Please note-

*Please note- Your browser preferences must be set to 'allow 3rd party cookies' in order to comment in our diaries.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When I Grow Up: Let's Play Pretend by Jo LeGall

I rushed out of my car to write this down. How hilarious is that? I have been asked the question "What do you want to do with your life?" since I was one year away from graduating high school. I could never answer as I had all these things I wanted to be when I was little still stuck in my head. An astronaut, a mechanic, a race car driver, a cowboy, an Apache, a cop and Spiderman. Those where the images that flitted through my mind in rapid secession in an endless frustrating loop whenever I was asked my plans for life.

I realised on my drive home why I could never answer that simple question. I never got the chance to fully explore my personality. Every time I wanted to play the leader, the hero, the decisive, confident and self-assured person I was always told no. Those roles were not for me as I was the victim, the hostage, the follower, the insecure, fragile and self-doubting person who needed to find a protector. I felt such a disconnect from society. Was I normal? Why can I not stop myself from stepping into the roles they say are not for me?

I withdrew from pretend play as a child and sunk myself deep into my comic books. The X-Men. I loved the stories where the people were as different as I was. Those who showed that I did not have to be a follower and there should be no question of my ability to lead based on gender. Those comic books were my treasures. I kept them in pristine condition in the plastic sleeves they came in. They helped me do what no other adult in my life was willing to do; let me be myself.

I used what I learned from the comic books to take the information the adults provided me with, of what they thought a child of my gender should be, and I projected it. Everyone thinks that the superhero is the creation of the citizen's imagination when it is the normal, unassuming citizen that is the creation of the superhero's imagination. When I was myself it drew negative attention to me. I learned how to pretend to be an empty headed idiot. To be invisible to those who expect nothing from you. When the adults watched I was one mirage and with my peers I was another.

My family was convinced I was a borderline imbecile and I did nothing for years to dispel that image or discourage the many lectures regarding what a horrible, disappointing child I was. It was all part of the image. My alter-ego. Sometimes I wanted to shuck it all and say "I've done all this stuff that people respect me for which you know nothing about." when the sneering laughter got a bit too much, yet I knew it all would be met with disbelief. Almost as if I claimed to really be Rogue in disguise. So, I buried the frustration and kept the mirage they wanted in place.

Today I sat in my car, with the engine idling and realised a few things. Whenever I was asked the question "What do you plan to do with your life?" there was always a preconceived idea being held up where I was found lacking. It was never a question meant to be answered and deep down I already knew that on an unconscious level yet the frustration of knowing they kept discarding what I've done in favour of what they want me to become still rose. Another habit I did not realise I had.

So I sat there today and I smiled. I smiled and smiled and smiled until I believe my jaw would start to creak from the strain. Our 4 year old chimed in from the backseat to her older sister "Mommy's happy." Do you know she's right? It is not necessary to toss off the cloak of my alter-ego to reveal my true identity. Then I also realised that I may have read one too many comic books but who cares. I mean, really? Who cares?

The next time I am asked that question, I will smile a smile steeped in secrets because I have finally realised that the question is unimportant. My answer will be simply "This and that. This and that." because my answer is unimportant too. I already am who I am. I have always been who I am. I was already living my life despite the obstacles thrown my way. Without their support. It all started with that first breath. I did not need to grow up to be someone else. I was already who I was born to be. Me.

LGBT History: "America The Beautiful"

By Rei

   Among our nation's most famous pieces of poetry is that which underlies the song, "America the Beautiful". On several occasions, it has been proposed to replace "The Star Spangled Banner" as our national anthem.  Its author was a young Wellesley College English professor named Katharine Lee Bates.
Almost everbody in this nation knows the words.  Few know that she was a lesbian.  This is her story.

   Bates was born to a poor family in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and later moved to Grantville, near Wellesley.  Wellesley was soon to be the home to a new women's college, and attending the school became Katharine's goal in life.  She took advanced courses and started teaching at the high school to build up credentials, ultimately becoming accepted into their second graduating class.  She excelled in the school, but in no field more than poetry.  Her favorite activity was to retire to the Browning room and study the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  Three years after graduating as class president, she was accepted to teach English at Wellesley.
   In 1893, at age 33 and now English department chair, Bates took a train ride from Wellesley, Massachusetts to Colorado Springs, Colorado to teach a summer school session at Colorado College.  She marvelled at the countryside as she travelled.
   One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.

An Unsustainable Life

By Robyn (from my archives)

Twelve days ago, I encountered the following comment by a well-known member of Daily Kos.

What exactly is the medical condition that is treated by transgender surgery? Is it vanity? Something is not right about drastic alteration of a healthy body. I feel the same way about plastic surgery, by the way.

Transgender is an acquired condition, a choice, unlike homosexuality, and I don't think it deserves the same protections.

I've let it steep and marinate, trying to come up with a way to address the comment. And during that time, I've wondered how many people of like mind inhabit DK. Given the number of anti-trans bigots that respond to general news story blogs in regards to stories about people who are trans, I'm willing to bet the commenter who made that comment is not flying solo.

So how should I approach it? I decided that a trip back in time might fit the bill.

In The Life


Five myths about 'don't ask, don't tell'

By Aaron Belkin

A commemoration service is held on Veteran's Day for gay veterans at the grave of Leonard Matlovich, a Vietnam vet who single-handedly led the charge for recognition of gays in the military in the late 1970s. Ret. Navy Captain Mike Rankin hangs a flag at Congressional Cemetery to help direct people to the service put on by the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

   It's been 17 years since Congress enacted the law known as "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT), and the Senate will finally vote on its repeal this week. Public figures from Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Lady Gaga have said it's time for the policy to go. A federal judge in California weighed in this month as well, finding that the law undermines unit cohesion, wastes money and leads to a loss of critical military talent. It is also patently unfair and, according to the court, unconstitutional. On the long path to regulations that treat all troops equally, a number of myths have cropped up surrounding the law.

1. DADT was created to promote unit cohesion and military readiness.
   DADT has never had anything to do with those goals. In 1993, President Bill Clinton tried to compel the Pentagon to eliminate the ban on gays in the military. The Pentagon formed a working group to figure out how to respond, and admirals and generals in that group, which ultimately helped create DADT, acknowledged to historian Nathaniel Frank that the policy was "based on nothing."
But that is not the full story. According to historian Anne Loveland, the architects of DADT knew they could not argue that the law should be based on their personal morality, so they used the unit cohesion argument instead. In her work on evangelical chaplains in the military, Loveland discovered a behind-the-scenes debate as the policy took shape in 1992-93. Though the chaplains and evangelical groups wanted to present a case that gays and lesbians are abominations, polls showed that most of the public didn't share their moral concerns; they knew would have a better chance if they talked about military necessity.
   As recently as 2007, then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace was asked why the military still had a ban on gays, and he said he believed that DADT was necessary because homosexual conduct is immoral. He later clarified that he was stating his "personal moral views" and that he should have stuck to personnel issues. His comments spurred a group of retired generals and admirals to urge the repeal of the policy. But the problem really wasn't that Pace spoke out of turn. It was that he told the truth about a rationale that was supposed to remain unspoken.

2. Repealing DADT will be complicated.
   Opponents of repeal are trying to depict the transition to an inclusive policy as a fragile and complicated process. The Center for Military Readiness, a nonprofit organization whose president supports DADT, claims that lifting the ban will lead to logistical headaches over housing, benefits and nondiscrimination policies. This echoes the obstructionism of former senator Sam Nunn, who on the Senate floor in 1993 asked more than 40 "thorny questions" that gay rights advocates would have to answer before he would support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. (One particularly memorable example: What would happen if a gay soldier brought a partner to a military ball?)
But the shift to an inclusive policy is not rocket science. Research by the Rand Corporation shows that the Pentagon needs just three things to ensure a smooth transition: The military must have a standard of nondiscrimination that mandates equal treatment for everyone. There must be a single code of conduct that applies equally to gays and straights and does not mention sexual orientation. And military leaders at all levels must show their support for the policy.
   All of these steps are simple, which is why the militaries of Britain, Israel, Canada and other U.S. allies have had such an easy time getting rid of their bans. At a recent summit at the Brookings Institution, Canadian Lt. Gen. Walter Semianiw said, "There has been no impact to reflect on operational effectiveness by having men and women of any sexual orientation fighting together."

3. The integration of women and African Americans into the military offers useful comparisons.
   The debates over gays, women and blacks in the military seem quite similar in many regards. Just as some people claimed that white enlisted personnel would not follow black officers, for example, others say that straight troops will not follow gay commanders.
Yet it makes little sense to compare the current situation to the previous integration of women and racial minorities. Operationally, the end of "don't ask, don't tell" will be a cakewalk compared with racial and gender integration, which took many years and faced huge logistical obstacles. In this case, a majority of troops already say that they know or suspect that they know gay peers and are comfortable serving with them.
   Symbolically, the comparison is wrong as well: It conflates homophobia, racism and sexism, which are distinct phenomena.

4. The troops oppose repealing DADT.
   It is true that when asked their policy preferences, more troops say they favor DADT than allowing gays to serve openly. But there are several caveats: First, the margin is small, and a large number of troops say they have no opinion. Typically, polls find that about 40 percent of troops prefer DADT, 30 percent prefer open service, and 30 percent have no opinion. Second, the vast majority of troops say they are comfortable working with gays and lesbians. Third, even among those who have an opinion, very few feel strongly about it.
   Military leaders have expressed their support for repealing DADT as well. Mullen has said that eliminating the policy "would be the right thing to do," and his view is reflected, in large part, in the opinions of the troops. I have made more than 25 visits to service academies and military universities over the past decade, and I have noticed a remarkable shift. Among those gays and lesbians who are out to their units, very few are encountering problems these days. The gay troops who experience the most difficulties are the ones who remain in the closet. Their peers know they are hiding something, and that perception of secrecy does undermine cohesion.

5. DADT is a losing issue politically.
   More than a dozen polls in the past five years have found that roughly two-thirds of the public supports repeal. Majorities of regular churchgoers and Republicans now support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. The political risk for the Obama administration and the Democrats is in not following through on their pledge to repeal the policy.
   Some people believe that Clinton tried to push the country too far to the left when it came to gays in the military. But Clinton's key mistake was allowing himself to get pushed around. That is why he lost the respect of the military and its supporters.

Aaron Belkin is an associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University and the director of the Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Charlene Strong's Love Story Spells Doom for DOMA

Charlene Strong and Hans Johnson at a screening of the film “for my wife…” .

   After 14 years, a federal law that violates most every principle Americans profess to hold dear is finally coming under sustained political fire. The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, would be a farce if its corrosive influence on law and lives weren’t so far-reaching.
   One person who has felt that harm firsthand is Charlene Strong [pictured here with Hans Johnson]. Now a human rights commissioner in Washington state, Charlene was denied access to the hospital room of her wife of 10 years following a flash flood that hit their Seattle home in December 2006. A funeral director later snubbed her while she arranged to lay her wife to rest.
Their justification? Not next of kin, she had no legal standing to make decisions. It’s a conclusion DOMA reinforces. Charlene’s story is the subject of the award-winning documentary film “for my wife…”.
   The simple and profoundly upsetting experience–and Charlene’s willingness to recount it–are major reasons why Washington state lawmakers passed comprehensive domestic partnership protection now covering more than 7,000 families. Her face and voice, echoed by her brother and sister-in-law, are also a major reason Washington state voters did, on a much leaner budget in 2009, what Californians didn’t manage to do a year earlier: defend such protection at the polls.
   Many in and outside California criticized the No on 8 campaign in 2008 for failing to show state voters true stories of the injury and injustice that denial of marriage equality inflicts on same-sex couples and their families. Nor was fluency in the diverse languages of the state a feature of what storytelling did occur.
Still, immigrant and people of color groups did some heroic, instructive, and trend-setting work on shoestring budgets. Similar efforts are now a priority for organizations such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Honor Fund, alongside Equality California.
   In a recent oped in the Seattle Times, Charlene and I go at the craziness and cruelty of DOMA. It selectively ignores loving relationships, licenses and contracts, our lives, and reality. Its repeal needs to be a focus of not only LGBT advocacy, but also our many allies’. That was the message of President Obama at the White House on June 22. He led by example.
   Indeed, it is allies’ stories of anger and bewilderment–seeing same-sex couples protected in one state suddenly stripped of recognition and dignity in another–that may succeed most in undermining the law. Such a groundswell of criticism will be needful, should DOMA crumble in court, so that any lawmaker tempted to revive it will draw deserved scorn.
   Beyond the cruelest, intolerant fringe, there will be no tears for DOMA’s demise. There have been enough already. Public outcry and storytelling about its private havoc only hasten the day its reign of error ends.
   Hans Johnson is president of Progressive Victory, a political consulting firm, and a board vice chair of the Task Force, where Charlene Strong endowed the Kate Fleming Memorial Internship in Movement Storytelling in memory of her late wife.


