As We Remember Our Fallen Transgender Friends, Let’s Also Remember How Far We’ve Come

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, where we take a moment to remember the lives of our fallen trans brothers and sisters, including folks like Angie Zapata and Nanny Boo and Victoria Carmen White (pictured). Bullying and phobia and intolerance are something The Gays know well, but The Ts often live in this hell everyday. But that's not true for everybody: Transgender Americans are making strides worldwide, whether on the basketball court or the sorority house or the workplace, and that's because of increased visibility and the queer community supporting members of our own. I both hate and cherish days like this, because while they are reminders that insufferable bigotry is still very much alive and well — so much so that it claims lives — it's also a chance to lift our heads up to note how far we've actually come.

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Queerty

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Ted Olson: ‘Game Changer’ on marriage equality. Let’s hope he can change more GOP minds.

Andy Towle posted this yesterday of Ted Olson getting a HuffPost Game Changer award. It’s especially relevant on this Election Day, because we may need Ted Olson (and Ken Mehlman) to start lobbying on Capitol Hill when the GOPers try to block equality. Olson’s got a powerful message:




AMERICAblog Gay

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Let’s See If Chris Armstrong Can Get Andrew Shirvell Disbarred!

Though University of Michigan student Chris Armstrong withdrew his petition for a protective order against Andrew Shirvell, he's not bowing out of the legal fight against his adult bully just yet. His attorney filed a complaint with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission against the Michigan assistant attorney general. If the commission accepts the complaint and rules in Armstrong's favor, it has the power to disbar Shirvell.

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Queerty

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Current Law Lets Fed Employees Insure their Parrots but not their Partners

HRC today called on Congress to put the real lives of people first and offer domestic partner benefits to federal employees in light of news that government employees participating in Federal Employee Health Benefits are eligible to buy into insurance policies for their pets.  These same employees are denied the opportunity to cover their same-sex domestic partners.

HRC President Joe Solmonese said: “Current law puts federal workers’ parrots ahead of their partners. It is time for Congress to act to put people first and extend health care benefits equally to all of their employees.”

Benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, are a significant portion of employee compensation. Although the federal government – the nation’s largest civilian employer – offers attractive family benefits to employees with different-sex spouses, it does not offer the same benefits to lesbian and gay workers with partners.  As a result, these employees do not receive equal pay for their equal contributions, and the government cannot keep pace with leading private-sector employers – including many federal contactors – in recruiting and retaining top talent.  In fact, 57% of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.  HRC is not aware of any statistics regarding pet insurance offerings by the Fortune 500.

The President has instructed federal agencies to “conduct a thorough review of the benefits they provide and to identify any that could be extended to LGBT employees and their partners and families” and some limited benefits have been extended.  But because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Congress must pass the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act to extend critical health care benefits.  The President has called on Congress to pass DPBO (S.1102 and H.R.2517) which has been passed in House and Senate committees but awaits floor action.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Fierce advocate on DADT and elections: ‘Let’s repeal in an orderly way’; voter apathy ‘inexcusable’

Update (by Autumn) below the fold.


Thanks to Rolling Stone, which, unlike the LGBT press, got to interview the President about LGBT rights (specifically DADT), we have yet another sterling example of fierce advocacy.

We’re just impatient; it’s too much to ask to have repealed DADT within two years. Well, crap, he hasn’t done any of the big ticket items HE promised.

Now he’s making it clear the only way the discharges will stop is the slow-walk through Congress — and he’s likely about to lose control of the House, so progress will come to a screeching halt thanks to his lack of pressure on The Hill this year, a Congress without a spine, and Robert Gates running the decision making process. (The Wonk Room):

The DADT remark came as Obama was stressing his administration’s accomplishments in its first two years in office and showing frustration over the lack of credit he has received. “I’ve been here two years, guys. And one of the things that I just try to remember is that if we have accomplished 70 percent of what we committed to in the campaign, historic legislation, and we’ve got 30 percent of it undone – well, that’s what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six,” Obama said. He did not directly say how he would meet his administration’s promise to end DADT before the end of the year, but signaled that it should be done in an “orderly” way:
OBAMA: Understandably, everybody has a great sense of urgency about these issues. But one of the things that I constantly want to counsel my friends is to keep the long view in mind. On social issues, something like “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Here, I’ve got the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff both committed to changing the policy. That’s a big deal.

ROLLING STONE: You get credit for that.

OBAMA: Now, I am also the commander in chief of an armed forces that is in the midst of one war and wrapping up another one. So I don’t think it’s too much to ask, to say “Let’s do this in an orderly way” – to ensure, by the way, that gays and lesbians who are serving honorably in our armed forces aren’t subject to harassment and bullying and a whole bunch of other stuff once we implement the policy. I use that as an example because on each of these areas, even those where we did not get some grand legislative victory, we have made progress. We have moved in the right direction.

All I can say is Obama’s doing an incredible job of motivating his base to go to the polls, don’t you think?

We’re just the messengers, peeps. Anyone out there that is going to blame the media or blogs for people staying home needs to look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A must-read if you want to catch up on DADT news (the good and the bad) – hop over to The Progress Report.

***

And if the above wasn’t bad enough, take a look at what else President Obama said about his base. Incredible political strategy – lecture and admonish it for being unenthusiastic and unhappy with his administration and Congress. Gee why would the Base think this way?

Obama: Democratic voter apathy ‘inexcusable’

The president has been telling Democrats to “wake up” and recognize that he and the Democratic-run Congress have delivered on promises, from a new health care law to tougher rules for Wall Street to more aid for college students. Obama wants disenchanted supporters to see that Republican wins in November would undermine the ability of Democrats to get the unfinished business done, from climate change legislation to allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

What emerges in the magazine story is a stern, lecturing tone from Obama.

It comes mainly at the end of the interview. Obama had wrapped the lengthy Q-and-A session, according to the magazine, but then returned unprompted to make one more impassioned point and unleash on the enthusiasm gap. He portrayed a clear choice between an administration that despite some warts has helped advance its agenda, and a Republican Party that would offer disastrous policies for the economy and civil liberties.

“The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible,” he said in the interview. He said Democrats should be thinking about what’s at stake this election “if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years.”

The frustrating and pathetic thing about this whining is that, at least here at the Blend, there has never been a call to stay at home, it’s been the opposite — give as generously as possible to pro-equality candidates, donate your time to canvass for them or promote them (as we do with liveblogs and interviews), and to show up to vote for them.

What we have said is no money to the Dem machine that turns around and funds the election of Blue Dogs that end up “No” votes on our issues.  That gAyTM is closed.

And that does not mean zero criticism if we’re looking at performance and promises. I think a person on Twitter yesterday put it quite succinctly, if tartly:

@mystic23 another thing, Dems – just cause I’m angry @ Dems doesn’t mean I won’t vote for Dems in Nov. FU for telling me not to be angry.

Update and commentary by Autumn:

Visce President Biden joins in on “motivating” the Democratic base. From MSNBC‘s Biden tells Obama’s core supporters to “buck up”:

Vice President Joe Biden told disaffected liberals within his own Democratic Party on Monday to “buck up” and “stop whining” ahead of November 2 congressional elections in which Republicans are trying to regain control of Congress.

…During a political appearance in New Hampshire, Biden directed comments at members of his own party’s base constituency who feel that Obama has not delivered on promises since coming to power in January 2009.

According to Politico, Biden said they should “stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives” — referring to Republican candidates trying to take control of the House of Representatives and Senate from the Democrats.

“So those who … didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s time to just buck up here, understand that we can make things better, continue to move forward, but not yield the playing field to those folks who are against everything that we stand for in terms of the initiatives we put forward,” Biden said later on Monday during an interview on the MSNBC cable TV channel…

The MSNBC video of Vice President Biden telling Democrats to “buck up” (via the YouTubes):

Damn skippy. With statements from President Obama telling us progressives that our alleged “apathetic” feelings about voting are “inexcusable,” and Vice President Biden telling us progressives that we need to “stop whining” and “buck up” — Is it any wonder many progressives like me aren’t very enthused to vote this November?

I didn’t vote against the other guys in 2008; I voted for candidates that I thought were going to boldly follow though with their campaign promises. I voted for President Obama and Vice President Biden in part because Presidential Candidate Obama said he was going to be a “fierce advocate” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. If the best the cowardly Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House can offer us is “we’re better than the other guys,” I know my motivation level is going to be low. If they’re going to insult my intelligence by telling me I should be more motivated to vote — even though the Democrats didn’t live up to their campaign promises — I’m even less motivated. I’m sharply angry at beltway Democrats, not apathetic in the slightest.

Oh, I’ll vote this coming November as I was already planning to do, but I’m not excited at all to vote like I was in 2008 — not by a long shot.


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Ann does what Ann does; Jeremy opens mouth wide, raises fists, and lets out a big — yawn.

Saturday night at GOProud’s “HomoCon” fundraiser in NYC, Ann Coulter reportedly (and predictably) said this nugget of whatever-ness to a room full of gay people:

Marriage “is not a civil right – you’re not black,” Coulter said to nervous laughter. She went on to note that gays are among the wealthiest demographic groups in the country.

“Blacks must be looking at the gays saying, ‘Why can’t we be oppressed like that?’”

*MORE: They’re gay, conservative and proud [Politico]

But despite how thoroughly tiresome the act seems like it’d be for the performer at this point, Ms. C apparently didn’t limit her bizarre need to jib and jab her way through any and every speech at just the above marriage comments. Journalist Megan Carpentier tweeted these other charming takeaways from her vantage point on site:

Coulter: the gays “ought to start being antiabortion because “once they find the gay gene, guess who’s getting aborted”



Coulter now on about pre-marital sex, “fisting in schools” and liberals who “aren’t really gay they just hate dad” #homocon



Ann Coulter, “I happen to be religious.” She then parrots the pro-Prop 8 arguments that failed at trial. #homocon

@megancapentier [Twitter]

6A00D8341C503453Ef0133F2E32117970B-1Offensive quips passed off as jokes? Shock value? An odd need to divide rather than unite? Uh huh. So basically it sounds like GOProud got the exact Ann Coulter that they sought: One who as a pundit makes a good agitator/performance artist, and who as a gay activist makes a good, uhm — reason to stay home and watch this week’s DVRed “Modern Family” episode instead?

But hey, such is GOProud’s organizational right, making bookings like these. All going up against the reality of GOProud’s political right: A movement that still uses words like “traditional marriage” and still votes in a unanimous senatorial block against DADT repeal.




Good As You

—  John Wright

Springfield’s Catholic High School Lets Staffers Divorce, But Removes Those Who Gay Marry

Normally it's kids getting kicked out of Catholic schools for having gay parents. But for Christine Judd, the now-former athletic director and dean of students, being forced out of Cathedral High School, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, only took marrying her lesbian partner.

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Why Do Gay Men Want to Be Fit? Let’s Ask Evolution

Tell me, science, why does a gay man like me care so much about his fitness? "The drive among women and homosexual men to lose weight comes more from a competitive instinct than a personal one, new research suggests. The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, found that a natural competitive instinct forces people to compare themselves with those who are more successful than them. And in a society that equates thinness with youthfulness and attractiveness, competing against someone successful often means losing weight. Researcher Norman Li told New Scientist magazine that the effect is likely evolutionary since western civilizations tend to gain weight as they age." Finally, we can stop blaming magazines.


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Mitch McConnell: let’s have hearing on 14th Amendment and ‘Birthright Citizenship’

It’s Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell leading the way on this BS. That alone requires examination for a host of reasons…

So instead of coming up with reality-based solutions regarding immigration reform, let’s have hearings on all sorts of things to stir up the Base. Should we take a look at the 2nd Amendment since “modern times” surely requires a different, discriminating eye than when “bear arms” meant a musket, not a stash of AK-47s?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) officially supports a review of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which grants children of undocumented immigrants status as U.S. citizens, his office confirmed to the Huffington Post on Monday.

…In offering his support, McConnell becomes the highest-ranking Republican figure to call for examining the reach of the 14th amendment. On Sunday, his chief deputy, Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) told CBS’ Face the Nation that he too would back hearings into revising citizenship laws. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — a one-time proponent of comprehensive immigration reform — has explicitly called for the 14th Amendment’s repeal.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright