In an interesting episode of the BBC’s Big Question series, famed LGBT activist Peter Tatchell and Richard Dawkins debate others on the right wing and anti-gay attitudes brought by some in Britain’s burgeoning immigrant communities. Dawkins goes off beautifully at 15:00.
Matt Comer at QNotes live-Tweeted tonight’s Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners meeting (the Charlotte area) where an equality and tolerance resolution passed unanimously, and the night included debate — with overwhelming condemnation — over anti-gay commissioner Bill James’s notorious recent “homosexuals are sexual predators” remarks.
The resolution, proposed by Cogdell and approved Tuesday night, read, in part: “…the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners affirms, proclaims and declares its public support for community values that embrace and promote equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion; and stands united in firm opposition to inflammatory speech that may cause bullying, intimidation, harassment, persecution or discriminatory treatment of any individual because of their race, color, sex, religion or creed, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, veteran status or disability.”
The unanimous vote marks one of the first times all Republicans on the Mecklenburg County board have voted in favor of a pro-equality statement. Several GOP members also made strong statements condemning James’ remarks.
…GOP Commissioner Karen Bentley also voiced her support for the resolution and said James’ comments were “beyond reproach” and “out of line with my Christian principles.”
James, as usual, blew off the criticism (and probably enjoyed the attention). He was incredibly rude, not bothering to look up from his terminal to make eye contact with those addressing him.
During his debate on the resolution, James said homosexuality was “perversity, not diversity,” and cited several laws and court cases he said showed homosexuality to be illegal. He also cited a 1988 study he says showed gay men more likely to molest children. The study, conducted by a Minneapolis-St. Paul medical center, contained less than 300 study participants and in no way connected homosexual men to molestation.
The stakes are obviously misstated. But if one digs a little deeper, one will see that the anti-LGBT side’s real goal in the town often referred to as “The Little Apple” goes even beyond the current conversation about this one proposed ordinance. Like, for example, if a web surfer checks out the “recommended website links” on the official site created the organized opposition, he or she will see the following eight sites listed:
Why is this particular list notable? Well, because of the eight, a whopping four of the listed groups (PFOX, Exodus, Love Won Out, Ex-gay testimonies at DS/LV) are solely focused on “changing” gays. The others are tangentially associated with the scientifically-discredited faith expression: But four of them are 100% dedicated to it! As in, that is what these groups do, day in and day out: Attempt to “convert” those who they see as immoral and broken.
And again: This is the official site of the the organized opposition fighting the proposed ordinance. So in Manhattan, KS, it’s not an overstatement to say that the current conversation is between those who simply want all tax-payers treated with basic decency vs. those who are attempting to de-gay the world one prayer session at a time. A strategy the “pro-values” camp can certainly use, if they want. But before city commissioners vote on Dec. 21, we’re going to make certain that they each know the stakes. Feel free to do the same:
Sue Fulton is the Chair of Knights Out – 1980 graduate of West Point, former Army Captain and company commander.
JD Smith is the active duty co-director of OutServe. A graduate of a U.S. service academy. “JD Smith” is a pseudonym since he is currently an active-duty officer.
Note: Comments will be disabled in CoverItLive, but readers are welcome to use this blog entry to post your thoughts/reactions. If you want to see what people are tweeting about DADT, we’ve included that stream on the right.
Sue Fulton: Hey everybody. Tech-challenged, but I’m here now.
Sue Fulton: Quick bio on me: West Point ’80 grad. Company commander in Germany. Witch-hunted under the old gay ban, but managed not to get kicked out. Resigned on my own in 1986. Helped found Knights Out in 2009; currently I am the Chair.
Sue Fulton: In today’s hearing, all four of those testifying are in favor of repeal (tomorrow, not so much…)
Sue Fulton: We can expect Ham to give a strong defense of the Working Group report; to some extent he will also defer to the SecDef (“We did exactly what the SecDef charged us to do”).
Jd Smith: I obviously can’t see cspan, are the hearings now being broadcasted?
Sue Fulton: It will also be interesting to see if they ask Ham (he and civilian Jeh Johnson) co-chaired the Working Group) directly about his personal views, it will be interesting.
Louise: Yes they are, JD; I found a link to the video and we’ve got it posted on the Blend.
Sue Fulton: Yes, the broadcast started when Sen Levin started speaking.
Sue Fulton: Sen Levin is in process of the intro, praising the report and focusing on the 92% message, i.e., those servicemembers who know they’ve served with gay troops think there’s no problem.
Levin: “In other words, real experience is a powerful antidote to the stereotypes” that create so much discomfort among some troops.
Jd Smith: The 92% point in the survey that says 92% of straight service members that have known someone that is gay in their unit and found it to be ok Is a huge positive talking point in this debate.
