Watch: Dan Savage Tells CNN That It Must Stop Giving Platforms to Hate Group Leaders Like the FRC’s Tony Perkins

Dansavage

CNN ran a segment on bullying and hate crimes inspired by the SPLC's recent report and their designation of 13 new organizations as "hate" groups.

Dan Savage tells Kyra Phillips, who is incredulous over the numbers of violent crimes committed against gay people, that change must begin with organizations like CNN, which give platforms to leaders of hate groups like the Family Research Council, which masquerade as religious organizations.

Says Savage: "There are no ‘two sides’ to the issue of LGBT rights. Right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on CNN."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP

(via two)

UPDATE: Savage says, "The question about what could be done to lower the rate of anti-gay hate crimes was the planned final question in the segment, CNN knew I was going to slam 'em when they asked it, and they had me on anyway. Which is to CNN's credit."



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Giving truth the Schlaf: Iowa For Freedom edition

Another completely misrepresentative take on the recent “Iowa For Freedom” campaign, this time from conservative doyenne Phyllis Schlafly:

The powers that be in Iowa tried to tell Iowa voters that they had an obligation to vote yes on the three judges in order to maintain an independent judiciary. But what kind of an un-ColumnistsschlaflyAmerican election is that when you are told by important people you should vote yes but not no?

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who for several years has been trucking around the country to support judicial supremacy, injected herself into the Iowa campaign by trying to make it unacceptable to vote no on any judge.”

Phyllis Schlafly: Judges Get Their Comeuppance [TownHall]

Okay, first off: The “Iowa For Freedom” campaign was 100% designed to tell voters that they had to vote one way: NO. In fact, IFF supporters were often told that a non-retention vote was the only godly choice available. And they did all this on the basis of one ruling — ONE. RULING! – based on little more than faith-based disdain for same-sex marriage.

On the flip side: The defenders of the judges were not, by and large, saying to vote an unquestionable yes. Supporters were defending judicial independence in general, telling voters to cast a vote on the basis of the judge’s entire careers, after reasoned considerations of all of their rulings (independent of personal faith views), and while using a fair assessment of the judiciary’s role in civil rights conversations. So it’s simply galling for Phyllis to suggest that it was the judicial supporters who were leading their witnesses!

Then, on to Sandra Day O’Connor: Again, the former SCOTUS justice did not at all encourage a blanket “no” vote. What she encouraged was a fair-minded outlook of the retention process and its usage:

We have to address the pressures that are being applied to that one safe place, the courtroom,” O’Connor said. “We have to have a place where judges are not subject to outright retaliation for their judicial decisions. That’s the concept. Sure they can be ousted and that’s part of the system, but what the framers of our federal constitution tried to do was establish a system of judicial selection where the judges would not be subject to retaliation by the other branches for their judicial actions.

IowaPolitics.com: O’Connor touts Iowa’s merit system of selecting judges [IowaPolitics.com]

And what’s even more egregious about Schalfly’s usage of O’Connor now, is that the Iowa For Freedom campaign actually truncated O’Connor’s words and USED THEM AS A WEB AD THAT INTIMATED SUPPORT FOR THEIR CAUSE!:

6A00D8341C503453Ef0134874A45B8970C

Sandra Day O’Connor on Removing Activist Judges [Iowa For Freedom]

From start to finish, the Iowa For Freedom campaign was one with no legs to stand on, so they manufactures bully clubs to support their platform instead. Now Schlafly is keeping that same mentality alive, suggesting that it was her socially conservative team that managed to triumph over the cruel tyranny of her opposition. We’re just not sure when basic civics, mindful examinations, informed legal opinion, and one co-equal branch of government became the tyrants here.




Good As You

—  admin

Giving ‘Em Hope: The It Gets Better Project

By Ian Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office, and Chris Hampton, ACLU LGBT Project

September was a hard month for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, especially for some of its youngest and most vulnerable members.

Earlier this month, 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana, was found by his mother in the family’s barn after he had taken his own life. Late last week, Asher Brown, also 13, of Houston, Texas, died after shooting himself. On Tuesday, 13-year-old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, California, passed away after spending nine days on life support after he hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. On Wednesday, the body of 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi was pulled from the Hudson River in New York, days after he was allegedly humiliated and outed to other students by his roommate. And just this morning we learned that on the same day, 19-year-old college student Raymond Chase hanged himself in his dorm room in Rhode Island.

Each of these preventable tragedies speaks to the need for our schools to do a much better job at protecting students who are (or are thought to be) LGBT from harassment and abuse, and teaching all students to treat each other with respect and dignity. But in addition to that, youth like Seth, Asher, Billy, Tyler, and Raymond need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that they will be okay and that people will love them for who they are.

Last week Seattle writer, sex advice columnist, and activist Dan Savage announced he’d started a YouTube channel called the It Gets Better Project to reach out to young people like Seth, Asher, and Billy. The idea is simple: Videos featuring LGBT adults sharing their personal experiences talk directly to LGBT youth to show them that life usually improves immensely for LGBT people as they get older. The message to these young people is also simple: "It gets better."

A few of us at the ACLU were emailing each other late last week, talking about whether to write a blog post about this project, when someone said, "Hey, why don’t we make a video?" After all, many of us here at the ACLU are members of the LGBT community and were bullied and harassed when we were in school too.

We put the word out at our national headquarters, and people from all over the ACLU stepped up immediately to be filmed, including folks from our fundraising, human resources, and database departments. And our executive director, Anthony Romero, took time to participate too. ACLU staff at our Washington Legislative Office started working on a video as well. Over the past few days, as we’ve been shooting our videos, the It Gets Better Project has exploded, with dozens of videos being created and group filming shoots being set up in cities nationwide.

Harvey Milk famously said, "You’ve gotta give ‘em hope." We certainly believe that’s true.

For more information about the ACLU’s work on behalf of LGBT youth, click here. And if you’re a young person considering suicide, please contact The Trevor Project.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Who’s HRC Giving $150,000? (Surprise: This Time It’s Not The DNC!)

Making good on an earlier promise, the Human Rights Campaign is giving away 0,000 — to match Target's cash and in-kind services donation to MN Forward — to Tom Emmer-attack PAC WIN Minnesota (0,000); OutFront Minnesota (,000); and to pro-LGBT candidates including Mark Dayton (,000). It should be quite the scene in Minnesota this weekend, as HRC chief Joe Somonese addresses the HRC Twin Cities fundraising dinner, where Dayton will appear. I guess this is the definition of a non-knee jerk reaction?


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Activist Video: Activist Iowa judge actively giving activist speech on active activist video!

You’ve heard us talk about the inappropriateness of social conservatives’ current campaign to remove the three Iowa justices who are on the ballot in this year’s retention vote (David Baker, Michael Streit and Chief Justice Marsha Ternus) simply because they, the self-appointed moral monopolists, don’t like the way the UNANIMOUS marriage equality decision went down. But now hear from the man who actually wrote the Varnum opinion (by luck of the draw), Republican appointee Mark Cady, as he shares his views on the independent judiciary’s pivotal role and the need to do what’s right even in the face of rage and/or complacency:




‘Independence’ cited by justice in same-sex case [Des Moines Register]

**SEE ALSO: What Terry Brandstad, former state governor (’83-’99) and current GOP candidate to return to the governor’s office, had to say about Cady back when he appointed him:

The Cedar Rapids Gazette, 9/20/98

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Good As You

—  John Wright

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright