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Thursday, October 25, 2007

HRC Not the Brightest

From a comment to Cris Crain's blog:

Smells bad.

HRC is either stupid in dealing with Obama .... or wily smart in dealing with Clinton. You DO NOT give public ultimatums to presidential candidates. (See politics 101).

But now that the Human Rights Campaign has demanded that Obama dump McClurkin, Obama has no choice. He has to keep him. If he dumps McClurkin, it would open him up to the charge of pandering to the gay lobby. To allow a small constituency to dictate what you do, instead of relying on your stated broad principles of how you will govern, would show weakness as well as being controlled by a special interest group.

Obama has to keep McClurkin ..... or (a very unlikely second scenario) McClurkin has to publicly disavow his views and say he has seen the light and owes it to Barack for helping him see truth.

For Obama to tell the gay community that he is not bowing to them may actually enhance his image in the eyes of the overall electorate..... i.e. he will not be bullied around by a special interest group.

If Obama stands up against the Human Rights Campaign ultimatum......and as a result gets gains respect for doing so, look for other gay friendly Democratic candidates to set up a straw situations, simply to go against what the gay lobby wants, just to show independence.

Going to the mat with Obama on this one could be a mistake HRC and gay blogesphere may regret they ever started. We may see a whole slew of candidates trying to defy us, simply for the sake of demonstrating that they are independent of us.

Let's see what happens.

Posted by: Andoni | October 24, 2007 at 11:38 AM

Janet Boynes' Lonely Crusade

Poor Janet tries to spread her personal message that 'I used to be gay. Gay is bad. I'm no longer gay. I am good.', and she's frustrated by the lack of interest, even when she speaks to church groups.

That's a great message for the kids, Janet.

I wonder if churches who invite her to speak also invite guests to talk about turning away from lifestyles of greed, dishonesty, dishonoring parents, not keeping the Sabbath, stealing, idolatry, etc. Why focus on just one sin? There are lots of juicy sins to grab our attention.

This fall I participated in a 5-week, 10 hour Luther Seminary class on the Gospel of John. It was taught be Paul Berge, a professor emeritus of the New Testament. Though I've read John many times on my own, having a great scholar and pastor guide a class of amateurs through the text was a wonderful, inspiring experience.

The purpose of John's Gospel is to explain to the reader who Jesus is, so that the reader will believe, and by believing, the reader will have eternal life. Seven signs, starting with changing water into wine and ending with raising Lazaurus from the dead, are presented in Chapters 2-11 as evidence that Jesus was God's son sent into the world for our redemption.

The only sin referenced in the Gospel of John is the sin of unbelief, i.e. not believing that Jesus was the Messiah. See 6:29-40, 8:24, 8:31-36, 9:35-39 as examples of the emphasis on belief.

The details of Janet's life, before and after her 'lifestyle' conversion, are not any of my business. She attempts to make her version of a faith-based message very, very small, by presenting it in the context of her own experience. It seems that everything we need to know about her is that she's no longer in a gay 'lifestyle', and that's what she offers to the world.

The effectiveness of 'ex gay' (reparative) therapy has never been scientifically verified. According to B.A. Robinson, in an article published by Ontario Consultants on,

There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy, or documented evidence that someone's sexual preference can be changed by therapy. Therapists who engage in such therapy are exposing their clients to unproven, experimental treatment and some have proven disastrous to the quality of life of the 'client-victims''

Wanna be a pastor, Janet? Go get a seminary degree. Wanna inspire people in a positive way? Stop talking about yourself... your story isn't that interesting. Carefully read the Gospels, and use the teachings of Christ as your guide. Save your own story for Jerry Springer.

Tim Walz Doesn't Want the Baldwin Amendment to Come to the Floor

The Hill:

Freshman Democrats kill transgender amendment
By Jonathan E. Kaplan
October 25, 2007
Reps. Tim Walz (Minn.) and Ron Klein (Fla.), leaders of the class of freshman Democrats, carried a message to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday that their fellow first-term lawmakers did not want to vote on an amendment extending civil rights to transgender employees.

House Education and Labor panel Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), whose committee passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, said he told the freshman lawmakers at their Wednesday breakfast with Pelosi that the amendment did not have the votes to pass and would not be brought to the House floor.

In addition, Miller told the freshmen he recognized that the amendment exposed the first-term lawmakers to political attacks from conservatives and liberals alike, said two sources who attended the breakfast.

Roll Call [subscription required]:

Democrats delayed moving forward with landmark gay rights legislation on Wednesday amid a continuing dispute within their Caucus over the exclusion of workplace protections for transgendered people.

The bill, which faces a veto threat, would protect workers from workplace discrimination due to their sexual orientation, although there are exclusions for religious institutions and the military.

House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday he has told advocates for transgender rights that it would not be in their interests to bring an amendment to the bill because it would be defeated handily.

“A weak vote doesn’t advance the cause at all and right now it’s a pretty weak vote,” Miller said of the transgender amendment proposed by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only openly lesbian Member.

Democrats nonetheless believe the bill would be a major accomplishment, regardless of the transgender issue, after Republicans spent recent years trying to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and using opposition to gay rights as a political-wedge issue.

“It’s an historic piece of basic civil rights not to be fired because of sexual orientation,” Miller said. “This is what the Democratic Party stands for, against basic discrimination.”

The Bush administration’s Statement of Administration Policy argued that the bill could violate immunity of states under the 11th Amendment to the Constitution and said it would impinge on religious freedoms as well despite the exemptions provided in the bill.

Miller predicted that as many as a dozen Republicans may sign on to the bill, and he dismissed Bush’s veto threat.

“It’s a long way to the end of this journey,” Miller said. “Statements made at this point I don’t give a lot of credence too.”

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said Democrats should keep transgender language out of the bill to help it pass. “There is not support for that,” Shays said.

But Shays said passing the underlying bill builds on the work of many states that already have passed similar laws.

“We know it works,” Shays said. “A good school teacher should not lose his job because in their private life they are gay,” he said. “It’s conduct that matters, it’s not their preference.”

Frank said that in addition to the transgender issue, backers are working on the religious exemption language to address concerns, noting that it was one of the reasons the administration cited for the veto threat.

Republicans appeared to be enjoying the fight.

“I think it’s helpful to us,” House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) said. “They are divided on it even in their conference, which is one of the reasons why it’s not on the floor this week.”

A House Republican leadership aide ripped the Democrats for spending time on the issue.

“Are special rights for those who are transgendered or perceived to be transgendered in the workplace really among the top 10 challenges facing American families right now? No wonder they’re fighting amongst themselves again. Perception is everything in politics, and the Democrats’ stance on this issue is not perceived well outside of San Francisco.”

Janet Boynes Whines About Her Anti-Gay Ministry Getting Challenged

Over on Truth North here.

My talk was received very well by some teens, and others were all for homosexual acceptance. The pastor’s daughter supports loving the unlovely, which I thought was great. But one girl felt that I shouldn’t speak against homosexuality. I explained I was not speaking against homosexuals, but sharing my story on how God called me out of darkness and into the light. (1Peter 2:9). She felt that she was called to support gays and help them accept their lifestyle, and who was I to tell her differently. I was saddened because our kids are growing up with the message that homosexuality is okay. The only alternatives they might find is at their church, or from their parents. Their schools believe in tolerance and trying to fit into groups that will accept them.

In other words, Janet Boynes wants kids who are gay to grow up thinking that being gay is evil. Andy Birkey puts her in her place.

Boynes says in her brochure, "A big factor that drew me into a lesbian lifestyle was the abuse I witnessed and experienced as a child in my life." She tried relationships with men and was even engaged. But she says it was her fear of men that led her to have relationships with women.

Boynes also was involved in drugs, cheated on her girlfriend, suffered from depression and an eating disorder. She said she wanted to leave that "lesbian lifestyle."

But abuse and a chaotic childhood are not the causes of lesbianism. Drugs, infidelity, eating disorders and depression are not intrinsically connected with being a lesbian or having a "lesbian lifestyle." Abuse and a chaotic childhood can lead to drug abuse, chaotic relationships, eating disorders and depression, however.

Could it be that many in the church Boynes spoke at knew that these negative behaviors are not a defining characteristic of lesbians? Perhaps members of the church know lesbians who haven't suffered the terrible and unfortunate experiences that Boynes did, and have stable, drug free, happy lives?

Boynes was concerned because one young woman challenged her evangelism. Boynes recalls, "She felt that she was called to support gays and help them accept their lifestyle, and who was I to tell her differently. I was saddened because our kids are growing up with the message that homosexuality is okay."

The reality is that for many homosexuality is okay. The message that Boynes evangelizes, that freeing oneself from the gay or lesbian "lifestyle" will end "suffering" depends on the audience enduring some sort of suffering in the first place. Gays and lesbians enjoying relatively happy and well-adjusted lives have no need to be freed, and theirs are the deaf ears on which messages like Boynes' often fall.

It's interesting that Boynes is active politically in preventing rights for LGBT people. Her references reflect a who's who of public figures who work to prevent LGBT people from pursuing happiness in the first place. Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann gives a glowing reference, as does Pastor Mac Hammond of Living Word Christian Center and Minnesota Family Council President Tom Prichard. Her message is that gay and lesbian people suffer. At the same time she works politically to ensure suffering by preventing gay and lesbian equality. It's a great model for achieving job security.

Well put. True North has some fringe contributors - Tom Swift and Janet Boynes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Et Tu Hillary

Queerty has more.

Aravosis Goes After Obama Again

In the process, he says this:

On a more serious note, this pattern of embracing gay-bashers and wife-beaters is starting to suggest that perhaps Obama is trying to curry favor within his own community at the expense of lots of other communities, and worse, his soul.

This prompts a thread on DU:

John Aravosis: Angry racist asshole

Edited on Wed Oct-24-07 07:44 PM by geek tragedy

Yes. The way to the black community's heart is by embracing gay-bashers and wife-beaters. Thanks for that brilliant insight, you racist son of a bitch.

Aravosis now backtracks:

CORRECTION: A few friends alerted me to the fact that one of the sentences in my closing paragraph sounded as if I was implying that there was a wife-beater constituency in the black community (or elsewhere). I don't think any such thing, have never heard of such a thing, certainly didn't intend to imply it, and I apologize for giving that impression. Rather than rework the sentence, I deleted it outright to avoid even the appearance of such a suggestion. What I was trying to say, and I think the rest of the paragraph explains clearly enough, is that there's a growing pattern of Obama embracing celebrities that are just downright nasty people, and worse, once he finds out how nasty they are, he continues to embrace them because they're celebrities and can help him reach their fans. And I think that stinks.


HRC Hauls Water for HRC

Hillary Rodham Clinton that is.... Cris Crain:

Never mind that Obama isn't even appearing at the event, or that influential conservative black Christians like McClurkin and Mary Mary are supporting a candidate with the strongest gay rights record ever with a serious shot at the White House. For Solmonese and the other HRC flaks jockeying for resume opportunities in a Hillary White House, those details are irrelevant.

Of course by going public with the "threat" -- The Hill story cites unnamed sources -- HRC has already inflicted the damage before the Obama campaign even decides what to do. It's the kind of dirty politics that Mr. Hillary Clinton has always practiced, so no surprise there.

Fortunately for Obama, HRC (the group)'s credibility is already completely shot in the Democratic primary. We have known for a long time now that "the fix was in" at HRC for the other HRC. It's about time the whole thing came out of the closet.

This all shows what a useless organization HRC is. They are very skilled at accomplishing little in the public policy area.

Obama should forget about pandering to HRC, and work through other groups, like the Service Members Defense League (SLDN), the National Black Justice Coalition and Immigration Equality.

Why Does HRC Give Hillary Clinton's Associations With Bigots a Pass?

Commenters at Talking Points memo are asking a good question:

Human Rights Campaign and John Aravosis: Part and Parcel of the Hillary campaign?

Anonymous wrote on October 24, 2007 7:09 PM:

Eric D

I'm not defending anybody for doing anything. What I'm spelling out is this suddden outage by Aravois is disingenuous at best, and a poor attempt to BLACKMAIL Senator Obama to adopt his preferred solution. He didn't give two sh*ts about Floyd Mayweather or his record before Obama didn't capitulate to his ultimatium. So he decideds to stir up as much bullsh*t as he can. And in the process exposes himself as a racists.

So spare me your holier-than-thou attitude. McClurkin is a bigot. Aravois just exposed himself as a racist.

From MyDD:

Following is the text of the email letter I sent to the Human Rights Campaign, after reading the news this morning that the HRC has threatened the Obama campaign that it will publicly denounce Obama if he does not disinvite black gospel singer and pastor Donnie McClurkin from singing in his upcoming gospel concert series in South Carolina:

You're Threatening Obama Now? (subject line)

This is unspeakably short-sighted and counterproductive.

I've always admired and supported the work of the Human Rights Campaign, But do you honestly believe that any other candidate in this race has greater potential than Barack Obama to move this country further along the path toward being a pro-diversity society -- a society that creates more acceptance and opportunity for everyone, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people?

I urge you in the strongest possible terms to take a deep breath, then take a good, long look at the forest -- instead of the trees.

Of course, if you insist on going down this misguided path, you might consider exercising a little fairness in the matter.

Ever hear of Harold Mayberry? He's a black preacher, too. Like Donnie McClurkin. And he uses his giant 2,800-member Oakland, California, pulpit
to preach against homosexuality.

When asked about this in 2004, Mayberry gave the classic "love the sinner, hate the sin" defense:

I'm comfortable in what I believe in. I'm not rejecting people. As God loves, we love. I don't reject thieves, I reject thievery.

But just this past August, Hillary Clinton met with Mayberry and thanked him for his "commitment to fighting for civil rights and equality."

Ever hear of Darrell Jackson? Another black preacher. Like Donnie McClurkin. In South Carolina. Like Donnie McClurkin. He's a State Senator, too.
And a political consultant. Busy guy.

In fact, just after Jackson endorsed Clinton in February, he admitted that he's also negotiated a $10,000-a-month consulting contract with her campaign.

Turns out Jackson's not a big fan of gay people, either. Although Jackson abstained from voting on a 2005 bill for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in South Carolina -- two of Clinton's South Carolina co-chairs, John Matthews and Linda Short, voted for the bill -- he indicated in remarks on the Senate floor that an amendment was a moot point, since most people in South Carolina -- himself
included -- already opposed same-sex marriage.

Now, we know how we feel on this issue, and I've allowed my position to be known more than anybody else. I stand here as someone who is a pastor to a congregation of a whole lot of people, and I've said it to them and I'll say it to anyone else.

My personal moral position is what I believe and what I subscribe to. I don't have to come here and try to legislate it...There is little doubt in this body what will ultimately happen with that issue. That is a forgone conclusion.

How many times do you think Jackson has uttered -- or will utter -- anti-gay sentiments while Clinton is paying him?

Are you going to publicly denounce Hillary Clinton for her association with -- and endorsement by -- these people?

Or is she getting a pass, because she's "your girl"?

Please think before you act. Nobody's hands are clean here.

And from a commenter to Talking Points Memo:

Terje wrote on October 24, 2007 8:39 PM:

As a proud out gay man and a long time Democratic and queer activist, I find myself unable to become as worked up around the issue of gospel singer Donnie McClurkin’s inclusion in an Obama concert as many of my colleagues have.

McClurkin’s bizarre views on the subject are anathema to anyone who cares about equality. Clearly he is a troubled man whose personal struggles with sexuality have caused him to adopt a hateful message. How sad for him, and how unfortunate for all of us that he chooses to spout his hateful speech in public. If McClurkin were running for President (or any other office), I would be working hard to defeat him.

If the Obama campaign had invited him to speak about human sexuality, or appointed him to an advisory committee on human rights, or otherwise given him a platform for his views, I would be as angry as so many others seem to be.

But McClurkin isn’t supporting the campaign as a spokesperson on these issues – he’s singing gospel songs. As it happens, Donnie McClurkin is a talented gospel singer with a huge following, especially among a subset of religious African-Americans. His participation will attract a large number of Democratic voters who are attracted to his voice, not necessarily his viewpoints (which presumably he won’t be given the opportunity to voice at the concert). I’m pleased that those attending the concert will also hear an openly gay minister speak – not something that usually happens at a gospel concert. Talk about a teachable moment.

Like it or not, any candidate for President needs the support of millions of people who have dramatically different viewpoints on a large number of issues. Rejecting support from all who disagree (even on a fundamental issue) makes it impossible for any candidate to effectively reach the broad spectrum of the American voting public.

Is every candidate for President suddenly going to be held accountable for the views of all their supporters? Will entertainers, politicians, community leaders, bloggers, activists and others who are asked to lend support to a campaign be excluded for holding viewpoints that will be offensive to some voters?

If that is the test, I’m sure we can find plenty of other outrageous examples of homophobic, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, classist, ageist, xenophobic or similarly offensive statements by supporters of other candidates as well. Do we really think Hillary Clinton has never invited an outspokenly homophobic minister to share the stage, or that they weren’t invited to the Clinton White House? Are we sure that none of John Edwards southern supporters haven’t uttered homophobic statements before (or voted for hate inspired legislation)? For that matter, what are we too make of the fact that Hillary’s number one supporter gave us DOMA, DADT, and cost lives by refusing to lift the ban on needle exchange? Should I refuse to vote for her because of the hateful things Bill did for political expediency?

For me, the issue isn’t the viewpoints of those who sing at candidate events, it is the positions and record of the candidate themselves.

Barack Obama’s record on gay and lesbian issues is clear and consistent. He speaks out loudly and unequivocably on these issues, and his legislative record is clear and without flaws. (And for those white liberals who are somehow convinced that all religious African-Americans are fundamentalist bible-thumpers, it is worth pointing out that Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ, an emphatically progressive church that fully supports gay rights - including marriage.)

With the sad exception of the marriage issue, we are fortunate that all of the candidates for the Democratic nomination are taking clear positions in support of lgbt Americans. Barack Obama’s policy positions and record in this regard are second to none of the major candidates.

I continue to support Barack Obama because I believe that he is the best candidate for the office. He is uniquely suited to restore America’s place in the world, and to change the political dialogue at home. In the end, I believe Barack Obama will be the best President not just for glbt equality, but for all Americans, and the world.

I realize that this may put me in a distinct minority among many who are blogging on this subject. I respect the viewpoints of those who have a different opinion than I do, but I wanted to share my perspectives on the topic.

Terje Anderson
Montgomery, Vermont

(Terje Anderson is the former Executive Director of the National Association of People with AIDS, and a long time activist on queer and HIV/AIDS issues at the local, state, national, and international level).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Hill on the Obama - McClurkin Story

The Human Rights Campaign will get into this one according to the Hill. Obama gay supporters ask why is Obama the only one getting scrutiny.

One active member of the LGBT community who is supporting Obama said that his e-mail inbox has filled with complaints about the controversy.

“I think Barack Obama is between a rock and hard place and I imagine it will get worse not better over the next 48 hours,” said the supporter who declined to speak on the record because he had not made up his mind whether to criticize Obama publicly. “I never heard about [McClurkin] until 36 hours ago. Someone sent me an e-mail of a blog on the Huffington Post. God bless the Internet. Things spread like wildfire.”

The Obama backer said that better staff work could have avoided the political brouhaha.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” he said. “Someone should have known there was a red flag.”

Jimmy Williams, an openly gay Democratic lobbyist who supports Obama, said the media were unfair to criticize Obama without scrutinizing other candidates.

“If the press is going to hold Barack Obama to a certain level of criticism for his ‘anti-gay’ associates then I hope you would do the same to Sen. [Hillary Rodham] Clinton [D-N.Y.] and the Republican candidates,” he said. “For example, Clinton touts a guy named Harold Mayberry who is an African American minister who has publicly said that homosexuality is comparable to thievery. There are plenty examples.

“Why is the spotlight on Barack?” he said. “Let’s play a fair political game.”

Is this a way for the Human Rights Campaign to take their minds off their abysmal failure with ENDA?

Chris Crain has a Thoughtful Post about the Obama Flap


Taken together, the inclusion of these three acts screams of poor advance work and a candidate not well-served by his staff. But that doesn't justify Hutchison's hysterical HuffPo reaction, pinning the decision for their inclusion on Obama himself, and alleging he did so as a strategic move to "masterfully tap into homophobic sentiment" the way George Bush did in 2000. Even without knowing either either man, I can say with full confidence that Barack Obama is no George Bush, and Hutchison only makes himself look silly to suggest it.

For example, Obama has issued a statement that Bush and Rove would never dream of issuing:

"I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.

I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division."

Perhaps I'm under Obama's spell, but that statement pretty much settles the matter for me. The gay rights (oops, lgbT) movement has insisted for as long as I can remember that the Republican Party should be a "big tent" with room for gays and our allies, as well as those who are pro-choice and progressive on other social issues. Shouldn't the same be true for the Democrats, especially in the case of a presidential race.

If Barack Obama has somehow convinced an "ex-gay" gospel singer and his anti-gay allies to campaign on his behalf, despite being the strongest candidate on gay rights with a shot at the White House, then I say more power to him. Obama has proven time and again that he is willing to stand up for gay rights to conservatives, including those he needs within the black church.

OutFront Minnesota Action Alert on ENDA

Call Congressman Keith Ellison Today

Tell Him to Vote for the Gender Identity Amendment on ENDA

This week, the U.S. House will take up the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would prevent people from getting fired based on sexual orientation. During the floor session, Representative Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin will introduce an amendment to put gender identity back into the bill, after it was stripped out in late September. Gender identity is a vital part of this legislation, as it protects transgender people as well as gays and lesbians who don't conform to gender stereotypes.

Make sure Congressman Ellison knows that you support a gender identity-inclusive ENDA!

Representative Keith Ellison, (202) 225-4755

Suggested Message:

"Hello, my name is _____ and I live in your district. I am calling to ask the Representative to support the Baldwin Amendment to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The Baldwin Amendment adds gender identity protections back into ENDA and it is critically important to me that all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are protected by this legislation. I only support passage of H.R. 3685 if the Baldwin amendment passes. Thank you."

Meanwhile it looks like Peter LaBarbera's efforts were successful with the White House:




October 23, 2007 (House Rules)


H.R. 3685 – The Employment Non-Discrimination Act

(Rep. Frank (D) MA and 9 cosponsors)

H.R. 3685 would extend existing employment-discrimination provisions of Federal law, including those in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to establish “a comprehensive Federal prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” The bill raises concerns on constitutional and policy grounds, and if H.R. 3685 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

H.R. 3685 is inconsistent with the right to the free exercise of religion as codified by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Act prohibits the Federal Government from substantially burdening the free exercise of religion except for compelling reasons, and then only in the least restrictive manner possible. H.R. 3685 does not meet this standard. For instance, schools that are owned by or directed toward a particular religion are exempted by the bill; but those that emphasize religious principles broadly will find their religious liberties burdened by H.R. 3685.

A second concern is H.R. 3685’s authorization of Federal civil damage actions against State entities, which may violate States’ immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The bill turns on imprecise and subjective terms that would make interpretation, compliance, and enforcement extremely difficult. For instance, the bill establishes liability for acting on “perceived” sexual orientation, or “association” with individuals of a particular sexual orientation. If passed, H.R. 3685 is virtually certain to encourage burdensome litigation beyond the cases that the bill is intended to reach.

Provisions of this bill purport to give Federal statutory significance to same-sex marriage rights under State law. These provisions conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. The Administration strongly opposes any attempt to weaken this law, which is vital to defending the sanctity of marriage.

John Aravosis points out an Advocate editorial saying the gay community should grow up on this topic.

In denouncing the sexual-orientation only ENDA, LGBT people achieved a new unity--but one strong enough only to obstruct progress, not create it. When Barney Frank says that members of Congress need to be more educated about the trans struggle before they'll want to help, that's not a transphobic statement. That's just political common sense. And whatever our vision for a perfect piece of legislation, is it smart to give up a goal 30 years in the making only to go back to square one with no gains at all?

The P.C. way is to squelch all dissent. And that keeps us from the real debate we urgently need. Our story as one unified movement is just beginning. Educating the mainstream around ENDA gives us the chance to learn more about each other - to let ourselves ask the questions and have the fights that build a real family. Are we big enough to risk it?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lloydletta's Nooz Interviews Laura Smidzik from Project 515

You used to be ED of Rainbow Families. Did your experience there encourage you to take on the challenge of helping to start a new organization with a more specific mission?

In my work with Rainbow Families, I often saw the struggles that Minnesota families encounter without any support or protection from state laws – protection these couples would receive automatically if they could get married. So when I learned there were Minnesotans seeking to ensure all Minnesota couples are treated equally by the law, I felt it was important to get involved.

The Lavender article discusses a lobbying component. When is your organization planning to hire a lobbyist? Will you be hiring both a Democratic and Republican lobbyist (a Republican lobbyist will be essential for working with the Governor).

Currently, Project 515 is focused on informing Minnesotans about the discrimination found in so many state statutes and how it hurts Minnesota families. We may seek help from lobbyists early in 2008 to help us continue the discussion about how we can ensure equal treatment for all Minnesotans during the legislative session.

Why a new organization - why not work within OutFront Minnesota?

Project 515 has two main and focused objectives: Public education and advocacy. Before any action is taken, Project 515 believes Minnesotans must first be informed about the at least 515 Minnesota laws that discriminate against same-sex committed couples and their families.

It’s time for all of us to consider what kind of state we want to live in. When the time is right, we’ll work closely with OutFront Minnesota and other GLBT groups and allies to advocate for equal treatment for same-sex committed couples under the law.

What is your timeline for accomplishing these goals?

A statewide poll conducted in 2006 shows that 8 out of 10 Minnesotans said they believe government should not treat people differently because of their sexual orientation. There are at least 515 Minnesota laws that discriminate against same sex couples and their families. It will take time to fully secure equal rights, but we believe this is the right time to begin to change the debate. We know Minnesotans believe in fairness.

ENDA Update

Aravosis's take on the White House Involvement in Negotiations on ENDA:

Three things we learn from Peter.

1. White House staffers were involved in negotiating ENDA's language. That's huge, if true. It means that the White House either isn't sure whether it will veto ENDA (or they think they may support it), and therefore they want the bill as "good" as possible for their side. Or it means that the White House isn't sure that they can stop ENDA - e.g., they fear that it may be added to some must-pass legislation that they'll be reluctant to veto, like an appropriations bill.

The White House simply doesn't negotiate the language of legislation that it doesn't think is going to pass or that it plans on killing.

2. The White House saying that they're going to wait and see what the final language of ENDA is before they decide on a veto - and telling this privately to religious right leaders - is also huge. This implies that there is some language, some version, of ENDA that might prove acceptable to the White House. And in any case, why wouldn't they hint to the religious right that they're going to veto ENDA - seems like a no-brainer - unless of course they're not sure they are.

3. The United ENDA coalition, which is advocating that we not pass ENDA until America, and Congress, are ready to vote for transgender (e.g., transsexuals, cross dressers, butch women, fey men) civil rights, has been claiming that ENDA without the transgender provisions is toothless. Well, it's interesting that the religious right doesn't seem to think so. They think that ENDA opens the floodgates for our civil rights.

Aravosis adds:

I wrote repeatedly about my inkling that ENDA could very well become law this year, in spite of the naysayers who said that Bush would definitely veto, that there was no way around his veto, and that I was either naive or a liar (in addition to being a racist, misogynist, native-American hater, bigot, rich, white, transphobe, homocentrist). Well, the religious right doesn't appear as unequivocal about that veto, and neither does the White House.

Then again, the United ENDA campaign run by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (the campaign that has called for ENDA to be killed unless it includes transgendered people, and if it includes transgendered people the bill is killed anyway since it doesn't appear to have the votes with them in) has publicly called for the gay, lesbian, bisexual (but not trans) version of ENDA, the one the full House will vote on later this week, to be killed, and they haven't rescinded that call - and as a result, numerous state coalition members of United ENDA are still calling for ENDA to be killed.

If United ENDA has its way, the religious right can stop worrying. Later this week, 25 million gays and lesbians may be derailed from getting their civil rights recognized by a house of Congress for the first time in US history. But the big question is who will be cheering louder if ENDA doesn't pass? Peter LaBarbera or United ENDA?

PS As an aside, I've just learned that there's at least one senior transgender leader in America who is married (and I'm sure other straight transgendered people are married). That's nice, and I support their right to marry. But I do find it odd that the gay community is being asked (well, told) to put our employment rights on hold until the transgender community can get theirs, but the transgender community isn't putting its marriage rights on hold until we get ours. Then again, I'd never ask them to put their rights on hold until I got mine.

Aravosis and Pam Spaulding Blog About Obama McClurkin Mess

Here and here. AP has a story.

Pam puts it well:

For Obama to have to take on the entire mantle of addressing the anti-gay rhetoric promoted by the likes of Donnie McClurkin and his supporters is a lot to ask, but there are going to be precious few voices in the black community who are going to be willing to call out McClurkin on his bigotry and ex-gay misinformation and do something about it. We now know what the "something" is.

Chicago Tribune Blog

One gay activist involved with the Obama campaign said the situation puts the candidate in a bind, since he risks offending evangelicals in South Carolina if he cancels McClurkin's appearance but could alienate gay supporters if the performance proceeds as planned.

“This story is quickly turning into a disaster for Barack,” said the supporter who is active on gay and lesbian issues. “He’s screwed if he goes through with the trip with Donnie McClurkin….But he's also screwed in South Carolina if he dumps McClurkin. I hope that the staffer who set this up has already been fired.”

About 6:40 pm today, the Obama campaign issued a written statement from the candidate saying that he "strongly disagree(s)" with McClurkin's views. Still, a spokesman said McClurkin would remain part of the concert line-up.

“I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country," Obama said in the written statement.

"I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division," the statement added.

Aravosis intends to keep beating on this story.

That's nice, Senator. You strongly disagree with the bigot who thinks I need to be cured, and who has declared "war" on me and my people, but you're going to put the guy on stage with you anyway in order to make a few bucks. Nice. I wonder what Obama would say if Hillary invited David Duke to speak at an event but then said, not to worry, she really loves black people - kisses!

If you're afraid to lead, Senator, then maybe you're not the leader we thought you were.

Huge mistake.

More to come. Much more. All week.

PS You know Obama's campaign was fully aware of just who this bigot was - this wasn't a mistake. The bigot has been in the news, a lot, for his virulent homophobia. Obama simply didn't care. And he doesn't care now.

I don't think there's evidence of this.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Videos of Grand Rounds Meeting in NE Mpls

Tom Johnson managed the public process for the 35W Access Project. Now, Tom Johnson is in charge of the public process for the Mpls Park Board's Grand Rounds Project.

The Grand Rounds Project, it seems is not without controversy:

Some Como residents were vocal at a September public input meeting about their opposition to a route that would bulldoze a large number of homes in the neighborhood. Some officials have said they’re steering away from that route. “We could design a parkway that would take very little or no houses. We could do that if people are willing to reduce the expectation of the parkway itself,” said Johnson.

Connie Sullivan, who lives in Como and serves on the CAC, said she’s pro-Grand Rounds, but is against any plan that would demolish homes in the neighborhood. Part of the reason that some Como residents were so outspoken at the meeting, she said, was because many community members feel they’ve been cut out of the process. In recent years, “Como has been besieged by decisions made by the city without consulting people here. It really indicates that the neighborhood is dispensable,” she said.

I made the following 2-part video to document how Tom Johnson runs the public process for this project and why he gets so many citizens angry and frustrated:

NY Times Commenters on Obama Getting Anti-Gay Singer McGurkin at a Campaign Event

Read them all here.

October 20th,
10:08 pm

Ruth Bethinger #14 Said:

“Obama is right to remind religious folks that there are moral causes worth fighting for other than stopping gays and abortions.”

And then Sharon #27 Said:

Absolutely right. Well said.

Are you two SERIOUS with this? Are you actually saying that fighting gay rights is a moral cause worth fighting for?

So this is the opinion of people who Support Obama?

I am a member of the United Church of Christ, the same denomination as Obama. I saw him speak at our General Synod in Hartford, CT earlier this year. I was leaning heavily in his direction until now. The fact that he will take the stage with a person who condemns gay people and claims that that can and should be changed through prayer and the fact that so many here thing that fighting gay rights is a positive moral endeavor, does it for me.

Now I wouldn’t support the man for Dog Catcher. He is a disgrace to our denomination. He should leave the UCC and join the Southern Baptist Church where people like Sharon and Ruth and Donnie McClurkin believe that gay people are immoral and should be “healed” from their “sin” and denied their civil rights until they do.

I’m disappointed and disgusted by this on SOOO many levels!

— Posted by Zeke

October 21st,
12:06 am

Zeke @ #37: You’ve got to be kidding me. Obama is making the point that values and morals extend to issues other than abortion and gay issues. Do you want Obama to only talk to those who agree with him on every issue?
What’s next? Obama should shun those religious people who disagree with his pro-choice position?

Get a grip.

— Posted by Gilberto Gil
October 21st,
1:28 am

Some of you are getting waaay too uset about McClurkin’s stance on gays. Try to remember that this is a guy who (aside from having fought and beaten leukemia) grew up being sexually abused by his cousin and uncle and probably had quite a few issues with sexual identity for most of his adult life because of it. Given the situation, a little bit of patience and tolerance might be in order.

Given that this was a concert venue, I’m pretty sure he was picked more for the fact that he’s a Grammy winner and popular among people who like his music without being completely aware of his political beliefs. I can’t stand Denis Miller’s political beliefs, but I still think he’s pretty funny.

— Posted by Bryan - Miami, FL
October 21st,
5:19 am

Zeke, #37, I’m sorry you misunderstood my post and the other person’s followup. When I said “Obama is right to remind religious folks that there are moral causes worth fighting for other than stopping gays and abortions”, I was pointing out that the religious right defines “moral causes” to be about gays and abortion (maybe I should have put it in quotations). They are wrong.

Obama is right to challenge that false definition of moral causes that the media pushes thanks to the religious right. Real moral causes include tending to the health of every American and protecting our environment. And from everything I know about Obama, he is far from a bigot on gay rights, and I am confused as to the overreaction.

Remember, Obama has been the one candidate that goes into the lion’s den and tells the lion to stop eating the zebras. Here’s he’s going to socially-conservative Christians and telling them that they should reconsider the lessons they’re taking from their faith. He spoke about tough environmental laws (to Detroit automakers) and on huge corporate profits (to wall street).

I know the knee jerk reaction is to say “why is he in the lion’s den - is he working for the lion now?” and the answer is no, he’s the only one brave enough to face the lion.

— Posted by Ruth Bethinger

The question is whether the Obama campaign was aware of McGurkin's history when they booked him.