Maryland senator does a 180 on gay marriage

Sen. Jim Brochin

Maryland State Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat, used to say that while he supported civil unions for same-sex couples, he did not support full marriage rights for those couples. This week, he changed his mind and said he will vote for legislation giving full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Why? Because he listened.

First of all, Brochin listened to the stories of same-sex couples when they testified during public hearings in favor of the proposed Religious Marriage and Civil Marriage Protection Act. But most importantly, he listened to those who testified against the bill. And he was appalled by what he heard.

“The people who are against the bill, all they did was demonize homosexuality, call them pedophiles, androids, and I just, I can’t oppose the bill and be on the same side as people who would do that,” Brochin told AM 630 WMAL radio in explaining his change of heart. “It’s destructive, it’s insulting to the same-sex families who are trying to raise their kids.”

The bill needs 24 votes to pass the Maryland Senate and 29 to avoid any debate. Brochin’s decision makes him the 21st senator to publicly pledge support, and he said this week he believes the bill has a good chance of passing.

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What’s Brewing: Man confesses to murder of gay activist in Uganda; equality under attack in Utah

David Kato

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A man has confessed to the murder of Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato, who was beaten to death with a hammer in his home last week. If you’ll remember, Kato had been outed by an anti-gay newspaper that called for him to be killed, and had received death threats since then. But the government-sanctioned cover-up is well under way: An anonymous police source is telling the media that the suspect killed Kato because he failed to pay him for sex.

2. Speaking of Uganda, the U.S.-based group that’s been linked to “kill gays” legislation in that country, the Fellowship, was also the sponsor of this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., which was attended by President Barack Obama, among others. The LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL protested outside the event.

3. And sticking with this morning’s theme of religious-based bigotry and oppressive regimes, a Utah GOP lawmaker has filed legislation that LGBT advocates say would gut local nondiscrimination ordinances and nullify directives between same-sex partners.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Ugandan gay activist murdered; Ark. store unshields magazine; Ted Haggard

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A prominent opponent of Uganda’s “kill gays” legislation has been beaten to death at his home in the African country, according to Human Rights Watch. Gay activist David Kato’s murder comes a little more than three months after he was outed on the cover of a tabloid magazine that called for him and others to be hanged (above). Then again, violent rhetoric shouldn’t be blamed for murder, right? So this item is probably just another example of “blood libel.”

2. Speaking of magazine covers, Harps Food Stores issued a statement Wednesday saying it has removed a shield that was placed over a magazine cover depicting (gasp!) gay parents at one of its stores in Arkansas. The company says it removed the shield from a US Weekly cover featuring Elton John and his family in response to complaints received at its corporate office. Watch Anderson Cooper discuss the controversy with Dr. Phil below.

3. Disgraced televangelist Ted Haggard says he’s “bisexual” in a new GQ interview but claims he only used the meth he bought from escort Mike Jones for masturbation. C’mon, does Haggard really think he can get into Heaven with that lame excuse?

—  John Wright

More on Republican push for legislation to overturn DC marriage equality

Joe posted yesterday about Rep. Jim Jordan’s comments that he will push for Congress to overturn DC’s marriage equality. Shortly after, the Log Cabin Republicans responded to the story in an interview with Metro Weekly.

“While Log Cabin Republicans support Chairman Jordan’s efforts to reign in government spending, we strongly protest a House vote that would be a direct incursion on state’s rights,” Cooper told Metro Weekly. “For the House of Representatives to roll back DC marriage equality would be an anti-conservative expansion of federal authority.”

As someone who is being attacked here as both a gay man and a disenfranchised DC voter, I have three immediate thoughts:

  1. It’s too bad that even when Republicans attack LGBT Americans, the Log Cabin Republicans won’t issue a response that doesn’t include praise. I guess the reality that people like Rep. Jordan just don’t like you doesn’t beat out their desire to be fully loyal to the Republican party.
  2. It’s important to really focus on Joe’s comments on the likelihood of this passing. While this effort has virtually no chance as a stand alone effort, it’s important to note those who are still pushing this and how they might inject it into other legislation. DC residents certainly know how we’re used as a pawn in Congress (think overturning gun control to kill voting rights).
  3. I’m sure the Log Cabin Republicans didn’t mean to confuse DC for a state (unless they’re announcing their support for statehood, which would be fantastic).




AMERICAblog Gay

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House GOPers ‘will pursue legislation that would ban gay marriage’ in DC

We won in the courts last week when the Supreme Court refused to hear the DC marriage case. I wrote:

So, DC’s marriage law is safe from judicial attack. Now, we’ve got to keep our eye on those homophobic GOPers in Congress.

That didn’t take long. The homophobic GOPers in Congress are setting their sights on DC’s marriage law. Yes, they’re planning to use their power to strip rights from DC citizens. The Hill’s Molly Hooper reports:

House conservatives say they will pursue legislation that would ban gay marriage in the nation’s capital.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), told The Hill that he will push for a vote on the controversial issue in the 112th Congress. The RSC has 175 members.

“I think RSC will push for it, and I’m certainly strongly for it. I don’t know if we’ve made a decision if I’ll do it or let another member do it, but I’m 100 percent for it,” Jordan said.

This isn’t far-fetched. Republicans will use the legislative process to push their agenda. I outlined my concerns about how this could play out in November:

So, here’s the scenario that I fear: House Republicans include anti-gay language in their appropriation bills. We can’t strip that language on the House floor. Sure, the Senate won’t have similar language (we hope.) But, when the House Republicans get to conference committee with their anti-gay legislation and demand its inclusion in the final bill, who in the Senate will stop them? Not only do Democrats have a smaller caucus, a number of moderate-to-conservative Democrats are on the ballot in 2012 (Claire McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Jim Webb, Mark Pryor, Bill Nelson, Jon Tester, Kent Conrad, Joe Manchin). Think any of them will want to go out on a limb for gay issues?

Conference bills can’t be amended on the floor. The anti-gay provisions will be very small pieces of much bigger, must-pass bills. Does anyone really think Democrats are going to filibuster, for example, funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on behalf of gay marriage? And even if they tried, does anyone honestly think they’d win? And does anyone really think Obama would veto any appropriations bill “just” because it includes anti-gay language? I don’t think that’s where the White House will draw its line in the sand. I’d like to be wrong, but so far I’ve been sadly right.

Last year, Rep. Alcee Hastings tried to use the appropriations process defund the DADT discharges. The White House stopped him. Our side doesn’t play that way. The other guys do. Anyone who thinks the Republicans don’t is delusional. The Republicans will be tenacious and fight hard to include anti-gay language in any measure where it’s feasible, and the Democrats, in the Senate and the White House, will run away as far as possible, as they always do.

That’s still my concern. Unless, Obama evolves quickly on marriage and decides to fight against efforts to strip citizens of rights.

As I said in the post below, this should serve as a warning to everyone. Once legislators feel empowered to take the rights away from some, everyone’s rights are on the chopping block.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Villarreal files Texas ENDA bill

State Rep. Mike Villarreal

Texas state Rep. Mike Villarreal, a Democrat from San Antonio, today announced that he has filed HB 665, which would prevent employment discrimination in Texas based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

According to a statement e-mailed by Villarreal’s office, HB 665 would “end a discriminatory atmosphere that drives away well-educated professionals that would otherwise benefit the Texas economy.” Villarreal said: “Many other states and several large Texas cities have protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s time for Texas to join in stopping unfair employment practices that hurt our economy and hard-working Texans.”

According to the press release, Villarreal has filed similar legislation in both of the last two sessions of the Texas Legislature.

HB 665 was filed on Jan. 14.

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A queer take on the Texas Lege

Former Dallas resident Daniel Willams (right), who n0w lives in Houston, is the author of a very informative blog devoted to coverage of the Texas Legislature from an LGBT perspective, Legislative Queery. Williams has agreed to allow Instant Tea to cross-post his material from time to time, and we hope to do so regularly in our Community Voices section as this year’s session progresses. Read Williams’ first contribution to Instant Tea below, and be sure to visit his blog yourself to catch up on other topics.

DANIEL WILLIAMS | Legislative Queery

Today is the 11th day of the 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature. Both the House and Senate will reconvene on Monday at 1:30 p.m. The Senate is expected to begin what is certain to be an impassioned debate on voter suppression legislation, the House may finally adopt rules.

Senate committee assignments are also expected which means bills should start being referred to committee. Of particular interest is SB 245 by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, which proposes comprehensive and inclusive anti-bullying measures. We’ll be watching that carefully and will let you know as soon as it’s referred to committee.

Today is Friday, which means that most of the representatives and senators are back in their district offices in your cities and neighborhoods. Fridays are great days to call your local office and ask for support from the people elected to represent you. This is particularly important if you know that your elected officials are not supportive of the queer community.

To find the phone number for your representative and senator’s district offices go HERE. Put in your address and press enter, then scroll down the page until you see the listing for state senator and state representative and find the phone numbers for their district office. Now put those numbers in your phone’s address book so you don’t have to keep looking them up!

For a suggested script for your phone call read Legislative Queery’s post from Day 4.

You can call about any topic that’s important to you. For lists of bills that have been filed this session check out the taps at the top of this page.

I suggest calling your representative about HB 604 by Farrar, which would repeal the state’s unconstitutional ban on “Homosexual Conduct”. Ask them to “co-author HB 604″. Equality Texas has an excellent fact sheet on the bill HERE.

Sen. Davis has been unabashed in her support for anti-bullying legislation. I want to thank her by reiterating my suggestion from last week to call your senator and ask them to “co-author SB 245.” The Equality Texas fact sheet is HERE.

—  John Wright

Gay bullying die-in planned at Texas Capitol on opening day of legislative session

The 82nd Texas Legislature gets under way next Tuesday, and in this Friday’s Voice, we’ll have a full preview of what to expect — and not to expect — on the LGBT front. But for now, we thought we mention that a group called Queer Texas United is planning a die-in Tuesday evening to support anti-bullying legislation. From the Facebook event page:

Let’s get out and show our support for the victims of bullying and tell our legislature to protect students from these cowardly thugs! We will be demonstrating by laying on the steps of the capitol building, each person representing a different LGBT person who has committed suicide as a result of bullying. We must send a clear message to our representatives that state-sanctioned discrimination, bigotry, and harassment is not acceptable!

The die-in will be from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and a planning meeting will be held at 7 p.m. this Thursday at Cheer Up Charlie’s, at 1104 E. 6th St. in Austin.

—  John Wright

Am I grateful for the DADT legislation?

Am I grateful that the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal has been signed into law? Yes, I am, but like the author, Fred Karger, and founder of “Rights Equal Rights” conveys,

WASHINGTON, DC – Like millions of Americans, I was so happy to see the president’s bill signing ceremony. Don’t Ask, Don’ Tell created nearly 18 years of government sanctioned and enforced discrimination. Now that it is on its way out, the president seemed genuinely happy for the first time in months.

See how great it can be to do the right thing. All that excitement and emotion at the signing ceremony was seen and heard around the world.

Barack Obama was probably one of the first prominent Americans to support gay marriage way back in 1996 when he was first running for state office in Illinois.

President Obama is one of those politicians who have to be made to do the right thing. We can not rest and must ensure all our rights are recognized. Besides, if our nation can admit we should be able to openly serve our country right alongside our straight troops then we should have every single right and benefit they enjoy.

Am I grateful? Of course, but this victory just makes me more determined to experience ALL the promises of equality by our nation’s constitution. Pam Spaulding, over at Pam’s House Blend, has a good post of Mike Signorile making the particular point we are where we are today because of our refusal to remain quiet about promises made to us by the Obama Administration.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Chairman of Jt Chiefs Mullen clearly sees DADT legislation as ‘repeal’; Gates however…

Statement by Adm. Mike Mullen on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

“I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Handling this through legislation preserves the military’s prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner.

“More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

“I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards.”

Then there’s Gates’ statement. Note the part about how they’re going to continue implementing the law. That’s ridiculous. Leave it to Gates to ruin Obama’s day of victory, and ours.

Statement by Secretary Robert Gates on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

“I welcome today’s vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law.

“Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully. This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

“The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces. As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units.

“It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today’s historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time. In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect.

“Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force. With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history.”

It’s going to be pretty darn embarrassing if they keep kicking people out, and keep defending DADT in court, after the repeal mandate is signed.




AMERICAblog Gay

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