What’s Brewing: Lance Lundsten, State of the Union, Lady Bunny’s ‘Ballad of Sarah Palin’

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Gay Minnesota teen Lance Lundsten may very well have taken his own life after all. The medical examiner in the case said Wednesday that Lundsten did not die from an enlarged heart as his father claims. Instead, a finding that Lundsten had an enlarged heart was secondary to his unknown cause of his death. Lundsten has been widely reported to have committed suicide in response to anti-gay bullying at school. However, his official cause of death won’t be known until toxicology results are complete, which could take several weeks.

2. LGBT advocates are calling for President Barack Obama to come out in support of marriage equality in Tuesday’s State of the Union address: “We have wanted him to lead on this issue. He has talked about … experiencing some evolution, and we’d like to say, ‘Evolve now!’”

3. Lady Bunny releases “The Ballad of Sarah Palin.” (video above)

—  John Wright

NOM Responds To Being Told To FCK Off: Is This How Gay Advocates Will ‘Indoctrinate Our Kids’?

Guess who's got a problem with Luke Montgomery's FCKH8.com promo videos? The National Organization for Marriage, of course. Letting kids tell haters to FCK off is a gross exploitation of children, you see, and their attacks on Christian fundamentalists just makes things worse. But if you sign NOM's petition, there will be sunshine and butterflies in the world again.


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Queerty

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ALERT FOR DADT REPEAL ADVOCATES IN VIRGINIA: Stop what you’re doing, pick up the phone, and call your senators

The senate has scheduled a final vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal for tomorrow. Even though a majority of senators support repeal, we need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster – and when they last voted, we had 57. This could be our last chance for years. Every single call counts. And with the vote just hours away, every single minute counts.

Click here to call Sen. Mark Warner at (202) 224-2023 and Sen. Jim Webb at (202) 224-4024 and tell them: I’m counting on you to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

1.     Call one senator’s office, and tell the staff person who answers where you live so they know you’re a real constituent.

2.     Tell them you want the senator to support the standalone bill repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – and that you’ll remember how they vote when they’re next up for election.

3.     Thank them, hang up, and make your second call to the other senator.

4.     Click here to let us know you made a call – we use this information to guide our lobbying efforts, so please don’t skip it.

Whether your senator is a courageous champion of repeal, or a die-hard opponent – you still need to call. Right-wing activists are desperately trying to stop this bill, and I can guarantee they are lighting up the phone lines right now. If you don’t get through right away, try again.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Join HRC and Other DADT Repeal Advocates for a DC Rally on Friday

HRC is proud to join SLDN and other “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal advocates on Friday as we call upon the Senate and the President to remain in session and in Washington until the National Defense Authorization Act is passed – which includes the repeal of DADT. The Senate is scheduled to break for holiday vacation; we can’t let them leave. 

If you support repeal, please join us outside the Senate this Friday. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, ‘If not now, when?’

While the clock is ticking for action on repeal of DADT this year, time remains for the Senate to act. The U.S. Senate owes it to the military to bring up and pass the National Defense Authorization Act along with repeal before year’s end.  Let’s take a stand. Let’s demand that senators not go home until their work is done.

WHEN: Friday, December 10th at 12 p.m.

WHERE: Constitution Ave. & Delaware Ave. at Upper Senate Park (Near U.S. Capitol), Washington, DC
Closest Metro: Union Station (Red Line). Nearby: Capitol South (Blue/Orange), Judiciary Square (Red).
Click here for a map.

Can’t join us at the rally? Take action by calling your senators and spread the word to your friends!


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Panic among Kenya’s gays after PM’s arrest threat

Remarks seen as setback to HIV/AIDS prevention efforts

TOM ODULA | Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — An official with Kenya’s largest gay rights organization said there is panic among its members following remarks made by Kenya’s prime minister that homosexuals should be arrested.

The office of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya received calls from concerned members, some of whom are HIV-positive and fear they will be arrested when they collect life-prolonging medicine from government clinics, board member Nguru Karugu said Monday, Nov. 29.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday said homosexuals who are found in the midst of sex acts will be arrested. Odinga’s spokesman said in a statement Sunday night that the prime minister was quoted out of context.

In an audio recording of Sunday’s speech heard by The Associated Press, the prime minister says in the Kenyan language of Kiswahili that “if a man is caught having sex with the other we jail them, or if a girl is caught with the other … we will jail them.” In the latter part of his statement he used profanity to explain lesbianism.

“We want a country that is clean, a clean way of doing thing has clean mannerisms … we do not want things to do with sodomy,” Odinga said.

Kenya’s laws prohibit “sex against the order of nature.” That charge is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Karugu said the prime minister’s remarks are big blow to Kenya’s efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. He said the government has included gays in its plans to combat the virus.

Civil rights activist Zawadi Nyongo called for a protest outside the prime minister’s office today.

Odinga’s spokesman, Dennis Onyango, said the prime minister was trying to convey how groups opposed to the country’s new constitution — which was adopted in August — used lies and scare tactics to get people to vote against it.

Onyango said the prime minister gave two examples of opposition propaganda that the new constitution would legalize gay marriage.

“He then added a rider that even if the constitution allowed gay marriages, census data showed there were more women than men in Kenya and people would naturally go for marriage with the opposite sex,” Onyango said. “The highlight on the alleged order for a crackdown completely missed the point.”

—  John Wright

‘Come see history being made’

LGBT advocates are encouraging people to attend this Thursday’s DISD board of trustees meeting, where a final vote is expected on an LGBT-inclusive bullying policy.

“Come see history being made,” said Rafael McDonnell, a spokesman for Resource Center Dallas. “We would certainly like to see a packed crowd of people supporting the policy. You can stop by on your way home.”

The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in the Ada L. Williams Auditorium at 3700 Ross Ave. in Dallas.

If the measure is approved, the district will become the first in the state to adopt an LGBT-inclusive bullying policy.

McDonnell said RCD Executive Director Cece Cox is slated to address the board of trustees prior to the vote. The center was also working to line up DISD students to speak.

None of the school district’s nine trustees objected to the proposed policy when it was first discussed in a work session two weeks ago, but McDonnell said he’s not taking anything for granted.

To read the policy, go here.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: 3 generations of advocates, vets fighting for repeal of DADT facing arrest at WH

They’ve done it again – including baristas Autumn Sandeen and Scott Wooledge, as well as Blender Michael Bedwell. NOTE: Talk About Equality has coverage and photos. One WH shot:


Washington, DC – This afternoon, three generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans and advocates went back to the White House fence to call for the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and President Obama to make good on their promises to secure the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the abbreviated, lame-duck session of Congress that started today.

During the direct action organized by GetEQUAL – a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization – and local activists, 13 veterans and advocates handcuffed themselves to the White House fence in an act of non-violent, civil disobedience protesting the un-American, discriminatory law yet to be repealed by Congress — regardless of the numerous promises by President Obama, Congressional leaders and national LGBT leaders that they would do so by the end of this year.

Photos and video of the three generations of veterans and repeal advocates taking part in an act of civil disobedience today at the White House will soon be available online at www.getequal.org. Also, you can visit GetEQUAL’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/getequal) to stay up-to-date regarding the well-being and release of the 13 veterans and advocates arrested today.

The 13 veterans and repeal advocates arrested today include:

  • Five veterans (Lt. Dan Choi, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, and Cadet Mara Boyd) who were arrested back in March during the GetEQUAL organized “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” act of civil disobedience at the White House fence demanding President Obama show leadership on repeal.
  • Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL, and Dan Fotou, action strategist for GetEQUAL.
  • Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, who was discharged in 1976 for declaring and admitting she was a lesbian. She became the first-ever LGBT servicemember reinstated to her position in the U.S. Military, by a U.S. Federal District Court. On July 30th, 1993, Miriam and 26 other protesters were arrested at the White House fence for protesting then-President Bill Clinton’s broken promise to repeal the gay ban – instead signing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bill into law.
  • Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Justin Elzie who, in 1993, became the first Marine ever investigated and discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Elzie was also the first soldier to be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to fight his discharge and win – resulting in his service as a Marine for four years as an openly gay man.
  • Former U.S. Army Arabic Linguist Ian Finkenbinder, who was discharged from the Army in December 2004 after announcing to his superiors that he was gay. Finkenbinder is an Iraq war veteran and was about to return for a second tour of duty when he was discharged.
  • U.S. Army Veteran and Repeal Advocate Rob Smith, who was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait before being honorably discharged after deciding not to re-enlist in the U.S. Army due to the added pressure of living under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
  • Father Geoff Farrow, a Catholic priest who spoke out against the church’s official stance in support of California’s Proposition 8, removing the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Because of his courageous stance against Prop 8, Father Geoff Farrow was removed as pastor of St. Paul’s by his bishop and suspended as a priest.
  • Scott Wooledge, a New York-based LGBT civil rights advocate and blogger who has written extensively on the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at Daily Kos and Pam’s House Blend.
  • Michael Bedwell, long-time LGBT civil rights advocate, close friend of Leonard Matlovich, and administrator of the site www.leonardmatlovich.com.

“On the White House fence today, and in a jail cell this evening, are thirteen American patriots,” said Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL. “Included in the thirteen arrested are veterans and advocates spanning three generations of brave and courageous Americans, who sacrificed their careers and lives to see the day this discriminatory ban on openly gay and lesbian service in the military finally goes into the history books. Today, we have sent a loud and clear message to the U.S. Senate and President Obama that we expect them to make good on their promises to end this inhumane law this year, during the lame-duck session of Congress.”

“Today, I stand again at the White House fence – 17 years later – still protesting the injustice and hypocrisy of a failed law,” said former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom. “And with us today is not only the spirit of Lieutenant Enslin, the first to be discharged from the U.S. Military for being gay, but also standing here in spirit are every young woman and man awaiting discharge under the shameful ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law.  They are here and we are here, all together still America’s daughters and sons, still willing to serve and protect this country. I sincerely pray our country’s elected leaders in Congress and the White House will have the courage to repeal this law and make this the last time I have to come back to this fence and be arrested in protest of a law in direct contrast with our values and beliefs as Americans.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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DFW International Airport adds LGBT protections

The front door to North Texas just became a little more welcoming for the LGBT community.

DFW International Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, has adopted new policies protecting its employees from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rafael McDonnell, strategic communications and programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, said the policies took effect today after RCD representatives first approached DFW International Airport officials several months ago. Sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the airport’s nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies by executive order, and the changes didn’t require approval from the airport’s board.

DFW International Airport has about 1,700 employees.

“Both Dallas and Fort Worth have nondiscrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity,” McDonnell told Instant Tea. “It’s not something revolutionary or new. The two city owners, for lack of a better term, already provide these protections.

“They refer to DFW as the economic engine of the region. You talk to tourism people, and they refer to DFW as the front door to the region, so this is vitally important.”

McDonnell said convincing airport officials to add LGBT employment protections was a collaborative effort between representatives from Resource Center Dallas and Fairness Fort Worth.

In addition to the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, the airport’s six top carriers, as well as numerous hotel and rental car companies that serve the facility, have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, he said.

To read the new policies, click here.

—  John Wright

‘Unimagined rights’, detailed by advocates of gay-less fantasy world

This is what the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous Varnum opinion actually says about “unimagined” rights:

In fulfilling this mandate under the Iowa Constitution, we look to the past and to precedent. We look backwards, not because citizens’ rights are constrained to those previously recognized, but because historical constitutional principles provide the framework to define our future as we confront the challenges of today.

Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time. The framers of the Iowa Constitution knew, as did the drafters of the United States Constitution, that “times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” and as our constitution “endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom” and equality. See Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 578–79, 123 S. Ct. 2472, 2484, 156 L. Ed. 2d 508, 526 (2003) (acknowledging intent of framers of Federal Constitution that Constitution endure and be interpreted by future generations); Callender v. Skiles, 591 N.W.2d 182, 190 (Iowa 1999) (“Our constitution is not merely tied to tradition, but recognizes the changing nature of society.”).

When individuals invoke the Iowa Constitution’s guarantees of freedom and equality, courts are bound to interpret those guarantees. In carrying out this fundamental and vital role, “we must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.” M’Culloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 407, 4 L. Ed. 579, 602 (1819). It speaks with principle, as we, in turn, must also. See State v. Wheeler, 34 P.3d 799, 807 (Wash. 2001) (Sanders, J., dissenting).

Finally, it should be recognized that the constitution belongs to the people, not the government or even the judicial branch of government. See Iowa Const. art. I, § 2 (“All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right, at all times, to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.”). While the constitution is the supreme law and cannot be altered by the enactment of an ordinary statute, the power of the constitution flows from the people, and the people of Iowa retain the ultimate power to shape it over time. See Iowa Const. art. X (“Amendments to the Constitution”).

It’s a straightforward take on the obvious: That time can and should force a reassessment of past oppressions. American history is filled with instances that validate this outlook.

But Congressman Steve King (Very Far R-Iowa) says “never mind all that.” Instead, he wants you to think that the unanimous Varnum panel just dreamt up some wacky, unimagined rights without any sort of justification or precedent:

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: FRC Action [FRC]

If you look back up at the above snippet, you’ll see that the court explicitly mentioned “the people” and the right to amend the constitution. That’s what makes this Iowa For Freedom effort even more egregious! The judges are in no way denying that Iowa’s anti-LGBT contingent could, in theory, go through the proper channels of passing a constitutional marriage amendment. That was not their task. The judges task was to decide whether the state’s laws preventing marriage equality passed the constitutional smell test, based on the current facts presented to them. They found the inequality stinky.

But this King ad is in no way surprising. Perhaps more than any campaign we’ve ever seen, this Iowa For Freedom effort is all about reducing the conversation to its most simplistic, base level. In a perfect world, it’s this aggressive rejection of deep analysis that would be unimaginable to political thinkers of the year 2010.




Good As You

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NY Times: “Advocates Hope Transgender Identity Is Not a Defining One”

The New York Times  has a piece up on transgender identified candidates running for office this year, or ran in primaries earlier this year, entitled Advocates Hope Transgender Identity Is Not a Defining One.

These candidates mentioned in the article include Theresa Sparks, Victoria Kolakowski, Brittany Novotny, Dana Beyer, Donna Milo, Stu Rasmussen, and Kim Coco Iwamoto.

From the article:

“People aren’t sitting around saying, ‘Gee, I wish we had a transgender judge,’ ” said Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. “They’re saying, ‘We want a really good judge.’ ” Gay rights activists hope that the visibility of the candidates will help normalize people’s relations with people who are transgender – a broad category that includes heterosexual cross-dressers, homosexual drag queens and kings, and those who believe that they were born in the wrong body.

And while the issues that face gays and transgender people often differ, a recent spate of suicides among young gay men has intensified the need for positive political role models, said Chuck Wolfe, the president and chief executive of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which backs gay and lesbian political candidates.

“Knowing there’s openly gay people sitting in those positions will definitely have an impact,” he said.

Mr. Wolfe said that recently he had seen more and more “inspired, comfortable and confident” transgender people in his group’s training classes. There are also more gay and lesbian candidates in general now, a surge that Mr. Wolfe ascribes, in part, to newly elected – and openly gay – leaders like Mayor Annise Parker in Houston and Simone Bell, a lesbian who won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives in December.

The gay subcommunity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community has done a good job of promoting and getting behind gay identified candidates. The trans subcommunity getting behind trans candidates? Well, not so much as yet.

I linked to all of the candidates mentioned above because trans folk should be able to see who is running out and proud, and consider supporting one or more of the candidates. Even .00 for one candidate will send a message of support by people in the community for trans identified candidates.

As for me, I’ll be donating to Brittany Novotny today. She’s the Democratic candidate running against Republican Sally Kern.

You remember Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern, don’t you? She’s the one who said this about gay people:

[Sally Kern's recorded and transcripted comments below the fold.]

Some tidbits:    

Studies show, no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted for more than, you know, a few decades. . .

I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.

They want to get them into the government schools so they can indoctrinate them.

…They are going after our young children, as young as two years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle.

You know, gays are infiltrating city councils…did you know that the city council of Eureka Springs is now controlled by gays — they are winning elections.

One of my colleagues said We don’t have a gay problem in our community…well you know what, that is so dumb. If you have cancer in your little toe, do you just say that I’m going to forget about it since the rest of you is fine? It spreads! This stuff is deadly and it is spreading. It will destroy our young people and it will destroy this nation.

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Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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