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January 23, 2016

Air Force One in winter

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(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

This photo of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews is actually from Wednesday, January 20. I just thought it was pretty.

Tian Tian plays in the snow

From the Panda cam at the National Zoo today.

January 21, 2016

Biden speaks about LGBT rights at World Economic Forum

Former Botswana president speaks in support of LGBT rights

Hearing goes smoothly for Fanning as Army secretary nominee

#TN Lawmakers Kill Bill That Would Void Same-Sex Marriage, Cost $8.5 Billion

Holtzclaw Sentenced To 263 Years

For once, the blue wall of silence does not protect a criminal officer from justice.

Or how about #snobama?

That's one solution: surrender in advance and shut Metro down all weekend. Remember, DC was designed by a Frenchman. ‪#‎snOMG‬ ‪#‎snohedidnt‬ #snowvwade

January 20, 2016

Task Force reverses decision to cancel the ‘Beyond the Bridge’ reception

I am glad to see this development. ADL responds below.

January 19, 2016

LGBT contingent marches in D.C.’s MLK parade

GLAA VP for Political Affairs Charles Butler is quoted in this story.

Russia's Duma rejects bill banning gays from coming out

Carol sweeps Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Awards

LGBT group cancels conference reception with Israeli activists

Allowing diverse voices to be heard and challenged is essential to advancing equality and dignity for all. Enforcement of some folks' view of ideological purity is no better coming from the left than from the right. I say as a strong critic of Netanyahu's policies and war crimes that the Task Force's action in this case was pernicious and lamentable.

Our colleague Craig Howell writes, "Illustrating why I haven’t been a Task Force member for years." Our friend Dana Beyer wrote a bracing response.

January 18, 2016

A hazardous challenge at the heart of eloquence

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Republicans praise him even as they work relentlessly to dismantle the social safety net. Their Martin is just a source of noble sentiments, safely emasculated and safely dead. But he did not get a national holiday and a national monument by being safe. He had to connect, yes, and his brilliance as an orator was evident the moment he stepped into the pulpit of Holt Street Baptist Church for a mass meeting of the Montgomery Improvement Association on Dec. 5, 1955 to launch a bus boycott.

But key to his power and greatness was his challenge to the nation, evident in these words from that speech, which many in power took as a threat worth killing over. Only by taking up that challenge do we properly honor him.

My friends, I want it to be known that we're going to work with grim and bold determination to gain justice on the buses in this city.

And we are not wrong; we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning. And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Imagine being that brilliant at age 26. It never ceases to provoke awe.

January 17, 2016

Trump slams Cruz for taking money from 'people who espouse gay marriage'

15-year-old girl arrested in Metro attack on gay couple

A disturbing story.

GOP Lawmaker's Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign Backfiring in Tennessee

Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, Sam Smith and others pay tribute to Alan Rickman

Taiwan's newly elected first female president supports same-sex marriage

January 16, 2016

Reporter Jason Rezaian, three others released by Iran in prisoner swap with U.S.

CNN reports on the months-long diplomatic effort that led to today's release of WaPo reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian Americans who were held by Iran. This is another diplomatic success for the Obama administration, though the president's detractors will never admit this.

But as inevitably as the night follows the day, Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump quickly condemned the deal. They could not even wait until the released prisoners had cleared Iranian airspace before politicizing it.

The thing is, a lot of folks on the right are less interested in resolving conflicts than in having conflicts. They want to swagger and talk big and send other people's children into battle and see if they can make the sand glow in the dark. they do not care how much harm they do. We need to understand that everyone does not share the same values and goals. Everyone certainly does not agree about what America stands for or ought to stand for. If they did, don't you think they would agree that voting should be made easier, not harder?

As a group of young Iranians jubilantly chanted in Tehran last summer after the nuclear deal was announced, "Death to no one!"

January 15, 2016

A voice still with us

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Happy 87th birthday, Dr. King. We still hear your challenging voice.

Trump defends New York values

A rare moment of humanity was seen from Donald Trump last night in response to a jab at "New York values" by Ted Cruz.

What Pope Benedict Knew About Abuse in the Catholic Church

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Photo by Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty)

As The New Yorker reports, the Church sexual abuse scandal got as close as to Benedict XVI's brother Georg Ratzinger, who was director of the Regensburg Choir when more than two hundred children were victimized there. But possibly the most damning case was that of Father Maciel:

Most cases of abuse were handled (or not handled) by local bishops and archbishops, but some were adjudicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The most prominent of these cases was that of Father Marcial Maciel, a favorite of Pope John Paul II and the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful Mexican religious order that, at its pinnacle, included eight hundred priests, fifteen universities, and a hundred and fifty prep schools, as well as a lay movement with a reported seventy thousand followers.

In the seventies and eighties, former members of the Legionaries reported that, as young boys, they had been sexually abused by Maciel. As the Church later acknowledged, the complainants were highly credible and had no ulterior motives: they were not seeking monetary compensation or notoriety. They followed Church procedures by filing formal charges through ecclesiastical courts in Rome, but nothing was done. In fact, Pope John Paul II called on Maciel to accompany him on papal visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993.

When one of the former Legionaries expressed his frustration, in the lawsuit, about the Church’s inaction, Berry and Renner reported in their book, the Legionaries’ own canon lawyer, Martha Wegan, who made no secret that her first loyalty was to the Church, replied, “It is better for eight innocent men to suffer than for millions to lose their faith.”

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

January 14, 2016

Anglican Church Suspends Its US Affiliate Over Same-Sex Marriage

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivers his Christmas Day sermon (Chris Ratcliffe / Getty Images)

BuzzFeed reports:

Leaders of the 80-million-member Anglican Communion decided Thursday to suspend its U.S. affiliate, the Episcopal Church, for a three-year period in response to a decision last year allowing priests to marry same-sex couples.

There can be no true communion with people if you have to abandon your conscience to preserve it. There is a de facto schism already. Our friend Bob Witeck writes:

America's Episcopal leaders are listening to their "better angels." They understand that people of faith alleviate pain, rather than add more to the world.

LGBT police liaison unit ends midnight shift

They won't fill vacancies, they have canceled an entire shift, but hey, they've changed the name of the unit to be more inclusive! Whoopie! A store with half-empty shelves has a snazzy new display window!

Mayor Bowser, Verizon announce support for LGBT homeless youth

Nearly half of D.C.'s homeless youth are LGBT

#OscarsSoWhite, but here are 7 great 2015 performances by black actors

#OscarsSoWhite - there's more diversity at tonight's #GOPDebate

‪#‎OscarsSoWhite 2016: Black actors and directors snubbed

Once again, ‪#‎OscarsSoWhite‬. Here is a list of actors whose Oscar-caliber performances were overlooked: Michael B. Jordan, Samuel L. Jackson, Idris Elba, and Will Smith. Among directors: F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) and Ryan Coogler (Creed). Stallone's Supporting Actor nomination for Creed, as he himself would acknowledge, is primarily thanks to the masterful writing and direction of Coogler, and also to the chemistry between himself and the charismatic Jordan. So once again top-rank filmmakers and actors who are black are treated like the help. As with last year, I will find something else to do that night.

Blade: LGBT groups cautious over decriminalizing sex work

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D.C. Council member David Grosso said he was reconsidering introducing legislation to decriminalize prostitution in D.C. because he’s unsure it would pass. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Lou Chibbaro reports for the Blade on the push to decriminalize sex work, or at least to de-prioritize enforcement of anti-prostitution laws, an effort which many LGBT groups including GLAA have supported because so many already marginalized LGBT youth and trans women end up in the criminal justice system due to their having to rely on survival sex. Here is an excerpt that mentions GLAA and quotes me:

In D.C., the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance has been calling for decriminalization of sex work since 2008. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large), a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, said at the time of the Amnesty International declaration last August that he was considering introducing legislation to decriminalize prostitution in D.C.

But Grosso has since said he’s uncertain about whether such a bill would have any chance of passing at this time and he was reconsidering his plans for the legislation.

At a news conference on Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced plans for a cooperative D.C.-federal government effort to crack down on human trafficking, including trafficking of sex workers. When asked by a Blade reporter what they thought about calls by some LGBT organizations to decriminalize prostitution, Bowser and Maria Odom, the head of a Department of Homeland Security project to combat trafficking stopped short of backing decriminalization.

Continue reading "Blade: LGBT groups cautious over decriminalizing sex work" »

January 13, 2016

Who's Doing the Planting

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My Blade column this week looks at the struggle to connect amid turmoil. Here's an excerpt:

Public discussions these days seem to dredge up the nastiest extrusions of our national psyche in a destructive competition. Withdrawing from the melee would only make matters worse by conceding the field to mischief-makers. So how do we gracefully stand our ground in a contentious environment?

We cannot spend all our time with the like-minded. At some point we have to leave our echo chambers and uphold our positions. There is no perfectly safe way to be true to ourselves.

Twitter is a place of fluid boundaries, so I was not surprised that one source of light on gun control is actor Jeffrey Wright (Angels in America, Boardwalk Empire, The Hunger Games). He posted a meme on January 7 quoting former Chief Justice Warren Burger: "The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies - the militia - would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires."

One of Wright's trolls replied, "Fuck you, Buckwheat, & this clueless, liberal judge legislating from the bench!" Wright calmly noted that he was quoting a Republican appointee, and added, "I associate more with Stymie," another black Little Rascals character. With wit and poise, he kept the upper hand. It might have been time-wasting had it been a private message, but he shared the exchange with his 80,000 followers. There is a point of diminishing returns, of course, for which the "block" button is handy.

Each of us strikes a different balance between comfort from comrades and abuse from adversaries. Some of us enjoy arguing more than others. The key consideration for the reality-based is persuasion. Mere insults appeal only to those already persuaded.

Read the whole thing here.

Lesbian murdered, mutilated in South Africa

Another awful reminder that the struggle for LGBT equality and dignity is not done, even where it has seen great advances.

Chris Hughes puts The New Republic up for sale

It was just 13 months ago when I mentioned the TNR takeover by Chris Hughes in my 2014 year-in-review column:

Schadenfreude was rampant after Sean Eldridge failed in his bid to buy a congressional seat and husband Chris Hughes provoked a mass walkout at The New Republic by sacking top editors. Hughes was faulted for wrecking a century-old magazine in his effort to create a “vertically integrated digital media company,” that is, a word salad. Former TNR writer Jamie Kirchick at The Daily Beast dubbed them “America’s worst gay power couple,” but their youthful hubris and confusion of wealth for wisdom transcend sexual orientation.

The latest TNR-related schadenfreude notwithstanding, one of the bright lights at the reconstituted magazine is Senior Editor Jamil Smith. He has an excellent Twitter feed (@JamilSmith) on current affairs.

MAL is this weekend

CBS Entertainment prez mentions he's gay

Queensland to expunge historical convictions for gay sex

Tory cabinet minister David Mundell comes out as gay

Michelle's sunny look

Obama: the adult in the room

The president soared last night, a fact that was all the more clear as Republicans, trapped in their refusal to give him credit or respect for anything ever, sat on their hands. He outclassed his detractors by so far it was embarrassing, and showed he was the grownup in the room. Here are excerpts.

"Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?"

"Some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber."

"Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did."

"Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon."

Continue reading "Obama: the adult in the room" »