Friday, November 6, 2009

Response to Andrew Tobias, DNC Treasurer


There is an interesting development on Americablog regarding the DNC and what it recently did and did not do in regard to the recention Proposition 1 vote in Maine. Part of the situation involves an e-mail written by DNC treasurer, Andrew Tobias.

Apparently the topic got his attention. He came to the comments with his response and participated in the thread.

I wrote a response to him I would like to share here.

Hello Andy,

I've been a fan of yours for a very long time since back in the days of your Managing Your Money software. It was a sad day for me when that product was retired.

I want to say that I am in full support of witholding blanket contributions to the DNC because it has become obvious over the years that is not the best choice of investment in our future.

I do agree with you that in terms of our issues in general, voting for Democrats is better than voting for Republicans. In my view, that is not what this is all about. This is about investing in our future. It is time for us to invest wisely rather than just throw money in the general direction of people who stink less than Republicans stink. It is time for us to invest in those who smell good. There are plenty of Democrats willing to work at providing a good return for our investment, and we need to invest in them individually. Investing in smelly Democrats simply facilitates perpetuation of the stink.

For decades now we have seen the Democrats in general come to us for money and votes only to be insulted and ignored by them when it comes to our issues. We will no longer accept or support that behavior. You claim that witholding generalized funding of the DNC somehow fails to help strengthen the administration. I disagree. The president is supposedly a "fierce advocate" for us. By supporting only those who support our "fierce advocate" in our issues, we are strengthening him in that area.

I must say, however, that I am not convinced that Obama is a true friend of our community, particularly since he announced during the campaign that he does not support marriage equality because of his religious beliefs. And then came his unwillingness to order a stop to the DADT firings until Congress repeals the unjust law as well as the other things I need not repeat to you or the readers here.

What we want to do is strengthen our true friends, Andy, not the ones who want us to think they are friends in the hopes of accessing the GayTM. Sure, we'll probably vote for the Stinkers with Ds, but it is a foolish waste of our time and resources to do anything to strengthen them.

If you make any further comments regarding this issue, either in this place or elsewhere, please stop trying to characterize this as a "DNC boycott." That is nothing but a red herring. I know you understanding the distinction between investing in something with a good return versus a poor return versus a negative return. That's what we're talking about, investing only where there's a good return. Maybe you can even help create a situation in which the overall DNC can produce a good return on investment as opposed to its rather marginal return recently and in past decades.

Check out the list of co-sponsors of Rep. Nadler's Respect of Marriage bill for a good start on where to find an investments with a good potential returns. And do take note of the glaring absences.

Mike

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thank you, Bishop Spong

Nothing much has inspired me to do blog posting for awhile ... until this came along.

Bishop Spong feels that it is way past time to treat the haters as if their argument has a moral and intellectual equivalence to the voices of inclusion and equality. I've felt that way for a long time, and I'm happy to see such a strong statement from Bishop Spong.

October 15, 2009

A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.
I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

– John Shelby Spong

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

John Cornyn: Idiot, Liar, or Both?


Earlier this Month I wrote to my US Senators asking them to support S 1584, the Senate version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). It was introduced into the Senate on August 5, 2009.

Today (August 27, 2009) I received a response from John Cornyn that included the following statement claiming that no such legislation has been introduced into the Senate.

As you may know, the H.R. 3017 was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 24, 2009. This legislation would create a comprehensive federal prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity as well as attempt to provide remedies for employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would invoke congressional powers to regulate interstate commerce in an effort to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Although similar legislation has not been introduced in the Senate, you may be certain that I will keep your views in mind should H.R. 3017 or other relevant legislation be considered during the 111th Congress.

So ... is he a true idiot, a liar, or both?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Memories

After a rather amazing experience last night I'm flooded with memories this morning.

We went to a birthday party for a friend. Their new next-door neighbors came to the party. They have been down here for about 1-1/2 years after retiring and moving from Pennsylvania. I had met them at another party there, but the conversation never took the turn it took last night.

We discovered last night that the husband and I had attended the same parochial grade and high schools at the same time, but 2 years apart, in suburban Pittsburgh. We moved there when I was in 7th grade, so I was only at the grade school, St. Bernard's in Mt. Lebanon, for 2 years, and then went on to what was then a boys high school named South Hills Catholic. It later merged with a girl's high school and is not called Seton-LaSalle High School.

Although we did not recall knowing one another at the time, there are many other people we do know in common.






To the right is a picture of St. Bernard' church with a little bit of the school showing at the bottom right. The church is an interesting building with two completely separate churches inside. It is built on sloping land. From the front you enter the "upper church" at ground level. From the back you enter the "lower church" at ground level. This view is from the back of the church




And here's a picture of Seton-LaSalle. Oddly, the first memory that hit when I saw this picture was of an evening at the school at a rehearsal for the spring musical during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember a group of us sitting on the stairs in that entry looking up at the sky and wondering if missles would be coming to strike us at any moment. (At that time there was still a huge steel industry in the Pittsburgh, and for that reason the city was high on the list of nuclear attack targets.)

I love it when life brings us one of these amazing moments.









Saturday, August 8, 2009

Our Friend in Newcastle

Although he won't admit it, I think our friend in Newcastle, the Mad One, is up to something.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New APA Study Repudiates So-Called "Ex-Gay" Therapy

APA PRESS RELEASE

August 5, 2009
Contact: Kim Mills
(202) 336-6048 until Aug. 5
(416) 585-3800 – Aug. 5-9


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INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE THAT SEXUAL ORIENTATION CHANGE EFFORTS WORK, SAYS APA
Practitioners Should Avoid Telling Clients They Can Change from Gay to Straight


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TORONTO—The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution Wednesday stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.

The "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" also advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and instead seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services "that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."

The approval, by APA's governing Council of Representatives, came at APA's annual convention, during which a task force presented a report that in part examined the efficacy of so-called "reparative therapy," or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. "Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions." Glassgold added: "At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex."

Based on this review, the task force recommended that mental health professionals avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about their own or others' sexual orientation.

APA appointed the six-member Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation in 2007 to review and update APA's 1997 resolution, "Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation," and to generate a report. APA was concerned about ongoing efforts to promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed through psychotherapy or approaches that mischaracterize homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The task force examined the peer-reviewed journal articles in English from 1960 to 2007, which included 83 studies. Most of the studies were conducted before 1978, and only a few had been conducted in the last 10 years. The group also reviewed the recent literature on the psychology of sexual orientation.

"Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of sexual orientation change contains serious design flaws," Glassgold said. "Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms."

As to the issue of possible harm, the task force was unable to reach any conclusion regarding the efficacy or safety of any of the recent studies of SOCE: "There are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom," according to the report.

"Without such information, psychologists cannot predict the impact of these treatments and need to be very cautious, given that some qualitative research suggests the potential for harm," Glassgold said. "Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome."

As part of its report, the task force identified that some clients seeking to change their sexual orientation may be in distress because of a conflict between their sexual orientation and religious beliefs. The task force recommended that licensed mental health care providers treating such clients help them "explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client's religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life."

"In other words," Glassgold said, "we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality."

A copy of the task force report may be obtained from APA's Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/therapeutic-response.pdf.

Members of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation:

Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, Rutgers University – Chair
Lee Beckstead, PhD
Jack Drescher, MD
Beverly Greene, PhD, St. John's University
Robin Lin Miller, PhD, Michigan State University
Roger L. Worthington, PhD, University of Missouri

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.


HT/Wayne Besen

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What they saw at the Rainbow Lounge


By now you've heard that the Ft. Worth, Texas police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall by re-creating it with their own incident of harrassment and violence against gay people minding their own business in a club, leaving one patron in the hospital with intracranial bleeding.

You've also heard that the Fort Worth police chief is using a homophobic excuse for the brutality, claiming that the club patrons made advances to officers and even groped one of them, (as if that's the way people respond to police. [koff]) Another claim made by the Fort Worth police chief is that the patrons were drunk. But for some reason [koff] they refused to administer Breathalizer tests when requested to do so by those being arrested.

You can read eyewitness reports of what really happened in the following article in the Dallas Voice.

Eyewitness accounts contradict statements from police on what happened at Rainbow Lounge Sunday morning

A number of eyewitnesses have given their descriptions of what happened at the Rainbow Lounge around 1 a.m. Sunday morning, June 28. Most of these accounts are very consistent, even though they come from different people who do not know each other. Here are a few of the eyewitness reports of the incident, as reported to Dallas Voice.
Keep reading here

At least one (out-of-state) policeman has broken the "brotherhood covenant" and spoken out quite strongly against this raid and the homophobic excuses being put out by the Fort Worth police chief.


There is a fairly recent update on the injured patron's condition here


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama's Ever-Tangling Web


Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

The White House weavers are beginning to get lost in their own web of deceit.

Last week we learned that there is nothing the Obama administration can do to suspend the DADT firings until Congress can fix the problem ... because it's a law, and any such action requires a legislative solution.

Today I learned that the Obama administration is suspending a law that deports foreign-born spouses of Americans who pass away within 12 months of their marriage ... until Congress can fix it.

Oops!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Proof That Homophobia Blocks Rationality


Well, just back in from a short vacation and I find evidence in support of something I've always suspected.

Homophobia causes the brain to block intelligence. That's why homophobes say and do stupid stuff.

First we have Obama's gay-bashing legal brief in support of DOMA, something Jerry Falwell would have been proud to produce. And then we have the quick promise of hate crime legislation passing today ... only to see that plan scrapped and replaced with something really stoopid. Employment benefits for unmarried federal workers ... um ... well except for military ... and ...er ... without health insurance, pension, etc.

This is supposed to appease the GLBT crowd who can't help but notice that Obama is acting more and more homophobic as time goes on and who want to stop sending money to the Democrats.

FAIL!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

If You're Still Supporting HRC, Watch This

The longer they can stretch things out, the longer they can stay in business.

Discrimination in California Hospital


From The Examiner: California lesbian couple allege discrimination at Fresno hospital


"As I was laying there all alone, I wondered how many people from the LGBTQ community die by themselves because they are denied a basic right. The thought frightens me."

That's what Kristin Orbin, 29, said about her ordeal at Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center on Saturday, May 30th.

Orbin and her partner of 3½ years, Teresa Rowe, 30, who live in Northern California, were in Fresno for Meet in the Middle 4 Equality, an event protesting the California Supreme Court's ruling upholding Proposition 8.

After marching 14 miles in Central Valley heat, Orbin (who is epileptic) collapsed and suffered three grand mal seizures. A doctor at a first aid center had difficulty finding her pulse, so he called 911.

Orbin said the discrimination started as soon as the paramedics arrived.
"By that time, I was going in and out of consciousness. The paramedics wanted nothing to do with Teresa and she had to practically fight them to be allowed to ride in the ambulance. I remember one of them was very nice and agreed to let her ride with me in the back. Once we got to the hospital, they wheeled me into a hallway and left me, refusing to allow Teresa to be with me."

Orbin said the paramedic told the nurse on duty that she had collapsed after marching 14 miles for civil rights, and the nurse gave her a dirty look and said "ooooh." She continued, "I asked if Teresa could come back with me, but the nurse told me I was in a no visitor zone. When I asked her why everyone else had visitors, she said 'those people are different'."

Orbin said she went to sleep at that point, but she was awakened by a nurse giving her the benzodiazapine Ativan, a drug that causes her to have severe migraine headaches. It was then that she discovered just how bad the situation had become.

"Teresa was finally able to make her way up to the front desk and convince them to get a cell phone to me. When I talked to her, she said she had told the nursing staff not to give me Ativan, but they refused to listen to her. They refused to take my medical cards from her. They refused Teresa's offer to have my advance directive and power of attorney faxed over from UCSF."
Orbin said she asked the nurses several times if Rowe could join her, but each time they refused.
"They just kept looking at my Marriage Equality shirt and giving me dirty looks," she said.
Orbin and Rowe were not reunited until a doctor intervened a few hours later.

"When the doctor arrived, I asked him if Teresa could join me," Orbin said. "He asked me why she wasn't already with me, and I told him the nursing staff told me I was in a no visitor zone. The doctor gave me an odd look and said, 'I will take care of that'. He left the room, and a few minutes later Teresa came in, but she said she was told by the front desk that she could only stay for a few minutes."

However, Orbin said the nursing staff suddenly had a change of heart while the doctor was present and allowed Rowe to stay with her until she was discharged. "They finally figured out that we were not happy and one of the nurses came up and told Teresa that she could stay," she said. "Once she was back there people started being more kind to us, but I truly believe they were just trying to cover themselves."

The couple said they have never experienced such blatant discrimination. They are both so upset over the incident that they have contacted the ACLU for legal advice. Orbin said it was particularly upsetting that the hospital staff continually refused to acknowledge Rowe as her spouse, and failed to treat either of them with kindness or respect.

Another reminder of just how much work needs to be done to achieve true equality in the United States.
Note: I usually do not post entire articles. I made an exception here due to the importance of what happened here. It may seem shocking to some, but it takes place daily across the United States.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Inspiration


Among all the wonderful performances so far at the 13th Van Cliburn Internationional Competition taking place in Forth Worth is one I found particularly inspiring.

The 20-year-old blind Japanese pianist, Tsujii Nubuki, stole my heart with his preliminary round performance of the 12 Opus 10 etudes of Chopin, Images Book 1 of Debussy, and the Liszt Paganini Etude, La Campanella, a work requiring copious amounts of pianistic "sharpshooting." He made it to the semi-final round, and his second semi-final performance is later today. He played the Schumann Quintet last Friday as his first semi-final round performance.

In the midst of all the pyrotechics, he exposed his beautiful soul in the first of the Images, Reflets dans l'eau. If you don't have time for the entire performance, do stay with it through that one.

It's a bit of an effort to get there, but it's well worth it.
2. "Click here to launch webcast." At this point you may have to downloaded a video streaming plug-in, Silverlight, from Microsoft. Do take the time to do it.
3. At the botom left of the screen, click "Preliminary Archives"
4. At the bottom right of the screen, click the right arrow until Tsujii Numuki appears, then click on his photograph.

And while you're at it, take some time to find his performer portrait as well as admiring the wonderful technical feat the Cliburn people have accomplished with live streaming of the entire competition.
__________________________________________
Update later in the day: I just finished watching his performance of Beethoven's Opus 106. I am speechless. This was exquisite, a rare moment in music. And he's only 20 years old. And blind. One does not expect artistry at this level from such young performers. And once again he exposed his soul to us in the most exquisite way possible, a blind man playing a work by a deaf composer. This is the triumph of the human spirit.
__________________________________________
Update 2: He was selected as one of the 6 finalists.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Daily Humiliation of Robert Gibbs

Ana Marie Cox does it again.


I would suggest that Mr. Gibbs spend a few minutes at the Truman Library Website reading the Chronology of Desegration of the US Armed Forces. Here's just a snip. (HT/Pam's House Blend)

July 26, 1948: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." The order also establishes the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.

July 26, 1948: Army staff officers state anonymously to the press that Executive Order 9981 does not specifically forbid segregation in the Army.

July 27, 1948: Army Chief of Staff General Omar N. Bradley states that desegregation will come to the Army only when it becomes a fact in the rest of American society.

July 29, 1948: President Truman states in a press conference that the intent of Executive Order 9981 is to end segregation in the armed forces.

You Should Be Ashamed, Mr. President


I read about this yesterday on Towleroad and just can't get it out of my mind. It angered me yesterday, and the more I think about it the angrier I get.

This is what caught my eye:

"Shepard told The Advocate that she received the Obamas’ invitation on Monday...Upon arriving at the White House on Wednesday, Shepard first met with the president in the Oval Office. The meeting was short -- 'it was supposed to be 10 minutes, but his meeting beforehand ran long and I only had a minute or so with him' -- but it was long enough for Obama to assure Shepard that he was still a supporter of the hate-crimes bill named in honor of her son...."

Apparently Shepard has concerns that Harry Reid is going to attach the hate crimes bill to a DoD appropriations bill which she believes hurts its chances. She is urging people to call their Senators.

The context of all of this is the harsh criticism Obama has been receiving for what is beginning to look like his throwing his GLBT supporters under the bus. It is obvious to me that Obama simply used Judy Shepard to get the photograph above. Obviously he wasn't interested in discussing anything with her. He could easily have started what he was doing next a few minutes late, just as he was late to him appointment with Judy Shepard.

As much as I love and admire Judy Shepard, I can't stop wondering why Obama isn't talking to any GLBT people about what is supposedly going on. Why did he choose a straight person for this "meeting?" To my thinking, at least, he just wanted to use her and her reputation and her connection with a famous hate crime for a photo op.

Shame on you, Mr. President.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Obama MIA on Gay Issues


Pulitzer Prize winning Eugene Robinson can't help but notice that the self-described "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans" has gone missing in action.
From today's Washington Post ...


Believe it or not, often I can see the other side of an argument. I know that tough gun control laws save lives and make our communities safer, for example, but I also see clarity in the Second Amendment. I support affirmative action, but I realize that providing opportunity to some worthy individuals can mean denying opportunity to others. Thinking about some issues involves discerning among subtly graded shades of gray.

On some issues, though, I really don't see anything but black and white. Among them is the "question" of granting full equal rights to gay and lesbian Americans, which really isn't a question at all. It's a long-overdue imperative, one that the nation is finally beginning to acknowledge.

Before his inauguration, President Obama called himself a "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans." Now, with the same-sex marriage issue percolating in state after state and with the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy ripe for repeal, it's time for Obama to put some of his political capital where his rhetoric is.

Do not miss the rest of this article.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is Virginia Foxx A Stupid Bigot, A Gullible Bigot, or Both?

As mentioned in an earlier post, the right wing hate groups have been busy as fire ants circulating lies in order to get politicians to vote against the Matthew Sheppard Act.

Yesterday the US House of Representatives was treated to a parade of ridiculous statements from stupid, gullible, and/or both bigots. Keith Olberman singled out the most heinous of the bigots, Rep Virginia Foxx R-NC, for his worst person in the world award. (Fast forward to about 2:40)


But it doesn't stop here. Foxx tried to back away from her bigotry by saying she was referring to an episode of 20/20 that "proved" the Matthew Sheppard incident was a hoax. Gotta' wonder what right wing whack job is feeing her this information and why she is falling for it hook, line, and sinker. (Well actually, I don't wonder about bigots who will grap onto any outrageous lie dangled in front of them if it suits their hate).

"The larger context of my remarks is important. I was referring to a 2004 ABC 20/20 report on Mr. Shepard's death. The 20/20 report questioned the motivation of those responsible for Mr. Shepard's death. Referencing this media account may have been a mistake, but if so it was a mistake based on what I believed were reliable accounts."

She could have spent about 30 seconds researching the 20/20 episode before making an even bigger fool of herself.

STATEMENT FROM JUDY AND DENNIS SHEPARD CONCERNING 20/20 UPCOMING REPORT ON THE MURDER OF MATTHEW SHEPARD

On November 26, 2004, 20/20 will air a piece that promised 'new information and facts' about Matt's beating and subsequent death. Dennis and I reviewed an advance copy of the show and were dismayed and saddened by the tabloid nature of the show, its lack of serious reporting of facts in evidence, and the amateurish nature of asking leading questions to the people who were interviewed.

I, too, was asked by 20/20 for an interview and agreed to do so to ensure that all of the facts were correctly stated. My only stipulation was that our legal advisor Sean Maloney, Matthew Shepard Foundation Board member and former senior White House staffer, had to be included in the interview to share his legal knowledge and expertise regarding Matthew's murder. He was quite eloquent in stating the facts pertaining to Matt's case, his knowledge of hate crimes in general, and in debunking 20/20's attempt to rewrite history. As you may or may not know, Sean was deleted from the interview entirely. The editing by 20/20 of my interview seems to leave out all of my relevant comments regarding the potential bias of the show and my deliberate restating of the facts of the case clearly ended up on the cutting room floor. My remarks were reduced to a few very personal maternal comments taken out of context to make it appear as if I agreed with 20/20's theories. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

This same subjective editing occurred with Dave O'Malley's interview. Dave, a Captain with the City of Laramie police force at the time, was Laramie's lead investigator in the case and worked in tandem with Rob DeBree, the lead investigator for the Albany County Sheriff's Department, to bring the case to trial and to provide the evidence necessary to convict both Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. (Both law enforcement officers are in complete agreement with the facts as stated during the trials.)

Dave gave Ms. Vargas a detailed account of the case. He described the elements of hate and gay bias that were found during the extensive investigation and were substantiated in the large body of evidence collected for this case. Dave's comments were severely edited. Perhaps they were left out because he did not give Ms. Vargas the answer(s) she needed to maintain her 'new' theory concerning the murder. One of the most glaring omissions in the piece was the transcript of Aaron McKinney's in-custody interview which took place a few days after the murder. This occurred before any 'line of defense' had been established by legal counsel for the two defendants. Had that document been included, it would have shown an un-rehearsed and unemotional anti-gay account of the events before, during, and after leaving Matt tied to the fence.

Despite their promotional efforts to the contrary, 20/20 has not presented a 'new' theory. Much of this information was included in a Vanity Fair story in March 1999. What is new is the unfortunate downslide of a reputable news magazine show when its highly respected host retires. 20/20 has sacrificed years of professional journalistic ethics and values for a stab at revisionist history ... and ratings.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Right Wing Hate Groups Campaign With Lies

The American Family Association and the Traditional Values Coalition have been sharing "data" in their effort to stop the Matthew Shepard Act from being passed by the House of Representatives. (It did pass today, BTW).

The TVC has been named an official hate group by SPLC's Hatewach. I can't help wonder about when the American Family Association will be added to the list.

Here's an excellent debunking of one set of the TVC/AFA lies.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Masters and Johnson Faked Evidence of Gay "Cure"




The York Times and Scientific American are reporting that a new biography of Masters and Johnson reveals serious questions about the validity of their claim of a high success rate with a "gay cure."

Thomas Maier, author of the new biography, Masters of Sex explains.

Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977. . . . Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic’s most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.

When the clinic’s top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these “storybook” cases, Masters refused to show them to him. Kolodny—who had never seen any conversion cases himself—began to suspect some, if not all, of the conversion cases were not entirely true. When he pressed Masters, it became ever clearer to him that these were at best composite case studies made into single ideal narratives, and at worst they were fabricated.

Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters’ conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn’t have a college degree and depended largely on her husband’s medical expertise.

With Johnson’s approval, Kolodny spoke to their publisher about a delay, but it came too late in the process.”That was a bad book,” Johnson recalled decades later. Johnson said she favored a rewriting and revision of the whole book “to fit within the existing [medical] literature,” and feared that Bill simply didn’t know what he was talking about. At worst, she said, “Bill was being creative in those days” in the compiling of the “gay conversion” case studies.

Does “being creative” mean “making it up”? Dr. Masters continued to defend the evidence until his death, but Mr. Maiers says the success of the “gay conversion” therapy has never been proved.

HT/ Joe.My.God

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The PB is Coming, and I'm Wondering Why I Don't Care




Yep .. she's coming to our parish.

And right now I'm thinking I don't really care about what she has to say, and I'm not planning on going to hear her.

Let's just chalk it up to that burden she wants some of us, but not all of us, to carry for the sake of Anglican politics.

And, of course, the Felix Mendelssohn Birthday Concert later in the day.


Maggie, Don't Mess with Our Rachel

Gaggy Mallagher will never learn ...



Here the video yanked by YouTube. You have to watch the short commercial and then fast forward to about 2:05.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gay Iowa Senator Received Death Threat

In the wake of the Iowa marriage decision, right wing anti-gay activists are involved in a highly organized campaign of lobbying the Iowa legislature. Now, the Des Moines Register is reporting that openly gay Iowa Senator Matt McCoy received a telephoned death threat.

Here's a video of Iowa Senator Matt McCoy's reaction to the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling for equal treatment under the law.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grandma's "Now You're Married, Now You're Not" Ride

Recent events in New England regarding equal treatment under the law in Connecticut and Vermont got me thinking about my childhood. Although I've lived in Texas for more than 30 years, I'm not a native Texan. I come from the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. The picture at the left was taken at Pontoosuc Lake in the Pittsfield area where we had many picnics when I was a child.

When I get together with my siblings, it seems that one of our favorite conversation topics is our grandmother's four-state rides. She loved to gather one of two of us into her gigantic Oldsmobile, always the biggest Oldsmobile made, and fly through the mountains to show us how we could go a mile a minute through parts of Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont. And then she'd load us up with maple sugar candy and Vermont cheese before heading back home.

Now, instead of being Grandma's Four-State Ride, we can call it Grandma's Now You're Married, Now You're Not Ride. (But hopefully not for much longer)

Vermont Marriage Veto Overridden

Both the Senate and the House have voted to override the Republican governor's veto of the gay marriage bill.

Senate: 23-5

House: 100-49

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Revolting Justification

“It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past.”
... Oliver Wendell Holmes, Justice, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, The Path of the Law, address dedicating new hall at Boston University School of Law (January 8, 1897)


I ran across the above quote in the text of the Iowa Supreme Court decision. I've long argued that tradition alone does not provide justification for anything at all, particularly a tradition of harmful discrimination against minority groups, but never as colorfully or succinctly as Homes stated it.

Tradition can be quite wonderful, but as Oliver Wendell Holmes reminds us, it can also be quite disgusting.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Answers from Dog

What happens when you ask a dog about right wing nutcases?


video

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Goodby To A Longtime Friend

Dick and Derrick are longtime friends and travelling companions of ours. We will miss Dick a great deal.

Dick, please give Madge the Weimaraner a big hug from me.

Harold Charles "Dick" Domres, Jr., M.D., 71, passed away March 2. He was born Dec. 18, 1937 in Buffalo, NY to Lucille and Harold Domres. He was an accomplished internist and psychiatrist who had a deep compassion for his patients. He served as the Director of the San Antonio State Hospital and was the Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health for the state of Texas. He was also a surveyor for the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals. He was a highly skilled pianist and organist playing organ for the traditional choir at his long-time parish, St. Pius X Catholic Church. He was preceded in death by his parents Lucille and Harold. He is survived by his life partner of 42 years, Derrick Dodge, his sister Linda Fraker, her husband Stuart and his niece Tamara. Like all of us, he struggled with some personal battles, but for those of us who loved him we believe he has at last found comfort in the arms of God and we will miss him eternally. Dick loved his dogs and cats and always said he saw God in the unconditional loving eyes of his dogs and believed they would join him in heaven. Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m. March 4 at Sunset Memorial Park & Funeral Home, 1701 Austin Highway. A Funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. March 5 at St. Pius X Catholic Church 3909 Harry Wurzbach Highway. Burial immediately follows the Mass at Sunset Memorial Park. Donations are requested in Dick's name to the Humane Society SPCA of Bexar County,
4804 Fredricksburg Rd., San Antonio, 78229,
http://www.humanesocietyspca.org/

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Utah: Home of America's Most Voracious Internet Porn Consumers


New Scientist is reporting a study showing that states high in religious right conservatives consume the greatest amount of internet porn per capita.

The study, Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment? was published in the Winter 2009 Journal of Economic Perspectives.

The state earing the title of America's Internet Porn Champ is Utah.

Other findings show that subscriptions are heavier in states that have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality, states where “defense of marriage” amendments have been adopted (making same-sex marriage, and/or civil unions unconstitutional), in states where more people agree that “Even today miracles are performed by the power of God” and “I never doubt the existence of God,” and in states where more people agree that “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” and “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mike's Diary: Nicolai Ceauşescu Visits Conservatorul Ciprian Porumbescu

I posted this elsewhere for the Bucharest folks, but then I thought some readers of this blog might find it amusing too.

I dragged out my Bucharest diary today for the first time in decades. From time to time I'll post of bit of in here. That is ... if I can stop laughing long enough to type. This one had me laughing out loud with tears streaming as I remembered this series of events.

Wednesday, September 29, 1971

Yesterday was kind of a bad day. I was wishing to be back in the US all day and not concentrating much on practicing. When I got back to my room, I realized it had been “looked at.” I know there was no cleaning lady that day. I was told to expect this to happen, but this is the first time I know it has happened.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, at 10:30 some official-looking person barged into my room and started yelling at me in Romanian, then switched to German, but it was so fast I couldn’t understand him. He made me sign a paper for something … who knows what!

President Ceauşescu is going to make a visit to the Conservatory on Friday. Today they made all the students get there at 8:00 (not me) to clean the whole school. They also started rehearsing an orchestra. Of course, all the students think it is a big joke, especially since he’s supposed to catch the school by surprise.

Thursday, September 30, 1971

You won’t believe what the students at the Conservatory had to do today. First, all the boys had to have haircuts and shave off any beards or mustaches. Then, for 2 hours they had to stand around the school and practice clapping. The director of the school of the school walked around like Ceauşescu, and they had to clap whenever he came by.

I have a lesson at 9:00 tomorrow, the time that he’s to be at school. Several of the students think that he will come into my lesson … Yuck! Although they didn’t tell me to get a haircut, I went to the barber with a friend so he could tell the barber what to do. He told him I’m American and I got the whole works! That kind of treatment in the US would be about $11.00. [Remember … this was 1971] Here it was 20 lei, about $1.10. I think it is the best haircut I’ve ever gotten.

Friday, October 1, 1971

President Ceauşescu’s visit was most amusing. I got to school very early for my 9:00 lesson, but discovered that all the practice rooms and studios were locked, and the man who gives out the keys had conveniently disappeared. Mr. Halmoş couldn’t even get a key. At 8:55 we went into the auditorium to wait for Ceauşescu who was due at 9:00. Once we were in the hall we couldn’t leave, so we waited until he came at 10:30. The orchestra played for about 2 minutes, and then he left. We still couldn’t get the key after he left, so we just gave up and left. I spent all afternoon wandering around and went into a beautiful old church with gorgeous icons.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Most Wonderful Thing Has Happened

Dear blog friends, I know I've been neglecting you. But it is because something wonderful has happened.

It all started during the 1971-1972 school year when I was a Fulbright scholar in Bucharest doing a research project on the piano music of Bela Bartok. I know you probably associate Bartok with Hungary, but after the first World War, the borders were moved around. Bartok's part of Hungary (Transylvania) became part of Romania. And one of Bartok's students was teaching in the conservatory in Bucharest at that point ... so that's how I ended up in Bucharest.

It wasn't long before I met up with a small group of other students, mostly American and French. Since we were all foreign students in a situation behind the Iron Curtain completely foreign to our experiences, we soon developed very strong bonds and had all sorts of wild adventures during the year ... being rebellious college-age types in the 70s (koff).

After that year I was able to correspond for awhile, but it wasn't long before I completely lost track of everyone.

Until the day before yesterday ...

... when one of the gang, David, an American now living in Shanghai, found me on Facebook. He's retired from a foreign service career, but his wife is still working and is now the US Consul General in Shanghai. Through their years of living all over the world he was able to meet up with some of the gang from time to time and is still in contact with some of them.

This morning another of the gang found me thanks to David, she was a Parisian when I met her in Bucharest, but now she's living in the Dominican Republic. (And she's the one most responsible for developing my French-speaking skills back then.)

And we're waiting to hear back from 3 more who haven't yet found any of our e-mails.

As David wrote the other day after we started remembering various misadventures, ....

"Wow, Mike! In terms of memories, this is like opening a barnacle-encrusted chest on the beach that reveals itself to be brimming with a pirate's treasure! "

So, my good friends, please bear with me for awhile as I dig through the treasure.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Christian Bashing Fumbrage*

A federal judge has refused to exempt Prop 8 backers from the law mandating disclosure of contributors. As you recall, Proposition 8 was a voter initiative designed to roll back the civil rights of California GLBT resident. The campaign to get it passed was highly dishonest and hateful and was heavily funded by religious groups, particularly Mormons and Roman Catholics.

U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. ... said California's campaign disclosure laws are intended to protect the public and are especially important during expensive initiative campaigns.

"If there ever needs to be sunshine on a political issue, it is with a ballot measure," England said.

He said many campaign committees have vague names, obscuring their intent. The public would have no way of knowing who is behind the campaigns unless they can see who's giving money, he said.

I think we can expect the so-called "Christian Anti-Defamation Commission" to make another attempt to push their ridiculous Top 10 Christian Bashing Incidents in America, 2008 again.

Poor things ... they want to act like bigots, but they want to be able to do so in secret so nobody knows who they are. Get set for another round of Fumbrage* from the religious-based hatred crowd now that the court ruling won't let them crawl back under their rocks.

But this time there is a brilliant response available to put their pathetic whining to rest.


H/T Lee Weiser

UPDATE 01/30/08: And so it begins, courtesy of Faux Noise: Anti-Gay Marriage Donors Fear Increased Threats After California Judge's Disclosure Ruling

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amazing Mel White

OK, it's time to make a confession. I'm hooked on the TV show, Amazing Race. And what a delightful surprise I had finding an e-mail from Soulforce this afternoon announcing that Mel White and his son, Mike, will be participants in the next edition of the show.

Once ghost writer for Jerry Falwell, author of Stranger at the Gate, and founder of Soulforce, Mel White is now going to star in a television reality series!

There's a clip of Mel and Mike in this video.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vindictive Hateful Cardinal Roger Mahoney and Other Roman Catholic Hierarchy


This has been quite a week for the Roman Catholics. First the Vatican affirms a Holocaust denier, and now this.

Father Tony has posted news of a disgusting development regarding the Roman Catholic hierarchy's vindictive persecution of Father Geoff Farrow, the priest who came out against rolling back the civil rights of GLBT California residents.

You must read all of Father Tony's post, but here's a bit to get you started.

Today I spoke with a member of CLUE's board of directors, Rev. James Conn, a Methodist minister and Director of New Ministries for the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church. Reverend Conn had been directly involved in the recruitment and interview process involving Father Geoff.

I asked him if CLUE had denied Father Geoff a second interview specifically because the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles threatened to cut off all its significant funding for CLUE should Father Geoff ever be offered the position in question.

As incredible as it may seem, Reverend Conn confirmed the truth of this and expressed his heartfelt disappointment over the fact that CLUE had to choose between continuing the interview process with an extremely promising and qualified candidate or risk losing the financial support of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles that is critical to CLUE's work.


The entire post is here.

UPDATE 01/30/09: The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has launched a federal grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in connection with his response to the molestation of children by priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the case.
H/T TomTallis in the comments.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama's Disappearing Gay Bishop

UPDATE: Contacted Sunday night by AfterElton.com concerning the exclusion of Robinson's prayer, HBO said via email, "The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show."

There's lots of "equality talk" coming from Obama. Will Rick Warren be treated equally?




Note: Bishop Gene Robinson will be a guest on Jon Stewart's Daily Show Tuesday night, January 19.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Right Wing Huffery Puffery and the Fate of Pro-Equality Lawmakers


I'm sure you all remember the threats of retaliation against lawmakers who vote for equality. The religious right and wingnut anti-gay organizations have all made very loud noises that these votes would signal the end of politicians' careers.

But as we now know, the threats were just more blasts of hot air from angry hateful people.

But ... do your legislators know this?

If not, we now have an important tool to educate them thanks to one of my all-time heroes, Evan Wolfson of Freedom To Marry. As most of you have probably read, earlier this week Evan Wolfson released the results of a study of re-election rates of pro-equality legislators. I have to admit that the results were a surprise even for me. Perhaps I have overestimated the effectiveness of the hot air blasts, and perhaps I have underestimated the basic fairness of voters in today's America. In any event, the study shows that virtually 100% of lawmakers who vote for equality go on to win re-election in all regions of the US (and yes, this includes Texas, see page 4 of the full document).

With this information we can help defuse the fears of well-meaning but timid lawmakers. Perhaps even more importantly, we can help stop lawmakers from using the threats of retaliation as an alibi for their own bigotry. They really don't like it when their cover is blown. They don't even have the excuse that their states "are not like Massachusetts or California," as the figures from Bible Belt states including Texas show us.

I don't think I can overestimate how important this study is as tool for educating lawmakers. Please save a copy of the study and send it to each of your representatives before any vote for equality issues. This will help you make a difference.

Thank you, Evan Wolfson, for giving us this very important information.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The De-Evolution of Barack Obama



A Windy City Times article gives us a glimpse into Barack Obama's de-evolution regarding equal treatment under the law.

In 1996 Obama was unequivocally in support of equal treatment under the law for GLBT citizens. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” (see full-size version of document to left)

In 2004 he opposed gay marriage with the qualifier that his position was a matter of strategy rather than principle.

In 2008 he opposed gay marriage on the basis of religion.

There is a second article in the Windy City Times attempting to put "context" on all of this, but I am not convinced.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Letterman Remembering the Bush Years

Rick Warren's Africa Problem


In light of all the pious claims that Rick Warren's work with AIDS in Africa somehow proves that he doesn't hate gays, Max Blumenthal decided to do a little research into what Warren has done over there ... and what he found is not pretty.

... a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren’s allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent’s most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations’ special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is “resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred.”

This article is a must read, particularly for Episcopalians horrified by intensely anti-gay African Anglicans.

Here's another snippet.

With safe sex advocates on the run, Warren and Ssempa trained their sights on another social evil. In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.

Warren, in his effort to dispel criticism, has denied harboring homophobic sentiments. “I could give you a hundred gay friends,” he told MSNBC’s Ann Curry on December 18. “I have always treated them with respect. When they come and want to talk to me, I talk to them.”

But when Uganda’s Anglican bishops threatened to bolt from the Church of England because of its tolerant stance towards homosexuals, Warren parachuted into Kampala to confer international legitimacy on their protest. “The Church of England is wrong and I support the Church of Uganda on the boycott,” Warren proclaimed in March 2008. Declaring homosexuality an unnatural way of life, Warren flatly stated, “We shall not tolerate this aspect [homosexuality in the church] at all.”

Friday, January 2, 2009

Prayers for Bobby Airs January 24

I think it's interesting that this film about a real-life tragedy is being aired soon after Rick Warren's appearance at the inauguration. I hope it reminds people of the severe harm people like Rick Warren inflict on young gay people.

In an earlier post I put up the full text of Mrs. Griffith's original essay, A Child is Listening. It is a moving and powerful piece.