Former DC Mayor Marion Barry Dies
44 minutes ago
I was part of a group of 15 or so people who got to spend 45 mins with the veep this morning. After the handshake and photo op, I asked him if I could ask a question. I mentioned the UN report, the call for action by Amnesty International, and the reports of horrible anal glue torture. I asked him what the US govt could do.Ugh. I can understand how difficult it is for the military to stop the torture when it's happening (because how could they know?), but the Afghan and Iraqi governments are afraid to offend the extremists? How about how the zealots are offending those they torture? I can understand it is a delicate situation, but the chosen path is to remain silent?
He gave me a very long and detailed answer, condemning not just the attacks on gays, but also marital rape in Iraq and Afghanistan. He conceded the answer he was going to give me would not please me and went on to explain that the Iraqi and Afghani government is either too ineffectual to act, or is afraid of offending the religious zealots who perpetuate the attacks.
He said that last time he was in Iraq the US military intervened to stop an attack on a man who was being assaulted for being gay. He assured me the US military would continue to act, but it is virtually impossible to know of the events as they are happening, let alone prevent them.
His comments were sobering and quite discouraging -- although I was mildly encouraged that such a high-ranking US official was clearly aware of the details of the issue. The noise being made has not totally fallen on deaf ears.
Later, as he ended the Q&A session and was preparing to leave, he turned back to me, looked me in eye, and told me he wanted me to know he would not forget the issue, and that the administration would not let it go.
More noise and continued attention to this and other human rights abuses, not just against the LGBT community, is imperative.
CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch released the following statement today regarding same-sex legislation in New Hampshire:Let's see if President Obama can keep his silence now!
“The gay marriage debate in New Hampshire has been filled with passion and emotion on all sides.
“My personal views on the subject of marriage have been shaped by my own experience, tradition and upbringing. But as Governor of New Hampshire, I recognize that I have a responsibility to consider this issue through a broader lens.
“In the past weeks and months, I have spoken with lawmakers, religious leaders and citizens. My office has received thousands of phone calls, letters and emails. I have studied our current marriage and civil union laws, the laws of other states, the bills recently passed by the legislature and our history and traditions.
“Two years ago, we passed civil unions legislation here in New Hampshire. That law gave same-sex couples in civil unions the same rights and protections as marriage. And in typical New Hampshire fashion, the people of this state embraced civil unions and agreed we needed to continue our tradition of opposing discrimination.
“At its core, HB 436 simply changes the term ‘civil union’ to ‘civil marriage.’ Given the cultural, historical and religious significance of the word marriage, this is a meaningful change.
“I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex couples that a separate system is not an equal system. That a civil law that differentiates between their committed relationships and those of heterosexual couples undermines both their dignity and the legitimacy of their families.
“I have also heard, and I understand, the concerns of our citizens who have equally deep feelings and genuine religious beliefs about marriage. They fear that this legislation would interfere with the ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths.
“Throughout history, our society’s views of civil rights have constantly evolved and expanded. New Hampshire’s great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections.
“That is what I believe we must do today.
“But following that tradition means we must act to protect both the liberty of same-sex couples and religious liberty. In their current form, I do not believe these bills accomplish those goals.
“The Legislature took an important step by clearly differentiating between civil and religious marriage, and protecting religious groups from having to participate in marriage ceremonies that violate their fundamental religious beliefs.
“But the role of marriage in many faiths extends beyond the actual marriage ceremony.
Below is the language Gov. Lynch has proposed for the same Sex legislation.
“I have examined the laws of other states, including Vermont and Connecticut, which have recently passed same-sex marriage laws. Both go further in protecting religious institutions than the current New Hampshire legislation.
“This morning, I met with House and Senate leaders, and the sponsors of this legislation, and gave them language that will provide additional protections to religious institutions.
“This new language will provide the strongest and clearest protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the individuals working with such institutions.
It will make clear that they cannot be forced to act in ways that violate their deeply held religious principles.
“If the legislature passes this language, I will sign the same-sex marriage bill into law. If the legislature doesn’t pass these provisions, I will veto it.
“We can and must treat both same-sex couples and people of certain religious traditions with respect and dignity.
“I believe this proposed language will accomplish both of these goals and I urge the legislature to pass it.
# # #
I. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association, or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if such request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage, the celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious counseling, programs, courses, retreats, or housing designated for married individuals, and such solemnization, celebration, or promotion of marriage is in violation of their religious beliefs and faith. Any refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges in accordance with this section shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state action to penalize or withhold benefits from such religious organization, association or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society.
II. The marriage laws of this state shall not be construed to affect the ability of a fraternal benefit society to determine the admission of members pursuant to RSA 418:5, and shall not require a fraternal benefit society that has been established and is operating for charitable and educational purposes and which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization to provide insurance benefits to any person if to do so would violate the fraternal benefit society’s free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States and part 1, article 5 of the Constitution of New Hampshire
III. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions provided to religious organizations under RSA § 354-A:18.
IV. Repeal. RSA 457-A, relative to civil unions, is repealed effective January 1, 2011, except that no new civil unions shall be established after January 1, 2010.
Q: Okay. And the second question on a completely different topic -- the President opposes same-sex marriage, but he supports giving same-sex couples the same rights as married people.WTF?! Basically, he's saying that the President supports a separate but equal situation. Rather ironic, I'd say.
MR. GIBBS: And benefits.
Q: Same rights and benefits. What's your response to critics of his policy who say this is exactly separate but equal?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I would point you to the any number of times that he was asked this during the campaign and addressed it.
Q: I don't think he was ever asked is this separate but equal.
MR. GIBBS: No. In fact, it was asked on multiple occasions, and I can pull you something on that. It's the President's belief -- he strongly supports civil unions, and supports ensuring that they have access to the rights and benefits, such as hospital visitation and things like that, that are enjoyed by others.
Q: And a question on another subject. Even some of the President's friends are now saying that he is hedging on his promises on "don't ask, don't tell." He said he would overturn it, and now -- and you're saying, you have said, the President will keep his promise. But we heard from General Jones saying that "I don't know" when he was asked when it would be overturned. And some people feel that it's really on the back burner.Wow. He's so wrong. As Pam Spauling at Pam's House Blend puts it, "He completely fails to mention the fact that President Obama has the power by executive order to cease the witch hunts, and to stop the discharges until Congress takes legislative action, as the Palm Center at UCSB report released this week, "How to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': A Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory, and Organizational Steps to Equal Treatment," outlines.
And also, cases of people -- there's a group now of people who were in the military who are gay who have come out, who are -- we're doing a profile on one who's a linguist, Arabic linguist, who's been kicked out because -- precisely of that.
MR. GIBBS: I think that case, in fact, shows why the President, why former members of the Joint Chiefs, and why the administration believe that the policy isn't working for our national interests.
Now, in terms of keeping his promise, I would note that many of the questions that have been asked here require more than the snapping of one's fingers. To get fundamental reform in this instance requires a legislative vehicle. The President made a promise to change this policy; he will work with the Joints Chiefs of Staff, the administration and with Congress to ensure that we have a policy that works for our national interests.
Q: Robert, back to "don't ask, don't tell," you indicated that the President wants to change the policy, but that some legislative vehicle would be necessary. He is the Commander-in-Chief. I mean, if the President and the Secretary of Defense can bring about a new leadership in Afghanistan, replace the commanding general there, couldn't the President and the Secretary of Defense delay any more people getting fired under "don't ask, don't tell"?Bulls**t. Again, it's been clearly shown in the above mentioned report that if the President wanted to stop the witch hunt discharges of gays and lesbians in the military, he could. Saying that a fundamental change needs to happen is like telling New Orleans right after Katrina that they needed better levees. Well, yeah, but in the meantime, DO SOMETHING!
MR. GIBBS: Well, there have been discussions about the best way to move forward, and the only sustainable way to do that is through -- sustainable and durable way -- is through legislation, which the President has promised and has continued to work for.
Q: Is he willing to let other men and women in uniform, then, be dishonorably discharged simply because they're gay and lesbian while he's waiting for legislation?
MR. GIBBS: Well, Bill, as I said a few minutes ago, I think the President believes now, as he believed -- has believed for quite some time, that the process does not serve our national interest. You've seen many speak out in opposition to it, and the President is working with the Joint Chiefs and members of Capitol Hill to come to a durable legislative solution.
ALBANY—The debate on the same-sex marriage bill in the State Assembly began at 4:52 p.m., with bill sponsor Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell [Rose O'Donnell's brother] calmly answering questions from Assemblyman Jack Quinn.Assemblyman Michael Benjamin:
Their exchange was respectful, and at times funny. The first strong position was taken by Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, a Long Island Republican, who opposed the bill because he said it would force organizations or public accommodations with a religious belief—say, a Knights of Columbus Hall—to accept same-sex couples. His exchange with O'Donnell grew heated.
"By conferring a marriage license, we are saying that marriage is equal for heterosexuals as well as homosexuals," Fitzpatrick said. "And the problem I have is that, while the law cannot force any religious organization to solemnize or legitimize homosexual marriage, it will force society to recognize the legitimacy of homosexual marriage."
He wondered if there could be a provision for "conscientious objection" by some institutions. O'Donnell said this amounted to discrimination.
"The laws of discrimination and the human rights are what they are," he replied.
"What you're attempting to do is to legislate discrimination," Fitzpatrick replied.
"This is not about anybody's religion," O'Donnell replied. "I am entitled to the same paper you have, Michael, whether you want me to or not."
Fitzpatrick continued, saying a catering hall, for example, "has a right, I think, to discriminate on those grounds, if it is a religious institution."
"You ought to go to law school and read the law," O'Donnell replied. "You want to change the human rights law or the discrimination law, you can put in a bill to do that."
"I disagree, Dan, because I think there is a coming collision between what you're attempting to do and every faith that does not agree with gay marriage. This will be tested in court," Fitzpatrick replied.
A few moments later, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat and Orthodox Jew, rose. It was he who had made the comment to which Titone referred.
"It is about God," he said, waving a leather-bound copy of the Book of Leviticus. "It is about what I believe God wants. And I don't separate, you know, being the political figure and being the individual. How do you do that?"
"God is not a politician, to the best of my knowledge God does not flip-flop on the issues, either," he continued, referencing a letter he and colleagues received today from Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer. "Suddenly Gillibrand is telling me that I should support gay marriage. I would love to know how she came to that conclusion on her own. I'm sure politics played absolutely no role. I'm sure it was about principal, about morality, about being fair."
Friends-Please go and show your support for the resolution. With the U.S. occupation in Iraq, we are morally responsible for what happens within the country's borders. As part of the international LGBT population, we need to speak up for our brothers and sisters who cannot speak up for themselves.
While we eagerly await a court decision on whether California will recognize our relationships, our people are being tortured and murdered in Iraq. In a story largely ignored by the media, death squads are rounding up Iraqi gay men, sealing their anuses with powerful glue, then inducing diarrhea, which leads to a painful and agonizing death.
The annihilation of our people, ordered by religious decree in a nation where our troops have sacrificed their lives to restore religious freedom, is appalling. In San Francisco, activists have protested. Here in Los Angeles, we cannot remain silent while this happens.
Next Wednesday, May 13, the Los Angeles City Council will consider a resolution, sponsored by my boss, Councilman Bill Rosendahl, putting the City of Los Angeles on record condemning this atrocity. A representative of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission will be on hand to testify.
I invite and urge you to attend and to speak out. A large crowd of members of the LGBT community and human rights supporters will help us draw media attention to these crimes.
The council meeting will be held at 10 a.m., May 13, in the John Ferraro Council Chambers, 3rd Floor, Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, 90012.(Map)
If you plan on attending, please RSVP to Anataly DeJesus in my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-473-7011. We will do our best to arrange parking.
Please help spread the word by forwarding this email.
For more information on what is happening in Iraq , please see the following links: Gay City News, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and another from the IGLHRC.
Councilman Rosendahl, the IGLHRC and I hope to see you next week.
"The protesters'" flyer shows garishly made-up transvestites juxtaposed with an image from the Beslan school hostage crisis. In 2004, Chechen terrorists stormed a school in the Russian republic of North Ossetia and held 1,200 children and adults captive for days. Hundreds died in the bloody drama. 'Homosexuality is the same as terrorism,' asserts one of the Pushkin Square activists. He and his colleagues call themselves the Orthodox Front. They tell interested passersby that the gay parade is a provocation against the government and promotes homosexuality. Many people are happy to sign the petition.Despite being rejected a marriage license, Fedotova and Shepitko said they will continue to fight for recognition of their rights. They have lived through years of threats and intimidation, they said, and want to have a marriage equal to that of heterosexual couples.