Illinois Civil Unions Measure Advances

ILL GOV. PAT QUINN X390The Illinois house of representatives could vote on a civil unions bill as early as Tuesday.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Recycled Pic of the Day: First Wednesday on Cedar Springs to mark 3rd anniversary this week

If we’re not mistaken, and it seems we rarely are, Wednesday marks the third anniversary of, well, First Wednesday on the Cedar Springs strip. And this year it looks like they’ll have slightly milder temps for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the TMC patio. (Two years ago we recall Miss Oak Lawn requesting that the lighting ceremony be moved up so she didn’t get frostbite.) Also this year, the below flier is advertising a “sexy Santa Claus,” so we’ll be interested to what that’s all about, though we doubt it can get much sexier than the scene above from 2008, which along with the bad economy prompted Instant Tea to famously ask, “Why is Santa’s sack so light?”

—  John Wright

Join HRC’s Mosaic of People for World AIDS Day

The following comes from Carolyn Simon, HRC’s editorial and content manager.

World AIDS Day is held each December 1 and is an opportunity for us to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education about the disease. World AIDS Day was first held in 1988, and it continues to remind us that HIV/AIDS has not gone away, and there is much work to be done to combat the global crisis.

By now, you’ve probably read about celebrities who are silencing their social media accounts to raise awareness – but you don’t have to be a celebrity to take action.

This year, HRC is creating a mosaic of people who support the fight against HIV/AIDS. Add your image to the mosaic of people – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight – and then tweet and update your Facebook status messages inviting your friends to do the same.

Simply raising awareness about the disease can make a huge difference. We saw that earlier this year when the Obama administration released the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which sets specific goals for reducing the number of new infections and increasing care for people who are living with HIV/AIDS. The strategy specifically targets the LGBT community, which continues to be disproportionately affected by the disease.

To join the mosaic and to learn more, visit www.hrc.org/worldAIDSday.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Ban on Sharia law in Okla. ruled unconstitutional

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange

A federal judge stopped short of declaring Oklahoma voters a bunch of dumbasses, but she did rule that their attempt to outlaw Sharia law is unconstitutional, according to the Daily Oklahoman.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a 15-page ruling throwing out the state constitutional amendment. On Nov. 2, Oklahoma voters approved the amendment that would have prohibited state courts from considering or using Sharia law despite the fact that state courts had never used – nor had plans to use — Sharia law. The constitutional amendment passed with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Sharia is Islamic law based on the Quran and the teachings of Muhammed. It includes the Ten Commandments — so the amendment effectively made the Ten Commandments illegal in Oklahoma.

Miles-LaGrange wrote in her opinion, “This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights.”

Supporters of the law said it was a defense against such practices as marital rape. However, state laws already make such practices  illegal.

Muneer Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, filed suit against the amendment claiming it violated his freedom of religion.

The judge ruled that he had standing in the case and that he would have suffered injury to his First Amendment rights. Awad lives in Oklahoma, is a Muslim and “the amendment conveys an official government message of disapproval and hostility toward his religious beliefs, that sends a clear message he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, thereby chilling his access to the government and forcing him to curtail his political and religious activities.”

Republican State Rep. Rex Duncan was the author of the amendment. He said it wasn’t intended to attack Muslims but rather was a “pre-emptive strike.”

Aren’t pre-emptive strikes usually attacks?

And wasn’t the only terrorist attack that has taken place in Oklahoma — the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building — carried out by a couple of Christian guys?

—  David Taffet

SHOCKER: With Pentagon study complete, Sen. Cornyn has new excuse for opposing DADT repeal

Sen. John Cornyn

With the Pentagon study on repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” to be released today, we inquired of Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s office whether he believes it would now be prudent to move forward on this issue during the lame duck session of Congress. After all, Cornyn told us in June he didn’t believe Congress should act on DADT repeal until the study was complete.

Here’s the response we received moments ago from Cornyn spokesman Kevin McClaughlin:

“There are a handful of time sensitive issues that must be addressed during lame duck. A continuing resolution to fund the government, the medicare reimbursement rate also known as the ‘doc fix,’ and preventing every American from incurring a massive tax increase on the first of the year just to name a few. Sen. Cornyn believes these things should be the focus of the lame duck session.’

So there you have it. Repealing a discriminatory policy that hurts the military and is opposed by the vast majority of Americans is simply not a priority for our junior senator, who by every indication will be joining his party’s filibuster of the Defense spending bill to which the DADT amendment is attached. A better question at this point would probably be whether Cornyn will introduce toxic anti-gay amendments to the Defense bill if Democrats can overcome the filibuster — such as a measure to overturn same-sex marriage in D.C. If you’ll remember, this is what Cornyn tried to do with health care reform.

We still haven’t heard back on a similar inquiry to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office, but don’t get your hopes up.

—  John Wright

Angela Hunt kicks off her re-election bid as possible ‘battle royale’ for mayor looms

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt will host a re-election kickoff tonight at the Stoneleigh Hotel, and not surprisingly several members of the LGBT community are listed as platinum, gold and silver hosts. Hunt is a solid LGBT ally who represents heavily gay portions of the city including half of Oak Lawn. She has announced that she’s seeking re-election to her District 14 seat but hasn’t said whether she’ll run for mayor if Tom Leppert decides not to seek a second term. Leppert is considering a bid for U.S. Senate in 2012 if Kay Bailey Hutchison doesn’t seek re-election, as Gromer Jefffers at The Dallas Morning News reiterates this morning:

Unless Hutchison gives him a heads up that she’s running, chances are Leppert won’t seek re-election as mayor.

That means another battle royale election in Dallas, much like the one that elevated Leppert in 2007. That year, nearly 20 candidates expressed an early interest in the job. But this time, there is no reliable list of contenders, not even a short one. Just one candidate has announced he’ll run: Jim Moore, a little-known Dallas lawyer.

Park Board member and former city homeless czar Mike Rawlings has been frequently mentioned as a contender. Other names include City Council members Angela Hunt and Ron Natinsky.

Hunt’s re-election kickoff will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Stoneleigh, 2927 Maple Ave. in Dallas. For more info, visit her website.

—  John Wright

‘Women in Media’ graphic novel features Ellen

Bluewater Productions, the same publisher that brought you the Lady Gaga comic, now offers its new graphic novel Female Force: Women in Media available tomorrow in stores. It’s more a compilation of previous comic book editions of biographies on Oprah, Barbara Walters, Meredith Viera and, of course, Ellen.

Not digging the cover all that much. With creepy smiles and heads floating in the clouds, it looks more like a memorial of female TV hosts gone to the great beyond. Just sayin’.

Here’s the word from Bluewater about the new release:

“The collected illustrated life stories of these media power players are together for the first time in this special collectors graphic novel. The ‘Female Force’ series has received international attention from The View, CNN, Vogue Magazine, People Magazine, Chicago Tribune, USA Today and thousands of other media outlets.

“Female Force offers a broad examination of strong and influential women who are shaping modern history and culture. In past issues, the monthly series has featured Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling, Margaret Thatcher and others.”

You may want to hold your breath for their upcoming releases. A biography on Betty White is slated for a December release as is Female Force: Sarah Palin, The Sequel. Hopefully, just in time for Christmas!

—  Rich Lopez

Pentagon Working Group Report Confirms No Major Impediments to Open Service

The Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group studying how to implement repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has found few hurdles to implementation of open service by gays and lesbians, according to their report released today.  The news provides tremendous momentum for upcoming Senate action on repeal.

“This issue has been studied for fifty years, including by the military itself, and the results from over twenty-two studies are uniform: open service does not harm effectiveness,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “The small handful of Senators blocking repeal no longer have any fig leaves behind which to hide.  The time for repeal is now.”

A survey of troops – while not a referendum on repeal but rather a tool to gauge attitudes about repeal – showed that seventy percent of service members thought having an openly gay or lesbian colleague in their unit would have either a positive, mixed or no effect.  For those who believe they have already worked with a gay or lesbian service member, ninety-two percent say their unit’s ability to work together was very good, good or neither good nor poor.

“America’s men and women in uniform are professionals who already serve with gays and lesbians and repeal will do nothing to change their dedication to protecting our nation,” said Solmonese. “Senators who said they want to hear from military leaders and troops now have their answers.  Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will allow every qualified man and woman to serve without sacrificing the high standards that have made our military great.”

Twenty-five nations allow open service by gays and lesbians and all of them have implemented repeal of their bans without major disruptions – including close allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Israel.  Further, a failure of Congress to act now will tie the hands of military leaders who have asked for the power to implement the changes that today’s report lays out.

TAKE ACTION NOW and tell the Senate it’s time to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Reax to Pentagon report on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

Here are some reactions to the Pentagon study on “don’t ask don’t tell” released this afternoon. We’ve posted the full text of the study below.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese:

“This issue has been studied for fifty years, including by the military itself, and the results from over twenty-two studies are uniform: open service does not harm effectiveness. The small handful of Senators blocking repeal no longer have any fig leaves behind which to hide. The time for repeal is now. …

“America’s men and women in uniform are professionals who already serve with gays and lesbians and repeal will do nothing to change their dedication to protecting our nation,” said Solmonese. “Senators who said they want to hear from military leaders and troops now have their answers.  Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will allow every qualified man and woman to serve without sacrificing the high standards that have made our military great.”

Servicemembers United Executive Director Alex Nicholson:

“This thorough and comprehensive report makes clear to lawmakers and the American people once and for all that the U.S. military is capable of handling the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The questions are now answered and the debate is now settled. It’s now up to the Senate to bring the defense authorization bill back to the floor, allow 10 to 20 amendments to be debated on each side, and get this bill passed. We have the votes now if the process is fair.”

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“This exhaustive report is overwhelmingly positive and constructive. The Pentagon validated what repeal advocates and social scientists have been saying about open service for over a decade. Still, some initial resistance may come from one or more of the service chiefs — the very leaders who will be charged with  implementing this change. Those chiefs will need to salute and lead in bringing about this needed change. Fortunately, the chiefs have already made it clear they will do precisely that if Congress acts. Now, it’s up to the Senate to make repeal happen this year.”

—  John Wright

Key findings and full text of Pentagon report on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

For your afternoon reading, below is a copy of the Pentagon report on “don’t ask don’t tell” that was released just moments ago, as well as a copy of the Support Plan for Implementation. And here’s a summary of the key findings from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (for another summary, go here):

When asked about the actual experience of serving in a unit with a co-worker who they believed was gay or lesbian, 92% stated that the unit’s “ability to work together” was “very good,” “good,” or “neither good nor poor.”

• When asked about how having a service member in their immediate unit who said he or she is gay would affect the unit’s ability to “work together to get the job done,” 70% of Service members predicted it would have a positive, mixed, or no effect.

When asked “in your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a co-worker that you believed to be homosexual,” 69% of Service members reported that they had.

• In communications with gay and lesbian current and former service members, the CRWG repeatedly heard a patriotic desire to serve and defend the Nation, subject to the same rules as everyone else.

The CRWG is convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war. They do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated Service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our Nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.

The CRWG found “the risk of repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell to overall military effectiveness is low.”

The CRWG believes this to be the “largest, most Comprehensive review of a personnel policy matter which the department of defense has ever undertaken.”

DADTReport FINAL Hires)

DADTReport SPI FINAL 20101130(Secure Hires)

—  John Wright