What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

Concert Notice: Joan as Police Woman to play Club Dada in April

The last time I wrote about Joan as Police Woman, she opened for Rufus Wainwright back in November 2009. I can’t say she impressed me much, but whatevs. I will say that I’ve gone to listen to some of her recordings and am quickly getting on board. Just in time too because the indie music lady comes to Dallas on her own playing at the thankfully reborn Club Dada in Deep Ellum. And come to find out, she plays for our team — we think.

Trish Bendix over at AfterEllen wrote up this piece last month where Joan Wasser (yes, the same Joan) apparently told Bendix she’s bi:

It might not surprise you, then, that Joan is queer. “Surprise” only because you might know she famously dated Jeff Buckley before he tragically drowned in 1997, a fact that likely haunts her in every discussion of her musical career. But there is no trace of her discussing her sexuality, which she once told me a few years ago was not-so-straight.

After she’d written me (via MySpace, remember that?) to let me know she was bisexual (after I’d inquired, mind you — gaydar in action), she gave me her publicist’s contact information so that I could set up an interview. I was denied, unfortunately, which is (also unfortunately) part of the job when it comes to being from the gay press. But upon hearing some music from Joan’s new album, I knew I had to try again. And this time, she had a new publicist, who, like Joan, wasn’t going to position her as something she’s not.

We’re used to that game of nebulous orientation. It’s just something we like to point out. Really, I’m just hoping she brings along her entourage from “The Magic” video to the show. Right??

Spune presents Joan as Police Woman at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St. April 29 at 10 p.m. $10. Click here for tickets.

—  Rich Lopez

SLDN Calls For Executive Order Banning Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) released a press release of note yesterday, entitled SLDN Calls For Executive Order Banning Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity.

SLDN CALLS FOR EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 9, 2011

Paul DeMiglio: (202) 621-5408 or paul@sldn.org

SLDN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO ISSUE EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY

Washington, D.C. — In a letter sent to the White House today, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) urged President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the armed forces based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SLDN recommends that the executive order go into effect on the date of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal, which is 60 days after certification by the President, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen.

Thumbnail link to press release: SLDN Calls For Executive Order Banning Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity“Signing legislation that allows for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a necessary first step, but it is not sufficient for ensuring equality in the military. We call upon the President to issue an executive order so that sexual orientation and gender identity are not barriers to applying for a job or advancing in your career,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The explicit anti-discrimination provision that was part of legislation to repeal DADT was dropped from the bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President last December. An executive order is therefore needed to give service members recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Every service member deserves equal respect and a safe work environment. President Obama now has an opportunity to demonstrate the same leadership that President Truman did when he issued an executive order to end racial segregation in the military, and issue an executive order that protects all patriots regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The President recognizes that it will take more than just repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to end discrimination against LGBT service members, and we couldn’t agree more,” Sarvis said.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

##

STILL AT RISK: Despite the President signing the bill authorizing repeal of DADT, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until 60 days after certification by President Obama, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen. Warning to service members: www.SLDN.org/StillAtRisk

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.

ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was established in 1993 when “Don’t Ask” originally passed. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. Last year the organization received its 10,000th call for assistance to its legal hotline.

[The text of the SLDN's policy letter on LGBT antidiscrimination in the military services to President Obama is below the fold.]
The letter sent to President Obama from the SLDN — signed by their executive director Aubrey Sarvis:

February 9, 2011

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Last month, you signed legislation that provided for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. This was a major accomplishment for the United States military, for gay and lesbian Americans, and for your Administration and the United States Congress. We look forward to the certification by you, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff that will bring this unwise and discriminatory law to an end.

Thumbnail link: SLDN's policy letter on LGBT antidiscrimination in the military services to President Obama, dated February 9, 2011But you have recognized that repeal of this law, while necessary, is not sufficient. You said, “The eradication of this policy will require more than just eliminating one statute. It will require the implementation of anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior as we transition our armed forces away from a policy of discrimination.” With this, we completely agree.

And yet, recent statements by some leaders in the Department of Defense indicate that they see no need for such policies and protocols — that business as usual is enough. With this, we do not agree. A mechanism should be put in place so that service members have a place to turn, independent of their chain of command, if they are subject to discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Being able to apply for a job and advance in one’s career, free from discrimination, is not, as some have termed, a “special right”. And a workplace free from discrimination does not happen just because our leadership says it must.

We, therefore, call on you to show the leadership President Truman did when he issued an Executive Order banning racial discrimination in the armed services and to issue an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination in the armed services based on sexual orientation and gender identity to be effective on the date of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Bills introduced in the past three Congresses that included an explicit anti-discrimination provision to accompany “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal attracted hundreds of co-sponsors, but this language was dropped from the bill that passed last year. Your Executive Order can ensure that the military adopts the necessary nondiscrimination policies coincident with repeal of the discriminatory law.

Sincerely,

Aubrey Sarvis

Executive Director

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

What the inclusion of gender identity in the SLDN’s messaging means is unclear to me. Perhaps we’ll find out in coming days.

.
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—  David Taffet

Chorale to hold open auditions

The Turtle Creek Chorale, on the heals of its successful holiday concerts last month, is looking for new blood — though Edward Cullen isn’t involved. The chorale will hold open rehearsal and orientation at the TCC’s offices in the Sammons Center for the Arts at 3630 Harry Hines Blvd. on Tuesday, Jan. 4, from 7 to 10 p.m., and prospective members are asked to attend and participate. The actual auditions for any singers interested in joining the gay men’s chorus will occur on Sunday, Jan. 9, from 3 to 6 p.m. an the Grace United Methodist Church at 4105 Junius St.

All vocal parts (tenor, bass, baritone … even countertenor if you got the chops) are open. To view a video sample of an actual audition, go here, or to learn more about the chorale, go to TurtleCreek.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

UN Votes to Restore Sexual Orientation to Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions

Good news coming in from the UN, as member states have voted to restore sexual orientation to a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The body had voted 79 to 70 with 17 abstentions and 26 absences on November 16 to remove Sexual orientation from the resolution.

The AP reports:

Un

The removal of the reference, done at the committee level last month, alarmed human rights advocates who said gay people are among minority groups that need special protection from extrajudicial and other unjustified killings.

The assembly on Tuesday voted 93 in favor of the United States' proposal to restore the previous language, with 55 countries against and 27 abstaining. The assembly then approved the amended resolution 122 in favor, with 0 votes against, and 59 abstentions.

Ambassador Susan Rice led the efforts to reinsert the resolution, The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

Suggesting LGBT peoples are weak and invited discrimination, the United Arab Emirates spoke at length, and said it “rejects firmly” the “controversial” statement that has “no legal foundation.”

The African Group representative said they were “gravely alarmed” with the “undefined notion of sexual orientation,” and called the attempt to restore the term a “systematic attempt to create new rights,” and  said it would “jeopardize the entire human rights framework… to achieve narrow political gain.”

In a major switch, South Africa voted for the resolution, after having voted to remove sexual orientation from the resolution last month. Rowanda also spoke very eloquently. But Zimbabwe, calling the text “adventurism,” also likened homosexuality to bestiality and said “individual proclivities should be just that.”


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

A victory: UN adds sexual orientation to resolution on executions

There’s a lot of buzz about international relations today, mostly focused on START Treaty. But there was another significant development when the United Nations:

U.N. member states have restored a reference to sexual orientation that was dropped amid much controversy last month from a resolution opposing the unjustified killing of minority groups.

Some additional info. on the vote from San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:

The vote was 93-55 with 27 abstentions.

The opposition mostly came from Arab and African nations where human rights are limited.

Via tweet from UN Ambassador Susan Rice:

We went “all out” and WON.#UN vote sends strong message that human rights apply to all,regardless of sexual orientation http://bit.ly/i4tdbF

Rice linked to this official statement from the U.S. government, made by Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Rick is an old friend. We worked together in the mid-80s when both of us lived in Maine. I’m posting his full statement after the break.

Here’s the statement:

Mr. President,

Thank you for this opportunity to take the floor after the vote.

The United States would like to thank countries for their support. We applaud those member states that have stood with us to oppose efforts seeking to block language on “sexual orientation” from this resolution.

Along with many countries in this room today, the United States was deeply disappointed by the vote in the third committee, which eliminated any mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from this resolution condemning extrajudicial killing of vulnerable people around the world.

The voices of civil society and human rights defenders around the world have indeed been heard by the member states of the United Nations – and for that my delegation is especially grateful. The General Assembly has sent a clear signal today that justice and human rights apply to all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.

As Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this year on Human Rights Day, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to all human beings without exception and that “violence will end only when we confront prejudice.”

Having just celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, today’s vote ensures that the principles enshrined in that Declaration are put into practice and indeed live on in the 21st century. We have reaffirmed that “all human rights apply to all.” We hope that we can continue to make progress on this at the UN and that all member states will consider signing the statement on LGBT human rights before the UNGA.

We thank the member states of the General Assembly for their support today.

Thank you Mr. President.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Association of British Muslims criticizes UN for removing sexual orientation protections

The Association of British Muslims is calling on the United Nations General Assembly “to reverse its vote on the exclusion of sexual orientation from the Resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.”  As previously reported, on November 16th the Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs Commitee (Third Committee) of the General Assembly voted 79 to 70 to remove “sexual orientation” from the UN resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

This resolution is reviewed every two years, and in 2008 it had been amended to mention specifically those killings that take place because of the sexual orientation of the victims. The 16th November vote removed that special mention.

The Association of British Muslims views this decision with considerable concern. It is the duty of the UN’s Human Rights Committee to uphold the rule of law, so it should vigorously oppose any extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions by whatever party and for whatever reasons.

It should also act to preserve the human rights of all vulnerable communities.

Removing this clause at this time will send quite the wrong signal to those regimes that indulge in these barbaric practices, implying as it does that United Nations is no longer concerned at the maltreatment of people because of their sexual orientation or considers it to be a lesser matter.

