Tag Archives: Virginia

Victories for the LGBT Community and for Humanity

8 Nov

ENDA copyThe past week has seen a number of big events in LGBT news and the majority have been very positive. It’s nice to have a chance to celebrate!

A major milestone happened yesterday when the U.S. Senate finally passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Some version of the law — which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — has been in the works for nearly 40 years. The current ENDA has been floated in almost every Congress since 1994; the inclusion of gender identity has been a point of contention and has been in and out of the bill. The current version is the most comprehensive, requiring most employers with more than 15 employees to comply and with a very narrow religious exemption. ENDA was a lifetime goal of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D – MA). Just before he died, he passed the torch to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D – OR), who was instrumental in similar legislation in this state. I’m very proud of our Senator for pushing so hard to make this a reality.

I feel that such discrimination is wrong and our vision of equality in the Constitution, our vision of the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution and kind of a fundamental sense of fair play—all of those things mean that it is just wrong for people not to have a fair shake at getting or retaining a job.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid built on the post-shutdown debacle momentum and rounded up enough Republican support to break a filibuster. In fact, when opposition voices were invited to speak, no one stepped forward, not even rabid opponents like Ted Cruz. After a bit of amendment posturing, the bill got a full vote and passed by an impressive  64 – 32 vote. Now it’s up to House Speaker John Boehner to move it forward. He has expressed skepticism, saying that ENDA would lead to “frivolous lawsuits.” Points to Sen. Reid for this sharp rebuke:

Speaker Boehner opposes ENDA for fear of frivolous lawsuits? He led a frivolous lawsuit defending DOMA that cost taxpayers over $2 million!

Well said, Sen. Reid. Let’s hope the House can help move equality forward. President Obama has expressed his full support and encouraged Boehner to do the right thing.

On the marriage front, Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to have full equality for same-sex couples. The Illinois House finally passed a Senate bill from May. Gov. Quinn has indicated that he will sign the bill soon. When he does, another 13 million Americans will live in a place with marriage equality, moving the nation up to 37%. In Hawaii, a similar bill is moving forward and seems likely to pass by the end of the year. True equality is never piecemeal, but this is certainly movement in the right, inevitable direction.

Also in workplace protection news, Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has said that his first act after being sworn in will be to reinstate an Executive Order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for state workers. How nice to see him living up to his promises already!

Also on the gubernatorial front, things heated up in Maine this week. Toxic Governor Paul “Tea, please” LePage tried to start a smear campaign against his chief competitor, Rep. Mike Michaud. Showing his rabid disregard for many of his constituents, he hinted that Michaud was gay and that this was sufficient grounds to vote against him. Merging the kindergarten playground with McCarthyism — how lovely! Michaud’s response was flawless:

Yes, I am. But why should it matter? […] I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.

Well said, Rep. Michaud, and best of luck in next year’s election.  I guess current Gov. LePage is only interested in serving selected residents of his state.

What Tuesday’s Elections Really Mean

6 Nov

confused-elephant425Yesterday was election day for many parts of the country. Because it isn’t a Congressional election year, a handful of high-profile races dominated the airwaves and will be over-analyzed into the next big electorate meme. Even with one major — and expected — Republican victory, progressives have a lot to celebrate. Let’s start with a quick look at the results.

  • In New York City, Democrat, progressive, and all-around good guy Bill de Blasio crushed conservative Joe Lhota 73 – 24.
  • Sadly, across the river in New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie handily won re-election by 23 points.
  • Most eyes were on Virginia, one of the few remaining true swing states, where the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General offices were all up for grabs. The news is mostly good for progressives. Terry McAuliffe beat the odious Ken Cuccinelli, 48 – 45 to become the next Governor and the unhinged E.W. Jackson lost his bid for Lt. Governor to Ralph Northam by ten points. The AG race is too close to call, with either candidate leading by less than 1,000 depending on whose results you see.

It’s still early, but the emerging theme is that the GOP must moderate its views and steer clear of their tight ties to the Tea Party to win, with hypothetical moderate Christie being compared to clear conservative Cuccinelli. While common sense and demographic trends might support the basic argument, the comparison is deeply flawed.

Christie is an outlier. He’s a skilled politician who has been elected twice as a Republican Governor in a very Democratic state. Somehow he manages to appeal on an “independent thinker” model that splits the ticket. Two thoughts about the Christie myth. First, he’s no moderate. He vetoed marriage equality and worked hard to limit the power of unions. His moderate actions were either clear compromises with a very Democratic legislature (labor, education) or calculated political theatre (banning conversion therapy for teens). His stands must be viewed through the lens of a crafty politician who has been angling for the 2016 GOP Presidential nod for years. Which brings up the second point: even in NJ Christie would lose a hypothetical presidential matchup to Hillary Clinton by at least six points. The real lesson here? Chris Christie is a talented politician in a unique situation that manages to still sell hate in a pretty package with a bow on top.

Virginia tells us more. The big lesson is for Democrats: Terry McAuliffe is hardly well-loved, but he ran a strong, progressive campaign including support for marriage equality and gun restrictions. He won in a very purple state. Tacking to the center would have made the contest more confusing and might have cost him — Democrats need to remember this. On the other hand, he won by less than 3% when polls had him up by an average of 7%. That indicates that Cuccinelli’s very conservative positions appealed to more people than were willing to admit it to pollsters. That counters the Christie logic pretty strongly. Virginia is also a borderline southern state, closer to the heart of the GOP power and more indicative of what will happen as the stage is set for 2016.

In short, there is happy news and mixed news. Progressives values can win — de Blasio and McAuliffe modelled that nicely. The GOP, however, is still experiencing confusion and internal tension. The Tea Party base is still churning up very conservative candidates in primaries. While the results so far — with Cuccinelli joining the ranks of Christine O’Donnell and Todd Akin — are good for Democrats, the times that one of these candidates wins the big race are dire indeed. Democrats can’t count on a GOP implosion, because complacency could easily see President Cruz in 2017. Oy! Perish the thought!

National Coming Out Day: Visibility

11 Oct
National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day.  For those of you who had any questions regarding my sexual orientation, allow me to put all questions to rest.  I’m a very proud gay man.  One might ask, so what? Why announce it? Why do I insist on being so visible? Why do we need a National Coming Out Day?

I cannot underscore enough the importance of being out and visible.  The more visible we are as a community, the more difficult it is to marginalize us and treat us as sub-human, or second class citizens, denied over 1,300 rights that our heterosexual brothers and sisters are granted just for being heterosexual.

Currently there are 29 states — over half of the US — where it is still legal to actively discriminate against LGBT folk.  Yes, in 29 states one can be fired for being gay. Not a big surprise that no state in the South has the slightest protection for the LGBT community. (There do exist individual cities that provide limited protection.)  I guess that wacky Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision from 2003 meant nothing.  Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, is trying to reinstate the sodomy laws their, so as to protect the United States from gay sex.  Poor Cuccinelli seems to be unaware that sodomy laws have just as big of an impact on heterosexual sex as they do “gay” sex. Again, it seems odd to me  when people  are so focused on gay sex. One might wonder what is hiding in Ken Cuccinelli’s closet. Click here to see if the state you live in can legally fire a human being for being gay.  Obviously, this puts people who are gender non-conforming at higher risk, not to mention the greater risk for LGBT folk of color being targeted.

I hope that today there will be much celebrating as people find the courage to use their voices individually and collectively to be Out and Proud as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender person.  Living one’s life authentically allows for great freedom and of course supports the (tongue in cheek) Big Gay Agenda.

Bigot of the Week Award: May 24, E.W. Jackson

24 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Congratulations Virginia Republicans! Your nominee for Governor, current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is a pretty nasty piece of work in his own right (aggressively anti-choice, virulently homophobic, suing to destroy the Affordable Care Act, trying to gut the EPA’s powers…) Somehow, you managed to find a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who is at least as horrifying.

Minister-turned-politician E.W. Jackson is charm free and worse. After decades as a Democrat, he made headlines a few years ago with a very public refutation of the party and a baffling insistence that the GOP was “better for the black community.” (Bonus facts: he called support of Democrats “slavish devotion” and predicted a black landslide for Romney — what a madcap!) A Baptist bishop and founder of Exodus Faith Ministries, Jackson turned to politics and founded the creepily-named S.T.A.N.D. (Staying True To America’s National Destiny — he and Michele Bachmann must be close friends with the way they re-write history). He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2012; last week the state GOP convention gave him the nod for Virginia’s second-in-command.

Jackson has a rabidly homophobic history — that obsession makes you wonder what’s in his closet behind those well-pressed bishop’s robes; could it be Marcus Bachmann? Just a couple of choice quotes:

Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.

Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.

He has also repeatedly compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK. He calls the national Democratic platform “worthy of the Antichrist” and calls Democratic leaders “slave masters” for assuming that African Americans might actually vote in their own best interests. (Another fun fact: Jackson defends the 3/5 black citizenship clause in the original U.S. Constitution as “anti-slavery.” Isn’t he witty?) Sadly, he reminds me of Clarence Thomas.  The lateral oppression be bears down on the black community is nothing less than shameful!  Am I the only one that sees his internalized racism?   Does it feel as though the GOP is tokenizing Jackson?  Just asking.

Virginia is a reddish state, but in statewide elections the Democrats have been trending. (Obama took the commonwealth in 2012.) Let’s hope reason prevails and the Cuccinelli-Jackson 19th Century Hate Parade fails to launch.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to those scamps at the Boy Scouts of America. They surely hoped to get some better press yesterday when they voted not to consider gay scouts completely disgusting. Unfortunately, by saying vaguely that they won’t deny membership “on the basis of sexual orientation alone” they give local troops plenty of leeway to oust gay scouts for any number of imagined transgressions. More significantly, by refusing to even consider allowing LGBT adults to serve in any leadership capacity, the Scouts play into the disgusting gay=pedophile myth. Rather than embrace equality, they cowardly BSA has created a confusing mishmash worthy of DADT, set up gay scouts to fail, and embraced ignorance and prejudice. That’s quite the achievement — is there a badge for that?

Bigot of the Week Award: September 14: Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

14 Sep

Bigot of the Week

This week provided an embarrassment of riches on the Bigot front. It was tempting to honor Mitt Romney for his spectacular bile-infused smirkfest regarding the deaths in Libya, but given the damage he’s done to his campaign, we’ll let that rest. This week’s champ is Alabama minister and frequent Fox (Faux) News guest Jesse Lee Peterson.

Unchristian Rev. Peterson got some unwanted press this week for a sermon he delivered earlier this year. It was leaked to RawStory last Tuesday and it is impressive in its misogyny. The not-so-good Reverend makes the assertion that extending voting rights to women was “one of the greatest mistakes America made.” REALLY? Was this man hatched? Does he not have a mother? My, how deep his hatred of women runs. How is equality EVER a great mistake? Why don’t we let him explain for us.

These women are voting for the wrong people. They’re voting for people who are evil, who agree with them, who are gonna take us down the pathway of destruction […] They can’t handle stress. They can’t handle anything. You walk up to them with an issue, they freak out right away. Especially if they can’t get the problem resolved right away … they go nuts. They get mad. They get upset. Because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have patience. They don’t have love.

Seems like he’s an expert on going nuts and lacking love (In my best Doralee voice from 9 to 5 “Oh honey, this [man] has flipped out.”

Dishonorable mention goes to two people previously recognized on TSM for their lack of charm. Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall turned his attention from gay sex to abortion. He held a press conference to discuss defunding Planned Parenthood. Going the full Akin, he avoided science and decency by claiming that children with disabilities are God’s punishment on mothers who had abortions.  Is it me, or is this man criminally insane?

Meanwhile, serial lunatic Linda Harvey of Mission America found a special way to celebrate back-to-school time. Her organization is flogging a flyer for grade school and middle school kids that tells them how much God hates homosexuality. It’s a particularly nasty bit of homophobia disguised as education and religion which you can read here if you’ve got the stomach for it.  Yeah, Linda. That’s it–I caught being gay at school.  Honey, you need to load up on some Haldol along with your brothers Marshall and Akin.

Bob Marshall Obsessed with Sodomy

21 May

I Can’t Stop Thinking About Sodomy

Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this story.  Regrettably, we have another bigoted story coming out of Virginia–another white heterosexual Republican male abusing his power and privilege.  Republican Bob Marshall took it upon himself to block  Tracy Thorne-Begland, an out and proud gay attorney, from becoming a judge.

Marshall asserts the following:

sodomy is not a civil right…the attorney’s past activism and outspokenness on gay rights could bias his decisions on the bench…He can be a prosecutor if he wants to, but we don’t want advocates as judges.

Bigotry prevailed against common sense and reason and the Virginia House of Delegates rejected Thorne-Begland’s bid for judge.

While there are SO many issues that really stick in my craw here, I will try to contain my anger with exceedingly significant points.  One: I will quickly point out that more heterosexuals engage in sodomy than homosexuals–not that it is anyone’s business what consenting adults do sexually! Apparently, Marshall feels it is his job to police gay sex. Two: I take issue with his assertion around activists judges.  Fortunately, Kim Forde-Mazrui, a University of Virginia School of Law professor also took issue with Marshall’s ignorance and offered this very sensible reply:

If you mean that people are always biased in favor of members of their own group then that would suggest that a straight male or a white judge could not be impartial in a case involving a crime between a straight and a gay person, a man and woman, or a white and black person — which would render most judges and juries suspect by his conception.

From Marshall’s statement, are we to assume that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is pushing a Jewish woman’s agenda on the Supreme Court? Are white hetero males the only voices to be trusted as judges?  I have to say it takes a great deal of chutzpah for a Republican to talk about “activist judges,” given the Famous Fecal Five corrupting the US Supreme Court.

Kidnapping for Jesus

25 Apr

Kidnapping for Jesus

Thanks to my friend Jennifer Lockett for pointing me to this story. One of the very cruel and unfortunate implications of denying marriage equality is the profound effect it has on the children of LGBT couples. In 2009, the very bitter dissolution of the civil union between Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller became very public and captivated the media’s attention for several months.  The issue of custody of their daughter was at stake. Miller became an evangelical Christian and refused to abide by the custody agreement settled in a Vermont court. Here is where we have legalized discrimination and where this story could have turned out very differently had the couple been allowed to marry and then go through a regular legal divorce. Miller moved to Virginia (State of Lovers, unless you are gay) where the civil union was not recognized, consequently nor was the dissolution.  Miller garnered the support of the homophobic conservative bigots in her action to keep her daughter from her other mom.

Thankfully, the Vermont court did the right thing and then awarded custody to Jenkins because of Miller’s non-compliance.  Here is where we get to the real crime which highlights the need to REPEAL DOMA.  Pastor Timothy David Miller of Crossville, Tennessee helped to kidnap the child and arrange for Miller to leave the country and live in a beach house in Nicaragua.  Miller had help and support from  Liberty University, an evangelical school in Lynchburg, Va.  Just a side note, Mary Cheney and her partner live in the homophobic state of Virginia with their daughter–I’m guessing Cheney and her family are above the law.  The case of Jenkins and Miller is evidence enough to show that we need separation of church and state and that the collateral damage of DOMA also effects the children of LGBT couples.  Click here to see the full article.

Reading the Tea Leaves: We’re In for Two Years of Nasty Craziness

19 Feb

Who's pouring this bitter tea?

Last November, American voters started brewing a strong pot of tea. It has finished steeping and officials elected by the Tea Party are starting to pour their brew. Let’s take a quick look at what they are serving up.

  • The budget proposed by the Republican-controlled house savages women’s rights, stripping funding from Planned Parenthood and defunding Title X.
  • That same budget contains a provision defunding health care reform, sacrificing the elderly, the young, and the poor.
  • Just for fun, the budget also slashes all support for public broadcasting. Of course they defeated an amendment that would have ended military funding for NASCAR.
  • Republicans in Virginia have launched an aggressive campaign to roll back gay rights in that commonwealth.
  • Scott Walker, the TP Governor of Wisconsin is working with the Republican-controlled legislature to crush organizing rights and basic benefits for public employees.
  • Florida Governor and Medicare scam criminal Rick Scott has refused federal funding for high-speed rail because it is funded by President Obama’s stimulus program. (That’s okay, Rick, Oregon will gladly take more money for safe, efficient travel.)

While the Tea Party prides itself on being a grass-roots movement (funded by corporate interests), there is a basic set of principles that supporters tend to list as their platform:

  • Individual freedoms (from women’s rights, gay rights, efficient transportation, collective bargaining, and non-corporate media)
  • Personal responsibility (to pay for congressional health care while losing one’s own)
  • Returning political power to the states and the people (power to spend time and money fighting health care in court and crush workers)

Cheers to the Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate, Harry Reid, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and other who are speaking out and taking action against this horrific agenda.

The Tea Partiers press their agenda despite substantial public objection to most of the specifics, not wishing to be troubled with facts. The rest of America should be terrified about what’s coming next.

Bigot of the Week Award: February 18

18 Feb

Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) has introduced the Parental Title Protection Act, which would require federal agencies and contractors to describe parents as “mother” and “father” on official documents. This charm-free moment from Forbes earns him this week’s BWA. The bigot Forbes: helping to keep Virginia a “Place for Lover”–HOMOS need not apply. I don’t want to consume anymore time with this bigot, so I will just link to the complete story here

Bigot of the Week 2/18/11


Forbes: The Face of Anti-Gay Bigotry

14 Feb

Dick (If I only had a heart) Cheney and his puppet George W. really started a huge ball of hate rolling when they started their fear-mongering campaign against the LGBT community at the turn of the last century. Now, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) has introduced the Parental Title Protection Act on Thursday, which would require federal agencies and contractors to describe parents as “mother” and “father” on official documents. Forbes went on to say, “that ‘symbolism is important’ and that his legislation is necessary to prevent even ‘subtle’ changes that ‘undermine the traditional American family relationships that have served as the bedrock of our nation since its inception.” Again, how is it possible that civil servants whose job it is to protect citizens are being paid to persecute citizens? Also, I feel compelled to point out that Mary Cheney and her LESBIAN partner have a child and live in Virginia. I suppose if you have Cheney’s “Blood” money you are impervious to any anti-gay legislation. Click here to see the original article. Thank you to my friend Allison for inspiring me to craft this story and speak truth to power.

I really hate those pesky gays asking to be treated as though they were equal citizens of the United States

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