Jd Smith: McCain looks angry.
Sue Fulton: Expect McCain and his cronies to focus on the 30% of troops – 40% of Marines, even higher among combat Marines – who said they thought repeal would negatively impact readiness.
Sue Fulton: Towards the end of the Working Group’s report, they made two points clearly focused at McCain: 1) the report is NOT biased by the views of SecDef and Obama; and 2) we didn’t ask whether SHOULD DADT be repealed (as McCain said they should) because we don’t make decisions by referendum, but we did find out that we CAN.
Sue Fulton: And now McCain is going RIGHT AFTER that second point
Sue Fulton: McCain says that Congress must answer the question SHOULD DADT be repealed.
Sue Fulton: Now McCain is going to try to delay… “There’s more than 1500 pages and 72,000 comments” that they have to review
Jd Smith: Here we go, McCain going after the 28% only filling out survey. Palm center put out a great memo to respond to this argument. Can someone post that link?
Louise: Let me find it, JD; will post ASAP.
Sue Fulton: McCain is now bringing up “only 28%” responded. Palm Center deftly took this apart with a scholarly analysis. This number is at least at the average of email survey responses. Check it at http://www.palmcenter.org/pres…
Jd Smith: You should see the reaction of servicemembers right now in audience. McCain is insulting us all right now.
Sue Fulton: “This debate is focused on our military and its effectiveness”
McCain is ending on a note of, this is too controversial to address in our military at a time of two wars.
He ends “one of our highest responsibilities is to our men and women in the Armed Services” – though apparently not the gay ones.
Jd Smith: Everyone in audience laughed at McCain when he said to put politics aside
Sue Fulton: Secy Gates is on now.
Sue Fulton: Gates: “This … is not a poll. The Commander in Chief made his position clear.”
Code Pink demonstration moments ago
Sue Fulton: Go Code Pink!
Jd Smith: That’s Chris neff smiling from the palm center.
Sue Fulton: “Existing laws should be applied equally” – t will be interesting to see if the billeting and showers issue will be brought up. I kind of hope it will, because I believe Mullen and/or Ham can handle that neatly.
Jd Smith: Potentially dangerous!?!?
Sue Fulton: In Tuesday’s press conference, Ham addressed that billeting concerns/issues will continue to be handled at the low-level commander issue, not by policy.
Jd Smith: The British military integrated gays by a court decision. So it can change overnight.
Sue Fulton: Gates is making one of HIS biggest concerns now – we don’t want this to happen in the courts, we want it legislatively so we can do it our way.
Sue Fulton: Don’t agree with him that that’s necessary – JD, you’re right – but this could be persuasive for moderate Repubs.
Jd Smith: It’s really cold in this room (well I’m cold)
Jd Smith: Gates is making an important point now that he did this before with the CIA
Sue Fulton: Now he’s taking a little credit for tightening the procedures on enforcing DADT, that he’s “added a measure of commonsense and decency to a legally and morally fraught process” – that last phrase is pretty damn strong.
Sue Fulton: Mullen is going right after the % of combat troops who are resistant
Jd Smith: McCain is smiling at ADM Mullens comments. Specifically at the part where Mullen said it’s fact now.
Sue Fulton: This is a good strategy. He’s going to handle this.
Sue Fulton: Mullen “Knowing [you've served with someone gay ] means a lot.”
Sue Fulton: Mullen is not speaking in soundbites, but this is eloquent and moving. “It may be the combat arms community” that does the best job implementing this change “disciplined as they are.”
Sue Fulton: Mullen is talking about foreign military experience He acknowledges that their military is not as challenged as ours, but he dismisses that.”gay or straight, they have fought with our troops, and bled with them.”
Sue Fulton: Mullen is impressive. Gates comes off as a polished politician; Mullen comes off as a leader. McCain should be shaking in his loafers.
Sue Fulton: Mullen is clarifying, it’s all about effective leadership. This is perfect. Positions opponents as lacking confidence in leaders throughout the military.
he quotes a Marine: “If that’s what the president orders, I can tell you by God, we’re going to outpace the other services in getting it done.”
Sue Fulton: Now Mullen is echoing Gates’s point – don’t let this happen in the courts.
Jd Smith: I’m very impressed my ADM Mullen right now.
Sue Fulton: “War… does not make change harder – it facilitates it.”
Sue Fulton: “Knowing something to be true…about some of their colleages will not take away” from troops’ readiness and ability to fight. – Mullen
Sue Fulton: OOH – slap down to John McCain for calling him “political”
Sue Fulton: This is the right thing to do for our military, our nation, and our collective honor.
Sue Fulton: Ham: short and sweet. Holding his powder for the responses. My guess is he will be the target of most of the questioning.
Sue Fulton: Jeh Johnson – the chief lawyer for DoD. Four-star equivalent.
Sue Fulton: Ham is an Infantry guy, solid command experience. Had battalion command in Macedonia during the mess there.
Sue Fulton: Johnson is outlining the risk of letting this happen in the courts.
Sue Fulton: Clear that they are all standing by the merits of the study – but they know their best strategic angle is, do this in Congress or the courts will do it, and we don’t want that.
Sue Fulton: Passing repeal legislatively allows repeal “…on our terms, on our timetable, on the advice of our senior military leadership.”
Sue Fulton: I disagree with this notion that this could be done with a stroke of the pen, that all these policies need to be handled – but I see the strategy.
Jd Smith: Wow.
Sue Fulton: Cool – so they’ve positioned Johnson as the guy to answer the legal questions only.
Louise: Now McCain is trying to block by suggesting MORE hearings? Good lord is he DESPERATE!!
Sue Fulton: McCain already starting his strategy, we need more time.
Sue Fulton: Louise – dead right.
Sue Fulton: He clearly thinks this is his best strategy – delay. Shocker.
Louise: My deep deep respect for those in the room, that they are not standing and screaming at McCain. I am sitting here in Maine and apoplectic!
Sue Fulton: JD, what is the reaction like in the room?
Jd Smith: Dang. Secretary gates shuts McCain down
Sue Fulton: Guaranteed McCain will bring this up over and over -
Jd Smith: The audience is all laughing about going from 5-6 minutes
Sue Fulton: Six-minute question rounds instead of five.
Jd Smith: The audience got very angry. And even The press seemed to negatively react to McCain suggesting more hearings.
Sue Fulton: Levin is trying to make the point that these guys considered the views of the service chiefs – trying to mitigate the problems we will hear tomorrow from them. Clumsily, I might add. I mean, I love Levin, but hey.
Pam Spaulding: McCain is an embarrassment.
Sue Fulton: McCain vs Mullen/Ham is the headline event. I think the officers will win in a TKO.
Sue Fulton: He asked Ham’s personal opinion about repeal, not about homosexuality. Wrong question, Senator.
Sue Fulton: McCain is coming across as bitchy.
Sue Fulton: But maybe that’s just me.
Sue Fulton: McCain is quoting 265,000 troops “will leave the military” if DADT repealed. Gates is pointing out that Aussie and Brit surveys had similar results, and it never happened. McCain will respond about how much braver and stronger (and more homophobic) our troops are… j.k.
Sue Fulton: OMIGOD, he’s pointing to the gay guy for WikiLeaks!!!! McCain is TRULY desperate.
Sue Fulton: Ran out of time, but he’s trying to pin WikiLeaks on the gays.
Jd Smith: The room really started to turn on McCain when he started to talk about wki leaks
Sue Fulton: Lieberman is up. He’s making the case, whether the law should be repealed is up to Congress. In making the case, as long as the law CAN be repealed, Congress should act in the interests of justice. Not a bad point, but as a Jon Stewart devotee, I can never listen to Lieberman without hearing Deputy Dawg…
Louise: I am just astounded at that by McCain, Sue. Almost as astounded as I am at finding myself saying “ATTA BOY!” at Joe Lieberman…
Sue Fulton: The wikileaks point was nasty politics.
Sue Fulton: JD, how many uniforms in the room outside those supporting the witnesses and members? do you sense pro or con?
Sue Fulton: Lieberman is trying to make the point that DADT is bad for the military, but focused on 14K kicked out. Mullen is talking about recruiting and retention – which is good.
Sue Fulton: The RAND study! Great.
Lieberman quoting from a gay servicemember, making the point that there won’t be huge numbers of people coming out, much less “flaunting” as some seem to be so concerned about.
Jd Smith: Must not be too important to McCain. He’s left the hearings
Jd Smith: Something must be more important
Sue Fulton: At McCain’s age, you can’t go an hour without a bathroom. No insult, I’m just sayin’.
Sue Fulton: Lieberman: “DADT is a stain on the honor of our military.”
Louise: True, plus one never knows who McCain is talking w/out there and getting his next batch of talking points from. Just sayin’.
Sue Fulton: Why, Elaine! so nice to see you!
Louise: lol- yup!
Sue Fulton: Inhofe is back to the retention and recruitment issues. But if this is their only point, they’re dead in the water.
Sue Fulton: Mullen is being very reasonable: there are lots of reasons why servicemembers stay in or get out. He’s going back to the 92% point, quite effectively.
Sue Fulton: Inhofe: why did only x% respond? Mullen: by every scholarly view, this was an extraordinary response level.
Republican U.S. Senate incumbent Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall faced off in a debate on PBS broadcast from UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park.
Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall accused Republican incumbent Richard Burr in their last television debate Thursday night of having views on homosexuality that are “wrongheaded and discriminatory.” But Burr said she wasn’t listening to him and that she was trying to inject race into a discussion of gay rights.
Marshall said that being gay or lesbian is a genetic matter and not a matter of choice. Burr said he didn’t believe the science was conclusive on the issue.
Well one thing is clear — Burr’s another one hung up on the soap dropping in the shower as you will see below. The DADT question starts at 36:43. Judy Woodruff starts off with a side question of whether being gay is a choice. Watch it –
Moderator: We’ve talked about the military. Right now there’s a battle underway in the courts of this country, the federal courts, and in Washington, over what to do about the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against gays in the military. I’d like you to comment on that but I also have a very straightforward question, and that is: do you believe that being gay is–or lesbian–is it a matter of genetics, of biology or is it a matter of choice?
Marshall: Well Judy, it’s a… your last question is the most important. I don’t believe it is a matter of choice. I believe that it is a biological occurrence, specifically beyond that I don’t have the scientific knowledge to say, but I don’t really believe its choice. I do think that if there are people that want to stand up for me and stand up for every American and defend us around the world they should be able to do that. I believe the government policy on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell needs to be repealed. As to the judge and the courts – this is a law that Congress made, it is something that Congress needs to fix. The president has recommended it, the highest of brass has recommended it, and it is time that that takes place. It should have taken place but it hasn’t taken place, and now we’ve gotten judges from the Ninth Circuit who, a judge, who has jumped in on this, probably because Congress didn’t act, but it really needs to be decided by Congress and not the judiciary.
Moderator: And Mr. Burr, respond on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and also the question on whether being gay and lesbian is a matter of genetics, biology or a matter of choice.
Burr: Well, Judy, let me just say I’m not sure that any of us know whether its genetic or by choice, and I’m not sure that’s even relevant. If somebody chooses that lifestyle and how it might then impact our policies. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has worked. Now personally I don’t see a reason to reverse it. But that’s a personal opinion. I think the country should have a debate. And what we should do is we should wait until the Department of Defense has gotten back the survey of those individuals who serve. That survey’s back in December. This is not too far off. I agree with Secretary Marshall. This is not an issue for the courts to decide. This is a law of the country and only Congress can in fact address it. But I’m confident of this – that this is the wrong time to change this policy. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of troops deployed. We don’t yet know what we might have to do, from a standpoint of changing the accommodations for troops if the policy changed. Now I’m not scared to have the debate, I welcome the debate, but I’m also very confident that we should time this in a way that makes as little impact on those troops that are deployed as we possibly can.
Moderator: And so the research that has shown, that indicates that gay/lesbian is a matter of biology, you would say…
Burr: I would only say that I’m not sure there has been conclusive evidence of what the result is.
Moderator: A rebuttal.
Marshall: I would respond to that by saying there is ample evidence that it is biological and Senator Burr obviously believes its by choice. That is wrong headed and discriminatory. We shouldn’t be judging people by the color of their hair, the color of their eyes, the color of their skin, or other factors that they have no control over. That’s wrong in America, and what you’re talking about is governmental discrimination for something that’s outside of somebody’s control
Burr: Secretary Marahall, I’m not sure that I referred to anybody’s skin color, or to their hair color. This is a very specific group of individuals, and I made it very clear what my position was. But don’t bring race into this.
Marshall: It is because of who they are by factors that they have no control over. Gender is another one of those. This country has been replete with discrimination based upon things that folks have no control over, and its time in 2010, this century, that we end that.
Let’s just say it goes downhill from there — it’s hard to recover after Sen. Burr says our ‘founders’ wrote the 14th amendment. That comes after the above statements about DADT. FAIL-O-RAMA.
"Republicans are threatening to filibuster the defense authorization bill that contains the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. The bill could be waylaid by amendments, a conference committee, the congressional calendar or the midterm elections. Then there’s the veto threat from President Barack Obama, who supports repealing the ban on gays in the military but opposes weapons programs in some versions of the defense bill. 'People can definitely not bank on it yet. There really are significant risks that it might not pass,' said Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal, a gay legal advocacy group. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said Republicans will 'fight every way we can' to keep the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' provisions out of the authorization bill. And Reid didn’t exude confidence that he has the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. 'We’ll sure find out. I don’t know,' Reid said."
"Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday that if Republicans filibuster the National Defense Authorization Act — which houses “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal — he would file for a cloture motion that requires 60 votes in order to move to a debate on the legislation. Although the bill primarily funds the Department of Defense, Reid said the bill was 'especially important' this year because it would address two issues that were 'long overdue' — repeal of 'don’t ask, don’t tell' and the DREAM Act, a bipartisan measure that would create a way for undocumented students who came to America as children to gain permanent residency through higher education or military service."