Tag Archives: DADT

LGBT History Month: Why We Need to Celebrate

3 Jun

Happy_Gay_Pride_MonthJune is recognized as LGBT History Month, a time for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community to come together and celebrate who we are and stand in solidarity with each other.  We celebrate in June because it was June of 1969 that jump-started the Gay Liberation Movement in our country’s history with the Stonewall Riots.

In 1969 it was illegal in the United States to be gay and we were targeted by police for raids and put in jail.  Sadly, the LGBT community is still policed disproportionately and there are still 14 states where it is still illegal to be gay, most of those states are in the South, despite Lawrence v. Texas. Yes, most states in the South have zero protections for LGBT folk, so one can be denied employment, denied housing, and denied healthcare just for their sexual orientation.

As much as we think It Gets Better, we still have a long way to go.  One wonders why we don’t have a better campaign that says; Make It Get Better, and put the onus on the dominant culture.  We know from the 2010 National Health Report that harassment and violence against the LGBT community have increased by 20% and the increase of violence is even greater for LGBT folks of color.

Sadly, this trend is international and shows no sign of abating. Look at the spike in protesting and violence in France that started as marriage equality began to work its way through the legislative process. Look at the violence in Russia and the Ukraine and the official indifference — or outright support — it receives. Nigeria just passed “All Gays to Be Jailed” law. Closer to home, look at the TEN anti-gay hate crimes in New York City in just the past month: bashings, beatings, assaults, and at least one murder. The closer we get to equal, the angrier — and more aggressive — our foes become.

Granted, our heterosexual brothers and sisters do have to live in fear of the Gay Agenda, but when are we going to have actual movement towards civil rights?  Will the Supreme Court do the right thing and send the message by overturning DOMA that we must treat all of our citizens equally and equitably? Will the Boy Scouts’ lame half-measure finally break them as the California legislature plans to strip them of any non-profit privileges for their incessant discrimination?

LGBT History Month provides a time and place for the community to celebrate and come together in “numbers too big to be ignored” (you I love me some Helen Reddy).  I ask all of our heterosexual brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity and support all LGBT folk in the many colors and lives we represent.

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Hero of the Week Award: January 18, Todd Schweikert and the Brooklyn Scouts

18 Jan
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Brooklyn dad and Eagle Scout Todd Schweikert absolutely believes in the motto “be prepared.” He felt like he gained a lot from his time as a Boy Scout and wanted his seven-year-old son to have the same benefits. What he didn’t want was to provide any support to the Boy Scouts of America, rejecting their homophobia and hyper-religious approach to values. So he did what any resourceful person would do: he created his own troop.

Rather than support an organization that teaches false values and marginalizes people, Schweikert founded the 5th Brooklyn Scouts. This new troop emphasizes engagement with the outdoors, social values, inclusion, responsibility, and service. It is open to any children of the appropriate age (5 to 17), regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Says Schweikert,

Any form of discrimination, no matter how small, is never ok and not something I can endorse and wish to teach to my children.

How wonderful to see someone take something they value and elevate it to its better form rather than trying to live with a truly broken and damaging framework. The troop is associated with the Baden-Powell Service Association — named for scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell — an alternative organization that supports the founding principles of scouting without the narrow BSA structures. Schweikert has over 40 kids already interested in his troop, proving that a good idea will bring its own rewards.

Honorable mention this week goes (believe it or not) to the U.S. Marine Corps. Responding to the many changes needed in the dismantling of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Marines became the first branch of the military to officially recognize the importance supporting military spouses. As a result, the  Marine Corps legal office has mandated that all military spouses clubs admit gay husbands and wives if they want to continue operating on-base. Rightly calling a refusal to recognize a same-sex spouse federally prohibited sexual discrimination, the USMC has set a strong precedent that should serve as a model for all military services for same-sex families.

Number 4 Hero of the Year 2012: President Barack Obama

28 Dec
Number 4 Hero of 2012

Number 4 Hero of 2012

It’s been a challenging year for President Obama. The hijinks of the obstructionist Republican leadership made even his best efforts challenging. Facing reelection with a still fragile economy, he also had to deal with steady criticism from the left. While there may be more he could have done, he still accomplished a great deal in spite of large obstacles. He also continued to rebuild the human face of the Presidency — mugging with Olympic athlete McKayla Maroney, hugging victims of hurricane Sandy and surviving family members in Newtown, and letting a small boy rub his head in the Oval Office.

What stands out most clearly, however, is his support of marriage equality. President Obama has worked hard for equality — dismantling Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, refusing to defend DOMA, extending same-sex benefits to federal employees — but nothing resonated like his interview in May. Never before had a President stated clearly that all loving couples deserve to marry. His words helped shift public opinion, with numerous polls showing a new, consistent majority for equality. His encouragement had a huge impact on the African-American community, arguably making the difference in marriage equality passing in Maryland. His courage and clarity, in a year where silence might have seemed a safer option until after the election, is notable and speaks to his character and leadership.

Now that he has a second clear mandate to lead real change in his second term, let’s hope for more of this. Not just for the LGBT community, either, but pushing back against the war on women and taking a strong stand against poverty and inequity. It’s been a good, if challenging, four years. Can the next four be even better? Yes, they can.

Because TSM was very fortunate to receive so many lovely nominations for Hero of the Year Award, I had to list many splendid honorable mentions. Honorable mention goes to all the grass-roots activists in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington who helped those states achieve historic victories for LGBT equality. Learning from mistakes of the past, they crafted clear, effective messages, raised funds $5 at a time, and pushed back the forces of bigotry to great effect.

Honorable mention also goes to two brave women. Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer was discharged from the military for being honest about her sexual orientation in 1992. She stood up for LGBT equality and fought discrimination and DADT for years. In the space of a year she saw that equality become a reality and was one of the first to marry her same-sex partner in Washington state when marriage equality became a reality there. Brigadier General Tammy Smith included her wife in the ceremony where she accepted her new rank, making her the first openly serving LGBT general in U.S. history.

Finally a sad farewell and honorable mention to AIDS activist Spencer Cox. He was instrumental in moving forward clinical trials of HIV fighting medicines in the 1990s, proposing protocols and helping shred bureaucracy to accelerate the availability of life-saving drugs. He died this month at the young age of 44.  Let us hope we get to Zero soon–zero new infections and zero AIDS related deaths.

Hero of the Week Award: June 15, County Election Supervisors in Florida

15 Jun

Hero of the Week

How nice to be able to celebrate 67 elected officials in one award this week! Election supervisors in every county in Florida have stood by their principles and refused to participate in the illegal voter purge that Republican Gov. Rick Scott is intent on carrying out.

In an effort to make Florida 2012 a repeat of Florida 2000, Scott and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner are trying to block voting rights for thousands of Floridians. The program is being conducted under the guise of removing non-citizens and other ineligible people from the voting rolls. Curiously, however, the people targeted trend heavily Hispanic and Democrat. Voters are told that they will not be able to vote unless they appeal and appear in person within 30 days. This is a heavy burden for poor or elderly voters who are also heavily targeted.

A few election supervisors noted early on that the list of voters to purge was deeply flawed. (In Miami-Dade, for example, the false hits on the list outnumber the non-citizens 50-to-1!) They asked the Secretary of State to halt the program until it could be refined and were told NO. The purge is also a violation of the National Voter Registration Act under at least two sections. Purges cannot be conducted during a 90-day quiet period before a Federal election and with the Florida primary in August, that window is closed. Florida also has to comply with Federal review guidelines for any purges because of racist history in its voting practices.

Fortunately for Florida’s voters, County Election Supervisors have the final say on who is registered to vote — and with all 67 telling the Secretary of State to take his list and shove it, the purge is effectively halted. Says Ion Sancho of Leon County, one of the most vocal opponents of the purge,

We’re just not going to do this. I’ve talked to many of the other supervisors and they agree. The list is bad. And this is illegal.

Great to see these men and women doing the jobs they were elected to do and protecting the innocent. Bonus points to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is taking Florida to court over this blatant abuse of power.

Thank you to TSM reader and LGBT ally Voice of the Trailer for this week’s Honorable Mention which goes to The Department of Defense.  The Pentagon announced Thursday that it will be commemorating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride later this month.
“The Defense Department is planning an LGBT Pride Month event for later this month,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Laniez said in a statement issued Thursday.
Press Secretary George Little said senior Defense Department officials will take part in the event, but had no other details. It was just a year ago, a member of the military faced punishment or discharge if he or she admitted being homosexual, but last September the administration scrapped the policy known as “don’t ask don’t tell.”

Progress!  Thank you Department of Defense.

We Will Prevail

26 May

Today’s article was written by TSM contributor James Queale.

This week, like many weeks, was filled with bitter homophobes who said and did outrageous things. Like the North Carolina pastor who advocated putting gays and lesbians into separate pens so that we can die off; or the mindless cluster fuck known as “One Million Moms” and their never-ending complaints about homosexuals indoctrinating children through media.

Let’s forget about those people today and take a look at a recent video that shows yet again that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is dead.

Videos and pictures like this have been becoming commonplace these days. It is videos and pictures like this that give me hope and make me remember that we are winning this fight. Anti-gay groups are getting louder because they are losing and deep down they know it. I really feel like they are on their last hurrah. If you look closely, people are evolving all over the place and there appears to be a recent surge thanks to Obama.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Nicholas Klein or Gandhi (Disputed)

Hero of the Week Award: March 2, Archie Comics

2 Mar

Hero of the Week

Today we are pleased to honor the continued commitment of what was once a surprising player in LGBT equality, Archie Comics. The company has a reputation as being conservative and traditional, bolstered by an ill-advised 70s partnership with a right-wing evangelical publisher. Over the past few years, however, the Archie brand has been surprisingly successful at re-inventing itself and creating a relevant, safe place for young comic readers to see how everyone really can get along.

Last year Archie Comics made a great move toward equality by introducing their first gay character, the loveable Kevin Keller. Creator Dan Parent made Kevin a realistic, complex character. He happens to be gay; he’s also a teen in Riverdale, so he has his share of typical misadventures but also knows everyone loves and supports him. It’s a great message for LGBTQ youth and their allies and families. While previous diversity characters have been given short shrift after their initial introductions, Kevin has quickly become an Archie mainstay. After taking over Veronica for four issues (and exploring coming out, dating, bullying, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), Kevin was given his own title which debuted last month. It’s off to a promising start and Kevin looks to be a vital part of the Riverdale community.

The company took equality even farther last month. In the Life With Archie series which shows the life of the characters as adults, they celebrated Kevin’s wedding to his partner, Clay. In typical Riverdale fashion, no-one bats an eye at true marriage equality and the wedding is a marvelous, supportive event. They are also a bi-racial couple, adding to the “everyone belongs” message. That issue alone was almost enough to earn the company HWA. But this week they did even better.

The American Family Association’s One Million Moms project noted the presence of Life With Archie #16 in Toys ‘R’ Us stores and started another boycott attempt. The extremist hate group objected to the presence of a loving same-sex couple on the cover of a comic book. So far Toys ‘R’ Us has not replied (perhaps not wishing to waste time debating with lunatics?). Archie Comics, on the other hand, came out with a strong, wonderful statement issued by CEO John Goldwater.

We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday. We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate, and narrow-minded people.

Way to go Archie Comics. Let’s hope your efforts speed the pace by which all of America becomes a bit more like Riverdale when it comes to inclusion.

Number 1 Bigot of the Year Award 2011: John Boehner

31 Dec

Number 1 Bigot of 2011

For those that have been following TSM for any amount of time, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Fake and Bake, crocodile tears, Mr. 1%, John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, earns the most dubious honor of the Number 1 Bigot of the Year for 2011.

The congressman from Ohio has consistently demonstrated an abuse of power from a wealthy white heterosexual that rivals some of the super rich white boys on the Supreme Court.  Boehner’s hypocrisy, double standards, misogyny, and homophobia have set his legacy of hate and abuse of power in history!  Rather than working for the American people to balance the budget and get out of a deficit, the ubiquitous obstructionist Boehner said, “we will not raise taxes,” as he was working tirelessly to protect the incomes of the top 1% of Americans–damn the rest of the country.

Yet, while operating out of a deficit, Boehner is spending tax payer dollars to defend discrimination by hiring an attorney to defend DOMA–yes, we must be fearful of the Gay Agenda!  

Pandering to the outer fringe of his party rather than brokering meaningful compromise (how sad is it when you can make Sen. Mitch McConnell look reasonable?) he has made 2011 the year of the do-nothing Congress. Let us hope that his recent capitulation on the payroll tax holiday is the beginning of his downfall–Boehner, another rancid tea bag.

Flashback  2010: The Bigot of 2010 was John McCain.

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