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Monday, November 30, 2009

What Happened to Hope and Change?

Mike Signorille reports on a couple of disturbing topics that really make me wonder what the hell goes on in the White House.  First:
Rick Warren, who in the past had ties to the Uganda pastor who helped spearhead legislation that would execute HIV-positive gay men if enacted, will not speak out about the against the legislation, saying that "it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations."

On Meet the Press he said, "As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides." As Newsweek's Lisa Miller points out, this is a guy who called abortion a "holocaust" and who certainly does what he can to stop it in this country and around the world. Surely, he believes, as a self-proclaimed moral leader, that one must speak up against injustice. That is, if he sees state executions of gay men as a true injustice at all -- or at least one that is worth upsetting the apple carts he so neatly set up in Uganda.

And is it a coincidence that the Obama administration -- in which Warren has a fan at the very top -- has not spoken out loudly enough against what's happening in Uganda and that the man who doles out the AIDS dollars -- our taxpayer dollars -- on behalf of the president to Uganda, PEPFAR chief Eric Goosby, says pretty much what Warren says? According to Newsweek.com, Goosby says his job is "not to tell a country how to put forward their legislation."

That has got to be one of the most outrageous things I've heard so far from an Obama official: We're neutral on extermination.
And then this:
A report published on TIME's web site just before the holiday has an explosive bit of information: the chief judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a while back that a lesbian federal employee who reports to him be given federal marriage benefits, and it was actually going to happen until the White House, through the Office of Personnel Management -- headed by openly gay appointee, John Berry -- refused to comply and directed the health insurance carrier of the employee not to proceed. . . .

Now Judge Kozinkski has ordered that OPM stop interfering, demanding last week that the Obama administration comply with his order. . . .  If the Obama administration, which now has less than 30 days to respond, tries to fight this, not only will it undoubtedly cause another (and much bigger, in my opinion) firestorm within the LGBT community, but it's not clear that it actually can fight it, let alone win:
[Judge Kozinski's] order last week demanded that the executive branch reverse course, and gave the Administration 30 days to enroll Golinski's wife as her health-insurance beneficiary. He made clear that if it doesn't, he's ready to use the powers of his court to enforce his decree. University of California law professor Rory Little, a former Justice Department prosecutor and chief of appeals, called the order a "bombshell." "This is like exposing the tip of a huge iceberg that nobody knew even existed," he told TIME. "It's a fascinating question: Do the courts even have the power to do this? Where does it leave things procedurally? Where can the Administration appeal? I think there are five or six lawyers in the [Solicitor General's] office scurrying around right now trying to figure out what to do with this."
And of course, another bombshell here is that the Office of Personnel Management was ordered by the White House to refuse to give a lesbian federal employee her court-ordered rights. John Berry, as head of that office, was thus apparently forced as an openly gay man to deny another gay person, and the LGBT movement itself, of rights, even in the face or a court order.Is this how openly gay appointees must operate within the Obama administration -- not as advocates on behalf of civil rights but rather as lackeys charged with blocking equal rights for their own kind? That, if true, is enormously troubling.
Now, on the one hand, fellas, that last part is a childish question.  When you go to work for an outfit, any outfit, whether you are straight, gay, or extraterrestrial, of course you have to follow the rules and policies of that organization if you expect to keep drawing a paycheck.  And if that gripes your chaps, you need to go find another job.  If you ain't the big boss, you don't get to do and say whatever you think is right:  you take the company's pay, you're a company man, whether it's Wal-Mart or the White House.

On the other hand, what just what the hell does all this say about Obama and his highest advisors, the policymakers? 

God bless Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister, who just this weekend at the big Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting down in Trinidad, "raised concerns" about the draconian anti-gay laws directly with Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.  That's diplomatic talk for telling him he's full of shit.  In an extremely polite way, of course.

Your Head Trucker is also proud to report that Stephen Harper - Canada's Conservative Prime Minister, who tried unsuccessfully to roll back equal marriage in that country three years ago - also talked to Museveni and told the press he finds the anti-gay bill "deplorable."  I'm glad to hear you testify, Brother Harper.

The Advocate reports that the Ugandan embassies of both France and the United States have issued statements condemning the bill.

Ah, but what about our own President - you know, the guy who just won the Nobel Peace Prize?  The fellow the whole world is so in love with right now.  Has he said one fucking word about it?  Will he?

Or is he the kind of nicey-nice, don't-rock-the-boat, I'm-everybody's-friend kind of guy who won't say a goddamn thing until the bodies are already piled shoulder-high?*

While we're on that subect, would it have cost him so much of his precious time - I know, his plate is just so full, what with healthcare, the economy, the war, yada yada yada - but would it really have wrecked his day to speak just one sentence against stripping gays of their civil marriage rights in Maine?

I swear to God, guys, if Obama turns out to be fake and a fraud and a con artist like so many others, I will never, ever believe another sonofabitching politician again as long as I live, not if I live to be a hundred.

I used to say, I was never so disappointed in a man as I was in Bill Clinton.  But this could top even that.

* - Horrifying provisions of the anti-gay bill after the jump.

From the Globe and Mail:

The law, proceeding through Uganda's Parliament and supported by some of its top leaders, would imprison anyone who knows of the existence of a gay or lesbian and fails to inform the police within 24 hours. It requires the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” – defined as any sexual act between gays or lesbians in which one person has the HIV virus. . . .

The law would impose a sentence of life imprisonment on anyone who “penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other sexual contraption.” The same penalty would apply if he or she even “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”

The law requires a three-year prison sentence for anyone who is aware of evidence of homosexuality and fails to report it to the police within 24 hours. It allows for the prosecution of Ugandans who engage in homosexual acts in foreign countries. And it imposes a prison sentence of up to seven years for anyone who defends the rights of gays and lesbians.
The secretive American fundamentalist group The Family - which includes some American politicians - has been instrumental in persuading Uganda to adopt this barbaric legislation:  see the reports by Truth Wins Out.


dougie said...

I was surprised to see that our Prime Minister had spoken out, but he may be in an election in the near future so that could be why? Either way I was damn proud to be Canadian when I heard that he HAD said something. I really do not get WHY it is even and issue...

Russ Manley said...

I was surprised to see Harper speak out too - he sure smells like a Republican fundamentalist to me - but maybe there's a basic sense of decency to Canadians that our own rightwing scumbags lack. I'd like to think so, anyway.

I admire Canada tremendously for all the enlightened progress you guys have made, extending marriage and civil rights to gays. Canada rocks!

If only it weren't so damn cold up there . . . .

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