Chicago Nightclub CANCELS “Kill Gays” Capleton Performance

Once Again, Public Pressure Delivers the Goods

Please THANK “Kinetic Playground” Nightclub for Doing the Right Thing!

CHICAGO — Through a series of negotiations this week and last and with the threat of a demonstration, Gay Liberation Network (GLN) and other community activists were successful in persuading management at  Kinetic Playground nightclub, 1113 W. Lawrence Avenue, to cancel “Kill Gays” dancehall performer Capleton for a show originally scheduled for late this Saturday night, October 9th.
 
In human rights circles, Capleton's Jamaica has one of the worst reputations for anti-LGBT mob violence in the hemisphere, with Jamaican police openly tolerating it.  In 2004 the country's leading gay rights campaigner, Brian Williamson, was stabbed multiple times in an apparent anti-gay hate murder. The constant threat of violence has forced other gay rights campaigners to flee the country.
 
Capleton is one of a small group of Jamaican performers who have gained international notoriety for openly calling for the murder of lesbians and gays in the lyrics of their songs.  As recently as last December at a concert in Jamaica, Capleton called out congratulations from the stage to those who commit violence — “All who a bun battyman and sodomite, hand up!” (“All who have burned queers and sodomites, put your hands up!”).
 
We are big supporters of free speech, having had our own threatened on numerous occasions.  But only a fool would say that calls to lynch people – whoever the targets – is “free speech,” any more than is yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. Nor is Capleton's right to spew hate from the stage compromised by GLN's right to protest his presence on that stage. He has a right, within limits, to say what he pleases; he has no right to the stage he wants to say it from, it doesn't belong to him.
 
The cancellation of Capleton is a victory that all human rights supporters should savor.  The Gay Liberation Network, which initiated the campaign against Capleton in Chicago, commends Kinetic Playground management for putting human rights principles above dollars by canceling the show.
 
Please put an exclamation point on this victory by buying a drink or two this Saturday night at Kinetic Playground, 1113 W. Lawrence Avenue, so that the management and staff there know that Chicago is willing to stand behind those who follow their conscience.
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—  John Wright

Groups try to block GOP efforts to kill or weaken DADT legislation

Last night, The Hill reported on the SLDN/HRC lobbying effort on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We wrote about that campaign here.

Included in the article is more background on the expected efforts by Republicans to kill DADT repeal. The danger comes from a potential amendment to expand the already complicated certification process:

Senate Republicans, backed by Armed Services ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.), are eyeing a provision that would require all service chiefs to certify that a repeal can be implemented consistent with those military standards listed above.

The way the congressional provisions are written now, only Obama, Gates and Mullen have to provide that certification.

In letters solicited by McCain, the service chiefs in May said they wanted Congress to delay voting on the issue until Dec. 1, after the Pentagon finishes a review of how the military should carry out the changes.

One problem would be that change to the certification language. It would mean that seven people get to sign off on the certification instead of the three initially proposed by the Center for American Progress’ Winnie Stachelberg, who took full credit for developing the certification compromise. It’s our understanding that she worked with Jim Messina on that language. Of course, what we’re seeing now is that Stachelberg created an opportunity for opponents of repeal. (It’s still not clear how Winnie Stachelberg, who has no LGBT constituency, managed to insert herself into this process.) If this thing fails, she owns a lot of the blame. Imagine if the President had actually lobbied for the initial repeal language — for an actual repeal of DADT, which this proposal does not guarantee — even making one or two phone calls to key Senators could have made all the difference. But, no. Messina and Stachelberg negotiated with themselves, and came up with a proposal that doesn’t even require a full repeal to ever happen. And, the LGBT groups, including those that represent servicemembers, were presented with the compromise as a fait accompli.

This same article explains the perils that lie ahead:

Gay-rights groups argue that the Republicans’ proposal to include the service chiefs in the certification process would be “a killer amendment” that would delay a repeal of “Don’t ask” for years.

Supporters of repeal are fighting any efforts to change the existing provision in the Senate. They want to make sure it is similar to the one passed in the House so that it does not become an item of negotiation between the two chambers when they write the final defense authorization bill, Sarvis explained.

So, the potential amendment to the Stachelberg certification language will 1) either delay repeal for years, or 2) make the DADT repeal language a subject that can be debated in conference, where advocates for repeal will be outnumbered by foes of repeal.

And now there’s growing concern that the Senate won’t take up the Defense authorization bill in September, leaving it until the lame duck session. That doesn’t bode well for us, since the Democrats have a history of avoiding “controversial” legislation during lame duck sessions — DADT repeal isn’t controversial anywhere but in Washington DC, it polls around 70% in practically every poll. And if they don’t take DADT up now or during the lame duck session, there’s concern that after the mid-term elections this November Democrats won’t touch our issues for years to come.

If we’re going to get the repeal done this year — or get the current compromise, which isn’t great, but it’s all we’ve got — the President is going to have to become engaged. Very engaged.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright