Tim Pawlenty Wants Troops Back in the Closet

The Human Rights Campaign today rebuked comments made by presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president. It is unclear, based upon an interview he granted to the American Family Association, whether Pawlenty understands the potentially dangerous ramifications of his comments. The AFA, which has been listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, equated homosexuality with murder in a recent fundraising appeal.

Given the fact that the integration of gays and lesbians into our fighting forces will take place soon, Pawlenty’s proposed reversal would undoubtedly cause unnecessary chaos by giving conflicting orders to our service members. Pawlenty did not explain what he thinks should happen to gay and lesbian troops, including those that are expected to re-enlist or come out as gay or lesbian once the change has been certified. He also did not offer any thoughts on the large financial costs of dealing with his misguided initiative or the deleterious impacts it would have on force morale.

“Either Tim Pawlenty doesn’t understand the importance of his words or worse, he really wants to harm our military. I don’t know which is worse,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Either way, he’s clearly proven that he’s not ready to lead our fighting men and women as Commander-in-Chief. He needs to think twice next time before making irresponsible comments like these.”

Every study on the integration of gays and lesbians into military forces around the world has included two consistent themes: it should be done quickly and with the support of the military leadership. It comes as no surprise then that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joints Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen are moving quickly to implement repeal and that all of the military chiefs, no matter their personal positions on the issue, are now behind its successful implementation. Even Senator John McCain, the leading opponent of DADT repeal, recently said that he would do whatever was necessary to make sure the new policy of open service succeeded.

“Pawlenty’s remarks were irresponsible and dangerous. As someone that aspires to be Commander-in-Chief, he should be held to a higher standard. Now that repeal is being implemented, all of our leaders, no matter their personal opinions, should be doing everything they can to ensure successful implementation of repeal. It’s about the success of our military, not politics.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Dutch TV’s Out of the Closet Beats Howard Bragman To Coming Out TV Show

Howard Bragman, the Hollywood publicist who only speaks kindly of celebrity gays when they pay him, has been talking up his A&E reality show Coming Out for months. "It is a difficult series to cast and produce, but celebrities have been approaching me," he said in November. But while we wait for his premiere, the Dutch program Uit de Kast (or Out of the Closet) is already on air, and broadcasting real-life coming out stories. Yea!

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

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Richard Chamberlain: lead actors are better off in the closet

I am not surprised — the old-school closet mentality is still in effect. Things will not change unless you have brave and successful actors like Neal Patrick Harris who toss advice like this in the ash can. (The Advocate):

You were a wildly successful closeted actor during a period of time when coming out was unheard of, but the climate of acceptance has significantly changed in recent years. How do you feel about gay actors who still remain closeted as we near 2011?

“It’s complicated. There’s still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It’s regrettable, it’s stupid, it’s heartless, and it’s immoral, but there it is. For an actor to be working is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, “Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay” – especially if you’re a leading man. Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out.”

So is this still true because of the Hollywood image-making fantasy? Is it only possible for character actors to be out or is even that problematic? How will this change if agents and studio heads hear rationalizations like Chamberlain’s in their heads?

Hat tips, Americablog, Towleroad.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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The Criminal Closet

ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Guestblogger Ari Ezra Waldman is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. After practicing in New York for five years and clerking at a federal appellate court in Washington, D.C., Ari is now on the faculty at California Western School of Law in San Diego, California. His areas of expertise are criminal law, criminal procedure, LGBT law and law and economics. Ari will be writing biweekly posts on law and various LGBT issues. 

Follow Ari on Twitter at @ariezrawaldman.

Plea Bargaining How far would you go to keep a secret?

The classic — albeit staid and stereotypical — storyline that has popped up in Law & Order, CSI and other crime dramas involves the individual who commits murder to keep his or her sexual orientation a secret. From a legal theory standpoint, that is an uninteresting case. Granted, it happens, but preventing such stories from happening again has more to do with making being gay more acceptable in society than anything the criminal law can do.

However, the gay closet factors into the criminal justice system in more subtle and insidious ways. Most of us remain blissfully unaware of these cases, but they are arguably no less an affront to our liberty. Take, for example, the case of Jessica M. (a pseudonym), a young woman who was pressed into accepting a plea bargain in a criminal case of dubious merit to prevent evidence of her homosexuality from being public at trial.

Should prosecutors be allowed to leverage a defendant's sexuality and his knowledge that the defendant wants to keep that sexuality a secret in order to get a plea bargain? If yes, are there any limits on prosecutorial conduct in pleas? A real-life hypothetical (with slightly altered facts to protect identities) and some questions for you AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "The Criminal Closet" AFTER THE JUMP

Jessica M. was a college-aged woman who was having a secret love affair with another young woman (Amy S.) at school. Amy was an out lesbian, but respected Jessica's desire to keep their affair a secret. For her part, Jessica stayed in the closet for three reasons: (1) Her parents were conservative Catholics and had disowned an older son who came out as gay 4 years earlier; (2) She was a star pupil that everyone knew; and (3) she was concerned about her job prospects in the entertainment industry if people knew she was gay. We may believe that these reasons lacked reason or merit, but that misses the point. Suffice it to say, these reasons were powerful in Jessica's mind.

As a prerequisite for graduation in her major, Jessica had to complete an original paper in astrophysics. Due to her many commitments, she did not have time, so she plagiarized the experiment and other parts of the paper. Here's where the facts get a bit sticky. According to the prosecution, the victim — a peer who worked in Jessica's lab — discovered Jessica's plagiarized work. He threatened to expose her. She killed him with a scalpel that, panicked, she threw in her purse. Later that day, at the home of her lesbian lover, Jessica was distraught and retreated to the bathroom for a few moments to compose herself, during which time Jessica's purse was accidentally tipped over, revealing the murder weapon, still stained with blood. Amy saw this, but replaced the scalpel and the purse before Jessica returned from the restroom. Later that evening, Jessica apparently threw away the scalpel into the nearby river. It has never been recovered.

The police conducted their investigation into the death. There were hundreds of fingerprints through the lab and no signs of a struggle on the body. No DNA could be retrieved from the dead body, other than his own. Due to temperature in the lab, the coroner could estimate that the murder took place sometime within a 28 hour window. That was a problem – few people have alibis for all 28 hours. The deceased had friends, no known enemies, but was considered a bit of a loner, studious and highly competitive. A search of his computer found a copy of Jessica's paper with a notation on it: "See DeWitt [the professor], re copy." The deceased's girlfriend testified that he had spoken with her about a girl in his class whom he didn't like for some reason. She knew nothing more. Class enrollment showed only one girl in class: Jessica. 

While investigating Jessica's motive and alibi, the police and Assistant District Attorney Thomas interviewed her many friends, a few of whom hinted at how close Jessica and Amy were. "If anyone would know anything," one said, "it would be Amy."

The ADA questioned Amy who, after weeks of claiming not to know much, for unclear reasons volunteered that she saw a bloody scalpel in Jessica's purse.

The case against Jessica is weak. There is no murder weapon, only a cryptic message about Jessica's paper for motive and, like Jessica, the five others suspects — the details about them aren't important — could not account for the entire 28 hour period, either. Amy's testimony would have made Jessica the top suspect, but the case was still floundering.

The prosecution was prepared to call Amy as a witness, but one person's uncorroborated testimony that she saw a bloody scalpel in her friend's purse while her friend was in the bathroom was of limited help to the prosecution. ADA Thomas knew he needed a plea or he risked losing the entire case. He probed into the relationship between Amy and Jessica and found various young women who knew of rumors of their love affair. ADA Thomas used that information and called a plea conference. He offered Jessica a lower manslaughter charge (rather than intentional homicide). Her lawyer declined, knowing how weak the case was. ADA Thomas said that if she did not accept the plea, he would call Amy to the witness stand and raise their relationship as evidence that Amy had no reason to lie and as evidence of a pattern of behavior in which Jessica lied and kept secrets. He would ask about arguments they had about keeping their affair a secret and threats Jessica had made to Amy before, all of which Amy would be forced to testify to, even as hostile.

Jessica's lawyer advised against the plea. "They have no case." Jessica asked if ADA Thomas could do what he threatened and Jessica's lawyer said that he would object and argue against it, but evidence of a pattern of conduct can be admissible if not overly prejudicial. "It's no slam dunk for him, but depending on the judge, it's more likely he'd get in at least some questions about it."

Jessica took the plea.

Notice the difference between Jessica's case and the first hypothetical (killing to stay in the closet) — Jessica probably would have been found not guilty of the crime with which she was charged; the evidence was weak, circumstantial and there was no murder weapon. She pleaded guilty not because she weighed the uncertain risk of conviction and its high sentence with the certain risk of a lower sentence, but because regardless of the result of her trial, evidence of her sexual orientation was going to come out at trial. The prosecutor used his knowledge of her secret as leverage to get her to plea, saving him the trouble of trying to win a case with long odds.

Should that kind of personal information, arguably constitutionally protected as private under Lawrence, be permitted as leverage in a prosecutor's attempt to get a defendant to plead guilty?The few cases on prosecutorial power in plea bargaining — Bordenkircher v. Hayes, for example — leaves the prosecutor wide latitude. He can threaten greater punishment; he can threaten charges that are, in reality, weak and baseless; he can do pretty much anything within the boundaries of egregious behavior. He can, at times, even misstate the truth or tell half truths. What do you think?

Cases like Jessica's raise questions about the powers of prosecutors, the leeway we give them to leverage whatever they can to reach plea deals and what, if any, boundaries limit prosecutorial conduct. In a criminal justice system that encourages pleas, but has become ever more draconian over the years, tensions arise between our conception of due process rights and our need to put criminals behind bars.

[Ari's NOTE: This is one in a series of posts under the umbrella, "The Curious Case of the Gay Criminal." In the coming months, I will temper our discussions of hot-button legal and political issues with criminal law issues that face the LGBT community about which many of us are not readily aware. Your thoughts on these topics -- or suggestions -- are welcome.]


Towleroad News #gay

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McKellen: Agents Keep Stars in Closet

IAN MCKELLAN WIKIPEDIA FAIR USE X390 | Advocate.comSir Ian McKellen suggests the paucity of openly gay actors in Hollywood is due to advice of their agents.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Georgia: Megachurch pastor comes out of the closet

And he was married for 21 years and has children, but he decided to come clean after the rash of very public gay teen suicides. (WSBTV.com):

The pastor of a Rockdale County megachurch has publicly announced he is gay. Jim Swilley, bishop of Conyers’ Church in the Now, said he hopes his coming out will change attitudes toward homosexuality.

“I know a lot of straight people think it is a choice. It is not,” Swilley told Channel 2′s Diana Davis. I think some women marry gay men because they really think they can change them,” Swilley said.

He says he’s received support from many in his congregation, but at least one conservative Christian blog has called him sick, twisted, unclean and an instrument of the devil.

“I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online, whatever,” Swilley said. “To think about saving a teenager yeah, I’ll risk my reputation for that.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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FLORIDA: Gov. Charlie “Closet Case” Crist Backtracks On Support For Gay Adoption

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Boston Globe editorial on Mehlman: ‘Now, clean out the closet’

They’re asking him to clean out the closet:

[I]t would be wrong to brush off Mehlman’s appeal for compassion. The coming out process can be complex and painful, especially for those who experience it publicly. To his credit, Mehlman has already begun to throw his weight behind gay causes. This year, he offered fundraising and strategic advice to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage. As a high-profile, openly gay Republican, Mehlman is in a unique position to advance gay rights within his party. He might consider working to overturn some of the anti-gay measures he supported in the past. Then he could more credibly ask for the understanding — and support — he desires.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

MEHLMAN REDUX: FL Gov. Charlie “Closet Case” Crist Supports A Federal Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

In a transparent ploy to appeal to the teabaggers backing his GOP Senate opponent Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Charlie “Closet Case” Crist today told CNN that he supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

“When it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution, I believe it is between a man and a woman,” Crist said, “but partners living together, you know, I don’t have a problem with it.” “It’s just how I feel,” Crist added. Anti-gay activists have repeatedly pushed Congress to consider a Federal Marriage Amendment, but it has never gathered enough support to pass. The amendment was a central issue in the 2004 presidential election.

Of course, Dubya’s mouthpiece on the Federal Marriage Amendment was Quisling Ken Mehlman. Sometime around 2016 we’ll see Closet Case Charlie come out a la Mehlman, telling us that he was secretly working from the inside to keep the anti-gay GOP at bay.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Report: Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman to Come Out of the Closet

Mehlman

Mike Rogers of Blogactive, the blogger featured in Outrage, Kirby Dick's documentary which exposed closeted hypocritical politicians, reports that former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman is coming out of the closet:

"Ken Mehlman, the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee is set to come out of the closet in a column by Atlantic writer Marc Ambinder Friday morning or early next week. This will be on the heels of him being included in fundraising letter supporting marriage equality."

Mehlman has previously denied being gay. After the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, he said, "I’m not gay. But those stories did a number on my dating life for six months"

You may recall a segment of Larry King Live from back in November 2006 in which Bill Maher outed Mehlman. CNN edited the west coast feed and cut out the comments in which Maher outed Mehlman, also deleting the uncut version from YouTube.

The New York Times reported on the editing, but also wouldn't name Mehlman, saying that Maher "[speculated about some politicians’ sex lives."

At the time, a spokesman for Larry King Live told the paper, "When someone says something potentially defamatory that we don’t expect them to say live on the air, we typically won’t be liable for it. However, if we continue to rebroadcast it, without any reporting of our own or any comment from the subject of the accusation, we could be legally responsible for what that guest said."

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP

Rogers wants contrition, apology, and action:

So, how can Ken Mehlman redeem himself? I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day.

And those state marriage amendments. I want to hear him apologize for every one of those, too.

And then there is one other little thing. You see, while you and I had the horrible feelings of being treated so poorly by our President, while teens were receiving the messaging 'gay is bad' giving them 'permission' to gay bash, while our rights were being stripped state by state, Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He's done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of moeny. A LOT of money. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a ,770,000.00 (that's .77 million) condo in Chelsea while we have lost our right to marry in almost 40 states.

THEN, and only then, should Mehlman be welcomed into our community.

(image kat ruddy on flickr)


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright