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Saturday, September 25, 2010

One Nation Working Together

I Want to Go to DC.

Hopefully by this time you are aware that there will be a march in Washington D.C. on October 2, 2010. If not, here is a diary by our own Meteor Blades sharing about this march. Well, I want to go. But there is a problem. I have no funds, transportation, or lodging. Insurmountable challenges to my being able to go to D.C. and voice my concerns.
If you are interested in providing funds so individuals such as myself, who has the will to go but is one of the many millions too poor to make our voices heard, DiegoUK has provided us with not only a diary series but a central location to unite donators and those wanting to go.
If you can, anything you can donate will help, even if I can not garner a trip from Portland, Oregon, perhaps some other Kossack could benefit from the trip.
Why are we going? Unemployment- courtesy of southof, the economic depression- thanks to gjohnsit and banks- not responsible for the responsibility entrusted in them, kudos to bobswern.
The title of this march says it all, One Nation Working Together. Can we make this an America where we all can work and know we will not only make a difference but to do more than struggle to make our bills go away?
Yes we can!


LGBT Jamaicans and Allies Protest “Corrective Rapes”

By Jim Burroway

J-FLAG's protest against anti-gay violence at Kingston's Emancipation ParkA small group under the auspices of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) held a silent protest at Emancipation Park, a major Kingston landmark, on Friday. The protest was in response to two incidents within days of each other earlier this month, when knife-wielding thugs carried out ‘corrective rapes’ of two lesbians. This follows at least six reported rapes against lesbians in 2009.

International defense attorney Lord Anthony Gifford (in suit and tie) joins Jalna Broderick (Jamaica AIDS Support for Life), Maurice Tomlinson (AIDS Free World) and Susan Goffe (Jamaicans for Justice)
Jamaicans protest in Kingston's Emancipation ParkAccording to J-FLAG, several LGBT allies joined in the protest, including representatives from Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, members of Jamaicans for Justice, Pride in Action, Women for Women, Sex Work Association of Jamaica, Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition and AIDS Free World. J-FLAG continues:
International defence attorney Lord Anthony Gifford, QC, noted that “the issue of violence against gays and lesbians is a human rights issue and I was taking a stand to support that as it is important to keep the issue of rights in the public’s consciousness.”
Susan Goffe, member of Jamaicans For Justice, said “it is important to understand the effect of homophobic rhetoric and the feeling that it is alright to target members of the LGBT community. The state must clearly illustrate by its action that it defends and protects the rights of women and this includes all women regardless of their sexuality. The acts against these women should unambiguously be condemned.”
While the protest was numerically small and lasted only a half hour, it was an audacious showing considering the dangerous atmosphere LGBT people in Jamaica live in. Jamaican society has a deplorable track records when it comes to anti-gay sentiment, where popular dance-hall artists regularly call for killing gay people in their concerts and recordings. Jamaican law currently outlaws male homosexuality with up to ten years in prison. Police mistreatment, mob attacks, death threats, murders all occur on an all-too regular basis under official indifference.

for more visit Box Turtle Bulletin.


Federal judge finds discharge of Margaret Witt was unconstitutional, orders reinstatement

By Nan Hunter-

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ruled today that the Air Force discharge of Major Margaret Witt under the DADT policy violated her Due Process rights and harmed, rather than helped, unit cohesion and morale. Judge Leighton ordered the Air Force to reinstate Major Witt "as soon as practicable."
The evidence produced at trial overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the suspension and discharge of Margaret Witt did not significantly further the important governmental interest in advancing unit morale and cohesion. To the contrary, the actions taken against Major Witt had the opposite effect...
...Major Margaret Witt was an exemplary officer...Her loss within the squadron resulted in a diminution of the unit's ability to carry out its mission. Good flight nurses are hard to find...
The men and women of the United States military have over the years demonstrated the ability to accept diverse peoples into their ranks and to treat them with the respect necessary to accomplish the mission, whatever that mission might be...The reinstatement of Major Margaret Witt will not erode the proficiency of the United States military...
Judge Leighton's reasoning, reiterated in findings of fact and conclusions of law, poses the latest in a series of challenges for the Obama administration as it simultaneously defends the DADT policy in court and seeks its repeal in Congress. When the Ninth Circuit ruled last year in Witt that the government would be forced to justify DADT discharges on an individualized basis, the Justice Department could have sought review of that decision in the Supreme Court. Instead, then Solicitor General Elena Kagan opted not to seek certiorari, but to send government lawyers back to the trial court in an effort to satisfy the Ninth Circuit's requirement that adverse effects on unit cohesion be proven.
Now that the trial has concluded, the Justice Department faces a much more difficult question about whether to appeal. DoJ could elect to comply with Judge Leighton's order and process Witt for reinstatement - reinstating one soldier is not a big deal.  On the other hand, the Ninth Circuit rule that each challenged discharge be justified could so gum up the military's system that it would come close to shutting down DADT. The justification rule applies only in the geographical area covered by the Ninth Circuit, but that includes California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska -- lots of military bases in those states.
If Justice does appeal this ruling, which the Ninth Circuit is almost certain to affirm, it will also have a much more difficult time of getting a stay of the order until the appeal is completed. Unlike Judge Phillips' ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S., which runs counter to Ninth Circuit precedent, the Witt ruling is consistent with circuit precedent.
Congrats to the ACLU for a terrific job of litigating this case -

for more visit Hunter for Justice.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Major Witt ordered reinstated.

Moments ago, Judge Leighton of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington issued his ruling in Witt v Department of the Air Force.

He ruled that Major Witt, discharged from the Air Force in 2007 because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, had to be reinstated because the government could not demonstrate "an important government interest" that justified her discharge. This burden was imposed on the government within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by their decision in the case, and then remanded back to the district court for resolution of whether the government, could, indeed, demonstrate such an interest.

Federal district court judge Ronald Leighton has ruled that 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' -- when applied to Major Margaret Witt -- violated her rights. He says she should be allowed back in Air Force.

The government failed.

To thine own self be true

I was scouting for something to write about/discuss a couple of nights ago and I ran across a few reviews of a new movie that is making the rounds in less than usual venues. Funded in part by The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS), The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Arlington Cultural Arts Council, The Open Meadows Foundation the movie was produced and directed by Alice Dungan Bouvrie of Mineral King Productions and is entitled Thy Will Be Done, which we of course recognize as a phrase from The Lord's Prayer.

