Friday, September 24, 2010

Via HRC:

Joe's Weekly Message
Dear Daniel,
Tuesday's temporary set-back on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) reaffirmed two fundamental concepts of American politics: elections have consequences and just one vote can make the difference.
Scott Brown's election earlier this year meant that Senate Democrats lost the all-important 60 vote majority needed to break gridlock-motivated Republican filibusters and force votes. The consequence of only having 59 votes is that the Democrats' agenda is virtually always in peril because of the political aims of Republicans; a matter made exponentially worse 45 days from an election.
That's where we got caught Tuesday when the Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to break a Republican filibuster and force the consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes the repeal of DADT.
We learned this morning via the Washington Blade that Republicans' real opposition to the bill was not that Senator Reid had limited amendments as they publicly screeched. Republicans called it an affront to the rights of the party in the minority in spite of the fact that they had done the exact same thing plenty of times when they were in the majority. It turns out that wasn’t the real reason at all.
According to Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, the reason for their opposition to the repeal of DADT is because it would hurt the turnout of conservative voters in November. Knowing full well that the votes were there to repeal DADT if it got to the floor, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell did what all good cowards do: he figured out a way for the bill not to be voted on by convincing his caucus that it would have election-year ramifications. Absolutely shameless.
If there's a silver lining at all in this story, it's that even Senator McConnell believes DADT will be repealed. According to Plouffe, McConnell told senators, "We'll do it in December," when Congress comes back into session following the mid-term elections.

So in spite of the fact that we're at war and the bill authorizes important weapons systems and the construction of military installations, and in spite of the fact that the bill contains a pay raise for our troops and that nearly 80% of Americans support repeal of DADT, election year politics won out.

Make no mistake about it: this was a setback, not a defeat. As long as DADT is on the books, giving up is not an option. Senator Reid has committed to bring the bill back up in the lame duck session of Congress. We are quite bullish that it can and will get done then.
In the meantime, remember what happened to us this past Tuesday when you consider your involvement in this November’s elections. Elections, my friends, do in fact have consequences.
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
President, Human Rights Campaign

Tell a friend: Envelope Click here to safely forward this message to a friend.

© 2010 Human Rights Campaign
Click here to read our privacy policy.
Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-3278
Phone: 202/628-4160 TTY: 202/216-1572 Fax: 202/347-5323
Contact Us:
Click here to unsubscribe or to modify your subscriptions.

Via JMG: DADT WIN: Federal Judge Orders Reinstatement Of Major Margaret Witt

In another win in the battle to overturn DADT, late this afternoon a federal court ordered the reinstatement of Air Force Major Margaret Witt, who was suspended just before her retirement date in 2004 after her superiors learned she is a lesbian. Today's decision only applies to Major Witt's case.
A federal judge ruled Friday that a decorated flight nurse discharged from the Air Force for being gay should be given her job back as soon as possible in the latest legal setback to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The decision by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton came in a closely watched case as a tense debate has been playing out over the policy. Senate Republicans blocked an effort to lift the ban this week, but two federal judges have ruled against the policy in recent weeks. Maj. Margaret Witt was discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and sued to get her job back. A judge in 2006 rejected Witt's claims that the Air Force violated her rights when it fired her. An appeals court panel overruled him two years later, leaving it to Leighton to determine whether her firing met that standard.
Witt was represented by the ACLU. Read the decision here (PDF.) Reactions to the decision are below.

Human Rights Campaign

“By reinstating Major Witt, a decorated Air Force nurse discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ another federal court has demonstrated once again that this discriminatory law does not contribute to our nation’s security or defense,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Had Major Witt been discharged in any other circuit in the country, she would not had her day in court. It is time for Congress and the Administration to recognize that his failed law should be removed from the books once and for all.”
Servicemembers United
"Yet another judge has taken yet another righteous, historic, and courageous stand against a discriminatory and unconstitutional law," said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. "Major Witt's case is a clear-cut one in which her discharge itself actually harmed unit cohesion, morale, and combat readiness." This legal victory against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law is the second this month, with a judge in Riverside, California previously declaring the entire "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law unconstitutional in a facial challenge to the law brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. Major Witt's victory will apply only to her own discharge, but the precedent set with this decision and the previous appellate court ruling in this case on the standard to be used in deciding on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges all contribute to a significant shift in how courts appear to be viewing and treating the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
More reactions will be added to this post as they arrive.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Libertarian Party To Gays: Leave Your Abusive Democratic "Spouse" And Join Us

The Libertarian Party has launched a campaign to lure gay voters, saying, "Like abused spouses who keep returning to their aggressors, gay voters keep handing their votes to the Democrats who abuse them." The statement continues:
The Libertarian Party (LP) wants to break this self-destructive behavior and offers LGBT voters a better alternative. LP Chairman Mark Hinkle said, "Exit polls indicate that Democrats get over 70% of LGBT votes in federal elections. Those voters must really love the Democrats' rhetoric, because they certainly aren't seeing any action. "President Obama and the Democrats had almost a year of complete control of the federal government: the Presidency, the House, and a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate.

"They could have repealed 'don't ask don't tell.' They could have gotten rid of the Defense of Marriage Act. But they didn't do either of those things. That's a complete and total betrayal of all the promises they made to gay and lesbian voters for years. "After a carefully orchestrated failure in the Senate, the Democrats are now blaming Republicans for blocking the repeal of 'don't ask don't tell.' Of course, three Democrats just voted against it too, including Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid claims he voted for procedural reasons, but the whole situation seems calculated to look like they're trying to help, while making sure they don't actually help." Unlike the Democratic and Republican Parties, the Libertarian Party believes that gays and lesbians deserve equal treatment under the law.
The statement concludes that the Libertarian Party "neither supports nor opposes gay relationships."

Obviously the Libertarian Party seeks to capitalize on LGBT disenchantment with the Obama administration and further splinter the gay vote to the benefit of the GOP. Nothing more, nothing less. Most self-described libertarian candidates, of course, actually run on the GOP ticket. (Witness today's post about Colorado's Stephen Bailey.) Virtually no officially Libertarian candidate ever becomes viable in a general election. Talk about throwing your vote away!

But just for the sake of argument, let's tick off the official Libertarian agenda as posted on their website:

1. Abolish welfare.
2. Abolish Social Security.
3. Abolish the IRS.
4. Abolish the FDA.
5. Allow insurance companies to exclude any disease.
6. Dismantle the public school system.
7. Allow machine gun ownership and open-carry anywhere.
8. End foreign aid to starving nations.
9. Sell all national parks to private groups.

To be fair, the Libertarian Party does have reasonable positions on immigration reform, privacy, and the war on drugs. But the essential takeaway from reading their platform is this: "If you are impoverished, starving, desperately ill, unemployed, or uneducated...tough shit. Don't come to the government with your lazy unpatriotic hand out. Every American for himself. Get the fuck out of here."

reposted from Joe



 Lavender Angels

"Volunteering for a Safer Community"

Lavender Angels, found in many gay communities, were last seen here in the 1990's.  Following concerns about the safety and comfort of our public, the group has been revived here in Lavender Heights.  Spearheaded by the Center, an alliance is being formed with midtown community agencies including the Center, the Midtown Business Association, and the Sacramento Police Department.  Volunteers are being recruited and were first seen at the Rainbow Festival.   Their official debut is planned for Second Saturday in October. 

They plan to be on area streets on Friday and Saturday nights between 9:00 and bar closing times, and during special events in the area.  They will be visible, and will be extra eyes for law enforcement and security personnel.  They will be in close touch with Sacramento Police officers in the area and will coordinate with bar security personnel.  The Sacramento Police Department will provide training for the volunteers, the first Safety Seminar to be held in October.   Their official debut is planned for Second Saturday in October.

If you have been in midtown at night recently, you will know that the area is bustling on weekend nights with heavy pedestrian traffic in areas such as 20th Street between I and L Streets.  The vision is to promote a safe experience in the area for patrons enjoying the conviviality offered through the area businesses.  Active recruitment of volunteers is underway. 

For more information, contact:  

Via JMG: DOJ To Judge: Keep Enforcing DADT

In response to the federal court ruling that DADT is unconstitutional, late this afternoon the Department of Justice filed a brief in support of keep the ban on openly gay servicemembers. Via Advocate:
In a 14-page brief, Justice Department attorneys argued that a permanent injunction against enforcing the 17-year-old law — one supported by Log Cabin Republicans, which successfully challenged DADT in federal court and has argued for an immediate halt of DADT enforcement throughout the armed forces — would be "untenable." "[A]ny injunction in this case must be limited to plaintiff LCR and the claims it asserts on behalf of its members – and cannot extend to non-parties – plaintiff’s requested world-wide injunction of the statute fails as a threshold matter," assistant U.S. attorney Paul Freeborne wrote.

Among the government’s arguments, Freeborne wrote that an injunction would preclude the government both from litigating other legal challenges to DADT and considering the terms of a stay barring discharges of gay and lesbian service members. An immediate halt of discharges would jeopardize successful implementation of repeal, by interfering with the “ability of the Department of Defense to develop necessary policies, regulations, and training and guidance to accommodate a change in the DADT law and policy,” the government argues.
The White House has issued the following statement.
Today, the Department of Justice made a filing in a legal challenge to the Don't Ask, Don't tell (DADT) policy, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged. This 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. The President was disappointed earlier this week when a majority of the Senate was willing to proceed with National Defense Authorization Act, but political posturing created a 60 vote threshold. The President spoke out against DADT in his first State of the Union Address, and the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have both testified in support of repeal. And the Department of Defense continues to work on a plan on how to implement repeal. The President, along with his Administration, will continue to work with the Senate Leadership to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT as outlined in the NDAA this fall.
Here's the DOJ's full brief.
DOJ DADT Injunction 
reposted from Joe

Via Pey: The Week Club Presents AcquaPlay * Made in Brazil