Referring to the Nazis, Paster Martin Niemoller once wrote, ‘First they came…’. Have we not learned anything since the tragedies of World War 2? Niemoller started out by saying, ‘First they came for the communist’s, and I did not speak out, because I was not a communist’ Then, the socialists, trade unionists, Jews and other groups until finally he writes, ‘Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me’.

The Committee vote is to be ratified in December. The Association of British Muslims calls on member states of the General Assembly not to endorse the decision of its Third Committee, and to reinstate the deleted clause.

Founded in 1889, Association of British Muslims is the oldest Muslim organization in Britain.  This announcement is higly significant in light of the barbric treatment of sexual minorities in doctrinaire Muslim countries like Iran.

Two youths were executed in Iran in 2005, reportedly for homosexuality.

December 10, 2010 is Human Rights Day at the United Nations.  Unless the General Assembly reverses the Third Committee’s vote to strip sexual orientation from the resolution, all I can say about Human Rights Day is what a joke.

Event Name: Human Rights Day

Event Description: The promotion and protection of human rights has been a major preoccupation for the United Nations since 1945, when the Organization’s founding nations resolved that the horrors of The Second World War should never be allowed to recur. Respect for human rights and human dignity “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”, the General Assembly declared three years later in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, all States and interested organizations were invited by the General Assembly to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day. The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Over the years, a whole network of human rights instruments and mechanisms has been developed to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations wherever they occur.”

UN Sponsor: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

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Sen. Ensign says Americans should be allowed to serve ‘regardless of their sexual orientation’

As I mentioned this morning, Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reported yesterday that a staffer to Senator John Ensign (R-NV) told constituents that he was inclined to support repeal of DADT.

Now, via Greg Sargent, comes word from the Senator himself, in the form of a letter to constituents:

Another step forward on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ladies and gents.

In a letter to constituents who have inquired about his position on DADT, GOP Senator John Ensign strongly suggests he is leaning towards supporting repeal of the policy, another sign that there may be enough tacit GOP support in the Senate for repeal to get it past a GOP filibuster.

“It is my firm belief that Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to fight and risk their lives in defense of this great nation,” Ensign writes in the letter, which I’ve obtained. “As a nation currently engaged in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the focus of all decisions affecting military readiness, recruiting and retention, and unit cohesion should be to maximize the success of ongoing operations.”

Greg notes that this is not a completely done deal. Ensign and his spokesperson both indicated that the Pentagon’s DADT study will influence his final decision:

In the letter, Ensign adds the caveat that he’s still awaiting a Pentagon report, due out on December 1st, that will gauge the impact of repealing the policy. Asked for comment, Ensign spokesperson Jennifer Cooper reiterated this point: “Senator Ensign is waiting on the report from the Pentagon and the testimony of the military chiefs to see if any changes to this policy can or should be done in a way so as not to harm the readiness or war fighting capabilities of our troops.”

But it’s already been reported that it’s set to find repeal of the policy can be done with minimal and isolated risk.

This feels like momentum.

That Pentagon report takes on added significance by the day. And, we’ve still got the timing and process hurdles to get over when the Senate reconvenes after Thanksgiving. But, it’s way better to be picking up potential supporters at this point, than losing them.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

George W. Bush is so stupid he thinks Dick Cheney was gauging his ‘tolerance’ for gays

In his new memoir Decision Points, President George W. Bush says that when he approached Dick Cheney about being his running mate in 2000, Cheney reminded him that he had a gay daughter, Mary. Here’s the passage from the book:

By the time Dick came to the ranch to deliver his final report, I had decided to make another run at him. As he finished his briefing, I said, “Dick, you are the perfect running mate.”

While I had dropped hints before, he could tell I was serious this time. Finally, he said, “I need to talk to Lynne.” I took that as a promising sign. He told me that he had had three heart attacks and that he and Lynne were happy with their life in Dallas. Then he said, “Mary is gay.” I could tell what he meant by the way he said it. Dick clearly loved his daughter. I felt he was gauging my tolerance. “If you have a problem with this, I’m not your man,” he was essentially saying.

I smiled at him and said, “Dick, take your time. Please talk to Lynne. And I could not care less about Mary’s orientation.”

If Cheney really said this, clearly it was because he was worried how the Republican Party’s right-wing base would react to having a vice presidential candidate with a gay daughter. But this obvious fact seems completely lost on Bush. When Matt Lauer asked Bush about the passage last night (video above), he insisted that Cheney was testing his own personal tolerance for gay people. WTF? Here’s the exchange:

LAUER: Wasn’t he gauging the tolerance of the base of the Republican party?

BUSH: No.

LAUER: Wasn’t he saying, “Isn’t this– will this be an issue?”

BUSH: No.  He was gauging my tolerance.

As Salon.com notes, after selecting Cheney as his running mate Bush proceeded to repeatedly use his opposition to gay rights to galvanize the Republican base. But we suppose this was nothing more than a sign of Bush’s own personal intolerance, as opposed to some carefully orchestrated political strategy. Whatever.

—  John Wright