Personally I might have preferred a quote from Shakespeare.

This above all: to thine own self be true.

--Polonius to his son Laertes, Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3, line 82

That is, after all, what the story seems to be about for me.

DOJ to Judge: Keep Enforcing DADT


By Andrew Harmon-

   The Department of Justice asked a federal judge Thursday to continue enforcing the military's ban on gay and lesbian service members, despite a ruling earlier this month that struck down "don't ask, don't tell" as unconstitutional. In a 14-page filing, Justice Department attorneys argued that an immediate, permanent injunction against enforcing the law —one supported by Log Cabin Republicans, which successfully challenged DADT in court and has argued for a halt to all discharges of gay service members — would be "untenable." (A PDF of the government’s brief is here.)

   "Because any injunction in this case must be limited to [Log Cabin Republicans] and the claims it asserts on behalf of its members – and cannot extend to non-parties – plaintiff’s requested world-wide injunction of [DADT] fails as a threshold matter," assistant U.S. attorney Paul Freeborne wrote.
DADT repeal advocates and attorneys representing Log Cabin Republicans immediately slammed the Justice Department's filing. Dan Woods, lead attorney for the national gay Republican group, called the arguments "ridiculous" and said his team would file a response as soon as Friday.
"It’s our view that the objections fail to recognize the implications of the government's defeat at this trial," Woods told The Advocate. "This case was never limited to only Log Cabin members. And the request for a stay ignores the harm that would be suffered by current and potential service members during a period of the stay."
   In a late Thursday statement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the filing "in no way diminishes the President’s firm commitment to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT — indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy."   
But Servicemembers United executive director Alex Nicholson said the Obama administration "had a choice to take several different routes [with the injunction], from the moderate and reasonable to the extremely ridiculous. It appears that they decided to go with the latter end of the spectrum."
Nicholson said the DOJ's filing further erodes faith in the administration for many gays and lesbians seeking substantive change. "Lately a lot of us were holding out hope that there would be a semi-reasonable response to this judicial victory. It appears that [Obama] might be disappointing us yet again," he said.
   The Justice Department's arguments against an injunction come two days after legislative repeal of DADT was blocked in the Senate due to a Republican filibuster of the defense authorization bill, of which a repeal on the ban against openly gay service members is a component. 
In Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, U.S. district judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled earlier this month that the DADT statute, passed by Congress in 1993, violates free speech and due process rights of gay service members. She also ruled that LCR is entitled to a permanent injunction against DADT and gave Justice Department attorneys until Thursday to object to Log Cabin's proposed judgment in the case.
   The Justice Department has argued that Phillips does not have the authority to issue a sweeping injunction against the ban on openly gay service members (Phillips rejected that argument in a February court hearing).
   "[DOJ] has ignored all the law about deference to the military. [Judge Phillips] said before that deference does not mean abdication when constitutional rights were involved," Woods said.
   The Justice Department has not yet filed an appeal in the case.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Italian Cabinet Member Connects Gay Adoption to Sex Trafficking of Minors

Carlo Giovanardi
  •  By Kilian Melloy-
    An Italian politician has claimed that there is a link between same-parent adoption and "the buying and selling of children." Religious site Catholic News Agency reported Sept. 21 that Carlo Giovanardi, Italy’s Secretary of State for Family Policy, made the claims during an interview. Among other assertions, Giovanardi said that child trafficking in America had skyrocketed in the wake of same-sex adoption rights in some states. Giovanardi made the same claim about Brazil. The article did not say whether Giovanardi offered any supporting documentation for his assertions. Added Giovanardi, "It is something that at least this government will never accept and I want to denounce it from here." The politician’s attack on same-sex families continued with a repetition of the Catholic church’s view that gay and lesbian parents inflict harm on their offspring simply by being two parents of the same gender. "To impose two parents of the same sex on a child is to subject that child to psychological violence," said Giovanardi, going on to add that "A child has the right to grow up [in a home where] a paternal and maternal figure complement each other and guarantee the child balanced development."

Though anti-gay activists frequently claim that children being brought up in same-sex households are deprived of essential role models, reputable studies looking at how children of same-sex parents have demonstrated that children growing up with two attentive, engaged parents of the same sex do just as well as their peers from mixed-gender homes. In some respects, the research indicates, such children may even do better.

Anti-gay advocates point to a different set of studies to justify claims that children need parents of both genders. However, the studies that anti-gay advocates cite are of single-parent households--not of two-parent homes in which the parents are both men or both women.

The remarks made by Giovanardi are not the first controversial comments he has made. In 2004, responding to criticisms aimed at E. U. Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione, Giovanardi--then the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs--accused Buttiglione’s critics of being like the Taliban. Buttiglione had stated publicly that to be gay was a "sin," reported on Oct. 24, 2004, and added that marriage functioned chiefly to provide women "the right to have children and the protection of a man."

Giovanardi framed the ensuing flap in terms of religious liberty, declaring, "We haven’t seen an attack against religious freedom like this since the end of World War II. It’s a new witch hunt."

In 2008, however, Giovanardi took aim at free speech as practiced by advocates of decriminalizing drugs. "We say enough to the drug culture," Giovanardi said in an interview in May of that year, according to a Wikipedia article. "And in order to do that we want to introduce a rule preventing propaganda, even indirect, to all drugs, including so-called ’light drugs.’ "

In 2006, Giovanardi attacked the Netherlands for a law allowing physicians to allow terminally ill children to die if there was no possibility that their condition would improve. Calling the change in the law "Nazi legislation," Giovanardi claimed that allowing children who would not survive their illnesses to die was a form of "eugenics," and warned that the law could be expanded to include other populations. "We could just as easily apply this to senior citizens," he said at the time, according to a March 20, 2006, article at anti-gay religious website


Asexuality: Romantic Asexuals and Sex Positivity by Jo LeGall

Many people wonder how a person can be asexual and have sex with their sexual partner. There are people who do things for their partner that many sexuals and asexuals cannot understand who will say, when asked, "I love them. I do it because I love them". It is much more than that.

We do not despise or hate the concept we observe or participate in with our partner. We simply do not understand the concept. Like one partner buying tickets to, and attending, a baseball game then enthusiastically rooting for their partner's team to share in the elation and happiness. The emotions. We know that just us being there, even though we don't understand a thing that is going on, amplifies whatever they are feeling.

Before, there may have been trepidation at hugging, squeezing and crying on a stranger's shirt when their team hits a home run and with us in attendance they can let down some of those walls we unconsciously keep up to protect ourselves emotionally. They can share the moment with someone they trust, us, and it makes it better.

Emotional intimacy is not universal to all relationships. There are those of us who do not experience any romantic feelings towards anyone. There are aromantic sexuals and asexuals, where a fuck-buddy or platonic friendship respectively, are enough. The difference between us, romantics and aromantics, is how we are connected to our partner.

Sexual romantics connect emotionally and physically while asexual romantics connect only emotionally. It is not really a need to "talk" and share "emotional secrets" like many believe. It is more like having a center of calm in our life where we can go and cuddle next to when all our emotions are in chaos. Someone to keep us grounded and when we eventually need to talk, someone who will calmly listen while all that chaos pours out until we feel calm and at peace again.

This is what many aromantics, and maybe even some romantics, do not understand. There is nothing to "fix". We are not looking to create an uncomfortable emotional anxiety, where our partner is expected to slay invisible dragons. It is all about the calm. Our port in the storm. Someone who exudes such calm it helps us remember how to re-ground ourselves. Emotional chaos being met with more emotional chaos causes emotional explosions.

When my partners are calm just a hug makes me feel energized. Most people who meditate will tell you the same thing. Yet, it is very hard to explain to the person you are hugging, why you need to hug them so much. It is during these times that my partner may become irritated and the energy changes, for lack of a better concept. His energy goes from calm to disturbed so I stay away. The best way I can describe it is being so emotionally connected to someone you pick up their emotions and body language even when they are saying something entirely different to you.

Sometimes we can feel the anger rolling off in waves and they will say "I'm fine." yet, we know differently and give them space. Other times we can feel the hurt rolling off in waves yet they say they're angry, will scream obscenities and/or do things to emotionally hurt us to keep us away. That is why a lot of romantics unknowingly stay in emotionally abusive relationships. I have been in enough to know why I have. The mixed messages. All those mixed messages we receive until our partner's emotions, the ones they refuse to deal with, are so chaotic it hurts to be around them.

I cannot speak for other romantics, sexual or asexual, I experience an emotional flare during physical intimacy. As I said before, that calm/love my partner exudes is a pleasant sensation and it is multiplied tenfold when they are looking at me with intent. All that emotion is focused and you can literally feel it. I know someone knows what I'm talking about. A sexual romantic will exclaim that the focused emotions take physical intimacy to an entirely different level. For a romantic asexual it takes our emotional intimacy to an entirely new level.

It is all about the emotion behind the intent. If the emotion is positive, even though I do not feel anything on a physical level I definitely feel it on an emotional level. If the emotion is negative, whether I am the trigger or not, that brings all walls up and I won't be emotionally there during any type of physical intimacy.

Whether you are sexual or asexual, if someone with negative intent is approaching us in a sexual way, there is never any pleasure in the act. Regardless of how our body responds to the external stimuli there is no pleasure only a feeling of violation, or a breach of trust, simply because we were touched by negative intent. When a romantic, sexual or asexual, is in a relationship with someone who is always negative and in emotional chaos there will be no sex positivity. They will be too exhausted from shielding against the emotional onslaught.

When we do finally leave, we tend to say that "Love was not enough." well love had naught to do with it. When we love it is an emotion we feel separately from our partner. We share how we feel through emotional, physical and sexual intimacy depending upon how we connect to our partner. We have no control over how our partner connects to us, how they process and express their emotions. We stayed because we created an illusion that we could control their emotional weather. We leave because we realise that they have to learn to predict their own and prepare themselves accordingly.

Love never goes away so long as there are fond memories present. We will always love the past person, regardless of who they become because the love belongs to us. We simply share it with them if they decide, and they must decide, to accept it. It is always ours and we never have to stay to keep it.

NAACP President speaks at NYC LGBT Center

In what is believed to be the first visit to an LGBT center by a sitting president of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous spoke at New York City’s LGBT Community Center on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
President of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous
spoke at NYC’s LGBT Community Center, 9-22.

By Michael K. Lavers-
   The president of the country’s largest civil rights organization received a standing ovation at New York City’s LGBT Community Center on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

   NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous urged LGBT Americans to participate in an Oct. 2 march in Washington, D.C., that organizers hope will spur lawmakers to address unemployment, education and social justice. The Human Rights Campaign, the National Black Justice Coalition, GetEQUAL, Equality Wisconsin and the National Center for Transgender Equality are among the myriad of LGBT, labor and other progressive organizations that have endorsed the march.

   "We are coming together-people of all faiths, nationalities and races to demand that everyone have the opportunity to work at a good job, that every child be able to go to a great school and that justice for all be a reality; not just a promise," he said. "Our movement strives to make real the promise of America for everyone."

   Jealous, who is believed to be the first sitting NAACP president to visit an LGBT center, said the passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act would begin the process of adding sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also fielded a question about how to address homophobia within the black church.

   Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Whole and Department Store Union, stressed the importance of the Oct. 2 march.

   "We all have to understand justice is indivisible," he said before he introduced Jealous. "You can’t be for justice for some and not for all."

   Jeff Campagna, head of the march’s New York State LGBT Desk, praised organizers for inviting LGBT organizations to participate.

   "This is truly a historic march," he said. "This coalition has welcomed us."


NY St. Pattys Day Parade – more anti-gay than Irish

By Timothy Kincaid-

   The Ancient Order of Hibernians, who control and operate the St. Patrict’s Day Parade in New York City, have long opposed allowing gay Irishmen to participate as such. This is matter of pride as good Irish Catholics. Of course, real good Irish Catholics don’t have so much of a problem with Teh Ghey. The Irish in Ireland seem to be rather fond of gay folk. So much so, that the President of Ireland declined an offer to be Grand Marshall of the parade if they wouldn’t let gay folk participate. (Irish Central)
  Irish President Mary McAleese has just turned down an invitation to be grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2011, the historic 250th anniversary of the event. The turn down is said to be connected to the issue of gays being refused the right to march in the parade under their own banners, and McAleese’s strong relationship with gay and lesbian organizations in Ireland.
   Although having President McAleese (a devout Catholic) as Grand Marshall on this important anniversary would have been quite a coup for the AOH, it was far more important that they keep gay Irish people out of the Irish celebration.

   It’s with a great sense of irony that most St. Patrick’s Day celebrations exclude gay and lesbian Irish-Americans.

   Only three out of the hundreds of parades and other celebrations throughout the U.S. that mark the birthday of Ireland’s patron saint welcome community members.

A the 2006 Queens, N.Y. parade, l. to r.: Tim O’Connor, consul general of Ireland; Mayor Mike Bloomberg; Christine Quinn, the out president of the City Council; Congressman Joseph Crowley

   Two are in gay Meccas-San Francisco and Key West. The third, in Queens, N.Y., was created expressly to welcome LGBT Irish-Americans. In fact, it is called a "welcoming" St. Pat’s parade and all groups, regardless of their ethnicity or minority status, are included.

   Why is this so ironic? Because for centuries, the Irish themselves were among the most discriminated against group in the United States and Great Britain. Their struggle mirrors ours. Until the early 20th century, they suffered job, housing and other forms of discrimination in the U.S. 

A the 2006 Queens, N.Y. parade, l. to r.: Tim O’Connor, consul general of Ireland; Mayor Mike Bloomberg; Christine Quinn, the 'out' president of the City Council; Congressman Joseph Crowle. 

America's Day of Shame

DadtBy David Mixner-
    As we reflect on the DADT vote in the United States Senate, we must not lose sight of the one central fact of the day. That the American government, in all its glory, voted shamefully to deny their LGBT citizens full equality and freedom. We witnessed the Senate of the United States decide that the rest of Americans have to be protected from us and they must continue to keep us separated from the rest of the country. You can spin it all you want. You can blame this person or that person. You can explain away people who were missing in action, people who voted wrong and a total failure of our leadership over the last two years, it won't change a thing. They voted yet one more time to continue our oppression and status as second class citizens. 
There is no way to share with you the sickening feeling I had yesterday as I watched the debate and the vote. The open homophobia and cowardice hiding among the words of 'process and procedure' were a moment of shame for this country. While not surprised at all by the outcome, I found myself just sickened by the thought that they were voting about my friends and me. This was a direct assault on our dignity, our integrity and our freedom. To see it tossed about as a political football was almost too much to bear.
We must learn from this process and we must continue to escalate this fight. This issue has no political ideology and has no home in any Party. The issue is about full equality and freedom and determining if America will live up to its own Constitution.
   This much we do know and we must embrace these lessons and grow. We need not learn them in rancor but learn we must or we will repeat once again our own mistakes.
   First and foremost, this vote should have taken place last year as many begged our own leadership, our Party and our President to do. Time and time again we pleaded for a vote to take place well before January 1st of this election year. Don't you think we might have had a better shot at Senator Olympia Snowe's vote if the vote had taken place last year before these Tea Party primaries? There is not a doubt in my mind about that. We were told to wait until after Healthcare, to wait until this moment or that moment and that they had a plan and strategy. Many of us were made out to be unreasonable expecting a vote last year and that we were not 'in the know' of what was happening inside the Beltway. After all, they had this big plan and strategy that they would unfold over these two years. Bullshit.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights to hear first sex discrimination case

By Nan Hunter-

Karen Atala y Emma de Ramón
   The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is seeking review in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of a case in which Chilean courts denied custody to a lesbian mother on the ground that her homosexuality endangered her children. In April, the IACHR found that the ruling violated the American Convention on Human Rights, but Chile did not comply with the recommendations made by IACHR to rectify the situation. As a result, IACHR is asking the Inter-American Court to intervene.  It will be the first case raising sexual orientation discrimination to be heard by the court, and is the first case outside Europe to use international law in a gay parent's custody case.
   The Commission's decision in April found that Chile was responsible for anti-gay discrimination against Karen Atala in the course of judicial process that resulted in the decision to deny her the care and custody of her daughters. Ironically, Atala is herself a Chilean lawyer and criminal court judge. The decision repudiates a 2004 ruling by the Supreme Court of Chile ordering that Atala’s three daughters be permanently removed from her custody. [Commission determinations are not published, but are conveyed to the appropriate national government, directing it to take action to ensure that similar future violations do not occur. An earlier decision in the case, granting jurisdiction, can be found at here.]
   The IACHR is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), which derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. It is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is located in San Jose, Costa Rica.

for more from Nan Hunter visit Hunter For Justice.


Witt trial judge promises ruling by Friday, doesn't buy Justice Department's arguments

    The trial in Witt v. Air Force ended yesterday, a day earlier than expected. Judge Ronald Leighton indicated that he would need little time to decide the case and felt that he had little choice but to rule for Margaret Witt. As her trial closed, he expressed strong doubts about government arguments seeking to have her dismissal upheld.
  Witt- "It's what I've spent over half my life training to do," she said of her job. "I miss being able to be the one that that soldier looks at and I can do something for him. I'm not complete, and it kills me to not be there."

   In 2006, Leighton rejected Witt's claims that the Air Force violated her rights when it fired her under the "don't ask, don't tell" law. An appeals court panel overruled him two years later and said the military can't fire people for being gay unless it shows their dismissal was necessary to further military goals.
The ruling left it to Leighton to determine whether her firing met that standard. At the end of a six-day trial, he suggested the ruling tied his hands.
   "I made my call with regard to whether this act was constitutional," he said. "My colleagues — my friends — said, 'Ron, you got it wrong,'" Leighton said during an extensive back-and-forth with a Justice Department lawyer. "They told me what I needed to do, what I needed to ask."
   Witt, of Spokane, joined the Air Force in 1987 and was suspended in 2004, just short of retirement, after her commanders learned she was in a relationship with a civilian woman. She was a flight nurse with an aeromedical evacuation squadron responsible for transporting and caring for injured soldiers.
   Her attorneys, led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, insisted that Witt was well respected and liked by her colleagues, that her sexuality never caused problems in the unit, and that her firing actually hurt military goals such as morale, unit cohesion and troop readiness. Several members of the squadron testified to that effect and said they would welcome Witt back to the unit.
   Lawyers for the Air Force said such evidence was irrelevant. Military personnel decisions can't be run by unit referendum, they said.
   Instead, Justice Department lawyer Peter Phipps asked the judge to look back at the reasons Congress cited for passing "don't ask," including the possibility that gay service members could have limited privacy during deployments, and determine whether those factors were relevant to Witt's case.
Leighton responded that such an approach would provide a nearly meaningless constitutional analysis, "a far cry" from the heightened scrutiny called for by the 9th Circuit's decision.
   He said he considered two other arguments from the government unpersuasive: that Witt posed a threat to unit cohesion and integrity because she once committed adultery, and that Witt shouldn't be reinstated because the military has an overriding need for uniformity in its personnel policies. Refusing to reinstate Witt for the latter reason would require him to overrule the 9th Circuit, Leighton said.
   He said he did not believe the courts were the appropriate venue for deciding whether gays can serve openly in the military, and he credited the Justice Department lawyers for doing an excellent job despite having a tough legal row to hoe.
   "You are in a difficult spot, and everybody knows it," he said. "Your ability to take a licking and keep on ticking is much appreciated."
   James Lobsenz, an attorney for Witt, said in his closing argument that the government presented no evidence that Witt would cause problems if returned to her unit. It was unconscionable, he said, that she had to conceal her sexuality for years even as she won awards for distinguished service in evacuating and treating wounded troops and government employees from Afghanistan and elsewhere.
   "She can go back and serve, and no one will have to lie," Lobsenz said.


Latest California polling on marriage equality

Do you think same-sex marriage should be
legal or illegal?
Legal............................................................... 46%
Illegal .............................................................. 44%
Not sure .......................................................... 10%

By a narrow 46-44 margin, likely voters in this fall’s election support gay marriage. The level of support is the same as PPP’s survey of registered voters in July, but the amount of opposition has fallen from 47%. Considering the margin of error and the similar internal figures, the shift is likely just statistical noise. It is safe to say Californians are still very split on the issue.

Public Policy Polling

Give Them Hope/It Gets Better: Dan and Terry

Gay Bullying Victim Who Survived
By Dan Savage

Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself—hope you're pleased with yourselves, Tony Perkins and all the other "Christians" out there who oppose anti-bullying programs (and give actual Christians a bad name).

Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.

Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

"My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas," a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. "I wish I could have told you that things get better."

I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren't allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don't bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don't have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.

So here's what you can do, GBVWS: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.

I've launched a channel on YouTube—www ­—to host these videos. My normally camera-shy husband and I already posted one. We both went to Christian schools and we were both bullied—he had it a lot worse than I did—and we are living proof that it gets better. We don't dwell too much on the past. Instead, we talk mostly about all the meaningful things in our lives now—our families, our friends (gay and straight), the places we've gone and things we've experienced—that we would've missed out on if we'd killed ourselves then.

"You gotta give 'em hope," Harvey Milk said.

Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it does get better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can't imagine a future for themselves. So let's show them what our lives are like, let's show them what the future may hold in store for them.

The video my husband and I made is up now—all by itself. I'd like to add submissions from other gay and lesbian adults—singles and couples, with kids or without, established in careers or just starting out, urban and rural, of all races and religious backgrounds. (Go to to find instructions for submitting your video.) If you're gay or lesbian or bi or trans and you've ever read about a kid like Billy Lucas and thought, "Fuck, I wish I could've told him that it gets better," this is your chance. We can't help Billy, but there are lots of other Billys out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don't think they have a future—and we can help them.

They need to know that it gets better. Submit a video. Give them hope.

If you're gay or lesbian or bi or trans, and you've ever read about a kid like Billy Lucas and thought, "I wish I could've told him that it gets better," this is your chance. We can't help Billy, but there are lots of other Billy's out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don't think they have a future—and we can help them....


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Now that DADT, DOMA and ENDA are all dead, please vote for Democrats. Maybe next time they'll keep their promises. Or not.

By John Aravosis

President Obama promised us during the campaign that he would repeal DADT and DOMA, and pass ENDA. He's done nothing to advance the latter two, and on the former, finally came up with a crappy last-minute compromise, and then hardly lifted a finger to get it to pass. And it didn't.

Yesterday, when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was going down in flames, where was our self-proclaimed Fierce Advocate? Was he manning the phones, calling Senators and twisting their arms to vote against the filibuster of the Defense Bill? No. He was busy calling the WNBA champions. President Obama couldn't be bothered to help pass a major campaign promise to a major Democratic constituency. (And don't think the Republicans won't notice that he couldn't be bothered to help pass a major defense bill while the nation is in two wars.)

He did, however, have a low-level aide issue a statement in support of the bill. I'll bet that sent shivers down Mitch McConnell's spine.

And he did have the DNC's "Organizing for America" group, formerly "Obama for America," send an email to "some" of their members urging them to call - get this - John McCain. No effort was made to have OFA's members contact the actual targets we needed to contact, moderate Republicans and wavering Democrats. Instead, they wasted their effort having people call John McCain, someone who no one thought would change his mind. Which begs the question: Why contact McCain and not the actual targets? One possible reason: The Democrats aren't willing to risk angering moderates "just" to help the gays get their civil rights. So sic everyone - sorry, "some" of the list - on McCain. Even though it's useless, it'll look good, and the gays will think the Democrats tried to help, when that was never their intent.

And today, the day after Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln joined the Republicans in filibustering the Defense Bill, and thus dooming the already weak-tea DADT compromise, was the President teaching Lincoln a lesson about slapping the President of the United States - her party's leader - in the face on one of his top priorities for the year? Hardly. Today VP Biden is out fundraising for Lincoln's re-election (here in Boston. Fuck Biden and fuck Lincoln too!)

That'll show her who's boss. (That'll also put to rest the notion that the leader of the free world is powerless to influence legislation before Congress. He had the power to influence Lincoln via the fundraiser. He chose not to.)

But surely, you'd think, the President would at least be lambasting the Republicans in Congress for leading the charge against passage of a major defense bill while our nation is at war(s). You'd be wrong. No searing criticism from the White House. They've moved on.

That'll show the Republicans who's boss.

Had the shoe been on the other foot, had the Democrats torpedoed a major defense bill, six weeks before the election, while the nation was involved in two wars, the Republicans would have annihilated us, branding us as the second coming of Benedict Arnold. And it might have won the GOP the election.

But President Obama doesn't do mean. At least not against people who are out to destroy him. So the White House's response to yesterday's utter humiliation of the President and Senator Reid is muted at best.

That'll show the American people who has the backbone to run this country.

Panel rules against Orono school in transgender bathroom access

AUGUSTA, Maine —
   The Maine Human Rights Commission ruled Monday that Orono Middle School unlawfully discriminated against a sixth-grader during the 2008-2009 school year by not letting the male-to-female transgender student use the girls’ bathroom.
   This is the same student whose parents filed a similar discrimination complaint against Asa Adams Elementary School in Orono when their child was a fifth grader there during the 2007-2008 school year. That case resulted in the same ruling against the school district in June 2009.
   Also Monday, the commission members again began talks about developing anti-discrimination guidelines specifically for schools under the Maine Human Rights Act.
The parents of the child, who no longer attends schools in the district, wrote in their latest complaint to the commission that she experienced anxiety and depression after officials at Orono Middle School forced her to use a gender-neutral bathroom and her peers picked on her.
   “In choosing to disallow [her] to use the girls’ bathroom facilities, the school was implicitly isolating and alienating her from other students,” the parents wrote. “We determined that we needed to modify our actions to do the best we could to ensure [our child’s] safety.”
   The school’s response stated that the district accommodated the child by training the staff, educating the students, giving the transgender student her own bathroom, giving her her own locker room and meeting with her parents almost daily.
   “For the most part, she appeared to be happy and involved in the school community,” the school district wrote.
   In addition to the bathroom complaint, the student’s family alleged that Orono Middle School subjected her to a hostile educational environment.
   The commission’s investigator did cite in her report derogatory remarks made by other students as well as several allegations of stalking by a boy who once followed the transgender student into the girls room and harassed her by calling her “faggot.”
   But the commissioners agreed with the investigator that there were “no reasonable grounds” to believe the school subjected the student to a hostile educational environment.
Neither side was in attendance at Monday’s meeting because neither party filed a letter of disagreement with the commission investigator’s report.
   “I don’t think it changes anything,” the school district’s lawyer, Melissa Hewey, said regarding the commission’s decision. “I think it’s a good ruling in that it recognized the efforts the school went through to help the student in terms of the harassment issue. The bathroom issue is something the court has to rule on.”

Appeal court: Florida ban on gay adoption unconstitutional

By Carol Marbin Miller

Frank Martin Gill and son
A Miami appeals court ruled Wednesday that Florida's ban on gays adopting is unconstitutional and affirmed the controversial adoption of two foster children by a gay North Miami couple.

The unanimous 3-0 decision deals a critical blow to Florida's 33-year-old law banning adoption by gay men and lesbians, and most likely sends the case to Florida's highest court for resolution.

``Given a total ban on adoption by homosexual persons, one might expect that this reflected a legislative judgment that homosexual persons are, as a group, unfit to be parents,'' the opinion states. ``No one in this case has made, or even hinted at, any such argument.

``To the contrary, the parties agree `that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents.' ''

The decision, by the Third District Court of Appeal in Miami, means Frank Martin Gill will be allowed to remain the parent of his two sons -- identified only as X.X.G. and N.R.G. -- whom Gill and his longtime partner adopted from the state's foster care system in 2009. Gill had been foster-parenting the boys for several years.

The opinion was agreed upon by the three judges who reviewed the case, Gerald B. Cope Jr., Frank A. Shepherd and Vance E. Salter, who wrote a concurring opinion. The 35-page ruling was written by Cope, who also reviewed a similar case this summer involving a lesbian Broward couple.

``Finally, a piece of 30-year-old prejudice has been struck from the law books in Florida,'' said Howard Simon, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida and represented Gill. ``This is good news for the advancement of human rights and the children in Florida's troubled foster-care system.''

Wednesday's ruling likely will not be the end of the controversial debate.

Legal scholars have assumed from the beginning that the case was destined to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court. Indeed, Gill's lawyers sought to have the case appealed directly to the state's highest court, but Attorney General Bill McCollum objected, insisting it first be decided by the Miami appeals court.

Monroe Circuit Judge David J. Audlin -- who sits in Key West, with its large population of gay men and lesbians -- was the first judge in recent years to strike down the controversial statute.

On Aug. 29, 2008, Audlin signed a 67-page order declaring the adoption law unconstitutional. Audlin's order allowed Wayne LaRue Smith, an openly gay lawyer in Key West, to adopt ``John Doe,'' whom he had raised since the Department of Children & Families placed the child in his home in 2001. In 2006, Audlin had appointed Smith and his parter as guardians for the boy.

Neither DCF nor McCollum chose to appeal Audlin's ruling, saying the adoptive child, having already become a ward of Smith's, no longer was in state custody -- thus depriving the two agencies of jurisdiction over the adoption.

Russian LGBT Activist Arrested Again, This Time At Moscow Rally

By Jim Burroway
   LGBT Activist Nikolai Alekseev has had a busy week this week. He was among eleven activists who were arrested yesterday during a banned protest outside of Moscow City Hall. All eleven activists have been subsequently released. The activists were protesting against Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, whose recent remarks about “faggots” were ruled by a Moscow court as not being hate speech. The protesters had chained themselves to a railing outside of city hall.
Luzhkov abruptly left Moscow to “vacation” at a home in Austria. He is under widespread pressure to resign his post amid widespread allegations of corruption and incompetence. Independent observers believe that some in Russia’s central government see Luzhkov’s power base in Moscow city government as potential threat.
Alekseev has recently been released following a bizarre kidnapping by Russian security forces at week at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport as he was about to board a flight to Geneva. He was held for two days as his captors demanded that he withdraw his lawsuits against Russia lodged at the European Court of Human Rights. They also demanded that he cancel yesterday’s protest at city hall. At one point, his captors used his mobile phone to put out false text messages that Alekseev had fled to Belarus and demanded political asylum. You can read about Alekseev’s account of his ordeal here.

Support shrivels for Florida law banning gay adoptions

The MIami Herald reports that even if the Florida court considering the constitutionality of that state's law banning adoption by gay parents upholds it, the state will allow the children at the center of the case to remain with their gay parents. The case - In re Gill - is pending before a state intermediate appellate court. ACLU lead attorney Leslie Cooper told me that she expects the court to rule by the end of 2010.
...Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon said that even if the Third District Court of Appeal -- or eventually the Supreme Court -- rules that the adoption of two boys by Martin Gill, a gay man, should not have been allowed, the state won't move to remove the children from his home.
"Those children appear to be safe, well-adjusted,'' Sheldon said. "We're not in the business of doing that [removing them].''
Gill was allowed to adopt the children by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman, who in allowing the adoption, found the state's ban on gay people adopting children unconstitutional. That ruling came in late 2008 and the state appealed the ruling to the district appeals court where a decision is yet to come down...
Sheldon's remarks followed comments last week by Gov. Charlie Crist about the state's appeal of Lederman's ruling. Crist, who has said he supports the right of gay people to adopt children, said he was reviewing whether the appeal should continue.
But Sheldon said the agency wants the case to go through the appeals process in an effort to get a final decision that would make it clear that judges statewide would be able to allow gay adoptions if the couple is qualified, leaving it up to judges on a case-by-case basis.
Sheldon said both sides in the case want finality. ``We need an appellate decision to say 'this is the constitutional status of this,''' he said. Sheldon said Crist, despite comments that he was reviewing the case, intends to let it proceed. ``We need to allow this appeal to move forward and he [Crist] understands this,'' Sheldon said.
Meanwhile, more trial courts in Florida are finding the ban unconstitutional and approving adoptions by gay parents:
...[A]s the 1977 law that forbids gay men and lesbians from adopting remains under review by a Miami appeals court, [Robert] Lamarche became the fourth Floridian who is gay to publicly emerge as an adoptive parent. He is the first gay Floridian from north of Miami-Dade to publicly disclose an adoption. [Ironically, Lamarche works at a private adoption agency, reviewing prospective parents.]
Last month, in a juvenile courtroom in Broward County, Judge Hope T. Bristol approved Lamarche's adoption of a teenaged boy Lamarche has fostered for about two years. The adoption, she wrote, ``is in the minor's best interest.'' The law, Bristol wrote, is unconstitutional. The state is not objecting to the adoption.

for more visit hunter for justice.

Senile Old Fool McCain

Failure of Bill Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Could Hurt Democrats in Midterms

In the wake of a Senate vote not to advance the Defense Authorization Bill, the current iteration of which included an amendment that would have repealed "don't ask, don't tell," the 17-year-old ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, some gay-rights advocates predicted grim ramifications for Democrats in November.
Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain, opposed the amendment, and Senate Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and advance the legislation (the final tally was 56 to 43). While gay-rights advocates bemoaned the political gamesmanship in Washington, Republicans like Sen. Scott Brown similarly accused Democrats of playing politics with America's armed services. "The majority party, I feel, is using our men and women in uniform as a tactic to pass politically expedient legislation entirely unrelated to the defense authorization," Brown said. "It is in my view not appropriate."

   Even Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who said she supported repeal of DADT, was upset with the Democratic leadership's process on the bill, saying she could not "vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that is going to shut down debate and preclude Republican amendments." She added, "Now is not the time to play politics simply because an election is looming in a few weeks."

Accused pastor crusaded against homosexuals

As Bishop Eddie Long poked through a salad in his church office one summer day in 1999, he shot a weary look at a person ticking off his ministry's successes.
His Atlanta megachurch had already reached 25,000 members. He had been invited to the White House, built a global television ministry and drove around town in a $350,000 Bentley.
But Long told the visitor who had come to write about him that the pressures of being a high-profile pastor could be brutal.
"You don't want any of this," he said in a raspy baritone as he shook his head. "You don't want any of this ..."
Long didn't get more specific about those pressures.
Today, the 57-year-old minister, known for his public crusades against homosexuality, faces serious allegations.
On Tuesday, two young men who were members of Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church filed lawsuits claiming he used his position as their spiritual counselor to coerce them into sexual relationships.
See PDF of lawsuit filed by Maurice Robinson
The men -- Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Robinson, 20 -- allege Long used a private spiritual ceremony to mark a "covenant" between them, with both becoming his "spiritual son."
See PDF of lawsuit filed by Anthony Flagg
Flagg alleges that Long then used that relationship to take him on overnight trips where they shared a bedroom and engaged in kissing, masturbation and "oral sexual contact."
Video: Sexual coercion lawsuit announced
Robinson, who claimed Long engaged in oral sex with him, said the pastor would cite Scripture to justify their relationship.

"We categorically deny the allegations," Art Franklin, Long's spokesman, said in a written statement. "It is very unfortunate that someone has taken this course of action."
Franklin said "our law firm will be able to respond once attorneys have had an opportunity to review the lawsuit."

More gay bashing from A.G. Holder and the Department of Justice.

Former Air Force Major Margaret Witt testified Monday in the case she brought seeking reinstatement after her discharge under the DADT policy. The case is important because it established the principle that the government has to demonstrate - on an individualized basis - that each such discharge is actually necessary to preserve unit cohesion and morale. Several days of testimony last week from former colleagues in her unit established that her presence created no morale problems. (More background here.)
As expected from their trial brief, Justice Department lawyers sought to discredit Witt because she became involved with a married woman. The married woman was a civilian, as was her husband. A 2002 Executive Order (EO 13262) limits discharges based on heterosexual adultery to situations in which there is a negative effect on the unit or a misuse of command authority.
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
A decorated Air Force Reserve flight nurse discharged for being gay took the witness stand at her federal trial Monday and told the judge it "kills me" not to be able to care for wounded soldiers while the country is at war. Former Maj. Margaret Witt has sued the Air Force in hopes of being reinstated. No one in her unit or any of her patients ever expressed concern about her sexual orientation, she told the judge.
"It's what I've spent over half my life training to do," Witt testified, her voice breaking. "I miss being able to be the one that that soldier looks at and I can do something for him. I'm not complete, and it kills me to not be there."...
Witt joined the Air Force in 1987 and later became a flight nurse, helping to care for and evacuate soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. She was suspended in 2004 when the Air Force investigated her for violating "don't ask, don't tell." She was discharged three years later, while just short of becoming eligible for a full pension.
Her lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of "don't ask, don't tell." In 2008, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considering the case held that the military couldn't discharge someone for being gay unless it demonstrated the firing was necessary to further military goals.
The case returned to U.S. District Court in Tacoma, where Judge Ronald B. Leighton must determine whether Witt's firing met that standard. Leighton heard testimony last week from several of Witt's former colleagues, who said they didn't care about her orientation and that her firing actually hurt morale in their squadron, based at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma...
In pointed cross-examination, Justice Department lawyer Peter Phipps noted Monday that Witt had engaged in an adulterous relationship with a married civilian woman in 2003. The woman, now divorced, is still Witt's partner, but the Air Force argues that Witt's disregard for policy in committing adultery set a bad example for others in the unit and justifies her dismissal.
"You agree that adultery is not consistent with high standards of integrity, correct?" Phipps asked. "Yes," Witt responded.
The government also argues that Witt acknowledged being homosexual to some of her close friends in the unit, forcing them to choose between loyalty to her and to Air Force policy. Her firing eliminated a risk to unit cohesion, a legitimate military goal, DOJ lawyers say.
Witt's attorneys insist that the government has no evidence proving Witt's firing was necessary to further any military goal. In fact, they argue, there's no evidence that allowing gays to serve openly would hurt unit cohesion, or even any evidence that troops perform better if they get along socially.
Elizabeth Kier, a University of Washington associate professor of political science who has studied the issue, followed Witt on the stand Monday. She summarized research in the field: "There is no significant positive relationship between social cohesion and performance, and high levels of social cohesion can undermine military effectiveness."
Closing arguments are expected by Wednesday. It is not clear when Leighton will rule.


Rachel Maddow and Nathaniel Frank

Nathaniel Frank

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

News Round-up from DADT Debacle this Afternoon.

Obama complains about Dem. base, but fails to say a word about DADT repeal 

A few minutes ago, I tweeted this:
Does @barackobama know that the GOPers are filibustering the Def. Auth. bill? We're in 2 wars, you'd think he'd say something.
Mike Signorile tweeted:
Imagine if Democrats held up a defense bill? Why isn't Obama pointing to the Repubs not supporting the troops in 2 wars? Where is he?
We haven't heard a word. But, last night, Obama was bitching about Democrats who aren't happy with him, via Jake Tapper:
Last night at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia, President Obama said “when I hear Democrats griping and groaning and saying, ‘Well, you know, the health care plan didn’t have a public option;’ and I don’t know, ‘The financial reform -- there was a provision here that I think we should have gotten better’; or, ‘You know what, yes, you ended the war in Iraq, the combat mission there, but you haven’t completely finished the Afghan war yet’; or this or that or the other -- I say, folks, wake up.” Continued the president: “This is not some academic exercise."
Actually, we know that. So, while he's out complaining about us -- and last night wasn't the first time, no one has heard a thing from Obama on this upcoming vote. Last night, I reported that the White House wasn't even lobbying for passage of the Defense bill. Yet, Obama wonders why we "gripe and groan."

Today, via the Washington Blade, SLDN goes on the record saying the President has been AWOL:
Blame is already being assigned to the White House.

Trevor Thomas, spokesperson for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said his organization hasn’t seen an effort from the White House on the issue in recent days.

“We have not seen any signs that the White House has been whipping this vote in the last 48 hours,” Thomas said.

Thomas said he can’t predict what will happen with the cloture vote and maintained SLDN is “taking nothing for granted.”
Every time this President has had the opportunity to take action for equality, he hasn't. We get nice speeches, but not much more.

It doesn't get any better: Don't Ask, Don't Give

Witt Trial Ends, Decision to be Announced on Friday

"A lawyer for a decorated flight nurse discharged for being gay urged
a federal judge Tuesday to reinstate her to the Air Force Reserve,
and the judge indicated he might have no other choice.

U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma did not immediately
issue a ruling in the case of former Maj. Margaret Witt. But as the
trial closed he expressed strong doubts about arguments made by
government lawyers seeking to have Witt's dismissal upheld.

The judge suggested that his hands were tied by a 2008 appeals court
ruling in the case, which said that the military can't fire people
for being gay unless it shows that their dismissal was necessary to
further military goals.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked legislation to repeal the 1993
"don't ask, don't tell" law on gays serving in the military.

Leighton said he would issue his ruling Friday afternoon."

Seattle Times

This will be interesting to watch. Can the government appeal the decision, given that it has already been sent back down from the Ninth Circuit to the District Court? Will the government appeal? It's hard to imagine a stay being allowed even if they do appeal, because the government's probability of success has to be incredibly low given that the Ninth Circuit has already ruled against them as a general principle (the original Witt trial), and this is just an instance of that general rule.

Thanks for that Senator Franken, such a sad, sad day to be an American.

Australia ends practical ban on transfolk in military

Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston has issued an order ending a policy which, while not explicitly banning transfolk from serving, accomplished doing so in practice.

Houston called for all leaders to

manage ADF transgender personnel with fairness, respect and dignity … and existing medical review provisions; and ensure all personnel are not subjects to unacceptable behaviour


UK Liberal Democrats back marriage equality

Liberal Democrats today overwhelmingly backed moves to allow same-sex and mixed-sex couples to choose whether they wish to have a marriage or a civil partnership and to allow gay couples to have a church wedding...

People who change their gender would be allowed to remain in a current marriage or civil partnership under the plan.

The motion also calls for a straightforward change to allow civil partnerships to be converted into marriages.

Gay couples married outside the UK would have their relationship automatically recognised in the UK.


Liberal Democrats are in a coalition government with the Conservatives, who have, as yet, not been willing to support full marriage equality. But this move may eventually force a vote on the issue in Parliament.