Former GLBT Political Caucus President to lead Harris County Democratic Party

Former HCDP Chair Gerry Birnberg gives new chair Lane Lewis the keys to the party office

Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus president and longtime Democratic party activist Lane Lewis was elected to serve as the Harris County Democratic Party interim chair by the County Executive Committee on Tuesday, December 20. Lewis will serve the remainder of outgoing chairman Gerry Birnburg term, which expires in April. Birnburg announced earlier this year that he would step down after the November general elections.Lewis has also completed his filing as a candidate for HCDP chair on the April 2012 primary ballot.

Lewis previously served as president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus in 1997. He has a long history of advocacy on LGBT issues.

“Words cannot express the profound sense of responsibility I feel right now,” said Lewis moments after his election as HCDP Chair.  “I am grateful so many fellow Democrats have entrusted me to lead during such a pivotal time. We have much work to do over the next several months to get our county and our candidates ready for the November 2012 election.  This enormous task will take the work of current elected officials, precinct chairs and activists working in unison.  My job will be to foster a new vision for our party and work to keep us all focused on our common goal.”

During Lewis’ acceptance speech, he spoke briefly about the direction and his vision for the party.

“A unified effort from every Democrat is the key to winning elections,” Lewis said.  “It’s plain and simple.  The middle class is under attack; the work we do in 2012 will be key to protecting the future and the promise that the American Dream provides.”

Lane Lewis was elected by an overwhelming majority.  He will begin operating the HCDP immediately.

—  admin

Chronicle blogger blames ‘It Gets Better” project for LGBT teen suicides

Kathleen McKinley

Kathleen McKinley

Kathy McKinley is a self-described “conservative activist” who blogs for the Houston Chronicle under the monicker “TexasSparkle.” In a recent post McKinley took the “It Gets Better” project to task for what she believes is their culpability in the suicides of LGBT teens:

“These kids were sold a bill of goods by people who thought they were being kind. The “It will get better” campaign just didn’t think it through. They didn’t think about the fact that kids are different from adults. They handle things differently. They react differently. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS. You can grumble all day long how unfair it is that straight teens can be straight in high school, and gay kids can’t, but life is unfair. Isn’t the price they are paying too high?? Is it so much to ask them to stand at the door of adulthood before they “come out” publically? Because it may save their life.”

McKinnley’s primary confusion about the “It Gets Better” campaign (other than its name) is the assumption that the goal is to encourage teens to come out of the closet, or encourage them to become sexually active:

“Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet. The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later.”

I would like to encourage Ms. McKinley to watch the “It Gets Better” project’s founder Dan Savages’ video. Please, Ms. McKinley, listen, and tell me if you hear Savage or his partner Terry say anything about teens coming out or having sex. I think what you’ll hear them say is that all of the things that most kids, gay and straight, dream of (falling in love, starting a family, having the support of their parents, co-workers and friends) are possible for LGBT teens. I think you’ll hear them talk about how difficult their teen years were, and about the fears they had that their parents would reject them, that they’d never find success and that they’d always be alone.

Choosing to have sex is one of the most personal decision a person will ever make. For LGBT people, choosing to come out is another. I have not watched all of the thousands of videos from people who have participated in the “It Gets Better” project. It’s possible that there are a few that tell kids to come out right away, or to become sexually active, but I doubt it.

Every video in the project that I have seen has had the same simple message: that the person making it understands how tortuously awful the experience of being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender in Junior and High School can be, but there is a wonderful world of loving, vibrant, successful, engaged LGBT adults out there and if queer teens can just hang on, just for a few years, they can join it. I doubt that any of the contributors to the project think that hanging on for a few years will be easy. I suspect that most of them remember, with excruciating clarity, contemplating ending those temporary years of terror with a permanent solution and that is why they choose to reach out.

I grew up without role models, where people like Barbara Gittings, Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk didn’t exist . I grew up in a small town where the two men with the pink house were talked about in hushed tones that immediately fell silent when I walked into the room, because it wasn’t appropriate for children’s ears. I grew up in a world where my mother wouldn’t tell me what “gay” meant, where the evening news was turned off if it reported on the AIDS crisis, where I wasn’t given words to describe who I was, and so the only word I could find was “alone.”

I was lucky. My suicide attempt failed.

I was lucky, I survived, and went to college, and found a church that embraced and loved LGBT people. That’s where I met doctors and lawyers and business owners and teachers who were like me. That’s where I met two wonderful women who had built a life together for over 50 years. That’s where I discovered I wasn’t alone and that being gay didn’t mean that i couldn’t have all of those things I’d dreamed of.

That is what McKinley missed in her blog post. In her haste to lay blame on anything other than the overwhelming prejudice perpetuated by schools, churches and governments against LGBT people McKinley missed the fact that kids need role models. In her rush to shove queer teens back into the closet she forgot that human beings need the hope of a better world, lest they give up in despair.

McKinley got one thing right in her post. She titled it “Are Adults Also To Blame For Gay Teen Suicides? Yes.” Adults are to blame for LGBT teen suicides. When adults hide the stunning diversity of God’s creation from their children they create a vision of reality that some of those children can’t see themselves in. When adults tell LGBT teens that they should be invisible then it is all too clear who is to blame when those teens believe them, and take steps to make themselves invisible permanently.

To all the LGBT kids out there: it does get better. There are adults who care about you and want all the wonderful things you dream of to come true, but you have to hang on. If you need to keep who are secret to remain safe then do so. If you need someone to talk to please call the Trevor Project at 866-4-U-Trevor (866-488-7386).

—  admin

Saturday DADT Open Thread: Senate votes no on DREAM, yes on DADT. Next steps…

NOTE: New Blend content is below this post, which will be on top during proceedings today.


The Senate started the session at 9am this morning; you can watch the live feed here. Currently Jeff Sessions, the first the speak today, is arguing against the DREAM Act.

FINGERS. CROSSED.

NOTE FROM PAM: You can also join the live chat hosted by Joe Sudbay of Americablog that is up top now as well.

11:30 AM ET: Cloture motion on the DREAM Act falls, 55-41. 60 needed. NC’s Kay Hagan voted NO on DREAM Act.

11:45: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell passes major Senate vote. On to the vote for repeal. Then the Prez and Mullen and Gates have to sign off.

A reminder from SLDN:

WHY SERVICE MEMBERS MAY STILL BE DISCHARGED EVEN AFTER A SUCCESSFUL SENATE VOTE AND PRESIDENTIAL BILL SIGNING / SERVICE MEMBERS WILL REMAIN VULNERABLE

PRESIDENTIAL BILL SIGNING:

? Even after a successful U.S. Senate vote and after the President signs the bill, service members will remain at risk for investigation and discharge. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law until 60 days after the Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify repeal can happen. Read SLDN’s warnings to service members: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.

WHAT IS CERTIFICATION:

? The President would transmit to the congressional Armed Services Committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

o (A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

o (B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

o (C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

? “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law at this point. Service members will still be discharged. Read SLDN’s warnings: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.

REPEAL EFFECTIVE 60 DAYS AFTER CERTIFICATION TRANSMITTAL:

? After the President transmits written certification to the congressional Armed Services Committees, full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be effective 60 days later.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Breaking: Reid files cloture on DADT and DREAM Act; votes scheduled for Sat.

Movement on DADT repeal is in the air and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not long ago filed cloture on the stand-alone DADT repeal bill passed on Wednesday by the House and the DREAM Act. The cloture vote will be held on Saturday.

For those who need a bit of a primer on this, cue this helpful explanation from John @ Americablog:

Filing for cloture is how you cut off a filibuster. Basically, you file a petition for cloture, you wait two days for it to “ripen,” then you vote on it. If you get 60 votes, cloture is invoked and the legislation can be considered for no more than 30 additional hours, when you have to have a final vote. Thus when you vote for cloture, you vote against a filibuster.

Let’s go to the videotape of Harry Reid (via The Wonk Room and Igor Volsky):

REID: I’m going to file cloture tonight on the DREAM Act, we’re going to have a vote on that Saturday morning fairly early. We’re going to have a cloture vote tonight on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell- oh, not a cloture vote, I’m going to file cloture on it tonight. Those will be sequenced for Saturday, whenever we get to them. Following that, I was told by a number of Republican Senators that they need 6 or 7 days to offer amendment on the START treaty.

UPDATE: Reactions…

Servicemembers United:

“We are grateful to Majority Leader Reid for following through on his promise to schedule a vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session, and we are relieved that he has now committed to doing so well before Christmas. It would have severely threatened all of the momentum that repeal has gained recently if this vote was delayed until after the holidays,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center:

“As Senators consider the forthcoming vote on the stand-alone ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal bill, what matters most is the reality that prejudice is the only justification left for a vote against repeal. The Pentagon’s own research supplements more than twenty studies that show allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly does not undermine military readiness, and that fears about hypothetical problems are groundless. Those who reject prejudice will vote to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and those who embrace prejudice will vote to continue this policy.”

 
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Sen. Corker threatens START over DADT and DREAM

Yep, the GOP games have begun in earnest.

This afternoon, Senator Corker basically threatened to walk away from the START Treaty over “more campaign promise types of issues.” Corker claims the votes on DADT and DREAM are “poisoning the well” and he basically threatened to stop movement on the START Treaty.

Via the ever vigilant Igor Volsky:

As Igor notes:

Corker’s description of DADT as “partisan” is surprising in light of the increasing Republican support for the measure. Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), Scott Brown (MA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) have pledged to vote for the stand-alone repeal bill.

Corker said he hopes saner minds prevail. Yeah, we’re hoping that saner minds prevail.

Will Collins, Snowe, Brown and Murkowski play along with Corker or still vote for the standalone DADT bill.

Greg Sargent has more:

This isn’t really a threat on Corker’s part. Rather, he’s saying — in a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger way — that his GOP colleagues will be less likely to support START unless Reid drops his plan for DADT and DREAM votes right away.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Rumors of White House cave on tax cuts, DADT, Dream and more

We are hearing from multiple sources that this is true.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Glee Cast – Teenage Dream Remix


(Tipped by JMG reader Jeff)

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Watch: Glee ‘All-Guy’ Teenage Dream Dance Remix and Video

D_criss

DJ MichaelAngelo (remix) and DJ DigiMark (video) sent along this unofficial dance remix and video of the all-guy "Teenage Dream" from last week's Glee.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP

The track, which is set to become Glee's biggest-selling track of all time, likely sold close to 200,000 copies last week.

Reuters reports

"The track was released on Tuesday and is on course to sell perhaps 150,000 to 175,000 downloads by week's end on November 14, according to industry prognosticators. According to Columbia Records, which releases 'Glee's' music, the track did gangbusters on its first day, racking up 55,000 in sales via iTunes — marking the highest first-day sales for any 'Glee' track. Currently, the cast of the Fox TV show saw its best sales week with its debut single, a cover of Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'.' It bowed with 177,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan upon its release in May of 2009."

In an interview with AfterElton, Glee creator Ryan Murphy confirms that the show just signed a deal with Darren Criss and the bullying storyiline should continue through the end of the season, with ramifications on everyone.

Said Murphy of the single: "That’s our biggest-selling single ever in the history of the show and the fact that it’s one boy singing to another boy on a network television show and it’s a No. 1 song and it sold probably 200,000 copies in one week is a very profound thing that I’m personally very proud of. I never expected that to happen. I’m catching up with the week that was and figuring out, OK, now we have this great commodity in something that people have really embraced. It just shows to me that people are hungry for that."

Watch the unofficial dance remix and remixed video, AFTER THE JUMP

Glee Cast – Teenage Dream (DJ MichaelAngelo's Sing Mix)(DJ DigiMark Remix Video) from DJ DigiMark on Vimeo.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Kurt’s Teenage Dream?

GLEE TEENAGE DREAM X390Glee offers fans a preview of the character rumored to be Kurt’s
boyfriend performing a cover of the Katy Perry hit “Teenage Dream” in a
video released today.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

DREAM Now Letters to Barack Obama: Lizbeth Mateo

Originally posted on Citizen Orange.

The “DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama” is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Lizbeth Mateo and I am undocumented. On May 17th, on the 56th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, I, along with Mohammad Abdollahi, Yahaira Carrillo and two others, became the first undocumented students to risk deportation by staging a sit-in inside Senator McCain’s office in Tucson, Arizona, to demand the immediate passage of the DREAM Act. As a result of that sit-in we were arrested, turned over to ICE, and we now face deportation
I came to this country when I was fourteen-years-old from Oaxaca, Mexico.  It was the late nineties and Mexico was, and is still, facing one of the worst socio-economic and political periods in recent history. For my parents – a taxi driver and a stay-at-home-mom that were struggling to make ends meet-  it was clear that they would have to choose between seeing their children starve and get sick, or risk it all, leave everything behind and relocate the family to Southern California with hopes of a better future. In 1998 we moved to Los Angeles and have lived here, since. 

Their choice and sacrifice paid-off.  I didn’t only become the first one in my family to graduate from high school, but a couple of years ago I became the first one in my family to graduate from college. I graduated from California State University, Northridge and I am currently in the process of applying to law school. My dream is to become an attorney and defend the most vulnerable in the courts of law.

Life as an undocumented student has not been easy, it’s been filled with tough choices and a lot of uncertainty. At one point I felt like the only way to fulfill my dream of higher education was to leave my family behind and go back to Mexico. But California had become my home and so I chose to stay despite the uncertain future ahead. Against all odds I enrolled in college, and it was there that I first learned about the DREAM Act. From the moment I heard about this piece of legislation I decided to work hard and advocate for its passage. It’s now been seven years since that day and the DREAM Act has yet to become a reality.

Despite overwhelming support, Congress has been unwilling to pass the DREAM Act. It is because of that inaction that earlier this year I had to decide whether committing civil disobedience would be worth the risk of being forcibly separated from my family, and deported to a place I no longer consider home. I made a choice, forced in part by the lack of courage from our leaders in Congress and inspired by your call to change, the “change [that] will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.” Just as I had chosen to work on your campaign inspired by what you said, that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek,” I also chose to face my fears, to risk it all, to seek that change, and sit-in so that the DREAM Act could stand alone.

Some say that destiny is not a matter of chances but one of choices. My life and that of my fellow Dreamers has been filled with tough choices, some made by us and some made by others on our behalf. Two months after five of us chose to risk it all for our futures, because we knew that without the DREAM Act we had no future, twenty-one others chose to risk it all for a dream that belongs to us as much as it belongs to our families, our communities, and our home – the United States of America.

I firmly believe that we have made the right choice – to stand up for what we believe in and to try to fulfill the promise of the great American Dream that brought us here in the first place. I firmly believe that we, the undocumented youth, are standing on the right side of history. Now I ask that you stand with us by making the right choice. Help us pass the DREAM Act immediately. Help us free our DREAMs, which have for too long been held hostage to political rhetoric and insensitive choices by a few that have yet to recognize the potential that we have as young, educated people.

Mr. President, staying strong and facing my challenges with courage and dignity while I wait patiently is no longer an option, it’s no longer a choice I can make because I played the last card I had, and my time is running out. I put my life on the line in order to have a chance at a future out of the shadows. Now the DREAM Act is the only chance I have to stay home. Please help us pass the DREAM Act so that no more youth have to risk it all by putting their lives on the line.

Sincerely,
Lizbeth Mateo

The “DREAM Now” letter series is inspired by a similar campaign started by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  The letters are produced by Kyle de Beausset at Citizen Orange with the assistance of America’s Voice.  Every Monday and Wednesday DREAM-eligible youth will publish letters to the President, and each Friday there will be a DREAM Now recap. 

Approximately 65,000 undocumented youth graduate from U.S. high schools every year, who could benefit from passage of the DREAM Act.  Many undocumented youth are brought to the United States before they can even remember much else, and some don’t even realize their undocumented status until they have to get a driver’s license, want to join the military, or apply to college.  DREAM Act youth are American in every sense of the word — except on paper.  It’s been nearly a decade since the DREAM Act was first introduced.  If Congress does not act now, another generation of promising young graduates will be relegated to the shadows and blocked from giving back fully to our great nation.

This is what you can do right now to pass the DREAM Act:

  1. Sign the DREAM Act Petition
  2. Join the DREAM Act Facebook Cause
  3. Send a fax in support of the DREAM Act
  4. Call your Senator and ask them to pass the DREAM Act now.
  5. Email kyle at citizenorange dot com to get more involved

Below is a list of previous entries in the DREAM Now Series:

Mohammad Abdollahi (19 July 2010)
Yahaira Carrillo (21 July 2010)
Weekly Recap – Tell Harry Reid You Want the DREAM Act Now (23 July 2010)
Wendy (26 July 2010)
Matias Ramos (28 July 2010)
Weekly Recap – The CHC Has To Stand With Migrant Youth Not Against Us (30 July 2010)
Tania Unzueta (2 August 2010)
Marlen Moreno (4 August 2010)
Weekly Recap – The Ghost of Virgil Goode Possesses the Republican Party (9 August 2010)
David Cho (9 August 2010)
Ivan Nikolov (11 August 2010)
Yves Gomes (16 August 2010)
Selvin Arevalo (18 August 2010)
Weekly Recap – Latino, LGBT, Migrant Youth, and Progressive Bloggers Lead For the DREAM Act (20 August 2010)
Carlos A. Roa, Jr. (23 August 2010)
Myrna Orozco (25 August 2010)

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright