Let's hear it for Suzie Snowflake's brave protest at the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony, where she refused to open into an Olympic ring.
Let's hear it for Suzie Snowflake's brave protest at the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony, where she refused to open into an Olympic ring.
From Right Wing Watch:
Right Wing Watch reports on the extreme rhetoric and activities of key right-wing figures and organizations by showing their views in their own words. In this video, Alexey Komov, World Congress of Families' representative in Russia argues about communism, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 with Accuracy In Media's Cliff Kincaid (offscreen), while WCF's Larry Jacobs tries to intervene.
Back slowly away.
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
Business Insider reports on NFL draft prospect Michael Sam coming out, which prompted some anonymous criticism from football staffers but also official praise from the NFL:
In all likelihood, Sam will become the first openly gay NFL player when he's drafted in April.
Sam came out to his Missouri teammates before the 2013 season. They supported him, and the team went 12-2 in the SEC. There were not locker room issues.
My inbox, like yours no doubt, is inundated by information and sales pitches. One of the nonstop updates from the Democratic National Committee is titled, "You haven't signed the petition, Richard." (If I'd known they were monitoring me so closely, I'd have dressed better.) An email from Amazon Local offers tickets to the Shakespeare Theatre Company production of "Henry IV Part Two," a visit to the Winery at Bull Run, and laser toenail fungus removal treatment. The Bard would make a moldy pun.
Metro Weekly reports.
Singer Clay Aiken has announced his candidacy to represent the 2nd Congressional district of North Carolina.
Capitol Hill Seattle reports that a suspect has been arrested in the New Year's arson attack at the gay nightclub Neighbors in Seattle; one million dollars bail has been set; and the FBI is investigating hate crime charges.
(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)
Mark Lee at the Blade takes on the latest silliness from the NIMBYs of Dupont.
Today another birthday passes that Trayvon Martin did not live to see. He would be in college now. But it wasn't just one prejudiced man that killed him. It was a culture of fear stoked by hate groups, exploited by politicians and gun manufacturers, and fed by the media. He or Jordan Davis could have been one of the teens I mentored or gave academic advice. They have so much to offer, their minds just beginning to mature and stretch in new directions, and out of the blue at any moment a seething hatred they did not earn can snuff them out. We have to push back against the hatred. We have to find more helpers to overcome it. Helping to nurture a young mind is the closest I will ever come to parenting. I don't want to outlive these kids. They deserve so much better from us than mourning.
The arbitrary pursuit of deadly confrontations by people emboldened by a gun and lubricated by a sense of untouchable privilege is itself a kind of drive-by shooting. For such a person to refer to others as thugs is like the leaders of the Catholic Church decrying others as child molesters. Clean up your own house first. We must confront this hypocrisy more forcefully in a creative and nonviolent way. We must touch our fellow citizens. And while we're at it, stop the arsonists like Fox News. But the media provide so much distraction, bread and circuses as the old phrase goes, that waking people from their complacency is a tall challenge.
Click here to see the set of draft policy principles developed by NAACP known as "Trayvon's Law." In summary:
Russia has done similar things recently. Andranik Migranyan says that the majority of Russians want a law outlawing "homosexual propaganda". In this country we have a Bill of Rights that protects people who say things that the government or a majority of the public doesn't like.
Russians have a long history of authoritarian rule from the tsars through the Soviet Union and on to Putin. But as unrest about his continued reign grows (he has been in office far longer than their constitution allows) he needs to appeal to outside groups to maintain his power. And one of those is the Russian Orthodox Church. Giving support to this law has strengthened the churches support of Putin. On this issue opinion outside of Russia counts little.
Michael Petrelis reports.
Joe Jervis writes:
Tens of anti-gay protesters appeared this morning outside of the Virginia federal courthouse hearing opening arguments in AFER's marriage equality lawsuits. In the sparse group was failed Virginia lieutenant governor candidate and freak show crackpot E.W. Jackson. Today's protest was organized by NOM, the Family Research Council, and the Virginia Family Foundation.
AFER reports on what is going on inside the court.
a network of Ugandan LGBT activists living in the Diaspora is echoing the voice of our comrades on the ground in Uganda, by calling to action allies of the Ugandan LGBT struggle and all those that support equality and dignity for all, to organize your communities to action against the recent passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 by the Parliament of Uganda.
This will take place Tuesday, February 4, 1914 at 2:00 pm at the Ugandan Embassy located at 5911 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20011. GLAA is not an organizer of this event.
Bangor Daily News reports:
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday guaranteed the right of a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the gender with which he or she identifies.
It is the first time any court in the nation has ruled it is unlawful to force a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the sex he or she was born with rather than the one with which the child identifies, according to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders of Boston, which represented the girl and her family.
Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality writes:
This is a huge victory for students. The decision is thoughtful and dead on. Congratulations to the Maines family and GLAD.
Right Wing Watch shares the latest fantasy from right-wing nut bag Phyllis Schlafly.
My column for this week is the most popular item (for the moment) at Metro Weekly: confronting anti-LGBT intolerance abroad requires that we also look at its agents closer to home:
reports that Archbishops Justin Welby of Canterbury and John Sentamu of York have written to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda criticizing those countries' anti-gay laws.
Actress Goldie Hawn had no idea what she was wading into last week when she tweeted from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, "Met the wonderful President of Nigeria," and posted a photo of herself with Goodluck Jonathan. She quickly learned that Jonathan recently signed a harsh anti-gay law that set off a wave of arrests. She deleted her tweet, expressed horror, and apologized.
Hawn's gaffe was useful in drawing attention to a problem with ramifications far beyond the salons of Davos. In the city of Bauchi in northern Nigeria on Jan. 22, thousands disrupted a Shariah court by throwing stones and demanding the quick conviction and execution of 11 men on trial for their membership in gay organizations.
TPM reports on Rep. Michael Grimm's contrition after being caught on camera threatening to throw NY1 reporter Michael Scotto off a third-floor balcony and break him "like a boy" when Scotto asked him an unwelcome question about a campaign financing scandal.
Talk dirty to me, throw me over the railing, pick up the check. Sorry, I'm not that into you....
Simple and flawless.
Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality expresses the perplexity shared by many LGBT advocates as to why President Obama has refused to sign an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination against employees of federal contractors, as he promised during the 2008 campaign.
But as our friend Kurt Vorndran, legislative representative for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), points out, such an order would not be enforceable in practical terms unless the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) gets sufficient staffing and budget to enforce compliance. OFCCP was created by President Johnson through executive order in 1965, and expanded under Nixon. It was decimated (not eliminated) by Reagan. In other words, Reagan kept the window dressing. Right now, according to the DOL website, OFCCP has 800 staff. That is for all their EEO and affirmative action programs related to federal contracts nationwide. Firms they go after love to drag proceedings out as long as possible and then demand dismissal because the action is not timely.
House Speaker John Boehner says we have enough regulations already, but that is a mere slogan to conceal the GOP's long and relentless efforts to cripple the government's ability to regulate everything from food and medicine safety to employment discrimination. Then they decry government ineffectiveness. That is a most cynical game. The Obama administration has worked tirelessly in federal agencies to repair and restore the government's regulatory apparatus. But there is a limit to what you can do without the resources being budgeted for it.
So we need more than an executive order. We need the staffing and budget to enforce it. The devil is in the details.
Update: Kurt Vorndran adds:
In the last year of the Clinton Administration, OFCCP had an FTE level of 786. The G.W. Bush Administration decimated the office to a level of 585. By FY2011, the Obama Administration was able to restore the office to the approximate level before Bush (755 FTEs). While the office is now back to the level of staffing from 13 years ago, it has a tremendous backlog. Director Shiu has tried to make the office more efficient, but given an increase in workload since 2001, she has a tough job.
Enforcing a sexual orientation E.O. is also going to take resources as most of OFCCP's effectiveness and work comes not from individual complaint examinations but by compliance reviews. They are going to have to develop some innovative ways to do lgbt compliance reviews.
Dale Carpenter at the Volokh Conspiracy discusses yesterday's decision by the Ninth Circuit standing by its decision of last year rejecting the First Amendment defense of conversion therapy on minors.
I note that Carpenter and Eugene Volokh are among the libertarian supporters of marriage equality who have submitted amicus briefs defending the Alliance Defending Freedom in its defense of anti-gay photographers, florists, and others in their claim of a religious right to discriminate. Their attempt to thread the needle is seriously off-track, in my view, as its logic would unravel the Civil Rights Act. But Dale does see a distinction between what he sees as religious freedom in the wedding-related businesses case and the medical care in this one.
This is of local interest in D.C. because we and our allies are attempting to pass Bill 20-501, the Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2013.
What the President could say tonight:
Today we mourn the passing of the great American singer and champion of justice, Pete Seeger. One of the songs with which he is most associated is "We Shall Overcome." Those words rang through this chamber in 1965, when President Johnson called for passage of the Voting Rights Act after peaceful demonstrators were brutally attacked by police in Selma, Alabama. At the head of that peaceful march was a brave young man who nearly died that day, but who survived to become a conscience of our nation. Congressman Lewis, please stand. Thank you, sir. Let us honor that generation, and the cause for which so many gave their lives, by passing voting rights reform. No one who loves this country should seek to win an election by means of voter suppression.
Nathan Lane, Tim Gunn, and other New Yorkers help Jon Stewart plead with Sean Hannity not to carry out his threat to leave New York.
Valerie Richardson at The Washington Times reports that some illustrious gay and pro-gay libertarians have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in defense of the right of anti-gay photographers, florists, and bakers to refuse their services to same-sex couples:
Those filing friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the ADF’s position [defending the anti-gay business owners] include some high-profile supporters of gay marriage, including Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute legal counsel; Eugene Volokh, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law professor; and Dale Carpenter, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.
No. We are talking about licensed businesses. What our libertarian friends are effectively defending, as with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is the right of businesses to refuse their services to anyone of whom they disapprove (including based on religious beliefs). By their logic, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have applied only to discrimination by the government -- while restaurants, shops, hotels and other places of public accommodation would have been able to continue refusing service to African Americans. No way. But do not call the libertarians sellouts: they are being true to their principles. I just think they are wrong. At some point we must check our principles against reality.
A further point: Personally, I would not want to hire someone for my wedding who disapproved of us. But that should be our choice. It should not be the right of a licensed business owner to discriminate without penalty.
Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds.
As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.
Oh, dear. This reminds me of Ben Franklin's proposal of the turkey as America's national bird. Our Founders went with the safer choice of a bald eagle. Granted, "peace eagle" would create some cognitive dissonance, but if you released one in a grand gesture with lots of witnesses, it's safe to say it would not be attacked by pigeons. Then you have the Swedish warship Vasa, which was so top-heavy that it keeled over and sank shortly after its launch in 1628, as dignitaries watched. Somewhere out there is bound to be a variable you didn't anticipate.
This update on a classic Coke commercial by Queer Nation NY is a powerful indictment of its sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics. I'm surprised that Coca Cola's lawyers haven't yet squashed it. Bravo to the folks who put this together.
Below is the trailer for Queer Nation NY's short film, The Road to Sochi. As you watch it, remember that there are people who are more offended by this kind of film than by the world's participation in Putin's Olympics. I mean, we cannot abide rudeness! Back in the 1960s, many Americans were outraged by singer Eartha Kitt's use of an appearance at the White House to protest the murderous, colonialist, and futile Vietnam War in front of President Johnson. She was blackballed for it. At this very moment, all around us are people who consider it obvious that following protocol trumps impolitic truth-telling. Otherwise, advocates for social justice would not have to work so hard. It's not that people cannot hear. They don't want to listen. That makes them much worse than sheep.
Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, who has been deaf since the age of 3 (and shown above in a Duracell commercial), responds to a deaf girl's letter. Beautiful and inspiring.
He was a good sport to do it, but Mitt Romney just isn't very funny.
This is what happens when you allow Swedes to serve in the military.
Mike Huckabee caused quite a furor with his reality-challenged rant against birth control the other day:
If the Democrats want to insult women by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take this discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.
My favorite comment was by Lizz Winstead:
Where on the doll did Uncle Sugar touch you?— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) January 24, 2014
This image (click here and scroll down for the un-cropped version) has an entirely different vibe than the misogynist one to which it responds. It reminds me of a lyric by my late friend Michael Callen from his album Purple Heart:
"I’d like to be your music
I’d like to be your chair
I’d like to be the food you eat
and be the clothes you wear"
Goldie Hawn was mortified when she found out about the horrible behavior of the head of state with whom she posed for a TwitPic at Davos.
Jeremy Hooper notes that the National Organization for Marriage is planning a June 19, 2014 march in DC. NOM events in DC have had rather pitiful turnouts with the possible exception of the one held in front of the Supreme Court over the DOMA case. Hooper questions why they would be planning such an event:
But now? They really think they are going to draw a crowd? For what: To support House Republicans' go-nowhere legislation? Who, other than a small cadre of Catholics and other local diehards, are going to take time out of a workday (June 19 is a Thursday) for such a purpose-less event?
There are several reasons why they might announce this. Foremost is that anyone unwise enough to express an interest in attending will get a barrage of emails begging for money. Forever. The second reason is to have something to tout that they are doing. NOM has had a series of setbacks and the few 'victories' they claim are rather paltry. They are losing financial support bigtime. But don't bet on this ever happening. Around March or April this will quietly be forgotten.
The Raw Story reports. After five years of racial dog whistles against Obama, they persist in saying no, the racial appeals are all coming from the President.
Another example of how much of our current politics is not about honest disagreement, but about reflexive opposition and lies. GOP opposition to the Affordable Care Act cannot be policy-based, because it was conceived by the Heritage Foundation and pioneered by Obama's 2012 Republican opponent. Democrats wanted a more liberal program, and settled for the current program as a compromise. Republicans have done all they can to sabotage their own plan while brazenly blaming any problems on Obama. They do the same with the economy. They are morally treasonous.
CNN's Piers Morgan and Rachel Nichols discuss Nichols's interview with Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, whose pass deflection in the NFC championship game against the 49ers sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. Sherman was on the field of play, and used no foul language in his rant. By contrast, people calling him a thug, a monkey, and worse on Twitter are revealing how racism persists under the surface and needs little provocation to unleash. In his interview with Nichols, Sherman reveals what a smart and thoughtful guy he is.
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma pledged to treat a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage like any other bill this year. But critics say that vow fell away on Tuesday when he yanked the measure out of a committee where it seemed doomed to fail and sent it to one where it's all but certain to pass.
The highly unusual move means the proposed constitutional amendment is almost certain to get a vote on the House floor. It also reveals just how quickly positions are shifting on the issue — especially among Republicans.
A few weeks ago, no one would have anticipated that the measure would have had any trouble getting out of the House Judiciary Committee, where Bosma initially assigned it. But last week, three GOP committee members surprised many observers — including, apparently, Bosma — with reservations about the amendment.
That left Bosma with few options. He could let the measure die and risk angering conservatives who want an opportunity to vote on the issue. Or, he could use his powers as speaker to push the measure through at the risk of seeming desperate or heavy handed.
He chose the latter.
Freedom Indiana responds:
In a last-ditch effort to advance this deeply flawed, anti-freedom amendment, Speaker Bosma has broken his word and interfered with the traditional legislative process. Since it was unclear if there were enough votes to pass HJR-3 in the Judiciary Committee, Speaker Bosma has switched the amendment to a new committee, the House Elections and Apportionments Committee, which will hold a hearing [today] at 3:30pm.
“Thousands of opponents of HJR-3 have called, written and come in person to the Statehouse to explain to lawmakers how this divisive amendment will harm our families, friends and loved ones. We’ve explained the very real problems with this amendment through our personal stories. We’ve followed the legislative process with an earnest expectation that legislators truly seek to represent their constituents,” said Megan Robertson, Freedom Indiana Campaign Manager.
There's a smell of right-wing desperation in the air.