President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

Kindred Spirits presents: The Judy Garland Christmas Show

Judy Garland Christmas ShowThere’s kitsch. There’s camp. Then there’s the Judy Garland Christmas Show, perhaps the single most absurdly divine thing to ever be produced by the 1960′s television industry. Kindred Spirits presents its 4th Annual Judy Garland Christmas Show & Sing-Along December 4th at Meteor (2306 Genesee St) at 5 pm.

In 1963 Garland found herself in trouble with the IRS for forgetting to pay taxes for a couple of years. Desperate for cash, she agreed to star in a weekly variety show for CBS, then proceeded to record 26 of the most gin-soaked hours in television history. Garland was remarkably cogent for the Christmas episode however, perhaps because her children were all on set as guest stars. Lorna Luft, Joey Luft and (almost unrecognizable with long hair) Liza Minnelli join fellow guests Jack Jones, Tracy Everitt, Mel Tormé and the true stars of the show, the chorus line of dancing Santas, for an hour of surreal delight.

With Nancy Ford emceeing, the Judy Garland Christmas Show & Sing-Along has become a Houston holiday tradition. In addition to the show and complimentary eats there’s also a raffle for a flat screen television. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and can be purchased at kindredspiritshouston.org. Proceeds benefit AssistHers, the Lesbian Health Initiative Houston, and Expert Nutrition.

After the break watch the opening number from the Judy Garland Christmas Show.

—  admin

Dallas gets $1.28M HUD grant for HIV/AIDS

Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have announced the allocation of nearly $9 million in grants to projects in seven states that provide permanent and transitional housing and support services to people with HIV/AIDS.

Of that total, $1,287,500 will be allocated to the city of Dallas’ Housing and Community Services Department, the only city or agency in Texas to receive one of the seven HUD grants. The money will be used to provide transitional housing support to 60 ex-offenders over the next three years. According to the HUD press release, the Housing and Community Services Department will be working with the city’s Project Reconnect and the Department of Justice’s Second Chance Act in providing the housing and services.

And the city has committed to “creating an Integrated HIV/AIDS Housing Plan through a comprehensive community planning effort that involves 20 local partners operating in the eight county Dallas Metropolitan Statistical Area,” according to HUD. No word yet on whether those partners will include AIDS Services of Dallas, which is located in Oak Cliff and provides housing for as many as 225 men, women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS through 125 units in four complexes.

The largest of the grants, $1,375,000, is going to the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV. The city of Portland, Ore., gets the second-largest total with $1,365,900. River Region Human Services Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., is getting $1,353,743, and the Corporation for AIDS Research Education and Services Inc. in Albany and Rochester, N.Y., gets $1,344,375.

Dallas is next on the list, followed by Justice Resource Institute Inc. in Boston, which gets $1,223,377. Rounding out the recipient list is the Frannie Peabody Center, a statewide organization in Maine, that is receiving $930,909.

The seven recipients were chosen “through a national HOPWA competition to identify special projects of national significance that will help advance understanding and improve the delivery of housing and care for persons with HIV,” according to HUD.

—  admin

FRC really knows how to advance a cause. Ours.

The Family Research Council’s newest strategy at this late DADT hour: Building on the idea that openly heterosexual soldiers are on the cusp of fleeing or dying, thanks to the so-called homosexual agenda:

Winter isn’t officially upon us until next week, but it looks like Snowe and Flake have already melted. Two Republicans, Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), both made stunning decisions to back a bill that could force soldiers to leave their jobs–or be hurt doing them. Despite warnings from General James Amos that overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would cost Marines lives and limbs, more Republicans are chickening out when the troops need them most. [SOURCE]

That’s a sweet thing to lay at people’s feet for the sake of political gain, ain’t it?

But believe it or not, that’s actually enot the most telling comment we saw in today’s FRC “Washington Update.” No, no — that honor would actually go to this quip:

Attempting to explain her turncoat maneuver, [Sen. Olympia Snowe] said she arrived at her decision after “careful analysis” (which, considering how her state just voted to protect marriage, probably wasn’t as careful as it should have been). [SOURCE]

We say telling, because it completely belies the “it’s only about marriage” strategies that these folks always use whenever nuptial parity is on a state ballot. Here we have FRC — major players in Maine, like all other marriage states — connecting a completely unrelated issue right smack back to the marriage matter, simply because both conversations have gay people at heart (despite how lacking that heart might be). FRC’s suggestion seems to be that Sen. Snowe’s primary source of information gathering on DADT should not have been the Pentagon report or the opinions of folks like Gates or Mullen, but rather the most recent way that a majority of citizens from her home state chose to treat gay people. The suggested answer seeming to be that discrimination is transferrable, with only the target needing to remain the same, not the issue up for debate.

If that’s what they wanna go with, fine. But we’re gonna throw it right back in their faces the next time we read a “this is not about discriminating against gays — it’s about protecting marriage” press release. That is, of course, unless our suddenly-gay-only military is unable to stave off world domination with only the pride flags and Quiche Lorraines that we plan to radically use as replacement weapons, ultimately stripping us of the right to call out Southern Poverty Law Center-designated “hate groups” on their homo-hostile nonsense.




Good As You

—  admin

Top gay bills likely won’t advance under GOP House

That would be the same bills that haven’t advanced under a Democratic Congress.

I don’t mean to belittle how anti-gay the Republicans are, but let’s face it – the gay rights agenda hasn’t exactly been parading through a Democratic Congress and Democratic White House either.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

In NYC, a tale of two fundraisers: ‘which one did more to advance LGBT equality?’

Another must-read column from Kerry Eleveld, providing some clarity to the events of this week:

Longtime LGBT activist David Mixner was one of about a dozen prominent equality advocates who attended the Mehlman-Singer fund-raiser, including lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and Richard Socarides, former LGBT adviser and special assistant to President Bill Clinton.

Mixner said of the evening, “I never thought I would see the day in my lifetime” when a group of conservatives and equality activists gathered in the same room to rally around the fight for same-sex marriage.

“I’m in awe of this night,” he beamed. “Ya know, I’ve worked at this for years and years and years, and the purpose of a movement is to change minds and not to punish those who come late. And we’ve changed minds.”

Meanwhile, back on the east side, President Obama was trying to reason with protesters who were loudly registering their discontent with his administration’s funding for AIDS and efforts to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“We heard your point,” Obama said in response to two of the shouting protesters. “This young lady here, she wants increases in AIDS funding. That’s great. We increased AIDS funding. She’d like more. I’m sure we could do more — if we’re able to grow this economy again. That young man shouted, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ … As president, I said we would reverse it.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright