Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from "Straight, No Chaser"

Happy New Year!  Thanks to everyone who visits my blog -- people I know and don't know.  Signing off for today.  Will check in tomorrow!

I swear, no relation to me

Linda Harvey (left)  is spokeswoman for Renew America and author of Ten Ways To Make Kids Truly Safe In 2010.  (I think the subtitle should be "Heterosexual, Christian, non-dating, white kids," but that's my own bias.)  The excellent blog Joe. My. God. quoted the following from Linda Harvey's writings about how to keep kids safe.

Get all pro-homosexual and pro-promiscuity programs, literature, teachers, and counselors out of every school now. Remove “gay” clubs, Planned Parenthood at health fairs, and GLSEN- PFLAG- SIECUS activists. Cease all condom demonstrations, abortion referrals, on-site birth control dispensing, sexual orientation affirmation, and messing with children’s hearts, minds and bodies. Demand that schools uphold the traditional value of heterosexual identities, teach abstinence- until- marriage, and celebrate male/ female gender differences.
Allow—no, welcome-- Christianity back into the American public schools, in community groups, in city council meetings, in the Senate, on city streets, in the courthouse square, in the media, in college lectures. Laugh at the ACLU. Elect judges who agree. Don’t elect presidents who think we are no longer a Christian nation.
 Sounds like a sharp stick in the eye to me.

Karl Rove threatens the sanctity of marriage for a second time

Karl Rove, the man who planned the coast to coast assault on gay couples by ensuring same-sex marriage was on the ballot in at least eleven states -- many of them "swing" states -- is getting divorced for the second time.   The Dallas Voice is reporting that a spokesperson for Rove has asked for "privacy."

I usually try to be somewhat even tempered in this blog, but that request makes my blood boil.

Where was the privacy he denied to thousands of gay couples by masterminding a scheme to put our relationships up to a popular vote?  Where was his respect for privacy for same sex couples when TV ad after TV ad assaulted gay relationships in this country during the 2004 presidential campaign that he ran?  And for the record, Jenny Sanford, who the media is now portraying as a pillar of strength for leaving her husband, Governor Mark Sanford of Virgina, also asked for privacy in light of her divorce.  Make no mistake about it: she, like her husband, is vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage and remained silent when the privacy of so many gay people was violated in all the referenda across the country.  And let's not forget the privacy that Palin family requested after Crystal gave birth out of wedlock.  Where do these people --who think nothing of leading a full assault on the privacy of other Americans-- get off?

An interesting postscript: Rove's first marriage ended a year after the wedding.  And Rove's stepfather, whom Rove considered his father, was a gay man who divorced Rove's mother in the 1960's. Rove kept a photo of him on his desk in the White House.  I was quote surprised when I learned this.  US News and World Report as well as a book about Rove, The Architect, confirms the story.

As the Dallas Voice notes, "The judge should never have granted the divorce. He should have told him that in Biblical times, a divorce could only be granted by a religious panel and that there was no such thing as an “amiable” divorce."  This would be a suitable response for the man who erroneously preached that marriage hadn't changed since Biblical times in order to deny the civil rights of other Americans.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Banning divorce: a satire on Prop 8

 A pretty funny satire on banning divorce

The passing of a remarkable woman: Ann Louise Nixon Cooper

When President-elect Obama addressed the nation on Election Night, he talked about a woman named Ann Louise Nixon Cooper.
He said, “She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing—Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons: because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.”

Ann Louise Nixon Cooper died last week. She was 107 years old.

Karen Bigsby Bates met Mrs. Cooper this summer to help her write her life story.  On the website The Root, the journalist tells us that Mrs. Cooper  “was born outside Nashville when there weren’t many cars on the road, when the memory of the Civil War was still fresh, when a black local official was unthinkable, let alone a black president. She came to Atlanta as the young bride of a freshly minted dentist from Meharry Medical College, and together they built a life of community service and social involvement.”

And engage in service she did.  One of her many projects was to start a Boy Scouts Troop for African American boys in the 1930’s.  She saw that none existed, so she  created one.

“We just did those things back then,” Mrs. Cooper explained. “We didn’t wait around for anyone to tell us whether or not we could. We did it because it was needed.”

James Withers, a contributing editor to the  blog 365gay, makes an important point about the LGBT rights movement and Mrs. Cooper’s attitude: “a decent movement can handle severe criticism; however, in all of the gloom and doom we forget the community, such as it is, has people and organizations who are not waiting around and doing good work because it is needed.”

We need more Ann Louise Nixon Coopers in this world.

Great News from Central and South America

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Mexico City is one step closer to making same-sex marriage available to gay couples. On Tuesday the city's mayor, Marcelo Ebrard (left), signed the bill into law.  The bill passed the legislature by a fairly large margin.  Mayor Ebrard rejected calls for a veto by the National Action Party and the Roman Catholic Church, both claiming that the law is "an affront to the traditional family."  Cardinal Norberto Rivera was quoted as saying, "We have seen with impotence, pain and consternation ... [this] blow to the most intimate structure of Mexican families, the institution over which our nation has built its rich history, values and spirituality."

Two gay rights activists from Argentina, Jose Maria DiBello and Alex Freyre (right), were married in the Tierra del Fuego province of the country on Monday.  Legal battles had postponed the wedding of the two men when a a judge in Buenos Aires prohibited the couple from marrying.  But the Argentine Constitution says nothing about the matter, so Fabiana Rios, the governor of the southern province, supported the union of the two in her jurisdiction.  The BBC reports that Bishop Juan Carlos, of the southern Argentine city of Rio Gallegos, called the marriage "an attack against the survival of the human species."

That sounds a bit over the top.  Unless you believe that this gay marriage thing will catch on and heterosexual marriage will become obsolete.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yup. The snow is a bummer on the back paws.

EMBED-Puppy Hates Snow - Watch more free videos

Nastiness in the Illinois Senate Race

Here's an excerpt from an interesting story from the Chicago Tribune.  The front runner cited is Representative Mark Kirk (left).

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Top Illinois Republicans condemned a perennial candidate's decision Monday to air a political ad questioning the sexual orientation of the party's front-runner in the US Senate race.

The Republican Party said it would no longer consider Andy Martin (right) a legitimate candidate.

"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," said party chairman Pat Brady.

Fellow Senate candidate Patrick Hughes said the radio ad has no place in the campaign. Dan Proft, a GOP candidate for governor, called it repugnant.

The article continues by noting that Kirk's campaign manager said that the ad "is degrading to the political process. The people of Illinois deserve better."

True enough.  But the Republican Party doesn't really make it clear what's degrading about it.  Being called gay?  Or using gay as an insult?  All too often these sorts of accusations -- if one can be "accused" of being gay -- are met with proclamations of disgust and vehement denials.  Another article in the Tribune notes Martin's history of bizarre attacks, including an accusation that George Bush was a cocaine addict.  But the unspoken message is that being gay is the same as having an addictive illness.  Or that being gay is "as bad" as falsely labeling someone as gay. Of course it isn't.  And it will be a good day when someone notes this when denying rumors and false statements.  It will be a better day when we don't have to note this, when calling some gay will be seen as ridiculous as calling someone Catholic or female or -- fill in the blank.

One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.

--First Lady Michelle Obama

Oh, Canada

Well, after a surprisingly long 14 hour drive we are in our home away from home, Toronto.  The wait at the border was 3 1/2 hours.  We forgot that this was the last day of a long weekend for Canadians, who celebrate Boxing Day. Couple that with a few snow storms on the way (including a lake effect storm in Buffalo) and possibly increased vigilance after the latest terrorist attempt and our trip was 4-5 hours longer than usual.

Of course, so much time in the car allowed me time to think.  And one thing I thought about was how our marriage status changed as we traveled from Boston to Toronto.  It's pretty crazy.

1. In Massachusetts we were in a state that allows same-sex couples to get married and that acknowledges same-sex marriages from outside the state.  Pretty straight forward, no pun intended.

2. In New York we were in a state that doesn't allow same-sex marriage but does recognize same-sex marriages from other states, including ours.  A little more complicated.

3. In Canada we are in a country that allows same-sex marriage but doesn't recognize our marriage because foreign governments generally only recognize agreements that are recognized but the federal government of the United States.  And since the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the U.S. federal government from recognizing a same-sex marriage from Massachusetts, Canada can't recognize our marriage.  (Usually, however, in practice they do.  When we enter Canada by air, we are usually allowed to fill out one customs card as "family," although this is at the whim of the customs agent.  Compare this to the US customs agent who, once we told him we were married in Massachusetts, sternly admonished us and sent Bruce back to the line so he could process us separately -- even though we had filled out separate cards.  File this under "ever wonder why we call it hate?")

More tomorrow.  It's 2:00 AM (we arrived at 1:30 AM) and are winding down, along with our bassets, Shakespeare and Willa, who are just as happy to be sleeping on the sofa as Bruce and I are to have finally reached our destination.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Free speech issues in Washington, DC

There's a free speech debate happening in Washington, DC right now, and some LGBT groups find that they aren't in agreement about what to do.  At issue is a media campaign orchestrated by anti-marriage equality groups.  As part of this campaign, they have bought space on public buses that urge a vote on gay marriage.  (Here's my own two cents here: I know there are pro-equality people who support referenda, but I think they are rare.  The "let the people vote" campaign -- which we saw in Massachusetts a number of years ago -- is really let the people vote to oppose same-sex marriage.)   Full Equality Now has requested the advertisements be taken down, citing that because of their location "they cannot be avoided... countless LGBT citizens are forced to stare down discrimination as they board the bus to go somewhere or are even passed by an advertisement on the street."  Other activists like Mitch Wood, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, believe allowing the ads supports freedom of expression.  The alliance's statement in opposition to taking down the ads refers to a moment in history when LGBT advocates used buses to advertise:
As supporters of civil marriage equality, we also embrace the principle of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which makes our own advocacy possible. Indeed, the then-named Gay Activists Alliance thirty years ago won a court battle against WMATA for the right to place educational posters in Metrobuses with the message, 'Someone In Your Life Is Gay.' WMATA is a quasi-governmental body and is thus subject to the First Amendment. We, the undersigned, therefore urge you to reject the misguided censorship advocated by Full Equality Now DC.
It's a tough question.  I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Were the Golden Girls ahead of their time?

Five more stories of 2009

Here are the second five LGBT stories of 2009.  Again, they are in no particular order:

6. The Ugandan government considers a bill that would make homosexuality punishable by death.  Top notch reporting by folks like Rachel Maddow brought this story to the attention of millions.  Not only was the Ugandan government condemned -- and it looks like this condemnation worked to stop the death penalty of LGBT people -- the relationship between the Ugandan government and prominent religious and political figures were also uncovered.

7. Losses in Maine and in New York. Heartbreaking?  Of course.  But the loses highlighted two of the most moving moments this year: Ruth Hassell-Thompson's (right) stunning speech in the New York State Senate and the testimony of Phillip Spooner, the WWII vet who spoke out against the referendum in Maine.

8. President Obama signs a hate crimes bill that includes LGBT people. To have the government even acknowledge LGBT people without condemnation was unique after eight years of George Bush.

9. The war expands in Afghanistan. Yes, this story affected everyone deeply.  But the increase in troops in  Afghanistan  -- no matter what your feelings about the escalation -- highlighted once more the absurdity of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As more and more of our troops are sent to this war, fewer and fewer are available for anything else.  In this light, is it logical to deny thousands and thousands of capable people the right to serve?  And remember: the first George Bush temporarily suspended the prohibition of LGBT people in the military during the first Gulf War.  Almost 20 years later, repealing that ban permanently is still being debated.

10. Intolerance grows in the right wing media.  I know.  This may seem impossible.  But the right wing media -- Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity (left) to name a few -- has led the charge to rid the Republican party of anyone who speaks with a modicum of moderation.  It is leading a purity movement that will either destroy the party or profoundly change our country.  From calling President Obama "a racist" to attacking Kevin Jennings for being gay, the right wing media has become more radical and hyperbolic.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Misinformer of the Year...

Media Matters has put together this video about the Misinformer of the Year.  Glenn Beck has also earned a spot on my ten news stories of the year.

Top LGBT events of 2009

Because everyone seems to love top ten lists, whether they be about movies or books or world events, I've done some thinking about the top LGBT events of 2009.  For years I've compiled lists like these in my mind.  Now that I have the chance to actually write one of these lists out, here it is!

It was a big year for LGBT rights.  It wasn't necessarily the best of times and the worst of times, but it most definitely was a mixed bag.  But a mixed bag is certainly better than a bag filled with coal.  Here, then, are what I consider the events that most affected the LGBT community in no particular order.  I'll do five today and five tomorrow.

1. Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States.  Nothing seemed to epitomize the state of LGBT rights better than the inauguration.  We finally had a gay friendly president in the White House.  But opening the ceremony was Rick Warren, a minister who did not allow LGBT people into his church and who compared LGBT relationships with incest.  Then again, openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson gave the invocation to the inaugural week.  But his prayer wasn't televised.

2. Marriage equality comes to New Hampshire, Vermont,  and Iowa. Both New Hampshire and Vermont had civil union laws on the book and both states expanded LGBT rights to marriages with a modicum of opposition.   These two victories should serve as a reminder that there are many ways to get to same-sex marriage rights, and civil unions may be oneof them. Same-sex marriage in Iowa was legalized through the Supreme Court.  And let's not forget Washington, DC, which will offer same-sex marriage in 2010 unless the US Congress steps in, something they are unlikely to do.  Remember this when we are lamenting about Maine, New York, and California. And let's no forget international progress, including the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in Mexico City.

3. Ted Kennedy dies.  It would be hard to find a politician who understood the nature of oppression and the difficulty in acquiring one's civil rights than Ted Kennedy.  He will be sorely missed.

4. Sean Penn wins the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Harvey Milk.  Not only was his characterization of Harvey Milk brilliant, in his speech at the Oscars in February he explained to millions of people why proposition 8 was deeply immoral.

5. Annise Parker is elected Mayor of Houston.  When the fourth largest city in th country -- and a Southern City at that -- elects an openly gay mayor, despite vicious attacks against her because of she is a lesbian, then it is time to celebrate.

Tomorrow: five more to add to the list.  Most likely written on the New York Thruway on our trip to Toronto.  I received a mobile modum for Christmas. Will it lead to convenience or obsession?  I'm afraid I already know the answer.

Friday, December 25, 2009


The excellent blog Gay Persons of Color cites a quote from the heterosexual Matthew Morrison, the star of the very gay hit TV series Glee.

"I grew up singing and dancing, so people have been calling me gay since fifth grade. I've heard everything you could possibly hear about it. But I do love gay people, so I'm not going to act like I was insulted or angry about it."

Compare this reaction to Ron Livingston, the actor who played the lover who dumped Carrie Bradshaw on a post-it note in the also quite gay Sex and the City.  He is now suing wikipedia for libel because someone has hacked the site and reported that Livingston is gay.  For the record, Ron Livingston is married to the Rachel Getting Married actress, the wonderful Rosemary DeWitt.  What's more than a little sad is the actual definition of libel, which means, "defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures." A question for you Ron.  Instead of going to court to claim you have been defamed, why not just  explain to the public that we need to get over feeling like the "gay" label is a vicious attack?

Let's reverse this for a second.  Let's assume that someone wrote that Ellen was straight.  Let's further assume that Ellen takes this person to court to sue for "defamation of character."  Pretty absurd, isn't it?

Boy, do we have a long way to go when being labeled gay is still considered defaming character.

Dogs and Christmas

Christmas songs from one of my favorite singers....

We saw Frederica von Stade in Septembet in Toronto and she sang just as beautifully then as she does in this clip from an earlier Christmas concert.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dancing with the czars

The latest attack against Kevin Jennings is from the Augusta Chronicle in Georgia.  In addition to the many falsehoods in the editorial, the writers don't even get his name right, calling him "Keith Jennings" throughout the piece.  One accusation -- that GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) encourages underage sex -- in an insult not only to Kevin Jennings but to the many teachers (there are thousands and thousands of us) who have belonged to the organization over the years.

Calling Jennings a "czar" is an interesting word choice that feels a little like McCarthy-type accusations of communism. And Jennings isn't the only one the paper calls a "czar."  Here are a few others, taken directly from the editorial:

1. Carol Browner, Obama's energy and climate czar, (left) was a major player with a socialist group that advocated " 'global governance' and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change."

2. Science czar John Holdren (right) co-authored a textbook in the 1970s that floated the ideas of forced abortion and mass sterilization.

3. Mark Lloyd, Obama's FCC diversity czar,(left) was a fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, and has had conservative talk radio in his crosshairs for quite some time. He thinks Venezuela is a good example of media equity. You remember Venezuela -- its dictator has quashed the free reporting of news containing even a whiff of partisan dissent.

And on and on.  I doubt that even Mother Teresa would get a pass with the right wing media, as long as President Obama named her to a post.  (I can read it now: You think she was just feeding the poor? The non-American born Mother Teresa, now the Anti-Poverty Czar, has a long history of communist tactics to redistribute wealth in India.)

Thanks to The Advocate for running the story that led me to the editorial.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

I'll be blogging a little less frequently the next few days.  First there's Christmas with my husband and step daughters.  Then there's driving to our home away from home -- Toronto!  It's our favorite place on earth.  So for now, I'll leave you with a photo of our two beloved basset hounds, Shakespeare (yawner in photo) and Willa (spaced out in photo).  They are two of our three bassets (one died two summers ago) named after gay or "questioning" writers: Shakespeare, Willa (Cather) and Oscar (Wilde) RIP.

News bits

1. The Daily Monitor is reporting that Uganda’s President, Mr. Museveni, has informed the U.S. State Department that if the anit-gay legislation which includes the death penalty passes, he will veto the legislation.  Some Republican congressmen have also written a letter urging the Ugandan Parliament not to pass the law.  Let's be real here: none of this would have happened without intense pressure and great reporting by some in the media, especially Rachel Maddow (above).  Without the pressure, members of Congress and Rick Warren would have remained silent.

2. Officials from Washington, DC have filed a request that the court throw out a suit to make the recent same-sex marriage vote in the city a referendum question.  The Board of Elections and Ethics already ruled that the matter could not be put on the ballot because it involves a civil rights issue.  It's nice to see the government working on our side, for once.

3. The anti-marriage equality people in Iowa are working to take away same-sex marriage rights by trying to put the issue on the ballot.  The process is lengthy, however, and requires two legislative votes in two consecutive years before a referendum can reach the voters. Lets hope by the time a referendum is possible that enough hearts and minds will have changed to defeat it.

4. The Roman Catholic Church is petitioning the courts for a referendum in Mexico City to overturn the council's vote for same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the Vatican has not uttered one word about the death penalty law being discussed in Uganda. What does that mean?

5. Studio bosses are drinking double time over Robert Downey Jr.'s suggestion on David Letterman that Sherlock Holmes, Downey's latest role, might be gay.  Apparently, some studio executives are not too pleased with Downey's appearance on Letterman.  One publicist said that they didn't want the movie to become Brokeback Mountain 2.  It wasn't the first time Downey has hinted at his character's sexual orientation.  Earlier he had said that the movie was about "two men who happen to be room-mates, wrestle a lot and share a bed." 

6.  This has nothing to do with gay anything, but liberal icons Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have split and this makes me surprisingly sad.

More news about the conflict between the judge and the executive branch

Last week I blogged about the conflict between the Obama Administration (specifically, the Office of Personnel Management or OPM) and Judge Alex Kozinski of U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who decided that one of its employees, Karen Golinski, was eligible for spousal benefits for her partner. OPM  contacted Blue Cross Blue Shield, the provider of health insurance, and requested they not follow the judge's order.  Judge Kozinski responded by writing that the separation of powers required the administration to allow the coverage for Golinski's partner.  OPM responded with two Friday afternoon press releases stating it objections , including an assertion that the court order violated the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a law that Candidate Obama  stated should be repealed.

Sound confusing?  It is.  But maybe a statement from Judge Kozinski released on Tuesday will help clarify.  In it, he ruled that because the Obama administration never formally appealed in court to his decision.  Friday afternoon press releases actually don't mean anything in a court of law.  So now Judge Kozinski has ruled, as Carol King once sang, it's too late, baby, it's too late.  Specifically he wrote:

The time for appeal from my orders in this matter, dated January 13, 2009 and November 19, 2009, has expired. Only the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association ("Blue Cross'') has filed a timely notice of appeal; it petitioned the Judicial Council for review of my November 19, 2009, order on December 17, 2009. My prior orders in this matter are therefore final and preclusive on al1 issuesdecided therein as to others who could have, but did not appeal, such as the Office of Personnel Management ("OPM'') and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

As the jurisdictional issues presented in Blue Cross's petition for review are separate and distinct from those concerning my now conclusively-determined jurisdiction over governmental entities such as OPM, l authorize Ms. Golinski to take what further action she deems fit against any entity other than Blue Cross, without waiting for the Judicial Council's disposition of Blue Cross's appeal.
Translation?  The Obama Administration and OPM has lost its chance to appeal.  And Ms. Golinksi is free to pursue whatever means necessary (except sue Blue Cross) to  acquire the benefits Let's see where this goes now.

Many thanks to Lambda Legal for providing this information on its website Tuesday.

A pretty joyous video

It all started when Shorecrest High posted a music video that was shot in one take -- no editing whatsoever.  A rival school, Shorewood High, decided to one up the school with their own music video of Hall and Oates' song, You Make My Dreams Come True.  It was also shot in one take.  And also shot backwards.  The "singers" learned the song backwards, and mouthed their lips accordingly -- mouthing the words after learning them phonetically in reverse.  I've watched this video about five times over the last couple of days, and my mouth still drops when the paper airplanes fly into the hands of the kids.  It's all pretty amazing.  And pretty joyous. 

Eric McCormack and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on same-sex marriage

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Video clip: Same-sex marriage in Mexico City

Wooing the Right Wing

Alvin McEwen, the excellent blogger at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, provides yet another example of how politicians go from doing the right thing to wooing the right wing.  Today's example?  Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (left).  Back in 1993 he voted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, public accommodations, and employment.  Now Governor Pawlenty is seriously considering a run for the Republican nomination for President.  Do I even have to finish this entry to tell you what he says about that law now?

It's become all too familiar.  Governor Pawlenty, of course, has pulled a Mitt Romney (right).  Says Pawlenty:
I regretted the vote later because it included things like cross-dressing, and a variety of other people involved in behaviors that weren't based on sexual orientation, just a preference for the way they dressed and behaved. So it was overly broad. So if you are a third-grade teacher and you are a man and you show up on Monday as Mr. Johnson and you show up on Tuesday as Mrs. Johnson, that is a little confusing to the kids. So I don't like that.
Thank goodness someone is saving third graders from cross-dressing teachers!  Of course, Pawlenty is playing on fear of transgendered people in a very ugly way.  And Freud might have something to say about him choosing the name "Mr. Johnson"-- but I won't go there.

When history is finally written about the LGBT fight for equal rights, there will be a special chapter on cowards like Pawlenty who backtracked after doing the right thing for their own political gain.

Why I no longer give to the Salvation Army

Don't get me wrong.  I believe the Salvation Army does some wonderful things.  It's on the front lines of helping the poor.  And what would Christmas be without the ringing of the Salvation Army bells?  It's part of the holiday landscape.  And my grandmother was a member of the Salvation Army.  Members of the group were the major speakers at her funeral.

But I haven't given to the Salvation Army for many years now.  Why?  Not only is their money spent on the completely laudable endeavor of helping the poor; it is also spent to lobby against a group of Americans.  Guess who they are?  LGBT people.

The Salvation Army is a religious group.   Let's for the sake of argument state that they have the right to discriminate against LGBT people and not allow them to participate in their outreach.  (Religious groups are exempt from many non-discrimination laws.) It doesn't mean I have to give money to them, especially when my contribution can be used against me since the group will spend at least some of these funds trying to convince my government that I am a sinner not worthy of basic rights.

There are so many other organizations I can contribute to that do the same thing.  I don't have to cut back on my charitable giving in order to give to an organization that respects me as a human being.  And that doesn't then use my money to make sure I'm not treated like everyone else.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Same-sex marriage makes it to Mexico City!

This just in from the LA Times (as edited by Pam's House Blend):

The bill calls for changing the definition of marriage in the city's civil code. Marriage is currently defined as the union of a man and a woman. The new definition will be "the free uniting of two people. 
The change would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, apply for bank loans together, inherit wealth and be included in the insurance policies of their spouse, rights they were denied under civil unions allowed in the city. ..
Argentina's capital became the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex civil unions in 2002 for gay and lesbian couples. Four other Argentine cities later did the same, and as did Mexico City in 2007 and some Mexican and Brazilian states. Uruguay alone has legalized civil unions nationwide.

Buenos Aires lawmakers introduced a bill for legalizing gay marriage in the national Congress in October but it has stalled without a vote, and officials in the South American city have blocked same-sex wedding because of conflicting judicial rulings. ...
City lawmaker Victor Romo, a member of the mayor's leftist party, called it a historic day. "For centuries unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans," he said. "Today all barriers have disappeared."

On this blog, dogs are never off topic

Such courage in Uganda

The blog GayUganda ran an extraordinary story of courage yesterday.  As is by now well known, there is a bill before the government that would make homosexuality punishable by death.  Anyone who knows of a gay person and does not report that person within 24 hours is subject to three years in prison.  Whether or not this bill passes, it's pretty clear that some bill will pass and that homosexuality will be criminalized. In this environment, it's hard to believe anyone would publicly self identify as LGBT.  But not only did one gay couple do just that, they had a commitment ceremony in the country.

The writer of the blog, a gay man invited to the wedding, describes the ceremony at length.  Here are a few of his observations.  The police described did not know that a same-sex ceremony was going on inside the compound.

An enclosed compound, which was secured. Two armed policemen at the gate. Well, we can hire the police, like all other Ugandans. The details of the ceremony is our damned business. As long as they keep out inquisitive others. And, they did try to.

Music, talking, ritualized counseling. They happened, the kuchus now happy that the secret was out. They were delirious with joy. Two of their number were actually coming out and making their partnership official. In the traditional way. Such gossip has wings. Crowd at the gate grew big. They wanted to know what was happening inside, in the compound. The rumours were too tantalizing. The music, the atmosphere of gaiety too tempting. They wanted to know.
And these final words, which say everything:

        They were stupid. They were human. I love their stupidity and humanity.

        Err, the punishment for this ‘gay marriage’ in the Bahati/Benson Anti-Homosexuality Bill in parliament now?

        Life imprisonment for the Happy Couple. For us the celebrants, 3 years in prison if we  fail to reveal the marriage to police within 24 hours.  If we are not lynched by the       enraged crowd 

        Sadly, now we have to deal with the backlash.

        It was an exceedingly stupid, incredibly foolish thing to do.

        It was, and is, human. Poignantly, absolutely, completely human.

Even in Canada....

Even in Canada, where same-sex marriage in law of the land and where, at least in the metropolitan areas, LGBT life is seemingly accepted, hatred is simmering.  It's hard to believe when you walk down the streets of Toronto, where all couples -- gay and straight -- feel comfortable holding hands.  Of course, Canada is a huge country.

Here's the story.  The Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, ran a story on a photograph/holiday card sent from a Canadian politician, Scott Brison, who is a member of parliament from Nova Scotia.  Scott is with his husband of two years, Maxime St. Pierre, and their golden retriever, Simba.  Although Mr. Brison has stated that there is no "Brokeback Mountain" homage intended, as has been claimed by some.  (One has to wonder: So what if it was?)

In any case, The Globe and Mail ran a story on the Christmas card.  The result?  The newspaper posted this statement not long after the story ran on-line, with room for comments:

Comments have been disabled

Editor's Note: Comments have been closed due to an overwhelming number of hateful and homophobic remarks. We appreciate that readers want to discuss this issue, but we can't allow our site to become a platform for intolerance.
 Here's one more example why some of us call some of the opposition hateful. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A very short....and very outrageous video clip from the Family Research Council

The dancing traffic cop

Okay.  This a little off topic for this blog but try not to smile as you watch it.

Holiday cheer from the Boston Gay Men's Chorus

The BBC makes a weak attempt at an apology

A few days ago I wrote about the on-line BBC discussion entitled, "Should Homosexuals Face Execution?" Well, the BBC has apologized. But according to the Associated Press, it was the title of the debate, not the substance, that the BBC management agreed was offensive:
BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks wrote in a blog posted on the broadcaster's Web site: "We apologize for any offense it caused." He said the headline was too stark in hindsight. Editors had changed it to "Should Uganda debate gay execution?" after they closed down the debate.
In its apology, the BBC defended their decision to debate the Ugandan bill.  I'm all for freedom of speech and won't question the station's right to debate whatever it wants. But can anyone think of a time in recent history when a British news organization posed the question of whether a class of people should actually be put to death? 

Unfortunately, the ensuing debate brought out the worst in people.  It was clear that the very question gave some people who commented on the BBC website a chance to spew their hate.  What were the folks at the BBC thinking?  How could you possible have a reasoned argument for killing a group of people for no other reason than who they are?

Washington, DC Snowstorm: Take that, says God

About the only thing that surprises me in this story (that was reported in the excellent blog MediaMatters) is that DC Mayor Fendy's signature on the gay marriage bill wasn't thrown into the mix of reasons why God would bring down his wrath on the city.

Redstate Editor Erik Erikson is reporting that "God hates the Democrats' health care deform. With funding death panels and abortions, of course the Almighty would send a snow storm or.... a snowpocalypse to shut down Washington."

The Lord works in mysterious ways, I guess. This whole heath care passage has brought out quite a few, shall we say, "fringe voices."  Chuck Norris said the other day that under this health plan, The Virgin  Mary might have had an abortion and therefore God never would have been born.  I won't address the fact that under this present health care bill, abortion is severely restricted.  Nor will I suggest that Blue Cross Blue Shield really hadn't taken down roots back then.  I'll just say Who are these people and what planet are they from?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Campaign against Kevin Jennings: the video

This video has been contradicted by the very people it mentions.  (Thanks to a reader who provided the following link that addresses the falsehoods:

Those of us who know Kevin Jennings and his work know that the organization he helped found, GLSEN, has saved the lives of LGBT youth.  He's yet another target in the culture wars. Oh, a mere coincidence, I'm sure.  The Family Research council has made an inaccurate, destructive video about another administration official, Chai Feldblum, the new Commissioner of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Guess what?  She's gay, too. 

A blog entry I didn't want to write

It really saddens me to write this entry.  In October, I argued that we should be patient with the Democrats and President Obama about LGBT issues.  I'm still willing to be patient in repealing Don't Ask, Don't tell as well as the Defense of Marriage Act. I know President Obama has lots on his plate.  I'm willing to be patient, but my patience is wearing thin.  Recent news reports say that Democratic leaders will not address ANY LGBT concerns next year, for fear of losing seats in the Congressional elections.  Newsflash: after the health reform mess, Afghanistan, the lack of support for LGBT issues, the Democratic base might very well stay home next November.  We can actually learn from Republicans.  George Bush always rallied his base when things got tough.  The base responded.

Again, I'm patient about legislation.

But I'm not patient about obstructionist tactics that remind me far too much of the Bush Administration.  Case in  point: the recent resistance from the Obama Administration to follow a court order and allow health benefits for the partner of a lesbian federal employee.   Here are the facts:

1.  Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (left) of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that one of its employees, Karen Golinski, (photo right; in pink) was eligible for spousal benefits for her partner.

2. The Obama Administration intervened, citing a potential violation of the "Defense of Marriage Act" -- a law Candidate Obama called "abhorent" during the election and promised to repeal.

3. Chief Judge Kozinski  -- a Reagan appointee! -- further concluded in a court order that, as described by Lambda Legal, "the Ninth Circuit MUST not discriminate against Karen Golinski with respect to the health insurance benefits portion of her compensation, and that the Separation of Powers doctrine of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the court to take appropriate steps to treat its workers fairly, and prevents employees of the Executive Branch from interfering with the functioning of the Judicial Branch in these circumstances."

4. The Obama Administration has ignored the court order and refuses to provide health care benefits to the lesbian couple.

I can be patient about laws.  I can even be patient about marriage.  It's one thing not to advance the agenda.  It's quite another to obstruct progress.  As of today, the Obama Administration has refused to even engage in legal arguments about the case.  Instead, it has stated -- on Friday afternoons, the dead time in the media -- that it will not comply with the court order.  If this were an issue that was more publicized, it could be considered a constitutional crisis. 

This attitude saddens me beyond belief.  When I voted for Candidate Obama, I knew he would disappoint many of us because expectations were just too high.  I understood that.  I knew that he would try to govern from the middle.  Still, my vote for him was the most enthusiastic vote of my life.  What I didn't expect -- and what shocks me -- is that his administration would actually be a roadblock to equality.

I hope the administration comes to its senses and realizes that it is acting in complete contradiction to the the "hope" message that propelled Barack Obama to victory.  If the Democrats regain their footing and realize what they should be about, I'll gladly be with them.  Until then, the "Proud to be a Democrat" bumper sticker comes off my car.