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.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Inspiring video about marching on after the New York defeat

DC's historic moment: Mayor signs same-sex marriage law

Mayor of DC signs marriage bill

 In the midst of all the bad news the LGBT community has been getting, today there was a wonderful respite. DC Mayor Fenty (left) signed the same-sex marriage bill with great fanfare, in All Souls Church, a Unitarian Universalist congregation.  After signing, he graciously handed the pen to  Councilor David Catania (I-At Large), who is openly gay and co-sponsored the measure.  Unless Congress steps in and stops the bill, same-sex marriage will be the law in DC in thirty days.  Here are Mayor Fenty's remarks at the ceremony:

Today, an era of struggle ends for thousands of District residents who have been denied the  fundamental to right to marry the person of their choosing

Today, the city is taking a leap forward in ensuring freedom and equality for all residents.

This is a historic and extraordinary moment in the nation's capital. And I am proud to be the Mayor of a city that stood up against an issue that tramples the basic rights and civil liberties of our neighbors, families and friends.

Last month when the DC Council introduced the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, you came out in vast numbers in support of it. You gathered, testified and made it known to the world that we will no longer endure the weight of marriage inequality, not now, not ever.

Marriage inequality is a civil rights, political, social, moral, and religious issue in this country and many nations. And as I sign this act into law, the District from this day forward will set the tone for other jurisdictions to follow in creating an open and inclusive city.

Rachel Maddow exposes senators who want to pray away heath care

Okay.  Why would Jesus want to kill health care for all people?  

Secretary of State Clinton speaks directly about LGBT rights

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thank you, Mayor Fenty

Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty will sign the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment of 2009 tomorrow morning at 10:45  at All Souls Church, Unitarian in New York City.  

Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo! 

 Thank you, Mayor Fenty, for doing the right thing!    

What about Maryland? Could it be next?

Here's an abridged version of a blog entry from

With Washington, D.C. moving forward to recognize same-sex marriage, a lot of eyes are starting to wander over to its neighbor to the north, Maryland. There, the state's attorney general has a pretty big decision to make that could affect a whole bunch of same-sex couples.

Attorney General Douglas Gansler (left)  has to decide whether Maryland can recognize legal gay marriages that are performed out of state. Or, in other words, will two men or two women who tie the knot in D.C. still be legally married when they go shop for furniture at the IKEA in College Park, Maryland?

The Baltimore Sun has some very curt words for Atty. Gen. Gansler, urging Gansler to move his ass on the issue of marriage equality. "...the issue of gay marriage is now at Maryland's doorstep, and it increases the urgency for Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler to rule on whether the state is permitted to recognize same-sex marriages from other states," writes Sun blogger Andy Green. "It's hard to conceive of what, exactly, is taking Mr. Gansler so long."

That's a very good question. Sure, when it comes to state law, you want to make sure you have your i's dotted and your t's crossed. But a six-month delay in answering whether legal gay marriages committed in places like Massachusetts, Iowa, and soon-to-be D.C., are legal?

Have to love Al Franken

Next marriage stop: Portugal?

Here's a story from

Portugal’s Socialist government has drawn up a proposal that would make Portugal the sixth European country to allow gay marriage
The law is almost certain to pass, as the center-left Socialist government has the support of all left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties oppose the measure.
The proposal changes Portuguese law to remove references to marriage being between two people of different sexes, Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira told a news conference Thursday, adding the government will send its proposal to lawmakers for a debate, probably in January.
If approved by Parliament, the proposed law goes to Portugal’s conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who can ratify or veto it. A veto can be overturned by Parliament.
If there is no presidential veto, the first gay marriage ceremonies could take place in April – a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on a four-day official visit.
Gay marriage is currently permitted in five European countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trailer for the movie "Don't Ask"

 Here's a trailer for soon-to-be-released film about LGBT people in the military, Don't Ask.

Are you kidding me?

The BBC has come under heavy criticism for hosting an online debate on whether or not gay people should be executed.  Politicians in the UK have demanded an apology from the network.  It really does boggle the mind.  What were they thinking?  I hadn't realized there was a rational argument for slaughtering people because of who they are. 

Here's what the excellent blogger Joe Jervis write about the BBC "debate":

Premoderated posts included one from Chris, Guildford, posted at 8.59am, which attracted 51 recommendations of support. He wrote: "Totally agree. Ought to be imposed in the UK too, asap. Bring back some respectable family values. Why do we have to suffer 'gay pride' festivals? Would I be allowed to organise a 'straight pride' festival? No, thought as much!! If homosexuality is natural, as we are forced to believe, how can they sustain the species? I suggest all gays are put on a remote island somewhere and left for a generation - after which, theoretically there should be none left!" Another, from Aaron in Freetown, said: "Bravo to the Ugandans for this wise decision, a bright step in eliminating this menace from your society. We hope other African nations will also follow your bold step."

Wow.  Is this at all defensible?

Using the poor as pawns in the culture wars

Michael A. Jones of reports that three churches in Michigan have stopped feeding the homeless because some of the churches they were working with supported LGBT rights.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The three churches weren't asked to have anything to do with LGBT people, but because their partners in combating hunger didn't preach about immoral homosexuals, they jumped ship.

The churches, all in Kalamazoo, Michigan, are Agape Christian Church, Word for Life Church of God, and Centerpoint Church. They had worked with five other faith communities in a program called "Martha's Table." Some of these five other churches take a progressive stance on LGBT issues, so Agape Christian Church, Word for Life Church of God, and Centerpoint Church all said good-bye.  And in essence told the homeless to fend for themselves.

Said a lay pastor from Agape Christian Church,  "An immoral lifestyle has eternal ramifications in Scripture." Another pastor said they couldn't  work next to people of faith who don't agree with their biblical worldview, even if the homeless are collateral damage in the faith wars.

Of course, this is not the first time the poor have been used as pawns in battles over homosexuality.  The Roman Catholic Church has threatened to pull its support of Washington, DC's homeless once a same-sex marriage bill becomes law.

As the Frederick, the character played by Max Von Sydow in Hannah and Her Sisters, says, "If Jesus came back, and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."

Is Hillary Clinton the "fierce advocate" we've been looking for?

Quietly yet deliberately, a major supporter of LGBT issues has emerged in the Obama administration. Her name is Hillary Clinton, and some blog and websites such as have begun to make the case that she is the "fierce advocate" for LGBT people we've been looking for. In less than a year of becoming the US Secretary of State, Clinton has been a leader in promoting gay causes. Here are a few of the steps she has taken:

1. She pushed for the recognition of same-sex spouses for federal employees. And she won.

2. Shortly after she took office, the United States signed onto a UN statement calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.

3. She was the first person in the Obama administration to speak out against the Anti-homosexuality law in Uganda.

4.On World AIDS Day, she emphasized how criminalization of homosexuality has only exacerbated the HIV pandemic

5.She declared that LGBT rights was the global human rights issue of today.

With the a number of pending laws throughout the world that could criminalize homosexuality, we need Secretary Clinton to be as forceful as ever.

Terrific speech at the DC Council meeting yesterday

Here's a low-key but right-on-target speech defending same-sex marriage rights that Councilor Thomas delivered today at the DC Council meeting. The vote was 11-2 in favor. A side note: the two councilors (Alexander and Barry) who opposed the measure represent the districts with the highest number of hate crimes against LGBT people. Does this mean anything? Not sure. But it's worth considering.

Response to DC marriage vote from National Organization for Marriage

Okay.  This sort of response is exactly why people use the word hate when describing some groups who are opposed to same sex marriage.  What is driving this desire to defeat those who are asking to get married?  It's a lot more than merely "protecting marriage."  Here's a statement from NOM.  FYI: David Catania is a gay member of the DC City Council.  Given that the vote was 11-2, it's pretty interesting that the group decided to single out the gay member of the council.  The following statement was released by David Brown (left), Executive Director of NOM.

"The people of D.C. have a right, guaranteed by the charter, which is D.C.'s constitution, to vote to protect marriage. Politicians on the city council are acting as if they have the right through legislation to deprive citizens of D.C. of their core civil right to vote, but we will not let them get away with it.  We have one message for David Catania and the rest of these politicians today: this fight is not over. We will go to Congress, we will go to the courts, we will fight for the people’s right to vote and we will win!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oral Roberts teaches us about sex

 Oral Roberts died at 91 today.  Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend found this outrageous recording of him preaching about the evils of gay sex (and the pleasures of straight sex).  Is is possible that this is some sort of parody?  Nope.  This is the real Oral deal.

DC Council passes marriage bill

This afternoon the Washington, DC City Council passed a same-sex marriage bill!  The mayor of DC has pledged to sign it.  Because it was earlier ruled that this was a civil rights issue, the bill will not go to the ballot box for a Maine/California style overturn.  And while it is still possible that Congress could intervene, it is quite unlikely given that Democrats control both houses.  In 30 days it looks like same-sex marriage will be the law in DC!

I won't pop the champagne bottle yet, but I'll at least put it on ice!

Great Cartoon in the Houston Chronicle about Annise Parker's victory

LGBT leader assassinated in Honduras


According to reporter Doug Ireland, Walther Trochez, a 25 year old Honduran LGBT activist, was shot to death on Sunday evening.  He had already been arrested and beaten because of his sexual orientation, and had dedicated much of his time documenting government killings and other crimes against LGBT people.  According to Ireland, Trochez had been trailed for weeks by the killers who are thought to have been part of the Honduran security forces.


Trochez had recently penned an pen letter citing numerous killings of LGBT people in Honduras.  He wrote that over the past four months, "nine transexual and gay friends were violently killed, six in San Pedro Sula and three in Tegucigalpa."  He closed the letter saying that "as a revolutionary, I will always defend my people, even if it takes my life."  This proved all too prescient.


Washington DC Council to vote on marriage today

The City Council of Washington, DC is expected to hold its second vote on same sex marriage at 11:00 this morning.  The measure was approved 11-2 on its first vote; the second vote is expected to pass just as handily.  After this second vote, the bill is sent to Congress for a 30-day review period.  It is within the rights of Congress by passing a joint House-Senate resolution and then getting the approval of the President.    This seems unlikely and serves as a reminder that now matter how frustrated some of us may be with the slow pace of LGBT legislation in Washington,  life is different under Democratic rule than it was under the Bush administration.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who is Maggie Gallagher?

Maggie Gallagher may be the most important homophobe you've never seen in the mainstream media.  I don't use the world "homophobe" lightly, but if you understand the word to mean "fear of homosexuals," then it's hard to find a bigger homophobe than Maggie Gallagher.  She is a potent force behind NOM (National Organization for Marriage) and a leader in the opposition in the referenda to overturn legislative and judicial decisions establishing gay marriage as a civil right.

Maggie Gallagher asserts that she is not a hater or someone who is prejudiced against gay people.  This is hard to believe given her public euphoria over the California and Maine votes.  The question remains: why would someone dedicate her entire life to make sure gay couples don't marry?  I think it's one thing to uneasily vote against same-sex marriage.  It seems to be something else all together to make it your life's purpose.

I've selected a not very sensational video of Maggie Gallagher.  I've done this so you could see first hand her subtle manipulation. Notice the feigned defference to religious leaders. Notice how she forces a sense of casualness.  (Oh, I won't talk long when everyone awaits a party!)  As long as her message SEEMS casual, it is acceptable for a segment of the population to vote against gay people with the bonus of not feeling like a racist.  She assuages their fears by implying that it's no big deal.

News Updates

1. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) specifically referenced the "kill the gays" bill under consideration in Uganda at a speech at Georgetown University.  According to The Advocate, Clinton said, "Governments should be expected to resist the temptation to restrict freedom of expression when criticism arises, and be vigilant in preventing law from becoming an instrument of oppression, as bills like the one under consideration in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality would do."

2. Fox News is continuing its campaign against Kevin Jennings.  The most recent report is entitled Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders. The supposed "lewd readings" were not written by Kevin, but cited on a reading list about gay issues.  Oh, it doesn't seem to matter that the reading lists compiled by GLSEN urge adults to review all materials before recommending them to specific kids. 

3. New York Governor David Paterson (right) continues to give us hope that politicians will do the right thing.  On Wednesday he plans to announce a major policy in support of transgendered New Yorkers.  It would be hard to find a more committed straight ally then the Governor of New York.

4. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina wants to make sure everyone knows just how awful he thinks homosexuality is.  In a recent interview, when asked about the possibility of having a gay or lesbian president, he said, "It would be bothersome to me just personally because I consider it immoral. Marriage is a religious institution. The federal government has no business redefining what it is DeMint told Hunt, adding that even state governments should not have the right to permit same-sex marriages. Governments should not be in the business of promoting a behavior that’s proven to be destructive to our society”

5. The Possibility Same Sex Marriage continues to look promising in Washington, DC.  The city council is expected to pass its second vote on the matter this week and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (left) is expected to sign.  The one potential snag is the interference of the US Congress.


The following piece is taken from and was written by Adam Amel Rogers.  It certainly paints a bleak picture of the status of LGBT people world wide.  Click on the map for a bigger picture and scroll to the key at the bottom.


Uganda Is Only a Tiny Piece of the Global Anti-Gay Epidemic

Global LGBT LawsUganda’s proposed “kill the gays” bill has attracted a fair amount of media coverage. Apparently, the prospect of receiving the death penalty simply for being gay struck a chord for a lot of people. But while we have world's attention, it is important to acknowledge that the unsafe climate for LGBT people reaches much further than the border of Uganda.
The devastating truth is that, compared with other nations in the region, Uganda is closer to the rule than the exception. Homosexuality is illegal in 80 nations across the globe. No, that is not a typo. In 80 countries, the government mandates imprisonment for those who are perceived to be gay. Uganda is already one of these nations –- the current penalty is life in prison. The proposed bill would make Uganda the ninth country to hand down a death sentence to gay citizens, joining Sudan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Iran.

Think this is a case of countries having archaic laws on the books that aren’t really enforced? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Right now in Iran, 12 young men (including 8 teenagers) are awaiting execution after being convicted of sodomy.

As awful as this is, the shocking truth is that, for most LGBT people in these countries, the non-governmental condemnation can be much more horrific and far deadlier.

In Iraq, "death squads" search the streets for anyone exhibiting "unmanly behavior." Anyone perceived to be gay is promptly kidnapped, beaten and tortured. For those being tormented, the worst part comes when their families are called. The shame of having a gay son is considered unbearable.

All over the Muslim world, this "shame" leads to so-called "honor killings," where the gay person is killed by a family member to protect the honor of the family.  Most honor killings are not widely publicized, but last month The New York Times profiled a 26-year-old openly gay man in Turkey, whose father traveled over 600 miles to hunt him down and kill him.

Even in countries that have enjoyed progress on LGBT equality, the situation is far from ideal. Gay and lesbian couples in South Africa have been able to legally marry since 2006, but there is currently an epidemic of lesbians being gang raped all over South Africa. It is being called "corrective rape" because the perpetrators believe that after being with several men, the women will be "cured" of their homosexuality.

The list of travesties goes on and on –- in every corner of the globe (including the U.S.), LGBT people are living in unsafe and unjust situations. As we continue the fight for marriage equality, federal nondiscrimination policies, and the dissolution of anti-gay military policy, it is imperative that the gay rights movement not forget our global LGBT family members who are simply trying to survive.
Start fighting global anti-gay violence right now by adding your name to the petition condemning the Uganda "kill the gays" bill.

Interview with Annise Parker

More on the attacks on Kevin Jennings

As I have blogged earlier, over the past few weeks right wing groups and media have been engaged in an attack on Kevin Jennings, the former head of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian ans Straight Education Network) who has been named to an executive post in the Obama administration's Education Department.  One of the principal lines of attack has been a seminar that took place at one of GLSEN's yearly conferences that dealt explicitly with sexuality and that was secret taped by someone wanting to bring down the organization.  I remember when this happened; I was a teacher very much involved in GLSEN and LGBT issues in schools.

I was not at that particular seminar, but I d remember hearing about it.  I was not alone in thinking that the discussion might not have been age appropriate.  Neither did Kevin Jennings. Those responsible for the seminar were either fired or resigned.  Jennings was not at the seminar nor did he know the details of it beforehand.

That has not stopped anti-gay groups from using this event to try to bring down Kevin Jennings.  Media Matters has done a superb job tracing the source of the misinformation about Jennings.  The group has uncovered MassResistance  as the main source.  For the record, the Southern Poverty Law Center lists MassResistance as a hate group.  Media Matters writes:

Right-wing media outlets have relied on false or misleading claims by MassResistance, a Massachusetts-based anti-gay group, in advancing several recent attacks on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings. The founder of MassResistance -- a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a "hate group" -- reportedly denied that gays and lesbians were a target of the Holocaust and has compared the gay rights movement to the Nazis. The organization has also called on parents to keep their children home from school during an event promoting awareness of, and opposition to, anti-gay bullying and has stated that suicide prevention programs for gay and lesbian youth have no "legitimate medical or psychological basis."
 Some of the accusations against Jennings have been so malicious and inaccurate that right wing bloggers and websites have had to retract their statement for fear of a lawsuit.  One such group, ironically named Accuracy in the Media, labeled Jennings "a pedophile" and warned that they had a video of him speaking inappropriately about sex practices to 14 year olds.  Of course, neither was true, and they were forced to acknowledge their error.

As difficult as this might be for Kevin personally, I think we need to remember that this actually isn't about Kevin.  It's about a hate group that is looking to attack any pro-gay member of the Obama administration.  That Kevin is also a gay man was just frosting on the cake for this MassResistance.  When it comes to attacking gay people, the group has no resistance at all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Protests about the New York gay marriage vote

Protesters New York State Sen. Carl Kruger X390 (NBC) | ADVOCATE.COMCarl Kruger was one of eight Democrats to vote against same-sex marriage.  Complicating his vote are rumors that he is a closeted gay man.  Photos of Senator Kruger in various gay settings have been circulating around the Internet.  The anger at Senator Kruger has intensified over the past few days, as explained in this article taken from The Advocate.  

I think this is a very tricky issue.  If the bottom line is to bring same-sex marriage to New York, I do wonder if humiliating this man is helpful.  Will this change his mind on the next vote?  I understand the anger completely.  I get why people are protesting his home.  What I'm not convinced is that a carefully planned campaign to oust him in the next election would be more productive.  Then again, I'm not an activist who knows the ropes. 
Here's the article:  

Protest Hits NY Senator's Front Yard

A group of activists gathered outside of New York state senator Carl Kruger’s Brooklyn front yard Sunday, protesting Kruger’s decision to vote against marriage equality earlier month, NBC reported.

Kruger, a Democrat, was one of 38 senators—and eight Democrats—who voted against extending marriage rights to gay people in the state. Since the vote, some activists have called the unmarried Kruger’s sexual orientation into question.

After the protest, organizer Corey Johnson addressed the senator in a post on his own Facebook page: “We’re not going to leave you alone Carl. You came into our homes with your vote—it’s time for us to continue to go to your house until you do the right thing.”

More condemnation of Uganda

This is all good news.  Even the right wing is disowning this law.  But it's important to remember that they only did so after enormous pressure and negative publicity.  I'm not sure Senator Coburn and company would have leaped to the defense of Ugandan gays and lesbians if they didn't see it in their best interest.

White House Condemns Antigay Uganda Bill

The White House broke its silence on the antigay Uganda bill this week when it issued a statement saying President Obama "strongly opposes" any efforts to criminalize homosexuality.

In its strongest statement yet, the Obama Administration condemned a homophobic Ugandan bill that would carry a death sentence for acts of homosexuality in some cases.

“The President strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history,” read the White House statement that came late Friday in response to an inquiry from The Advocate.

The bill in question would extend the punishment for engaging in gay sex to life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for those who do so repeatedly or while HIV-positive — acts termed "aggravated homosexuality” within the bill.

But according to reporting by Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin, the tide may be starting to turn on the bill. A senior advisor to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni penned an opinion piece Friday in the state-run newspaper that referred to the measure as "draconian" and concluded "...hunting down people for same-sex love, I believe to be a sin, against Love, one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. (I say all this without being a homosexual.) Parliament should not pass this Bill."

The White House statement came on the heels of a week flooded with conservatives who took strong stands against the legislation. Obama supporter and Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren called on Ugandan religious leaders to stand against the measure.

"The freedom to make moral choices, and our right to free expression are gifts endowed by God. Uganda is a democratic country with a remarkable and wise people, and in a democracy everyone has a right to speak up.  For these reasons, I urge you, the pastors of Uganda, to speak out against the proposed law," Warren said in a video.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn (right) of Oklahoma, a leading conservative in the Senate, said, “Over the past two decades, political, religious, and community leaders in Uganda have united to promote a rare, winning strategy against HIV that addresses the unique and common risks of every segment of society. Sadly, some who oppose Uganda’s common sense ABC strategy are using an absurd proposal to execute gays to undermine this coalition and winning strategy. Officials in Uganda should come to their senses and take whatever steps are necessary to withdraw this proposal that will do nothing but harm a winning strategy that is saving lives.”

Though the White House had been silent on the Uganda issue until Friday, the State Department sent warning signals last week. On the eve of World AIDS Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "We have to stand against any efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT community worldwide." But Clinton stopped short of specifically referencing the Uganda measure.

Later that week, the State Department reportedly issued "guidance" on the bill that read, “We are disturbed by violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudice that are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity. We condemn human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur. We urge states to take all the necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties– in particular, execution arrest or detention. If adopted a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda.”

Congrats to Annise Parker

We should all offer our congratulations to Annise Parker.  Saturday night was an extraordinary moment in Houston and LGBT history.   An openly gay woman is now the mayor of the 4th largest city in the United States.  How can we not celebrate?

But after the celebrations, we need to let her govern.  Despite Houston's vote yesterday, it is still a city that could, to put it mildly, be a little more gay friendly.  The voters recently passed a referendum prohibiting Houston from offering domestic partnership benefits.  It's now in the Houston charter.

I love that Annise Parker was elected last night, even as I wrestle with the contradiction that Houston voters also don't want to treat her as an equal.  But Annise Parker is a pragmatic progressive.  She has spoken often about the step by step, chipping away process of gaining equal rights.  Like many of us, she was deeply disappointed in California and Maine.  Her response has been to forge ahead, running for mayor of one of America's largest cities, and winning.  She believes that bigotry is dismantled one relationship at a time.  She has been given a position of enormous importance to do just that.  In her new position she may not push many of the LGBT causes that I and others might like her to, but she will chip away at the homophobia that characterized much of the campaign just by being a great mayor.  She will slowly show the electorate the great irony and insult of electing a woman mayor of a city in which she is also treated as a second class citizen.

She needs to do it her way.  It has worked so far.  The best thing we can do is support her and let her govern the way she knows how to govern.  We need to trust her and not hold her up to our personal image of what a "gay mayor" should be.

Houston Elects Annise Parker | News |

Here's Annise Parker's moving acceptance speech.  Don't miss it.