Obama names gay delegates to official Olympic delegation


Billie Jean King

President Barack Obama named the U.S. delegation to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and included gays and lesbians in his selection.

One of the five members of the opening ceremony delegation is lesbian, and one of the five closing ceremony delegation members is lesbian. Then there is an ambiguously gay duo.

For the opening ceremony, tennis champ Billie Jean King will be among the official delegation. King has won 39 grand slam titles during her career and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi, and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people,”the lesbian tennis star said.

Among the five opening ceremony delegates is Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano. He has denied he is gay and has refused to talk to the gay press over the years. When asked why most people assume figure skaters are gay, he answered, “Sequins and glitter.”

The opening ceremony takes place on Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia.

Among the five official delegates to the closing ceremony is Caitlin Cahow who is an Olympic silver medalist and bronze medalist in women’s ice hockey. Cahow is lesbian.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is another of the five closing ceremony delegates. While lesbian rumors have swirled around her for years, Napolitano has said she’s not gay, just a single workaholic.

The closing ceremony will be held Feb. 23.

Russia enacted an anti-gay law this year that makes any demonstration of being gay illegal. Gays and lesbians could be imprisoned for any public indication of their sexual orientation. Having delegates many assume are gay should be an equally effective protest against the Russian anti-gay law as having openly gay delegates. Bigots won’t know who they’re actually supposed to discriminate against.

—  David Taffet

Gov. Perry, President Obama weigh in on proposed BSA policy change

The Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News on Monday to encourage the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board to add a nondiscrimination policy.

Today the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board will begin discussing a proposed policy change to allow local troops to decide to let in gay Scouts and leaders.

A decision on whether remove the national gay ban is expected Wednesday.

Lesbian former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell will be at the Scouts’ Irving headquarters at 11 a.m. to deliver petitions started by her, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, gay former Scoutmaster Greg Bourke, and Eric Andresen, father of a gay Scout denied his Eagle Award. The petitions have garnered 1.4 million combined signatures.

The issue has brought about heated debates on both sides as some people are against the decision while others think it doesn’t go far enough. The Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page ad in today’s Dallas Morning News, above, encouraging the board to go beyond removing the no-gays requirement and adding a national nondiscrimination policy.

Gov. Rick Perry chimed in this weekend while addressing hundreds of Scouts at the state House during the Texas Scouts’ 64th annual Report to State.

Perry, an Eagle Scout, told reporters his views on homosexuality haven’t changed his writing his book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For, and hoped the national position would remain the same.

“Hopefully the board will follow their historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make scouting this very important and impactful organization,” Perry said.

President Barack Obama also spoke about the issue during a pre-Super Bowl interview, calling scouting a “great institution” that should welcome gay members and leaders. He said the organization provided youth with lifelong leadership and character building training and “no one should be barred from that.”

Watch the clip of Obama below.

—  Dallasvoice

UPDATE: Anti-gay pastor Louie Giglio pulled from inauguration program

Pastor Louie Giglio was a graduate student at Baylor when he launched a Bible study group that became the predecessor to his Passion movement.

UPDATE, 11 a.m., Jan. 10: Think Progress is reporting that Giglio removed himself from the program.

“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration,” Giglio said in a statement to Think Progress. “Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”

Read Giglio’s full statement here.

HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement: “It was the right decision. Participants in the Inaugural festivities should unite rather than divide. Choosing an affirming and fair-minded voice as his replacement would be in keeping with the tone the president wants to set for his Inaugural.”

UPDATE, 10 a.m. Central time on Jan. 10: ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports on Twitter that Giglio has been removed from the inauguration program.



Looks like President Barack Obama has another big gay pastor problem.

Four years after Obama infuriated the LGBT community by selecting Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his first inauguration, the president has picked another pastor with a history of even more extreme homophobic teachings to deliver the benediction at his second.

The Rev. Louie Giglio of Atlanta, announced Wednesday as the benediction speaker for the Jan. 21 inauguration, delivered a sermon in the 1990s in which he advocated “ex-gay” therapy and called on fellow Christians to fight the “aggressive agenda” of the LGBT movement, according to Think Progress. Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church, is best known as founder of the Passion Conferences, a group dedicated to uniting college students in worship and prayer.

LGBT advocates have already responded to Giglio’s selection by launching a petition calling for Obama to replace him with a pastor who has a history of supporting LGBT equality. One prominent LGBT activist, radio host Michelangelo Signorile, even tweeted that the Human Rights Campaign should boycott the inauguration if Obama doesn’t replace Giglio. You can sign the White House petition by going here.

Although Giglio is now Atlanta-based, he has strong Texas ties, according to online biographies. He attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and he was a graduate student at Baylor University in Waco when he launched the Bible study group that became the predecessor to the Passion Conferences. Giglio moved from Waco back to his native Georgia in 1995. The first Passion Conference was held in Austin in 1997.

—  John Wright

Elected officials, newspapers in Texas largely silent on Obama’s support for marriage equality

Not surprisingly, we haven’t heard a whole hell of a lot from elected officials in Texas about President Barack Obama’s decision to come out in support of marriage equality.

That may be because some Texas Republicans are reluctant to slam the president too hard given how quickly public opinion is changing on this issue, while some Democrats may be reluctant to lavish too much praise because, after all, it is still Texas.

But you can always count on State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, to speak up anytime we cross a significant milestone in the fight for full LGBT equality. Coleman, a staunch LGBT ally who happens to be facing an openly gay challenger in the Democratic Primary, sent out the below statement in an email on Friday, along with an image of the brilliant editorial cartoon by the Houston Chronicle’s Nick Anderson that I’ve posted above. (On a side note, it doesn’t appear as though the Chronicle has actually published an editorial in support of Obama’s announcement. The San Angelo Standard Times did so over the weekend, but I’m not aware of any other newspapers in Texas that have, including both The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Which is shameful.)

Anyhow, here’s what Coleman had to say in his email:

Like so many others over the years, President Obama has finally come to realize that there is no “separate but equal” when it comes to marriage rights. Civil Unions that grant equal rights are simply not good enough. Marriage is a special bond that for far too long this country has withheld from gays and lesbians. I, and many others, have been fighting for marriage equality for years, and now we have the President on our side.

We still do not have marriage equality in Texas, but the tide is turning. It is only a matter of time now before we are all treated equally under the eyes of the law. This is a civil rights issue, and Reverend Al Sharpton said it best: “We cannot be selective with civil rights. We must support civil rights for everybody or we don’t support them for anyone.”

—  John Wright

LGBT celebs tweet responses to Obama’s support of marriage equality

The big news of the day for LGBT Americans is President Obama’s vocal support of marriage equality which he stated in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. After the jump, read just a select few tweets from LGBT celebs who took to the Twitter-verse with their responses to Obama.

—  Rich Lopez

Annise Parker says Mike Rawlings ‘will eventually come around’ on same-sex marriage pledge

Mayor Annise Parker

But Houston mayor says she’d be ‘shocked’ if Obama evolves on marriage equality before November

During her opening remarks at the third annual Haas LGBT Journalists convention in Houston this past Friday, openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker said that when President Barack Obama called to congratulate her on her successful mayoral bid in 2009, Parker was in an interview with her phone on silent and let his go to voicemail.

“You would think that the president of the United States would have somebody that could call ahead and say, ‘The President’s gonna call you — answer the damned phone!'” Parker told the crowd of journalists. “But no. But it did make for a nice souvenir for about a week until I accidentally erased it.”

She then went on to take “no-holds-barred” questions from the journalists about reproductive rights, conservative Christians, marrying her partner and whether the Democratic party will support marriage equality in the 2012 election. We snagged her best quotes for you below:

—  Daniel Villarreal

WATCH: “The Road We’ve Traveled”

The Obama campaign today released The Road We’ve Traveled, a 17-minute “docu-ganda” by Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim. Watch it below.

—  John Wright

President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

DADT is finally dead

OutServe, a group for active-duty LGBT military personnel, published an issue of its magazine featuring 101 newly out servicemembers to mark the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’

After 18 years and more than 14,000 discharges, “don’t ask, don’t tell” finally ended at 12:01 this morning. For the first time in the nation’s 235-year history, gays and lesbians can serve openly in the U.S. military.

President Barack Obama took to Twitter to mark the end of the ban, and the White House posted video of gay veterans talking about what DADT’s demise means to them. A Pentagon press conference is planned later today.

OutServe, a group for active-duty LGBT military personnel, published a DADT repeal issue of its magazine featuring 101 newly out servicemembers. And one gay servicemember stationed in Germany came out to his father in the middle of the night and posted the emotional clip on YouTube (video below).

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said 100 events are planned in all 50 states to celebrate the end of DADT, including in Austin/Fort Hood, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. The Dallas celebration is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas.

“Today marks the official end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is an historic milestone along the journey to achieving LGBT equality in America’s military,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “Thanks to veterans, active duty, leaders, allies and supporters everywhere, this is a monumental day for our service members and our nation. Indeed, we have taken a tremendous leap forward for LGBT equality in the military.

“Our work is far from done, but today we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our patriots as we look forward to a new era of military service — one that honors the contributions of all qualified Americans who have served or who wish to serve,” Sarvis said.

Below are more statements on the end of DADT, as well as video of the gay servicemember coming out to his dad.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: NY marriage lottery results; DADT repeal certification; Kay Bailey Hutchison

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. All 823 couples who played the New York City marriage lottery have won! The lottery initially guaranteed only 764 slots on Sunday — the first day same-sex marriage will be legal in the Empire State. But NYC officials now say they’ll accommodate all couples who entered, although 74 who signed up to wed in Manhattan will have to travel to another borough. For more on the start of same-sex marriage in New York, check out Yonkers native David Taffet’s round-up from Thursday.

2. After 18 long years and some 15,000 discharges, the Pentagon and President Barack Obama are set to put the final nail in the coffin of “don’t ask, don’t tell” today. Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to certify the repeal of DADT when they meet in the Oval Office this afternoon, which would begin a 60-day waiting period before the policy officially — and finally — comes to an end. According to our calendar, that means the big day will be Sept. 20, which happens to be just two days after Dallas Pride. Is it too late to change this year’s theme?

3. If not, perhaps they can just turn Pride into a retirement party for Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who told MSNBC this morning that she objects to the Pentagon’s decision to certify DADT repeal. “I really don’t think we should be putting people who are in harm’s way, in very close quarters, in any kind of uncomfortable position,” Hutchison said. “I think it is not the right decision, but it’s a decision that’s been made.” Watch video from ThinkProgress below:

—  John Wright