Monday, November 30, 2009
"Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, a libertarian-leaning Regan-appointee, orders health benefits for a lesbian spouse of a federal employee, and the Obama White House, through its highest ranking openly gay appointee (John Berry, head of the Office of Personnel Management), attempts to thwart the judge's order?"
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council Chair Vincent Gray were called on the carpet by Congress for not allowing the majority of District residents to vote on the civil rights of a minority. Let's listen in:
Yes, you see, Congress -- Republicans in particular -- really care about respecting the wishes of DC's voters. That's why they've blocked attempts to actually giving DC voting representation in Congress. And why they feel they can waltz in and undo actual initiatives approved by District voters.
At a hearing on proposed changes to the city's Home Rule Act, two Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee grilled Fenty and Gray about why the District will not allow a public vote.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), the ranking member of the subcommittee that has oversight over District laws, noted that voters in 31 states have rejected same-sex marriage. "I'm disappointed the people are not getting an opportunity to vote on this issue," Chaffetz said.
Case-in-point: Medical Marijuana. In 1998, 69 percent of DC's voters approved a ballot initiative authorizing medical marijuana. 69 percent.
And then, since Congress respects the will of the peeple so much, former Rep. Bob Barr, a Republican from Georgia, stepped in, said no, and through an amendment killed the implementation of medical marijuana which had won approval from DC's
To the meddlesome members of Congress: if others can vote on my equal rights, I want the same opportunity. Fair is fair.
And it's great that you want to respect the will of the people of the District of Columbia. Do that all the time, not just when it fits your narrow social homophobic agenda.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
For 10 years I was conductor of the DC's Different Drummers Symphonic Band. During that time we couldn't pro-actively talk to the reporters or editors at the Blade covering us. A PR professional -- a person who makes his living dealing with the media -- who we had engaged to help us with publicity says he had never encountered such unprofessionalism and unresponsiveness as he did at the Blade. Meanwhile, the Blade, when they did cover us, would take our press releases and edit them, making what they published about us totally factually inaccurate. No surprise -- they kept us at arm's length. This was not a DC's Different Drummers complaint only. I heard similar frustrations at meetings of the LGBT Arts Consortium meetings I attended at the time. The complaint was a familiar refrain: the Blade did not know or interact with the local DC LGBT community.
Now that they need community support -- and I am not opposed to giving it -- I hope they will change that practice.
Monday, November 16, 2009
While not totally surprising, the suddeness was a bit of a shock.
The question now -- what becomes of the Blade's archive? I would hate to think that this archive, which covers our history since Stonewall in 1969 to the upcoming vote in the DC City Council for marriage equality on Dec 1 (the Blade's last front page headline), will be lost.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Good news -- Barney Frank says DADT may be repealed in 2010, according to an article in the Washington Blade.
But if you wonder why much of our agenda has languished in Congress over the past decade, two quotes shed light on our time spent wondering in the wilderness.
On the question of the timing of DADT repeal, first we have HRC:
"Asked about Frank’s prediction for the repeal strategy, Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, said her organization 'always takes its cues from its congressional allies.'"
Check. We wait for "cues" from the folks who are supposed to represent us about when they will act to end injustice against us. Got it.
Now, let's throw it over to Kevin Nix, spokesperson for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:
"Nix also said SLDN is urging President Obama to include repeal as part of his defense budget request, which is expected to be delivered to Congress early next year."
Wait. What? SLDN is "urging" action by the government on our behalf? Actually "urging?" Not waiting for "cues" before asking on bended knee to stop injustice against us? You mean they're not letting others tell us "When we say so, and not before that?"
How impatient of them! Hopefully, someday they will cease being political novices and fall in line with the establishment. Then they will stop rocking the boat and making our "Congressional allies" queasy from having to actually follow through on the promises they made to us when they took our money and our votes.
Meanwhile, let's sit here on our hands and hope the "cues" will come soon.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Truly I say to you, as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Gospel of St. Matthew: 35.40)
The DC Archdiocese, saying they will end their Charity Organization's work in the District if marriage equality is passed:
Church officials say Catholic Charities would have to suspend its social services work for the city, rather than provide employee benefits to same-sex married couples or allow them to adopt. (Gospel of St. Katherine of Graham, a.k.a., the WaPo).
So, the Church would end it's social programs (helping thousands of kids and the elderly), on the off chance they might have to provide health insurance to a gay employee's spouse? Really?
Has Archbishop Wuerl actually, um, read the Bible?
I'm not one who supports forcing private organizations (like the Boy Scouts, say) to accomodate gay people. And I would oppose efforts to force churches that oppose marriage equality to hold gay weddings in their chapels. But when it comes to employment law, if the church has employees, it has to follow employment law. It's the cost of doing business -- the cost of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's. And the church gets something back for being a part of society. Your tax dollars can pay to bus Catholic school students on public school busses. And it pays for their secular textbooks, standardized tests and scoring, and diagnostic and therapeutic services.
Not to mention they get benefits from taxes without having to pay taxes.
I'd say the church gets a pretty good deal from Caesar.
But let's look at this another way.
Spousal employee benefits are primarily health care. So if mariage equality passes in DC, is it counter to Jesus' teachings to provide access to health care to an employee's spouse even if that person is gay? Catholic Charities already provides health care services directly to 3,000 people, according to the WaPo article. Presumably, some numer of those 3,000 people are gay. So Catholic Charities is undoutedly already providing direct services to gay folk in the city. But it can't bring itself to do that for the civil spouse of one of it's own employees? They don't have to bless or recognize the union -- just provide access to health care for another human being. Or, to put it in Jesus' words: "When...I was sick, you visited me."
Or, in the case of adoption, giving a previously unwanted baby a loving home? "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."
But, silly me, there I go again quoting Jesus. I forgot this was about organized religion and has nothing to do with Him.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Oh, and Dan being Dan, there's a few F bombs in here so NSFW. But well worth listening to.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Since they don't actually do anything to build libertarian support in the GOP for a DOMA repeal or any other equal rights policy, one gets the feeling they're quite happy, if not giddy about this fact.
But then, it's also curious that while they rail against health care reform because of it's DOMA-based discrimination, they do not include actually repealing DOMA as one of their federal "legislative priorities."
GOProud is just silly and represents the worst of politics -- partisanship for partisanship's sake, only with a rainbow flavor. Which doesn't excuse it.
Marriage is not just an outlier, it is the only outlier. The fringe of the right will complain about any legal protections for lesbians and gay men, but they can’t put together a majority on any issue except for full marital equality. An enormous majority of Americans even support repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, though political cowardice on that issue still lingers in Congress -- the same cowardice that got us the policy in the first place.
This chart shows that more than a majority in virtually every state, including the ones with the most anti-gay sentiment, supports employment and housing protection, hate crimes laws and health benefits for homosexuals. The trailing issue in all states is always marriage, with majority-plus support in only six states.
In comments to Link's post on Indy Gay Forum, several argue that marriage equality shouldn't be that important. But, they are wrong. Marriage equality is the ballgame. It is legal recognition that homosexuality itself is fully equal with heterosexuality. The Christian right gets this, it's why they will stop at nothing to prevent it from happening.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Stop terrorizing the English language. I'm talking about the term, "pre-existing condition." The prefix "pre" is totally unnecessary, like Republicans at a policy debate. Adding "pre"doesn't make something exist any harder just as ending a sentence with multiple question marks doesn't make it any more a question.
What if we applied the same type of grammar to other words. Would we have "post-history?" "Past-previous?"
I think we need to end the Insurance industry's abuse of the English language with such phrases as "pre-existing condition."
And I think we need to be pro-active about it.
"One year after hitting bottom in the aftermath of President Obama's elections, Republicans have taken their first concrete steps toward recovery."
Balz's story then goes on to highlight how seriously F'd up the Republicans are, making mockery of his lede. Someone should punch his editor.
Okay, yes, the GOP won in VA and NJ, but those victories were pegged more by candidates than the party. The GOP was lucky that it ran against two lackluster Dems and the Republican candidates ran better campaigns than their opponents. It's difficult to see how you can draw Party-wide "concrete steps" from such victories. Especially when Nov. 3 also saw the loss of a House District that has been in GOP hands almost since the GOP was invented. And, as Balz himself points out:
"But New Jersey and Virginia voted against the party holding the White House in the past six gubernatorial elections and are therefore unreliable harbingers of the 2010 campaign."
Duh. Well, that inconvenient truth doesn't prevent the Washington Post and the rest of the MSM from treating those victories as "concrete steps" towards a GOP rebirth.
I think the portent most important for 2010 is the NY House race. The Republican loss there defied history, while their wins in NJ and VA were with history's tide. The GOP, by giving in to the most scurrilous of the tea baggers and birthers will push away moderating voices. And continue to lose.
Republicans are taking concrete steps alright. Concrete tied to their heels as they step cluelessly on water.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
BTW, I don't buy the conspiracy theory that Tchaikovsky was forced to commit suicide after being blackmailed by a rump jury of former classmates over his homosexuality. Alexander Poznansky makes a convincing case debunking that myth in "Tchaikovsky's Last Days."
And, what happened to Ozawa's trademark turtlenecks? I guess now that he's old enough to have one, he doesn't need to wear one.