Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Sign-Off

Hello, folks.....

I'm going to need to take the summer off from blogging.  Teaching a writing course, getting ready for my upcoming book, and working on a new writing project are taking up all my time.

I'll be back in the fall!

Best to you.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Even fake gay marriages ceremonies might be illegal in Texas

If Texas Republicans have their way, you can be imprisoned if you marry a gay couple, even if that marriage is meaningless because the state won't recognize it.  They'd also like to bring back anti-sodomy laws to keep LGBT people from have relationships.  I guess it doesn't matter that the United States Supreme Court already ruled that such laws are illegal -- and that the ruling was in response to a Texas law.

From Alex Blaze of the Bilerico Project:

   The part of the Texas Republican Party's platform making its way around the blogosphere says they want to imprison people who participate in marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, even if those ceremonies have no legal meaning. It also calls for a return to sodomy laws, something that people thought was crazy to mention two years ago, but now is in a major party's platform:

    Homosexuality - We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable "alternative" lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should "family" be redefined to include homosexual "couples." We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

    Texas Sodomy Statutes - We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

    This all comes in, ironically, after pages of "freedom" and "no government interference" rhetoric. Everyone should be free to do only what these people want them to do.

Firing up the base

Well, as the Republicans used to do so well, when you're in political trouble, fire up your base.  According to the Huffington Post, the Obama administration is making a series of diplomatic and political gestures of good will this week to the gay rights community with which it has occasionally clashed.

Writes The Post:

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder was cheered by a crowd of gay and lesbian employees at the Department of Justice after he pledged to use newly enacted laws to protect their presence in the workplace.

"The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which the president signed into law last October, finally protects our nation's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals from the most brutal forms of bias-motivated violence," Holder said.

The remarks were part of a broader outreach by the administration to LGBT employees. On Tuesday, the White House is set to host an event celebrating LBGT Pride Month. There was some confusion as to whether the president would show up at the ceremony. But an administration official tells the Huffington Post that he will give short remarks.

"[H]e is expected to deliver brief remarks," the aide said. "Invited guests include elected officials, state and local community leaders, and LGBT Americans from communities across the country -- including many youth -- who have stood up for equality."

The actually invitation list is not yet known, nor would the administration official elaborate. But it stands to reason that it will be chosen delicately. The president has been interrupted routinely in public forums by gay rights protesters who insist he hasn't gone far enough on the topic of repealing the military's ban on open service. Don't Ask Don't Tell has receded as a political issue after the House was able to put gradual repeal of the policy into the defense authorization bill. But there are certainly other contentious topics.

One activist emailed that he expects there to be a "look back" at what the White House has accomplished. But there is more that the president can do in address with respect to future activity.
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"This Administration has taken small but significant steps in advancing LGBT equality (namely hospital visitation rights)," said Kevin Nix, Director of Communications at Family Equality Council. "But much more is left to do when it comes to the one million LGBT families raising two million kids in this country--like repealing DOMA and passing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would swing open the doors for LGBT people to adopt. We look to this White House and Congress for leadership on these key issues that directly impact families."

The Ick Factor

TPM Live Wire is reporting on "The Ick Factor" in gay relationships.  That is, what Mike Huckabee thinks id the ick factor.  After reading this, it's hard not to think that Mr. Huckabee himself is the real ick factor in this debate:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is against gay marriage, at least in part, because of the "ick factor."

"I do believe that God created male and female and intended for marriage to be the relationship of the two opposite sexes," Huckabee said in a recent New Yorker profile. "Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn't work the same."

Huckabee goes on to say that "some pretty startling studies" show that "monogamous marriage" is the way to end poverty.

"No culture in the history of mankind has ever tried to redefine marriage," he added.

Earlier this year, Huckabee -- who, according to polls, is a Republican frontrunner in the 2012 presidential race -- said gay couples shouldn't be able to adopt, saying, "Children are not puppies."

Sometimes it's hard not to see Mr. Huckabee, rather than gay relationships, as having an "ick factor."

Send an email to Home Depot

Joe. My God. is reporting that  The American Family Association has launched an email and phone campaign against Home Depot because the fix-it giant will host a crafts workshop for kids at Southern Maine Pride.

Writes the American Family Association:

    To this end, Home Depot is basically encouraging the attendance of children at events which openly expose them to transvestites, cross-dressers, and homosexual activists. Unfortunately, Home Depot's participation in the Southern Maine Pride Festival doesn't stand alone. It has also sponsored and participated in the 2010 Boston Gay Pride parade. Homosexuals often exploit young children in their desire to 'normalize' their gay lifestyle. Gay pride events have a long track record for offensive public displays of homosexual conduct. Obviously, Home Depot is OK with the idea of exposing children to an unhealthy and risky environment. So much so, it is willing to also celebrate it by participating in its promotion. Send an email to let Home Depot know you are sickened by their support and approval of children at homosexual events. If you are a customer, please add an additional personal line to our prepared letter to Home Depot. After sending your email, make an extra effort to protect children by calling Home Depot personally. Brad Shaw is the Vice President of Public Relations. His direct number is 770-384-5350.

If you'd like to counter this email campaign, can send a  message of thanks to Home Depot at or by calling 770-384-5350.

Family Leave Act to extend to LGBT families

The Associated Press is reporting that The Labor Department intends to issue regulations requiring businesses to give gay employees equal treatment under a law permitting workers unpaid time off to care for newborns or loved ones.

According to AP:

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis planned to announce Wednesday that the government would require employers to extend the option that has been available to heterosexual workers for almost two decades, two officials briefed on the plan said Monday. Neither was authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.

The move, coming less than five months before November's congressional elections, seemed likely to incite conservatives and Republicans who stood in lockstep against the Obama administration's earlier efforts to repeal a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. It also appeared likely to be popular with loyal Democrats and organized labor.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to take care of loved ones or themselves. The 1993 law, which also allows employees to take time off for adoptions, has previously only been applied to heterosexual couples.

The Labor Department planned to extend those rights based on a new interpretation of the law, the officials said. There was no plan to ask Congress to change the law, which means future presidents could reverse the decision.

President Barack Obama and his administration have slowly rolled out policies to help gays and lesbians, who supported his candidacy but have soured on what they consider his slow pace in making incremental instead of wholesale changes. He planned to meet with gay activists Tuesday at the White House, the second time such a reception has been held at the executive mansion.

Gay activists have been frustrated with Obama's approach to gay policies. The White House reluctantly backed a compromise on the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy on gays in the military that would move ahead on repeal but still allow the Pentagon time to implement new policies.

Earlier this month, Obama issued orders for government agencies to extend child care services and expanded family leave to their workers. Obama's order for federal employees, though, covers only benefits that can be extended under existing law, without congressional action. Legislative action would be required for a full range of health care and other benefits.

Last year, Obama gave federal workers' same-sex partners a first round of benefits including visitation and dependent-care rights. He also authorized child-care services and subsidies; more flexibility to use family leave to attend to the needs of domestic partners and their children; relocation benefits; giving domestic partners the same status as family members when federal appointments are made; and access to credit union and other memberships when those are provided to federal workers.

Way to go, Iceland!

As many of you know, the legislature of Iceland voted unanimously - that's right, not one legislator opposed -- to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.  What's also important is the the United Nations, which often shies away from LGBT issues,  has commended the move.

According to UN News:

Iceland deserves credit for eliminating barriers to same-sex marriage, which will become legal in the Nordic country this weekend, the United Nations human rights chief says.

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrapped up her official visit to Iceland with a statement on Friday commending Iceland "for the significant progress it has achieved through recent legislation removing legal impediments to same-sex marriages."

Iceland will become the ninth country to legalize same-sex marriage following legislation that passed the country's parliament earlier this month. Same-sex marriage is already legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden, as well as in some areas of the United States and Mexico.

In her statement Ms. Pillay also praised Iceland for strengthening the independence of its judiciary and freedom of expression, and she welcomed efforts to set up an independent human rights institution.

During her visit – the first ever trip to Iceland by a UN human rights chief – Ms. Pillay met Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson, Justice and Human Rights Minister Ragna Árnadóttir and other senior Government officials, as well as representatives of civil society and academia. She also addressed the University of Iceland in the capital, Reykjavik.

Hmmmm.  Nine countries have legalized same-sex marriage.  Isn't it about time that the country that calls itself "the leader of the free world" do the same?

Wise words from former Senator Edward Brooke

Former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke was the first popularly elected African American to make it to the US Senate.  Here's an excerpt from his editorial in today's Boston Globe.

Regardless of its target, prejudice is always the same. It finds novel expressions and capitalizes on new fears. But prejudice is never new and never right. One thing binds all prejudices together: irrational fear. Decades ago, black service members were the objects of this fear. Many thought that integrating black and white soldiers would harm the military and society. Today, we see that segregation itself was the threat to our values. We know that laws that elevate one class of people over another run counter to America’s ideals. Yet due to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’’ the very people who sacrifice the most to defend our values are subject to such a law. We owe them far more.

I am not persuaded by the argument that service members are not “ready’’ for repeal of the policy. Not unlike racial segregation of the armed forces, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’’ lends unwarranted deference to prejudice. Now, as then, we should confront and eliminate discrimination rather than preserve a law that fosters it.

The Senate is expected to take up repeal of the law in July. If I were still in the Senate, I would vote to show my respect for the sacrifices of all soldiers — gay and straight. Congress should repeal this legislation and score another victory of progress over prejudice.

The Republican Party to which he belonged when he was elected is unrecognizable now.  It's too bad his fellow Republicans-- including Scott Brown, who has announced he will vote against the DADT repeal -- won't listen to him.

Wow. This is really scary.