When Sarah Palin spoke Friday afternoon at the Values Voter Summit, she referred to the address of the White House as 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue. I suppose she could have been referring to the Commerce Department, which is on that block, though its address is 1401 Constitution Avenue. On the other hand, there is plenty of space there, and I am sure special arrangements can be made if she is determined to move to 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Of course, there is also 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, just steps from the Metro, as the realtors say. And she can see the Capitol from the roof.
My column this week looks at indecency. Here is an excerpt:
It is amazing what indecent things some people say and do in the name of decency.
If your Christian parents throw you out of the house for being gay, and they cite Scripture, it is probably St. Paul, specifically 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Regarding the reference to homosexuality, Bible Gateway explains, "The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts." But let's not quibble over translations, nor scour the Bible Concordance for the precise connection between God's kingdom and kicking out children. The point is that some people really believe this crap, and it's causing harm, and it's time we stopped being shy about it.
After organizers of New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade decided to allow an NBC-affiliated LGBT group to march, the Catholic League's Bill Donohue envisioned gay marchers masturbating in the street. Father Charles Pope, blogging for the Archdiocese of Washington, called the parade an "anal sex" celebration. These gentlemen are quieter about the papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic fleeing to Rome to avoid justice for abusing shoeshine boys.
Conor P. Williams at TPM writes about the departure of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee from the group Students First.
Williams notes that education reform is extremely difficult, and that Rhee had her strengths. I grant that. But I confess that I disliked Rhee from the moment she took over DCPS. Her imperious manner, her contempt for large numbers of stakeholders (such as parents in the eastern half of the District), her undemocratic approach, and her demonization of teachers all worked against the cooperation essential to sustaining reforms. The people who cheered her and her tone-deaf boss Fenty should be ashamed of themselves; instead, they dug in and focused on getting revenge on his successor.
Reforming public institutions is hard. But efforts to bypass the hard slog of political give and take in favor of imposing top-down solutions, as demonstrated by the recent experience in Newark, NJ, are bound to have harsh encounters with reality down the road.
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.
Metro Weekly reports:
“You know, what I kept thinking is: how can I be the principal of Wilson High School, and oversee a Pride Day, and tell kids to be themselves and be who you are, and me not do that? It’s hypocritical.”
–Pete Cahall, principal of Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest D.C., in an interview with local ABC affiliate WJLA after coming out in a speech given during Wilson’s LGBTQ Pride Day celebration.
Good for Principal Cahall. We have learned that he will march with D.C. Councilmember and mayoral candidate David Catania, who chairs the Council's Education Committee, in the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 7.
(Photo courtesy Woodrow Wilson High School)
Congrats to LeVar Burton on his huge crowdsourcing success with his Reading Rainbow reboot. He exceeded his $1 million goal within 24 hours, and has now set a new goal of $5 million to expand the program into more classrooms. A great many of us fell in love with him (and those eyes) 37 years ago with his legendarily soulful and shattering performance as Kunta Kinte. How the hell can we be that much older? Anyway, the cause of literacy just got a much-needed boost. Good on him and all the people who joined the cause. You can kick in here.
The Westboro Baptist Church is coming to DC to protest at Wilson High School the Washington Post Reports. Next month students there are holding their second annual Pride Day lunchtime festival
“The message of Pride Day is that as a public school in our Nation’s Capitol, we support LGBTQ+ students, and we are committed to making our school and our Capitol a safer and more welcoming space for everyone,” says 15-year-old sophomore Neilah Rovinsky.
More than 20 community organizations and government agencies are expected to participate. Last year the Mayor attended the event. As usual, the event sponsors should give thank you letter to the WBC for their opposition since this immediately raises the profile of the event and dramatically increases turnout.
Many people are persecuted and discriminated against due to a single characteristic, whether that be skin color, gender, religion or sexual orientation. And bigoted people turn to religion to justify their actions. Segregationists said the Bible called for the races to be separate, sexists said God wants women to be at home obeying their husbands, and homophobes like the members of the Westboro Baptist Church claim that "God Hates Fags." It is interesting to note that their founder Fred Phelps has been excommunicated from the church reputedly because he made a statement that wasn't sufficiently anti-gay.
One anti-gay student interviewed said something familiar: he has no problem with people being gay as long as they don't go parading about the school. Translation: It's okay to be gay as long as you're completely invisible and don't organize to stop bullying.
Right Wing Watch reports:
Conservative groups including the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America and Liberty Counsel are urging parents to keep their children at home on April 11, the annual anti-bullying Day of Silence, in order to avoid exposing them to protests against anti-LGBT bullying.
As usual, the homo-haters act like they are the true victims of bullying, claiming that they are being silenced. If someone is silencing them, how are they still talking?
The latest battle in California is over 37 words. They are the final clause in a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this summer affirming the rights of transgender students to use facilities and play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. On Friday, groups led by the same strategist who masterminded the successful drive to ban gay marriage in California will submit a petition to the state that could lead to the landmark measure being overturned.
Right Wing Watch shares this video from "Coach" Dave Daubenmire that illustrates the topsy-turvy perspective of the anti-gay right: Not letting them bully us constitutes bullying them. Their religious freedom entitles, indeed obligates, them to trample everyone else's religious freedom by imposing their religious views on everyone else using the power of the state.
Paul Guequierre at HRC Blog reports.
I have nothing purple to wear, but happy Spirit Day - and thanks to my many fellow advocates who work to stop bullying. Here is an essay I wrote on the subject: "Strange Fruit".
Terrell Jermaine Starr at NewsOne slams CNN's Don Lemon for taking up the topsy-turvy reasoning of Fox's Bill O'Reilly, who responded to the Zimmerman verdict by saying "you've got to stop young Black women from having babies out of wedlock," and "you've got to demand discipline in your public schools in the inner cities." Lemon's contribution was to criticize young black men who wear saggy pants.
Wow. What came over Don? He seemed quite reasonable before (though I don't watch CNN much). Going into the saggy pants discussion in the context of the Zimmerman verdict is classic blame-the-victim stuff, which is especially gratuitous because Trayvon was doing no such thing. They might as well have started criticizing "scary African hairstyles," which would have been equally egregious and gratuitous and laughable and unintentionally revealing. Is George C. Wolfe writing a play about this? Did we fall into a time warp? Next up, top ten things women should do to avoid being raped, plus if you weren't so damn queer you wouldn't get beaten up. Meanwhile, I can't get out of my mind the image of the lifeless body of an innocent kid the same age as the ones I advise on their thesis topics. These kids whose vulnerability to racist violence should make us all ashamed in 2013. STFU about their fashion choices and stop killing my kids.
(Hat tip: H. Alexander Satorie-Robinson)
The Nation reports. A quick-witted 17-year-old surreptitiously turned on his iPod after being stopped-and-frisked for the third time.
A secret audio recording of a stop-and-frisk in action sheds unprecedented light on a practice that has put the city's young people of color in the NYPD's crosshairs. Read the full story here.
This crap has to stop.
Update: Just watched it again. Outrageous beyond words. The shame of this persistent injustice should hound Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly to the end of their days.
Lou Chibbaro reports in the Blade:
In a little-noticed development, an organization that oversees the city’s housing programs for the homeless terminated its contract with the local group Transgender Health Empowerment to operate the Wanda Alston House, the city’s only residential facility for homeless LGBT youth.
The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness on July 1 awarded the Alston House contract to Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center on Georgia Avenue in Northwest D.C. with an outreach to the Latino and transgender communities.
The action by the Community Partnership, which is funded by the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS), came after it determined that T.H.E. was no longer capable of overseeing the Alston House due to financial problems that forced it to lay off most of its employees in May, sources familiar with the organization said. T.H.E. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 7.
Best of luck to Ruby, and thanks to her for stepping up.
This sad news of 17-year-old Carlos Vigil is a reminder that bullying can kill even the strongest youth. We can pass model laws, and thank goodness we have GLSEN to provide leadership and resources. But changing the expectation of student peer groups from fear and isolation to intervention against bullying has proven extremely difficult.
Kids have high-tech tools in their pockets without the wisdom to use them properly, and they act as accelerants that magnify and worsen the impact of bullying into something that can overwhelm. I remember being relieved as a youth that others were bigger targets for bullying than I; isn't that awful? But we didn't have cell phones or the Internet then, and a bullying incident was pretty much localized. As we mourn another lost child, we must keep looking for ways to stop the cruelty and the isolation.
Tragic as the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been, it is shocking to discover that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of abuse by priests.
Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has denied shielding the funds as an “old and discredited” allegation and “malarkey.” But newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.
If this surprises you, you are a nincompoop.
(Image source: www.patheos.com)
Upholding Christ's love in Mecklenburg County. The Southern Baptists weigh in.
Happy LGBT Pride! It's been a busy year for LGBT advocacy in D.C., and below is a list of highlights.
GLAA's next meeting will be on Tuesday, June 11 at 7:00 pm in Room 104 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. (Closest Metro stations: Metro Center, Federal Triangle.) Click here for the meeting agenda. Please bring your concerns and issues you want us to address, and your ideas and suggestions for our next efforts. I am going to propose that we change from the quarterly meeting schedule that we implemented earlier this year to a monthly meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. (I expect, however, that we will take the months of July and August off.)
Three bills that GLAA called for in our Agenda: 2012 policy brief are currently before the D.C. Council:
The fabulous Andy Bowen talks about her work as Social Policy Organizer for the DC Trans Coalition. This video is part of the oral history project of students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School on Capitol Hill.
This 52-minute video on how we won marriage equality in Washington, D.C., was made by students at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School on Capitol Hill in March, 2013. Thanks to them and teacher Ayo Magwood. There are many more videos by a variety of advocates in various fields, and I will post some of them in the days ahead.
Amid the continued violence, the need for role models is all the more clear. This guy is golden.
Saeed Jones writes on BuzzFeed that "black gay kids need heroes too."
Monday, February 18, 2013
Contact: Rick Rosendall
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., is pleased to announce its 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipients. GLAA presents awards to local individuals and organizations that have served the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the national capital area. The awards will be presented at GLAA’s 42nd Anniversary Reception on Thursday, April 25 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Washington Plaza Hotel at 10 Thomas Circle, NW. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased by contacting GLAA at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 667-5139; a range of donor levels is also available.
GLAA’s 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipients are:
Today, February 6, is National Gay-Straight Alliance Day. Stand up against bullying, and for every young person's right to a safe educational environment.
Trayvon Martin would have been 18 today. Jonathan Capehart writes about the viciousness his death at the hands of George Zimmerman last year has provoked in some people.
As I have mentioned before, I am a thesis advisor for HS students in DC who are the same age as Trayvon was when he was killed. As I witness their energy and curiosity and passion and hopes, I keep thinking of him. And I think of the George Zimmermans of this country and say, You are going to lose, because the DNA of this country is with these kids, and you can never kill them all, and those you do cut down will remind those who are left to carry on of what is at stake and of the ancestors who are lifting them up. I normally include some curse words, but I am cleaning this up. The heartbreak at the center of this story is ultimately greater than the anger. But a bottomless pit of anger is there.
I'm a bit late with this, but wanted to bring it to your attention: Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Muriel Bowser on January 8 introduced the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Act of 2013. It was co-sponsored by Alexander, Bonds, Barry, Grosso, Wells, Catania, Evans, McDuffie, Pmendelson. It is always welcome to see pro-LGBT bills co-sponsored by a super-majority of councilmembers.
The bill's stated purpose is:
To amend the Homeless Services Reform Act of 2005 and the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs Act of 2006 to ensure that at least every 5 years the Interagency Council on Homelessness coordinates with the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs to calculate the population of homeless youth in the District who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, to ensure that the Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs develop and outline policies that will reduce the rate of homelessness in the District among youth who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, to provide funding to homeless service providers for additional beds that are specifically reserved for homeless youth who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, and to require homeless service providers to implement best practices for the culturally competent care of homeless youth who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.
This is consistent with GLAA's call for greater resources for homeless LGBT youth. We look forward to a hearing being scheduled on the bill. Thanks to CMs Cheh and Bowser and their co-sponsors.
(Hat tip: Martin Garcia)
For Release: Monday, January 28, 2013
Contact: Rick Rosendall 202-667-5139
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., today launches its 2013 Election Project and releases both its questionnaire for D.C. Council candidates and its policy brief on local LGBT issues in Washington, D.C., "Agenda: 2013." This updated compilation of local advocacy on a wide range of issues is intended for candidates in the April 23 special election for At-Large Councilmember as well as journalists, activists, and the general public. "Agenda: 2013" is online, in both PDF and HTM formats, at:
GLAA's D.C. Council candidate questionnaire is online at: http://www.glaa.org/archive/2013/cqspecial.pdf
GLAA's Election Project 2013 main page is at: http://www.glaa.org/archive/2013/election2013.shtml
The "Agenda: 2013" policy brief is divided into six broad subject areas: Marriage and Family, Public Health, Public Safety and Judiciary, Human Rights, Youth and Seniors, and Consumers and Businesses. It is prefaced by a two-page Action Item Summary listing specific actions GLAA seeks from D.C. officials. Included are 88 footnotes to provide documentation and to facilitate further investigation of the issues raised.
The following are some of the legislative and oversight actions GLAA seeks from D.C. Councilmembers:
GLAA President Rick Rosendall stated, "It is a tribute to the strength of coalition efforts in the District that 'Agenda: 2013' reflects input from allies across the District's entire LGBT community and its supporters. The resulting policy brief is the most comprehensive single document advancing LGBT issues in D.C."
On January 28, 2013, GLAA will email its questionnaire and policy brief to every candidate in the April 23 special election for At-Large Councilmember. (The filing deadline for the primary was January 23.) The deadline for receipt of candidate responses is March 7, after which GLAA will assign ratings to the primary candidates (on a scale of -10 to +10) based on their questionnaire responses and their records on LGBT issues.
Founded in 1971, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington (GLAA) is an all-volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit political organization that defends the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Nation's Capital. GLAA lobbies the D.C. Council, monitors government agencies, educates and rates local candidates, and works in coalitions to defend the safety, health, and equal rights of gay families. GLAA remains the nation's oldest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights organization.
A high school senior comes out to his classmates.
Update: Cyd Zeigler tweeted:
Cool kid, but how can someone "come out as LGBT"? He's clearly G, but LBT? A person isn't LGBT - a movement is.
That occurred to me too. It's a bit weird for someone to come out as "LGBT." Please pick one. (Now I'm wondering who will be outraged by this comment.)
Salon reports. (Hat tip: Pam Spaulding)
The above Youtube video featuring Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel is accompanied by a description that begins thus:
As Rhode Island liberals gear up again to attempt to force through same sex "marriage" in Rhode Island - the second most Catholic state in the country - please watch Part 1 and Part 2 of Stop Same Sex "Marriage" in Rhode Island to see the attack that same sex "marriage" is on God, on morality, on religious freedom, on the health of those who engage in homosexual behavior, on the the economy, and on population. And see evidence of how children are being indoctrinated in our public schools through radical homosexualist groups like GLSEN and by Dan Savage, the aggressively anti-Christian bigot and bully's "It Gets Better" campaign.
The promotion of the radical same sex agenda is part of an overall atheistic communistic attack on the United States. It was the communist dictator Joseph Stalin, who said....
Feel free to visit the Youtube page if you really want to see what Joseph Stalin, that great ally of the International Gay Conspiracy, had to say. But one old trope that Barber repeats here interests me: his reference to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) as "a radical homosexual indoctrination organization," which he slams for supporting the Day of Silence in which LGBT students and their non-gay allies show their opposition to bullying.
What's darkly amusing here (and I apologize for my choice of words to my friend, comedian Sampson McCormick, who is "darkly amusing" in an altogether positive context, and speaking of the altogether he's even done a gig at a nudist colony, but I digress) is that people like Matt Barber routinely use the phrase "radical homosexual" to mean, simply, a gay person with the slightest amount of self-respect. Everyone from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival to Log Cabin Republicans, from Barney Frank to Andrew Sullivan, counts as a "radical homosexual."
The only way to be a non-radical homosexual is to be the most treacherous Uncle Tom, by which I don't mean Barney's long-running description of Log Cabin but the gay version of Samuel L. Jackson's character in Django Unchained. For example, if you're a closet case who overcompensates by touting reparative therapy and attacking gay couples as harbingers of the Apocalypse, you might avoid being tarred as a radical homosexual. But that is mainly because your anti-gay allies will pretend that you are straight.
Speaking of the Apocalypse, if gay folk are its harbingers, shouldn't the far-right loons welcome us? After all, the End Timers seem to crave the Apocalypse more than anything else.
Brian Tashman reports at RWW:
Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition used the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in order to bolster her campaign against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act over the bill’s protections for LGBT employees. While speaking to Janet Mefferd yesterday about the Orange County, Florida, school system’s new non-discrimination policy that is similar to ENDA, Laffery said that just as parents are upset about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and are concerned about keeping their children safe, they should also be worried about ENDA’s “devastating effects” as schools will have “people with some real issues playing out their personal problems in the classroom.”
Can you say desperate? Follow the link for audio.
President Obama is emotional as he speaks on today's horrific mass shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut.
This wonderful story is of poor children in Paraguay learning to play classical music with instruments made from trash. Watch it. It's amazing. And check out the Facebook page.
Loose Lips has an entertaining piece in which he looks at former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's upcoming book, Radical: Fighting to Put Students First. Here's a great paragraph by LL:
The only person who appears interested in diagnosing Rhee’s unpopularity as chancellor is her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (also a former point guard for the Phoenix Suns). After campaigning for Fenty east of the Anacostia River and hearing residents complain about the mayor and Rhee, Johnson tells his wife that “you can’t make change from the top alone.” Later, when Rhee is beginning to map out her plans with advisers for Students First, Johnson scolds: “There’s no diversity in this room … What did we learn in D.C.? We can’t make the same mistakes. Why are we here? To build a group that appeals to white, male Republicans? Is that what we are doing?”
Thanks to LL for reading Rhee's book so we don't have to. Her willful political obtuseness and smug know-it-all attitude turned me off instantly, and I have never found reason to change my mind.
Oh, and thanks to LL for sharing this line from Rhee on Fenty: "His head shined. His eyes burned." Fortunately or not, there appear to be no heaving bosoms and bodice-ripping involved.