Monday, January 31, 2011

Dueling Letters to the Supreme Court: This Week in Prop 8 for Jan 31


Via JMG: Carol Channing Turns 90

Broadway legend Carol Channing turns 90 today and the three-time Tony winner has granted a rare video interview in which she reminisces about her career and her status as a gay icon. Hit the link for the clip.

reposted from Joe

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Liberalism and Religion - We Should Talk

Liberalism's objections to mythic forms do not apply to formless awareness. Thus liberalism and authentic spirituality can walk hand in hand.There are two major dialogues in the modern world that I believe must take place, one between science and religion, and then one between religion and liberalism.

The way it is now, the modern world really is divided into two major and warring camps, science and liberalism on the one hand, and religion and conservatism on the other. And the key to getting these two camps together is first, to get religion past science, and then second, to get religion past liberalism, because both science and liberalism are deeply anti-spiritual. And it must occur in that order, because liberalism won’t even listen to spirituality unless it has first passed the scientific test. (Showing how that might happen was a major theme of my book, Sense and Soul.)

In one sense, of course, science and liberalism are right to be anti-spiritual, because most of what has historically served as spirituality is now prerational, magic or mythic, implicitly ethnocentric, fundamentalist dogma. Liberalism traditionally came into existence to fight the tyranny of prerational myth and that is one of its enduring and noble strengths (the freedom, liberty, and equality of individuals in the face of the often hostile or coercive collective). And this is why liberalism was always allied with science against fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion (and the conservative politics that hung on to that religion).
But neither science nor liberalism is aware that in addition to prerational myth, there is transrational awareness. There are not two camps here: liberalism versus mythic religion. There are three: mythic religion, rational liberalism, and transrational spirituality.

The main strength of liberalism is its emphasis on individual human rights. The major weakness is its rabid fear of Spirit. Modern liberalism came into being, during the Enlightenment, largely as a counterforce to mythic religion, which was fine. But liberalism committed a classic pre/trans fallacy: it thought that all spirituality was nothing but prerational myth, and thus it tossed any and all transrational spirituality as well, which was absolutely catastrophic. (As Ronald Reagan would say, it tossed the baby with the dishes.) Liberalism attempted to kill God and replace transpersonal Spirit with egoic humanism, and as much as I am a liberal in many of my social values, that is its sorry downside, this horror of all things Divine. Liberalism can be rightfully distrustful of prerational myth, and yet still open itself to transrational awareness. Its objections to mythic forms do not apply to formless awareness, and thus liberalism and authentic spirituality can walk hand in hand into a greater tomorrow. If this can be demonstrated to them using terms they find acceptable, then we would have, I believe for the first time, the possibility of a postliberal spirituality, which combines the strengths of conservatism and liberalism but moves beyond both in a transrational, transpersonal integration. The trick is to take the best of both, individual rights plus a spiritual orientation, and to do so by finding liberal humanistic values plugged into a transrational, not prerational, Spirit. This spirituality is transliberal, evolutionary and progressive, not preliberal, reactionary and regressive. It is also political, in the very broadest sense, in that its single major motivation, compassion, is pressed into social action. However, a postconservative, postliberal spirituality is not pressed into service as public policy, transrational spirituality preserves the rational separation of church and state, as well as the liberal demand that the state will neither protect nor promote a favorite version of the good life. Those who would transform the world by having all of us embrace their new paradigm, or particular God or Goddess, or their version of Gaia, or their favorite mythology, these are all, by definition, reactionary and regressive in the worst of ways: preliberal, not transliberal, and thus their particular versions of the witch hunt are never far removed from their global agenda. A truly transliberal spirituality exists instead as a cultural encouragement, a background context that neither prevents nor coerces, but rather allows genuine spirituality to arise.

But one thing is absolutely certain: all the talk of a new spirituality in America is largely a waste of time unless those two central dialogues are engaged and answered. Unless spirituality can pass through the gate of science, then of liberalism, it will never be a significant force in the modern world, but will remain merely as the organizing power for the prerational levels of development around the world.

Material in this column appears in One Taste: The Journals of Ken Wilber, from Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston. © Ken Wilber, 1998.    Liberalism and Religion - We Should Talk, Ken Wilber, Shambhala Sun, July 1999.

Via JMG: Quote Of The Day - Dan Cathy

"In recent weeks, we have been accused of being anti-gay. We have no agenda against anyone. At the heart and soul of our company, we are a family business that serves and values all people regardless of their beliefs or opinions. We seek to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect, and believe in the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself. We also believe in the need for civility in dialogue with others who may have different beliefs. While my family and I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees. [snip]

"Chick-fil-A's Corporate Purpose is 'To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.' As a result, we will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family. This decision has been made, and we understand the importance of it. At the same time, we will continue to offer resources to strengthen marriages and families. To do anything different would be inconsistent with our purpose and belief in Biblical principles." - Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy, claiming to have ended his company's support of the anti-gay marriage movement.

RELATED: The New York Times covers the controversy.

reposted from Joe

Via SacBee: Gay rights activists blast fast-food chain

  By Kim Severson New York Times 
     ATLANTA – The Chick-fil-A sandwich – a hand-breaded chicken breast and a couple of pickles squished into a steamy, white buttered bun – is a staple of some Southern diets and a must-have for people who collect regional food experiences the way some people collect baseball cards.    New Yorkers have sprinted through the Atlanta airport to grab one between flights. College students returning home stop for one even before they say hello to their parents.    But never on Sunday, when the chain is closed.     

Nicknamed “Jesus chicken” by jaded secular fans and embraced by evangelical Christians, Chick-fil-A is among only a handful of large American companies with conservative religion built into its corporate ethos.       

But recently its ethos has run smack into the gay rights movement. A Pennsylvania outlet’s sponsorship of a February marriage seminar by one of that state’s most outspoken groups against homosexuality lit up gay blogs around the country. Students at some universities also have begun trying to get the chain removed from campuses.    
“If you’re eating Chick-fil-A, you’re eating anti-gay,” one headline read. The issue spread into Christian media circles, too.     

The outcry moved the company’s president, Dan Cathy, to post a video on the company’s Facebook fan page to “communicate from the heart that we serve and value all people and treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect,” said a company spokesman, Don Perry. 

Providing sandwiches and brownies for a local seminar is not an endorsement or a political stance, Cathy   said in the video. But he added that marriage has long been a focus of the chain, which S. Truett Cathy, his deeply religious father, began in 1967.    

The donation has some fans cheering and others forcing themselves to balance their food desires against their personal beliefs.    
“Does loving Chick-fil-A make you a bad gay?” asked Rachel Anderson of Berkeley.     

Anderson has been with her partner for 15 years. They married in California during the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal in 2008. They have 7-year-old twins. A visit to her spouse’s family in North Carolina always includes a trip to the chicken chain. But as she learns more about the company, Anderson is wavering about where to eat when they travel to Charlotte in April.      On the other hand, Rhonda Cline, a dental hygienist in Atlanta and a devout Christian, has gotten more outspoken in her support. She was one of nearly a thousand people who logged onto the Chick-fil-A Face-book page to comment on the issue.    

“I applaud a company that in this climate today will step out on a limb the way the Constitution allows them to,” Cline said.    

Chick-fil-A runs 1,530 restaurants in 39 states, but it still feels like a hometown restaurant to fans in Georgia, which has 189 outlets. Sales figures for 2010 will most likely be over $3.5 billion, a spokesman said.    

S. Truett Cathy, the founder, is an 89-year-old, Harley-riding Southern Baptist who opened a small diner near the Atlanta airport in 1946.    Because the company remains privately held – his two sons run it – it can easily keep its faith-based principles intact. The company’s corporate purpose is, in part, “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.”     

With its near-national reach and   its transparent conservative Christian underpinnings, Chick-fil-A is a trailblazer of sorts, said Lake Lambert, the author of “Spirituality, Inc.” and dean of the college of liberal arts at Mercer University, where he teaches Christianity.     

“They’re going in a direction we haven’t seen in faith-based businesses before, and that is to a much broader marketing of themselves and their products,” he said.    The sandwiches that will feed people who attend a February seminar, called “The Art of Marriage: Getting to the Heart of God’s Design,” in Harrisburg, Pa., are but a tiny donation.     

Over the years, the company’s operators, its WinShape Foundation and the Cathy family have given millions of dollars to a variety of causes and programs, including scholarships that require a pledge to follow Christian values, a string of Christian-based foster homes and groups working to defeat same-sex marriage initiatives.       

For organizations like Georgia Equality, the state’s largest advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, the free sandwiches offer an opportunity for organizing.     

On a petition posted on the website , it asks the company to stop supporting groups perceived as anti-gay, including Focus on the Family, an international nonprofit that teamed up with Chick-fil-A a few years ago to give away CDs of its Bible-based “Adventures in Odyssey” radio show with every kid’s meal.     
As of early Saturday, it had 25,000 signatures.   
     “If you’re eating Chick-fil-A, you’re eating anti-gay.”    – headline on a gay blog “We serve and value all people and treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect.”    – Don Perry, spokesman for Chick-fil-A

Today's WTF?: The Nazi's Met in a Gay Bar?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Via JMG: USMC Commandant Issues Vow Of Adherence To Repeal Of DADT

From the official USMC YouTube channel:
On December 3, 2010, General James Amos testified that if DADT was repealed, the Marine Corps would step out smartly to carry out the new policy. On January 28, 2011, the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps released this video to the Corps describing the way ahead.
An amazing and welcome message.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: GETTING IT RIGHT: Naval Academy Honors Gay Marine's Burial Request

The Naval Academy has honored the final wishes of a gay Marine who had told his husband that he wanted his ashes interred at the USNA Columbarium. John Fliszar was a 1971 graduate of the Academy, but what's so heartwarming is how the Academy treated his husband, Mark Ketterson.
The memorial coordinator asked about his relationship to the deceased. Ketterson said that John Fliszar was his husband. “They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation,” Ketterson recalled. “They said they’re going to need something in writing from a blood relative. They asked, ‘Are you listed on the death certificate?’ ‘Do you have a marriage license?’ ” He was and they did, the couple having been married in Des Moines when gay marriage became legal in Iowa two years ago. Ketterson sent a copy of the marriage license. That changed everything.

“I was respected,” he said. “From that moment on, I was next of kin. They were amazing.” The USNA alumni association sent Ketterson a letter expressing condolence for the loss of his husband. The USNA says Fliszar’s interment followed standard operating procedure. “His next of kin was treated with the same dignity and respect afforded to the next of kin of all USNA grads who desire interment at the Columbarium,” said Jennifer Erickson, a spokesperson for the academy. “We didn’t do anything differently.”
There's more to this great story, hit the link.

reposted from Joe

Friday, January 28, 2011

Via JMG: HAWAII: Senate Approves Civil Unions!

The Hawaii Senate has just approved its civil unions bill!
The Senate voted 19-6 for the bill Friday, sending it to the state House of Representatives for additional consideration. Hawaii would become the sixth state to grant some of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself. A civil unions bill also passed the Illinois Legislature last month. Democrats, who control the Hawaii Legislature, have said they plan to approve the bill quickly this year and send it to new Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature. Abercrombie has said he supports civil unions.
Suck it, Tony Perkins!

reposted from Joe


Scott Lively: How Do We Know David Kato Wasn't Killed By His Gay Lover?

Keeping with his theme of the inherent murderous violence of gay men, today repulsive anti-gay activist Scott Lively issued a statement raising the possibility that Uganda LGBT activist David Kato was killed by another gay man.
Ugandan homosexual activist David Cato was murdered yesterday in his home. To my knowledge, no one has been arrested for the crime so the motive at this time is purely a matter of conjecture. CNN is reporting that money and clothing had been stolen from his house, which would suggest a run-of-the-mill criminal intent. There is also the possibility that he was killed by a “gay” lover, as was the case with another homosexual activist two weeks ago in New York. Carlos Castro was castrated with a corkscrew by his boyfriend and bled to death in his hotel room.
The Boston Globe calls Lively's statement "feeble and callous." And note that not only does Lively (probably intentionally) misspell Kato's name, he fails to express any regret over the murder. As for police claims that the crime was motivated by robbery, here's what Box Turtle Bulletin's Jim Burroway thinks:
Police are attributing David Kato’s murder to robbery. We’ve seen it often enough elsewhere in Europe and America where local authorities are loathe to investigate hate crimes. The mere fact that items are missing doesn’t mean that a hate crime did not occur. If a homophobe is burning a gay man to death, for example, why not take a watch as a trophy and money to party with later? Yet that’s often enough for police to quickly try to eliminate the stigma of a hate crime in the local community. If police in this country are very resistant to investigate crimes as hate crime even when the evidence for those charges are overwhelming, how can we expect anything different in Uganda?

reposted from Joe

A Night to Remember!

Elton with Rob, David and TedAFER board member Rob Reiner with Elton John and attorneys David Boies and Theodore B. Olson
Elton John’s intimate, full-length concert last week raised over three million dollars to overturn Prop. 8 in federal court. A huge "thank you" to Ron Burkle, who hosted the evening at his historic Green Acres estate in Beverly Hills, to the event’s sponsors for their generous support and to everyone who helped make the night so memorable.

Check out a few news clips about the evening:
Also, read below for interviews from the red carpet and photos from the event.


Via JMG: Obama Names Open Lesbian Roberta Achtenberg To Civil Rights Commission

Gay rights attorney and former San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg has been appointed by the president to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Achtenberg co-founded the National Center for Lesbian Rights and was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1990. In 1993, she became the first openly gay or lesbian person to be confirmed for a federal appointment when the Senate approved President Bill Clinton's nomination of Achtenberg as assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She has served on the Cal State Board of Trustees since 2000.
RELATED: In 1995 Achtenberg left the above-mentioned HUD position to unsuccessfully run for mayor of San Francisco. And I voted for her even though her campaign worker totally ruined my bought-that-day suede jacket with a big sticker.

posted by Joe

Via JMG: UGANDA: Pastor Shouts Against Gays At Kato Funeral, Fights Break Out

Hundreds gathered at the funeral for slain Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato today, where fights broke out after the pastor conducting the ceremony raged against homosexuals.
"The world has gone crazy," the pastor told the congregation through a microphone. "People are turning away from the scriptures. They should turn back, they should abandon what they are doing. You cannot start admiring a fellow man." Gay activists, wearing T-shirts featuring Kato's face with sleeves coloured with the gay pride flag, then stormed the pulpit and grabbed the microphone. "It is ungodly," the pastor shouted, before being blocked from sight. An unidentified female activist then began to shout from the pulpit. "Who are you to judge others?" she shouted. "We have not come to fight. You are not the judge of us. As long as he's gone to God his creator, who are we to judge Kato?" Locals intervened on the side of the pastor and scuffles broke out before he was taken away to Kato's father's house to calm the situation.
Villagers then refused to bury Kato's coffin, forcing his gay friends to carry it to the gravesite where they buried it themselves. One activist lamented: "After we had read statements from everybody, including Obama, after all the nice things friends said about David, that this man could stand up and throw dirt at someone who should be resting in peace. It's just disgusting."

posted by Joe

Via JMG: BRITAIN: Activists Hold Kato Vigil Outside London's Uganda High Commission

LGBT activists staged a vigil for David Kato outside of London's Uganda High Commission today, after which they delivered a 40,000-name petition to UK Home Secretary Theresa May, demanding that Britain not send lesbian asylum-seeker Brenda Namigadde back to Uganda. Namigadde says she fears that she too will be murdered if forced to return. Add your name to the petition here.

reposted from Joe

DOMA AMICUS BRIEFS: Who's Who In Vile Anti-Gay American Hate Groups

GLAD has posted a round-up of the anti-gay groups who have filed DOMA amicus briefs in their case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management.
Agudath Israel of America
American College of Pediatricians
Attorneys General of SC, UT, IN, MI, CO
Concerned Women for America
Congressman Lamar Smith
Eagle Forum
Family Research Council
Foundation for Moral Law
Robert George
George Goverman
Liberty Counsel
Massachusetts Family Institute
National Legal Foundation
National Organization for Marriage
Pacific Justice Institute
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
National Association of Evangelicals

reposted from Joe

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Via JMG: Clinton Condemns Uganda Murder

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued a lengthy condemnation of the murder of Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato.
We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act. [snip] This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us -- and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons. Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.
The Advocate has the complete statement.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Obama Condemns Uganda Murder

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David's work. At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. [snip]

"LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all." - President Barack Obama, via White House press release.

reposted from Joe



SMUG is a coalition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) human rights organizations. SMUG was born on March 3, 2004 to organize LGBTI groups to create one big strong LGBTI community in Uganda. The need for a coalition arose because there were several LGBT groups operating in the country lacked concrete organization and teamwork with fellow groups.  SMUG would then work on behalf of its member organizations, enforcing their activities and representing them in a more organized manner. 

The Baha'i Faith may have had Something to do with this Murder in Uganda!

Written by Elizabeth O'Brien, LifeSite   
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
KAMPALA, August 21, 2007 ( - Hundreds of people rallied today to protest the recent push by homosexual activists for gay rights in Uganda. Christian groups based their protests on the grounds that homosexuality is immoral, illegal and unhealthy.

The Christian organization Interfaith Rainbow Coalition (IRC) organized the event, bringing together members of different faiths, including the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), the Bahai Faith, Pentecostal churches and other non-government organizations.

Via JMG: Anti-Gay Activist Denies Hand In Murder: I'm The One Being Bludgeoned

As I noted here, Exodus International board of directors member Don Schmierer was part of Scott Lively's three-day conference in Uganda, where Schmierer advised Ugandans on how to turn their gays kids straight. But don't go blaming David Kato's murder on HIM, he was only trying to help. In fact, HE is the victim here.
On Thursday, Don Schmierer, one of the American evangelicals who visited in Uganda in 2009, said Mr. Kato’s death was “horrible.” “Naturally, I don’t want anyone killed but I don’t feel I had anything to do with that,” said Mr. Schmierer, who added that in Uganda he had focused on parenting skills. He also said that he had been a target of threats himself, recently receiving more than 600 hate mails related to his visit. “I spoke to help people,” he said, “and I’m getting bludgeoned from one end to the other.”

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Quote Of The Day - Jerzy Buzek

"David Kato was a man that fought for the rights of people to live freely regardless of their sexual orientation in Uganda. David Kato suffered a violent death and I send my condolences to his family. I call for the perpetrators of this crime to be brought to justice. He was a remarkable human rights defender. I regret that Uganda is a country where homosexuality is still considered a criminal act. David Kato's battle was to improve tolerance and encourage tolerance of divergent views of sexuality and defend the rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons and protect vulnerable minorities." - European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, responding to yesterday's murder with a renewed call for Uganda to decriminalize homosexuality.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: BACKGROUND: Evidence Of Scott Lively's Complicity In The Murder Of David Kato

Yesterday Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death in his home just weeks after his photo was emblazoned on the cover of a local newspaper with the accompanying headline "HANG THEM!" The newspaper articles and Kato's murder came after months of international outrage over Uganda's proposed and still-pending "kill gays" bill, legislation that orders the death penalty for homosexuals in some cases and life imprisonment in others.

The inspiration for Uganda's gay death penalty bill, and surely, Kato's murder, arises from the work of American evangelists, chief among them the repulsive anti-gay activist Scott Lively, whose infamous book The Pink Swastika blames the rise of the Nazi Party and the Holocaust on gay men. One year ago, the New York Times profiled Lively's hand in Uganda's burgeoning pogrom against homosexuals, which began after Lively hosted a three-day meeting attended by thousands of Ugandan police, teachers, and politicians.
The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality. “That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh. Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.
Yesterday Scott Lively's "nuclear bomb" against Ugandan gays went off in the form of the iron bar which crushed the skull of David Kato. In some countries, it's possible that Lively would be under arrest today. Also complicit in this murder is Peter LaBarbera, who for years has worked to publicize and praise Scott Lively's evil agenda. Then there's Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council, who last year paid lobbyists $25,000 to convince members of Congress to block a planned resolution denouncing Uganda's gay death penalty bill. And let's not forget Pastor Rick Warren, who supported, funded, appeared with, and publicized the work of Uganda's leading anti-gay activist, Pastor Martin Ssempa.

Today we mourn David Kato, a brave LGBT activist who paid the ultimate price in defense of his brothers and sisters. But we've also got start looking at some serious legal remedies to the actions of American anti-gay activists in other countries. Outside of the United States, many legals systems are not so constrained by the American concept of freedom of speech. What can we do to leverage that difference to end this madness? Lawsuits? The Hague?

reposted from Joe

Via Sonja in the NL: We need to make it better now!

January 27, 2011 
David Kato, Ugandan gay activist,  from his facebook account
David Kato, Ugandan gay activist, from his facebook account

From Baha’u'llah: The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes…
Yesterday, David Kato, a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) was murdered in his home in Uganda.

Three weeks ago I wrote a blog on bahairants referring to this letter from the Universal House of Justice sent the the National Assembly of the U.S.A.

“The purpose of the Faith of Baha’u’llah is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race, and Baha’is are enjoined to eliminate from their lives all forms of prejudice and to manifest respect towards all. Therefore, to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith. Furthermore, a Baha’i is exhorted to be “an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression”, and it would be entirely appropriate for a believer to come to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated.

(Letter from the UHJ to an individual, 27 October 2010) Emphasis added.

Further on in the blog I mentioned some instances of Bahais being associated with anti-homosexual organizations such as the “the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality” group in Uganda. I went into some detail there to show, that these examples were not just random nor small things and ended my blog with a plea for equality, a plea not to discriminate. In order to do that Bahais will need to change the current negative image towards a positive one of openness towards gays.

This blog is my attempt, and also a form of protest on hearing of the murder of Ugandan gay activist, David Kato.

Here is the story and please comment (anonymously or not).

From The Guardian
, 21 October 2010:

“Human rights activists have warned that the lives of gay people in Uganda are in danger, after a newspaper published a story featuring the names and in some cases photographs of 100 homosexuals under the headline “Hang Them”.

At least one woman named in the story has been forced to leave her home after neighbours pelted it with stones, while several other people have been verbally abused, according to the campaign group Sexual Minorities Uganda…

The widely read tabloid Red Pepper has already “outed” dozens of gay people under headlines such as “Top Homos in Uganda named”. But the Rolling Stone story goes further in apparently inciting violence against gay people.

…Inside, a headline reads: “Hang them; They are after our kids!!” The article lists personal details of those named, including their addresses. There are also photographs of about a dozen people listed in the story. …

Frank Mugisha, chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said his organisation initially chose to ignore the Rolling Stone story, since the newspaper was not widely read. It was launched in August and has a circulation of 2,000. But after a few days he started to receive reports of harassment from some of those who were named. In the worst case, a woman who works for a gay rights organisation was unable to leave her home after it was stoned. …

“We didn’t want to give the newspaper publicity so we held off on legal action,” he said. “But now the threat against our members is real, so we are considering going to court… “

Read the full article here:

Some background:

“Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is a non-governmental organization based in Kampala, Uganda. It pushes for the protection and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans.
In response to an article in the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone (of no relation to the American publican of the same name, which rejected the Ugandan paper and its actions as “horrific”), published a gallery of “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak” and stated “Hang Them” [], three members of SMUG whose faces appeared in the magazine – David Kato Kisulle, Kasha Jacqueline and Onziema Patience – filed a petition to the High Court seeking for the ending of the paper’s circulation of the article. The petition was granted on November 2, 2010, effectively ruling for the end of the Rolling Stone publication.

However, at 1 p.m. on January 26, 2011, Kato, whose picture was among the 100 listed in the Rolling Stone article and was featured on the cover of the edition, was assaulted in his home in Mukono Town by an unknown male assailant who hit him twice in the head before fleeing on foot; Kato later died on route to the Kawolo Hospital. The murder was decried by Human Rights Watch[], with senior Africa researcher Maria Burnett adding that “David Kato’s death is a tragic loss to the human rights community”.

Some more background:

“LGBT Ugandans have lived under a menacing atmosphere for more than a decade. The anti-gay hysteria has increased significantly since the introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into parliament in 2009. That bill, which remains under review Parliamentary committee, would impose the death penalty on LGBT Ugandans under certain circumstances and criminalize all advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people. It would also criminalize even knowing someone who is gay if that person fails to report their LGBT loved one to police within 24 hours. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18, and the bill is expected to be considered after Parliament returns for a lame-duck session before the new Parliament begins in May.
This horrendous murder adds to the fears that LGBT Ugandans regularly face over their safety. Brenda Namigadde, a lesbian asylum seeker in the U.K. has been threatened with deportation back to Uganda. Just yesterday, she received an ominous message from M.P. David Bahati, the author of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill, in which he said that Brenda must “repent or reform” when she returns home.. “

Read the full artile here:

So Baha’is don’t wait, do something today in your home, in your community, to make things better for “The best beloved of all things in My sight

Vote below as an act of solidarity or go to David’s page on Facebook and post a note on his wall or light a candle for him.

I will light a candle for him this evening, here in the Netherlands.

Via HRC:

President Obama has been a proven advocate for the LGBT community. Now, it's time for the President to state his support for full, equal marriage. The President's clear and unequivocal support for marriage equality would be a powerful message that all Americans should be treated fairly and with respect and dignity. He has said that his thinking on the issue is "evolving." Help get him over the finish line.

Via HimalayaCrafts:

Favor and disgrace are to be equally feared. 
♥ Namaste ♥ ~ HimalayaCrafts

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Via AmericaBlog: Obama appoints Roberta Achtenberg to US Commission on Civil Rights


Obama appoints Roberta Achtenberg to US Commission on Civil Rights

You might recall that Roberta was Jesse Helms' "damn lesbian," the first openly gay person confirmed as a presidential appointee under the Clinton administration (she was appointed as an assistant secretary at HUD). Helms went nuts, it was quite a big deal in the early 90s. Obama has now appointed her to the US Commission on Civil Rights:
Roberta Achtenberg, Appointee for Commissioner, United States Commission on Civil Rights
Roberta Achtenberg is a corporate advisor in economic and workforce development policy, with more than 30 years of senior-level leadership experience in business, government and law. Ms. Achtenberg also held senior-policy making roles with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development from 1997 to 2004. During the Clinton Administration, she served as Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and later as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of HUD. She is currently a member and past Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees and serves as Vice Chair of the Board of the Bank of San Francisco. Previously, Ms. Achtenberg was a member of the Board of Supervisors for the City and County of San Francisco and represented San Francisco as a Director of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Before becoming a public official, she worked for more than 15 years as a civil rights attorney, nonprofit director and legal educator. Ms. Achtenberg is the co-founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national nonprofit serving the needs of the LGBT community. She holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of Utah.

Via Belrico: Why Hasn't Star Trek Ever Had a Queer Character?

AfterElton has an interview up with a Star Trek writer/producer, Brannon Braga, uhura.jpgon why the franchise never included an out gay character. He doesn't really answer, implies that the problem was unnamed people who worked on the show twenty years ago....

I recently rewatched all the Star Trek movies and was surprised not just by how progressive the franchise was - the future has all races working together, women in positions of power, and problems usually solved by learning to interact with a new species - but about the specific brand of hippie-ness in the older movies. There's a scene in Undiscovered Country where a Klingon accuses Uhura of racism for talking about "human rights"; Kirk's son in The Wrath of Khan goes on an anti-military rant; and the entire message of The Voyage Home was that our survival depends on biodiversity (that and "Whales are sentient"). Oh, and money doesn't exist in the future and everyone's taken care of.

So you'd think introducing a queer character wouldn't be too hard in that context. But apparently it was:

Continue reading "Why Hasn't Star Trek Ever Had a Queer Character?" »

Via Belirico: Just Say No to ROTC on College Campuses

President Obama acknowledged that gays and lesbians will serve openly in the abolishROTC.jpgarmed forces this year thanks to last year's repeal of the so called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. In exchange, the President has asked the college campuses and universities that banned the ROTC from recruiting on their campuses to let them return. I respectfully disagree.

Colleges and universities should focus all their energy on preserving the lives of their students, and students throughout the world. They should be harbors of peace, not war. Students should never have to face down a recruiter in the cafeteria, or outside class. No, there are better ways.

College is expensive and becoming more expensive every year as states slash their budgets and as our federal government diverts trillions to war. The military actively preys upon the poor and disadvantaged with the offer of a better future through the GI Bill. They are common in high school cafeterias and college campuses as students struggle to stay afloat. There is no greater predatory practice on our youth than the ROTC.

Instead, we should invest in more peaceful solutions to students, like the Peace Corps, AmeriaCorps, tuition reimbursement programs for educators, scholarships, grants, and more. We should create additional opportunities for students, opportunities that do not involve the perpetuation of the military industrial complex, but provide opportunities for students to help rebuild America.

Continue reading "Just Say No to ROTC on College Campuses " »