Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GOP Candidate Accused Of Possible....Gayness!


It is almost 2010 and America, the laughing stock of the western world on social issues, has just descended into the surreal.

As a variety of sources are now reporting, Andy Martin, seeking the GOP nomination for the Illinois Senate seat, has started running a political ad about the current frontrunner, Rep. Mark Kirk (pictured above), suggesting he might be....hold your breath folks...GAY!

According to the Chicago Sun-Times:
Martin’s source? Statements some conservative Republicans made on a radio show saying they have heard “rumors” that Kirk is gay.

“Illinois Republican leader Jack Roeser says there is a ‘solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual,’ ” Martin says in the ad. “Roeser suggests that Kirk is part of a Republican Party homosexual club. Lake County Illinois Republican leader Ray True says Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals. Mark Kirk should tell Republican voters the truth.”

A homosexual club? That conjures up images of the Village People chanting Y-M-C-A.

Meanwhile. CBS News is reporting that the state GOP has put out a statement, officially condemning Martin for the attack:
"His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech, which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party," the statement said. "Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican Candidate by the Illinois Republican Party."

Don't ask

An interesting aside...Kirk is a naval intelligence officer. If he comes out, the Obama administration will have to let him get booted out of the service.

Ah, the delicious irony.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Argentina Site Of 1st Latin American Gay Marriage


While Mexico City recently achieved notoriety for being the first Latin American locale to legalize gay marriage, the nation to host the first gay wedding, oddly enough, is Argentina.

The AP is reporting that, "Gay rights activists Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre (pictured, from left to right, in the above AP wire photo) were married in Ushuaia, the capital of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego state, in a ceremony witnessed by state and federal officials."

The couple originally had plans to wed in the capital of Buenos Aires, but mixed court rulings prevented that. However, since the Argentinian Constitution does not expressly rule out gay marriage, it is left up to city and state officials. In this case, the state of Tierra del Fuego authorized the wedding to take place.

Meanwhile AFP reported that the couple were legally married after Ushuaia Governor Fabiana Rios overruled a civil registrar who initially refused to wed the couple.

According to the AP story, a positive sign is that, "an official representing the federal government's antidiscrimination agency, Claudio Morgado, attended the wedding in the city of Ushauaia and called the occasion 'historic.'"

Somehow, I do not see the Obama administration sending a representative to help cut the cake, in the event that DOMA gets lifted.

Reuters coverage noted the HIV-positive status of the couple, who first tried to wed on World AIDS day, but were thwarted by a court order, necessitating the change of locale to southernmost Argentina.

While efforts to derail gay marriage in the United States are jointly championed by Mormons, evangelical Christians and Catholics (with the approval of Orthodox Jews and Muslims), in Central and South America the opposition is primarily from the Catholic Church.

Whatever Happened To The Emerald City?



(note: I initially posted this in a comments section at Crooks & Liars, after a piece on Timothy Geithner. Considering the hands-off nature of the Obama administration on glbt issues...in fact, on any progressive issues, it seemed apt)

We had a progressive Democratic president and ample majorities in both the House and Senate.

I saw a scarecrow...and a cowardly lion...and a tin man.

And you were there...and you...and you...and you...

And then I woke up.

And the voice said..."but you are in that wheelchair Blanche. You are."

Talk about waking from a dream and landing smack dab in the middle of a nightmare!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

GLBT News Briefs: Iowa, D.C. and North Wales



Here is a roundup of some glbt stories that are making news this weekend.

Iowa

The Associated Press in Iowa voted the April state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay marriage as the #1 story of the year in the Hawkeye State.

Meanwhile, anti-gay opponents are planning a rally on January 12th to start a process that will try and overturn gay marriage.

Unlike in California, or Maine, Iowa requires approval of the state General Assembly, before the question could be brought to the ballot, which is what gay marriage opponents are seeking.

Washington D.C.

Stand Up For Marriage, D.C., a leading anti-gay marriage voice in the nation's capital, is creating quite a stir, by placing ads on metrobuses that are lobbying against the recently passed legislation allowing gays to marry.

The ads read "Let The People Vote On Marriage," and were obviously created to submit the civil rights question to a majority vote.

While the D.C. glbt community are not happy with the bus ads, groups such as the ACLU have come to the defense of the ads as a free speech issue.

As I posted on a Washington Post forum on the subject, I suggested some of our advocacy groups can put the money they raised to good use, by creating ads to counter the ones that are currently being used by those who seek to deny us civil rights.

The African-American Washington Post columnist that I responded to, Colvert I. King, was bemoaning the fact that gays apparently had a problem with free speech. While I support free speech and proposed a counter ad campaign, I also questioned whether he would have felt the same had the rights for blacks to vote, or the end of slavery, been subjected to majority vote.

(note: for reference, since I cannot link to it, my forum comment was posted at 4:22PM on 12/26 in the comments section)

North Wales

From North Wales, comes news that hate crimes are up to about 1 per day, on average over the past 3 years, prompting a police crackdown.

While the majority of crimes were racial in nature, there were 166 homophobic incidents and 7 attacks on transgendered persons during that same period.

There is currently a discussion in North Wales about possibly imposing tougher penalties on hate crimes, in particular for crimes against the glbt community.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To Our Gay & Lesbian Troops


Thank you to our gay and lesbian troops who not only serve this nation selflessly and put their lives on the line, but also risk being tossed out of the military if they ever reveal the truth about who they are.

Thank you for keeping silent while those around you share their longing for wanting to see their loved ones at the holidays. I understand why you have to be careful about expressing that.

Thank you for feeling it important enough to give of your lives to this nation even though you know that you are treated like a second-class citizen, with no federal protection for your loved ones, and with the knowledge that they may be shut out if something happens to you in battle.

Thank you for your bravery and courage in the face of war from without and war from within.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Kwanzaa, and know that there are those of us who will never stop fighting for your right to be treated with basic dignity and respect.


(note: I discovered the above ribbon sticker at Cafe Press. If you would like to contact that person to get one for yourself, link to the address here.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Pope Praises Uganda, Ignores Anti-Gay Bill


Pope Benedict XVI recently sent a commendation to the Vatican's Ugandan envoy that completely ignored impending anti-gay legislation.

At an audience with Francis K. Butagira, the new ambassador from Uganda to the Holy See, the Pope had this to say:
Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Uganda continue to offer many opportunities for mutual assistance and cooperation for the spiritual good and welfare of the people of your nation. Likewise the climate of freedom and respect in your nation towards the Catholic Church has allowed her to be faithful to her proper mission. The fruits of cooperation between the Church and the State, especially in areas related to development, education and healthcare, are widely recognized. Indeed, such a solid foundation should promote personal integrity, justice and fairness in local communities and hope for the whole nation, both among those who govern and among the general population, and should be an important factor in stability and growth.

It was not as if the Pope was painting a rosy picture, because he writes the following:
The campaign of violence in the north of the country has devastated large areas. The tragedy for the local populations is clear for all to see. Some have had their childhood shattered and have been forced to commit deplorable crimes; there has been extensive destruction of property; widows and orphans are living in dire poverty; and many displaced persons are still unable or afraid to return to their villages and fields. It is understood that this situation has improved to some extent and I hope that the lack of security will finally be replaced by a stable peace and prosperity for the sorely tried people of the area.

Now check out the next passage and see what is left out:
It is only through the establishment of justice, reconciliation and solidarity that true and lasting peace and stability can be achieved. I assure Your Excellency that Ugandan Catholics, in living the values of the Gospel, wish to serve their fellow men and women in the promotion of deep-rooted reconciliation and peace. The Church will also continue to work for justice for all, accompanied by the fervent prayer that such a precious gift may become a reality for all citizens, without regard for ethnicity, region or creed.

You'll notice that 'sexual orientation' was not a consideration.

The Catholic Church has a history of treating pedophilia by priests as something that could easily be ignored and made invisible.

Now they are doing the same, when it comes to the oppression of gays, lesbians and the transgendered.

Is anyone truly surprised?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Uganda: Killing Gays May Not Be 'Helpful'


A report from Reuters South Africa indicates an alleged 'softening' of proposed new Ugandan, anti-gay legislation.

This is what apparently passes for more compassionate hate:
Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo told Reuters that the revised law would now probably limit the maximum penalty for offenders to life in prison rather than execution.

"There have been a lot of discussions in government ... regarding the proposed law, but we now think a life sentence could be better because it gives room for offenders to be rehabilitated," he said in an interview.

"Killing them might not be helpful."

Considering that 'cures' for homosexuality in America in the last century included shock treatments and lobotomies, this is indeed chilling.

But, hey, a lifetime of incarceration is supposed to be more humane?

Reuters reported that Buturo still believes that homosexuality was a "moral perversion that must not be allowed to spread"

There is a vast amount of homophobia in Uganda that would force gays to remain closeted, for safety reasons alone. According to Reuters, just yesterday, "anti-gay protesters marched through the streets of the capital Kampala, shouting slogans and waving placards."

Additionally, there is no word that one of the proposed legislation's more draconian measures, incarcerating Ugandans (including journalists) for not reporting people they know to be gay, would be excised from the proposed law.

However, as of now, "serial offenders", and those who commit "aggravated homosexuality", will have the possibility of death replaced with the prospect of living a lifetime in hell.

I'll have more on this as the story develops.

(note: the above AP photo came from a 2007 Ugandan anti-gay rally, asking that the government enforce their anti-gay laws, already on the books, and demanding an American reporter be deported for writing on gay issues in the Ugandan daily, The Monitor.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let's Not Forget D.C.


I should have posted on this when it happened, but since I posted on Mexico City I did want to acknowledge that in D.C., lawmakers also approved a gay marriage bill by an 11-2 vote.

The bill was signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty on Friday.

Congress can overturn the measure, but only has 30 session days to do it in. With health insurance legislation taking up their time, there is hope that this will not be blocked, though the religious right-wing is doing their best to see that it is.

The Windy City Times has the latest update here.

Mexico City Passes Gay Marriage Bill



We can't seem to do it in New York or New Jersey, but today, Mexico City became the first locale in Latin America to pass a law legalizing gay marriage.

The vote was not close, it passed by a nearly 2-1 margin, 39-20.

Enjoy the coverage above from AP.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Traitor #3: Shirley Huntley


New York State Senator Shirley Huntley (pictured above) is the 3rd member of the gang of 8 Democrats that helped defeat gay marriage in New York.

As it happens, one of my teammates in my bowling league is Detective Tom Verni, who is also the NYPD Community Affairs Citywide LGBT Liaison. Tom also lives in the Queens district that Huntley represents.

Tom happened to mention that he sent correspondence to Senator Huntley about her vote, which she has, thus far, ignored. In his correspondence, he commented about how he and his partner, Huntley's constituents, were affected by her vote. As of last week he told me that he was trying to contact her a second time. I will see him tonight and get you the results of that effort, along with any relevant correspondence. (update: Tom notified me she still has not responded)

Huntley's wikipedia entry tells us that she,
is a New York State Senator, first elected in 2006 to represent parts of Queens County, including Jamaica, South Jamaica, Springfield Gardens, Laurelton, South Ozone Park, Broad Channel, and Lindenwood. A Democrat, she defeated former Senator Ada Smith in the Democratic Primary. She is the Ranking Minority Member of the Investigations and Government Operations Committee. She serves on the Education Committee, the Higher Education Committee, the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, and the Transportation Committee.

Huntley presently resides in Jamaica with her husband Herbert Huntley. They operate a maintenance company known as Huntley Enterprises.

It should be noted that in the 2008 campaign questionnaire that she filled out for the 504 Democratic Club, on the question of who she viewed as local community leaders, she listed 6 people...5 reverends and 1 bishop.

Poor Senator Huntley

Senator Huntley, on December 7th, sent out the following release, regarding her anti-gay vote:
Senator Shirley L. Huntley On The Marriage Equality Legislation
In the recent days since the 12/2/09 New York State Senate vote on the Marriage Equality legislation I have received calls and letters both in favor and against my decision to vote against the legislation. As a result, I would like to take this opportunity to explain my vote.

I firmly believe that my vote against the Marriage Equality legislation reflects the wishes of the vast majority of my constituents. With that being said, I also firmly believe that any decision on Marriage Equality should, ultimately, be made by the people of New York State, not the Legislature. I would fully support a referendum to allow the people of New York State to decide the issue.

The State of New York is diverse and its citizens will often disagree. I applaud those of you who have questioned my position in a civilized manner. However, to those few of you who have been insulting and even threatening, I will not be bullied. We cannot and should not advocate for tolerance only when it benefits us. Again, we should allow the people of the State of New York to decide the issue of Marriage Equality.

Interesting that she never responded to a civil letter from a highly-regarded gay constituent. Even more interesting that an African-American would suggest that civil rights issues should be subject to a popular vote. Had that been the case on racial issues, where would African-Americans be today?

Additionally, regarding her comments about her constituents being against it...why then, as the Queens Tribune reported, did all the state assembly members of her district vote for it?

As for only advocating for "tolerence, only when it benefits us," what on earth does that mean? We are not seeking 'tolerance,' we want civil rights for ourselves and families.

Other interesting Huntley votes

We need to oppose Huntley in the primaries. In her last primary she was up against a fellow anti-gay politician.

Some things to keep in mind come the next primary:

In 2007, Huntley was 1 of only 8 to oppose legislation that would require convicted sex offenders to undergo psychiatric treatment and supervision.

In a 2008 bill to find affordable housing on Long Island (not an easy task), only 9 voted against, yet helping the poor was not a concern to Huntley. She did not vote.

A 2008 bill to cap annual property tax increases (in New York, the taxes are almost intolerable in many communities), only 20 Senators voted against. Huntley was one of them.

A 2008 bill to repeal the internet sales tax for items bought from New York retailers, passed 44-18. Huntley was one of the 18 who wanted New Yorkers to have to pay the tax.

Access her entire voting record here.

There is political ammo to be used in a primary fight. Let's use it.

Anjelou's plea

Back in May, Manhunt reported the following:
In an attempt to convince Shirley Huntley to support marriage equality, Maya Angelou gave the New York Senator a call.

"I would ask every man and every woman who's had the blessing of having children, 'Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?' To love someone takes a lot of courage. So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, ‘I forbid you from loving this person’?” Angelou asked the Senator.

Even though Huntley is a fan of Angelou's poetry, she was unmoved by the statement. “If they gave me a million dollars, tax free, I just wouldn’t vote for it,” she said.

Additional contact information

You can access Sen. Shirley Huntley's facebook page here.

All of Huntley's contact information can be found by linking here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Keith Olbermann Puts The White House and Senate on Notice

Earlier Wednesday evening, Chris Matthews said something so foolish I could have caught a bunch of flies...that's how far down my jaw dropped, leaving my mouth agape.

Matthews started badly enough, by being thorougly snarky and nasty to Dr. Howard Dean who he berated for what Matthews saw as demagoguery, because he didn't get his way. We have been treated to a batch of progressive senators speaking out against Dean, which made me wonder where was this acrimony when it came to Lieberman? Nelson? Bauchus? And Barack Obama?

Matthews has no clue how deep Dean's sentiment runs. He would learn with in an hour, as Keith Olbermann devoted a special comment to it.

Matthews brought on insurance company darling, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. She was the personification of a talking point and scolded Dean in her comments. Unfortunately, Landrieu tried to rewrite history by claiming that Obama never campaigned for a public option. Dean called her out on the blatant lie.

That part was bad enough, Matthews' lowest moment, and what showed his true agenda, occurred when he examined Obama's very bad poll numbers. The GOP had always been solidly against him, so there had to be another reason his numbers had dropped.

Matthews, clearly being clueless in the current politics of the Democratic party, actually had the audacity, and stupidity, to proclaim that Obama's numbers were so bad, because he is seen as too far to the left. He gets paid to deliver moronic assessments like that.

Thankfully, after about 5 minutes or so, Chris Todd finally said that Obama's plummeting numbers specifically got worse because of a defection from the left...his base.

Matthews response? Nothing.

Worth Waiting For

Markos Moulitsas, mobilized his website behind Dr. Dean's assessment. As did Firedog Lake, AmericaBlog and some other promninent sites. 2 major unions are considering the question as well.

And yet, after kissing Lieberman's ass, the White House and some key Democrats tried the politics of personal destruction on Howard Dean. They now know just how many of us he is speaking for.

You can hear Keith Olbermann's Special Comment (below) for yourself. It is well worth waiting for. He captures my sentiment exactly. Much blame is here to go around, but it all gets down to Barack Obama's lack of leadership. Now I am of the mind that, as Senator Russell Feingold said today, the president got the plan he wanted. I truly believe that as well. This is a great deal for the insurance companies and big pharma. It is not the way to get true health care reform.

If this bill contains a mandate, with no cost containment to prevent the 30 million new insureds from getting fleeced, it will be an unmitigated disaster. Some of the incremental gains can be stomached, but the way it stands now, as has been said by several influential pundits today, it turns into a huge bailout for insurance, and it threatens many with fines for refusing to get fleeced.

The mandate is immoral and must go.

Olbermann was courageous and even said he would refuse to buy insurance, if forced to.

But, listen for yourself. Olbermann gave every progressive a reason to be proud. I am sure it made Dr. Dean smile. If I were Obama, on the other hand, I would be livid. Good, let him stew. Maybe he'll eventually do the right thing.

I doubt it, but it ain't over til it's over.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Deserting The Dem Party that Deserted Us

Word today that Democrats are not even going to expand Medicare, because Rahm Emanuel allegedly pressured Harry Reid to accede to Lieberman's demands, is the final straw.

The New York Times and other outlets are reporting this concession to Joe Lieberman. Lieberman, he of the insurance company blood money, had actually endorsed such a strategy with Medicare, 3 months ago. But now, this grandstanding publicity hound is relishing making Dems twist in the wind,

Problem is, Lieberman has the tacit endorsement of the White House. Obama has done no behind-the-scenes lobbying...no arm-twisting, except in the case of Emanuel reading the riot act to Reid that the Senate Majority leader needed to kiss Lieberman's lying ass.

This is the bill Obama wanted. As was the defeat of the drug re-importation bill. What a sell-out that was.

It's over. Obama has fully morphed into a ruling moderate Republican...on glbt issues...on Afghanistan...on health care reform...on placating big pharma...the list goes on and on.

The man has lost his base. I can't think of many former Obama supporters who plan on actively supporting him, going forward. I no longer trust or believe his flowery rhetoric, because he never follows it up with action.

I will be working on my own plan for 2010. Identify progressives and challenge the Blue Cross Dems in the primaries. If the incumbent still manages to win, check the social record of the GOP opponent. In certain districts (NY 23rd) it is worth voting for an enlightened Republican over a Dem. Too many Dems vote like Republicans anyway.

What Obama and the Democrats have shown us is that the majorty means nothing when you stand for nothing. I get the distinct impression that Barack Obama is quite enamored with himself and likes to listen to himself speak, but his actions NEVER match his lofty words. The man has proven to be an empty suit.

I will say this, with the fiasco about to begin in Afghanistan and insurance companies about to get a major windfall by forcing more people to now face their draconian rates and policies, the GOP has an excellent chance of taking back at least one of the houses of Congress in 2010.

Maybe Obama and the Democrats will grow a set by then, but by then it will be too late to accomplish anything.

Recently, Obama graded his performance, thus far. Stupefyingly, he gave himself a B+.

He had the B partially right. My grade for him is BS. Mirror that grade for the House. As for the Senate, an F will suffice.

Stories with the latest, disheartening coverage, can be found at:
The New York Times
USA Today
The Wall Street Journal
and the Washington Post.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Houston Elects Openly Gay Mayor


Annise Parker has become the first openly gay mayor of the nation's 4th largest city.

Parker won the race for mayor of Houston with 53.6% of the vote, according to the AP.

After her opponent, Gene Locke, conceded, Parker said,
"This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that's what my administration will be about."

As the Associated Press noted,
The election battle leading up to Saturday's balloting was marked by fierce campaigning and anti-gay rhetoric.

Parker is a lesbian who has never made a secret or an issue of her sexual orientation. But that orientation became focus of the race after anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups endorsed the 61-year-old Locke and sent out mailers condemning Parker's "homosexual behavior."

The AP story closed with this interesting tidbit:
Houston, the country's fourth largest city, is predominantly Democratic and about 25 percent black and one-third Hispanic. About 60,000 of its 2.2 million residents identify as gay or lesbian.

View the story here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Observer Blames Americans For New Era Of African Anti-Gay Hate


Great Britain's The Observer took aim at right-wingers in America, blaming them for helping to make much of Africa virulently homophobic.

Simply check out the headline and sub-heading for the story:
Anti-gay bigots plunge Africa into new era of hate crimes

Uganda is likely to pass a law within months that will make homosexuality a capital offence, joining 37 other countries in the continent where American evangelical Christian groups are increasingly spreading bigotry

That is one powerful statement.

The reference to hate crimes made me think they were referring to anti-gay violence, but it seems that is the term they are using for the state-sanctioned, criminalization of homosexuality. That is a fairly heavy-duty comment.

Regarding the proposed anti-gay Ugandan bill, The Observer states:
...many suspect that it was outsiders who inspired this bill in the first place. In March, Bahati met several prominent anti-gay US Christian activists who attended a conference in Uganda where they pledged to "wipe out" homosexuality. The conference featured Scott Lively, (pictured above), president of California's anti-gay Abiding Truth Ministries and co-author of The Pink Swastika, a book claiming that leading Nazis were gay. Also there was Don Schmierer, on the board of Exodus International, which promotes the "ex-gay" movement, believing people can change their sexuality and be redeemed. The third extremist evangelical to attend was Caleb Lee Brundidge, who is linked to Richard Cohen who believes that psychotherapy can "cure" homosexuality.

Bahati's bill was drawn up within weeks of the conference, but it has only just begun to cause waves within America's powerful evangelical community. Legalising killing gay people has triggered a bad press for the bill.

That part of the story has been getting covered, but the piece then examines the judicially-codified homophobia that is spreading across the continent. Notice this harsh assessment from British glbt activist, Peter Tatchell,
"The right-wing are losing the battle in the US, so they are exploiting the poverty-stricken developing world. The response of the Commonwealth is pathetic. Of the 80 countries who criminalise same sex-relationships around the world, over 40 of them are in the Commonwealth – where is the concern for human rights?"


America may be homophobic, but...

There is a factual error in the story. In the initial edition, they write:
It is not just Africa where homophobia is rife – Iran and Jamaica have seen homosexuals imprisoned and attacked and many American states have laws against sodomy.

I contacted the paper to let them know that, while we may have homophobes in America, individual state laws against sodomy were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003. I would be surprised if I was the only one to write them, and I assume they will revise that paragraph.

Otherwise, it is a story well worth your time.

It can be found here.

A Ugandan Lesbian Speaks Out


Even when things appear incredibly dark, there are those who rise up to the challenge and lead, even while risking their own personal safety in the process.

Such is the case with Val Kalende. A rare case of an out gay person in Uganda, who is not only willing to be interviewed, but photographed in a Ugandan paper, as well.

The Monitor, a Ugandan daily, printed the story of her and her lover, pictured here. Her partner, who only 2 months came to America to study, has part of the picture blacked out, because she is not out to her family. Considering other information that was provided to the paper, I would think that enough of her face shows to probably identify her now.

As the proposed Ugandan legislation currently stands, both of them have serious reasons to be afraid.

Some interesting revelations

Kalende had some revealing things to say.

On going for HIV tests with her partner (in Uganda, it is considered primarily a heterosexual disease):
...asked by a counsellor if her partner had been using a condom.
“In my mind, I was like, ‘Dude?’ I felt useless. He was giving me the wrong kind of counselling. I wanted to tell him: 'The lady you see there is my girlfriend,'"

On wanting to bond with her closeted partner's mother:
“My partner is not like me,” Ms Kalende, the only child of her father and mother, offered. “She’s not yet brave enough to be open, because she doesn’t want her family to know. I can’t approach my mother-in-law and tell her I am in love with her daughter. It would give her a heart attack.”

On her reasons for speaking out:
...midway through her interview with Saturday Monitor, Ms Kalende seemed to remember her lover’s words, asking: “How is this [interview] going to help me?” Then, moments later, she found her rhythm, saying firmly that “she was doing it for the whole LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community”.

Most chillingly, on her future safety:
“Even with the existing law, things have never been this serious. I don’t know if things will ever be normal for us. Tell me, what will happen to us?”

Kalende was referring to existing laws, which already have criminalized homosexuality.

As the interview reported early on, Kalende had already been harassed, due to her appearance:
Ms Kalende’s standard attire --- she is comfortable in a pair of denim jeans and does not wear skirts at all --- turned her into a favourite target for the boda-boda cyclists, once upsetting her so deeply that she had to report her tormentors to the authorities.

You can access the full interview here.

The voice of anti-gay hatred

Anti-gay hatred did not have to be exported to Uganda. It is already there. I will devote a full column in the near future, consisting entirely of reader comments from this same paper. It should be noted that The Monitor will, and does, print comments from readers in other parts of the world that condemn their sanctioning of bigotry and hate.

Kalende's story is too new to have comments attached to it. For now I will leave you with a few that appeared in a story less than 2 weeks ago. If you look at any of the stories the Monitor has written on gay issues, you will find the same exact thing. Actually, you will often find worse.

Keep in mind, these comments are actually moderated:

Yasin cheptai said at 12/01/2009, 00:40
I say no no no no to homosexuality in our mother land Uganda. No No is enough whoever is a gay guy or supports it should leave this country .we hate you gays and we shall continue hating you.

nakitende said at 11/30/2009, 11:15
i still strongly stand by the nortion that weakening of child's or an adult's anal sphincter muscle through forceful anal intercourse is not a human right

walter amey said at 11/30/2009, 04:17
I strongly support the the case of a law criminalizing gay activities. its a serious crime against nature and humanity. Rwanda has my support in this. The western nations are trying to destroy the world with this human right sermons.

John said at 11/30/2009, 13:54
What ever these so-called developed nations tell us, Uganda should not bow down to their pressure.....take those rejected homosexuals and lesbians to your own countries to populate your vast countries! We do not need such people here.

Nowhere is it spelt that Commonwealth organisation should include homosexuality as one of its major objectives- whether social, developmental, scientific...

Please our elected members of Parliament, be proud and vote that law whether these europeans want it or not. They can not turn our country into a breeding ground.

UPDATE: There is a blog, which I am now adding to my links, called GayUganda. The blogger has a terrific story about what it felt like for members of the gay community in Uganda to see The Monitor headline a story like this...seeing the paper being sold on the streets had a definite impact.

Reading that blog will provide an invaluable insight into the lives of the Ugandan lgbt community. Additionally, they definitely need our encouragement and support.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Time Magazine Ties Americans To Ugandan Anti-Gay Legislation

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It's one thing for Rachel Maddow to make the connection, Time Magazine is another story.

Time's Zoe Alsop is sure to rattle some high-profile cages, with a new story, featuring the disturbing headline, "Uganda's Draconian Anti-Gay Bill: Inspired by the U.S."

The proposed legislation, initially has called for the execution of gays. It is now being reported that the death penalty is apparently going to be removed from the bill. However Ugandans could face years in prison for merely 'attempting' to commit a consexual homosexual act. Others, including members of the Ugandan press, face years of incarceration simply for not reporting about people that they know to be gay. Additionally, convicted homosexuals now may face forced conversion therapy. Lobotomy, anyone?

Meanwhile, according to Alsop,
The bill has an American genesis of sorts, inspired to a large extent by the visits of U.S. evangelicals who are involved with a movement that promotes Christianity's role in getting homosexuals to become "ex-gays" through prayer and faith. Ugandan supporters of the bill appear to be particularly impressed by the ideas of Scott Lively, a California conservative preacher who has written a book, The Pink Swastika, about what he calls the links between Nazism and a gay agenda for world domination, which, by itself, would have raised the anti-colonial sensitivities of Ugandan society.

Additionally, Alsop writes,
One of the bill's loudest supporters is a charismatic pastor, Martin Ssempa, who heads a Ugandan campus AIDS eradication organization that is funded in part by the U.S. and who was associated with the global outreach of Southern California's Saddleback Church, run by Rick Warren, author of best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life.

Alsop adds,
Rick Warren, however, seems to be avoiding tackling the subject directly. Although he cut ties with Ssempa, the popular preacher released a statement to Newsweek saying, "It is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations." That position irks the Rev. Kaoma, who is an Anglican pastor with the Archdiocese of Boston. Warren, he says, has immense influence among Uganda's political élite, counting many parliamentarians, including the country's First Lady Janet Museveni (who is reportedly close to Ssempa), among his friends. "He eats with them, he knows what goes on, they respect him," said Kaoma in a conference call. At the very least, Warren could get his purpose-driven nation to reflect on the purpose of this severe piece of legislation.

[UPDATE] Faced with a barrage of criticism, Warren has now chosen to speak out publicly against this proposed law. The Joe My God blog has the text and video.

'Family' ties

Rachel Maddow, on Wednesday night, continued to focus major coverage on this. Her guest, Harper Magazine contributor Jeff Sharlet, has authored a book on the tentacles of The Family, an international, right-wing religious organization with enormous political clout. Sharlet shared some information, suggesting that Ugandan members of The Family have been behind this proposed law from the time of its first formulation and prominent American members of the fellowship, at the very least, have done nothing to stop its progression.

As was reported on Maddow's show, the proposed anti-gay bill was proposed at a Ugandan prayer breakfast, by a Ugandan member of The Family.

While it is being reported that there is a schism on this going on within that religious clique, there has been no willingness to interfere, as is now being alleged, with Ugandan affairs. As Maddow pointed out, they didn't have a problem interfering when it came to railing against condom distribution in that country.

Meanwhile, progressives in Iowa have now challenged their Senator, Chuck Grassley, who is very close with Uganda, to speak out on this to Ugandan officals. He has yet to show a willingness to do so.

Guess who's coming to breakfast?

Maddow's biggest bombshell was the fact that the Ugandans who have introduced this legislation are quite possibly going to be attending an upcoming February prayer breakfast in the Capitol, where President Obama will be speaking.

I'll keep you posted with future developments on this, including a look into some of the Ugandan papers. If you want a real education, just read some of the comments in their daily papers. Backwards, and extreme, religious-justified hatred don't nearly begin to describe what some of these Ugandans believe. Reading their vicious and ignorant comments is like taking a nightmarish leap back to a highly uncivilized time and place. In Uganda, the clock has stopped.

And this from a nation that suffered the violent excesses of Idi Amin.

Rachel Maddow Ties Ex-Gay Movement To Ugandan Legislation To Execute Gays

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


There is an abhorrent move afoot in Uganda that would go so far as to execute people for being gay and incarcerate those who refuse to report the gayness of others.

On Tuesday, Rachel Maddow devoted quite a bit of time to the issue, including linking politicians such as Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley to the legislation, as well as pastor Rick Warren and ex-gay opportunist Richard Cohen.

Maddow's interview with Cohen is a must-see. It is a lengthy piece, but well worth your time.

I also recommend you go to her site here and select the video segments entitled "the story behind 'curing' gays" and "no comment from Grassley on anti-gay bill."

At her site you will receive more links and info about this story. I will be covering Uganda, and that disgusting legislation, in a separate, future blogpost.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Traitor #2: Darrel Aubertine


Darrel Aubertine, Democratic state senator representing northwestern upstate, New York, was one of 8 anti-gay legislators to vote to deny gays civil rights last week. He is the second one I am targeting, as I make a case against them, one-by-one.

Senator Aubertine, pictured above, apparently is willing to vote against Democrats in many venues. In fact, today, an editorial in the New York Daily News is taking him to task for refusing to allow farm worker's rights in New York to even come up for a vote.

That bill, supported by 90% of Democrats, and enough Republicans to pass, would have remedied some appalling working conditions, as the editorial stated,
New York farmhands work without the right to form unions or bargain for better conditions. Or take a day off. Or collect overtime or qualify for disability or unemployment insurance.

As it happens...Aubertine is a farmer, albeit a homophobic farmer. He does not want those who work for him to have those rights, so he has singlehandedly prevented the bill from even coming up for a vote. Not only that, he would not even allow, as the Daily News put it, "a watered-down compromise," to come up for discussion. And his fellow Democrats let it happen.

Gays are not the only Democratic constituency this man betrays. His blocking of union-building legislation should allow us to align with organized labor to plan a primary defeat.

And how telling is it that the Dems want him in Congress. This man was actually the leading choice to run against Dede Scozzafava, in NY's 23rd district (which was won by another right-wing Democrat). He declined. According to Politico:
Aubertine's decision is a blow to Democrats, who viewed him as a particularly strong candidate who could flip McHugh's ancestrally Republican seat to the Democrats. Because of his conservative views on social issues, he had cross-over appeal in a state legislative district that was solidly Republican.

Do we need any more reminders about why our money should not be going to the DNC and the DLC? Scozzafava was far better on glbt issues than the Dems, in this case. It is why our money and support should be apportioned on a case-by-case basis only.

This is a Democrat who sorely needs to go down to defeat come re-election.

He represents a rather conservative area, bordering Lake Ontario, which includes the cities of Oswego, Watertown and Ogdensburg. He is also chairman of several state senate committees, including Agriculture and Energy & Telecommunications.

To contact Senator Aubertine, via an online form, point your browser here.

His generic page on the New York Senate website is here.

Oswego's main paper is the Palladium-Times. You can access their contact page here. One needs to register to make comments on their site, and this is one of those registration processes that is far more intrusive than most, but it may be worth it to do so. Just go to their opinion section and you'll get to the registration link.

Watertown's daily paper is the Watertown Daily Times and is accessible here. The paper's contact information is here. You can respond to columns and editorials in their online edition after a simple registration process.

The Ogdensburg Journal has been referred to as one of the worst American media outlets by members of the Mondo Times, and you can't submit letters online, but here is the link to where you can send letters the old-fashioned way.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Let's Start With Addabbo




After 8 Democrats (4 from the borough of Queens) in the New York State Senate were responsible for defeating gay marriage in New York, I have decided to target all 8...one at a time.

Let's start with freshman Queens Senator Joe Addabbo. His vote was especially damaging, because, alphabetically, he is second on a roll call. His defection at the onset set the stage for a betrayal.

How is this a betrayal?

Let's start with the fact that Addabbo got significant glbt financial support.

According to Queerty,
Despite supporting gay rights while a member of NYC's City Council, and despite receiving the maximum $9,500 campaign contribution from Gill Foundation creator Tim Gill, and despite scoring major financial support from the Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee (which LGBT donors dumped cash into), Addabbo was a "no" vote.

A report from NYPIRG's Bill Mahoney reaveals that Addabbo was the 4th leading recipient of glbt dollars. By his count,$23,000 was raised for Addabbo, so that he could spit in our faces.

Why we need to be better activists

Most revealing about Addabbo, who supported glbt civil rights while on the city council, and who had no problems taking glbt money while campaigning, are his declared reasons for voting 'no.'

From the Queens Chronicle:
Addabbo said he simply voted to reflect an emerging consensus within his district. Of the nearly 400 constituent letters and calls received by his office, approximately 73 percent had urged the senator to defeat the bill.
“I voted no because that’s what my people want. I will always stand by my people — that’s my job,” the first-term senator said. “This past Saturday I was at Woodhaven Library and two residents made it their business to sit down with me and talk about their opposition to marriage equality It’s clear that my residents are not for it.”

Forget the fact that recent polling showed that New Yorkers favored same-sex marriage 50-44, or that it was morally the right thing to do. Senator Addabbo was able to use the fact that anti-gay forces lobbied him more effectively.

This is where we need to change the equation.

I bowl in a large gay bowling league. When a fellow bowler a couple of weeks back asked for people to see her so that she could tell them how to lobby their state senators to vote for the bill, she got hardly any reaction. Out of 34 teams of 4 bowlers each, maybe 1 or 2 responded. This is shocking, but hardly surprising.

If we want full civil rights we need to start looking in the mirror and beginwith the reflection we see.

In that spirit, here is information on contacting Joe Addabbo to let him know how you feel about his vote. He thinks that New Yorkers do not want gay marriage. Let's prove him wrong.

His Facebook page
District Office 159-53 102nd Street Howard Beach, NY 11414
E-mail: addabbo@senate.state.ny.us
Phone: 718-738-1111

Friday, December 04, 2009

New Jersey May Vote On Gay Marriage Next Week


According to a report at NJ.com, a New Jersey Senate committee will consider a gay marriage proposal on Monday, with the possibility that the full chamber will vote on it by the end of the week. If this vote then gets passed, gay marriage in the Garden State could happen by Christmas.

This is important to do now, since the New Jersey governor-elect, Republican Chris Christie, has vowed to veto any gay marriage legislation on his watch.

Meanwhile, the 'Daily Intel' column at New York magazine's online site had interesting speculation on why the New Jersey bill might be enjoying a new life:
How would a huge defeat for same-sex marriage on Wednesday create momentum for the bill's prospects, and not against them? Maybe it's the irresistible opportunity to show New York what a progressive Northeast state with balls looks like.

Meanwhile, TPM is reporting an assessment by Steve Goldstein, executive director of Garden State Equality:
"We're counting votes. We're not there yet in one of the houses but things have changed dramatically in the last 48 hours where the momentum has shifted our way," Goldstein said.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

New York Senate Rejects Gay Marriage


The New York Senate rejected gay marriage today, and the vote was not close.

The final count was 38-24. All 30 GOP members of the Senate voted against it, as did 8 Democrats. This shows a couple of things.

One, despite the disillusionment with the Democratic party these days over relative inactivity on glbt issues, this is why we can NEVER vote Republican. This was an anti-gay bloc vote, pure and simple, despite protestations otherwise by GOP honcho Dean Skelos.

Second, it is time to defeat Democrats that have denied us our civil rights. Prime among these is Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx), a despicable politician who was the only Democrat in debate to argue vociferously against gay marriage.

The other DINOs to vote against gay civil rights are, Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens), Darrel Aubertine (D- Cape Vincent), Shirley Huntley (D-Queens), Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens), George Onorato (D-Queens) and William Stachowski (D-Buffalo). They must be ousted through effective primary challenges. If they survive the challenge...let them try their luck without us in a general election. A message needs to be sent.

We already have way too many moderate Republicans inhabiting the Democratic party. Let's send them packing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Californians Looking To Ban Straight Divorce


It is a story too good to be true...according to the Associated Press, there is a move afoot in California to impose a ban on divorce.

A Sacramento Web designer, John Marcotte, would like to see this become a ballot initiative in 2010.

As the AP reports:
"Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more," the 38-year-old married father of two said.

Unless you have a good bankroll behind you, making these petition drives successful is a huge, uphill climb:
Marcotte is looking into whether he can gather signatures online, as proponents are doing for another proposed 2010 initiative to repeal the gay marriage ban. But the odds are stacked against a campaign funded primarily by the sale of $12 T-shirts featuring bride and groom stick figures chained at the wrists.

Marcotte needs 694,354 valid signatures by March 22, a high hurdle in a state where the typical petition drive costs millions of dollars. Even if his proposed constitutional amendment made next year's ballot, it's not clear how voters would react.

The deck is pretty much stacked against Marcotte, but the point has been succinctly made.

Often times the most truth can be found in satire, and I give this man credit for having the vision to call the hypocrites and phonies out.

You can read the full story here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Great Coming Out Story From ESPN


Brendan Burke, the 20-year old son of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, has come out in a very public way.

Brendan, pictured above, next to the Stanley Cup that his father won, while GM with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, currently is a student at Miami University (Ohio), and also serves as a student manager for the school's championship hockey team.

After initially coming out to his family, he also came out to his team and has encountered fairly unanimous support.

Rather than telling the story in the first person, ESPN columnist John Buccigross pretty much tells his story for him, albeit in a very honest and compelling way.

Buccigross takes the coming out story from its genesis to where it has evolved...stressing how supportive Burke's dad and school have been and pushing the envelope by asking ex-NHL stars to join Brendan in disclosure. Along the way, questions about how a gay athlete would be received in the macho NHL are tossed out and speculated upon.

Brendan Burke wants to be the trailblazer and open the dialogue about being gay in the homophobic sports world of professional hockey. For this alone, he deserves praise and encouragement.

Read the story here.

After you read the piece, send an e-mail of appreciation to Buccigross at john.buccigross@espn.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AP Story Reports Gay Marriage Efforts In NY & NJ Are Stalled

Not a very encouraging story on gay marriage efforts in NY and NJ, courtesy of the Associated Press.

Geoff Mulvihill writes:
The state-to-state march to legalize gay marriage across the left-leaning Northeast has lost more momentum since a major setback three weeks ago at the ballot box in Maine.

Since then, legislatures in New York and New Jersey have failed to schedule long-expected votes on bills to recognize the unions in those states.

Mulvihill then uses a Maggie Gallagher quote to set up the rest of his story. As Mulvihill reported, the extremist right-winger said,
If they are unable to pass gay marriage in New York and New Jersey, combined with the loss in Maine, it will confirm that gay marriage is not the inevitable wave of the future.

The rest of the piece is pretty much spent, with gays on the defensive, refuting the allegation of Gallagher.

This was written as if everybody thought Maine would be a slam-dunk and we were all allegedly blindsided.

We were about 5 points down in the polls the day before Maine, so, for me, at any rate, the outcome was not surprising. What is surprising is that we have so many in America that think it's perfectly acceptable to leave minority civil rights up to a simple majority vote.

The one part of this report I actually found useful was the call for immediate action in the Garden state:
There's a sense of urgency in New Jersey. This month, voters elected Republican Chris Christie over incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. Corzine has said he'll sign a gay marriage bill. Christie promised a veto.

As a result, activists are pushing hard to get a bill passed before Christie takes office on Jan. 19.

But since the election, key Democrats have said they don't intend to put the bill up for a vote unless they know it will pass. And so far, they say, that's not assured. On Monday, when lawmakers met for the first time since the election, the issue was in legislative limbo — not scheduled but not declared dead either.

Access the full AP story here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anti-Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes Up 11% In 1 Year


New FBI statistics are out on hate crimes, showcasing a disturbing trend. Equally disturbing are how news organizations are covering it.

AP Version

In the story released by the Associated Press, they state:
Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased about 2 percent from last year. These same figures show a nearly 11 percent increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and a nearly 9 percent increase in hate crimes based on religion. The largest category, racially-motivated hate crimes, fell less than 1 percent.

With anti-gay legislation on the ballot in California last year, and the deliberate GOP incitement of the right-wing base, an increase in crimes against people based upon sexual orientation, should have been expected.

And yet, the AP includes their own skewed analysis:
The increases may be partly due to more law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes data to the FBI: 2,145 agencies in 2008, compared to 2,025 agencies the year before.

Let's do the math. Hate crimes up 11%. Agencies reporting hate crimes up 5%. No it does not add up. Especially when one notes that racially-based hate crimes actually fell (which is rather startling, considering the anti-immigration rhetoric).

And, what of religion. Simply saying that religious-based hate crimes also were up would probably cause smug Christians to feel that maybe they are also under increased attack. Curious that the AP left out the most significant component of that segment, because it wasn't even anti-Muslim sentiment that was the reason.

CBS News version

For details on this, check out the CBS News account of the story:
Anti-Jewish bias accounted for 65.7 percent of the religious bias attacks; 7.7 percent of the attacks were against Muslims.

One would think that this would be a significant story, in and of itself.

But I digress.

In the CBS account, there is no mention of the huge increase in anti-sexual orientation attacks. In fact, they report it this way:
Hate crimes rose slightly in 2008, with bias-motivated attacks based on race, religion and sexual orientation all increasing, according to new data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Didn't the actual number of race-based incidents drop slightly?

One interesting thing that CBS did, in its report, was make clear that anti-sexual orientation hate crimes are not gay male-specific. They report:
Gay men were the victims in most of the sexual orientation-bias attacks - 58.6 percent.

Why not mention the numbers of anti-lesbian and anti-transgendered attacks? My guess is because it helps to keep those groups invisible.

(Note: The picture in this blog post is that of 15-year old, African-American, lesbian Sakia Gunn. Gunn was slain in Newark in 2003 and got nowhere near the coverage that Matthew Shepard's killing received, despite her young age.)

Sometimes it is not the story that is the focus, but the way that the story gets reported. As I have done in my past glbt-activism, one of the focuses of this blog will be watching and monitoring the way glbt news is covered. We need to hold news organizations accountable for what they tell the public, because all of this matters when it comes to changing hearts and minds on glbt issues.

Source Material

Click on the following links from the FBI website for the summary, and the full report on hate crimes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't Ask, Do Postpone Indefinitely

AFP is reporting that a promised hearing on the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which had been scheduled for this month, has been "postponed indefinitely."

Tara Andringa, a spokesperson for the U.S. Armed Services Committee, indicated that "we do not have a date" for the hearing to be rescheduled.

I guess the return of gay dollars to the DNC will be postponed indefinitely, as well.

In a strongly gay-positive press report, compared to what one would get from an AP story, the French press agency added the following:
About 13,000 US service members have been discharged under the policy since then, and estimated costs through 2003 run at 95.4 million dollars in recruiting costs and 95.1 million in training replacements, according to the US Government Accountability Office.

An overwhelming number of Americans support allowing openly gay men and lesbians to serve in the US military.

Think you would see a news report like that originating in America?

Not unless you were watching MSNBC.

For the full AFP story, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Action Alert: Contact AG Holder On Puerto Rico Slaying


Last weekend, 19 year old George Steven Lopez Mercado, a popular member of the Puerto Rican gay community, was found murdered.

According to the towleroad.com website, "he was partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso."

Making matters worse, the police investigator suggested he "deserved" his fate, because of his "lifestyle."

I have been to Puerto Rico, since coming out, and, like many other areas of the Caribbean, anti-gay sentiment runs deep. I remember feeling a bit threatened by some local hoods that were lingering around the gay club at the beach in San Juan that I went to...they were very vocally predatory. It may have been in the 90s, but it is no secret that this is hardly a gay-friendly environment.

According to the AmericaBlog report on what the police had to say:
Here's the Spanish version of what the investigator reportedly told Univisión about the victim:

"Este tipo de personas cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle saben que esto les puede pasar."

I speak Spanish fluently, so let me give you a rough translation:

Someone like that, who does those kind of things, and goes out in public, knows full well that this might happen to him.

John Aravosis also writes that it is time for the Justice Department to investigate, now that we have a Hate Crimes law in effect.

To sign an online petition asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, go to the online action center that AmericaBlog set up by pointing here.

As towleroad.com reports, an arrest has been made and a "gay panic" defense has been initiated.

To follow this story at towleroad, click here.

To visit the newly created facebook page on this crime, click here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

8: The Mormon Proposition -- Coming To A Theatre Near You


A documentary that passionately and forcefully targets the Mormon church for being the driving financial force in attacking the rights of gays to marry, is set to be released soon.

The movie is called "8: The Mormon Proposition," and according to an AP article, Reed Cowan, a gay Mormon, decided to make the film after the personal turmoil he experienced within his own family over the issue of gay civil rights. His own sister was a supporter of Proposition 8.

The film is still in production, but the trailer is generating a ton of hits on the net. It is very well done.

To go to the movie's official website and view that trailer, click here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rhode Island Governor Signals A Surprise Shift On GLBT Rights



Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, who had just recently vetoed a bill that would give gay surviving partners burial and funeral rights, has apparently signaled that he is looking into statutes that might give the glbt community a broader range of rights, similar to the civil unions statute that recently passed in Washington state.

The Governor, who is a staunch social conservative, on record as opposing both gay marriage and civil unions, allegedly vetoed the funeral planning bill because he didn't want to resolve glbt civil rights issues in a piecemeal manner.

This apparent about face has many in the glbt community scratching their heads. Either way, it looks like there will be a vote upcoming in the Rhode Island legislature to override the Governor's veto.

The story is reported above by WPRI in Providence.

For the AP take on this development, click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Bill That Allows Gays Funeral Privileges



In a story that sounds like it belongs in a state from the Deep South, Rhode Island Governor Dan Carcieri has just vetoed a bill that would have given survivors of gay partners burial rights.

It was Tuesday that the Governor vetoed the bill that, according to the Providence Journal would have wound up, "giving "domestic partners" the right to make funeral decisions for each other."

This is what passes for family values?

To the credit of the Rhode Island state legislature, the bills originally passed by aq margin of 63-1 in the House and 38-0 in the Senate. Yet, still, it is apparently not definite that there will be a vote to override the veto.

About a possible veto override, the Providence Journal reported,
House Majority Leader Gordon Fox issued this statement in response to an inquiry: "Personally, I favor an override of this legislation. I look forward to meeting with Speaker Murphy and the Senate leadership in the near future to review all of the vetoes and discuss our next course of action."

If you would like to express your displeasure to Governor Carcieri, the contact page is here. It contains a form where you can e-mail Carcieri directly. It also has his contact numbers and the snail mail address.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Barney Frank vows An End To DADT In 2010


Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced on Wednesday that repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' will be included as an amendment to the fiscal year 2011 Defense Appropriations bill. Rep. Frank told the Washington Blade that once the bill passes in 2010, that President Obama could begin issuing stop/loss orders, preventing further discharges, as of October 1.

I am one of those who believe that President Obama could issue those orders now, while the flawed policy is under review.

I've never been a big fan of Barney Frank. I think he messed with the glbt community on ENDA. And his comments undercutting the recent march on Washington were self-serving and infuriating.

Color me cynical, but the timing on this to me has everything to do with the recently announced boycott of the DNC.

This probably explained why Frank took great pains to mention that Rahm Emanuel is somehow behind this policy decision.

Whatever you say, Barney.

For the full Blade article, click here.

Kerry Eleveld also has a report on this at The Advocate.

Action Alert: Veteran's Day Letter From SLDN


It's Veteran's Day, what better way to celebrate than supporting our gay brothers and sisters who serve in America's military?

The nation's leading advocacy group for gays in the military is asking for your help in writing letters to the editor. The following letter has a hyperlink that will make it easy for you to do. The hyperlink is included twice.

It was sent out today by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN):

Today, November 11, we mark Veterans Day across the country. On this day, we remember our veterans -- which include an estimated one million LGBT patriots -- and express our gratitude for their service.

As a retired Navy Captain with 29 years of dedicated service, I have seen firsthand how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" dishonors the brave sacrifices of our service members. I will always love and respect the military, which is why I know our men and women deserve better than the injustice of DADT.

This year, let us honor the courageous men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice and renew our commitment to end DADT.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and make the case for repeal:

www.sldn.org/VeteransDay

If published, your letter will raise awareness about DADT and the need for repeal. A particularly effective letter can get thousands of people talking about the issue and have effects well beyond the pages of the paper.

Join us now:

www.sldn.org/VeteransDay

Thank you, as always, for your support.

CAPT Joan Darrah, USN (Ret.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AMA Supports Gay Marriage & Ending DADT


The American Medical Association gave a 1-2 punch of support Tuesday, officially calling for an end to "don't ask, don't tell," and stating that gay marriage bans contribute to health disparities because gay couples are less likely to be fully covered by health insurance.

As reported by the AP, the policy decisions by the nation's largest organization of doctors, occurred during an interim policy-making meeting in Houston. It comes one day after the AMA endorsed the health care reform bill passed by the House. However, unlike that endorsement, do not expect the White House to be trumpeting, or pointing to, these new policy statements.

On coming out against same-sex marriage bans, The AP reported,
Same-sex families lack other benefits afforded married couples, including tax breaks, spouse benefits under retirement plans and Social Security survivor benefits — all of which can put their health at risk, according to an AMA council report presented at the meeting.

On the governmental ban on gays serving openly in the military, it was reported that,
Doctors who pushed the group to oppose "don't ask, don't tell" say the policy forcing gay service members to keep their sexual orientation secret has "a chilling effect" on open communication between gays and their doctors.

"A law which makes people lie to their physicians is a bad law," said Dr. David Fassler, a University of Vermont psychiatry professor who attended the meeting.

We in the glbt community should find a way to thank the AMA for doing their part to help us in our struggle for full civil rights. It would be a good idea to refer to their support when we are advocating in support of both gay marriage and ending dadt.

You can learn more about the AMA at their website.

Update: New York State Senate Postpones Gay Marriage Vote

The New York State Senate, still in need of 5 Democratic votes, has put off a vote on gay marriage, according to reports.

An AP story posted at a Rochester news site first broke the story at 12:22PM, and was later followed up by confirmation at the New York Times.

Democrats hold a slight 32-30 majority in the Senate.

According to the Times report,
Republicans and Democrats said that as of Tuesday afternoon the measure was still several votes short of the 32 necessary for approval. About five Democrats remained either opposed or noncommittal, meaning that Republican votes were needed to secure passage.

But not enough Republicans have committed yet to voting yes, legislators said.

Sponsor of the bill, Tom Duane, has not been able to say whether or not it will come to the floor for a vote at all, at this point. According to the Times, Duane did say he was "optimistic."

Some in the State Senate are indicating that the vote may come after the Deficit Reduction Plan is addressed, as the Times also reports.

As I learn who the 5 State Senators are, I will post them so that we can continue our lobbying efforts, as well as seeking out GOP converts to the cause.

Stay tuned.

Action Alert: Lobby NY State Senate On Tuesday Gay Marriage Vote


On Tuesday, at the urging of Governor Patterson, the New York State Senate will vote on gay marriage. We only need to sway a few votes. Please join us in helping bring equality to New York's gay and lesbian couples.

There is a useful tool at the website of the Empire State Pride Agenda. There is a form feed that will allow you to get all the contact information for your State Senator so that you can personally ask them to support gay marriage.

This is the page of the action center. Just input your zip code and you will get contact information for your State Senator. PLEASE call or e-mail your State Senator asap, since the vote is tomorrow. Ask them to support gay marriage so that gays in New York are not 2nd class citizens.

Please share that site info with your friends and crosspost, because what we need right now is direct contact with the State Senators voting on this on Tuesday

Monday, November 09, 2009

No More Money For The DNC


First a note about LelioRisen and this blog

Sorry I have not been blogging much here since renewing my LelioRisen 'net presence. I have been starting a new business and keeping much of my focus there. However, I have spent a lot of my blogging time posting at AmericaBlog. But now, I do plan on renewing my focus here. I have my own stories and agenda that I would like to put forth.

For the past several years, I had blogged as scootmandubious, and received a ton of hits leading up to the 2008 election. My incredible disillusionment with Obama after that election has caused me to temporarily suspend blog activity there. I have no heart to defend the Dems and Obama on anything these days.

Rather, I plan on going back to my original focus, glbt issues, which can be best served through this blog. Since I have a decade of prior glbt advocacy as leliorisen, I thought it best to use this presence.

The Petition

I have pretty much decided to leave the Democratic party and register as an independent. The one thing holding me back, for the moment, is that I want to work in the primary system to help ensure that Blue Cross DLC-style Dems are beaten by progressives at every turn. So, I have to evaluate which scenario suits me best.

But, I have made a pledge to not give another dime to the Dems and the DNC. Democrats have used gays and lesbians to tap our time and our resources and then stab us in the back at every turn.

No More.

At AmericaBlog I just signed a petition to notify the DNC that they can no longer count on me for monetary support until they follow through on promises made to the glbt community.

Under the heading "Don't Ask, Don't Give," The petitioners are asking for people to join in signing the following pledge:

"I pledge not donate to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, or the Obama campaign until Congress passes, and the president signs, legislation enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)."

Please take the time to sign the petition and pass it on to others.

The link to the petition can be found by clicking here.

(note: above logo found at lonestarbear.blogspot.com)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Excellent AP Analysis Of Gays In The Military of Our Allies


It was only a matter of time before the logical dominant argument for lifting 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' would rise to the surface...the fact that our allies have had no problem making the transition. Today's AP has a great report that examines the successful integration of gays in Great Britain, Australia and Israel. This is then contrasted with a whole new set of bogus charges by homophobes in the American military.

Some of the highlights from the article, prominently featured today at the Washington Post website, includes the following:

In Britain, on the other hand, uniformed gay and lesbian service members marched in the annual Pride London parade July 4. Gay Australian soldiers and sailors had their own float in Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras parade. In Israel, the army magazine earlier this year featured two male soldiers on the cover, hugging one another.

It is hard to be more battle-tested than the Israeli military, where gays have served openly since 1993. The article reports,

Maj. Yoni Schoenfeld, a gay officer who is the editor of the military magazine, Bamahane, said there was little friction in the ranks related to gay soldiers.

He served as a combat soldier and as commander of a paratrooper company, and said his sexual orientation - though known to fellow soldiers - was never an issue.

And adds,

Schoenfeld's magazine has reflected the evolving attitudes. In 2001, it was shut down briefly after featuring an interview with a retired colonel who had come out of the closet. Yet this year, there was no adverse reaction to the cover picture of two male soldiers embracing.
The military also provided the backdrop for the 2002 movie "Yossi & Jagger" about two Israeli combat soldiers who fall in love on the front lines. It was a hit with critics and the public, and was even screened on military bases.

In Australia,

The lifting of the ban was preceded by heated debate, yet the change itself was relatively uneventful.

Among opponents of the change at the time was Australia's main veterans group, which later withdrew its objections.

The group's president, retired Maj. Gen. Bill Crews, said concerns about lowered morale and HIV transmission on the battlefield proved ill-founded.

"I thought there'd be a continuing problem because of prejudice that exists in parts of the community," Crews said. "I don't see any evidence now that homosexuals are in any way discriminated against. ...A homosexual can be just as effective a soldier as a heterosexual."

Regarding Britain's experience since the change occurred 10 years ago,

At the time, there was significant opposition to the change among military officers. There were predictions that unit cohesion would suffer and that large numbers of personnel would leave the military if gays could serve.

Lord Alan West, former head of the Royal Navy and now Britain's terrorism minister, served before and after the ban was lifted.

"It's much better where we are now," West said. "For countries that don't do that - I don't believe it's got anything to do with how efficient or capable their forces will be. It's to do with other prejudices, I'm afraid."

Lord West added that "Americans really need to make the move."

Because the global example has refuted the allegations by homophobes in the military, there is new pompous, isolationist rhetoric being provided by the bigots in charge.

The AP article features the following lunacy:

"Who's the only superpower military out there?" argued Maj. Brian Maue, a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in a debate in June in Chicago. "This is hardly convincing to say, 'Ah, the others are doing it. We should too.'"

I am sure Israel appreciated hearing that. Not to mention, every other NATO member but Turkey. And further,

Maue - who says he's been speaking out on his own, not as a military spokesman - also suggested in an online forum that "an openly gay military would be the heterosexual equivalent to forcing women to constantly share bathrooms, locker rooms and bedrooms with men."

Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, is alleged to have disparaged the integration of gays in the military of our allies, without offering a shred of evidence. He adds,

Repealing the U.S. ban would trigger the departure of some career service members who object to homosexuality and deter some people from enlisting.

I wonder how many similar comments were made when our military was first subject to racial integration?

The AP article refers to Pennsylvannia Rep. Daniel Murphy's leadership in trying to get DADT repealed. Murphy, a Democrat and the first Iraq war veteran to gain election to Congress, had this to say,

"I take it as a personal affront to our warriors," he said. "To say that other countries' soldiers are professional enough to handle this and American soldiers aren't is really a slap in the face."

The last word in the AP story is given to Iraq war veteran, Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi. Choi is facing dismissal under the DADT ban. He says,

"...don't ask" forces gays who are serving to be furtive and dishonest.

"Closeting is what causes instability," he said. "It's the most toxic poison."

As for the U.S. being different from its allies, Choi agrees.

"We are exceptional - because we take the lead on things," he said. "To me, it's an insult to the idea of American exceptionalism to say we're somehow scared of gays."

Read the full article and pass it along. It can be found here.