Tag Archives: hate crimes

Dear Donald: A Plea For Decency

19 Dec

trumpstampDear Donald:

How unfortunate that the only truth you managed in the past two years was that the “election was rigged.” Sadly it was rigged on your behalf. While I fear this plea will fall prey to your pathological narcissism and thus will not be heard, I make it nonetheless.

It looks as though you may be assuming the role of President of the United States. May I implore you to rise to the occasion — to comport yourself with the gravitas of the role of a world leader?  You are NOT representing yourself here, rather you are representing every person that lives in the United States. Sadly, you have “drained the swamp” (your words) directly into your cabinet and have caused great alarm for all targeted people and communities living in the US. This is not just about misogyny, but about how someone who demonstrates every day that his ego rules over all else and whose success is rooted in the oppression of women, people of color, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, and all of the intersections therein.

For you and your followers, we need something to prove you all are not racist, homophobes, misogynists, breeders of hate. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Steve Bannon does not inspire hope. Your appointment of white supremacist and homophobe Jeff Sessions further deteriorates any modicum of trust in your judgement. Sessions who was declared “too racist” during the Reagan years is now fit to be in your cabinet? One can hardly take solace in your appointment of Rex Tillerson, the Director a US/Russian oil company, as the next Secretary of State–conflict of interest much?  In fact, every appointment you have made demonstrates great disdain for the office they will hold and nothing but contempt and disrespect for the American people.

According the the Southern Poverty Law Center, CNN, Time, The New York Times, and myriad other publications, hate crimes have increased exponentially since the election. Sadly, you have done nothing to disavow any of this horrific behavior. As such, your silence condones it. Your supporters have grown so emboldened that they are ushering in the New Fascism. Ohio has just passed some of the most restrictive laws that preclude women from governing their own bodies. Louisiana has now passed laws that declare LGBT protections illegal, thanks to eternal homophobe Jeff Landry.

Given the evidence of the intercession of the Russians to influence the election in your favor, I know many are now worried about war. Is this what you want to be your legacy? Your inability to understand diplomacy, the need for intelligence meetings, (I know you consider yourself “biggly smart”), your disdain for science and for education should alarm us all. This is where I hope I am categorically wrong. I hope we do not end up in another war because of you. I shall take no pleasure in telling your supporters that they have only themselves to thank for another war and the loss of human life for caprice.

Yes, while I suspect this plea will be wholly ignored, I also implore all people living in the United States to resist the New Fascism, for us all to stand in solidarity, to work together to ensure that your threat to democracy does not prevail. Mr. Trump, “Have you no decency sir?”

I shall end this letter asking everyone: who will you take action to stand with and harbor? Sweet Honey in the Rock: Would You Harbor Me?

Where Is It Safest to Be Gay? Ranking the States

12 May

Come for the scenery, stay for the civil rights

Despite President Obama’s wonderful declaration of support for marriage equality, the devastating passage of Amendment One in North Carolina shows how far we have to go as a nation. It is also imporant to understand how your rights are protected based on where you live. Now there’s a handy tool to look at gay rights by state.

In a very thorough analysis this week, British news daily The Guardian, published a ranking of all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) on seven key areas of civil rights. The factors rated by The Guardian include:

  1. Marriage, indicating whether it is fully allowed or banned and including partial credit for domestic partnerships.
  2. Hospital visitation rights, including how same-sex partners are respected as family members.
  3. Adoption rights, indicating whether LGBT couples can jointly adopt (or are explicitly banned from doing so).
  4. Employment, indicating what workplace protections exist based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  5. Housing, indicating laws requiring fair treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. Hate crimes, indicating laws providing for harsher punishment of crimes motivated by the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
  7. Schools, indicating laws that protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity and any explicit anti-LGBT bullying provision.

The analysis also compares states by region. Generally speaking, the Northeast has the strongest, most consistent protections (including three states with perfect scores – CT, MA, and VT) and the Southeast has the weakest (followed closely by the Midwest). Using a distinctly British approach to the regions, The Guardian identifies six Northwest states (OR, WA, ID, AK, MT, and WY). Washington received a perfect score; Oregon fell short on marriage equality but was otherwise perfect, ranking in the top 10. Only Oregon and Washington meet any of the categories other than some school protections. It’s also nice to know that many elected officials in Oregon responded positively to the President’s announcement on Wednesday.

Of course day-to-day safety and success for LGBT Americans varies based on more than the state or region in which one lives. Metropolitan areas are generally safer and more accepting than more rural areas, regardless of the state. But knowing how a region demonstrates its support (or hostility) to gay rights is an important factor in daily life.

A Case For Misanthropy (?)

6 Jul

Remembering Larry King

My friend Jen Lockett, a fierce ally for the LGBT community, inspired me to write this story.  Many of you may remember the brutal murder of the gay 15 year old, Larry King.   Now as the story unfolds, I find myself feeling sick and exhausted at the hate and nothing less than sociopathy directed at the LGBT community.  I harken back to a story I wrote a long while ago: I prefer not to.

While I try to keep optimistic, and in part it is the reason I started this blog, and I try to keep the voices of hate at bay — Michele Bachmann, Maggie Gallagher, Matthew Franck, David Tyree, Bryan Fischer, Tracy Morgan, and all of the rest of the hate mongers — there comes a time when it weighs so heavily that one feels powerless and defeated.  It is easy to understand why so many LGBT youth commit suicide: it takes great courage and internal fortitude to survive and push the hate back to make things better for future generations.

Reading the testimony of Brandon McInerney made me want to spit up and cry at the same time.   McInerney shot King in the head and killed him.  McInerney explained that his white supremacist belief that homosexuality is an abomination was due cause for King’s death.

And when you thought it could not get worse, McInerney’s lawyer, Scott Wippert, proves just how revolting human beings can be. Wippert said:

 that King — and not his client — was the aggressor. He said King targeted McInerney for sexual harassment, making flirtatious remarks, and had humiliated him.

First, there is no evidence that suggest King was flirting with McInerney, but by this logic, are we to assume that any woman Wippert has flirted with has the right to shoot him dead? Alas, we have a double standard for LGBT people.  I do not write this article to give into despair, or to become a total misanthrope. I write this article to beat back the darkness, to expose the hate, to give hope to a world that looks very different.  The world cannot look different thought if we are not OUT and VISIBLE.  The world will not look different if we do not VOTE!  The personal is political.  Click here for the full article.

Hero of the Week Award: April 8

8 Apr

Hero of the Week

This week Debbie Wasserman Schultz was appointed as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  Vice-President Biden said: In selecting Debbie to lead our party, President Obama noted her tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit and her ability to overcome adversity. We certainly witnessed her tenacity and fighting spirit in back in 2009. When fellow Floridian Tom Rooney, retired military, introduced an amendment that would make attacks against military veterans a hate crime, Wasserman Schultz was passionate in her eloquent response:

I’m from a state, as Mr. Rooney is, that includes and represents the districts that include real victims. I represent a very large — one of the largest gay populations in the United States of America. One of the largest Jewish populations in the United States of America. My region — our region has a very large African-American population. It really is belittling of the respect that we should have for these groups to suggest that members of the armed services have somehow systematically been the victims of hate crimes.

This response from Wasserman Schultz alone earns her the HWA.  Brava!  The DNC is very fortunate to have such a strong voice that works for the disenfranchised and marginalized. Here is the article regarding her appointment.

The Most Tolerant States? The Daily Beast’s Baffling List

19 Jan

In a wonderful nod to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the Daily Beast compiled a list of the 20 most tolerant states. What a bizarre compilation! Although they describe their points methodology, the final results make very little sense.

Let’s look at the rankings for #1

#1) Wisconsin

  • Tolerance score: 77 out of 100
  • Hate crime score: 27 out of 40
  • Discrimination score: 39 out of 40
  • Gay rights score: 3 out of 10
  • Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
  • Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.0 (10 out of 50 states)
  • Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 9.2 (5 out of 50 states)
  • Population in support of same-sex marriage: 44%
  • Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 79%

 

Some of the numbers look pretty good (a #5 ranking on discrimination cases filed). Some, however, are dismal (only 44% support for marriage equality and a dismal 3 out of 10 on gay rights).

Looking at the list more closely, some weird results appear. For example, Virginia (#11), with very anti-gay laws  ranks above Massachusetts (#18) which scores a perfect 10 on gay right and an 8 of 10 on religious tolerance. That made me look a little more closely at their methodology. A few observations:

  1. The Beast does try to include a broad spectrum of things. This isn’t a list of the most gay-friendly or most religious states. That’s a nice approach. Sadly, they don’t include gender identity on their list of protections, leaving out a critical area.
  2. There seems to be a very conscious effort to establish an artificial balance between religion and gay rights. I understand the tension between the two in the national dialogue, but this approach lets states that sag in the middle rise above states with real protections (like Pennsylvania (#4), which has no real protection for LGBT citizens but decent scores on the more generic categories. In fact, states with high religious tolerance seem to trump states with strong LGBT protections. An equal weighting of “Population in support of same-sex marriage” and “Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life” demonstrates some real confusion over the concept of tolerance.
  3. Significant weight is given to hate crimes and discrimination cases. Unfortunately, a low rate of reported cases does not mean a low rate of incidence. A very intolerant state could have an atmosphere that either discourages reporting such crimes or under-reports them.

In the final analysis, any methodology for something as amorphous as “tolerance” is very tricky. The basic methodology that the Beast chose seems reasonable on its surface (although they don’t go into much detail about how they measured some of the criteria). Good science, including social science, sets up a model, tests it, and then decides if the model works. This list is an example of a well-intentioned model that created such flawed results that it should have been thrown out. Better to cancel a story than to run one that is so misleading.

Full disclosure: I was inspired to write this based on the lackluster result for my home state of Oregon (#26). While Oregon has a long way to go in some areas, the numbers the Beast came up with don’t paint a picture of the state I live in at all.

Hat tip to Pam’s House Blend, which does a nice job of analyzing her home state of North Carolina in this context.

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