Friday, March 26, 2010

Gone Psycho

Towleroad is reporting that Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway said that he wants separate barracks for gay troops. "I would not ask our Marines to live with someone that is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it," he said.

Okay.  A few things:

1. It's happening now.  Straight and gay guys are living together.  Explain to me how it is different if people simply know who's gay.

2. As one blogger put it, what's next?   Separate drinking fountains and bathrooms?

3. Why do straight men assume that our number one objective in life is to get them in bed?  Stop flattering yourself, General Conway.

4. Notice the language here: our Marines vs. someone who is homosexual.  We get it, General.  Only straight men will be the real Marines under your command.  Just like only straight marriages are real in the eyes of Focus on the Family.

5. As Barney Frank once said, "I haven't seen so much fear over showers since Psycho."

Satire on Closeted Politicians

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

Rachel Maddow takes out full page ad

Rachel Maddow took out a full page ad in The Boston Globe today to challenge Scott Brown's assertions that she is running against him. (Sorry for the blurry and tiny print.) 

Reactions to Gates' DADT Announcement

"At the end of the day, there remain major problems with the Obama Rule, mainly that "don't ask, don't tell" still exists, something which President Obama could work harder to change by putting repeal into the Defense Authorization Bill. Meanwhile, service members are still at risk of being fired every day for something that has nothing to do with military capability. Even in the new regs, much of the old language of "propensities" and "fact-finding inquires" that stinks of 17th-century Salem, and that has made this policy so odious and so impossible to enforce consistently, still exists, and so there will still be problems as a result."

-- Nathaniel Frank of the Palm Center

“This looks like a good step forward on the administration’s promise to end discrimination against gays in the military.  My only question is, What took them so long?”

--Richard Socarides, special assistant for gay rights issues under Bill Clinton

“The regulatory changes announced today are another major step forward in making the 1993 ban less draconian.”

--Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

One more reason to admire Lt. Dan Choi

Dan Choi was on Rachel Maddow last night, a year after he appeared on her show and acknowledged he is gay.

Follow up on fund withdrawal from homeless organization in Maine

Yesterday I blogged that the Catholic Church had withdrawn its financial support for an organization for the homeless because that organization supported same-sex marriage.

The AP is reporting that donations have started to flood in from around the country:

 A Maine social service organization that works with the homeless is getting help from across the nation in replacing grant money lost because of its support for same sex marriage.

The director of the Preble Street Homeless Voices for Justice Program tells the Portland Press Herald that since Wednesday about 150 new donors have given almost $10,000.

The group lost $17,400 for this fiscal year when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Washington-based Catholic Campaign for Human Development canceled grants because of Preble Street's support for same-sex marriage in last fall's statewide gay marriage referendum.

Church officials say Preble Street's support for the referendum violated its grant agreements.
 It's always nice to see a silver lining.

Post Health Reform Fashions

Good news from California

Shelby Grad of The Los Angeles Times is reporting on a poll in California released last night.  Two years after Californians overturned the same-sex marriage decision by the California Supreme Court, more Californians favor same-sex marriage than oppose it.  This is a first since the poll began in 2002.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California poll, 50% of respondents support gay marriage and 45% oppose it. The PPIC said it marks the highest level of support for gay marriage their polls have recorded in California.

The PPIC polled 2,002 California adults by phone from March 9-16. It had a margin of error of 2%

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Church cuts funding for poor in Maine because of same-sex marriage

social service agency has lost more than $50,000 in grant funding over two years because of its support of same-sex marriage.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will no longer fund a program for homeless people in Portland  because the shelter participated in activities of the "No On One" campaign to stop the repeal of the same-sex marriage law that was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

The shelter explains it advocates for LGBT people because "issues around sexual orientation are the single greatest cause of homelessness in youth. Until we as a society fully accept gay people and endow them with the rights that all citizens are entitled to, Preble Street will continue to see these young, vulnerable people lining up at our homeless shelters."

How sad that the church felt the need to do this.  And how unchristian.

Jesse Helms: Gay Savior?

In what has to be one of the most bizarre rewritings of history, The Jesse Helms Center Foundation is attempting to revise the late U.S. senator's virulently antigay reputation.

I kid you not.

As reported in The Advocate, The New York Times has written that “despite Mr. Helms’s storied opposition to ‘a homosexual lifestyle,’ the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, N.C., is challenging the idea that he was a “homophobe” or obstructive in the AIDS fight.

“According to the center’s Web site, ‘It was Senator Helms who worked most tirelessly to protect the very principles of freedom that homosexuals are denied in many other nations.’

The Center is especially adamant that Helms' support of a recently lifted ban on people with HIV entering the United States was, in fact, pro gay.

“John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center Foundation, recently disputed an editorial in the British newspaper The Guardian that vilified Mr. Helms for his role in the ban. Mr. Dodd argued that ‘two million Africans were alive’ because of the senator’s work fighting H.I.V.
“Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, whose partner Tim Curbo died from AIDS, said the Helms Center sought to sanitize the record. ‘It’s spitting on the graves of all the people who suffered,’ Mr. Ammiano said, adding, ‘He was truly evil and very cavalier about it. He should be in the hall of shame.’”
That sounds more like it. 

Congressman uses same-sex marriage to try to block health care bill

We should have known that eventually LGBT people would be used in this debate.  Tim Craig of The Washington Post is reporting that Washington DC's new same-sex marriage law has become entangled in health care reform.

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) has introduced an amendment that would suspend the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the issue could be put before voters.

So far, five GOP senators are supporting him: GOP Sens. Roger Wicker (Miss), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James M. Inhofe (Ok), and John Cornyn (Texas), according to the DCist blog.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC's non-voting representative in the House of Representatives, has stated she will have to remain on "daily vigil" to guard against congressional intervention over the issue.

"No sooner had we finished celebrating our new marriage equality law than the Bennett amendment became the first of counter attacks I expect all session," Norton said according to The Post.  "But I abide no pessimism about turning them back. I will continue to work with our friends in the Senate, where the attacks are likely to come most frequently."

The tale of another prom

David Taffet of The Dallas Voice is reporting on another painful prom for a gay teen, only this time it's the school doing the right thing and the parents who are acting out of homophobia.

As we know, Constance McMillan had the support of her family when her school refused to allow her to attend the school prom.  When Derrick Martin (left) of Cochran, GA decided to attend the prom with his boyfriend, the school took no issue.  Administrators said that the only rule is that no date can be older than 21.  Derrick's parents, however, have thrown him out of the house.

One mother of a gay son sent flowers to the school in appreciation.  Other people have offered Derrick and his date dinners, a limo, and tuxes.

DADT update

Please, please tell me this isn't what President Obama meant when he promised to repeal DADT this year in his State of the Union address.

CNN is reporting that  Defense Secretary Robert Gates (right)  is expected to announce changes today easing the Defense Department's controversial "don't ask don't tell" policy prohibiting gay men and women from serving openly in the military.

So what's the big change?  Outings by third parties may no longer be automatic grounds for initiating separation proceedings, especially if it is proven that the person making the allegation has a grudge against the military member.

OK. You can no longer assume that a soldier will be kicked out of the military if you out him/her simply because you want vengance.

Please assure me that this is just a first step.

Rachel vs. Scott?

And with a Facebook page supporting your candidacy, you become the evil liberal used to bring in campaign cash for an election almost three years away.

That's what has happened to Rachel Maddow, who has made it very clear that she is not running for senator of Massachusetts.  Scott Brown seems to like the very idea of it, however, since he is using the possibility to raise cash.

Here's how the letter to potential Brown donors begins:
It's only been a couple of months since I've been in office, and before I've even settled into my new job, the political machine in Massachusetts is looking for someone to run against me. And you're not going to believe who they are supposedly trying to recruit -- liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow. 
The only problem is that not one member of the so-called political "machine" in Massachusetts has even contacted Maddow.

I guess this means he's running for reelection.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Unfortunate Repercussions of Recent News Stories

The prom story and, especially, the testimony of General Sheehan and his claims that gay soldiers were in part responsible for the massacre of 8,000 civilians, have become international scandals.  Dutch soldiers are now planning to sue General Sheehan for slander.  The New York Times has reported that the Dutch defense minister, Eimert van Middelkoop, labeled the comments, "scandalous and unbefitting a soldier." Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch foreign minister called the explanation of what happened at Srebrenica "extremely strange." Jan Kleian, the head of the Dutch military union ACOM, told Dutch television, "That man is just crazy. That sounds harsh, but what else can I say, because it is complete nonsense."

For some countries (and there are many) that have welcomed LGBT soldiers for some time now, the entire debate over DADT has reinforced a negative view of the United States.  Here's a comment from a Canadian blog that is fairly typical of what I've been reading:

The comments made by the general reflect, I am afraid, the generally homophobic attitudes of Americans in general. It's sickening that a country that has had slavery and racism in its history is still racist, and nowadays adds homophobia to its toxic brew of conservative politics and intolerance. We have our problems in Canada with homophobia and racism, yes, but it's nothing of the magnitude one sees from Americans.

Whether or not you agree with the statement isn't the point.  The point is that in many eyes we are not the "home of the free."  We are not that "sweet land of liberty" conservatives would want others to believe.  How can we claim to be the leader of the free world when many of our citizens would find greater freedom in other countries? We are, in fact, woefully behind many countries when it comes to basic equality of our citizens.  And that, I think, is very sad.

On the Minds of Conservative Youth

It seems as though youth who call themselves conservatives don't have much interest in stopping same-sex marriage in the United States. In fact, in a poll done at the CPAC convention,banning gay marriage was rock bottom. Here's how other issues stacked up. (Sorry if the chart is blurry.)

Pray Away the Gay

The South Carolina News is reporting that "a Spartanburg County Council representative opened the March 15 meeting with a prayer. That in and of itself is not unusual. However, during the prayer, Mintz reportedly stated that some of America’s problem are because of abortion. He was also reported to say that prayer is necessary in the United States to fight same-sex marriage."

What country are we in?

More Insightful Words from Lt. Dan Choi

 Pink News reports that Lt. Dan Choi has spoken out about why he chained himself to the White House fence last week to protest over Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  Saying that he was "tired of talking," Lt. Choi accused some gay equality groups such as the HRC of "betraying" gay people.  He also charged that the movement appeared to be centered around elitism.  Said Lt. Choi in an interview with Newsweek:

Within the gay community so many leaders want acceptance from polite society. I think there's been a betrayal of what is down inside of us in order to achieve what looks popular, what look enviable.

The movement seems to be centered around how to become an elite. There is a deep schism [in the gay-rights movement], everyone knows this.

When I get messages from people who want to be a part of this I ask back: what are you willing to sacrifice? We are tired of being stereotyped as privileged, bourgeois elites.

Is someone willing to give up their career, their relationships with powerful people, their Rolodex, or their parents' love to stand up for who they are? I'm giving up my military rank, my unit – which to me is a family – my veterans' benefits, my health care, so what are you willing to sacrifice?
When questioned why he was he was engaging in civil disobedience now,  he said: "Why now? Because you get tired of talking. I've done 50 live interviews, a hundred other interviews, how much more talk am I expected to produce?"

In the interview Lt Choi said that he had asked Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese and Ms Griffin to accompany him to the White House but neither did. "I feel so betrayed by them," he said.  He added "When I heard Kathy Griffin was going to be a spokeswoman for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I wondered about that. I have great respect for her as an advocate.But if [the Human Rights Campaign] thinks that having a rally at Freedom Plaza with a comedienne is the right approach, I have to wonder. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a joking matter to me."

Harvey Milk died over thirty years ago.  He was instrumental in the progress of the gay rights movement, but his life was cut short before he could become a national leader, that household name that all Americans knew. With Lt. Dan Choi, we might just have that leader.

Suzy Snowflake Returns

I figured we wouldn't see Suzy for quite some time. And seeing that there were a few snowflakes in Toronto the other day, I thought I'd resurrect Ms. Snowflake from my archives as a farewell to winter.

Study Links Psychiatric Illnesses and Legalized Oppression of LGBT People

Robert Preidt of is reporting that a new study that shows LGBT people
who live in states with institutional discrimination -- such as bans on same-sex marriage -- are at increased risk of psychiatric disorders.

According to the article:

...researchers analyzed data from lesbians, gays and bisexuals who were interviewed in 2001-2002 and 2004-2005 for the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The participants lived in states that instituted constitutional amendments banning gay marriage following the 2004-2005 elections.

The researchers found a significant increase in the prevalence of mood disorders, generalized anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorders among lesbians, gays and bisexuals after the states banned gay marriage. The greatest increase -- more than 200% -- was seen in generalized anxiety disorder.

The study findings are published online and in the March print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Senior author Deborah Hasin noted that "before this study, little was known about the impact of institutional discrimination toward lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals in our society.  The study highlights the importance of abolishing institutional forms of discrimination, including those leading to disparities in the mental health and well-being of LGB individuals."

I think this is a useful study for a number of reasons, one of which it helps dispel the myths perpetrated by anti-equality groups (including the Catholic Church) that would like folks to believe that LGBT people are innately  prone to pyschiatric disorders, rather than seeing the treatment of LGBT people as the cause for  mental illness.

Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann was back on MSNBC last night after taking time off when his father died.  He sure came back in style.

Marriage in New Jersey?

Here's piece from about a new strategy for same-sex marriage.  The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled four years ago that the benefits and obligations of marriage must be offered to gay couples.  The legislature opted for Vermont-style civil unions.  These unions have been in place since that time.

It was hoped that the legislature would return last year to the issue and legalize marriage for same-sex couples.  Then Governor Jim Corzine would have signed the bill into law.  Since Corzine lost his reelection bid to an anti-equality opponent, there's no chance of a legislative solution.

So on to the courts. Lambda Legal filed a motion Thursday seeking a court ruling to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

"We are here today to ask the New Jersey Supreme Court to make equality real," said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal's deputy legal director. The civil-rights group filed a motion on behalf of six same-sex couples who first brought a lawsuit in 2002 seeking the right to marry.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 22, 2010

45 Years Ago Today

Dr. Martin Luther King said these words:


Words to remember.

What is CNN thinking?

Here's a story from about CNN's new racist, misogynist homophobe:

Say there's a political commentator out there who has called women's rights activists Nazis, called Michelle Obama a Marxist harpy wife, said that President Obama only won his Nobel Peace Prize because of affirmative action, and called the U.S. Department of Education's Safe Schools Czar "profoundly sick and immoral" because of his sexual orientation. Should this guy be rewarded with a promotion?

Well, if you're CNN, the answer is yes. They've just hired Erick Erickson, an editor over at, to be a political contributor on John King's new CNN show -- "John King, USA." Erickson is responsible for all of those comments above, and a whole host of other inflammatory comments that are bound to make John King's new show sound a lot more like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. Is this really what CNN wants?
Pretty disappointing, seeing that CNN has generally risen above the nastiness of some of the other stations.

Who carries the weight in the heath care bill?

I'm happy that the health care bill passed the House of Representatives last night.  I'm also pleased that President Obama did what so many other presidents failed to do in at least starting to reform the system.  But it is still worth noting that a political body comprised mostly of heterosexual males changed some of the original language of the bill, leaving women and LGBT people to carry the weight of "compromise."

Consider the original measure in the bill that would have allowed LGBT couples to receive their health care tax free, like any other couple.  Right now, I get my health insurance from my husband's policy at work.  However, the federal government counts this benefit as taxable income because we are a gay couple.  Straight married couples are not taxed in this manner.  Originally, the health reform bill addressed this unfairness and provided for tax-free insurance for LGBT couples.  That didn't sit well with some conservatives, so the measure was struck.

Also consider that President Obama had to issue an executive order reiterating what has been federal policy for some time now: no abortions with federal dollars.  The National Organization for Women rightfully slammed this concession.  Also worthy of note is that for the most part, birth control is not covered under this plan.  Women lose again.

I was curious as to one thing, however, so I searched the internet for an answer.  And I got that answer right away.  Viagra is covered under the bill.  In fact, its inclusion never was in question.  A curious detail, to say the least, given the make up of the House of Representatives.

More Good News from New Hampshire

Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin has a wonderful update on  New Hampshire’s non-binding votes on same-sex marriage.  At first, the National Organization for Marriage and its leader, Maggie Gallagher (left), were euphoric at what they saw and said so in the National Review Online.

But the votes trickled in slowly.  Some town hall meetings haven’t even taken place yet.  Now that more data is available, Gallagher has kept mum.  Why?  It looks like supporters for same-sex marriage won.

Dean Barker at Blue Hampshire has compiled the votes to date, and here is what he found:

Traditional meetings:

28 towns supported the anti-gay effort
61 towns did not provide enough signatures
31 towns tabled the bill, refusing to even vote on it
33 towns voted “no” on the measure
1 town flipped the effort and voted to commend the state for supporting equality

Not even 20% of these towns supported the anti-gay marriage effort.

SB2 Meetings (In this scenario, townspeople meet once to create the wording for the ballot, then vote in the polling booths on the 2nd Tuesday in March.)

31 towns supported the anti-gay effort
10 towns did not provide enough signatures
14 towns amended the language in the deliberative session, killing the petition
1 town flipped the effort but failed to vote to commend the state for supporting equality

In this scenario, we didn’t fare as well: 55% of the towns voted against same-sex marriage.

However, when you combine the two votes, we won overwhelmingly:  only 28% of the towns voted against same-sex marriage.   This is a huge victory for us.  No wonder the opposition is quiet.

It’s also interesting that we won by such a large margin in a state that had no real campaign.  Since these votes were not binding, millions of dollars in anti-gay ads were absent.

Two Reasons to Believe

The level of discourse -- if we can even call it a discourse -- reached a new low this week when anti-health reform protesters yelled racial and homophobic slurs at our elected officials.  One member of Congress was spit at.

Yet two gay protesters this week showed us how to state a point without ever lowering oneself to these demoralizing tactics.

Lt. Dan Choi didn't call anyone a name when he handcuffed himself to the fence in front of the White House.  He didn't spit or swear.  He made his statement with poise and self-respect.  He also did something none of the other protesters did: he put his freedom on the line, knowing that he would be arrested.  And while some of the health care opponents were threatening the use of weapons if the bill passed, Choi, a soldier, never once resorted to violence. His didn't call anyone names even as a retired general ridiculously blamed the greatest massacre since World War II on gay soldiers.  Dan Choi just stood tall and spoke softly.  A class act, yes.  But also an effective act.

Constance McMillen is another LGBT person to be proud of.  Instead of showing up to the prom in her Mississippi High School with a boy, she wanted to be true to herself.  So she told the principal she was planning to attend with a girl.  Nothing doing, said the principal.  The school board called off the prom while the parents planned another one to which Constance McMillen isn't invited.  McMillen has a right to be furious, but that's not what we see when she's interviewed.  We see a centered, steady young person who quietly states her beliefs.  (Just look at the video below.) Another class act.  And she's been just as effective.

I've thought about these two often while watching the spit and the guns, the slurs and the violence of the anti- health reform folks.  And I couldn't be prouder that Lt. Dan Choi and Constance McMillen represent me and my aspirations for the country.

Constance McMillen and Ellen

An example of pure meanness

It's a little hard to be optimistic theses days.  First, it was the school that canceled its prom rather than allow Constance McMillen (left)  to bring her female date.  Then it was the racist and homophobic slurs yelled at our members of Congress.  Then it was the man with Parkinson's who was berated by some members of the Tea Bag Movement.  (See video post below.)

Now it's a follow up to the Mississippi prom.   According to She Wired:
....her classmates and their parents in her Mississippi town have left her off of the invite to a substitute prom that will be held at a furniture mart in nearby Tupelo, according to the Clarion Ledger.

As the prom being held at the "furniture mart" is a private event --albeit a tacky one -- excluding McMillen is not a constitutional issue, according Benjamin Griffith, the school board attorney.
 How can these people live with themselves?