C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Put the Blame on Mame, Boys

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford admits he wasn't hiking the Apalachian Trail; it was just a tale, he was really off hiking some tail. Another God-fearing, family-values, Republican pol caught with his pants down - just had to have some of that good stuff down Argentine way.

Oh but it's teh gayz who are destroying the American family, tearing society apart, bringing down the wrath of God! Right.

The governor apologized to the wife and kids at a press conference, saying he was ready to "work through the process" of forgiveness and reconciliation with them. Gee, all the straight boys have to do is say "I'm sorry" it seems, and that makes everything okay, no matter who they've been banging.

By odd coincidence, last night - before this story broke - the roommate and I were watching Gilda, the Rita Hayworth classic, which is set in Buenos Aires.

Now after hearing the gov's confession, I can't get this song out of my mind:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Drive: Father's Day

In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference.

That is why we need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one.

--President Obama

Chief Quartermaster John Lehnen, featured in this video, is the father of four special needs children.

I also came across this clip today from a new documentary about gay fatherhood, which seems appropriate to post today:

On a personal note: even though I knew definitely from the time I was 14 that I was gay, I still somehow wanted a child or two, a son especially - perhaps to redeem the mistakes that had been made in my parenting, but also because that desire to perpetuate the blood lies deep in us Southerners.

But 30 years ago, when I came out, it just didn't seem possible. Oh yes, even way back then we knew it was possible to get a child with a lesbian friend and a turkey baster, or some other strange method. But that didn't appeal to me, just having a child to say you had one, and one that somebody else would raise - what would be the point of that?

So I let that fond wish die out in my heart. Probably just as well; I might have been a rotten dad. But now that technology and culture have changed so much, I wonder what I would do if I were 20-something now. So much more is possible for the younger generation today than was possible for us back there in the late 70's.

How fortunate they are.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Whole World's Watching

In tribute to the Iranian protesters,
being hunted down and killed
by their own government:

Someday you will see how long we've waited for the time
To show you how we've died to get together with you all . . .

Notice how with her last breath, this dying woman looks to the camera as if to say, See what they are doing . . .

A sample of unconfirmed tweets from Andrew's blog:
4.22 pm. Conf'd Iran Fatemiyeh Hospital Tehran: 30-40 dead as of 11pm; 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured.

Call from Iran reports severe skin burns due to the unknown liquid dropped from helicopters.

unloaded massive amounts of guns for more than 500 basijies whom had been sent there several hours earlier to confront the demonstrators.

Reports from Tehran, Azadi St., Sanati Sharif University indicate that more that 10 helicopters landed inside the university,

Fatemiyeh Hospital Tehran: 30-40 dead as of 11pm; 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured.

Reports: Security Forces attacked to Khomini Hospital to arrest Injurd protesters, It is said at least 30 injurd are there...

Reports: At Least 10 Protesters Shoted By Bassij, Bassij Opend Gunfire to People at Haft Hooz SQ.

2.58 pm. good source: Hospital close to the scene in Tehran: 30-40 dead thus far as of 11pm and 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured.

Voice from Iran: Shame on a country in which foreign embassies are safer than hospitals :(

2.31 pm. Canadians, call your foreign office. It's confirmed Canadian Embassy rejects injured protesters

Australian Embassy reportedly accepting injured

My Friend Wounded At Haft Hooz SQ, No Clinic Is Open!


FB report: shouts of Allah o Akbar in holy city of Mashhad "explosive"

Reports: People Pushed Back Millitas at Gisha St.

From a source in Tehran: allah akbar just started and it's the most intense yet. so surreal.

RT ASAP! TAKING WOUNDED Portugese Embassy No.30, Nezami St., Abbas Pour St., Valy-e-Asr

Reports: Bassij Millita attacking People at Haft Hooz SQ, Heavy Clashes Just Strated...

1.52 pm.

People Shouting on the roofs, all over the Capital: "Death to the Dictator"!

12.46 pm. Helicopters did not spray boiling water. It was a type of ACID, similar to what Mojahedeen used in '78-'82.

I feel like I'm in a police state for 1st time. Pple are so pissed, starting to feel scared. As of late aftrnoon Basij are everywhere

My heart is pounding fast as I'm hearing about dead ppl lying on streets in Tehran

Will chemical warfare B next by the gvmt to kill ppl? Seems they're doing anything 2 stop ppl

Bassij opened gunfire on people near Sadeghieh, West of Tehran.

hospital source - Tehran hospitals report hundreds of casualtys -

Unconfirmed - The Army will not follow orders to kill the people

European embassies reportedly open doors for injured, tell families to take them there.

. . . that government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not perish from the earth.

The President's Statement on Iran


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 20, 2009

Statement from the President on Iran

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.
Excerpt from a reader comment on Sullivan's blog:

These citizens are done with their leadership. The trust has completely and irretrievably dissipated, and the fear, although present, is not sufficient, especially as it becomes more clear the army will remain on the sidelines. And the mullahs have opened all the playbooks on repression and crowd control simultaneously; it's a smorgasboard attempt at blocking the rising tide of resentment; if you'll recall, that's called the mullah's-ass-on-a-pressure-cooker-lid-to-retard-fulmination rule. If things look bad with the pressure cooker, piling more mullahs on the lid will only result in a more spectacular finish.

If the Warsaw Ghetto uprising had been broadcast to the entire world, Hitler's demise most surely would have come several years sooner. The mullahs have no way out. They are, essentially, fucked. It's now only a matter of time. And Iran's negotiations on their nuclear program? Suspended indefinitely due to lack of credibility; nobody will believe anything they say now.


[Sullivan:] From his mouth to Allah's ears.

Joe Jervis: Why Pride?

Joe Jervis writes a moving post on why Pride matters; here's an excerpt, but go read the whole thing:
I'm not worried what the outside world thinks about the drag queens, the topless bulldaggers, or the nearly naked leatherfolk. It's OUR party, bitches. If you think that straight America would finally pull its homokinder to its star-spangled bosom once we put down that glitter gun, then you are seriously deluding yourself. Next year, if one of the Christian camera crews that show up to film our "debauched" celebrations happen to train their cameras on you, stop dancing. And start PRANCING.

All you suburban, lawn mowing, corpo-droid homos out there, hiding behind your picket fences, the ones wringing your hands and worrying that Pride ruins YOUR personal rep, listen up. Do you think that straight Americans worry that Mardi Gras damages international perception of American culture? America, land of the free, home of "Show Us Your Tits!"? They don't and neither should we. Our Pride celebrations are just our own unique version of Mardi Gras, only instead of throwing beads, we throw shade. No one has to ask US to show our tits. We've already got 'em out there, baby. And some of them are real. . . .

But sometimes I think we are the worst people in the entire world when it comes to standing up for each other. The gay people who'd like to soothe their personal image problems by selectively culling some of our children from Pride events? They disgust me. They appall me. They embarrass me. To them I say: the very road that YOU now have the privilege of swaggering upon was paved by those very queens and leather freaks that you complain about,as you practice your "masculine" and give us butch face. If you want to live in the house that THEY BUILT, you better act like you fucking know it. United we stand, you snide bitches. America's kulturkampf ain't gonna be solved by making flamboyant people go away.

I'll end this by making one final Jewish reference. Possibly you've heard the Jewish in-joke that sums up the meaning of all Jewish holidays? "They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat." My Pride version?

They wish we were invisible.

We're not.

Let's dance.
Confession: Joe's post has made me stop and think and re-evaluate my attitude. All these many years I've been working on doing the straight-acting thing, at least around the straights. But has that gotten me an ounce more respect from them? Hell no.

I've told the story of what happened after my husband died, and how cold and cruel the treatment from the townfolk was; and God knows we were the most un-flamboyant gays like ever, in Wranglers and boots, cowboy hats and pickup trucks and country music on the radio. But that made no difference; as I discovered, we were still hated by a large part of the populace just as much as any drag queens would have been in that little town.

I remember about 30 years ago, a favorite aunt of mine once made the pointed remark, apropos of nothing, when I was visiting: "I don't mind what gay people do as long as they aren't flamboyant about it." I hadn't come out to her - I never did, she's dead now - and I always thought that was a coded remark: I love you, and I know you're gay, just don't show it or talk about it.

In other words, Lie to me, don't be yourself, I don't want to deal with that. But would she really have loved me any less if I had come out to her?

Do the haters really hate me any less for keeping silent and looking straight?

Joe's post has made me realize the answer to both questions is No.

In that case, fuck it. You might as well live your life the way you want to, then. Keeping up a big act, living a lie, doesn't make any difference about who loves you in the end.

Thanks for the epiphany, Joe.

Photo from a hate-filled rightwing blog that gave it the title

"A conquering army on the march."

I'm loving it, enlist me. Where can I get a uniform like that?

More armies like this and the world would be a much better place.

David Mixner: What's Next?

In the wake of the great betrayal, David shares his personal plan for what to do now in "the greatest civil rights struggle of [our] generation; I think he's right on track (emphasis mine):
-I just sent a check that I was planning on giving to the Democratic Party to the initiative battle in Maine. They will have on the ballot this November their passage of marriage equality. Let's be sure they have the resources they need early and not at the last minute. I made my contribution through ACT BLUE.

-I will not contribute to the Democratic National Party nor to any candidate who does not have an actual record of voting for marriage, against DADT, etc. No more empty promises from well-meaning politicians. I have been burned so many times I am running out of salve.

-There is no question that wise minds and cool heads have to discuss and plan a national campaign of civil disobedience.

-No more needless compromises or working for partial victories. It is time to go all out for the repeal of DOMA and DADT. The political convenience of an elected official and his calendar is not the business of a civil rights movement. The business of a civil rights movement is freedom.

-I will be watching our national organizations closely with an understanding eye to their mission. However, their mission should be our rights first and the politicians second.

-No longer will I jump up and down simply because the President or Democratic leadership just mentions they are against DOMA or for repeal of DADT. We are long past the days when we were just happy when they said the word 'gay.' I want action and I want it now.

-Will do everything I can to get as many people as possible to the March on Washington on October 11. Let us make a powerful, eloquent statement while empowering ourselves!

-Finally, I will continue to chose my words as carefully as I chose my actions. I don't want to become like our oppressors - filled with anger and derision. I want us to not only lift ourselves up into freedom but also to lift our oppressors out of their partisan hate into a better world.
On that last point, David's got a cooler head than I do - I'm one of those hotblooded Texans you've heard about - guess you boys had that figured out already, huh - but I'll try to channel my anger into a constructive path.

(Image: honk to magygraphics)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Eve of Destiny

Posted by Andrew Sullivan:
“I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…” - an Iranian blogger, with more courage than most of us will ever know.
And this, from another anonymous Iranian:
[T]he green light has now been given to the basij to kick ass and take names. "The way of the law is open," [Khamenei] says. "If people continue to take the other way, I will come back and speak more directly." Qanun, qanun, qanun. Law, law, law. His emphasis on the need for law and order. By the end, uncharacteristically, the leader, gets hot. Interjections from the crowd interrupt him and he tells them to stop and listen. He talks about the U.S. and the West and how the U.S. wanted to launch a spurious velvet revolution in Georgia. He says that these "aqmaqha" -- idiots -- think that they can do the same in Iran.

And then he ends by weeping. He tells Iranians that he loves us more than we can know. Ten years ago, Khamenei wept publicly when students were protesting in the streets. That's when regime loyalists began to crack down. "Our vote is written in blood, and we gave it to the leader," the mosque crowd yells back.

Things do not look good. It is worse than it ever was.
And this anonymous woman in Tehran:
Tomorrow is the Saturday of destiny....Tonight the Allaho Akbar is louder than other nights....Where is this place? A country were people have only God left to reach out to... This is a country where every night people's scream of Allah O Akbar is louder than the night before... Every day I wait till night time comes so I can hear this sound and see if it is louder than the night before or not ... My body is shaking... I wonder if God is shaking himself?
God help them.

Shalikashvili: Gays in the Military? No Problem

Clinton's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili, argues for accepting gays in the military in today's WaPo:
But it is not just foreign militaries that show service by openly gay individuals works. The U.S. military itself has had successful experiences. Enforcement of the ban was suspended without problems during the Persian Gulf War, and there were no reports of angry departures. A majority of U.S. service members say they know or believe that someone in their unit is gay, according to a 2006 Zogby International poll, and most of those who know of openly gay peers report no detriment to morale or cohesion. A recent study co-authored by Laura Miller of Rand Corp. found no correlation between a unit's readiness and whether known gays serve in it. And last year, four retired flag and general officers studied all available evidence and found that allowing gays to serve posed no risk to force readiness.

While the proper timing of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" remains uncertain, it is evident to me that a policy change is inevitable. More than three-quarters of the public favors the change. Polls show that even a majority of Republicans support allowing openly gay people to serve. Within the military, the climate has changed dramatically since 1993. Conversations I've held with service members make clear that, while the military remains a traditional culture, that tradition no longer requires banning open service by gays. There will undoubtedly be some teething pains, but I have no doubt our leadership can handle it.
And say, guys, why don't you go to the SLDN site and sign the petition to the Secretary of the Air Force on behalf of about-to-be-shitcanned Col. Victor Fehrenbach. Sure, the petition won't do any good; but the more letters, emails, phone calls we produce on every issue, the more we ramp up the pressure.

As we've seen today, just this week the community put on some heat, and we got some response from the Administration. Keep it up guys, and don't back down. We've got to earn our rights - nobody, but nobody, is going to just hand them to us.

Do something.

Col. Fehrenbach, war hero and military outcast

Tweet Populi

Clay Bennett
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Jun 19, 2009

It's important to understand that even though the millions protesting the fraudulent Iranian election wear Western clothes (most of them, not all) and watch satellite TV and have armloads of technology, they aren't Americans, and they don't want to be just like us in every way. Their most-used slogans and chants are religious ones; their religion imbues their thinking and their daily life in a way that would seem way overblown to most of us, living in a Western society that started becoming secularized more than 300 years ago.

Still, what they are protesting is a patently outrageous fraud, and a government that claims to be the expression of God's will on earth, but has betrayed the clear will of the voters. They want democracy, freedom, and human rights, all within the context of their religious views, but still, it's a start, and it's a fascinating standoff between the rulers and the ruled, a historic moment for democracy - government of, for, and by the people.

I'm not an expert on Iran or politics or any of that stuff. But watching the videos and reading the tweets (once again I recommend Andrew Sullivan's ongoing coverage), a few things are real clear and easy to see. It will be interesting to learn how this plays out - an unarmed populace against a dictatorship; seems like the military would have to get involved on the people's side to overthrow the fascist regime, but what do I know.

The Supreme Leader Khamenei's big speech today seems to boil down to this: How could there possibly be any fraud, when the president won by 11 million votes? This is God's will, and I'm God's mouthpiece, so y'all just go home and mind your own business. Think spiritual thoughts and be peaceful and calm, and STFU - or we'll sic the goons on you, you ungrateful pigs.

Oh my. Such a transparent lie, an obvious deception. It sounds just like our fundamentalist Republican pols here in the Bible Belt, laying down the law and "the Bible says," if they could get away with it. Using God to terrify and control the masses has always been such a great way to stay on top, all down through history.

But sometimes people get wise to the fraud. Sometimes they want to have their own say about how things are run, instead of turning it over to priests and kings, by whatever names they are called.

I forget the exact source of this at the moment, but even in the days of the Roman Empire, there was a saying: Vox populi, vox dei.

The voice of the people is the voice of God.

Mule, Meet Board

A little pressure gets a little attention. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The administration has directed the Census Bureau to determine changes needed in tabulation software to allow for same-sex marriage data to be released early in 2011 with other detailed demographic information from the decennial count. The bureau historically hasn't released same-sex marriage data.

Actually, that's an understatement; the census bureau has deliberately suppressed some data about same-sex couples, under Bush administration policy. They were all set to do it again, but maybe now we'll get the data counted correctly.

Americablog, regarding two more DOMA-related cases, not connected with the one last week that sparked all the outrage:
Top gay lawyers [from GLAD and Lambda Legal] simply wanted to talk with the Obama administration's representatives at the Department of Justice and the Office of Personnel Management (which is not only run by an openly gay man, but has an openly gay general counsel). The gay lawyers wanted to know the details of the administration's reasoning that DOMA precluded health care benefits, among other benefits, to the partners of gay employees. The Obama administration refused.
However, today it's a different story:

Two very top White House officials, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Political Director Patrick Gaspard, are holding a "wonderful" conference call on Monday with the LGBT caucus of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). I've seen the email, which reads in part: "The call will include important updates on the Administration's LGBT agenda and how we move forward."

This does go to show -- and I've heard it from many people on other issues -- if you want the attention of the Obama White House, you have to play hard ball. For the LGBT community, among other things, that means shutting down the Gay ATM.

No doubt, we'll hear how great it was that White House people talked to the gays. That might have been a big deal in 1979, not 2009.
And even Justice is doing a little turnaround now:
The Obama Justice Department has reached out to major gay rights organizations and scheduled a private meeting for next week with the groups, in an apparent effort to smooth over tensions in the wake of the controversy over the administration’s defense in court of the Defense of Marriage Act. . . .

At the meeting — which hasn’t been announced and is expected to include leading gay rights groups like GLAD and Lambda Legal — both sides are expected to hash out how to proceed with pending DOMA cases.
All of this still doesn't add up to much. But it's a start.

There's an old joke most Southerners know about the farmer who hitched up his mule to a wagon, but the mule just sat down and wouldn't move. So the farmer gets off the wagon, goes up to the mule, and hits him over the head, blam, with a two-by-four. Then the mule got up and trotted right along as he was supposed to.

A friend who was passing by asked the farmer why he hit the mule like that. The old farmer replied that the mule was usually cooperative; "but fust, you have to get his attention."

LOL: Iran-I-Am

You have to see this Sage Stossel cartoon.

Do you like green protest plans?
I do not like them, Sam Imam.
Do you like them in the square?
I do not like them anywhere . . . .

Clarifications and Comments on That Memo

The Washington Blade reports:
Gay rights attorney Evan Wolfson, who heads the same-sex marriage advocacy group Freedom To Marry, said congressional passage of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act would take precedent over DOMA in the area of federal employee benefits. Thus approval of that measure would enable the Obama administration to provide full federal personnel benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees without the repeal of DOMA.

"A more recent bill would undo or at least limit the other one," Wolfson said.

Hirsch of Federal GLOBE said White House officials kept his group informed of the administration's efforts to prepare the presidential memorandum during the past several months. He said the plan all along was to issue the memorandum during LGBT Pride Month in June. He said the memorandum's signing shortly after the administration issued its controversial defense of DOMA in federal court, in response to a lawsuit challenging DOMA, was coincidental.

Hirsch and Solmonese of HRC each called the presidential memorandum a small but important first step in the ongoing effort to provide equal rights and treatment of LGBT people who work for the federal government.

According to Hirsch, a presidential memorandum has the same force of law as a presidential executive order, with the memorandum used more often in federal personnel matters. Hirsch and White House officials noted that some news accounts claiming that a presidential memorandum expires at the end of a president's term in office are incorrect. A presidential memorandum remains in effect indefinitely unless another president rescinds it, just as presidents can rescind executive orders issued by their predecessors.

Solmonese pointed to a statement by Berry in a phone conference for reporters, in which the gay OPM director said the president's memorandum would give him greater authority to prohibit workplace discrimination against LGBT employees.

"Although today's actions are only the beginning in what will be a multi-step process towards achieving real and tangible equality for our community, it is no doubt an important first step," Solmonese said. " We commend President Obama and his administration for taking this action to provide some basic benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees and his endorsement of legislation that would provide domestic partner health benefits."

Kameny is the first known gay person to challenge the federal government after he was fired for being gay from his job as a civilian astronomer with the Army the late 1950s, He called Obama's presidential memorandum an important development.

"There's been a great deal of adverse criticism of the president in recent weeks because people got the feeling that things they wanted to see weren't happening," Kameny said. "My feeling is he made clear that he's on the right side, he's with us, things are moving as fast as he can get them to move, and I feel very satisfied."
Leonard Hirsch has posted a personal reflection on his recent life-threatening illness and the President's action here (PDF document).

Related links:

Federal GLOBE - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees of the Federal Government

GLIFAA - Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies

Noted in the GLIFAA press release:
President Obama's announcement today follows earlier news reports that Secretary Clinton would soon expand the State Department's definition of "Eligible Family Member" (EFM) to include same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners and their children. Presently, domestic partners are classified as "Members of Household" (MOHs), a term that denies critical protections to family members, including those separated from their employee partners who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Foreign Service Act of 1980 grants the Secretary of State exclusive authority to define the term EFM, and GLIFAA has pushed for years to update the definition of the term. GLIFAA also thanks Congresswoman Baldwin, Congressman Berman, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman Ackerman, Senator Feingold, and Senator Wyden, who repeatedly wrote Secretary Rice and Secretary Clinton to remind them of the hardships facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families serving overseas.

As soon as she took office, Secretary Clinton received a letter from over 2,200 current and former employees of the State Department and other foreign affairs agencies asking her to treat all families equally: "We question the logic of leaving same-sex partners to fend for themselves during an emergency evacuation of a high danger post. We are embarrassed when the Department will reimburse a variety of moving expenses, including the cost of transporting a pet, when an employee is assigned overseas, but will not do the same for a same-sex partner... Madam Secretary, we believe that no colleague of ours is a second-class colleague, and no colleague's family is a second-class family." Ninety-two percent (92%) of the letter's signers did not have an MOH family member but signed because, like Secretary Clinton, they know that leaving families vulnerable and without diplomatic protections while in service to the U.S. Government abroad is wrong.

The impact of H1N1 influenza on one GLIFAA family highlighted the second-class status suffered by MOHs. In Mexico, tests confirmed that one Foreign Service Officer's two sons had contracted H1N1. The Health Unit quickly sprang into action and gave Tamiflu to the children and to the employee father. However the Health Unit would not provide Tamiflu to the other father -- even though it was unavailable locally -- because he was an MOH, and not an EFM. It took the personal intervention of the Chargé d'Affaires before the Health Unit took this basic public health measure. Once regulations are revised based on the administrations guidance, no Embassy children will have to watch their parents bear this discrimination again, because all family members will have access to Tamiflu when medically appropriate.
What I Say: You wonder why the doctor or nurse, with hypodermic in hand, didn't just give the other dad the shot and keep quiet about it; lie if necessary. You wonder what kind of fricking tight-ass bureaucrat down in Mexico would sacrifice those kids' dad for the sake of a petty homophobic rule.

You wonder why the God of all Creation, the God who is Love as "the Bible says," would get all huffed up and indignant and rain down fire and brimstone over something like this, like some backwoods shyster multimillionaire TV preacher with a shit-eating grin and a hateful arrogant self-righteous heart as hard as board.

Shove it up your ass, Pat Robertson.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If Anne Frank Had Twitter

Having posted about Anne Frank last week, I found this reader comment at "Twitter 1, Censors 0: Why It's Still Working" sparks some intriguing thoughts:
Wow! Imagine if they'd had twitter at Tienemen square, or in Nazi Germany. Anne Frank could have been read in real time! What a tremendous gift to the people of the world that there is a way to immediately expose the oppressive tactics of their governments! So much for silencing the masses!
Also, I found this cool image of Iran's blogosphere at "How Iran's Internet Works":

Interactive version can be found at the Harvard website.

While there, I poked around and read a little bit on one of the "secularist" women's blogs; and lo and behold, here is a
reader comment opposing her questioning of authority - and it sounds so familiar:

Human rights are not recognized by Islam, period. Religious rights are the only rights women or men are entitled to.
Islam requires total submission to One God, including our sense of what is right and wrong to what God declared right and wrong. If you are not willing to accept that then you are not a muslim. It is not gauranteed that you will understand the wisdom behind each and every command and decree of God and this is the test for us in this life according to Islamic doctrines and true devotees. ergo, your letter in that context is irrelevant and meaningless...
The writer is a Muslim, but danged if he wouldn't fit right in here in the Bible Belt; that's the old "the-Bible-said-it-and-I-believe-it" mentality to a tee. Ain't that right, fellas?

Fundamentalism is the same all around the world, I guess: a wonderful tool to control other people with. It's not about God, it's all about power.

P.S. - if you Twitter, set your location and time zone to Iran to help confuse the fascist regime and protect the demonstrators. The head religious honcho in Iran, the Supreme Leader (what a title . . . I'm not making this up) is about to make a major address to the crowds, so probably more interesting developments are about to happen there.

Reax: Polis, Aravosis, Frank

CBS interviews Jared Polis and John Aravosis:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Excerpt from a reader's comment on Americablog about the Barney Frank flip-flop:
By making such a crass and transparently political calculation, Barney Frank has committed the same mistake that Mattachine made. He has overvalued his relationship with the Democratic power establishment over his relationship with our community - and in so doing, he has forgotten his roots. Had he spoken up for our community by giving voice to the pain that ordinary gay couples feel over DOMA, we would have rallied around him as a natural leader. But by defending Obama's indefensible legal brief, he has placed himself at odds with his own community. He will not lose everyone's support - our community is not monolithic - but at this very moment in history, Barney Frank was handed a rare opportunity to rise to the occasion and become a truly great leader. Instead, he has revealed himself as just another crass politician.

The old wineskin is incapable of containing the new wine.
What I Say: I like Barney a lot, he's shrewd as hell and tells it like it is. But just as he said the other day that the President "has made a big mistake," so too I think Barney has now made a great error. He's still playing the political ballgame after the game has been called.

And furthermore, your Head Trucker is amazed at the utter insanity of some bloggers and commenters to the effect of, Well I'll vote for the Republicans next time. That's just bizarre, and totally not comprehending reality.

Who in their right fucking mind could possibly vote for the party of Limbaugh, Cheney, Palin, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Sally Kern, Larry Craig, Ted Haggart, and oh let's not forget George W. Bush?? It's the party of torture and unlimited executive power, remember?

Please, Mary, put the pipe down and snap out of it. The Republican party is in its death throes, anyway; they won't go quietly, but they are the dinosaurs of the 21st century. Supporting a quasi-fascist party is definitely not the way to go, boys. You really want to be singing "We're here, we're queer" as you're marched into a metaphorical detention camp?

Either we have to pile on the heat to get the Dems' attention; or somehow a new and vote-winning party, more responsive and more concerned about all the people's needs - not just the gays' - has got to arise here. We've all been very well trained to think of American politics as "either-or"; but maybe it doesn't have to be either Dems or Repubs, maybe there's room for more and better in our political system. Certainly, a massive turn to a new, more progressive outfit would get the Dems' attention in a hurry.

Sometimes what looks like a very small, almost trivial incident, can set in motion a huge movement. It occurs to me that this little debacle could be the crack in the dam, a historic turning point in the political history of this country - if the Dems don't act fast to make good on their fine talk and promises. It's about civil rights, people - it's not optional anymore, it's required.

Or else the Dems just might follow the Republicans into extinction one day. I've already recommended that you fellas take a look at Canada's New Democratic Party. Give some thought also to the platform of Britain's Liberal Democrats, and see if you like what you read. The names aren't important, it's the philosophy the party stands for.

I'm not a prophet or a political wizard, but one thing I do know: Change has come to America. And maybe a bigger change than anyone really expected. Think it over.
Promoting social liberalism, Lib Dems seek to minimise state intervention in personal affairs: they oppose what they call the 'nanny state'. Their president's book of office is John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, which defined the harm principle of law. While objecting to state limitations of individual rights, they favour a welfare state that provides for the necessities and amenities of life. . . . strong environmentalist values . . . renewable energy . . . taxing the rich more . . . power to the people.

Obama's Plan for Gay Rights

What did I tell you?

Andrew Sullivan: Fight Back, Act Up

Obama Extends Benefits To Same Sex Partners Of Federal Employees

Sullivan finally comes down off his Iran-revolution high and gets mad about the backstabbing betrayal of the gay community:
One way to get the Obama administration's attention on civil rights is for gay people to stop funding the Democrats. That's all these people care about anyway when it comes to gays: our money. If the Democrats refuse to support us, refuse to support them. This is a start. But we need to get more creative. We need actions to highlight the administration's betrayals, postponements and boilerplate. We need to start confronting the president at his events. We need civil disobedience. We need to tell him we do not want another fricking speech where he tells us he is a fierce advocate for our rights, when that is quite plainly at this point not true. We will not tolerate another Clinton. No invites to these people for dinners or fundraisers. No cheering him at events while he does nothing to follow up on his explicit promises. Of course these things can be done. If anyone high up in the Obama administration or the Pelosi-Reid Congress gave a damn, much would have been done.

We need to swamp Pelosi with phone-calls. We need to target Reid for his inaction. We have to pressure Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin not to excuse the disdain that the Obama administration is showing toward gay equality, and their cynical use of our votes, money and passion to enforce real and potent discrimination against us and our families. And we have to refuse to attend White House signing ceremonies like yesterday's farce. Really: until they are serious, we should not be coopted and placated with pathetic sops. I am not a Clintonite. I worked my ass off to get this man to power. On many issues, I support him and will continue to do so.

But I am a proud, self-respecting gay man with HIV. And I am not going to take this crap for much longer on civil rights. Fight back. Act Up.

David Mixner: What Does It All Mean?

Very little:

In his remarks, the President did not even mention the recently filed Department of Justice brief supporting DOMA. He did not correct the record that the execrable brief contains. He didn't even say that the 'sloppy language of the brief' is not reflective of his values, principals or beliefs. He did not mention DADT. Finally after some initial indications that he would include the word "transgender", I did not hear it in his remarks.

Don't foget that LGBT taxes are still paying for all those straight federal employees healthcare benefits!

In many ways it is like the California Supreme Court decision: we are happy for the couples that were able to put that "Just Married" sign on their car, but unfortunately, the rest of us have been run over by a bus.

More Reax

The CBS news station in San Francisco has a great report on the gay community's reaction to the President's betrayal of their trust.

Stampp Corbin, chair of Obama's LGBT Leadership Council during the campaign says "the DOMA brief has ruined everything" and the President's callous actions have "awakened a sleeping giant."

Americablog reports that seven of the LGBT "superstar" attendees used to promote the DNC fundraiser next week have now pulled out, along with the board of the Stonewall Democrats (the gay wing of the Democratic Party).

Americablog also reports that the reason you didn't see Rep. Jared Polis at yesterday's signing ceremony is that he had a baseball game to go to. Which is a polite excuse, of course, for the fact that he boycotted the President's little show.

The New York Times has a good story on the "Outcry on Federal Same-Sex Benefits."

Under the title "Gay Tsunami Slams Obama," Rex Wockner has a long post of pictures and quotes from LGBT leaders about "the straw that broke the camel's back and unleashed a flood of harsh criticism from gay VIPs."

Your Head Trucker especially liked this quote:
"The President is in serious danger of motivating a huge mass of gay people to stream into Washington for the simple joy of standing in front of the White House and giving him a piece of their minds," wrote syndicated gay columnist Wayne Besen.

"For what seemed like forever, Democrats told us that when the big bad Republicans went away, our lives would improve," Besen said. "Well, the Republican nightmare is over, so why do I still feel like I'm in the middle of a political Friday the 13th movie? ... As far as I'm concerned, if the donkeys can't deliver now, they can kiss my ass."
Seems more like Groundhog Day to me - you keep waking up to find it's the same damn day, over and over and over.

But that's got to stop. Now.

Reax to the Big Fat Memo

It's a day that marks a historic step towards the changes we seek, but I think we all have to acknowledge this is only one step. Among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it.

We've got more work to do to ensure that government treats all its citizens equally; to fight injustice and intolerance in all its forms; and to bring about that more perfect union. I'm committed to these efforts, and I pledge to work tirelessly on behalf of these issues in the months and years to come.
--President Barack Obama, June 17, 2009

Anderson Cooper with Richard Socarides and Dustin Lance Black:

Keith Olbermann with Joe Solmonese:

Rachel Maddow with Rep. Tammy Baldwin:

Rep. Barney Frank, in an official statement, amazingly changes his mind about the matter:
It is the President’s job to try to change the law, but it is also his obligation to uphold and defend it when it has been enacted by appropriate processes. It would not be wise, in my judgment, for those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or who sympathize with the fight for our rights, to argue for a precedent that says that executives who disagreed politically with the purpose of the law should have the option of refusing to defend it in a constitutional case. . . . after rereading this brief, I do not think that the Obama administration should be subject to harsh criticism in this instance.
And don't forget the wingnut right is still very much with us and they are eating up this story, as Pat Robertson once again goes into Jeezusbabble mode: on the one hand, LGBT people are such a tiny part of the population, they are totally insignificant; on the other hand, they are so dangerous that they are sending this country straight to destruction:

BTW - if anyone pulls this argument on you, remind them of two things. First, every nation or empire of the past has risen and then eventually fallen; nothing lasts forever in this world, and the success of nations depends on money and might, not sex. And Two, the Roman Empire, to take the most famous example, fell apart a hundred years or more after Christianity was made the state religion, and homosex was outlawed.

So much for that theory. In fact, Gibbon, who wrote the famous The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the 18th century, still in print today, came under great criticism for that book's thesis, which was that it was the adoption of Christianity more than anything else that led to the Empire's ruin.

But back to reality, and the present day. What to do next? Seems obvious to me that the President and his White House crew are not going to do anything for us just out of the goodness of their hearts. Left to their own devices, they will do something if and when they get around to it. They felt the heat this week, and they responded with a tiny scrap of equality - and note that Hillary beat the President to the punch, over at the State Dept., by a month on that, for her employees.

The political system doesn't run automatically, throwing out good things all by itself, as you may have imagined when you were nodding over your civics textbook in junior high. Politicians may have good intentions, but that's not enough to get the job done; those intentions have to be turned into action, and that happens when they realize they have to act to keep their jobs, or their campaign funds.

So how to turn up the heat on Congress and the President? I don't know exactly, lots of other people have ideas on that, some good, some silly. But we all need to be thinking about it, and working for equality as best we can. It won't just happen, guys; we have to push and shove and dig and sweat for it, that's all too clear after this week's revelations.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pictures from the Revolution

Hope, Change, and the courage of their convictions are all they have to fight with:

More pictures and tweets here. Andrew Sullivan explains the background:
This is more like the American revolution than the French one. They are asking that the regime live up to its own commitments - i.e. an election that is actually fair within the circumscribed rules. They have essentially called Khamenei's bluff. And by remaining silent and peaceful and insisting on a fair election and using neutral slogans like Allah O Akbar, they are avoiding the trap of being dismissed as mere Western puppets.

I do not know where this ends. But I am not sure it ends with either total crackdown or total revolution. What the Mousavi movement wants is a revolution within the system. What they want it perestroika and glasnost. Of course, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad realize that this could lead to what perestroika and glasnost led to in Russia: the end of everything. And this is what the neocons fear: a reformed Iranian leadership that is still devoted to nuclear development.

If the green revolutionaries can hang in, and if some crack in the regime emerges, and if Ahmadinejad is shunted aside, then we have real and measurable progress to a more open and flexible Islamic republic. I think we may be able to do business with that regime and allow for nuclear power with a real inspection scheme in place. It's either that or a brutal military coup and dictatorship by basij and war with Israel. Partly for these reasons and partly because you cannot mistake the obvious democratic forces unleashed in Iran right now, I have not given up on the former. And surely if these are the choices, the mulahs may think twice before giving in to Ahmadi and his thugs. And if the movement prevails in adjusting the regime's leadership, the opening for Obama and the West will be as real as the late 1980s. For Reagan, see Obama; for Gorbachev, see Mousavi. Who Yeltsin will be we do not yet know.

Think of the potential as one of reformation, rather than revolution. But reformation is a vast improvement on what we have now. And unlike Iraq, it will have begun from within and so may have a chance of holding.
AP: "It's not just young, liberal rich kids anymore: Whole families, taxi drivers, even conservative women in black chadors are joining Iran's opposition street protests. . . ."

Tweet from Tehran:

What is a President without a Country?

Shit, Meet Fan

Democratic fundraiser attended by U.S. President Barack Obama draws protest in Beverly Hills, California

John Aravosis in Salon magazine:

Everyone loves a parade, but we don't like being betrayed. And while gay and lesbian Americans were initially willing to cut our new president some slack, the president's now-clear reticence to follow through on even one of his many campaign promises to the gay community has put the Democratic Party on the precipice of an ugly and very public divorce with this once-solid constituency.

During the presidential primaries, then-candidate Obama promoted himself as the biggest defender of gay rights since Harvey Milk. He would be a "fierce advocate" for our rights, he promised, and he even out-gayed Hillary Clinton: telling gay and lesbian voters that while she was for a partial repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he'd get rid of the whole damn thing.

And there was much rejoicing.

Then, not so much. . . .

On taking office, Obama immediately announced that he was doing away with the Clinton-era concept of special assistants who served as liaisons to various communities like gays and Latinos. He then went ahead and appointed special liaisons to some of those communities anyway, but never to the gays. Around the same time, the White House Web site, once detailing half a page of presidential promises to the gay community, overnight saw those pledges shortened to three simple sentences. Gone were five of the eight previous commitments, including the promises to repeal both Don't Ask Don't Tell and DOMA. Adding to a growing sense of angst, senior White House officials kept telling the media that they weren't sure when, if ever, the president would follow through on his promises to the gay community. Then there were the Cabinet appointees. Three Latino nominees but nary a gay in sight. And finally, last week our president had his Department of Justice file a brief in defense of DOMA, a law he had once called "abhorrent." In that brief, filed on the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia (which outlawed bans on interracial marriage), our own interracial Harvey Milk, not lacking a sense of historical irony, compared our love to incest and pedophilia.

Shit, meet fan.

. . . What can the president do to avoid outright rupture with the gay community? He needs to start fulfilling his campaign promises -- even one would be a nice start. He needs to stop the discharges, and stop the Falwellian legal briefs in support of a policy he opposes. He needs to push -- really push -- for legislation banning job discrimination, repealing DOMA, and lifting Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Many of us were willing to cut our new president some slack. Not anymore.

Obama Signs A Memo for the Gays

Well here it is boys, watch and decide for yourself what this signifies.

BTW, the elderly gentleman Obama hands the pen to after signing is Frank Kameny, whose 1958 firing from a federal job prompted him to sue the government in the first gay-rights case ever; he lost the case, but he inspired many others to activism in our cause in the years before Stonewall.

It's hot here, I'm tired and haven't read what the big blogs are saying about all this yet; maybe later after supper.

Update: Full text of the memo is here.

Seems like the big bloggers don't have much to say tonight. Maybe we're all just speechless here at the climax of six days of shock and anger. Like when you have that last conversation, ya know? . . .

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you, it was just, well - look, it's just not working anymore between us, okay? And it's hurting both of us to go on pretending like this. I wish things were different, but . . . hey, don't be mad, we can still be friends, can't we . . . ?

CYA Time at the White House

John Aravosis at Americablog:

The White House actually admitted to the NYT that they were offering the benefits to help contain the "growing furor among gay rights groups." How about doing it because it's the right thing to do? How about doing it because you were already planning to do it to help our community, because you recognize us as human beings? We kept being told, fret not, we have a secret plan for your civil rights - now it seems, not so much:

But administration officials said the timing of the announcement was intended to help contain the growing furor among gay rights groups. Several gay donors withdrew their sponsorship of a Democratic National Committee fund-raising event next week, where Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to speak.

Just as bad, it seems they came up with this proposal on the fly. In spite of the fact that for a while they've been hinting that they'd do this, the NYT discovered that the details of the "plan" haven't even been decided, yet the White House is already announcing it publicly.

The breadth and scope of the memorandum to be signed by Mr. Obama was being completed Tuesday evening, said administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid upstaging the president’s announcement on Wednesday.

With all due respect, don't our civil rights deserve a bit more attention than some kluge thrown together at the last minute to save a cocktail party?

This is simply more evidence that the White House never had a plan to act on our civil rights, to act on the president's promises (none of which have been fulfilled, or even addressed). They're simply winging it with our rights.
Like I told you guys, there is no fucking plan. He got the votes, now he's going to do as he pleases, and fuck you if you don't like it.

Obama Then, Obama Now

From Pam's House Blend:
Office of the Press Secretary
June 17, 2009

Fact Sheet: Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination

In an Oval Office event later today, President Barack Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination. The Memorandum follows a review by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management ant the Secretary of State regarding what benefits may be extended to the same-sex partners of federal employees in the civil service and the foreign service within the confines of existing federal laws and statutes.

Over the past several months, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Secretary of State have conducted internal reviews to determine whether the benefits they administer may be extended to the same-sex partners of federal employees within the confines of existing laws and statutes. Both identified a number of such benefits.

For civil service employees, domestic partners of federal employees can be added to the long-term care insurance program; supervisors can also be required to allow employees to use their sick leave to take care of domestic partners and non-biological, non-adopted children. For foreign service employees, a number of benefits were identified, including the use of medical facilities at posts abroad, medical evacuation from posts abroad, and inclusion in family size for housing allocations.

The Presidential Memorandum to be signed today will request that the Director of OPM and the Secretary of State act to extend to same-sex partners of federal employees the benefits they have identified. The Memorandum will also request the heads of all other executive branch departments and agencies to conduct internal reviews to determine whether other benefits they administer might be similarly extended, and to report the results of those reviews to the Director of OPM.

The Memorandum will also direct OPM to issue guidance within 90 days to all executive departments and agencies regarding compliance with, and implementation of, the civil service laws, which make it unlawful to discriminate against federal employees or applicants for federal employment on the basis of factors not related to job performance.
Pam also posts this reminder of Obama's specific promises that he made to the gay community last year, when he wanted our votes:
I'm running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all - a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It's wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans.

...As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.

...I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.

...The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it comes to prevention, we do not have to choose between values and science. While abstinence education should be part of any strategy, we also need to use common sense.

...We also need a president who's willing to confront the stigma - too often tied to homophobia - that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

...I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together.

...Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.
From ABC News via Americablog, reporting a press conference at the White House today with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:
TAPPER: Does the president stand by the legal brief that the Justice Department filed last week that argued in favor the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act?

GIBBS: Well, as you know, that the Justice Department is charged with upholding the law of the land, even though the president believes that that law should be repealed.

TAPPER: I understand that, but a lot of legal experts say that the brief didn't have to be as comprehensive and make all the arguments that it made, such as comparing same-sex unions to incestuous ones, in one controversial paragraph...

GIBBS: Well...

TAPPER: ...that's upset a lot of the president's supporters. Does the president stand by the content, the arguments made in that brief?

GIBBS: Well, again, it's the president's Justice Department. And, again, we have the role of upholding the law of the land while the president has stated and will work with Congress to change that law.
John Avarosis also reports, based on a phone call to John Berry and reader emails, that today's presidential memo is NOT giving federal agencies any power they didn't have already. It's a publicity trick, guys, you understand that?

Barney and Tammy Chime In

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.):
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, one of the nation’s leading gay rights champions, blasted President Obama yesterday over a controversial anti-gay marriage court filing and is calling on the commander in chief to explain himself.

“I think the administration made a big mistake. The wording they used was inappropriate,” Frank (D-Newton) said of a brief filed by Obama’s Department of Justice that supported the Defense of Marriage Act.

The DOJ brief, which has touched off a firestorm of anger in the gay community, argued that states should not have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, just as states don’t have to recognize incestuous marriages or unions involving underage girls.

“I’ve been in touch with the White House and I’m hoping the president will make clear these were not his views,” Frank said.

Barney also said he thinks it would be a mistake for teh gayz not to give their homodollars to the Democratic Party.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.):

Last week the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA. I was profoundly disappointed by this action, particularly coming from this administration. I still take President Obama at his word that he is committed to the repeal of DOMA. I also recognize that he cannot do it alone. Congress has the responsibility on its shoulders to pass legislation that would give the opportunity to the President to keep his word and ensure that all married people, including those in same-sex marriages, enjoy the same rights under federal law.

OMG: Government Funding for Pride?

For a couple of years there, after I lost my husband, I was daydreaming about moving to gay-friendly Canada. It was just a pipedream, though; and I got over it last year with the rush of Hope and the expectation of Change.

I might be reconsidering that attitude now. (Canadian readers, let the Blue Truck know your requirements and needs, I'll get back to ya.)

You grow up in the U.S. and you hear it drummed into your head so many times "This is the GREATEST country in the world." Yeah, yeah, yada yada yada. As if this is the ONLY country worth living in, ever.

But while I love my country, it ain't necessarily so that it can't be greater and better. For all its citizens. We don't have a lock on every good thing here.

Lookit this news from our neighbor to the North - can you imagine the U.S. government funding Pride in, say, New York City? With a major press conference to boot?
Pride Toronto got a financial boost of nearly $400,000 one week ahead of the event's kickoff.

"I'm pleased to announce a new recipient of the Marquee Events Program," said Minister of State Diane Ablonzcy Monday during a news conference at the Gladstone Hotel.

The money is to go towards improving infrastructure and services for people with disabilities during the 10-day festival, along with improving marketing and programming efforts.
Toronto Pride is, far from being something beneath the notice of the government, is a major tourist attraction - worth more than $90 million to the economy of Canada's largest city. They're loving it up there. Can you imagine Pride being covered in depth by a major national network? What a country!

Click here for the video of today's announcement. And oh, don't miss the clip of Dykes on Trikes.

Reid: "We Can Find the Time" to Repeal DADT

Lieutenant Dan Choi, West Point grad, trained Arabic linguist -
fired by President Obama as unfit for the United States Army

In a stunning about-face, and a backhanded slap at our foot-dragging "fierce advocate," Senate Majority leader Harry Reid today came out for DADT repeal, practically begging the President to grow a pair and fucking lead like he promised he would. From the Advocate:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a clarification of his comments Monday that there were no Senate sponsors in line to introduce legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," saying instead that, in fact, "a number of senators" are working on repeal.

"We do not have a DADT bill introduced in the Senate yet, but a number of senators are working on a bipartisan approach to get DADT repealed," Senator Reid said in a statement Tuesday. "We would welcome a legislative proposal from the White House on repeal so as to provide clear guidance on what the president would like to see and when. With presidential leadership and direction, I believe we can find the time to get repeal done in this Congress. We need all the troops we can get right now."

Reid's comments are the first intimations from congressional leadership on a time frame for accomplishing repeal, and are in line with those made earlier this year by Rep. Barney Frank. "I believe we should and will do 'don't ask, don't tell' next year," Frank told Roll Call in April. "We haven't done the preliminary work, the preparatory work. It would be a mistake to bring it up without a lot of lobbying and a lot of conversation."
In response, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued this call for the President to address DADT at tomorrow's memo signing:
In the wake of the frustration, and in some quarters ire, of the LGBT community at how the Obama Administration is handling public policy issues that affect our lives, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network encourages the President to set forth his plan and timeline tomorrow for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"There is no need to run from the issue of gays in the military anymore," said Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN executive director. "This is not 1993. The American public, including 58 percent of conservatives, overwhelmingly supports repeal, as are the younger generation of military leaders. They understand firing someone because of their sexual orientation is not only flat wrong but harms national security. It won't be easy to replace Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a highly decorated F-15E Aviator who has given 18 years of his life to serving this country."

The President should publicly endorse legislation (The Military Readiness Enhancement Act) that ends "Don't Ask, Don' Tell" and replaces it with a policy of nondiscrimination. Or, he should put his campaign rhetoric into writing by drafting his own legislation outlining precisely how to end DADT. . . .

Achieving repeal must be done in a measured, strategic and smart way. But this does not mean there is time for indecision or inaction. The sense of urgency is real. More than 250 service members have been fired by the President since January and hundreds more have left the services because of the DADT law.
And Pam Spaulding notes:
They can find the time for this. I want all of the people out there who have been bleating that Congress and the President simply don't have time for these issues, with the economy, international conflicts, health care reform, etc. The head of the Senate has just said they have the time to work on repeal of a policy that places our security at risk. After a Salon expose on the number of skinheads, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists filling the ranks of the enlisted while people like Dan Choi are given the boot, there is no better time to move on DADT. This administration's credibility is at risk.
Do you remember Obama's handwritten note to Lt. Sandy Tsao (now also fired from the military), last month?

What Fascism Looks Like

Andrew Sullivan's been all but silent on the Obama-DOMA crisis; he's in his glory, reporting on the Iranian uprising, and is doing a helluva job keeping readers informed.

He posted this video today of a gang of masked militia, government agents, beating the living hell out of a defenseless demonstrator:

Sullivan says about this, all he can think of is Orwell (from Nineteen Eighty-Four):
There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.
Also found on Sullivan's site, a link to this moving story by an Iranian man in Tehran:
What I saw today was the most elegant scene I had ever witnessed in my life. The huge number of people were marching hand in hand in full peace. Silence. Silence was everywhere. There was no slogan. No violence. Hands were up in victory sign with green ribbons. People carried placards which read: Silence. Old and young, man and woman of all social groups were marching cheerfully. This was a magnificent show of solidarity. . . .

I felt proud to find myself among such a huge number of passionate people who were showing the most reasonable act of protest. Frankly, I didn't expect such a political maturity from emotional Iranians who easily get excited. My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression. Placards that people carried were different; from poems by the national poet Ahmad Shamlu to light-hearted slogans against Ahmadinejad. Examples include: 'To slaughter us/ why did you need to invite us / to such an elegant party" (Poem by Shamlu).'

We arrived in Azadi Square where the entire square was full of population. It is said that around 500,000 people can be accommodated in this huge square and it was full. Suddenly we saw smoke from Jenah Freeway and heard the gunshot. People were scared at first but then went forward. I just heard the gunshots but my sister who had been on the scene at that part told me later that she saw 4 militia came out from a house and shot a girl. Then they shot a young boy in his eye and the bullet came out of his ear. She said that 4 people were shot. At least one person dead has been confirmed. People arrested one of the Baseeji militia but the three others ran away when they ran out of bullet. . . .

Since yesterday, the Iranian TV was announcing that there is no license for any gathering and riot police will severely punish anybody who may demonstrates. Ahmadinejad called the opposition as a bunch of insignificant dirt who try to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. He also called the western leaders as a bunch of 'filthy homosexuals'. All these disgusting remarks was today answered by that largest demonstration ever. Older people compared the demonstration of today with the Ashura Demonstration of 1979 which marks the downfall of the Shah regime and even said that it outnumbered that event.

The militia burnt a house themselves to find the excuse to commit violence. People neutralized their tactic to a large degree by their solidarity, their wisdom and their denial to enage in any violent act. I feel sad for the loss of those young girls and boys. It is said that they also killed 3 students last night in their attack at Tehran University residence halls. I heard that a number of professors of Sharif University and AmirKabir University (Tehran Polytechnic) have resigned.

Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tear in these early hours of Tuesday 16th June 2009, I glorify the courage and bravery of those martyrs and I hope that their blood will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights. Viva Freedom, Viva Democracy, Viva Iran.
On a lighter note, check out this brilliant photoshop job of the Mouse That Roared.
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