Israeli Supreme Court mandates municipal funding of lgbt center in Jerusalem

By Nan Hunter

   The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the city government of Jerusalem must provide funding to the Jersualem Open House, the city's lgbt community center, in that same way that it funds other similar centers. By contrast to Tel Aviv, which has long had such a center and provides much greater support to lgbt activities, the much more religious (i.e. Orthodox) dominated Jerusalem had refused multiple times to support Open House.

Details reported in the Boston Edge:
The verdict marked the end of a years-long process of legal challenges, victories, setbacks, and appeals. Open House had sought legal redress by going to administrative court, and had gotten funding for 2003, 2004, and 2005. But when the city denied Open House funds for subsequent years and the court sided with the city, Open House took the matter further. Finally, the Supreme Court weighed in with a judgment in favor of the LGBT community center and an order for the city to pay Open House $120,000. Moreover, the court required that funding policies be revised to that similar community centers will also receive municipal funds.

"The history of the relationship between the sides reveals that the appellant’s hand reaching out for support has met time and time again with the miserly hand of the municipality," the opinion handed down by the judges read. "We cannot but express hope that the municipality will not behave stingily again and that the sides can shake hands without further involving the court."

On his own, Justice Hanan Melcer wrote that the sort of thinly disguised discrimination the city showed toward the community center "has no place in the 21st century."...

Israel is a democracy politically, but socially the country is influenced by religion. Conservatives point to their faith as a justification for anti-gay prejudices. Gay pride marches in Jerusalem have been beset by protests and violence, mainly from adherents of the Ultra-Orthodox tradition... Five years ago, Jerusalem Pride was marred by a knife attack in which an Ultra-Orthodox protester stabbed three marchers.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Stephen Sondheim Honored

by ajewella

Broadway opened its season this year by honoring one of its most talented and beloved icons. The 1,055-seat venue on West 43rd Street (formerly named after Henry Miller) was renamed "Stephen Sondheim" on Wednesday night and had its marquee lit in Sondheim's honor. Stephen Sondheim attended the ceremony along with Broadway royalty such as Nathan Lane, Patti LaPone, and John Weidman.

Sondheim, who turned 80 in March, is not only a genius composer and lyricist — he's also a theatrical legend and openly gay man whose songs have become anthems for two generations of GLBTs. Deeply move by the honor of having a Broadway house named after him, Sondheim told the crowd gathered to watch the event "I'm deeply embarrassed. I'm thrilled, but deeply embarrassed. I've always hated my last name. It just doesn't sing." But despite not liking his name, Sondheim still flashed a delighted smile when he threw the switch and saw it in lights over his new theater.

Several of the attendees gave speeches expressing their admiration for Stephen Sondheim, including Nathan Lane, who joked "I have to say — don't take this the wrong way — this is so much more moving to christen a theater the Stephen Sondheim as opposed to the British Petroleum Playhouse or the McNugget."

Sondheim has received several tributes this year, including a birthday concert by the New York Philharmonic and revival productions of A Little Night Music and Sondheim on Sondheim. Fitting accolades indeed for the man who almost single-handedly reshaped America's musical theater.

The new Stephen Sondheim Theater recently underwent an extensive renovation where is was, among other improvements, turned into a environmentally friendly building while retaining its neo-Georgian architecture. The already-sold-out The Pee-Wee Herman Show will be the first production in the new theater, followed by a revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes.

Some highlights from Wednesday's festivities:

Just goes to prove what I've always said: There's good, there's great, and then there's Sondheim. Congratulations Stephen!


Even people in a conservative state are not safe

That's what a supporter of Sally Kern says in the video to the left...and his purported lack of safety is in reference to Sally Kern's opponent in the race for the representative of Oklahoma House district 84, Brittany Novotny. And why does he...and by extension, all of you as well, have to fear from Brittany?

Brittany is a transwoman. The fact that she is an Oklahoma City attorney focusing on employment and civil rights law can be conveniently discarded. The fact that she is ready, willing and able to work for the citizens of her district means nothing. She's a transwoman...and her opponents judge that to be a "moral issue".

Our lives...our existences...are not issues, moral or otherwise. We are people.

Questions Have to be Answered by Authorities in Russia and Belarus as Doubts Emerge About Well-Being of Russian Gay Activist

   Has Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev actually been released?  And is he really in Minsk? These are questions being asked by Belarusian gay activists in Minsk this afternoon – and by UK Gay News.
   It is true that the most recent messages that Mr. Alekseev has sent to his partner today have said that he is free and is fine. But these messages were sent by SMS.  Was it Mr. Alekseev who sent them?  And if it was him, was he under any sort of pressure?
   The first hint that all might not be well came late this morning when a reliable gay activist in Minsk alerted this Website that Interfax Belarus had posted an article today saying that Mr. Alekseev had applied for political asylum in Belarus – and that “[i]n connection with the pressure on me, I decided to withdraw the complaints to the European Court about the bans on gay prides in 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Moscow authorities."  [This Interfax Belarus report can be read HERE] This, the gay community in Minsk suggest, is so out of character. Additionally, Mr. Alekseev has not been seen in Minsk by activists, nor has he made any contact with anyone. It is not as though Mr. Alekseev does not know anyone in Minsk.  He does – he helped to organise Slavic Pride in the Belarusian capital this year, and sevarl were in Moscow for Gay Pride.
   “The situation that has evolved around the disappearance of Nikolai Alekseev is very strange,” a leading gay activist told UK Gay News this afternoon. “Reliable information about where he is, if he is free, and whether or not Nikolai himself sends SMS messages that are mentioned in the media is not known. “At the same time, the media has played in every possible way on this incident and not tried to understand what is written and what happening. "At the moment, I personally have great concern about the safety of Nikolai because in two days no one has had a single phone call, neither his friends nor the media. “SMS messages can be sent by anyone, not just Nikolai,” he pointed out.
   Until Mr. Alekseev actually contacts someone by “voice” telephone and says where he is – and that he is a free many, concerns will remain.  But at the present time, there are serious doubts.
   At the end of the day, the Belarus authorities are a law unto to themselves.  Human rights are mainly ignored.  And to a lesser extent, it is the same in Russia. And the authorities in both countries indeed have a lot to answer for.  When Mr. Alekseev is reported as saying that he was pressured into withdrawing his complaints to the European Court of Human Rights, then the justices in Strasbourg may well have something to say on the matter and a question or two. The gay activists in Minsk are right to be concerned. As veteran openly gay New York–based journalist Doug Ireland says: “Knowing Nikolai, it is inconceivable to me that he would request political asylum in Belarus.”
     My friend Andy Harley of UK Gay News, with whom I've been cooperatively working this story, now reports that none of the gay activists in Minsk have heard from Nikolai, which, if he is truly at liberty, is quite surprising--Nikolai knows them well personally, having co-organized Slavic Pride with them and visited Minsk previously on several occasions.
     I am once again very concerned about Nikolai's safety, all the more so as efforts to reach his boyfriend by telephone today have been unavailing so far.  We will try to have more and accurate news as soon as possible (thanks to Andy Harley of UK Gay News for the tip about the Interfax article today -- the direct link to the article in Belarusian.  ... and the link for a Google translation to English is here.
   WHAT THIS MEANS is that worldwide continued expressions of concerns to Russia's foreign ministry and embassies by governments,  organizations and especially by journalists must not let up -- only if Putin and his agents, and indeed the Lukashenko dictatorship in Belarus, know the whole world is watching can we help Nikolai in his hour of travail. There is the serious possibility that Nikolai is today the victim of collusion between Lukashenko's political police and Putin's.
     For background on the reasons for Nikolai's arrest last Wednesday at Moscow Airport, see this article retransmitted from (the website, founded by Nikolai, was simultaneously attacked by hackers, presumably from Putin's government, the day after Nikolai's arrest and is not available or updateable) by UK Gay News.
 -- Doug Ireland, International Affairs Editor, Gay City News (New York City)

Help us keep this thing going

Dear Terrence,

We need your help to continue fighting for equal rights. Will you make a one-time or monthly donation?
We can hardly believe that it's been six months since we launched GetEQUAL -- and now we need your help to keep it going.
Born out of the passion and people-powered action following Proposition 8 in CA and last October's National Equality March, GetEQUAL has worked to engage a nationwide network of activists across the country to send a strong message to President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other national leadership -- we're done with excuses and "politics as usual," and we demand equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people.
Six months ago, we received a luxury that many organizers would do anything for -- seed funds to help us hit the ground running. We are extremely grateful for that gift, but it shouldn't be left up to a handful of donors to fund this renewed way of demanding our rights. We've used this initial seed money to train volunteers, organize actions, and pay travel/legal costs for activists who are arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience. We've been able to hire some great organizers and we've put technologies in place to help bring people together as we work to build within a movement. Now we need our base -- fair-minded people who want to continue demanding their equality and who are frustrated with the lack of progress for equal rights -- to step up and keep this thing going.
Here's a brief list of the things we're most proud of from the past six months:
  • Launched a video with Will Phillips that has had over 121,000 views, leading to the start of a narrative calling for courageous action
  • Called the President to account at a California fundraiser for Barbara Boxer, leading to an email from a reporter on Air Force One indicating that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was all anyone was talking about on the flight back to DC
  • Protested at the White House with servicemembers from multiple branches of the military, leading to a revitalization of the conversation around "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
  • Staged a simultaneous sit-in at Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco and Washington offices, leading to promises (now broken) on when an inclusive ENDA would pass
  • Shut down Las Vegas Boulevard in Senator Reid's home state, leading to calls from Reid's office in DC asking how they could prevent future action
  • Coordinated direct questions at Netroots Nation to House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid, leading to unforgettable media moments and increased opportunities for accountability
  • Called Speaker Pelosi to account in the Capitol Rotunda by "beating the drum" that she told us needed to happen for ENDA to pass, leading to an increased possibility of resurrecting ENDA from the dead
  • Launched the "ENDA Summer" campaign, leading to distributed actions in areas of the country that have not previously been mobilized
  • Confronted Senator John McCain at a Senate Armed Services Committee with the specter of his tainted legacy, leading to a slight shift in his position on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Please help! We can pass the UAFA now!!!

This diary is being cross-posted from Daily Kos!

If you care about the rights of Americans who are in relationships with non-US citizens, specifically, same-gendered ones, now is the time to step up and make calls. Not "now" as in 2010. I mean now, today, and then make every effort you can muster to spread the word to everyone you know.

For over a decade, Out4Immigration (O4I) and other groups have been trying to pass the Uniting American Famlies Act, or UAFA, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act so that we can sponsor our foreign partners for legal residency, as straight people have long been able to do. This extends a single federal right to us, though a crucial one if you believe in self determination and strengthening community. The bill also provides for the consequences of fraud and makes clear that if the relationship ends, the foreign partner’s status would come up for review.

Queer US citizens who fall in love with someone from another country have the same menu of choices they’ve had for as long as we can remember, and the fare is unsatisfying to say the least: a) try to survive the emotional and financial drain of a long distance relationship, and hope your partner is not harassed or barred from trying to visit the US too often; b) move abroad to a country that acknowledges your relationship; or c) be one of the relatively lucky whose partner can qualify to reside legally in the US through visas related to work and education--a status that is not guaranteed and often comes to and end. Clearly, none of these are ideal options, unless you’ve always wanted to renounce life in the US to take up residency in the land of your foreign partner. Beyond that your only other choices are: break up, which is an inevitable and heart-wrenching outcome for many; or just as difficult, you and your partner may find yourselves in the ranks of the undocumented, and all the challenges and pitfalls--not to mention searing uncertainty and possibility of harsh consequences--which comes with that. This is certainly not an ideal way to live, and most of us don’t have the wherewithal or means to pull this one off. But some do, and it certainly happens. Something to think about next time you find yourself involved in a conversation where "illegal aliens" come up.

So, we have struggled long and hard to muster both enough co-sponsorship in Congress, as well as the political will, to move this bill out of committee, where it has been languishing during each session of Congress since 2000, when Jerrold Nadler (D)-NY, authored and introduced it in the House for the first time. After President Obama’s election, we had high hopes that this would be the last Congress in which the bill would have to be introduced. And long before that election and since, we have been told ad nauseum that the UAFA would only stand to pass as part of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). Most of us as citizens care deeply about social justice and the importance of immigrants to our history, economy, and national soul. Still, it is difficult to see our ability to choose our path in life and love tied to immigration reform. While we were cautioned in the past that the introduction and passage of the UAFA as a stand-alone bill is a non-starter, it makes sense to those of us who would stand to benefit. And until now, we thought CIR was a no-go in 2010, and possibly not until after the 2012 cycle.

As you likely know by now, there is a chance that Senator Reid will bring a Defense Authorization Bill (DAB) to the floor next week, with a DADT repeal attached. Well, two days ago, a story broke on, stating that Senator Robert Menendez is preparing to introduce a CIR bill in the coming month, to pair with the bill drafted by Representative Luis Gutierrez last fall. Folks: this presents us with the best chance we’ve had in a long time to see a new protection extended to all of our families. After many years of calling, letter writing, speaking out, and visiting our representatives, this spring the Senate unveiled draft legislation for CIR--and it included the language of the UAFA! If CIR is to be our path, we must fight to stay included, and to that end, I implore you to contact Senator Menendez’ office and make sure he gets the message that the UAFA must be included in his bill. Additionally, us O4I’ers are trying to lobby Senator Reid to include the language of the UAFA in the DAB next week. Please help us avail ourselves of not one, but two opportunities to bring this chapter of discrimination to an end!

If you pick up the phone and call your Senators to let them know you wish to see UAFA language in the DAB, I will love you and thank you forever! And if you would call Senator Menendez and help us shut down his lines with the message that we must be considered in his CIR bill, that would make you one of the most awesome people in the Universe, as far as I’m concerned. Senator Menendez’ DC office can be reached at 202.224.4744. Senator Reid’s office is 202-224-7327. Please help!

And as always, if you or someone you know is in a bi-national relationship, or if you see the potential injustice to anyone in our community who desires a family of their own, please visit O4I at their website, by joining their listserv on yahoo.groups, and by visiting their blog and Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter. Our time is now! Make those calls, and please pass it on!

LCR Attorneys File Proposed Judgment and Permanent Injunction with Judge for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Ruling


   Attorney Earle Miller, part of the White & Case legal team representing Log Cabin Republicans in the federal challenge to DADT, filed a proposed judgment and permanent injunction order with Judge Phillips Thursday afternoon, per Phillip’s Sept 9 ruling that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is unconstitutional. The Department of Justice now has seven days to object.
Meanwhile, Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate reports that the legislative repeal of DADT may be “held hostage” over partisan disagreements in the Senate.  Eleveld writes:
“Democrats must find 60 votes to break the filibuster the GOP is threatening to mount, meaning they will likely need to sway at least one or two Republicans to vote against their party. But Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are playing a game of chicken over how many amendments Republicans will be allowed to offer once the Defense authorization bill reaches the floor, putting moderate GOP senators like Senator Susan Collins in a bind.”
   Thursday was also a mega-lobbying day on the Hill to try to convince congressmembers to support DADT repeal. Perhaps attention should now be turned to lobbying President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to NOT appeal or object to the federal DADT ruling. Long shot, I know – but worth some energy.
   Here’s the text of the LCR proposed judgment and permanent injunction:
This action was tried by Judge Virginia A. Phillips without a jury on July 13- 16 and 20-23, 2010. The Court filed a Memorandum Opinion on September 9, 2010 (Doc. 232), and Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. For all the reasons set forth therein:
IT IS ORDERED that the statute and policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” codified at 10 U.S.C. § 654 and implemented by regulations comprising Department of Defense Directives 1332.14 (1993), 1332.30 (1997), and 1304.26 (1993), as modified by Department of Defense Instructions 1332.14 (2008) (incorporating March 29, 2010 changes) and 1332.30 (2008) (incorporating March 29, 2010 changes), are declared to infringe the fundamental rights of United States servicemembers and prospective servicemembers and violate (a) the substantive due process rights guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and (b) the rights to freedom of speech and association and to petition the Government for redress of grievances guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendants the United States of America and the Secretary of Defense, their agents, servants, officers, employees, and attorneys, and all persons acting in participation or concert with them or under their direction or command, are permanently enjoined from enforcing or applying the statute and policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” including any implementing regulations, against any person under their jurisdiction or command, and from taking any actions whatsoever, or permitting any person or entity to take any action whatsoever, against gay or lesbian servicemembers, or prospective servicemembers, that in any way affects, impedes, interferes with, or influences
their military status, advancement, evaluation, duty assignment, duty location, promotion, enlistment or reenlistment based upon their sexual orientation; and they are further ORDERED to immediately suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under 10 U.S.C. § 654 and/or its implementing regulations on or prior to the date of this Judgment.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff Log Cabin Republicans may apply to recover from the United States its attorneys’ fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412, in accordance with the provisions of that Act.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff Log Cabin Republicans shall recover its costs of suit herein to the extent allowed by law.
By: Earle Miller Earle Miller
Attorneys for Plaintiff Log Cabin Republicans

Lady Gaga vs DADT!

What Kind of Planet Are We On?

Interesting Debate: Gay Vs. Homosexual

Thursday, September 16, 2010

DADT on Trial: Like “Extracting a Parent from the Family”

   This week, the ACLU of Washington is before the U.S. District Court in Tacoma representing Maj. Margaret Witt, a decorated U.S. Air Force Flight nurse who was dismissed under the discriminatory and counterproductive policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). This is a dispatch from the trial.
Testimony from former members of Maj. Witt’s unit, the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, filled the third day of the trial. Leading off was Jill Robinson, who spent 23 years in the Air Force. Inspiring her service was a recruiting poster for the Air Force Reserves that featured Maj. Witt on the cover.
Robinson testified that she saw Maj. Witt as a mentor in the 446th, and that her discharge was like “extracting a parent from the family.” Robinson said she found the entire process “crude” and unfair. There was no dialogue or any process. “One day she was just gone,” Robinson said. She added that she had apologized to Maj. Witt for the discharge, feeling sorry that she (Robinson) was “part of an institution that did this to her.”
   The day’s second witness was Heidi Smidt, who testified that upon hearing of Maj. Witt’s initial suspension, her immediate thoughts were that “the loss of Witt was devastating to the Air Force and to the unit.” She believed that the “squadron (was) losing a very valuable member.” (Read her written declaration.) (PDF)
   Former flight nurse Judith Krill, the next witness, served as a unit deployment manager in the 446th. In this position Krill observed families separating as servicemembers left for deployment. Krill testified that at these departures, she saw heterosexual couples and gay and lesbian “roommates” alike separating with the same emotions. Krill said she was horrified to learn that Maj. Witt had been discharged because she “was the epitome of what you want (crew members) to be.” (Read Krill's written declaration.) (PDF)
The final testimony of the day came from Faith Mueller, now Assistant Fire Chief in the Tacoma Fire Department. Her career provided insight on how different government agencies deal with housing people. Mueller testified that in most Tacoma firehouses, all firefighters sleep in one large room, irrespective of gender and orientation. When Mueller was deployed as a Federal Emergency Management Agency volunteer at Ground Zero after 9/11, she slept in a large conference room with hundreds of other volunteers — again of all genders and sexual orientations. And she observed that housing in the Air Force provides much more privacy than that of FEMA or the Fire Department. When Maj. Witt was suspended, Mueller felt that “a grave injustice had been done.”
   Since 1993, more than 13,000 service members have been discharged due to their sexual orientation. At least 240 of those service members have been discharged since President Obama took office. The Senate will debate DADT as early as next week. Join the ACLU in urging Congress to act this year to finally end DADT once and for all.


LCR to Judge, GetEqual to McCain: "End DADT Now!"

Today, Dan Woods, the plaintiffs' attorney in Log Cabin Republicans v United States of America, a court case which challenged the constitutionality of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and won, submitted their proposal for relief to Judge Philips asking Philips to end the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy now, everywhere in the United States and abroad via an injunction.

"We want her to block any further enforcement or application of 'don't ask, don't tell' wherever we have military operations -- not just in California, not just in this country but wherever we have military bases anywhere in the world," Log Cabin Republicans attorney Dan Woods told NPR...

The attorneys furthermore requested that all current investigations or discharges of gay service members under DADT be immediately suspended and discontinued.

The US Government has a week to respond.

This morning, GETEQUAL sat in on a Senate Armed Services Committee Meeting with John McCain present, holding up signs which read, in part

"Senator McCain repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, do you want to be the next George Wallace?"


"Senator McCain repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, it's not too late to change your legacy."

Get Equal SASC protest

And Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture today on the Defense Authorization Bill, which contains DADT repeal provisions. That should allow a cloture vote on Tuesday, but whether there are sixty votes is still up in the air.

DADT might not end today, or next week, but the momentum is building. And if Congress is not up to doing it, the courts just might finish it off.

Besides Log Cabin Republicans, there a number of other significant court cases regarding LGBT equality pending, being heard, or on appeal. What of them?

Below is a summary status of seven cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act, , Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and same-sex adoption. All important cases that challenge the constitutionality of discrimination against people with non-traditional sexual orientation. And all but one of which have already had an initial ruling stipulating that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in and of itself is unconstitutional.


We Give A Damn

WGLB- Russian GLBT Activist Detained and then Deported(?)

By Rex Wockner-

from last night's late night bulletins-

  Russia’s best known gay rights activist was arrested last night at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.  And there are concerns as, so far, officials are not giving out any information about his whereabouts.
  Nikolai Alekseev was about to board Swiss Air Lines flight for Geneva and had passed through passport control when he was arrested by Russian border police at about 7pm Moscow time.
  No explanation has yet been given by officials as to why he was arrested.
  He was taken to a closed room at the airport.
  However, he was able to get messages out by mobile telephone of his arrest before his handset was confiscated as he was speaking with other activists at Website.
  A group of three fellow activists, led by Nikolai Baev, immediately headed for the airport to assess the situation.
  But airport police refused to give any further comment apart from saying that “Alekseev is not here”.
      One police man did, however, suggest that Mr. Alekseev might have been transferred to the FSB, formally the KGB, headquarters on Lubianska Square in Moscow.
      Ludmila Alekseeva from the Moscow Helsinki Group called the Main Office of the Moscow Police and was told that there is no track of the activist in their system.
      Yesterday, activists from GayRussia announced that they had applied to stage a picket against the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, on September 21 on the occasion of his birthday.  The theme of the picket was “Luzhkov – gomiki”.
      Recently a Russian court confirmed that when the Mayor of Moscow called gays “gomiki” in the media, the term was not offensive.  Gomiki is the translation of “faggot”



    Gay marriage, gender roles and data from Iowa

    By Nan Hunter-

    According to a study by the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism -
    Images ...[M]arriage statistics show that female couples made up nearly two-thirds of the same-sex marriages in Iowa in the year after the state Supreme Court ruled it legal in April 2009. Although experts say a single year does not constitute a trend, they say the disparity is consistent with the traditional way Americans raise children and establish their gender roles early in life. The disparity also reflects similar trends in other states where same-sex marriages are allowed...
    ...Rather than examining the nature of gay marriage to determine the merit of opponents’ arguments, the public debate has focused mostly on opponents’ charge that gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage and proponents arguing that gay couples deserve equal rights.
    The IowaWatch study found that similarities range from the way men and women often view marriage to the more mundane tasks of married life, such as doing yard work. Like people in traditional marriages, same-sex couples also talk about raising children and shielding them from the verbal slings of peers, the stability and unit-strength of a family and the value of loving relationships among parents and children, as well as legal necessities and financial security.
    The study is based on more than a dozen interviews with gay couples and national experts and on an examination of journal articles, marriage statistics, census data, polls and court rulings...
    [The marriage issue is part of Iowa politics this year because of two campaigns.] One is the gubernatorial campaign between Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and Republican challenger Terry Branstad, who, along with social conservatives hope to win enough legislative seats to get a vote to allow a referendum on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. In the other campaign, three of the state Supreme Court justices are fending off retention challenges led by anti-gay marriage forces...[H]ealth department’s statistics also suggest gay marriage is not a trend on the fringe. Of the 19,204 couples who bought licenses to marry during the year ending March 31, one out of ten were gay. In Pottowattamie and Johnson Counties, the ratio was one out four. The marriages occurred in 21 of Iowa’s 99 counties...

    “I have not seen any evidence that same sex couples approach marriage differently,” said Lee Badgett, research director of the UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy.
    But the fact that lesbians make up nearly two-thirds of same-sex couples poses somewhat of a mystery to researchers. The proportion is way out of line with the 2000 Census figures showing lesbians made up 49 percent unmarried same-sex couples. That pattern follows in other gay-marriage states.
    Adding to the mystery is that more married same couples in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are male, according to Esther Rothblum, a professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University. Studies in the early 2000s found the ratio around 3 to1 male. Moreover, in Mexico City, where a six-month-old same-sex marriage law was upheld in early August, gay male marriages also outnumber lesbian marriages.
    So, why do more American lesbians marry than gay men?
    Some experts think it goes back to the way America culture raises children. Long before children know about sexual orientation, society begins foisting gender roles on them, Mimi Schippers, associate professor of sociology at Tulane University, said. Tradition dictates that women desire marriage more than men, she said.
    “Girls are raised pretty from the moment they become consciously aware to think about marriage, to desire marriage and to see marriage as a goal.”
    Males, on the other hand, are socialized to be reluctant to marry, said Stephanie Coontz, of Evergreen State College in Washington and author of numerous books on marriage, its history and myths. Because gay men and lesbians are raised in the same way, the pattern effects same-sex couples and helps explain differences in the two sexes’ desire for children...
    The 2000 Census found that 33 percent of lesbian households have a child compared to 22 percent of same-sex male couples. The disparity also has an economic explanation: men make more money than women, and gay men across the Atlantic, whose marriages enjoy national recognition, have greater financial incentive to marry than do gay men in America, where federal law doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, according to Rothblum.
    In a 2005 article for the Journal of LGBT studies, Rothblum wrote the lack of federal recognition makes state-level marriage largely symbolic. Because women have a greater desire to marry and have children, a symbolic marriage may have more attraction for them....

    see more at Hunter for Justice


    Focus on the Family Goes After LGBT Students

       For the last few days, an “educational analyst” for Focus on the Family has been getting a lot of press. She’s been suggesting that anti-bullying efforts that draw attention to the harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are part of a “gay agenda” to “sneak homosexuality lessons into classrooms.”
       One can argue, as some have, that Focus on the Family is a fringe group that doesn’t represent the majority of Christians in the United States. That’s true. But it’s also true that Focus on the Family has an outsized impact on conservative thought in this country. And by using deception and spin, the group has managed this week to grab the media spotlight. The goal is apparently to make schools less safe for LGBT students and more safe for their harassers. That cannot be ignored.
    It’s also impossible to ignore Focus on the Family’s smarmy tactics. Taking a page out of George Orwell, the group has developed a website for parents designed to “challenge the monopoly.” They’ve named it Sound familiar?
       Teaching Tolerance has been fighting for children and teachers for 20 years. We can say with certainty that the Focus on the Family campaign has nothing to do with tolerance. And it has nothing to do with keeping children safe. The harassment of LGBT students is rampant and destructive, as has been detailed in the new Teaching Tolerance documentary, Bullied: A School, a Student and a Case that Made History. This film tells the story of Jamie Nabozny, a gay student who was tormented and beaten by bullies while school officials steadfastly looked the other way.
       Be assured of one thing: Today, thousands of other LGBT students face this same hell just by going to class. Focus on the Family admits that 30 percent of American children report being involved in bullying at school. But all the evidence shows that LGBT students are disproportionately represented in that 30 percent.
       According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 86 percent of LGBT students report being bullied - a rate almost three times higher than students in general. The federal government reports that openly gay and lesbian students are at an even higher risk of bias-related violence and physical assaults. Lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents are more than twice as likely as their straight peers to be depressed and contemplate suicide. More than 60 percent report feeling unsafe at school.
    But we don’t need statistics to tell us this. Anyone who has spent any time in a school, especially a middle school, knows that the words “gay” and “faggot” are hurled casually—and they are not intended to be kind. Students who are gay, lesbian or questioning live in fear of exposure. Others dread the ridicule that comes with being seen as different, and may side with the bullies, or decline to stand up for the harassed, out of self-preservation. The people at Focus on the Family know this as well and they want to keep it that way. The group has its own agenda that could be roughly boiled down to three points:
    1. LGBT students should be invisible. The group argues, with absolutely no evidence, that generic anti-bullying policies that don’t name LGBT bullying are “most effective.” GLSEN, on the other hand, offers plenty of data to show just the opposite. Schools become safer for everyone when they adopt anti-bullying policies that spell out the categories of students most frequently targeted by bullies—including race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
    2. LGBT allies should be silent. Focus on the Family says essentially, “Don’t focus on the victim, focus on the bad behavior of the bully.” But handling each bullying event in isolation ignores the environment in which bullying breeds. Bullying usually begins with name-calling and then escalates. It escalates because too often neither the school staff nor the other students realize that they have a role in stopping it. Bullying thrives amid passive bystanders.

    3. School administrators and teachers should be very, very afraid. After terrifying parents that their kindergarteners are soon to be the target of homosexual indoctrination, offers up a menu of deception designed to rally the forces of fear. Parents—armed with misinformation about their taxpayer rights, screwy science about childhood sexuality and bad legal advice—are urged to apply pressure. The group knows that fearful administrators will want to avoid trouble, so teachers will find it harder to stop LGBT harassment.
       Focus on the Family’s biggest fear is that schools will reflect a diverse U.S. society—one that includes LGBT students. They do not want to be challenged in their belief that homosexuality is immoral, abnormal and changeable.
       We don’t expect to change those personal beliefs. Simply put, our goal is to ask those who would ignore the pain and suffering of these children to understand that acknowledging the problem of anti-LGBT bullying—and wanting to make schools safe from harassment for all students—doesn’t require that you approve. At the risk of sounding pedantic, we would remind them that living in a democratic and diverse society means living alongside people with whom you disagree
       The alternative is to stay silent and stand by while terrible things happen to other people’s children. Terrible things that no parent would ever want to happen to his or her own child.
       We are glad to stand up for LGBT students and we will not rest until educators across the country do so as well. We are glad to work with groups like GLSEN, PFLAG and Welcoming Schools (a project of the Human Rights Campaign), three of the “gay activist” organizations Focus on the Family is gunning for. And we are proud that they have endorsed the movie “Bullied” as a tool for fighting against anti-gay bigotry.

    Costello is the director of Teaching Tolerance.


    New Ads to Try to Build Public Support for Gay Marriage

       Advocates for same-sex marriage in New York, in a major departure from their strategy of lobbying political insiders, will begin making a direct appeal to ordinary voters in a series of commercials featuring Hollywood actors, fashion designers and civic leaders.
       The videos, to be released starting this week, are the most vivid attempt yet to persuade the state’s lawmakers to legalize gay marriage, which the Legislature voted down last year, despite polling that showed a slight majority of New York voters supported it.
       In the aftermath of that defeat, many grumbled that the backers of same-sex marriage had failed to rally ordinary residents behind the bill or to humanize the issue outside of Albany — the explicit aim of the new ads.
       In them, celebrities like Julianne Moore and Kyra Sedgwick and leaders like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Rev. Al Sharpton will speak in strikingly personal ways about their support for gay marriage.
       “I’m Julianne Moore, and I’m a New Yorker,” begins one of the videos. “We all deserve the right to marry the person we love.” She adds: “We are so close to equal marriage rights in New York. But we need your help.”    The timing of commercials is deliberate, and revealing: With the front-runner in the governor’s race, Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democratic attorney general, pledging his support for same-sex marriage, and the Legislature in Democratic hands, advocates are pushing for a new vote early next year. “We want to build excitement and momentum in advance of that,” said Brian V. Ellner, of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization that is sponsoring the ads.     As part of that strategy, the Human Rights Campaign and its allies are spending heavily to oust three New York state senators — all Democrats — who voted against the marriage bill last year and who face opponents in the primary on Tuesday: William Stachowski of Buffalo, Shirley L. Huntley of Queens and Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx.     But there are several hurdles: With most voters fretting about the dour state economy and a budget crisis, the next governor may be uneager to plunge into a potentially divisive debate about same-sex marriage. Opponents, like the New York State Catholic Conference, are expected to fight the bill. And the lawmakers who doomed the measure in 2009 could hold on to their seats. Still, gay rights advocates say they want to lay the groundwork for its passage now, well ahead of a vote. The ads were the brainchild of Mr. Ellner, a former Bloomberg administration official and a one-time Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president. They will appear first online and later on television, closer to a vote on the gay-marriage bill, organizers said. Mr. Ellner, who is overseeing the group’s same-sex marriage push in New York, said that “polls show there’s broad-based support for marriage equality in this state, and this campaign is the first in a series of efforts that will put faces to that support.”        In interviews, those appearing in the videos expressed puzzlement and dismay that New York had fallen behind states like Vermont, Massachusetts and Iowa in legalizing same-sex marriage. “I think we will look back someday and say, I can’t believe we were so blind to this issue,” Ms. Moore said. She called it a human rights issue. Future ads will feature, among others, Kevin Bacon, Whoopi Goldberg, Fran Drescher, Tom Colicchio, the chef, and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the widow of Arthur Ashe.


    Senator's Gillibrand and Udall To Attorney General Holder: Don't Appeal DADT Case

    By David Mixner-
    Dear Mr. Attorney General,
    We are writing to bring to your attention the recently issued decision of Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the United States District Court of the Central District of California in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, which declared that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) underlying law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and free speech, thereby rendering DADT unconstitutional. In light of important national security concerns, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity at the Department of Justice, refrain from appealing this decision or any permanent injunction which may be granted against this law in the near future.
    The following quote from the judge’s decision captures the overwhelming reason why the decision should stand: “Among those discharged were many with critically needed skills … Far from furthering the military's readiness, the discharge of these service men and women had a direct and deleterious effect on this governmental interest.” As one of many criteria that the Justice Department will examine in deciding whether to appeal a potential permanent injunction to this policy, we ask that you examine whether or not an appeal furthers a legitimate governmental interest. We would say any appeal does not.
    Additionally, DADT harms military readiness, as well as the morale and the cohesiveness of our armed forces, at a time when our military’s resources are strained and unity is critically important. For every person discharged after ten years of service, six new servicemembers would need to be recruited to recover the level of experience lost by that discharge. This not only weakens our military, but neither is it an effective use of our government resources or taxpayer monies.
    President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have all publicly advocated for the repeal of this harmful law. There is no legal or military justification and not one shred of credible evidence that supports continuing the discriminatory DADT law, and considering the guidance of the commander-in-chief and the nation’s top two defense officials, we urge you to refrain from seeking an appeal. The federal court decision was a step in the right direction, and we are confident that the Senate will take the ultimate step by voting this fall on the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to permanently lift the ban on gays in the military. Although we understand that only action by Congress can bring real finality to this issue, we believe an appeal of the recent federal court decision could set back those congressional efforts. Therefore, we request your assistance in ensuring that we can eradicate this discriminatory law permanently and urge the Justice Department to choose not to appeal any court decision that would keep this law in place.
    Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to hearing from you.
    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

    read more from David at Live From Hell's Kitchen.


    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Gays Want in on Cardinals’ Kiss-Cam

      Adam Sandler and Kevin James in
    I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

    Organizers of a planned gay night this Saturday at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium are trying to convince the team to feature gay and lesbian couples on the kiss cam, according to

    Pride St. Louis’s Ethan Barnett organized the “Out at the Ballpark” afternoon and said members of the group decided to campaign to appear on the kiss cam after two straight men were captured jeering at the camera during a St. Louis Rams game against the Arizona Cardinals.

    Bennett said the group isn’t accusing the Cardinals of discriminating but wants to feel like gay couples aren’t being left out. By letting the camera linger on two straight men, being gay becomes a punch line, he said.
    "We always felt left out because the kiss cam always singles out heterosexual couples," said Harrison Roberts, the manager of St. Louis gay bar Just John, which is hosting this weekend’s after-party. "But after what happened at the Rams game, all the gay and lesbian fans that were there felt embarrassed and a little degraded. Why shouldn't we be on the camera too?"


    Russian Gay Activist Arrested at Moscow Airport

    ■ Nikolai Alekseev: Arrested at Moscow airport

    MOSCOW, September 15, 2010 – Russia’s best known gay rights activist was arrested this evening at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. And there are concerns as, so far, officials are not giving out any information about his whereabouts.

    Nikolai Alekseev was about to board Swiss Air Lines flight LX 1337 for Geneva and had passed through passport control when he was arrested by Russian border police at about 7pm Moscow time (4pm UK).

    No explanation has yet been given by officials as to why he was arrested.

    He was taken to a closed room at the airport.

    However, he was able to get messages out by mobile telephone of his arrest before his handset was confiscated as he was speaking with other activists at Website.

    A group of three fellow activists, led by Nikolai Baev, immediately headed for the airport to assess the situation.

    But airport police refused to give any further comment apart from saying that “Alekseev is not here”.

    One police man did, however, suggest that Mr. Alekseev might have been transferred to the FSB, formally the KGB, headquarters on Lubianska Square in Moscow.

    Ludmila Alekseeva from the Moscow Helsinki Group called the Main Office of the Moscow Police and was told that there is no track of the activist in their system.

    Yesterday, activists from GayRussia announced that they had applied to stage a picket against the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, on September 21 on the occasion of his birthday. The theme of the picket was “Luzhkov – gomiki”.

    Recently a Russian court confirmed that when the Mayor of Moscow called gays “gomiki” in the media, the term was not offensive. Gomiki is the translation of “faggot”


    GLBT History Month 2010 Overview

    Penn. Gov. Rendell Appalled by State's Tracking of Gay Activists


    Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (pictured at right) said Tuesday he is "appalled" and "embarrassed" that his administration's Office of Homeland Security is tracking and circulating information about protests by activist groups that don’t pose a threat to public safety.
    Rendell said he was unaware the office had been paying an outside firm to track a long list of activists, including groups that support gay rights, oppose drilling, and animal rights activists, According to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
    "Let me make this as clear as I can make it," the governor said at news conference Tuesday night. "Protesting against an idea, a principle, a process, is not a real threat against infrastructure. Protesting is a God-given American right, a right that is in our Constitution, a right that is fundamental to all we believe in as Americans."
    Included in a three times weekly circulated intelligence bulletin: Information about the city's PrideFest; a rally that supported his administration's education policy; and an anti-BP candlelight vigil.
    Tell me, what critical infrastructure does the gay and lesbian PrideFest threaten?" Rendell asked. "How in the Lord's name can we consider them to be terrorists?"
    Rendell said he won’t fire or discipline anyone in the department, but has ordered them to terminate their contract Philadelphia-based Institute of Terrorism and Research Response, which he said has been paid $125,000 in the last year to gather data about possible security threats.