Monday, June 14, 2010

Blog will restart in July

An explanation, since I obviously have not posted in a while. Additionally, there was a gap of time that passed, before I even got my last post in.

I am moving this month, after a dozen years in the same place. Additionally, I have had some major changes (albeit exciting ones) in my professional life. Because of this, the last couple of months have had me pre-occupied, and I have not been able to devote the time I need, or want, to my glbt blog.

I will be fully in my new place by the end of the month. So, I will not be starting new entries until the beginning of July. When I do, it will be accompanied by a facebook and twitter presence.

Thanks for your understanding.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Hate E-Mail From Uganda

First of all, my apology for the long drought between postings. I have a lot of change going on in my life, including the fact that I will be moving next month. I needed to attend to other things. I am hoping to be posting more regularly.

Recently I received correspondence that I find very disturbing. It is serious enough that I plan to share it with certain leaders of the glbt community that I think need to see it. There are other options I am considering as well. I found this very troubling, as it hints at a genocide of our brethren in Africa.

I am not going to post the e-mail address of the author, or his name. However, I will pass it along to those who need to know.

This was written to me because the author obviously saw my postings of support on the GayUganda website.

The e-mail speaks for itself: All spelling errors have been left in.

Lelio,

You are the kind of people I wish we could lay our hands on in Uganda.
Luckily enough for you ,you are out of reach!
I read your post on some website encouraging gays in Uganda to go on practiscing their crazy and dehumanising ways and much as I was angered,I have decided to keep calm since we have a solution to the gay problem in Uganda that we are quietly working on.
We have a number of formwer gays who are collaborating with us to see to it that we cleanse our land of the stain that is Gays and lesbians and the like-transgender!

We have already taken a few of them out of action but this is just early days for us as we continue to trail more of them.

So you can continue encouraging them from the safety of wherever you are but you should know that we are also preparing ourselves and we shall deal them a decisive blow little by little and before long,our beloved country will be free of those who go against nature.

Warn them all because many of them have already heard from us already and some of them have experienced what we are capable of!

Anti Homosexual Coalition
Kampala

Friday, March 26, 2010

Taking Baby Steps On 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'




Considering that we are the only major Western nation that doesn't allow gays to openly serve in the military, the incremental posturing towards finally ending the bigotry known as "don't ask, don't tell" is getting to be intolerable.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced how the policy was becoming less restrictive.

For one thing, hearsay would no longer be permitted. What's truly incredible was that, up until this announcement, it was.

Additionally, now a senior officer has to approve of the ouster.

Considering how backwards America is on social issues, I do realize that this is reason enough to cause us to genuflect at the altar of America's military industrial complex and beat our breasts while thanking them for the crumbs.

Ah, the crumbs, indeed.

While the leadership of certain glbt advocacy groups, like HRC, continue to behave as expected (wow, Mr. Solmonese, how perceptive to have a comedienne, Kathy Griffin, serve as the HRC poster girl for ending DADT....are you kidding me?), there has been some good press calling for an end to this inanity.
(note: I slightly edited the above paragraph to single out Solmonese, specifically, not HRC as a whole. There are many in HRC, and similar groups, who work their tails off for the glbt vommunity. I do not doubt their sincerity, integrity, or commitment, for a moment. However, I do not think that leaders like Solmonese are reflective of those that do much of the legwork. Sometimes those in power lose sight of the message, in their pursuit of access.)

For now, let me just single out a piece in today's Oregonian.

In her op-ed, Elizabeth Hovde, who bills her column as "political writings from The Oregonian's columnist just right of center," writes:

Forgive gay and lesbian members of the military if they aren’t having a celebratory drink this weekend to toast new Pentagon rules that make it more difficult to kick them out of their jobs. The changes basically amount to a decree that snitching on a gay soldier won’t be enough to get the gay soldier booted. How kind.

Congress was able to pass health care reform, but 1993’s misguided “don’t ask, don’t tell” law stands.
Hovde adds:

There is nothing common sensical or decent about telling gay and lesbian service members, “Continue to keep your mouths shut, but we’re going to decrease the chances that you get caught.” This simply continues the insult of telling people who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us that their service is only welcome if they agree to keep secrets, limit the information they give about the people they share their lives with and so on. (Can you imagine telling a straight soldier he shouldn’t mention his wife in a conversation?)
She ends her piece with:

Let’s stop tweaking a bizarre law, repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” now and work out the discomfort that doing so might bring some other members of the military.
And that is it, in a nutshell. Unlike soldiers in the rest of the world, our military leaders believe that American troops are just not grounded enough to be able to cope with sharing living quarters and showers.

Can't believe that's the issue here?

It is so much the issue that Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway (above) did the execrable. In an interview with military.com, this lightweight actually said if DADT were lifted he would not force straight marines to bunk with gays.

Can anyone imagine a military officer making similar comments during the period when the military was being desegregated?

Sort of makes one want to vomit up stars and stripes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

British Op-Ed Gets It Right On Gay Prom Flap




You didn't need to read a blog focused on glbt issues to follow what was going on with Constance McMillen (above).

McMillen, a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, sought to bring her girlfriend, a sophomore at the same school, to her senior prom.

In a nutshell....she asked the school in advance...the school said no, the prom was for same-sex couples only...the ACLU was brought in and a lawsuit began...the school cancelled the prom and urged parents to hold a private affair, which they are doing. McMillen and her date are not welcome at the private party.

Ellen DeGeneres stepped in and, to her credit, donated $30,000 to McMillen's scholarship fund.

A relatively quick search of the internet will reveal just how much anti-gay hatred remains in America.

What I wanted to focus on here is the way that such backwards attitudes are perceivd in other Western countries.

Elle Gray has written a terrific piece in Great Britain's Guardian titled, "School proms uphold straight privilege."

It should be noted that Gray is a black woman, who knows her Mississippi history. She writes:

The region in which this story is unfolding adds another contextual layer. According to an ACLU attorney, student complaints against "anti-gay" prom policies are especially prevalent in the US South, home of "more conservative" attitudes towards sexuality. In Mississippi, just last autumn, another school refused to publish a yearbook picture of a lesbian student in a tuxedo. The South is also home to conservative attitudes towards race; McMillen's situation is akin to that of other Mississippi students who find themselves confronting segregated proms well into the 21st century.

Those more conservative attitudes are rooted in a southern fascination with its past, a mythical "Old South" in which people who were not straight, white, and propertied had no social place. Many southerners have held tenaciously to this view, mounting resistance to challenges to the status quo. High schools in the South are often places in which these battles are fought on a small scale. After a court order forced my rural high school to desegregate in 1970, it would eventually hold off-campus proms. However, "tradition" meant that students did not intermingle across the colour line and quickly left to gather for their own separate (in terms of race) functions.
She adds:

The school district's response to McMillen's request indicated their intent to fall back on old southern practices: "It is our hope," they wrote, "that private citizens will organise an event for juniors and seniors." The prom cancellation is reminiscent of tactics from at least a half-century ago: rather than integrate public pools, parks, and schools, southern municipalities often closed them. Sometimes, in lieu of closure, they turned over such accommodations to private enterprises. In defiance of school integration orders, they opened private schools and segregation academies. Such acts allowed them to continue de facto segregation long after de jure segregation was outlawed.
The entire excellent column can be accessed here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monserrate Goes Down



Hiram Monserrate, disgraced former New York State Senator, lost his bid to win his seat back in a special election yesterday.

Monserrate, pictured above (discussing the size of his genitalia, one might speculate), one of 8 Democrats who helped to defeat gay marriage legislation in New York, had been expelled by the State Senate after receiving a msdemeanor assault conviction, in the beating up of his girlfriend.

However, in his effort to win back his seat, Monserrate had aligned himself with pious, homophobic clerics who had no problem endorsing Monserrate....after all, the Bible does say that women need to be subservient to men....or wind up needing stitches (apparently).

Happily, this bigot was only able to find 27% of the electorate stupid enough to vote for him, in a 3-way race.

Democrat Jose Peralta won, with over 65% of the vote, while the GOP candidate, Robert Beltrani, had barely over 7%.

Does this help glbt fortunes in the Empire State?  Yes.

Perralta is a former State Assemblyman who voted in favor of gay marriage on 3 separate occasions.

Reflecting on his defeat, the day after his loss, Monserrate told the New York Times;

“A lot of this reaction is based on just ignorance, on not knowing the facts, not dealing really with the issues...There’s a lot of emotional hysteria out there.”
If anyone knows how to hysterically display one's emotions, it is the convicted abuser Hiram Monserrate. Those who voted for him have no shame.

1 down....7 enemies to go.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hiram Monserrate: Sleazeball Gay-Basher Extraordinaire




Back in December, disgraced New York State Senator, Hiram Monserrate, was one of 8 Democrats who defeated the gay-marriage bill in the Empire State. Last month, this political low-life was expelled from the Senate.

However, like bacteria that continually adapts, he is back. Yes, he is seeking to elected again!

How is he trying to win? By courting the homophobe vote.

According to The Gothamist:

Hiram Monserrate has found one constituency that will stand behind him as he tries to fight his way back into the state Senate—people who don't like gays. Thanks to his vote against the same-sex marriage bill, the former Queens legislator has won the support of Corona Rev. Ricardo Reyes. "I have seen a generation sunk down by the gay community," Reyes told the Queens Village Times. "If we vote for a gay marriage situation ... we are sending our children to practice something against the Bible."
Obviously, this preacher likes men who abuse women...like the way Monserrate brutally beat his girlfriend...because the Bible tells us that women should be subservient to men. Or else!

Recently, the New Yorker ran a blog post titled, "Is Hiram Monserrate Just Running Against Gay People Now?"

I am not a big fan of glbt advocacy groups in New York, so I am surprised that they are actually taking Monserrate on.

According to the New York Times:

...the political action committee, called Fight Back New York, is prepared to raise and spend in the high six figures range in the State Senate races this year, according to people involved with the committee.

Financing and organization will come, in part, from some of the most politically sophisticated and financially powerful gay rights advocates in the country. Tim Gill, a philanthropist and former software developer who has backed many gay rights initiatives nationwide, is a major player, along with some of his top associates and donors to his causes.
“Politicians who deny gays and lesbians basic equality should be thrown out of office, starting with convicted criminal Hiram Monserrate,” said Bill Smith, an adviser to the committee and deputy executive director of the Gill Action Fund, Mr. Gill’s political organization, which is based in Denver.

The committee will start going after Mr. Monserrate, who was convicted of assaulting his female companion in a confrontation that left her requiring more than 20 stitches, by mailing fliers this week to voters in his district. The flier shows still frames of a surveillance video that shows him dragging his companion, Karla Giraldo, through the hallway of his apartment building in Jackson Heights, Queens. He was acquitted of a felony assault charge by a judge, who convicted him of misdemeanor assault.
If this convicted abuser, and virulent homophobe, wins, it tells us more about the voters in his his district than we probably need to know.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Virginia Attorney General Tells Universities To Allow Anti-Gay Discrimination




It was bad enough that the new Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, rescinded anti-discrimination protections against gays who worked in state government, as one of his first official acts.

Now, pouring fuel on the fire, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (pictured) has issued a letter to the state's colleges and universites, putting them on notice that they cannot have their own policies protecting gays from discrimination.

I realize that America is the most backwards of Western nations on social issues, but Virginia seems to be setting entirely new standards for bigotry and hatred to thrive.

Please reward the anti-gay stance of this regressive state with a boycott on travel there.

The Courts Have Already Derailed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'




As I have previously written, while I feel that the primary argument for lifting the ban on allowing gays to openly serve in the military is the global model (essentially, all of our Western allies allow it, without incident), there is also a legal precedent.

While it has gotten very little mention in the press, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-year old ruling, has already redefined the flawed policy, putting the onus on the government to prove their theory on the alleged destruction of unit cohesion.

From an AP story posted on Saturday:

The 2008 ruling, while largely overlooked, would force the military to apply a much higher threshold in determining whether a service member should be dismissed for being gay.
The government declined to appeal the ruling by the three-judge panel, which leaves it standing as law in the nine states covered by the court. That means gay military members at bases in the West technically have greater protections than their colleagues across the world.
......At issue is a ruling in the case of an Air Force major from Washington state (U.S. Air Force Reservist Maj. Margaret Witt, pictured above) who was dismissed from the military after she was found to have been in a lesbian relationship.
The court ruled that for a gay service member's discharge to be constitutional, the military must demonstrate that the firing promotes cohesion or discipline in the unit.
Considering that, in the military of our allies, allowing gays to serve openly has been a non-factor, this ruling forces the government to prove the lie that they have been pushing for over 15 years.

And they can't.

To get a clearer picture of the impact on this ruling, and how it is now effecting decisions currently being made, regarding DADT, click here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Paradox Of Gay Marriage In D.C.




One would think that minority groups who have faced serious oppression would be allies in the fight for glbt civil rights.

Unfortunately, it has been the perception that blacks are more opposed to gay marriage than the overall population, by a significant margin. This has been supported by various polling (for example, 70% vs. 49% in California, in exit polling done for the 2008 election).

It does not help that 2 of the hotbeds for global homophobia happen to be Africa and the Caribbean.

It's not as if we didn't have powerful friends from the African-American civil rights movement. Coretta Scott King was a very vocal supporter of gay rights.

However, as we have seen in New York, with Democrats like Shirley Huntley, sometimes those that are most eager to repress the rights of the glbt community are people of color. As somebody who has visited many of the online forums, I personally have seen many passionate arguments from African-Americans that dripped rage that gays even perceive this as a civil rights struggle...as if our pain could not possibly compare to their experience.

Much of the hatred directed at gays comes from the black churches, who do not see the perversity of justifying bigotry with the Bible, when that was what was used to justify keeping blacks enslaved, and second-class citizens.

So, why is D.C., where the majority of the populace is black, about to embrace gay marriage, when states like New York and New Jersey, have been unable to counter homophobia?

I didn't bring up Maine, because if D.C. left it to a popular vote, it would probably go down to defeat.

However, legislators in the 2 states I mentioned couldn't get it done, but the local officals in D.C did.

There is a great AP story on this, which suggests it was all about the approach taken and the way the message was targeted. The essence is that it is very important to take the initiative and pro-actively court the African-American community to help us in our fight.

Rather than summarize it, I suggest reading it in its entirety (it is not a lengthy article).

You can access it here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maryland To Recognize Out-Of-State Gay Marriages




Maryland is the latest state to show progress on gay marriage.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler (pictured), on Wednesday, has declared gay marriages performed outside the state as legally valid. This means that, if Gansler's directive is followed, all Maryland state agencies will afford married gay couples in the state the same benefits that straight married couples receive.

What this means is that Maryland has, in effect, rejected DOMA. It also means that, while gay marriage is not yet able to be performed in Maryland, if a couple gets married outside the state and returns, their union will be recognized.

According to Thursday's Washington Post,

Gansler, a supporter of legalizing same-sex marriages, was asserting his authority as the top legal adviser to state agencies to answer a question that experts say had been left unclear by Maryland law. He was responding to a legislator's request that he issue an opinion.
The attorney general's opinion unleashed a torrent of emotions from both gay rights advocates and those opposed to same-sex marriage, adding a potentially explosive issue to election-year politics in Maryland. It is likely to be quickly challenged in court, Gansler acknowledged.
Also, from that edition, for any people who still think that Democrats have our back, note this:

His opinion is certain to have political implications. Democratic leaders in the state's General Assembly appear to have little enthusiasm for making same-sex marriage a marquee issue in the 2010 elections.
Hmmm....where have we heard that before?

Washington Post Editorial supports decision

Today, an editorial in the Washington Post came out in support of the Attorney General's decision:

The Attorney General of Maryland does not have the power to legalize same-sex marriage; the legislature almost 40 years ago determined that "only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state." His opinions do not carry the weight of law; only legislative pronouncements and court rulings do.

What he can do is provide an authoritative reading of what the law commands. That is what Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) has done in concluding that same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions may -- and should -- be recognized under Maryland law. In the process, he has produced a legal compass that should be followed to provide overdue equality for gay and lesbian couples in Maryland.
The editorial concludes, as follows:

Mr. Gansler's opinion and the possibility that gay couples in Maryland may soon be able to marry in the District are welcome developments. But they are no substitutes for permanent protections in Maryland itself. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) should direct state agencies to begin applying the attorney general's advice immediately.
Considering that, for the most part, Democrats will hardly be embracing glbt issues, with the mid-terms happening later this year (and with Democrats in serious need of a spine), this development is rather encouraging.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Miss Beverly Hillbilly




Here we go again.

In the latest quest to get the Carrie Prejean award for California's hottest homophobe, Lauren Ashley, who gave herself the title of Miss Beverly Hills, without any pagaent being held, has just suggested that God wants gays dead.

 Lolita Ashley, who is a contestant for Miss California 2010, because she passed an interview, had her comments posted at the entertainment section of the Fox News site called "Pop Tarts."

Interestingly, when Fox News updated the story today to express the outrage from Beverly Hills residents that this bimbo is supposed to represent them, they took down Ashley's most incendiary comments.

I was able to access the original, from a cached version found at Google.

Here is what the porn beauty queen wannabe had to say about gays:

"The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. In Leviticus it says, 'If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.' The Bible is pretty black and white," Ashley told Pop Tarts.
"I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone. If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that's a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life."
Yes Lauren, suggesting that God wants gays murdered is indeed a pretty stern warning. And phrasing it the way you did is also a stern warning to you....that brain cells are precious....and you need to salvage the healthy ones that remain.

Then there was this:

 But with the Miss California Pageant still months away, and Ashley already echoing the views that got Prejean in trouble last year, is she concerned that she may ruin her chances of taking home the tiara?
"That isn't really the issue. I have a lot of friends that are gay, and ... I have a lot of friends who have different views, and we share our views together," she said. "There's no hate between me and anyone."
I suppose this is just another way of saying....'I have friends who God wants put to death, but, personally, I could never get my hair and nails done without them.'

She even made comments about how pre-marital sex is awful and how her body is a temple of God. It reminded me of Mimi Rogers discussing what led up to the dissolution of her marriage to Tom Cruise.

I guess Fox must be feeling quite uncomfortable about Ashley's comments, because, as I wrote, you can't find them up on the website anymore.
 
What you find, in its place, is how the bad people of Beverly Hills are upset about how their name has been co-opted by this piece of trash:

"The City of Beverly Hills today denounced statements made by Miss California USA contestant Lauren Ashley, the self-described Miss Beverly Hills. Ms. Ashley resides in Pasadena and is currently a contestant for the Miss California USA title. She does not represent Beverly Hills in any capacity," the city said in a news release issued Wednesday. "The City of Beverly Hills strongly condemns Ms. Ashley's recent statements and has contacted pageant officials to determine ways to formally prevent any beauty contestants claiming the title of Miss Beverly Hills in the future."

A representative from the City Council told Pop Tarts that the mayor and the entire council were very upset by Ashley's comments and the council will decide whether or not to take the issue up with the Miss Universe Organization, co-owned by Donald Trump and NBC.
State pageant director Keith Lewis said all applicants are interviewed by a representative from the organization and if successful they can then choose what city they wish to represent in the quest for the Miss California title. But despite the Beverly Hills City Council's desire to have the pageant structure changed, Lewis said, "the incident has no bearing on Miss California USA or the way the pageant will be conducted in the future."
"I would love for the City of Beverly Hills to have their own preliminary pageant to determine a representative," Lewis added. "But until then, this is the way Miss Universe runs it and this is how it is done in other states."
I don't know about you, but the way I see it...a potential, new Fox anchor is born.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Hold Your Breath On Repeal


Maybe I am too close to this story, but I am seething over the latest comments from military 'leaders,' who have been commenting this week on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' I am even angrier about advocates in Congress and the press, who don't challenge the blatant abuse of truth that these homophobes, and their political enablers, put forth.

Specifically....this is the type of quote that drives me nuts. From the New York Times:

“I do have serious concerns about the impact of repeal of the law on a force that’s fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for eight-and-a-half years,” General Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We just don’t know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness.”

Let me get to the greater point first...the blatant fallacy. There will be NO impact on readiness and military effectiveness. NONE. There is no need for a study to investigate something that has no grounding in reality.

How can we be so sure that readiness and 'unit cohesion' will not be an issue?

Well, let's see....Great Britain has done it. So has France. And Germany. Even Australia. Israel, too. Nothing happened to troop morale in any of those nations. Are we to believe that American men are just so hypersensitive that they would break out in hives at the thought of showering with their fellow gay soldiers (which they do now, anyway)?

And to that absurd second point about 8-1/2 years of wars. Iraq and Afghanistan are being set up to be endless occupations. As far as I know there is not even a formal declaration of war. What are these people talking about? The "War" on Terror? That Orwellian device is going to keep us in a perpetual state of war and these generals know that.

However, even if we buy that argument, how can we dispute the fact that Israeli soldiers, who should probably be more concerned about the state of their military than anyone, hasn't had any issues. And this from a country where Orthodox Jews are as virulently homophobic as the right wing of any religion?

One would think that this prime falsehood would be easily shot down, right?

So, why the Hell are our advocates in Congress, or reporters themselves not challenging this assertion openly?? As I wrote. It drives me nuts.

And now, it just keeps getting more annoying, because these same military homophobes are now saying that even placing a hold on expulsions, which is now being floated by Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is also unacceptable to them.

Personally, I have had it with America's backwardness on every single social issue. We are so behind other Western nations that it's frightening. We are backwards on health care....global warming....and every single glbt issue.

Sadly, given his track record on gay civil rights matters, I think we have a better chance of seeing Armageddon in 2012, than we do of seeing President Obama stand behind his promises to end this insanity.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BBC Article Takes On Growing, Religious-Based, African Homophobia




Excellent article at the BBC today over the growing anti-gay climate being spread through much of Africa.

We are sometimes quick to attribute this homophobia to a less-civilized mindset, yet, the BBC story points out that some of the worst offenders have the West to thank:

Homosexuality is illegal in many African countries - particularly Arab North Africa and those with a British colonial past such as Kenya, Uganda and Malawi.
British colonial legislators outlawed "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal".
It is that law which Uganda is now proposing to strengthen, from a 14-year sentence to prison to life.

The article quotes Monica Mbaru (pictured), from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, who attributes the  rising anti-gay tide to the role of religion in Africa, and indicates,

...many African leaders and communities remain hostile to gay people because of pressure from religious leaders.

"Our politicians have great respect for religious leaders and are careful not to disagree with them, especially not on homosexuality," she says.

"So they pretend that homosexuals do not exist or that they can be 'cured' and communicate this message to the community."
You can read the full article here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stopping Gay Marriage Not A CPAC Priority




The CPAC convention has produced some interesting results.

While the news media is generally reporting that the biggest news from the convention was that Ron Paul is the CPAC-ers #1 choice for president, the conservative blog Hot Air has an even more interesting tidbit.

Apparently stopping gay marriage is not a top priority. In fact, it is right there at the bottom, along with not wanting to reduce health care costs (there is a bizarre correlation in that, somewhere, I'm sure).

Click on the above picture for a larger (and clearer) view.

Thanks to Joe. My. God. for highlighting this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ugandan Anti-Gay Pastor Showing Gay Porn In Church




Uganda has officially entered the "Twilight Zone."

According to the BBC, Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the leading proponents of that nation's proposed new anti-gay legislation, has shown gay pornography in his church to bolster his case.

Seriously. You can't make this stuff up. We are talking about the showing of gay porn to families. C'mon, this is positively surreal.

Then there is this, from the USA Today blog:

Pastor Martin Ssempa defends his screening of the porn to 300 church members Wednesday night by telling the BBC, "We have to educate ourselves about what homosexuals do.
I guess there weren't any copies of "Will & Grace" available. Or "Brokeback Mountain," for that matter.

The BBC site added this gem from Ssempa, "In Africa, what you do in your bedroom affects our clan, it affects our tribe, it affects our nation."

He neglected to add how gay Ugandans are now getting screwed by their countrymen.

Fortunately, this has woken up others to just how unfathomably daft these religious loons have become.

Monica Mbaru, from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, apparently made the following comment to the BBC, "I think we are dealing with someone who needs medical help,"

Well.....yes. It would seem that way.

As the BBC reports:

Noma Pakade, from the African gay rights group Behind the Mask, accused the pastor of perpetuating violence by his anti-gay campaign.
"Showing pornography in church in the presence of minors is twisted homophobic propaganda, where homosexuality is equated to paedophilia and pornography," she told the BBC.
Maybe Tim Burton should do a documentary on this. It would be the perfect follow-up to his upcoming "Alice In Wonderland."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Advocate Raises Questions About HRC




The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld (pictured) has just put out an online video that directly questions the relevance and effectiveness of HRC, and President Joe Solmonese, in particular.

The article is titled, "What Happened to 'Yes We Can?'" and makes clear that gay activists want to know of Solmonese "what gives?"

While I have not written extensively about HRC in this blog, I have been on record, at blog sites such as AmericaBlog and firedoglake, as being highly critical of Solmonese. After becoming friendly with a woman in my bowling league, who is both extremely passionate about glbt advocacy and very involved with HRC on a local level, I am now very careful to not smear the entire organization because of my dissatisfaction with some.

As a glbt activist in my own rite I know how easy it is for us to cannibalize our own over policy differences. I also know that there are many advocates and pundits in the community, on both sides of this debate, that are enamored with their own sense of importance and relevance. It seems to go with the territory. And it is why I prefer to take things case-by-case.

The HRC's 2 prime detractors in this piece are a man I greatly admire, Act-Up founder Larry Kramer, along with AmericaBlog's John Aravosis. Kramer is especially harsh and blunt. When you get to the article (which I will link to below) you can see from what Kramer says about Solmonese, in the comments section, that there is no love-fest going on.

I initially got motivated to going back to my glbt activism, and away from my progressive blogging (where I foolhardishly blogged very successfully on Barack Obama's behalf during the campaign, under the pseudonym 'scootmandubious'), by reading some of Aravosis's posts about the glbt community's total disconnect with Obama.

I thought I was going a little crazy in my fairly rapid disillusionment with the man that I worked, in my own small way, to help elect. I was glad to read that others shared my views. I had a brief correspondence with Mr. Aravosis a decade ago, from the days of my glbt newfeeds, which I used to send to subscribers via e-mail, so I was pleased to see how far he had come with his AmericaBlog. He has always been good at positioning and defining himself and his politics. I tend to agree with John on many issues, though not all. 

Meanwhile, I had always been very suspicious of glbt advocacy groups. Actually, outside of Rev. Mel White's Soulforce, the SLDN and NGLTF, I am not particularly impressed with any of the others, for various reasons.

It was understandable, when the GOP ran things, that we would have a hard time scoring legislative victories. So, even though I had been critical of the HRC's efforts, I understood the reality of the result.

The inaction under Obama is inexcusable to me. Just as it was inexcusable under Bill Clinton...the man who gave us DADT and DOMA.

I will leave it at that for now, but watch the video. Where is the anger on Joe Solmonese's face? Where is the outrage? This is a point Mr. Kramer makes and he makes it elffectively. Solmonese actually looks bored. Aravosis is a bit more diplomatic, but raises valid points.

It is not a hatchet job, since Eleveld gives Solmonese more than enough time to defend himself.

Reading the Advocate's comments section, it is clear that the HRC has work cut out for itself. The commenters are extremely critical of Solmonese.

Is it fair criticism? Watch the video and decide for yourself? Personally, I think it is.

You can access the piece here.

Michael Douglas And Matt Damon Are Lovers




Don't you just love titillating headlines?

Actually, this headline is correct if I add....in the new upcoming Liberace bio-pic.

Yes, Douglas and Damon are set to co-star in the film version of Liberace's life story. I am hardly thrilled.

Look, I know that a film like this would probably never get made if it didn't have star power, but what straight men are gonna be flocking to a movie about Liberace (pictured above, decked out in his trademarked slaughtered animals) to begin with?

Remember the scene in "Longtime Companion," when one of the principles described portraying a gay actor on screen as the career kiss of death? He was obviously referring to what happened to the stars of the soaper "Making Love."

Well, times have changed.

With Sean Penn nabbing an Oscar for playing Harvey Milk and Philip Seymour Hoffman getting his for playing Truman Capote, gay roles are now considered de rigueur for serious straight actors seeking major awards. Heath Ledger should have probably won for "Brokeback Mountain."

With all the gay actors out there (no comment on anybody else who appeared in "Brokeback Mountain"), one would think that maybe one of them would have better insight into what made Liberace tick, no?

It is hard to imagine that homophobic Hollywood would ever cast an openly gay man in a straight, romantic leading role, although closet cases often get the parts, which is what makes this hypocrisy so annoying.

However, if you want to read more about the upcoming Stephen Soderbergh-helmed flick, skedded for a 2012 opening, go here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day




I saw this at firedoglake today and had forgotten just how much I absolutely love this scene from "Lady and the Tramp." It is one of my 2 favorite romantic moments from animated films.

So, I thought maybe I should post the other one too.

I will close my Valentine trilogy with one of the best gay love songs you will ever hear.

To show you just what a mush I am....and how utterly off-the-wall ....here is my other all-time romantic, animated movie favorite. I actually get misty each time I watch this. No joke.

It's the final scene from "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Enjoy!

 

I wanted to include one last Valentine's Day video. I do hope to get married someday (of course, the challenge is finding that special person to marry!) and, if I were to think of one song that I would want as a wedding song, I'd have to select the following, which gives me the same chills now, as when I first heard it.

It is "What More Can I Say," from my all-time favorite musical, "Falsettos," and is sung, in this version, by the same actor who did it on Broadway, and who also performs it on the cast recording, Michael Rupert.

This version was found at You Tube and was from a performance that Rupert did in Los Angeles in 1994, with his original co-star Stephen Bogardus. It doesn't get sweeter than this, though how his partner still sleeps at the end is beyond me! ;-)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Accuracy In Media's Kincaid Endorses Ugandan 'Kill The Gays' Bill




I have blogged in the past about the proposed new legislation in Uganda that would, among other things, execute gays for engaging in sexual behavior and incarcerate citizens, including reporters, for not reporting on those one knows to be gay. This, in a country where it is already a crime to engage in same-sex activity.

While some in America have chosen to be vocal about this obscene bill, others are actually demonstrating their utter lack of a moral compass by being apologists for the Ugandans and excusing it. And then there are the most repugnant of all....

Now, a pundit for a right-wing media watcher, the erroneously-named Accuracy in Media, actually endorsed the Ugandan bill, portraying the Ugandan government as the victims.

Last week, Cliff Kincaid wrote a column titled, "Uganda Confronts 'Loud-mouthed Homosexual Lobby.'" In it, Kincaid blames the bad press on alleged "homosexual activists," such as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Jonathan Capeheart of the Washington Post, and writes:

Uganda not only suffered under the murderous dictator Idi Amin, but revolted against a homosexual pedophile King Mwanga in the 1800s, a period in the country's history that is not well-known. The result was the establishment of National Martyr's Day on June 3 in honor of the Christians tortured and killed by Mwanga.
Showing disdain for Uganda's sovereign right to chart its own course in domestic and foreign affairs, the "gay rights" lobby has mounted an aggressive strategy to undermine the government of Uganda and threaten the cut-off of foreign aid if the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda is passed. All of this may have something to do with the fact, as AIM has disclosed, that billionaire George Soros, a major financial backer of the Democratic Party and the "gay rights" movement, has been funding efforts to promote homosexuality and legalized prostitution in Uganda and throughout Africa. The Open Society Institute of Soros calls these activities "the rights of sexual minorities" and "sex work."
This entirely perverse article concludes with quotes from Charles Tuhaise, the CEO of a Ugandan Christian organization. Christian CEO? In other words, one who makes his living off of religious ignorance and bigotry.

Tuhaise told AIM that Uganda needed the support of conservatives from the U.S. but that there is an obvious problem in America itself. He explained, "We sometimes wonder why Americans are not rising up to stop many shocking things happening there, like the predators who are luring children into dangerous sex rings and destroying their lives...In Africa we think of the welfare of the community and we care what is going on in the neighborhood, because whoever takes over your neighborhood has got your kid, too."
In case the subtlety has evaded anyone, Kincaid suggests that killing gays is a good thing because, as Kincaid keeps hammering home, homosexuality supposedly equals pedophilia. His last paragraph suggests it would be a good thing for America to have similar antipgay laws.

The article made my blood boil, so I was relieved to see Media Matters for America rip Kincaid a new one.

On Tuesday, Terry Krepel cited the AIM column, writing:

In fact, one of the offenses of "aggravated homosexuality" that would warrant a death penalty in the bill is being a "serial offender," which the bill defines as "a person who has previous convictions of the offence of homosexuality or related offences." In other words, if you were convicted of previous homosexual behavior -- or even one of the "related offences" such as "failure to disclose" homosexual acts or "conspiracy to engage in homosexuality" -- and were convicted of it again, you could be put to death.
While there has been much discussion of amending the bill, it has not yet been amended. So as the bill currently stands, despite Kincaid's insistence, mere homosexual behavior is a capital offense under the bill, meaning that it will, in fact, "kill the gays."
There are other things Kincaid doesn't mention -- for instance, the fact that the bill applies to Ugandans not living in the country. He's also quiet about another inconvenient fact: In Uganda, HIV has historically been spread mostly through heterosexual or mother-to-child contact.

It seems that, when it comes to his own writing, Kincaid doesn't believe in fulfilling the promise of his employer's name.
You can read the entire Media Matters piece here.

I would like to thank Mr. Kincaid, for saving me the trouble of finding the link to the Ugandan Embassy.

If you would like to express yourself to the Ugandan Ambassador click here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Brendan Burke Killed In Auto Accident




After reading an ESPN story this past November on how Brendan Burke was helping to combat homophobia in sports, I posted on my blog about him.

I was impressed how the then 20 year-old, openly gay son of a legendary NHL executive, was breaking down barriers. John Buccigross had just written a piece on how the Miami University student was serving as student manager of his university's ice hockey team and opening a dialogue about gays in the world of sports.

Yes, he wasn't a player, but he was the son of hockey royalty and his openness and candidness about his sexual orientation are a big deal in a country that still doesn't allow gays to serve openly in the military, for fear of such inane things as community showers.

Burke was viewed with nothing but respect by the Miami players. That there was a need to even feature a story like this at our nation's most pre-eminent sports website was revealing.

Sadly, Burke was killed in an automobile accident in Indiana on Friday. He was 21. His burial was yesterday.

Buccigross has written an equally eloquent piece about Burke's passing. He ended his tribute by speculating about all the things Burke could have accomplished over his next 21 years:

I would have hoped he would have become a teacher and coach at some point; lighting people up with his glow would have been best utilized on the young. He would have indelibly inspired, shaped and motivated kids with his energetic words and actions, and led with a kindly light amid the encircling doom of adolescence and young adulthood.

Burkie would have been the all-time favorite teacher of hundreds of students. He would have written books, spoken at conventions, probably run for local or state office, started a blog, been a guest on television and radio, and probably become well known for many things. But teaching would have been his core strength because his strength was his quest for intimacy. His light was a spotlight ... on you.

And so gently grasping his right arm at the wake and hoping for one beam of light, it dawned on me. Yes, Brendan was a star, but he blazed because he found a little gleam in each of us. If his memory enlightens anything in us, it is this: CONFIDENCE.

A terrible loss for the Burke/Gilmore family and Brendan's friends? Unspeakably and unquestionably. But thank goodness they got the first 21 years, the 21 years friends and families treasure most because the team is almost always together and at its most intimate.

 But Brendan Gilmore Burke's death is an even bigger loss for the people in the future who would have known and experienced him just once or on a daily basis. I feel the loss the most for these unknown faces. Because during the next 21 years, they will never see the light.
Read the full tribute here.

Once again, I would like to recommend sending Mr. Buccigross a thank you for helping to make the late Brendan Burke's life even more meaningful, and letting the world know about the man he was. You can e-mail him at  john.buccigross@espn.com

Anne Hathaway Ditched Catholicism For Gay Brother




If her turn as Jake Gyllenhall's disinterested wife in Brokeback Mountain didn't make her a heroine in the glbt community, some new revelations about her family will.

According to an interview in the British GQ, Hathaway, and her family, left the Catholic Church because of her brother's homosexuality.

The full transcript from the interview is not online, though it is being excerpted elsewhere.

From New York magazine:

Anne grew up wanting to become a nun but shunned Catholicism when she learned her older brother, Michael, was gay.

"The whole family converted to Episcopalianism after my elder brother came out," she tells the magazine. "Why should I support an organization that has a limited view of my beloved brother?"
As the article mentioned, Episcolpalianism didn't exactly work out for her either, but apparently, that wasn't the result of institutionalized homophobia, which the Catholic Church is the embodiment of.

Iowa GOP Rebuffed In Attempts To Roll Back Gay Marriage


Iowa Republicans failed yesterday to start a process of banning gay marriage through a state constitutional amendment. This means it will be at least 4 years before it could come up for a vote in the state.

According to an AP story, found at the Chicago Tribune,

The Republican lawmakers tried procedural moves to pull measures out of committees and force a vote, but they couldn't get enough votes in either the House or Senate.
"There are a lot of folks out there who say they support traditional marriage," said House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, "This is an opportunity to back that up."
Once again, the frauds that inhabit the GOP set up a false argument. Allowing gay couples to marry has nothing to do with the 'support' of traditional marriage.

Democrats control both chambers in Iowa. As opposed to allegedly progressive states like New York and New Jersey, Democrats in the Hawkeye State actually are in sync on pro-glbt issues. In fact, the only House Democrat to side with the Republicans was Rep. Dolores Mertz of Ottosen. That should be remembered when it comes to re-election time.

In case there is any doubt, as bad as the Democrats have been, the GOP absolutely disdains gays and is intent on using gay-friendliness as a reason to vote against a candidate in 2010. It is a strategy that they proclaim proudly. Note the following laughable excerpt from the Tribune report:

Some Republicans said they'll now focus on using the Democrats' vote against them in November elections.
"While our bipartisan effort fell short of gaining the 26 votes needed to proceed, the voters this November will have an opportunity to decide if they are content with the continued Democratic obstruction and inaction," said Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton.
Is there an Alice in Wonderland quality to all this empty rhetoric? It sure would seem so.

The GOP has been successful in defeating gay marriage at the polls, with help from some key Democratic constituencies. Will they succeed in doing the same in Iowa? Not likely.

From Box Turtle Bulletin:

Last year (Republicans) made several attempts at getting an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment up for a legislative vote and were unsuccessful. They chortled that Democrats would be sorry come election time.
But as it has turned out, running opposed to gay marriage has not proven to be a winning strategy. To their surprise, Iowans couldn’t care less about stopping gay folk from marrying. Literally.

The Des Moines Register conducted a poll of Iowans asking, “The state Legislature can address large and small issues during the course of the session. For the following issues, please tell me if you think the issue does or does not deserve the Legislature’s limited time.” Banning gay marriage did not make the cut; only 36% thought it was worth the time discussing.

Not only was it not deemed worthy of legislative time, of the six issues that Iowans were questioned about, addressing gay marriage concerned them the least. Iowans were more concerned about payday loans and puppy mills than they were about whether same-sex couples married.
It looks like the red meat that the GOP thought they had for their fanatical right-wing base is in short supply.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

News Coverage On DADT Starts Improving

While there are still major problems with reporting on "don't ask, don't tell," as I have referred to in recent posts, I am seeing more and more improved coverage. Not just in news reportage on the subject, but in recent editorials and op-eds.

Here is a sampling of some recent pieces.

Ken Adelman, former Reagan arms control director writes that there is one essential reason for lifting the ban, in today's Washington Post,

The British, Australian and Israeli militaries all now have solid experience with open gays in uniform. Their forces don't suffer in performance; the gay service members there don't seem to upset the straight members much. And U.S. forces, though far greater in numbers, don't differ culturally or functionally too much from their colleagues in these militaries.
Exactly! It is what I have been writing all along. If the chief argument is fear of destroying unit cohesion, why has this never happened in the military of our allies, who allow gays to openly serve? There is no good answer to counter this.

The Christian Science Monitor references that piece, and adds another point I have been stressing:

Seventy-five percent of Americans in a 2008 Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993. That included majorities of Republicans as well as Democrats and independents.
That article, by the way, talks about the inevitability of repealing DADT, but suggests that it won't happen soon, because the GOP is trying to score points with social conservatives. Sadly, that may be accurate.

Some Op-Eds and editorials to check out, include the following (click on the links provided):
Clarence Page in the Chicago Tribune
Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial
San Jose Mercury-News editorial

The above sources are just a few of the many pieces that can be found, offering support for the lifting of the disciminatory ban. I expect many similar pieces to be published in the coming weeks.

It's about time.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Progress On Ending 'Dont Ask, Don't Tell'




Some sanity seems to be returning to the proposition of repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

In a major move in the right direction, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen (pictured above), told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the ban on gays should be lifted.

The Wall Street Journal, reporting on the story, said that Adm. Mullen felt that the policy "could be eliminated without harming military morale, recruitment or readiness."

Considering that this has been the experience of all of our Western allies, that is a logical assumption.

Adm. Mullen went further, echoing President Obama:

"It is my personal and professional belief that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."
Ding-ding-ding.....someone in the military upper echelon actually gets it.

While the WSJ story does not mention our allies, it does refer to the fact that a poll last year showed that nearly 70% of Americans supported lifting the ban.

Of course, the GOP, because it is politically opportune for them to do, unanimously are seeking to demonize gays, pretending that the policy is actually correct. This effort is most examplified by John McCain....a man who still thinks that we live in the 60s, when gays were subect to shame and incarceration....when gay men in a CBS documentary had to be filmed in darkness, so that their identities could not be revealed. That is the world McCain inhabits.

Now that his wife and daughter have become gay advocates, McCain feels the need to beef up his social conservative cred, as he is being challenged by the even righter-wing in his own re-election bid.

What DADT reporting SHOULD look like

An article I found today, from Canada's CBC, summarizes the type of reporting that is seriously missing in this country:

The point is, the U.S. remains just about the only Western nation that still officially denies what most of its allies consider a basic human right: The ability to serve as a gay or lesbian soldier
Not that gays and lesbians don't serve. Tens of thousands do, and unknown numbers are fighting and dying in the aforementioned battlegrounds right now.
Let's be clear about this: Homosexual Americans are risking life and limb in the service of their country and their comrades, and no doubt have been since the United States declared independence.
Then comes this zinger:

But this is America, with its deep moralistic streak, so the policy, at least since Bill Clinton instituted it in 1993, has been to pretend gay soldiers don't exist.
The military doesn't ask, and as long as gay troopers don't admit to anything, everything's jake. Unless some third party rats one of them out.
In that case, regrettably, the offending GI must be discharged. Thousands have been: We honour your service, faggot. Now take a hike.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, gave voice to that double standard at a congressional hearing this week.
Just after going on about the "valiant" service of gay soldiers, Chambliss opined that "the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would very likely create an unacceptable risk" to the high standards of the American military.

Nothing remarkable there. It's an old Republican line.
The piece then went on to refer to the suprise of Mullen's remarks, but you get the complete different approach in coverage.

I want every Republican who opposes this policy to be asked if there are ANY reports of a negative effect of allowing gays to openly serve in the military of our allies. I want them to justify booting more than 10,000 fit soldiers in time of war, when our resources are  stretched thin,

It's time for American journalists to grow a pair.




Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bogus ManCrunch Super Bowl Ad Deserves Rejection



Talk about your obnoxious gimmicks.

ManCrunch.com is whining because they are upset that CBS rejected their request to run the above ad during the Super Bowl.

ManCrunch is apparently not even gay-owned. It appears that the owners run a bunch of niche-dating sites like cougarlife.com.

Either way, I find this depiction of gay men to be obnoxious beyond belief. And then, to show an African-American man staring dumb-founded at 2 allegedly gay sports watchers, who suddenly go at it with each other on the couch because their hands touch?

No gay-friendly sponsor would ever put out crap like this.

What ManCrunch did, in their supposed plea to get gays outraged at CBS, is reap a lot of free publicity for themselves. That was their plan. Not positively representing the gay community.

I am glad that CBS rejected this ad.

I wish they had rejected the Tim Tebow ad for Focus On The Family, but that is another story.

This ad is an embarrassment and should cause potential ManCrunch customers to question whether the owners of the site are just using gays to fatten their wallets, as opposed to really hoping to get people connected.

Queerty has a very comprehensive piece on this as well and makes an excellent case for CBS rejecting it. You can read their analysis here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Problem With Media Coverage Of DADT




If the media took the time to properly cover America's flawed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, the bigots (like John McCain) who say it's working just fine would be exposed for the homophobes they are.

Unfortunately, we get articles like today's useless piece from the AP. Sadly, this is the version that will make it into countless papers.

Rather than reprint the entire article (you can link to it here), let me just explain what makes the reporting so offensive.

First, the global model.

I have written about this in the past, but most Americans have no idea that the U.S., along with Turkey, are the ONLY 2 NATO countries that do not allow gays to openly serve. If outlets that reported on lifting the ban as controversial actually took the time to report that simple fact, it would make a huge difference.

Reading from the AP story:

"Lifting the ban poses some emotional questions that go to the heart of the military's command structure and the trust relationships within military units. Among them: Will U.S. troops and leaders tolerate openly gay members in their midst? And if they don't, what should the Pentagon do about it?
That question becomes absurd if the article noted that in all the other countries where gays serve openly (like Israel, for example), gays were readily accepted without any negative results.

Is someone suggesting that American men are too fragile to deal with this, unlike the military of our allies? It would seem so.

Now consider this nugget:

While his promise is being hailed as a good start by gay rights' activists, Obama is finding resistance in several corners. Some high-ranking military officers are reluctant to embrace the change while the forces are stretched thin at a time of two wars.
America has booted a number of gay arabic translators at a time when there were precious few of these specialists to begin with. Did this not compromise our troops in time of war?

And, if over 10,000 gays have already been booted (as the article acknowledges) and many more won't enlist because of the insult of DADT, wouldn't it make sense to end this discriminatory policy BECAUSE we are stretched thin and do not have the manpower we need to occupy 2 countries?

The policy, as it currently stands, dehumanizes gays and asks us to lie, if we want to serve our country.

Finally, nowhere does this article state that polling shows the repeal of DADT to have majority support from all quarters, including conservatives. If it did take the time to report this fact, it would defeat the agenda of the reporter, who has a desire to make the move to repeal seem daring and controversial.

It would be nice if reporters were a bit more honest covering the story, rather than propping up phony arguments and leaving out important facts.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell...The Deal On Repeal




(note: I had fully intended to do more blogging while I was in California...unfortunately, life got in the way!)

As angry as I have been with President Obama's total inaction on glbt issues, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the language he used in his State of the Union address, when he said, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."

I did not expect Obama to include these words in his SOTU and he offered a specific timeline, "this year." I am slightly more hopeful that the repeal may actually happen.

Here's why.

First, it is a bit of a no-brainer.

The chief argument against allowing gays to serve openly in the military is that it would destroy unit cohesion.

At the time this argument was raised, in the mid-90s, there was not much empirical evidence that we could call up to absolutely refute it. But times have radically changed. As of today, the only other NATO nation that does not allow gays to serve openly is Turkey! Gays serve alongside straight soldiers in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and many other nations. And the sky has not fallen.

The argument about the proposed detriment to the military has been proven to be a fallacy.

Additionally, in polling, even among Conservatives, a solid majority supports an end to the ban. So, Obama is hardly ahead of the curve in asking for DADT's repeal.

Second, the loss in Massachusetts, where 22% of Democrats voted for the Republican, made it clear that Obama is in trouble with his party's base.

As long as Rahm Emanuel is Chief-of-Staff, the Obama administration will never be friendly on glbt issues. The promises Obama made in 2008 were merely to grab an influx of gay dollars and campaign footsoldiers, and get himself elected.

Everything Obama has done, to this point, makes it very clear that he has no intention of getting behind gay marriage, which will insure that we will maintain 2nd-class citizenship status.

Repealing  DADT, which has majority support, would be relatively risk-free, and would allow him to still make a pitch for glbt dollars and support in the mid-terms and beyond. And yet, how many times have we heard Obama make empty promises and not deliver? It would be easier to count the solitary number of times he actually kept his word.

Though it was buried at the end of the SOTU, the fact that he gave a timeline made me feel that it was a legitimate pledge.

Not so fast

However, looking at reaction in the past few days, it appears that maybe Obama's pledge was just another empty promise.

Consider:

1) As the Joe. My. God. blog pointed out...a bad sign was sent when the military Joint Chiefs of Staff (pictured above) stood stoically, not applauding, as the president delivered that line, which drew general applause from others.

2) Yesterday, on MSNBC's Hardball, WaPo's Eugene Robinson said that he had information from a WHite House source that the repeal would not be undertaken this year. From AmericaBlog:

Robinson and NBC White House Correspondent Savannah Guthrie were talking about the President's commitment to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell with Chris Matthews. As to whether or not it's really going to happen, Guthrie said: "The proof will be in the pudding. Is this something they try to move forward with with all deliberate speed. Are they going to slow walk it? So, I think in the coming days and weeks we'll know how serious they are about it." That's exactly right. We'll know soon.
Then, Robinson added, "What I heard this morning from somebody at the White House was probably not this year. But, maybe we would be hearing from military brass at some point."
3) Finally, an article in today's NY Times, says the repeal is "not imminent." Observe this gem:

Officials said they were pressing ahead with one of the more controversial items Mr. Obama laid out Wednesday night: repealing the policy barring gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Senior Pentagon officials said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been in close discussions with Mr. Obama on the issue and would present the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out the new policy at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
Changing the policy requires an act of Congress, and the officials signaled that Mr. Gates would go slowly, and that repeal of the ban was not imminent. And it could be a hard sell for the president, even among Democrats; Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Thursday restated his opposition to repealing the ban.
To that, I would like to ask, what would make a proposal with majority support, a policy enacted by virtually all of our allies, "controversial?"

It is just a further indication of how seriously out-of-touch America is on social issues. When it comes to policy matters affecting gays, America is closer to Arab and African nations, than it is to Western countries.

Obama is now on record as working to repeal DADT this year. Let's see if this will be the latest promise to not be followed with true advocacy and, ultimately, become another promise broken.

Because of the president's past track record, I will believe what he says only when I see it followed up with action.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Prop 8 Trial





As I wrote in my last entry, I am currently in California (and will most likely be heading here to live in a few months). I was not able to blog as much as I wanted to during the week I have been here, but I should have a much easier time getting posts in this week.

Rather than play catch-up on the Prop 8 federal trial, currently underway here, I will just pick it up from the most recent developments.

Before I get to that, I do want to send a note of alarm. The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against allowing cameras in the courtroom was a very bad sign. By a 5-4 vote, justices bought into the argument from the right-wing, that they risked harassment if the trial was televised. It could very well be this same majority that further codifies anti-gay discrimination in America. There is a reason to be very concerned. For more on this element of the story, click here.

This week has, so far, featured testimony from San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who for the past couple of years has favored gay marriage over civil unions. This represented a change of policy for Republican Sanders. He indicated that the impetus behind the change was the fact that his lesbian daughter had to go to Vermont to wed, noting  “My daughter deserves the same opportunity to be married in front of friends family and coworkers."

Additionally, according to the San Jose Mercury News,

Lee Badgett, a University of Massachusetts professor, and plaintiffs expert, has outlined four conclusions she's reached on Proposition 8's impact in California, including a "substantial economic harm" to same-sex couples denied the right to marry, as well as damage to California's overall economy. She also will testify on research that there is scant demographic difference between same-sex and heterosexual couples, and no evidence same-sex marriage harms children.
Live Blogging The Prop 8 Trial

There are 2 excellent sites to check out, if you want to follow this trial live.

My favorite progressive blog site is Jane Hamsher's excellent Firedog Lake. Access their live blog on the trial here.

The San Jose Mercury News is also live blogging the trial here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Uganda Appears To Be Backing Off Of Anti-Gay Legislation





The president of Uganda is now giving indications that issuing new punitive measures against Ugandan gays might seriously damage that nation's foreign relations,  There had been earlier reports that Uganda was preparing to back off of their demands for the execution of gays, under certain circumstances.

As I have pointed out in this blog, and has also been addressed by other outlets, merely switching the penalty to life imprisonment (with rehabilitation) is not an option. Additionally, incarcerating Ugandans for not reporting fellow countrymen they know to be gay is unacceptable.

The Guardian quotes president Yoweri Museveni (pictured above) as saying that the anti-gay legislation has now become a

"foreign policy issue."

"When I was at the Commonwealth conference, what was [the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper] talking about? The gays. UK prime minister Gordon Brown ... what was he talking about? The gays," said Museveni.
America is apparently entering the fray finally, following the lead of Europe:

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, had also called him to express strong concerns about the proposed law, he said. "It's a foreign policy issue, and we must handle it in a way that does not compromise our principles but also takes into account our foreign policy interests."
Yeah, some principles.

As, The Guardian reported, American right-wingers have much to answer for:

The final impetus for the proposed legislation came after a conference hosted last year by three controversial US evangelists who claimed that homosexuality was a curable habit and warned of the danger of the international gay "agenda". The evangelists have since, however, criticised the severity of the punishments in the proposed law.
Criticised the severity of the anti-gay legislation? As if any punitive measures would be okay?

I guess the fact that Uganda already crimializes homosexuality isn't good enough.

Access the full story here.


(note: I am in the L.A. area for the next couple of weeks, but I will be reachable via e-mail. I will be able to continue to blog from here.)

Friday, January 08, 2010

NY Post & NY Daily News Make Gays Irrelevant





2 New York tabloids demonstrated this morning why it is so easy for Democratic politicians to not take the issue of gay civil rights more seriously.

Back in the early 90s, when I first came out and began my glbt newsfeeds, I focused on the way that newspapers covered glbt issues. I did this, recognizing that what people read each day in their local paper went a long way towards shaping their perceptions on glbt issues. The same holds true today.

One of the main reasons that attitudes towards gays have been gradually improving and evolving over the years is that there is generally far fairer coverage than there was 20, 30 and 40 years ago. Look back at pre-Stonewall coverage and one can see how far we have come.

Yet, we still have a long way to go.

New York City employs 10s of thousands of New Jerseyites, who make a daily commute in, before trekking back to the Garden State. Many of these workers are gay. There is a reason that New Jersey stories merit extensive coverage in the 2 big city tabloids.

Yesterday, there was a highly significant vote in the New Jersey Senate that effectively confirmed the 2nd-class status of New Jersey's gay citizens, as gay marriage got defeated 20-14 in the state Senate.

Here is how both local papers covered it:

Both the Daily News and NY Post used a very abbreviated Associated Press story (no local reporters) and each relegated the story to the shortest space possible.

In the Post, the story was buried on page 11. Ironically it was about 1/10 the size of a feature on Ellen Barkin's busted heterosexual marriage, which was above it. Actually, Barkin's picture was 5 times larger than the gay marriage piece.

Flirting with disaster

The Daily News (pictured above) was slightly better, in one way, and far worse, in another. At least they put the story on page 3, which showed some sense of the vote's importance.

What made the coverage so offensive? The Daily News headline: "N.J. ends its flirtation with gay marriage bill."

Ends its 'flirtation?'

This is a civil rights issue, but the headline writer at the Daily News makes a mockery of this with a lead-in like that.

If we want to be taken seriously, we need to make sure that the news outlets that cover issues vital to us do the same.