7PM ET: PHB liveblog with candidate for North Carolina Democratic Party chair David Parker

The URL for the liveblog is: http://tinyurl.com/parkerPHB.



The election of state party chairs is quite relevant because of the circumstances we find many states in — they have lost control of their legislatures to teabaggers and GOP fringers because of the wealth of dissatisfaction over the economy last fall. Incumbents took the hit from the voters at all levels and the NC GOPers in the Gen Assembly are already flexing their bigoted muscles: Republicans file bill to prohibit anyone not in U.S. legally from attending NC community colleges or universities. And yesterday the Republicans elected proud bigot eruption-prone Sen. Jim Forrester as deputy president pro tempore. This is the man who refused to meet with P-FLAG and files a marriage amendment year after year as his first act as a legislator. We’ll see how soon he puts this on the agenda. He (in)famously said last year: “I’m not against homosexuals.” He said he has gay patients who see him in his medical practice “and I treat them like everyone else.”

In the case of North Carolina, a regrouping and fresh ideas are necessary, but in an emerging socially moderate state, the selection of a party chair for Democrats is particularly crucial. And if you’re LGBT, you want to see the party not willing to run away from equality issues.

Attorney David Parker is running for NC Democratic Party Chair (the election is on Jan 31). He wanted to hold a short live blog on the Blend to share his vision of leadership in the North Carolina Democratic Party, which is now facing a challenging landscape as the General Assembly here is now Republican controlled, the first time since Reconstruction. The LGBT community in NC faces the prospect of a marriage amendment that will be heard on the floor of the state House and Senate. Parker seeks LGBT support as an ally. Right out of the box, he’s in favor or transparency and participation for the community and is frank about it:

I am committed to creating an LGBT Caucus in NC and have an endorser who wants to lead the effort at the breakout sessions that I will convene within 30 Minutes of being elected Chair – I have attached my “First 30 Minutes Plan” and Breakout group agenda to show you my vision for that day. There is a “First 30 Days” Plan that dovetails with those efforts as well.

I would very much like your readers’ input and suggestions on how to make this work and not be a flash in the pan. For instance, I would like to see Caucuses and Roundtables in those counties where they can be formed. All three components of Members (organization), Message and Money come into play and need to be worked. We need to be aggressive on our messaging.

In reading through your site, I am committed to the Dallas Principles – they are sensible and should be a part of our Platform with “personal individual dignity” as “core value” to be at the top of our Platform in a Preamble. Part of what has sparked my email to you is seeing where the GOP will be going with the repeal of DADT as indicated by Bill James remarks in Charlotte about gays being “sexual predators”.

My most important action in the gay rights area has been as a part of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. I have worked closely with Chris and Lou East from Greensboro (she is the minister for Epiphany – you can read about her at http://www.covenantnetwork.org/news/east.html ; Chris is also an ordained Presbyterian Minister and works as a Counselor at Replacements, Ltd.). I have not just given money and attended meetings, I wrote and performed the solo anthem for the national Covenant Network gathering in Davidson several years ago.

I next was a member of the PUP task force that worked through the changes arising out of the General Assembly’s passing of scrupling protocols as a way to permit the ordaining of gays in our Church. Stewart Ellis of Winston-Salem can tell you about my involvement there. We were able to get a protocol adopted in our Presbytery without objection – a signal accomplishment done with a lot of good dialogue.

As a PC(USA) General Assembly Commissioner this past summer, I argued in front of the roughly 2,000 folks there assembled for expanding pension and beneficiary benefits to gay partners. We passed the new enabling policy. You can read about the pension changes at https://www.pc-biz.org/IOBView.aspx?m=ro&id=3271 We have come a ways, but still have a long way to go….We are faced with the prospect of the Bill James of the world being in control – scary, scary stuff – no telling what will come out of this General Assembly. We can expect a Marriage Amendment and other acts to be presented to Gov. Perdue with a challenge to veto them – and a challenge to the State House to sustain her veto. With a 4 vote “cushion”, we may have issues.

This work is based on my belief that sexual orientation is a gift from God.

One of other candidates running for the post, Bill Faison, has had to contend with an interview he gave a few years ago in the Independent Weekly where he stated that he was not a supporter of marriage equality.

Gordon Smith, an ally on the Asheville City Council, did Q&As with Parker (and Bill Faison as well as the third candidate in the race, Dannie Montgomery). You can see all of their answers at Gordon’s blog, Scrutiny Hooligans.

It’s an interesting opportunity for Blenders to think about how the political parties in their state are considering LGBT issues in 2011, particularly if you’re in a state with few or no protections and have to contend with reluctant party leadership.

I hope you’ll join me as David and I discuss the future work a party can do to move equality forward. Video is below the fold.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

7PM ET: PHB liveblog with candidate for North Carolina Democratic Party chair David Parker

The URL for the liveblog is: http://tinyurl.com/parkerPHB.



The election of state party chairs is quite relevant because of the circumstances we find many states in — they have lost control of their legislatures to teabaggers and GOP fringers because of the wealth of dissatisfaction over the economy last fall. Incumbents took the hit from the voters at all levels and the NC GOPers in the Gen Assembly are already flexing their bigoted muscles: Republicans file bill to prohibit anyone not in U.S. legally from attending NC community colleges or universities. And yesterday the Republicans elected proud bigot eruption-prone Sen. Jim Forrester as deputy president pro tempore. This is the man who refused to meet with P-FLAG and files a marriage amendment year after year as his first act as a legislator. We’ll see how soon he puts this on the agenda. He (in)famously said last year: “I’m not against homosexuals.” He said he has gay patients who see him in his medical practice “and I treat them like everyone else.”

In the case of North Carolina, a regrouping and fresh ideas are necessary, but in an emerging socially moderate state, the selection of a party chair for Democrats is particularly crucial. And if you’re LGBT, you want to see the party not willing to run away from equality issues.

Attorney David Parker is running for NC Democratic Party Chair (the election is on Jan 31). He wanted to hold a short live blog on the Blend to share his vision of leadership in the North Carolina Democratic Party, which is now facing a challenging landscape as the General Assembly here is now Republican controlled, the first time since Reconstruction. The LGBT community in NC faces the prospect of a marriage amendment that will be heard on the floor of the state House and Senate. Parker seeks LGBT support as an ally. Right out of the box, he’s in favor or transparency and participation for the community and is frank about it:

I am committed to creating an LGBT Caucus in NC and have an endorser who wants to lead the effort at the breakout sessions that I will convene within 30 Minutes of being elected Chair – I have attached my “First 30 Minutes Plan” and Breakout group agenda to show you my vision for that day. There is a “First 30 Days” Plan that dovetails with those efforts as well.

I would very much like your readers’ input and suggestions on how to make this work and not be a flash in the pan. For instance, I would like to see Caucuses and Roundtables in those counties where they can be formed. All three components of Members (organization), Message and Money come into play and need to be worked. We need to be aggressive on our messaging.

In reading through your site, I am committed to the Dallas Principles – they are sensible and should be a part of our Platform with “personal individual dignity” as “core value” to be at the top of our Platform in a Preamble. Part of what has sparked my email to you is seeing where the GOP will be going with the repeal of DADT as indicated by Bill James remarks in Charlotte about gays being “sexual predators”.

My most important action in the gay rights area has been as a part of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. I have worked closely with Chris and Lou East from Greensboro (she is the minister for Epiphany – you can read about her at http://www.covenantnetwork.org/news/east.html ; Chris is also an ordained Presbyterian Minister and works as a Counselor at Replacements, Ltd.). I have not just given money and attended meetings, I wrote and performed the solo anthem for the national Covenant Network gathering in Davidson several years ago.

I next was a member of the PUP task force that worked through the changes arising out of the General Assembly’s passing of scrupling protocols as a way to permit the ordaining of gays in our Church. Stewart Ellis of Winston-Salem can tell you about my involvement there. We were able to get a protocol adopted in our Presbytery without objection – a signal accomplishment done with a lot of good dialogue.

As a PC(USA) General Assembly Commissioner this past summer, I argued in front of the roughly 2,000 folks there assembled for expanding pension and beneficiary benefits to gay partners. We passed the new enabling policy. You can read about the pension changes at https://www.pc-biz.org/IOBView.aspx?m=ro&id=3271 We have come a ways, but still have a long way to go….We are faced with the prospect of the Bill James of the world being in control – scary, scary stuff – no telling what will come out of this General Assembly. We can expect a Marriage Amendment and other acts to be presented to Gov. Perdue with a challenge to veto them – and a challenge to the State House to sustain her veto. With a 4 vote “cushion”, we may have issues.

This work is based on my belief that sexual orientation is a gift from God.

One of other candidates running for the post, Bill Faison, has had to contend with an interview he gave a few years ago in the Independent Weekly where he stated that he was not a supporter of marriage equality.

Gordon Smith, an ally on the Asheville City Council, did Q&As with Parker (and Bill Faison as well as the third candidate in the race, Dannie Montgomery). You can see all of their answers at Gordon’s blog, Scrutiny Hooligans.

It’s an interesting opportunity for Blenders to think about how the political parties in their state are considering LGBT issues in 2011, particularly if you’re in a state with few or no protections and have to contend with reluctant party leadership.

I hope you’ll join me as David and I discuss the future work a party can do to move equality forward. Video is below the fold.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Resources for Prop 8 court case today. Join liveblog at 12:30 PM ET

NOTE FROM PAM: Bumping up Lurleen’s prep post from yesterday. New Blend content is below. Photo: Keen News Service via Twitpic.

At 12:30 PM ET The Blend will feature live discussion and analysis on the front page  courtesy of Americablog, hosted by Joe Sudbay and featuring commentary by contributor and California lawyer/activist Liz Newcomb and USC Constitutional Law Professor David Cruz, who “is a constitutional law expert focusing on civil rights and equality issues, including equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.” AB’s prep docs are here.

Another good primer: Chris Geidner’s Prop 8 Argument Day FAQ Top 10 questions at MetroWeekly.



Was Justice Vaughn Walker’s ruling correct that Prop 8 is unconstitutional?  Do the proponents of Prop 8, Yes on 8, have standing to appeal his decision?  These are the two major questions before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, December 6th at 10 a.m. PST.  The hearing is scheduled to last 2 hours.

The case is called Perry v. Schwarzenegger and will be heard at the James R. Browning Courthouse, 95 7TH Street in San Francisco, CA.  Unlike the earlier trial, this hearing will be televised, tweeted and blogged.  From American Foundation for Equal Rights:

Watch Online

AFER and Towleroad.com have teamed up for live coverage and commentary during and following the hearing. Check back here for details.

Featuring Richard Socarides, Attorney and White House adviser under President Bill Clinton and bloggers Andy Towle and Corey Johnson.

Watch on TV

C-SPAN and The California Channel and San Francisco outlets: KGO-TV, KRON-TV KTVU – Channel 2, ABC News

Listen/Stream Audio

ABC News, KCBS radio, KGO radio, KQED News

For a list of federal courthouses in CA, OR, WA, NY & MA live streaming the hearing click here.  And of course the Courage Campaign’s Prop 8 Trial Tracker will be covering the proceedings.

Significantly, California Attorney General-elect Kamala Harris said she will not seek to defend Prop 8.  This means that if the 9th Circuit rules that the defendants have no standing to defend Prop 8, the case is over provided that Yes on 8 is unsuccessful in appealing the 9th Circuit’s decision to the US Supreme Court.  It may take the court several weeks to release their decision.  You can read the documents submitted to the 9th Circuit Court appeal on the Court’s special website here.

Update: San Diego Lesbian & Gay News has posted a fascinating exploration of the possible outcomes for this case, penned by legal expert Ari Ezra Waldman.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Liveblog: Stepping on the third rail of race w/Steven Thrasher of ‘White America Has Lost Its Mind’

Join us tonight at 8PM ET for the liveblog with Steven Thrasher (http://tinyurl.com/ThrasherPHB)


Zap! It’s the sound of The Village Voice ‘s Steven Thrasher stepping on the third rail of race by taking a tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek, but deadly spot-on look at how the masks have completely dropped off with the election of Barack Obama — White America Has Lost Its Mind.

This post is a not-so-little primer in advance of tonight’s Blend live chat with Steven, whose piece is one of the most-read Village Voice’s stories of the year and has generated a record number of comments at the Voice. It has been shared on Facebook more than 21,000 times, and tweeted (and re-tweeted) extensively.

In terms of mail, poor Steven’s inbox has exploded — over 1,500 email responses to date. Most are overwhelmingly positive (though he says the negative ones were really negative – more samples of that later).

Why did this article strike a nerve with people, besides being a piece on race? Well…

1) The Title: This is obvious – saying “White America Has Lost Its Mind” is such a sweeping, hilarious generalization right up front – if you’re a person of color, you probably laugh right off of the bat. If you’re not, some white folks will laugh, and some will immediately get defensive, thinking the author is unfairly lumping all white people of all political persuasions in with the Limbaughs, Palins and the Teabaggers.

That’s the point – how often do you hear “the black community” discussed as a political or cultural monolith in the MSM? The fact that I had to explain this to some of my defensive white Facebook friends when I “shared” this article shows you how jumpy and paranoid some white folks are about raising the spectre of being judged as racist even when the finger isn’t pointing directly at them.

2) The truth in the piece. Steven Thrasher takes no prisoners from the very beginning to paint an epic mural of stereotypes that, sadly, are backed by cold hard facts covering very prominent bigot eruptions. How can you not laugh (and want to cry) at this:

About 12:01 on the afternoon of January 20, 2009, the white American mind began to unravel.

It had been a pretty good run up to that point. The brains of white folks had been humming along cogently for near on 400 years on this continent, with little sign that any serious trouble was brewing. White people, after all, had managed to invent a spiffy new form of self-government so that all white men (and, eventually, women) could have a say in how white people were taxed and governed. White minds had also nearly universally occupied just about every branch of that government and, for more than two centuries, had kept sole possession of the leadership of its executive branch (whose parsonage, after all, is called the White House).

But when that streak was broken-and, for the first time, a non-white president accepted the oath of office-white America rapidly began to lose its grip.

As with other forms of dementia, the signs weren’t obvious at first. After the 2008 election, when former House majority leader Tom DeLay suggested that instead of a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should “have a nice little chicken dinner, and we’ll save the 5 million,” black folks didn’t miss the implication. References to chicken, particularly of the fried variety, have long served as a kind of code when white folks referred to black people and their gustatory preferences-and weren’t many of us already accustomed to older white politicians making such gaffes? But who among us sensed that it was a harbinger that an entire nation was plunging into madness?

I have to disagree with Steven here – having covered the 2008 election year, the nation’s race-based plunge into madness began once it was clear that Barack Obama had a chance to win the Democratic nomination, and escalated into what we referred here on the Blend as the McCain mob incidents. White folks in despair of the thought of Obama being elected POTUS generated these (a small sample):

* The parade of racist images continues: Obama ribs ‘n chicken

* California: Sacramento GOP web site calls for the torture of Barack Obama

* Mike Signorile listens to The Hate Out There

* Here we go again: another Palin groupie shouts ‘kill him’ at PA rally

* Own it, bigot

* Missouri: More of the McCain/Palin/GOP Base

* Frank Rich on the fires stoked by McCain/Palin

* The GOP ticket draws, and apparently embraces, the bigot eruption crowd

* More fun in post-racial America

* John McCain forced to denounce racist, homophobic member of Virginia leadership team

* Kentucky, I know you can do better than this

* FL: middle school teacher uses ‘nigger’ to describe Barack Obama

* Palin praised racist writer who called for RFK’s assassination

* Values at the Values Voter Summit – Obama as a Muslim Aunt Jemima

* Westmoreland stands by ‘uppity’ remark about Obama

* White supremacists: Obama’s boosting our movement

* John McLaughlin: Obama fits the ‘Oreo’ stereotype

* Georgia: publication features Obama in crosshairs on cover for article on white supremacist threat

* Bigot eruption: GOP House member refers to Obama as ‘boy’

* South Carolina: black reporter attacked by white family (on camera!)

3) Declaring white folks insane. Satire aside, as you read the piece you have to wonder what is mentally wrong with a too-large slice of the white population.

But the more you shook your head at it, the more it seemed to have taken root deep in the lizard part of the white nervous system. Obama is not an American. He says he’s Christian, but he has a Muslim-sounding name. He’s not black, he’s not white. . . . Is . . . is he even human?

Today, Newsweek has found, nearly a quarter of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, with barely 42 percent of the nation accepting his claim that he’s a Christian. CNN finds that a quarter of Americans also believe that Obama was “probably or definitely” born in another country.

Harris found in an online poll that 14 percent of Americans believe in their hearts that President Barack Obama is the antichrist, with nearly a quarter of Republicans saying so.

More below the fold…
As I said earlier – if you’ve been reading the Blend, post after post covered absolutely certifiable people who have no compunction about declaring birth theories in public (e.g. Joseph Farah), hoping to be taken seriously.

4. The conclusion drawn in the piece. It’s a provocative and worthwhile discussion-generator — it’s not just race, it’s a generational conflict being stirred by yes, white folks — the elder, vulnerable Boomers.

For the first time in their lives, baby boomers are hard up against it economically, and white boy is becoming outnumbered and it’s got his bowels chilled with fear.

“In an age of diminished resources, the United States may be heading for an intensifying confrontation between the gray and the brown,” writes Ronald Brownstein in his July National Journal article, “The Gray and the Brown: The Generational Mismatch.” That’s a polite and understated way of saying that older white folks are losing their shit as they’re being replaced by young brown and black kids while the economy is in the crapper.

The demographics of this enormous, Social Security-crushing generation (80 percent white) mean all of us have been subjected to its cultural influences and impact as it matured in its 30s, 40s, 50s…and now a good slice of them are grandparents with retirement dead ahead. It’s also the generation that wants to prove itself immortal, highly potent, and powerful because it’s getting grayer, weaker and insecure as the country grows more black and brown. And this large group of historically self-focused people used to being the center of the universe are about to become dependent on these black and brown young people to pay their entitlement tab.

And yes, in that group of color-aroused people you can count a lot of Tea Party voters, and the right-wing MSM and political figures on the cover of the Voice piece.

And yes, there are also a lot of white progressive, white privilege-aware people in the Boomer Generation, as well as many more who really don’t think about the impact of race at all in their lives, living in mostly-white neighborhoods, sending their kids to majority white schools; they may work with people of color but most don’t have any close social connections with non-white people to discuss race matters with. Steven’s piece is meant to be provocative. And it has been. Take a look at the word cloud his piece generated. Foster Kamer at the Voice, in reaction to the initial response to the article:

Without further ado, we invite you to take a look around this word cloud of the 150 most popular terms in the first day’s comments (excluding otherwise common language):

If you can’t tell, it’d seem like white people love to talk about….White People! Thrasher’s name is invoked quite a bit, as is the word “America,” which, okay, are all in the title and byline of the story. Yet, even more interesting are the smaller words: “racism,” “racist” “think,” “folks,” and so on, but the real story comes in the occurrences:”democrat” and “liberal” are invoked more than “conservative,” none of which are invoked more than “blacks” or “lost.”

And about that hate mail? Well, you can only imagine what came flowing into the inboxes at The Village Voice. It was enough to generate two posts: The Village Voice Institute of Crazy White American Folk (Letters to the Editor), and The Village Voice Institute of Crazy White American Folk, Pt. 2 (Letters to the Editor).

This week’s Village Voice‘s cover story by staff writer Steven Thrasher, an essay entitled White America Has Lost Its Mind, sure has attracted some interesting attention! Whether or not readers agree with what we have to say, we often get letters from them regarding our stories, many of which are exciting, substantial, or, at the very least, rational, nuanced, and psychologically stable. These letters are none of those things.

Not. Kidding. Look at these gems:

From: jay5775@ionet.net

Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 7:08 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: Howdy

You racist fuck. Like to use the term white boy a lot huh? Well how about this black boy…. go fuck yourself. Regarding your recent article… sounds like you’re the one all gunched up with fear. I could smell it right from the page. Did I tell you to go fuck yourself? Oh yeah I guess I did. Have a great day now you silly little racist black boy.

***

From: Michael G Smith

Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:46 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: I can see November from my house!

Steven….

If you’re this fucked up now, I can’t wait to see how over the top bat-shit looney tunes you’re gonna be after we kick your punk-ass to the curb come November! You and the Jug-eared pant-load deserve what’s coming. I’m giddy with sweet revenge. HA HA. Oh yeah, and nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. Best buy some new panties. You’re gonna piss all over the ones you’re currently wearing……Girlie man!

***

From: Jerry Wigutow

Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:44 AM

To: Thrasher, Steven Subject: white American mind

You are very correct in pointing out the white American mind was in disarray. They white America elected obama and they have come to their senses by virtue of LEARNING that he is unfit and incompetent at the job of President of the USA. The man has a ghetto personality and it is quite obvious since that is where he was educated once he left college.

Jerry Wigutow

***

From: Clint

Sent: Sun 10/3/2010 2:05 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: U r a piece of shit

The day your gun toting, drug selling, baby machines, non educated, prison filling race takes over white people won’t care. The US will be fucked…just look at all those African countries ran by all the browns….you poor soul really have no clue do you. You pretend to think you know but you don’t. Do you think white people are just gonna step aside after centuries of building this country…posh posh you poor thing. Think about it…white people may have lost it, but brown people never fuckin had it and will never have this country as successful as the crazy whites. You sir are a prime example of this idiocy, the moment your people deem they have control dumb bloggers like yourself will make articles like this that will inflame the white minority and talk about an uprising of people… The browns would be powerless…I hope when it goes to hell you have at least one white friend who can save you…it won’t be me!!! Hey have a good one, theres not to many left you silly browny!! You are just to funny..I hope your white boss don’t fire you!

Sent from my iPhone

You have to surf over to the Voice site to read how Foster Kamer handles these letters. Hilarious.

We can discuss all of this during tonight’s Blend liveblog with Steven, but I wanted to share a reminder that a post-racial society remains a distant dream, and not just because of the observations Steven Thrasher makes in White America Has Lost Its Mind.

Here’s very timely example that Adam Serwer pulled from C-SPAN the other day. The YouTube’s title is self-explanatory – “Haven’t We Done Enough For You People?”

A self-identified 90-year-old woman calls into C-SPAN’s Washington Journal discussion on Wall Street and the administration and tests the legendary professionalism of one of the show’s hosts, Robb Harleston, by saying she was just calling in to ask “a colored man,” why black people aren’t more thankful for everything whites have done for them. When he gently reminds her of the topic at hand, she assures him she’s not a racist.


Ta-Nehisi Coates notes that the host never accused her of being racist – he told her that she was off-topic, but in her mind he went there.

This leads me to separate point–I’m very interested in, precisely, what it means among white people to be considered a racist. I don’t mean under the sanction of black people. I mean in places where there are no black people. It almost feels like, among whites, to be accused of being a racist is a class slur. Like racist is short for “inbred uncultured hick.” It’s fascinating.

It’s an honest question I have as well — when cornered for saying/doing something blatantly racist, calling the person out as racist is always vigorously denied? What in their minds constitutes being racist if they aren’t? Are they thinking cross-burning and Klan night riding?

As you can see there are many facets to the discussion we’ll have tonight, and I hope you’ll come with your civility hats on as well as a willingness to be frank.

I’ll end with a snippet from a post I wrote a while back (“Revisiting the difficult conversations that people don’t want to have“) that’s particularly relevant here.

In my own blogging I have tried to made it safe to discuss race by saying no question is dumb, and that mutual understanding can be gained only be holding discussions, not shouting sessions. What this requires from me, though, is a lot of listening, and self-censorship to a degree — with those who disagree or are coming from a place of anger, resentment or fear, I really have no latitude to become angry or defensive. If I do, it only affirms the belief that the topic cannot be discussed and worse, they can’t trust engaging any black person on the topic. While that seems ridiculous, it has played itself over and over, as an entire race is colored by a single negative interaction with a person — as if class, education, local, family history has no bearing on the individual in question. How ludicrous would it be to say that if I were mugged by a white man that I would then fear all white men?

We’ll never know how to build bridges if people aren’t willing to express their fears and ignorance without getting their heads bitten off. By the same token, no rational discussion about sensitive topics can take place if that expression is not really about engaging tactfully or diplomatically, but unloading frustrations in a way that is hurtful and shuts down conversation. That’s what happens when people leave these discussions buried — they come out in all the wrong ways, resulting flashpoints at the completely wrong time.

***

On a completely different note, I want to again congratulate Steven for being honored with a 2010 Courage Award by the New York Anti-Violence Project. It’s the oldest organization in the nation that combats violence toward and within the LGBT community. Bil Browning, Joe Jervis, Andy Towle and I received it last year.

Steven’s going to be feted along with other winners of the award on October 18 at the Prince George Ballroom on East 27th Street, and event hosted by the oh-so-fabulous BD Wong (see his touching video for the It Gets Better series).
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

7:30 PM ET Liveblog: Rebecca Traister, author of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – women & the 2008 election

This post is bumped up for the liveblog; new content is below.


The URL for the chat is: http://tinyurl.com/traisterPHB.


It’s been an interesting week at the Blend — chock full of liveblogs — and tonight we’ll have another. We normally speak with politicians or advocacy orgs, but this time we’re going to take a short trip back in history to analyze the 2008 election and women who played a major role during the campaign as all eyes were on not only Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, but Michelle Obama, Katie Couric and Tina Fey. Seen through this prism, it was an extraordinary time in politics.

This evening we will chat with Salon.com’s Rebecca Traister, who covers women in media, entertainment, and politics. Her new book has just dropped — Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women (published by Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.).

Rebecca and I have met offline before; she was one of two writers honored in the Online Journalism category at the Women’s Media Center’s first annual WMC Media Awards (your blogmistress was the other recipient).

It will be exciting to jump into the time machine to revisit the runup to the 2008 elections from Rebecca’s perspective. Regular Blenders know that here on the blog it was a veritable rollercoaster of heated opinions, controversies, or scandals of one kind of another. And we can’t forget the Hillary vs. Obama camps and their fervent belief in their candidates.

In a Blend exclusive (and to prep readers for the chat), Free Press/Simon & Schuster has granted permission to bring you Rebecca’s introduction to “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” where she gives a shout-out to The Blend. The book excerpt is below the fold.
Excerpted from Big Girls Don’t Cry: the election that changed everything for American women / Rebecca Traister. Copyright ? 2010 by Rebecca Traister. Excerpted with permission by Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Exclusive to Pam’s House Blend:

INTRODUCTION

The first time I entered a voting booth I was nine years old. It was 1984, and my parents had brought me with them so that I could pull the lever for the first woman ever to run on a major party ticket for vice president of the United States. I remember walking proudly with my father and mother and younger brother into the suburban Philadelphia firehouse five blocks from the house in which I grew up, where the poll watchers knew my parents by name because they were two of the very few registered Democrats in our district.

I remember the weight of the curtain closing behind me and my father lifting me up to turn the black lever to make the X appear next to Walter Mondale’s and Geraldine Ferraro’s names. I remember him putting me back down so that he could turn the buttons for the other Democrats, and then telling me to pull the rubber-covered metal bar back as hard as I could, until the machine made a clanging noise that meant my vote had been counted.

When we left the fire station my brother and I climbed into the back seat of our car and my mother turned to make sure our seat belts were fastened; my father looked at us through the rearview mirror. “I hope that someday you’ll have the chance to vote for a woman at the top of a presidential ticket,” he said before starting the car and driving us home.

Almost twenty-four years later, on Super Tuesday in February 2008, I walked into a cavernous school gymnasium in Brooklyn to cast my primary vote on Super Tuesday, for the first time in my voting life unsure of which lever to turn. It was the moment that could bring me closest to fulfilling my father’s wish: I could put the X next to the name of a woman and bring her closer to the top spot on the Democratic ticket. But I had spent months saying that I would never vote for her, that she was not my kind of candidate, not my kind of woman. Even though I was beginning to change my mind, my distaste for her felt entrenched, and perhaps self-defining.

I spent fifteen minutes behind the curtain, shoving levers back and forth. I considered the other name on the ballot, a man who was also not exactly my kind of candidate, but whose potential place at the top of the Democratic ticket would put him close to becoming the first African American president, a possibility just as thrilling as that of electing a woman. I wished that I didn’t have to choose between them. I wished that I could vote for them both. I wished that I could vote for someone else altogether. I mostly wished that it was a different woman’s name in front of me, one that didn’t fill me with ambivalence and vague foreboding.

I would never have imagined, as I stalled and fidgeted in that booth while a line of voters formed behind me, that four months later I would be ducking out of a cordoned-off press section in the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., pushing my way through throngs of people in search of a place where I could cry in private. Behind a soaring column I gulped out sobs of exhaustion and disappointment at the end of the campaign of the woman for whom I had not been sure I could vote, even seconds before pulling the rubber-covered bar to seal my choice.

This book is an attempt to tell a story of change, change that came to me, yes, but also to the country, to the Democratic and Republican parties, to the women’s movement, and to the White House. Over a period of just a few years, it seemed, the United States, its assumptions, its prejudices, its colors, shapes, sizes and vocabulary, had cracked open.

A woman, Hillary Clinton, won a state presidential primary contest for the first time in this nation’s history. Less than a year later a candidate for vice president of the United States concluded her appearance in a national debate by reaching for her newborn baby.

Whatever else there is to say about Sarah Palin or the reasons that her youngest son was on stage that night, that maternal reach was a roaring first in presidential politics. We have seen it once now. That means it is possible to see it again. In the first month of 2009 an African American woman moved into the White House, which was built in part by slaves, as the first lady of the United States. Michelle Obama is only the third first lady, though notably the third in a row, to have a postgraduate degree; she met her husband when she was assigned to mentor him at the law firm where she worked. He is now our first African American president.

These are not small things. These are changes that have piled up fast, creating a world that our grandmothers could barely have dreamed of, that many of our mothers thought they’d never live to see. They’re also changes that our grandmothers and mothers made possible and that will in turn alter the landscape for coming generations.

The events of the past few years provided a prism through which both past and future became briefly clearer.

Though a presidential election is by definition a political event, the cultural shifts made visible and made possible in 2008 took place well beyond the scope of purely presidential history. For a time it was very droll to credit Tina Fey with changing the course of the election and sealing John McCain’s electoral fate with her deadly impersonation of his running mate. But Fey, who had made history some years earlier by becoming the first female head writer of Saturday Night Live, would never have had the opportunity to make this impact had there not been a woman running for vice president.

Fey’s most cutting sketches would not have been possible if another woman, Katie Couric, who had made history by becoming the first solo female anchor of a nightly news broadcast, had not been in a position to elicit unintentionally comedic material from Sarah Palin.

And Palin, who had made history by becoming Alaska’s first female governor, would not have wound up as a mark for Fey and Couric had she not been hired to sop up the tears and the votes of those who had supported Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency.

Political breakthroughs begat cultural breakthroughs begat comedy breakthroughs begat political breakthroughs. The country was in a steady revisionist conversation with itself, with voters, with candidates, with pundits, with entertainers. It was a wild, dizzying ride. It is a poetic injustice that the drawn-out political marathon of 2008, a contest that at times seemed to drag on for decades rather than months, actually took place at breakneck media speed, and that it was narrated to us faster than we could absorb it. Once it would have taken years of retrospective investigative journalism to inform the American public of everything that had happened during a presidential election. In 2008 twenty-four-hour cable networks and the Internet offered hastily crafted daily tomes. We were fed sloppy synopses and cartoonish characters at rat-a-tat pace. Many of us, struggling to keep up, were happy to just get the Cliffs Notes version. But in the ceaseless cycle of revelation and analysis we lost depth, clarity and perspective on the story that was unfolding around us, as well as on how that story was itself changing and reshaping us.

My goal here is to tell the story of women and the 2008 presidential election, though not exactly the stories of the key women themselves. There are far better political reporters than I who have already begun to fill in the details surrounding why Hillary Clinton didn’t fire Mark Penn in January, why Michelle Obama thought it was a good idea to be honest about everything, why Sarah Palin didn’t just admit that she read the New York Times and move on.

These women are at the heart of this tale, but insider campaign rehash is neither my talent nor my particular concern. The story I aim to tell is the one about the country and its culture, how we all reacted to the arrival of these surprising new figures on the presidential stage and what they showed us about how far we had come and how far we had yet to go.

Yes, there was misogyny, and I will describe some of it, but that is not the revelation of this book. To say that Hillary Clinton faced sexism is practically meaningless. She was the first woman in American history to get within spitting distance of a nomination for president; of course she faced sexism. It’s far more interesting to examine the sometimes unlikely directions from which that sexism sprang, as well as the racism and classism that were often in high relief and aimed at other candidates, and why the manifestations of these prejudices still surprised us.

How ready were American voters for these women, and how ready were the women themselves? How prepared was the media to talk about them? How prepared were their political parties? What did their presence teach us about America’s female voters-those who were hounded for supporting women candidates, those who were hounded for not doing so, those who reported on them and those who were still trying to sort out what feminism meant some ninety years after American women gained the right to vote? In that last regard this book is not simply a narrative history but an argument, one that will not be popular with many who consider the 2008 presidential election as proof that feminism has failed. The political reporter Anne Kornblut has written that the contest was “a severe letdown, with damaging consequences” for women, and that it “set back the cause of equality in the political sphere by decades.” And one particularly dour blogger proclaimed in the summer of 2009 that “2008 was when feminism, the women’s liberation movement, ended up crashing.” I believe the opposite, that this was the year-the years, really-in which what was once called the women’s liberation movement found thrilling new life.

The impulse to declare social movements dead is as old as social movements themselves; the term postfeminist was used as early as 1919, a year before women gained the right to vote. The movement to increase liberties for women survived its first obit but has never lacked for premature mourners, or for critics eager to hold its wake. When people spoke, as they often did, about the state of feminism during the 2008 election, they mostly fell into one of two camps. One asserted that the women’s movement of the 1970s was dead because its goals had been more than accomplished, and that modern women, no longer troubled by inequity, did not assign any larger symbolic value to the election of a female president. The other wailed at the expiration of a feminist dream, averring that the mixed fortunes of 2008′s political women were emblematic of the unabated subjugation of women, and that not only had we not come very far at all, baby, but that perhaps we had slid backward.

Reality lay somewhere between, but also well beyond, these two diagnoses. The notion that we live in a world in which gender inequity has been satisfactorily redressed is about as persuasive as the proposition that Barack Obama’s election proved that racism was a stage through which the country had successfully passed. But failing to recognize the vast distances women have traveled in the past halfcentury, let alone the past several centuries, was just as dishonest.

Progress does not happen in a straight line, as any historian of America’s founding and revolutionary rupture, the abolition and suffrage campaigns, and the social movements of the 1960s can attest. The path toward perfecting our union has long been marked by semicircles and switchbacks, regress, tragedy and surprising forward bounds. Small advances spark resistance, resistance that in return provokes propellant bursts of reactive fury. The 2008 presidential contest electrified and enraged, radicalized and engaged us; it opened old wounds, and in doing so created new investments in the struggle toward equality. It recharged conversations-some ugly, some hopeful-that were perhaps in danger of going unfinished.

The events surrounding the election did not provide a static snapshot of where women or feminism or America was; the events themselves were formative, catalytic, changing the positions and shaping the consciousness of American women and men at every turn.

The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, flawed and unsuccessful though they may have been, the arrival of Michelle Obama on Pennsylvania Avenue, the cultural shifts and uncomfortable exchanges these women prompted, the eye-opening revelations about the progress of women in early twenty-first-century America were in fact the most rejuvenating things to happen to the feminist conversation in many, many decades. They created and nourished a new generation of politically engaged Americans and left us with a story worth telling, hopefully far into the future.

. . .

I am a feminist journalist allied neither with the generations of second-wave (or third-wave) activists that preceded me, nor with the online rabble of younger women who are revivifying and redefining the movement as I type. I was born in 1975 to a mother who taught me not by instruction but by example that it was not only possible for a woman to participate fully in academic, professional and economic spheres, but pretty much expected. She did not go to marches or talk to me about the patriarchy; her political activism had been forged during the civil rights movement and she spent more time telling me how she used to drive to Chicago to listen to Jesse Jackson preach on Sundays. An English professor, my mother worked throughout my childhood, but also did all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and child care in our house. My father believed fervently in the intellectual and political parity of women, but not so much in doing the dishes.

In adolescence I found a few friends with mothers whose consciousness had been raised more directly by the second wave; with them I attended the March for Women’s Lives in Washington in 1992; I wore pro-choice buttons on my coat. In college I studied eighteenth-century literature from a feminist perspective and listened to the Indigo Girls.

But having been a teenager in the backlash 1980s and 1990s, when even the girls at my crunchy Quaker high school prefaced their feminist observations with the defensive caveat “I’m not a feminist, but . . .” and having held my first journalism job at a gloriously musty boys’ club newspaper where any story pitch that smacked of gendered discontent would have been laughed out of the room, I assumed that although my interest in women’s issues might shape my personal life, it would not find a public, let alone professional outlet.

By the time the 2008 election season kicked off, I was not only earning my living writing about gender, but I was doing so in an atmosphere in which looking at the world from a feminist perspective had, improbably, become hot. When I was hired by Salon in 2003 it was as a staff writer for the “Life” section, a squishy category that included stories about relationships, sex, children, religion, health: girl stuff. A few of my early pieces touched on gender politics. To my surprise and that of my editors, these pieces generated attention, page views and lots of florid comments. I wrote more about feminism; the comments and traffic kept rolling in. And so I had a new beat, a lens through which I could examine politics, the media, entertainment, and social and sexual conventions.

My approach was not doctrinaire. After covering a thirtiethanniversary discussion of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying in 2003, I wrote a bratty review headlined “The Feminine Antiques.” I played with verboten words like battle-axe and bitch; I dubbed Florida politician Katherine Harris a “chad harpy” and Ann Coulter a “thin political pundit.” Fascinated by the often ham-handed attempts of second-wavers to make their movement meaningful to a younger generation, I wrote critically about the 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington, where older leaders of big feminist groups were unable or unwilling to engage the thousands of eager young women who had shown up to march with them, as well as about the troubled history and shaky future of the word feminism. While reporting a story about incorporating questions of morality into the abortion debate, a piece that questioned the bland language of “choice” to which a generation of activists clung, I found myself on the receiving end of a tirade from Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal; she screamed at me over the phone, asking why I would write something so superficial and divisive when women around the world were dying of fistula.

Women around the world were dying of fistula, but I didn’t believe that that should prevent young people from reassessing signifiers of what had become a badly dated movement. I didn’t want to water down feminism or sex it up or dumb it down or sell it out.

But I did believe that in order to be taken seriously by serious young women, the conversation had to be drained of some of its earnest piety. Talking about gender in the new millennium required us, I thought, to get over ourselves a little bit, to dispense with the sacred cows, to question power and cultivate new ideas and leaders.

My early tenure at Salon coincided with the development of a few online sites created by young women anxious to form a modern feminist community, women whose ideas echoed my own. The most prominent of these was Feministing, founded by a twentyfive-year-old Queens native, Jessica Valenti, who was busting her chops to reach people her age whom she believed were hungry for more coverage about women, power and politics. She was right. As the online world exploded in many directions, each month seemed to bring a new site with feminist content, with names like Feministe, Shakespeare’s Sister, Pandagon, Echidne of the Snakes, Angry Black Bitch, Angry Brown Butch, I Blame the Patriarchy, Writes Like She Talks, Majikthise, Pam’s House Blend, Shapely Prose, Racialicious, Brownfemipower, Bitch PhD, Feminist Law Professors and Womanist Musings. At various points there were about six publications calling themselves The F Word. My musty boys’ club newspaper hired a writer who began to cover business and media through an unapologetically feminist lens. In 2004 the Center for New Words hosted the Women, Action & the Media Conference for feminist journalists, which in its first year drew a hundred people, and five years later six hundred.

Funnily enough, as my youthful commentariat company got broader I found myself becoming a shade less irreverent toward my elders, nodding in agreement with some of the more traditionally old-school feminist figures, the ones whom younger activists sometimes railed against, among them Linda Hirshman and Leslie Bennetts, who exhorted wealthy, educated women to stop dropping out of the workforce to care for their kids, and Ariel Levy, a writer of my vintage whose book Female Chauvinist Pigs questioned the purported sexual empowerment of a “Girls Gone Wild” generation. In 2008 I gave an appreciative talk at the thirty-fifth-anniversary celebration of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.

That’s where I was when Hillary Clinton announced her campaign for the presidency: a feminist caught between old and new, senior and junior, retro and nouveau, wanting to poke my elders with a stick even as I found myself agreeing with them, and wanting to celebrate the achievements of my younger peers, even when I found some of their commentary short-sighted and overly self-celebratory.

The prospect of a Clinton candidacy was exciting to those of us who wrote about women and power, not least because it promised to be good copy: the story of a much loathed but highly competent woman boarding the presidential roller-coaster and making an unprecedented grab for the brass ring.

But I could not have predicted the kind of electoral rapture that was about to overtake us all. If I foresaw the fury Clinton would provoke, I had no idea of the loyalty she would rouse or the way her campaign would open so many eyes to the realities of sexism. I had no inkling that there would be both Obamas to consider, that the contest between two candidates vying to be the first woman or the first African American nominee would obsess the nation for the better part of a year. I could not have summoned Sarah Palin from my worst nightmare, nor imagined the way she would inspire women on the right to lay claim to what they saw as their share of the feminist legacy. I could never have guessed how many of the questions that bedeviled the feminist world-questions of generational difference, race, class, sex, sexism, abortion, choice, the place of feminism in a Democratic agenda and humor in a feminist agenda-would get so widely aired to an electorate that may never have considered these issues before.

Whether you were a devoted Hillaryite or a Feminist for Barack, a Republican who wore a “Kiss My Lipstick!” button or a self-identified patriot who could not believe that Michelle Obama wouldn’t be proud of her country, you were thinking about women and power and perception. If you put an “I Wish Hillary Had Married O.J.” bumper sticker on your car or wore a “Sarah Palin Is a Cunt” T-shirt, you were broadcasting messages about gender. If you hugged Michelle in a church basement in Indiana, lined up for a Palin rally in Pennsylvania, voted for Hillary in Guam; if you loved Rachel Maddow’s commentary about the election or thought that Chris Matthews was kind of a prick; if you cheered when Campbell Brown defended Palin’s expensive wardrobe or snarfed your beer when Samantha Bee forced Republican conventioneers to describe Bristol Palin’s decision to keep her baby as a “choice”; if you were a young progressive guy who wished the Hillary supporters would shut up, a Hillary supporter who wished the PUMAs would go away or a PUMA who wished that everyone would just choke on it already, then you were talking and thinking about and making women’s history in America.

Publication information:

Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Free Press (September 14, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1439150281

ISBN-13: 978-1439150283

Also available as an e-book.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

8PM ET: PHB Liveblog with leaders of the LGBT ‘military underground’ org Outserve

UPDATE: Bumped up for the liveblog.

Tonight is the liveblog with the leaders of Outserve, the “underground network of LGBT actively serving military members.”

We are active duty and veteran gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and members of the Coast Guard who are currently serving and who have served – some in silence, some with the open support of our comrades – in defense of our nation. We include service men and women who graduated at the top of our classes at the service academies and enlisted at recruitment centers around the country. Some of our members have lost their lives in service to their country.

Ty Walrod and JD Smith will be taking your questions.

Ty Walrod is the civilian co-director of OutServe. He graduated in 2006 from Washburn University. He runs OutServe’s operations in San Francisco where he has worked at Deloitte LLP and Coverity Inc.

JD Smith is the active duty co-director of OutServe. He is a graduate of a U.S. service academy and a current officer in the U.S. armed forces.



The org announced on Monday the creation of several base and regional chapters around the globe. At least ten will be organized by OutServe this week on military bases and regions where the organization has significant presence, including Afghanistan and Iraq. For safety reasons the exact location of the chapters will not be known, except for inside the exclusive network, but 5 chapters will be located overseas and 5 chapters will be located stateside. Although the demand to establish additional chapters is high, OutServe will start with ten this week and expand in the near future.

The goal of each base and regional chapter will be to provide information, resources and social support to actively serving military personnel. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” places an immense burden upon individuals who think they are alone at their base and these networks will seek to fix that. Each chapter will be charged with growing and expanding their networks and offering support in their specific areas. OutServe Headquarters will be tasked with supporting those networks and serving as the voice of the national organization.

We need to start to empower local military networks to expand and unite them under one banner,” said JD Smith, OutServe’s co-director and active duty officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. He continued, “Informal networks of gay and lesbian military members have existed well before World War I and it’s time to take those networks and start connecting them and giving them more resources.”

The URL for the liveblog is: http://tinyurl.com/PHBOutserve
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

OutServe creates regional chapters, announces creation of military base; join Blend liveblog on Wed

This is interesting — news that for obvious reasons can’t be too specific — since Outserve is made up of currently serving gay and lesbian service members. (Outserve):

OutServe, an organization of gay and lesbian military personnel, announced Monday the creation of several base and regional chapters around the globe.  At least ten will be organized by OutServe this week on military bases and regions where the organization has significant presence, including Afghanistan and Iraq. For safety reasons the exact location of the chapters will not be known, except for inside the exclusive network, but 5 chapters will be located overseas and 5 chapters will be located stateside.  Although the demand to establish additional chapters is high, OutServe will start with ten this week and expand in the near future. For information on the group go to www.outserve.org

The goal of each base and regional chapter will be to provide information, resources and social support to actively serving military personnel. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” places an immense burden upon individuals who think they are alone at their base and these networks will seek to fix that. Each chapter will be charged with growing and expanding their networks and offering support in their specific areas. OutServe Headquarters will be tasked with supporting those networks and serving as the voice of the national organization.

We need to start to empower local military networks to expand and unite them under one banner,” said JD Smith, OutServe’s co-director and active duty officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. He continued,  ”Informal networks of gay and lesbian military members have existed well before World War I and it’s time to take those networks and start connecting them and giving them more resources.”

Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” it can be difficult for LGBT military personnel to network with one another.  ”Our goal is to create an OutServe-based information superhighway where we can help LGBT military personnel connect with one another both locally and globally more efficiently,” stated Ty Walrod, OutServe’s co-director.  “We want military personnel to know commands that are friendly, commanders which should be addressed with caution, and where to turn for both friendship and support.”

Blenders will get a chance to ask about these initiatives when Smith and Walrod participate in a PHB liveblog on Wednesday at 8PM ET: http://tinyurl.com/PHBOutserve.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Liveblog tonight at 7:30 PM ET: former West Point Cadet Katherine Miller

PHB live chat link: http://tinyurl.com/phbmiller

We’re pleased to bring former West Point Cadet Katherine Miller to the Blend for a liveblog. Miller resigned last week, stating that she was unwilling to ‘compromise her Integrity’ under the discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

In her resignation letter, she cites the kinds of experiences she is unwilling to continue to endure:

I have created a heterosexual dating history to recite to fellow cadets when they inquire. I have endured unwanted approaches by male cadets for fear of being accused as a lesbian by rejecting or reporting these events. I have been coerced into ignoring derogatory comments towards homosexuals for fear of being alienated for my viewpoint.  In short, I have lied to my classmates and compromised my integrity and my identity by adhering to existing military policy.

While at the academy, I have made a deliberate effort to develop myself academically, physically, and militarily, but in terms of holistic personal growth I have reached a plateau. I am unwilling to suppress an entire portion of my identity any longer because it has taken a significant personal, mental, and social toll on me and detrimentally affected my professional development. I have experienced a relentless cognitive dissonance by attempting to adhere to ?654 [colloquially known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"] and retain my integrity, and I am retrospectively convinced that I am unable to live up to the Army Values as long as the policy remains in place.

Miller will be transferring to Yale University this fall on a Point Foundation Scholarship.

Here is a video of Miller discussing her decision to resign from West Point:

While at West Point Miller blogged under the pseudonym Private Second Class Citizen at Velvetpark. Check out a snippet below the fold.
Miller:

I kept busy by applying to other colleges and applying for LGBTQ scholarships. The one I pursued particularly aggressively required me to submit letters of recommendation within a week of being notified as a semifinalist. I saw the word “congratulations” in my inbox, confirmed my assumptions with a glance at the email, and picked up my hat and gloves before I headed out of my barracks room. I didn’t even have to think about it; I couldn’t pursue my activism any longer without help.

Five minutes later I rushed haphazardly into my professor’s office. I was sweating in my shiny, plastic Chorofram shoes, and after feeling my pulse my throat I became aware of how tight my collar was around my neck. “Ma’am, do you have a second,” as I closed her office door behind me, consciously worsening the stuffiness in the room and in my heavy wool uniform. Without waiting for a response, I seated myself. “Ma’am I’m transferring next semester. And I need a leader of recommendation in three days. For a scholarship for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.”

“So does that mean you’re-?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re leaving because of Don’t Ask, Don’t-”

“Yes.”

She studied me for a second, asked a series of questions for clarification, and agreed to write me a letter of recommendation.

As soon as I was out of her sight, I did a little Jersey Shore fist pump in the air.

We hope to have a lively discussion about West Point, t he atmosphere there and Miller’s decision to come out.



Thanks to Sue Fulton at Knights Out for partnering with us this evening.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

8PM ET: PHB/Servicemembers United liveblog w/active duty Marine officer who took the DADT survey

Be there or be square, peeps. We’ve landed, with the help of Servicemembers United, an active duty Marine who had the “pleasure” of taking the biased, freep-able Pentagon study designed to get the “input” of service members regarding implementation of changes after DADT is repealed.

The Marine officer, “Gordon,” is a 16-year Marine field grade officer currently assigned within the greater DC Beltway. Alex Nicholson of SU says:

He’s a VERY opinionated striaght-talker (no pun intended), so it should be quite a lively chat this evening – feel free to ask him anything!! If you’re around a computer, please do join us. And for those with blogs, twitter accounts, and hoards of FB followers, please also consider promoting it to your loyal readers and fans.

This is a CoverItLive blog event, so you will be able to see it on the front page of the Blend once it begins, and there is a separate link to a standalone window with the liveblog:

http://tinyurl.com/phbsuliveblog

Joining me in the chat room tonight with “Gordon” will be my project partners from SU:

 

Alex Nicholson, Executive Director; Jarrod Chlapowski, Co-Founder.

The infamous survey is below the fold.
The Pentagon commissioned Westat to do the survey, which was distributed to 400,000 active duty and reserve members of the armed forces. The survey is part of the Pentagon Working Group’s 10-month study of the potential impact of repeal of DADT on the force.

Servicemembers United had this reaction to the survey language when it was leaked:

Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today strongly condemned the biased and derogatory design of the long-awaited Defense Department survey on issues related to the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. The survey, which was created and administered by the research firm Westat in conjunction with the Comprehensive Review Working Group, was sent out to 400,000 non-deployed active duty troops at a cost to taxpayers of .4 million.

While it remains safe for gay and lesbian troops to participate in this survey, it is simply impossible to imagine a survey with such derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations going out about any other minority group in the military,” 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.” “Unfortunately, this expensive survey stokes the fires of homophobia by its very design and will only make the Pentagon’s responsibility to subdue homophobia as part of this inevitable policy change even harder. The Defense Department just shot itself in the foot by releasing such a flawed survey to 400,000 servicemembers, and it did so at an outrageous cost to taxpayers.”

Nicholson added, “Flawed aspects of the survey include the unnecessary use of terms that are known to be inflammatory and bias-inducing in social science research, such as the clinical term ‘homosexual;’ an overwhelming focus on the potential negative aspects of repeal and little or no inclusion of the potential positive aspects of repeal or the negative aspects of the current policy; the repeated and unusual suggestion that a co-worker or leader might need to ‘discuss’ appropriate behavior and conduct with gay and lesbian troops; and more.”

Related:

* DADT is Not Repealed Yet, Folks. No, Seriously.

* Blockbuster Disclosure: DOD Can’t Protect DADT Survey From being “Freeped”

* Pentagon Sustains Heavy Fire Over DADT Survey

* Servicemembers United petition: Refund our .4 million spent on the Pentagon’s survey
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright