tuesday's runoff election. As you can see from the above non-concession speech, the GOP's internal blood-letting ain't over. Get your popcorn.

My theory: Thad Cochran may have been helped by his porn star name. See Mississippi's broadband porn rental rate.

Dire messages!

The subject lines from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are annoying me more and more. At 21:49 on Tuesday I got a message from DCCC Breaking News titled "DEVASTATING news," and it was about GOP fundraising. Oh STFU.

A yoga tax by any other name

Barry
(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.

The anti-gay Roman Catholic 'Primate of the Americas'

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Bilerico reports:

Roman Catholic Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, the powerful Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Primate of the Americas, is continuing his vindictive anti-gay crusade against James "Wally" Brewster, the United States' openly gay ambassador to the Caribbean nation.

Cardinal Rodríguez, who made headlines last year when he called Brewster a "faggot," is using the occasion of LGBT Pride Month to attack him again, this time telling him to "take his gay pride elsewhere."

I have tweeted the following:

@Pontifex Your Holiness, why does your foul-mouthed cardinal in Santo Domingo still have a job? http://t.co/ADcZVRq31R

June 24, 2014

Unclogging the drains at UMass

UMass masturbation notice

This notice from officials at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst was plainly prepared by someone using both hands.

When I was in college, they didn't ask me to masturbate anywhere. Granted, it was a Catholic school, so they may have taken certain things for granted.

Catania interviewed on MSNBC

Independent D.C. mayoral candidate David Catania is interviewed on MSNBC.

June 22, 2014

Openly gay gubernatorial candidate leads pride parade in Maine

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(Photo credit: Associated Press)

ABC News reports:

A Democratic candidate who reluctantly made public his homosexuality last year found himself serving as the grand marshal of Maine's biggest gay pride parade and festival Saturday and urged activists to continue fighting to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.

Mike Michaud, who would become the nation's first openly gay person to be elected governor if he unseats Republican Paul LePage in November, said it would be powerful for the gay community to have a seat at the table in discussions with governors across the country on equality issues.

"Maine has come a long ways and our nation has come a long ways, but there's still a long way to go," he said in an interview before he marched alongside a white convertible down the roughly milelong route in downtown Portland.

Meanwhile, the National Journal reports that Rep. Michaud leads Gov. Paul LePage in a new poll.

Bauer: Obama 'Obsessed' With Gay Issues, Will 'Destroy' Republic

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch reported from Friday's "Road to Majority" summit. In this clip, Gary Bauer offers an astonishing catalog of lies about our 44th president, from he destroyed America's military to he declared war on the Little Sisters of the Poor. One wonders how many wars the (in my view) more-than-sufficiently hawkish Obama would have to start in order to avoid the former charge. As to the latter charge, it appears to be based on the nuns having to fill out a form concerning their religious exemption to the contraception mandate in ACA, because they don't just want to avoid providing such converge to their employees--they want to prevent their employees from getting it from anyone.

In short: as usual with the radical religious right, if they are prevented from imposing their intolerant doctrines on others, they claim their own freedom has been infringed. And the commandment against bearing false witness is once again trampled by the ones most loudly announcing their righteousness. As the saying goes, God help us.

Melissa Etheridge at WorldPride opening ceremonies

From WorldPride, now going on in Toronto.

'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.

Obama announces further steps to protect human rights in Uganda

As the above report from NTV Uganda indicates, the White House has announced further steps in response to the anti-LGBT persecution represented by Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act. The new U.S. actions include:

  • Restricting entry to the United States of specific Ugandan human rights abusers.
  • Ceasing support for Uganda’s community policing program.
  • Redirecting certain financial support for the Ministry of Health (MOH) to other partners.
  • Relocating funds for a planned public health institute and other measures relating to health programming.
  • Cancelling a military aviation exercise.

(Hat tip for video to Frank Mugisha)

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

Huelskamp: Real Men Oppose Gay Rights

RWW reports:

Tim Huelskamp, the chief sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, had a message for “every man in America” at today today’s March for Marriage: “Your woman, your wife, she needs you, it’s time you become a real man and stand up.”

Possibly under the impression that the legalization of same-sex marriage will break up opposite-sex unions, the Kansas Republican congressman emphasized that he loves his wife and believes that men who love their wives must join the fight to stop marriage equality.

The level of incoherence here can hardly be overstated. Perhaps President Obama should send a few drones to knock out the idiot factory, once we locate it.

As to the march: as usual with NOM's events, the crowd was paltry and its significance nil. I celebrated Juneteenth by staying home.

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.

When Rights Collide

US_Supreme_Court

Happy Juneteenth. Here's my latest column at Metro Weekly. I'll talk with Mark Thompson about it this evening at 7 pm EDT on Make It Plain on SiriusXM Progress, Channel 127.

Here's an excerpt:

On April 7, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) declined to hear the Elane Photography case, in which an Albuquerque studio refused to take commitment ceremony photos of Vanessa Willock and her same-sex partner, Misti Collinsworth. This left in place the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that Elane Photography's claimed free speech right "directly conflicts with Willock's right ... to obtain goods and services from a public accommodation."

If you think this pleased all gay rights advocates, you are wrong. An amicus brief supporting the photographer was filed on behalf of the Cato Institute, Eugene Volokh, and Dale Carpenter, all marriage equality supporters. Volokh explained that "wedding photographers ... have a First Amendment right to choose what expression they create, including by choosing not to photograph same-sex commitment ceremonies."

SCOTUS will rule this month in the Hobby Lobby case, concerning a company's right to deny employees contraceptive coverage based on the owners' religious objections. In contrasting briefs, Cato defended Hobby Lobby's free exercise rights, while Lambda Legal wrote that ruling for Hobby Lobby "would transform our equal opportunity marketplace into segregated dominions within which each business owner with religious convictions 'becomes a law unto himself.'"

Meanwhile, LGBT groups differ over the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. DC's Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which I lead, is among those that support ENDA but favor a narrower exemption. Religious groups are protected in their core religious function; outside it is another matter. Why should anti-LGBT discrimination enjoy exemptions beyond those applying to discrimination under Title VII?

LGBT people are not the only historically oppressed group asked to subordinate their interests....

Click on the above link for the whole thing.

Obama: Republicans no longer run against gay marriage

USA Today reports on comments made Tuesday night by President Obama at the DNC gay rights dinner. The President is right: much has changed in the past decade.

Megyn Kelly Confronts Dick Cheney

Get the popcorn! Megyn Kelly on Fox News confronts Dick and Liz Cheney on their shameless blaming of President Obama for the Bush-Cheney debacle in Iraq. As a general principle, the arsonist should not criticize the firefighter.

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

June 18, 2014

Openly gay, lesbian federal judges confirmed

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Examiner.com reports:

The United States Senate made history on Tuesday by approving the nation’s first openly gay black federal judge with a vote of 98-0. With the vote, Darrin Gayles became a district court judge in Florida and was one of three judges nominated by President Barack Obama to be approved on Tuesday.

By a vote of 52-44, senators also endorsed Staci Yandle as a federal court judge in Illinois. Yandle, who is an openly black woman, became one of 112 female federal judges appointed by Obama in his presidency. It is a feat that is more than any previous president. The diversity did not stop there. The Senate also voted to make Salvador Mendoza a federal district judge in Washington State by a vote of 92-4 bringing the total number of Hispanics nominated by Obama to 31.

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Good news. We can forget this sort of thing if the GOP takes control of the Senate.

March for Marriage isn't antigay, Archbishop Cordileone says

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SFgate reports the unsurprising news that San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is doubling down on his plans to speak at Thursday's so-called March for Marriage in Washington.

Does Sal set off anyone else's gaydar?

Joe Jervis reports about a "secretive new anti-gay supergroup" that NOM has formed with Cordileone and others.