More on the Congress critters who voted against MLK Day

Vice President Dick Cheney

Former Vice President and MLK Day supporter Dick Cheney

A friend had a bone to pick with me at breakfast this morning.

He thought yesterday’s blog post — about the six sitting members of Congress, all Republicans, who voted against a holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. — was unfair.

“I went through the story you posted,” he said, chiding me for only mentioning 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s vote. “Your buddy Dick Cheney voted for it!”

In my defense, I shot back, I only blogged specifically about the six remaining “nay” votes.

But he’s right. I’m a journalist. I hate everybody equally should be fair. A lot of sitting members of Congress voted for it. Many of whom are Republicans. Many Democrats voted against it as well. They all joined notorious homophobe and racist Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, by voting “nay.”

A number of the bipartisan “yea” votes even pursued the presidency. Vice President and prospective 2016 presidential nominee Joe Biden of Delaware voted for it. Sen. Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican who ran for president against Bill Clinton in 1996, did too.

Numerous House members who have since matriculated to the Senate also voted to create the holiday. Among them were Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-California and Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. Speaking of Kansas Republicans, former Sen. Bob Dole voted “yea” too, joining fellow GOP Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Democrats representatives who voted “nay” included the memorable Doug Applegate of Ohio and Dan Daniel of Virginia. Applegate somehow still got a post office named for him in the thriving metropolis of Steubenville. In the Senate four Democrats, including both of Nebraska’s senators, James Exon and Ed Zorinsky, voted against it.

So in the tradition of being a fair, here’s a gentle reminder: Each vote defines your legacy, and unfortunately that racist legacy looms over both parties.

—  James Russell

Who the hell voted against MLK Day in 1983?

Sen. John McCain changed his tuneAfter a long Congressional battle, Martin Luther King. Jr. Day became a federal holiday on Nov. 2, 1983, when a reluctant President Ronald Reagan signed it into law, surrounded by the King family.

But a bunch of members of Congress voted against it.

And according to the Washington Post, six of them still serve in Congress.

One even ran for president.

Among the 90 nay votes in the House were two representatives, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, who would eventually become senators. Republican John McCain of Arizona was the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who later said he regretted voting against it. He was joined by then-Democrat Richard Shelby of Alabama, who became a Republican in 1994. They joined 22 other Republican dissenters, including Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Two members still serve in the House, both Republicans: House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky and Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

—  James Russell

LOCAL BRIEFS: AIDS Candlelight Memorial set, Butch Voices seeking submissions

AIDS Candlelight Memorial set

The 28th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held May 15 at 4 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1819 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Started in 1983, the International Memorial is one of the oldest grassroots AIDS awareness campaigns and is held the third Sunday in May. More than 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries host local memorials to remember those lost to HIV as well as to raise awareness.

Three people will share their stories of living with HIV including a 15-year-old young woman. At the end of the service will be a candlelight dedication to remember those lost, celebrate those living with HIV and those not infected.

Cornerstone Baptist Church does work with the homeless, people with addictions and provides assistance to those with HIV.

Free forum on redistricting set

Dr. Ruth Morgan, former provost of Southern Methodist University and author of Governance by Decree, will be the keynote speaker at a free public forum on redistricting, “Why Does It Matter,” Tuesday, May 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, Oak Corner, 2900 Live Oak St. in Dallas.

Other panelists include former League of Women Voters-Dallas president Libbie Terrell Lee and LULAC 4871 President Jesse Garcia.

Although admission is free, advanced reservations are required, and can be made online at or by email at

The event is sponsored by League of Women Voters chapters in Dallas, Irving, Plano/Collin County and Richardson, the National Council of Jewish Women’s Greater Dallas Section, Women’s Council of Dallas County, Delta Sigma Theta Dallas Alumnae, the Health and Human Services Coalition, LINKS Inc.’s Dallas Chapter, LULAC 4871 and the Dallas Branch of the NAACP.

Butch Voices seeking submissions

Butch Voices, a grassroots organization dedicated to of all womyn, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are “masculine of center” and their allies, is now accepting submissions for workshops, performances, presentations, skill shares, photography/visual art and video presentations for the second national Butch Voices Conference, being held Aug. 18-21 at the Oakland City Center Marriott in Oakland, Calif.

Submission deadline is June 1. Early registration has begun and is $100 for regular attendees, $125 for VIP access and $50 for students. Volunteers can also register online and are needed in all areas of the conference.

For more information, to volunteer or to register go online to

—  John Wright

All families deserve equal access to housing

Editor’s Note: The following article was submitted by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan in the wake of last week’s announcement that HUD has proposed new rules ensuring that LGBT families will not face discrimination in access to housing.

SHAUN DONOVAN  |  Special Contributor

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Last month, we were reminded of Dr. King’s insight once again, as President Barack Obama signed legislation repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” into law.

It was a moment, the president noted, “more than two centuries in the making.”

The historic repeal of DADT is only one part of the Obama administration’s larger fight on behalf of the LGBT community. Whether it is giving same-sex couples hospital visitation rights or  ensuring federal workers can afford long-term care for their partners, this administration is committed to fighting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

I’m proud that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is part of that commitment, as we work to make inclusivity and diversity cornerstones of America’s housing policy.

Indeed, from conducting the first-ever national study of LGBT housing discrimination to instructing our staff to be vigilant about whether any LGBT-based housing discrimination complaints can be pursued through the Fair Housing Act, we’ve worked to ensure our core housing programs are open to all.

That’s why we recently announced a new rule ensuring LGBT individuals and couples can benefit from HUD programs.

Our proposed regulations will make clear that the term “family” includes LGBT individuals and couples as eligible beneficiaries of our public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs.

Unfortunately, while HUD programs are designed and administered to provide a decent home for every American, we’ve seen evidence that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and families are being arbitrarily excluded from some housing opportunities.

For instance, two years ago Michelle DeShane, a lesbian, wanted to add her partner Mitch, a transgender male, to her housing voucher.  The local housing authority denied her request because the couple did not meet its definition of “family.”

The housing authority then referred the couple to a neighboring housing authority — because, as they were apparently told, the neighboring housing authority “accepts everyone — even Martians.”

That’s not right. No one should be subject to that kind of treatment or denied access to federal housing assistance because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

And so, through this proposed rule, the Obama administration is ensuring that when it comes to housing assistance funded with taxpayer dollars, they won’t be.

Specifically, it adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of definitions applicable to HUD programs. It clarifies HUD regulations to ensure that all eligible families have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs regardless of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

And it prohibits inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender identity and makes clear that gender identity and sexual orientation should not and cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting an FHA-insured mortgage.

Every American family should have the opportunity to make a home for themselves free from discrimination. That is why this rule is so important — and it’s why all of us at HUD are so proud to announce it.

Shaun Donovan is the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28.

—  John Wright

Is Obama the ‘MLK for the gays’?

As you’ve probably heard, the Justice Department filed another brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act on Thursday, prompting criticism from gay rights advocates who say the Obama administration should allow the law to be struck down instead of defending it. Indeed, less than a month after signing a bill to repeal  “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Obama again finds himself under fire from the LGBT community. With the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday coming Monday, Equality Matters President Richard Socarides drew this analogy in The Huffington Post:

“The repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a breathtaking accomplishment. President Obama will get credit. But from this point forward he has a choice. If he builds on it, he could become the MLK for the gays. But if he continues to allow the Justice Department to file these briefs opposing full equality, he will squander an historic opportunity.”

—  John Wright

Anti-gay Atlanta megachurch pastor denies sex with young men

ERRIN HAINES  |  Associated Press

ATLANTA — The prominent pastor of a 25,000-member megachurch near Atlanta denies allegations in a lawsuit that he coerced two young men from the congregation into a sexual relationship, his attorney said.

Lawyers for the men, now 20 and 21, say they filed the lawsuit Tuesday, Sept. 21 in DeKalb County Court against Bishop Eddie Long. The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual impropriety.

President George W. Bush and three former presidents visited the sprawling New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia for the 2006 funeral of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Long introduced the speakers and the Rev. Bernice King, the Kings’ younger daughter, delivered the eulogy. She is also a pastor there.

The men who filed the suit were 17- and 18-year-old members of the church when they say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.

Craig Gillen, Long’s attorney, says the pastor “categorically denies the allegations.”

“We find it unfortunate that these two young men would take this course of action,” Gillen said late Tuesday after news of the lawsuit broke. He said Long had not yet been served with copies of the lawsuits.

Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage and his church counsels gay members to become straight. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father’s Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage “between one man and one woman.”

He also has released several gospel albums, authored books on relationships and spirituality, and hosts a weekly television program.

B.J. Bernstein, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said that when the relationships started, the plaintiffs were past the legal age of consent in Georgia, which is 16.

“Defendant Long has utilized his spiritual authority to coerce certain young male members … into engaging in sexual acts and relationships for his own personal sexual gratification,” the lawsuits read.

When asked about a possible motive for the accusations, Gillen referred to a break-in at Long’s office in June.

Bernstein said one of the plaintiffs is facing a criminal burglary charge in the incident. She said the break-in was a way of lashing out at Long.

Bernstein said she contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this month when she became aware of the young men’s allegations. She did not know what action, if any, the agency planned to take.

Bernstein told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she has not contacted DeKalb County law enforcement because Long has ties to county officials.

Orzy Theus, a spokesman for the DeKalb County district attorney’s office, said he was not aware on Tuesday of an investigation in that office related to the allegations.

Long was appointed pastor of New Birth in 1987. Then, the church had about 150 members. Less than four years later, the church had grown to more than 8,000 members. Athletes and entertainers claim membership at the church.

Long’s church was among those named in 2007 in a Senate committee’s investigation into a half-dozen Christian ministries over their financing.

Today, New Birth sits on 250 acres and has more than 25,000 members, a $50 million, 10,000-seat cathedral and more than 40 ministries _ including the Longfellows Youth Academy, a tuition-based program for young men 13 to 18.

—  John Wright

Bernice King, the SCLC and homophobia

The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., recently made history by becoming the first woman chosen to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was founded by her father.

At first glance, that might sound like a great things for the LGBT community: a Christian organization headed up by a member of the King family. But take a second look and you see it’s not so great at all.

The thing is, Bernice King is one of the very few King family members who is on the record as being anti-gay. Colleagues of MLK Jr. have said that if he were still alive he would be a gay rights proponent, and most of those same colleagues are themselves gay rights supporters. His wife, the late Coretta Scott King, spoke out in favor of gay rights, including same-sex marriage. His daughter Yolanda King was also an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights.

But Bernice King is an evangelical Christian in every sense of the word. In fact, she led an anti-gay-marriage march in December 2004 that culminated at her father’s gravesite. It is a position that, given the apparent widespread support in the African-American community for the anti-gay-marriage Prop 8 in California last November, that many black Americans share.

But not all.

In a column posted today on, billed as “black America’s daily news source,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson calls on Bernice King to renounce her anti-gay stance, saying that with that 2004 march, “King sullied her father’s name to show her enmity to gay marriage. She also sullied her mother’s too.”

Hutchinson writes: “[Martin Luther] King deeply believed that embodied in the civil rights cause was a person’s right to be whom and what he was. King may have even praised his daughter for having the courage and conviction to march for her beliefs, but that would not have changed his unyielding belief that bigotry is still bigotry, whether it’s racial or sexual preference, and must be uncompromisingly opposed.”

Go read the rest of Mr. Hutchinson’s column. And then take the time to read the comments people have posted about it. It will make you think — and thinking about these issues, and trying to find some kind of understanding and some kind of common ground are the only way that any of us can ever truly win the equal rights battle.сайтзначение поисковых систем

—  admin