Thursday, December 8, 2011

Via Newt Gingrich’s Sister Tells Rachel Maddow Why She’s Voting for Obama

 Newt Gingrich’s mild mannered sister Candace Gingrich-Jones is the Associate Director of Youth and Campus Outreach for the Human Rights Campaign, and a happily married lesbian woman.

Oh, and a total Obama fan!

Watch in glee as Candace explains to Rachel Maddow why her own brother will not be receiving her vote in the coming election, even if he secures his party’s nomination. Oh, and also feel free to shake your head and make “tsk-tsk” noises at your screen when Candace describes how Newt declined an invitation to attend her wedding.

Candace was at all three of Newt’s (each with a new bride), so it seems like the very least he could do was show up for her one.

make the jump here to read/ listen to the full interview

Via Huffington: Obama: Defense Of Marriage Act Should Be Repealed

President Barack Obama is throwing his support behind a bill that would repeal the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage.

The president has "long called for a legislative appeal for the so-called Defense of Marriage Act which continues to have a real impact on families," White House spokesman Jay Carney announced Tuesday.
The president is “proud to support” the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, Carney said.

The Obama administration announced in February that it believes the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and would no longer defend it in court.

make the jump here to read the full story

Via JMG: Malawi To Review Anti-Gay Laws

While Hillary Clinton's speech may have angered anti-factions in Nigeria, it appears that it may have the desired effect in Malawi.
Malawi will review a series of controversial laws, including a ban on homosexual acts, Justice Minister Ephraim Chiume has said. Mr Chiume said the review was in response to "public opinion". Western governments criticised Malawi last year for jailing a gay couple on sodomy charges. On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would use foreign aid to encourage countries to decriminalise homosexuality. UK Prime Minister David Cameron expressed a similar view in October, saying that gay rights were a human right.

Reposted from Joe

JMG Meme Alert

There are more. (Tipped by Dr. Jeff)

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Perry Defends "I Hate Gays" Ad

(Via - Igor Volsky)

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: HomoQuotable - Ricky Martin

"I'm very sad about the turn the discussion on Criminal Law is taking in Puerto Rico that proposes the elimination of aggravating factors in cases where crimes are committed out of prejudice toward the victim. They ought to do their homework and review a little the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says that everyone - the citizens - are equal before the law and have, without distinction, the right to equal protection under the law." - Ricky Martin, on Puerto Rico's move to exclude LGBT people from hate crimes protections.

RELATED: has launched a petition to Puerto Rico's legislators.

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: TENNESSEE: High School Student Commits Suicide After Anti-Gay Bullying [UPDATED]

Yesterday Tennessee high school student Jacob Rogers killed himself after complaining about anti-gay bullying from his classmates that had forced him to drop out of school. Rogers left suicide notes that included the passwords for his phone and his email so that authorities could view what he had endured.
Friends say that kids bullied Jacob Rogers at Cheatham County Central High School for the past four years, but in the past few months it had become so bad he dropped out of school. And Wednesday, he ended his life. "He started coming home his senior year saying 'I don't want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a faggot, they call me gay, a queer,'" friend Kaelynn Mooningham said. Kaelynn said her friend Jacob felt ignored. "Jacob told me no one was helping him. He constantly was going to guidance," she said. But Cheatham County Schools Director Dr. Tim Webb said the school was only aware of one incident of bullying. "She actually intervened and called the students in accused of bullying or picking. She called them in, talked to them and gave them warnings. Subsequently after that, she ran into the student and asked him if things were better and he indicated that things were better," Webb said.
The above-linked article does not disclose if Rogers was actually gay.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: As noted in the above-linked story, the family of Jacob Rogers does not have the money for a funeral. Today JMG, Towleroad, and Dan Savage at Seattle's Stranger are posting the below Paypal donation link. Savage is capping the donations at $5000. Anything over that amount will go to the Trevor Project, GLSEN, and the It Gets Better Project. I'm kicking in with $20 to get things rolling here. If your situation allows, please consider making a small donation too.

UPDATE II: In less than three hours, the fundraising goal has been met. I don't say it enough, but I love my people. Big bear hugs to all of you.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Brokeback Perry

(Via - George Takei)

reposted from Joe

JMG Headline Of The Day Headline Of The Day:

It's the Daily Mail, so grain of salt and all that.

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: This Is The Rick Perry Strategist GOProud's Jimmy LaSalvia Is Complaining About

His name is Tony Fabrizio. Politico reported on him in October.
Tony Fabrizio, a veteran strategist and pollster, is joining the Rick Perry campaign, sources tell me. Fabrizio was the chief strategist and pollster for Bob Dole's 1996 presidential run. His other recent clients have included Tim Pawlenty and Rick Scott. Fabrizio joins another Dole alum, Nelson Warfield, and media strategist Curt Anderson, whose hires by Team Perry went public last night. A national pollster had been a major missing piece for Perry, who is trying to adjust his message and fix his campaign's woes for the coming truncated primary fight.
The Miami Herald reports that in addition to working for FL Gov. Rick Scott, Fabrizio has worked for gay rights groups.
Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who has worked for gay-rights advocates in the past, has become the target of criticism among gay activists who opposed the Texas governor's latest Iowa ad that takes a swipe at the end of the Don't Ask Don't Tell military policy. '"This is the dilemma for working in the Republican Party: the candidates need to appeal to the far right and that sometimes means bashing the gay community," said Stephen Gaskill, a former spokesman for the Florida Red and Blue committee that unsuccessfully tried to block a 2008 Florida constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Fabrizio was the Republican pollster hired by Florida Red and Blue, which paid his firm more than $264,000. Fabrizio also lives in one of the friendliest of gay towns, Miami Beach, where he has a South Beach condominium. Fabrizio, who said by email that he couldn't chat this morning, was just quoted in the Huffington Post as having opposed the Perry ad, which he described as "nuts" in an email to Perry ad man Nelson Warfield, a longtime friend of Fabrizio's. Both men were top advisors to Rick Scott in his gubernatorial campaign last year.
UPDATE: How's this for some cognitive dissonance?
"It is the height of hypocrisy for Tony Fabrizio to have been a part of that," said Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder and executive director of GOProud. "He has lined his pockets for years with money from the gay community to conduct polls to ostensibly help gay people in this country, and for him to be a part of this is the height of Washington hypocrisy. It is absolutely what is wrong with Washington. It is all about the payday for these people."
For his part, Fabrizio tells the Huffington Post while he was "uncomfortable" with the ad, he won't comment otherwise. "If you start answering personal attacks, you are just rewarding the attacker."

Reposted from Joe

Via JMG: London Gay Chorus: Coming Out At Xmas

JMG reader Ray tips us to this hilarious 2006 bit from the London Gay Men's Chorus, which I've somehow missed all these years.

Reposted from Joe

Via AmericaBlogGay:

"[W]hile Secretary Clinton wants to do the right thing and make a noble statement about people being beaten and tortured for their sexual choices, she invariably and unwittingly propagates many contradictions and posits a familiar strand of American cultural imperialism." -- Jim Downs writing in the Huffington Post about Sec. Clinton's UN address on gay and trans rights

Far be it for me to lead the charge on defending the Obama administration's record on gay rights.  But give me a break.
Yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shocked the world by devoting a 30+ minute speech at the United Nations in Geneva exclusively to gay and trans human rights (video and text of the speech).  I'm pretty sure it's the first time anyone has ever given such a speech at the UN, and it's certainly the first time an American has, let alone our Secretary of State.

A lot of us were pretty surprised, and pleased, by the speech.  But soon I heard from friends who didn't think Hillary's speech was that big a deal.  They said they were tired of "words" from the Obama administration, and wanted "action."  And generally that's a fair point: A lot of us fell hard for candidate Obama's promise during the 2008 campaign to be a "fierce advocate" for our civil rights, and for at least the first two years of his presidency, his advocacy seemed a lot less fierce than his rhetoric.  So it's completely understandable that people want action this time around.  I do too.

But in international diplomacy, versus domestic US politics, words often are action (and I don't mean that in a bad way). I think back to a few months ago when Dan Choi and others were beaten by the Moscow police for simply celebrating gay pride in that city.  A number of us demanded that the State Department speak out against the violence, and finally a statement was issued by deputy spokesman Mark Toner.  I was a bit annoyed that it was only a deputy spokesman until a Washington reporter friend reminded me that Toner is the guy who does the State Department briefings on TV.  When he speaks, it carries serious weight.  We didn't need to put economic sanctions on the Russians.  The public shaming by a senior State Department official was more than enough to get Moscow's attention.

It's the reason why when a summit doesn't go so well, both countries usually issue an odd statement that sounds positive, and talks about them having a "spirited" discussion - which is diplomatic code for "they yelled at each other."  When diplomats go public on an issue, and speak forcefully and directly, and no longer hedge their words, it's a big deal.  What Hillary did yesterday was a big deal.  Do we want to see follow through, absolutely. But that doesn't diminish a remarkable and historic first step.

Though you wouldn't know it was a big deal if you read the recent op ed by Jim Downs in the Huffington Post.  Downs thinks Hillary's words are just words, and he also accuses her, repeatedly, of using sloppy language that actually empowers the gay-haters at home and abroad.

If anything, I thought that not only was Downs' article a bit sloppy (substantively), but it gives serious fodder to the worst of the gay and trans haters in Africa and beyond.

Let me walk you through Downs' concerns about the Clinton speech.

1. "If Clinton truly remains committed to gay issues, is an address in Geneva the place to voice such a concern?"

Well, yeah, if her speech is about the human rights of gay and trans people in countries outside of the United States.  Where else should she be giving it?

2. Downs gets upset with Clinton for saying being gay isn't an exclusively western thing.

Here's what Hillary said:

"Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors." She then went on to state that "Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality."

That was one of the worst parts of her speech? Actually, it was quite possibly the best part of her entire speech. And she's right. And it's an important point to make, especially in Africa where many of the homophobes believe that the whole "gay thing" was imported from the west, like a virus. Homosexuality didn't exist in Africa; the theory goes, until the evil lascivious (white) westerners brought it with them along with their colonialism.

Yeah, right.

Well, Downs appears to agree with them. "Actually, being gay is a Western invention," he writes.  That's bad enough, but the paragraph that follows will be a boon to any African homophobe who wants to justify the claim that local gays (and trans) Africans aren't "real" Africans fighting for "actual" civil and human rights.  You can read Downs' entire paragraph for yourself. He explains how the entire notion of "homosexuality" and a gay "identity" was born in the west a century ago. Yeah, that's helpful. What he means, of course, is that the word "homosexual" didn't exist until about a hundred years ago, and that people who had a same-sex sexual orientation didn't hang out together on Grindr and go to gay bars and gay film festivals until recently.

First, duh. Second, so?

No, I am going to quote his entire paragraph. You need to read it for yourself to fully appreciate the damage being done here.

Actually, being gay is a Western invention. Homosexuality has a long history that begins in the West. Cultures throughout the world may have had people who have over time engaged in same-sex sex but that's different from the historical categorization of "being gay." People only started "being gay" about a century ago. Prior to that, men may have had sex with men, and women may have had sex with women, but that was not being gay--that was sex and sometimes love. Gay is an identity that came into fashion at the turn of the twentieth century in the West. Today, there is not a single definition for "being gay" even in the United States, let alone throughout the world. In the United States, what it means to be gay in New York City is very different from what it means to be gay in Pierre, South Dakota. Same-sex sex is different from "being gay." Take, for example, in the United States the notion of being on the "down low," refers to men who live "heterosexual lives," but also have sex with men. They don't call themselves "gay," neither do the thousands of men who visit porn and internet hookup sites, who are looking for sex with "straight jocks."

This is all to say that while Clinton wants to do the right thing and make a noble statement about people being beaten and tortured for their sexual choices, she invariably and unwittingly propagates many contradictions and posits a familiar strand of American cultural imperialism.
This isn't a college queer studies course. Hillary was absolutely correct. Gay people have existed in the historical record since possibly as early as 9000 BC. Why in a million years would anyone want to say otherwise, especially knowing that this notion of "being gay is a Western invention" is exactly the kind of argument African legislators and dictators are using to justify the incarceration, torture and murder of their own gay and trans people?

There is nothing wrong with what Secretary Clinton told the UN. She's right. Gay people are everywhere. And we've been everywhere throughout recorded history. It doesn't matter if America's notion of being "gay" is different from Native Americans which is different from Fijians which is different from Ancient Greeks, which is different from what people thought about us in the 1700s.  (Hell, we can't even agree on what to call our own community in the US nowadays.)  It doesn't matter.  If you have a same-sex sexual orientation you're "gay" - it's simply the word we use in America today, get over it - and in far too many parts of the world, if anyone finds out you're "gay," you're screwed.  They don't really haggle over the linguistics of it all.

And I'm not even going to touch the "American cultural imperialism" crap. She was staking out the most pro-gay position ever promoted by an American administration in the most public way ever. And she was trying to help some poor gay kids in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uganda and Nigeria not get hanged, or worse, for being gay. Under Downs' definition, all human rights must be cultural imperialism, since per se one country is telling another how to live. And as I recall, that in fact is the definition the Soviets and the Communist Chinese prefer(red), for obvious reasons.

Downs goes on to criticize the Obama administration for lecturing the world when it doesn't entirely have its own pro-gay house in order. And it's a fair point. And I've made it myself on many an issue. And in fact, the kind of anti-gay legislation being talked about in Africa today is the kind of thing the Republicans and their religious right cronies have either proposed previously, or would love to propose if they could get away with it - so America isn't lily white here. But I'm just not convinced that President Obama refusing to come clean on gay marriage (and we all know he's fine with it, or he wouldn't have filled out that two questionnaires in 1996 say he was) means that the US shouldn't use its considerable power to try to quite literally save the lives of gay and trans human beings across the globe.  How exactly is that a bad thing?

3. Downs concludes by blaming Hillary for Rick Perry's absurd condemnation of the UN speech.

Perry claimed, among other things, that the US was trying to foist the "gay lifestyle" on the world, and that Obama was seeking "special rights" for gays internationally. (Yes, the special right not to have your head chopped off in Saudi Arabia.) Downs somehow argues that Hillary's supposedly "incorrect" comments about gays living everywhere gave Rick Perry license to attack us.

Clinton's speech attempted to raise awareness for gay people abroad, but it summarily fueled a fire on gay people at home.

Oh just go away.

Any time anyone does anything pro-gay you'd better believe the religious right is going to strike back. But that's hardly a justification for not doing anything at all.  They're going to hate us, and beat on us, regardless of whether we fight for our rights.  So we might as well.

Look, my record on holding the Obama administration accountable on gay civil rights is well established. And I'm hardly someone with a solid record of genuflecting at the altar of Hillary (we quite vocally came out swinging for Obama during the primaries (though post-election I've liked Hillary a lot)). But to take what was a historic move by the United States on behalf of gay and trans people worldwide, and then twist it into something that both indicts Secretary Clinton and empowers the worst of the haters in Africa and beyond, is an abomination.

I want marriage too. And it's far past time the President issued an executive order on ENDA with regards to federal contractors. But sometimes the guy actually does do good stuff. And this was one of those times.

Via JMG: NIGERIA: Worsened Anti-Gay Bill Seen As Slap At Obama's Intl'l Rights Push

In what is seen as a reaction to yesterday's move by the Obama administration, today Nigeria's House introduced a version of the bill passed last week by that nation's Senate. One lawmaker vowed to make the bill even worse that it already is. Box Turtle Bulletin tips us to this report:
A spokesman for the House of Representatives and a cabinet minister in Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer were defiant in the face of Western criticism over the measure. “We have a culture. We have religious beliefs and we have a tradition. We are black people. We are not white,” said Zakari Mohammed, who is also a lawmaker. He said same-sex marriage “is alien to our culture and we can never give it a chance. So if (Western nations) will hold their aid to us, to hell with them.” Information Minister Labaran Maku said “we reserve the right to make our laws without apologies to other countries.” Mohammed vowed lawmakers would proscribe even tougher penalties than those proposed so far. He said “to hell with the super powers if they are for gay marriages.”
In addition to criminalizing taking part in or witnessing a same sex marriage, the revised bill creates the following crimes:.
“Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly make public show of same sex amorous relationship” is now subject to ten years imprisonment. The same penalty applies to anyone who “supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria.”
Follow Box Turtle Bulletin for their excellent in-depth reporting on the worsening state of LGBT rights across much of Africa.

Reposted from Joe

Via Tricycle Daily Dharma:

Tricycle Daily Dharma December 8, 2011

Absolute Freedom?

Traditional Buddhist texts focus on achieving perfect enlightenment and then living in an absolutely free, pure state after that. But there aren't very many beings at this time that we can refer to in that fashion, even the great, respected, or beloved teachers like the Dalai Lama or Venerable Maha Ghosananda, the Gandhi of Cambodia. These contemporary masters say, “I'm still struggling with this or that, or these are things that I still work on in my practice,” rather than speak from that place of absolute freedom. And so in our times, even our elders and masters raise the question of, “How are we learning to live the dharma, to embody it in an ongoing way in our lives and not just focus on the teaching at the archetypal or absolute level?”
- Jack Kornfield,"The Sure Heart's Release"
Read the entire article in the Tricycle Wisdom Collection