The moon shone red on Passover — Thanks Obama

MoonLast night was not just a full moon, but a blood red full moon, which brought the crazies out.

Right-wing website World News Daily headlined the event with the warning: Move over Obama: The ‘pen and phone’ that really count.

Here’s their problem. In his State of the Union address, the president said he would issue executive orders to break the deadlock in Congress. Well, God doesn’t like that. How does WND know? Because the moon was red last night in a totally predictable and explainable astronomical event that happens with some regularity.

And while we’re being bat-shit crazy, we might as well bring in the Jews, especially since this week is Passover.

WND quotes a Pastor Mark Blitz who said, “I believe the moons are like flashing red warning lights at a heavenly intersection saying to Israel as well as the nations they will be crossing heavenly red lines, and if they do, they will understand as Pharaoh did on Passover night 3,500 years ago that the Creator backs up what He says.”

So, I’m not sure if the good pastor is equating the lunar eclipse to one of the 12 plagues that is part of the story of Passover. If so, were any cattle or first-born harmed during this lunar eclipse? Or is he calling Obama the Pharoah and if so, why can’t the president just tell Congress to act or he’ll bury them in the pyramid he’s building for himself.

—  David Taffet

Obama administration diverts money from Uganda because of anti-gay law

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

The White house announced Tuesday it is stationing aircraft in Uganda to support the African Union efforts to save civilian lives in the Central African Republic and South Sudan from the Lord’s Resistance Army. Millions of dollars that was to go to Uganda will be diverted elsewhere, and invitations for Ugandan military and police to travel outside the country have been canceled.

“As we move forward with the deployment of the Ospreys to support the AU, we are cognizant that there are many who share our concerns about Ugandan President Museveni’s recent enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act,” the White House Office of Communications announced in a press release. “Ensuring justice and accountability for human rights violators like the LRA and protecting LGBT rights aren’t mutually exclusive. We can and must do both.”

To counter Museveni enacting the Anti-Homosexuality Act, several steps have been taken.

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda will continue to receive $2.3 million for direct treatment of 50,000 people with HIV, but will lose $6.4 million in other funding, because its “public stance on homosexuality could foster an atmosphere of discrimination that runs counter to efforts to provide an effective and nondiscriminatory response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

The U.S. is suspending the start of a survey to estimate the size of key at-risk populations that was to be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Uganda’s Makarere University. Proceeding with the survey could pose a danger to respondents and staff.

Because the law threatens the safety of LGBT tourists in Uganda and the liberty of those who show support for Uganda’s LGBT community, $3 million in funding designated for tourism and biodiversity promotion will be redirected to NGOs working on biodiversity protection.

The Department of Defense-sponsored Africa Air Chiefs Symposium and East Africa Military Intelligence Non-Commissioned Officer course will move to locations outside of Uganda. Invitational travel for Ugandan military and police has been suspended or canceled.

“We continue to look at additional steps we may take, to work to protect LGBT individuals from violence and discrimination, and to urge Uganda to repeal this abhorrent law,” the White House press release said.

—  David Taffet

Obama reveals $100m HIV research initiative

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President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has announced a new initiative at the National Institutes of Health in pursuit of a cure for HIV, The Boston Globe reported.

Obama says his administration is redirecting $100 million into the project to find a new generation of therapies. He said the United States should be at the forefront of discoveries to eliminate HIV or put it into remission without requiring lifelong therapy.

Obama made the announcement Monday at a White House event marking World AIDS Day, which was Sunday.

The president also announced that the U.S. passed the ambitious goal he set last year to support 6 million people around the globe in getting access to anti-retroviral drugs. Obama said the U.S. helped 6.7 million people receive life-saving treatment.

—  Steve Ramos

Obama makes pitch for gay rights bill

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President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON — The Senate is set to vote Monday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a day after President Barack Obama blogged in the Huffington Post, encouraging Congress to pass the measure.

Obama wrote that while Americans can’t lose their jobs because of race, religion, gender or disability, “in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” Yahoo News reported.

ENDA would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It’s offensive. It’s wrong,” Obama wrote. “And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and you love should never be a fireable offense.”

The same legislation failed by a single vote, 50-49, the last time it was considered by the Senate in 1996, the Washington Post reports. Along with 55 Democratic senators, the bill currently has the support of at least four Republicans.

—  Steve Ramos

Obama official highlights business equality at N. TX GLBT Chamber dinner

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Fred Hochberg, the openly gay president of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., speaks at the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s eight annual Business Excellence Awards dinner on Thursday night. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Fred Hochberg is using his position as president of the Export-Import Bank to advance LGBT equality among business leaders and politicians.

Hochberg said he frequently gets an opportunity to educate anti-equality lawmakers about LGBT issues because they want and need to understand the issues of international business.

Hochberg, the first openly gay president of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and the highest-ranking gay person in the Obama administration, spoke about the importance of educating people on LGBT issues as the keynote speaker at the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s eighth annual Business Excellence Awards Dinner Thursday.

Hochberg’s role includes trying to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the U.S., Hochberg said he has conversations with people who vote against LGBT issues, but strive to understand the issues in a global market. And he uses his position to help gain understanding for the LGBT community.

But even as the highest ranking openly LGBT official, Hochberg said times weren’t always so accepting, mentioning his hesitancy to come out in the 1970s. He joked that he came out slowly instead of young people now who come out on Facebook.

“If you’re not out, I’ll let you it is a hell of a lot better on the other side,” Hochberg said.

While his career was in business, he said he wanted to do more and dedicated himself to helping elect President Bill Clinton and then focused on lifting the ban on gays in the military, which he called “a gift to America.”

Clinton appointed him to head the Small Business Administration in 1998. And President Barack Obama later tapped him to head the Export-Import Bank in 2009, a position for which he was recently nominated again.

He said he was proud to see Obama repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” sign an LGBT-inclusive federal hate crimes bill into law and come out for marriage equality. But he reminded the audience that the work is not done, and when people see successful groups like the GLBT chamber, they think all LGBT people are successful and happy, when there are many who are not.

“They don’t see the discrimination. They don’t see that our brothers and sisters who work at jobs are afraid to come out or our partners that are not covered by insurance,” Hochberg said. “We all have to keep working because I think our work is not done.”

Recipients of the chamber’s business excellence awards were recognized during the dinner. The awards were: The law office of Rob Wiley, Business of the Year; Kristopher Parker of Resource Center Credit Union, Emerging Leader; Jeremy Bradford of the American Cancer Society, Member Service; Cooper Smith Koch of Cooper Smith Agency, Community Service; Nancy Minchillo of Hewlett Packard, Supplier Diversity Champion; Southwest Airlines, Corporate Ally; and Marsha Thomas of TNT Promotions, Chairman’s Award.

More photos below.

—  Dallasvoice

White House responds to Texas secession petition

A White House spokesman responded Monday to a petition asking that Texas be allowed to peacefully “withdraw from the United States.”

The answer is no.

The petition had gained more than 125,000 signatures, although at the time of this writing, 10 of the last 12 signers were not from Texas.

According to the site, petitions that gain more than 25,000 signatures in 30 days will get an official response. The petition was first posted by “Micah H” of Arlington on Nov. 9.

The response was written by Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement. He opens by politely thanking the signers for participating in their government in “free and open debate.”

“But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don’t let that debate tear us apart,” Carson wrote.

Those in Texas hoping to create a new country under President Rick Perry will be disappointed. And those elsewhere hoping to get rid of Texas may be even more disappointed.

But most of us will just laugh, as the last word on this invites those who hate President Barack Obama to read more about his ideas:

So let’s be clear: No one disputes that our country faces big challenges, and the recent election followed a vigorous debate about how they should be addressed. As President Obama said the night he won re-election, “We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future.”

Whether it’s figuring out how to strengthen our economy, reduce our deficit in a responsible way, or protect our country, we will need to work together — and hear from one another — in order to find the best way to move forward. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about the President’s ideas and share more of your own.

—  David Taffet

Gay Dallas activist’s petition seeks apology from Lubbock County judge

Tom Head

Gay Dallasite Cannon Flowers has created a Change.org petition demanding an apology from Lubbock County Judge Tom Head.

Head set off a firestorm earlier this week when he went on the local Fox station and claimed he needed to raise taxes to protect Lubbock from civil war if Obama is re-elected. The Houston Chronicle declared “crazy county judge makes Lubbock a national laughingstock.”

Bloomberg quotes Lubbock County Democratic Party chair Kenny Ketner who said, “It’s not the first time he’s said something ridiculous.”

Lubbock Democrats are discussing removing Head from office. The Lubbock Avalanche has a picture of Head’s office door with these words scribbled on it: “Hide your kids. Hide your wife. They’re coming.”

Flower’s petition reads:

Lubbock County Judge Tom Head has used his office to issue a veiled threat of civil war in the United States if the current President Barack Obama is re-elected. … Judge Head said regarding a possible Obama re-election, “We are talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war, OK? Now what happens? What happens? Now I’m not talking just talking riots here and there. I’m talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator. ..And in this political climate and financial climate, what is the very worst thing that can happen right now? Obama gets back in the White House. No. God forbid.”

These comments, spoken on behalf of the power of the office as County Judge of a major county in Texas, are seen to possibly incite violence and potentially cause great harm to the United States. Judge Head must be held accountable and the officials of Lubbock County must also be held accountable for any further actions occurring from these statements.

To sign the petition, go here.

—  David Taffet

Marriage equality soars in popularity among African-Americans since Obama announcement

President Barack Obama

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll found that President Barack Obama’s announcement in support of same-sex marriage has had a major impact on African-Americans.

Before Obama made his statement, 41 percent of African-Americans said same-sex marriage should be legal. In a poll released today, 59 percent said they support marriage equality. Since Obama made his statement, the NAACP passed a resolution in favor of marriage equality and a number of hip-hop artists have announced their support.

Opposition to same-sex marriage also hit a new low, according to a related Washington Post/ABC News poll. Only 39 percent said same-sex marriage should be illegal.

Of those polled, 23 percent said Obama’s statement was a major reason to oppose his re-election, 20 percent said it was a major reason to support his re-election, and 55 percent said it was just not a major factor.

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll in February looked at how Texans view same-sex marriage. According to that poll, 51 percent of African-American Texans support some form relationship recognition — either marriage or civil unions. Relationship recognition is supported by 62 percent of whites and 65 percent of Hispanics.

The UT/Tribune poll found that the less religious Texans are, the more likely they are to support equality. Only 30 percent of those who go to church more than once a week support same-sex marriage or civil unions. That number increases to 44 percent among those who attend once a week to 77 percent support for those who never attend.

By party, 67 percent of those who lean Democratic support same-sex marriage and another 17 percent support civil unions. Only 7 percent of “strong Republicans” and 13 percent of those who lean Republican support marriage equality. But 40 percent of those labeled strong Republicans support civil unions.

Support also increases as the level of education increases. Only 21 percent of high school dropouts and those with a high school degree support marriage equality. Those with a two-year degree support marriage by 35 percent. Four-year college graduates support marriage by 38 percent and post-grads by 46 percent. Civil union support adds about 30 percent to each of those categories.

And support for some form of relationship recognition is more popular popular among Texas men than women by 2 percent.

—  David Taffet

More photos from Wednesday’s rally in Dallas

To go with our coverage in today‘s Voice, below are a few more photos from Wednesday’s marriage equality rally in Dallas.

—  David Taffet

Planned protest to become a celebration

Daniel Cates

What was going to be a protest in response to North Carolina’s vote against same-sex marriage has turned into a likely celebration after President Barack Obama came out in support of marriage equality today.

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL and organizer of tonight’s rally on Cedar Springs in Dallas, said the focus of the event has changed but he still wants to call on other elected officials to support equality.

“Obviously we want to celebrate the president joining the conversation,” Cates said. “That is wonderful, so we will celebrate that, but we will continue to call on the Democratic National Committee to follow suit and go ahead and endorse marriage equality and full federal equality. And we will also continue to call on our president to sign that executive order and to push for employment protections.”

On the Facebook page for the rally, GetEQUAL TX wrote, “While we have every reason to protest tonight, we now also have a reason to celebrate! Tonight we will make a clear call for elected leaders from Mayor Mike Rawlings to Members of Congress to the DNC to follow the President’s example and stand up for what they know is right!”

The group added that crews from several local TV stations will be on hand for the rally, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love monument at Oak Lawn Avenue.

 

—  David Taffet