May 31, 2013

Democratic Senators Tell Gay Community You Can Wait For Equality

A graphic that depicts the middle finger that Democratic Senators have given to the gay community.

A bipartisan bill called the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in the US Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).  The intent of the legislation is to address the disparity in the immigration policy of the United States. Current law excludes binational gay couples from  obtaining lawful permanent resident status, in the same way that current law allows binational straight married couples a pathway to a green card and citizenship.

The LGBT community was given assurances by Senator Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), that the bill would be attached as an amendment to the immigration reform legislation currently being debated in Congress.

When it was time for the committee to vote whether to release the bill to the full Senate, crybaby Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told his Senate colleagues that if they included UAFA in the legislation, that he would sink the measure.

As Senator Schumer backed out of his commitment to gay binational couples, he said “I’m a politician. That means I have chosen my life’s work in the constraints of the system to accomplish as much good as I can. I accept the tough choices, the painful but necessary imperfection of compromise, which is a part of our system of government.”

As Chris Geidner explains at BuzzFeed, the Democrats on the committee abandoned the LGBT community and the principals of equality with their vote.
A little more than a month ago, marriage equality was the talk of Capitol Hill. Politicians, in Chief Justice John Roberts’ words, were “falling over themselves” to support same-sex couples’ marriage rights.
The current limits to that support were made apparent by 7 p.m. Tuesday, when Leahy withdrew his amendment to the pending immigration bill that would have allowed married same-sex couples to be treated the same as married opposite-sex couples for immigration purposes.
Leahy introduced the bill just a half-hour earlier, but then, as Immigration Equality executive director Rachel Tiven told BuzzFeed, “I was shocked — and I suspect he was too — that not a single member of that committee joined him in saying, ‘These are immigrant families, too. I care about these families.’”
Leahy received expected opposition from Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake to the provision, but the introduction also was opposed by four Democratic senators — Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer and Al Franken.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Patrick Leahy (R-VT)  screwed the gay community.
Senator Schumer tried to explain his rationale for excluding binational gay couples from the bill on his Facebook page. Senator Schumer writes:
The bottom line is that in the political reality in which we operate, the Senate and more broadly, the U.S. Congress, those who disagree with me have more than enough power to prevent passage, either as a stand-alone bill or as part of the immigration bill. And if we added it to S.744 in committee, they would have walked away and the bill would have failed.
They have said it publicly, they have told me privately, and I believe them. The result: no equality, no immigration bill. Everyone loses. What can be accomplished via this comprehensive bill for 11 million people in the shadows, for the security and prosperity of our nation is too vital, too rare to let fail. I know that this provides little comfort. But I want you supporters of this amendment to know, I will be here and ready to work with you to advance the cause of legal equality. This is far from the last battle.
What the Senators are trying to say is --- if you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender American, you’ve been waiting all your life to be treated equally in the eyes of your government, and the law. If you have to wait longer, what difference does it make, you’re used to waiting.

For every law that’s passed that sends a message that tax-paying LGBT citizens are second class, and unworthy of equal treatment under the law, we will see more gay kids being bullied, more gay kids harming themselves, and children and adults being hurt and harmed by discrimination and violence. In my view that’s wrong.

It feels as though the Senators who expressed support for binational couples in the past, are extending their middle finger to the gay community after we’ve given them unequivocal support.  

Some disappointed activists say they are yanking their support for the Democratic Party after Senate Democrats opposed a proposal in an immigration bill that would have allowed citizens to bring their foreign-born, same-sex spouses to the United States.
Jonathan Lewis, a Miami philanthropist who donated more than $35,000 in 2012, has stopped giving and is urging others to do the same until President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats stop breaking promises to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"Now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our friends' actions and deeds align with their rhetoric," Lewis said in an email to Reuters.
"Pretty words about fairness and equality under the law from the president and Democrats in Congress do not absolve them from their moral duty to act," he said.
I applaud Jonathan Lewis, and thank him for expressing exactly how I feel. We need to make our feelings known in Washington, and demand that we be included in this bill.

Haven’t we all waited long enough? The time for equality is now.


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Right-Wing Wackadoo Is Crying About These Liberal Musicians

Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Psy, Dixie Chicks, Bruce Springsteen, Moby, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Rage Against the Machine, and Kanye West

An obscure blogger at the right-wing extremist website Townhall.com, has created a blacklist of 10 musicians that he claims are too liberal. The blogger, John Hawkins, thinks that Republicans grouse too much about “liberals boycotting the advertisers on conservatives’ shows and not enough time doing the same thing to the Left.”

The ten lucky musicians are Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, Kanye West, Madonna, Moby,  Psy, Sheryl Crow,  and Rage Against the Machine. Do you think any of them are scared! Is this career suicide?

I have to admit that out of the 10 artists on the “conservative blacklist,” my large music collection contains albums recorded by 9 out of the 10 musicians (sorry Psy - I’m not a fan), that I’ve bought in the past.

Hawkins says that right-wingers should not go to a movie if the star is an advocate of gay marriage, or they’re pro-choice. He also thinks that the extremists should avoid patronizing businesses with a CEO that embraces “liberalism” by supporting marriage equality.


The blogger writes:

When it comes to musicians who attack conservatives, Christians, Republicans,  America -- or alternately, embrace the Left, don't give them your money. Don't buy their albums or their T-shirts and don’t go to their shows. Even if you do like their music, don't pay for it and don't talk it up publicly. Fans are oxygen for these people -- starve them of it and let other musicians start to worry about the reaction if they go after us.
Because the musicians have gotten away with doing fundraisers for the Democrats, trashing us without paying a price and generally crapping all over everything we believe in while they trumpet liberalism to the skies, it would take an entire website to catalogue everyone who deserves to be on this list, but here are 10 to start with. It's a free country and these musicians can say what they want, but consumers can also spend their money where they want, too. Let some of these musicians start to see the impact of trashing us on their bottom lines and you will be surprised at how fast attitudes will begin to change.
Musicians have “gotten away” with performing at fundraisers for Democratic causes, and the right-wing extremist “conduct monitors” must have been sleeping.

He cites one of my favorite statements from the awesome band Rage Against The Machine, to justify their inclusion on his Nixon era enemies list.
"Don't mistake me, I clearly see that (Paul) Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions." -- 
Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine after Paul Ryan said he was a fan of their band
Tom Morello spoke the absolute truth, and right-wingers have a problem with that.
The obscure blogger is clearly obsessed with “liberals,” and over the past three months, the titles of his blog posts reflect his disdain. Here are some actual titles that sound like they were written by a Bachmann speech writer, “25 Examples of Liberal Racism in Quotes,” “ 5 Types Of Liberals Who Need Sensitivity Training,” “ 20 Questions Liberals Can't Answer,” “ 20 Nasty, Weird and Sexist Liberal Cracks About Women,” “ The 7 Most Despicable Ways Liberals Have Attacked Sarah Palin,” “ 25 Reasons To Dislike Liberals,” and “ 7 Liberal Fascists Who Are Fine With Using the IRS to Target Political Enemies.”

In a blog post that’s entitled “7 Reasons Marriage Is Falling Apart in America,” he actually attributes one reason for the decline to “Increased Economic Options For Women” (that’s reason number 5). Get out the worry beads, ‘cause women are doing better than they did in the 1700’s.

And the Republican party wonders why women, people of color, Hispanics, and the LGBT community don’t support them?

We better be careful, because so many of us have gotten away with being human, and having empathy and compassion for our fellow citizens.  That’s clearly a no no in the right-wing extremist “conduct monitor” police force handbook.

I wonder what else we can get away with?


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ExxonMobil Doesn't Want Gay LGBT Business

A graphic that shows how Exxon Mobil discriminates against gay LGBT people.

Freedom to Work filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights that claims the oil giant ExxonMobil, discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, in its hiring practices, which violates the state’s laws

Freedom to Work is an organization committed to banning workplace harassment and career discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender Americans through public education, policy analysis, and legal work.

The complaint was filed on the heels of ExxonMobil’s shareholder vote to reject non-discrimination employment  protections for LGBT employees, for the 14th time, at their annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Charles Engelmann told The New York Times that “ExxonMobil’s global policies and processes prohibit all forms of discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in any company workplace, anywhere in the world. In fact, our policies go well beyond the law and prohibit any form of discrimination.”

Their record tells a different story. Writing for the Washington Blade, Chris Johnson reports:
The case, Freedom to Work v. ExxonMobil Corp., is novel because the employment discrimination alleged is the result of resume audit testing. Under the strategy, fictitious resumes are sent for the same job opening in an attempt to reveal a candidate belonging to a minority group is unable to land a position.

In the test for anti-LGBT bias at Exxon Mobil — which has no non-discrimination policy protecting LGBT workers and has long been criticized by LGBT groups for alleged discrimination in hiring — Freedom to Work sent two applications in December from applicants for an administrative assistant position in Pataka, Ill.

One resume, written for “Jennifer Priston,” demonstrated a candidate who was well-qualified for the position, but outed her as LGBT because she had volunteer experience working for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. The other resume, written for “Michelle Caland” was less qualified in terms of work experience and education, but offered no indication she was LGBT.Even though Caland was less qualified, she received multiple call backs in response to her application.

The result of the testing uncovering apparent anti-gay basis is consistent with a 2011 study at Harvard University that found LGBT applicants were 40 percent less likely to be granted an interview than a straight applicant.
It’s obvious that ExxonMobil has no interest in the support of the LGBT community, and NO ONE should buy any products from Exxon Mobil.

There should be a nationwide boycott of all ExxonMobil products immediately. 


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Youth Equality Act Clears First Legislative Hurdle

Children support the Youth Equality Act, and the bill was passed in the California state Senate.

California state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) and Equality California partnered to introduce the Youth Equality Act (SB 323), and it passed in the Senate by a vote of 27-9. This is the first LGBT civil rights legislation to pass with a two thirds majority in the California state legislature
This senate bill eliminates the tax exemption for sales and use taxes, and also corporate taxes, for any non-profit organization that violates California’s non-discrimination laws.

Karen Ocamb of Frontiers L.A. writes:
"While the Boy Scouts of America took a step in the right direction to include LGBT youth, the standing ban on LGBT adults is premised on absurd assumptions and stereotypes that perpetuate homophobia and ignorance,” Lara said in a press release, paraphrasing his speech on the Senate floor. “Equality doesn’t come with an expiration date and we shouldn’t allow discrimination to be subsidized; not in our state, not on our dime.” 
“Teaching discrimination against LGBT people can never be in the public interest, and the time to end it is now,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director, in a press release. “This is a historic milestone in California history - it is the first time one of the state’s legislative chambers has voted in favor of an LGBT piece of legislation with a two-thirds majority.”
This bill now moves to the state Assembly for consideration.

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May 29, 2013

Our Nation's Most Anti-Gay Politician Says "I Quit"

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) by jiveinthe415.com

Representative Michele ‘Bozo’ Bachmann (R-MN), one of the nation’s best known homophobes,  surprised the political establishment today when she announced she will not seek reelection to the House in 2014. Bachmann sought the Republican nomination for President in 2012, in a very crowded field, and finished in last place.

Bachmann is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for allegedly misusing campaign funds, and the Federal Election Commission and the FBI is investigating her Presidential campaign committee.

"Be assured, my decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected to Congress. And rest assured, this decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff," Bachmann said.

Writing for the Atlantic Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos described how Bachmann’s star was fading.
The firebrand 57-year-old tax attorney's staunch pro-life, anti-gay, anti-Obamacare, and generally anti-government positions made her a Tea Party darling who won the Iowa Straw poll in a vacillating 2012 Republican presidential primary field. But after dropping out of that race last January and winning re-election to her seat, she became ensnarled in an investigation into her campaign finances that the FBI is now joining. And as Politico's Alex Isenstadt explained just yesterday,  Democrat Jim Graves, who lost to Bachmann by just 1.18 percentage points in November and had major backing from his party, posed "the gravest threat to her political career yet" in 2014.
The chairman of the House Tea Party Caucus has accomplished very little in her 4 terms in Congress, and has never authored a bill that was signed into law.

Quite frankly, I’m going to miss having Bozo in Congress, because she’s such a polarizing figure in Washington, and she gives us so much material to have fun with.

She will still be a member of Congress for the next year and a half, so I imagine that you will read about her again in this space, before she officially says adieu.

RIP Bozo


Ding dong the witch is retiring in 2014 Michele Bachmann


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May 28, 2013

Michael Kinsley Claims Anti-Gay Bigots Aren't Monsters. I Say Bullshit!


In a column for The New Republic, Michael Kinsley wrote an opinion piece that’s entitled “Being against marriage equality doesn’t make you a monster,” and I disagree with him wholeheartedly.  

Kinsley makes excuses for the anti-gay forces who don’t support gay marriage, while defending the conservative Republican Dr. Ben Carson. Carson was supposed to speak at Johns Hopkins University’s graduation ceremony, and stepped down after his controversial anti-gay remarks created a firestorm.

On Fox News, Carson said "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality -- it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."

Being the cheeky chap that I am, I sent Michael Kinsley an email to register my outrage.

Gawker’s Tom Scocca wrote about Kinsley’s column, and took Kinsley to task too.

Tom wrote:

Last week, peripatetic contrarian-liberal editor-pundit Michael Kinsley used his newish column in his old magazine, the New Republic, to complain about the closed-mindedness and intolerance that supporters of gay marriage have displaying toward their opponents.

Michael Kinsley is not against gay marriage, personally. He invented gay marriage, as he tells it, with the help of Andrew Sullivan.

The occasion for Kinsley's distress was the news that Dr. Ben Carson, the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, would not be delivering the commencement address at the Hopkins School of Medicine.

Oh, but, look: It's next Tuesday now. What has happened since Kinsley made his case on behalf of the people who aren't yet ready to accept gay people as equal? Over the weekend, Mark Carson, a gay man, was fatally shot in the face in New York City, apparently murdered by someone who was offended by seeing him walking out in public with a man. Two more gay-bashing attacks reportedly happened in New York last night. Overseas, Georgian Orthodox priests led a rock-throwing mob against a gay-rights march. And the most pressing gay-rights issue is whether people are being too easily offended by homophobia? Hey, Michael Kinsley: Shut the fuck up.

This is my email to Michael Kinsley in full:


May 28, 2013

Dear Mr. Kinsley:

I hope this email finds you well. I have long admired your work, both in print and on Crossfire.

I read your recent column entitled “Being against marriage equality doesn’t make you a monster.” I  agree that opposition to marriage equality in itself, doesn’t mean that someone is a monster. I do think that an individual who opposes same-sex marriage is biased, and without any rational reason to oppose gay marriage, they must  be characterized as the homophobic bigot that they are.

By all accounts, Dr. Ben Carson is a brilliant neurosurgeon. By all accounts, Dr. Ben Carson equates homosexuality with bestiality and being a pedophile (NAMBLA), and I would call him a monster.

Dr. Carson’s apology and alleged support of civil unions doesn’t negate how he characterized the LGBT community. He apologized for his choice of words, but NOT for his position. Supporting civil unions doesn’t get him off the hook either.  As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in March, it’s “skim milk marriage,” and it’s an argument that promotes a  “separate but equal” point of view --- and anything short of full equality is completely unacceptable.

Your assertion that the Johns Hopkins University dean failed to defend the “core value” that is  tolerance is preposterous. Most Americans are very tolerant of divergent views, whether it’s religion or politics, or our favorite sports teams, or different cultures. We are taught to respect others, and are encouraged to be tolerant, both at home and school.

To suggest that Johns Hopkins University should be tolerant toward Dr. Ben Carson’s views of homosexuality, when he made his remarks on national television,  as a Johns Hopkins  medical doctor, denigrates his profession and the university. Carson didn’t support his point of view with medical facts or scientific evidence, he used lies and scare tactics that are usually the preserve of the monsters that comprise the organized opposition to gay marriage.

You suggest that because Dr. Carson “fixes children’s brains” that he should be given a break. Then you write “All he did was say on television that he opposes same-sex marriage.” Yes he said he opposes same-sex marriage, and he equated the gay community with bestaility and  child molesters. Do you have any idea what effect that kind of rhetoric has on children? Do you know what harm that causes to LGBT kids around the country? Can you imagine what a parent might think when they hear a distinguished surgeon make those assertions?

In our free speech society, there’s anti-gay rhetoric everywhere. The intolerance reflected in the anti-gay  hate speech that’s infected our churches, our news, and political rhetoric, adversely affects our society, and especially our children.

We hear about a rash of adolescent suicides, and a bullying epidemic in our culture. There are social scientists and medical professionals who have researched these problems, and there is a correlation between anti-gay hate speech and the mental health of adolescent LGBT kids.

With an inordinate amount of adolescent children who harm themselves, and in some cases, take their own lives, your suggestion that we should tolerate remarks like Dr. Carson’s is outrageous.  How can you tell us to tolerate the incendiary propaganda and lies, when they have such a grave effect on so many people?

You can think that Dr. Ben Carson’s remarks were silly, while I find them reprehensible. When the next gay kid commits suicide, talk to their parents and explain that Dr. Carson’s rhetoric was silly. When a parent finds out that their child is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender teen, and they throw their kid out of the house, I’d like to hear you tell the homeless kid that what Dr. Carson said was harmless.

If I didn’t know any better Mr. Kinsley, I might mistake you for being a monster.

Sincerely,

Roy Steele

PS: The origins of gay marriage began in 1967.

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