Flashback to June 27, 2009: SLDN’s DADT protest in front of White House

Today, as noted below, SLDN has organized a protest at the Capitol. This isn’t the first protest. In June of 2009, SLDN organized a protest in front of the White House to protest the President’s inaction on DADT repeal. The group wanted the President to lead. Still waiting. I am reposting my coverage of that protest. We had indications over a year ago that there was trouble with DADT repeal. SLDN got into a lot of trouble with the White House over this protest and the repeated efforts through 2009 to get the process moving. Back then, we all thought we’d get ENDA passed before DADT repeal. But, we didn’t even get a committee vote on ENDA. I don’t think anyone thought we’d get to the end of this session of Congress with neither. There’s still some hope on DADT, but everything has to go very smoothly with no procedural BS games.

From June 27, 2009:

According to press pool reports, President Obama was at the White House today. I hope he heard the noise from the protest organized by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The group collected 265 buttons, symbolizing the 265 servicemembers who have been discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell since Obama took office, for delivery to the President.

As we all know, the President committed to ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeatedly during the primaries and general election. But, it hasn’t happened. Nothing has. As Obama said on his campaign website:

America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Dont Tell policy. All that is required is leadership.

Leadership. Yes. It is needed.

It’s really quite sad that SLDN has to protest to get the attention of the White House. But, we are where we are and this White House needs pressure. If you haven’t called yet, the number is 202-456-1414. Tell Obama to end the DADT policy — he has the power. Yes, we want a legislative repeal, but Obama can stop the discharges NOW. He is the leader.

Here’s a video with several scenes, too:

Still waiting for leadership. In June of 2009, this was a very brave act. No one on the progressive side was protesting Obama — except some gay activists. The DOMA brief was filed on June 12, 2009 so some of us were already aware that we didn’t have a fierce advocate, as promised. The gays were ahead of the curve.


—  admin

Watch: Belmont University Denies Firing Coach for Telling Students She’s Gay, as Students Protest


I posted about this briefly in the round-up the other day, but it deserves more attention.

HoweNashville's Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher today denied firing soccer coach Lisa Howe after she told students that she is a lesbian and her same-sex partner was pregnant. 

News Channel 5 reports:

Dr. Bob Fisher spoke at a news conference at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the campus' Student Life Center. Up until now, Fisher hadn't spoken a word publicly about the controversy.

Fisher said, first and foremost, he has done a poor job communication with the public since the controversy started last Wednesday. He did not take any questions from reporters, and said he would not specifically talk about Lisa Howe's departure since it was a personnel issue.


Mike Curb, the founder of Curb Records and the name behind the Curb Event Center where Lisa Howe worked, said on Tuesday he wanted to see Belmont act like Christians and rehire the soccer coach.

Curb released this statement on Wednesday:  "President Fisher has asked me as a member of the Board, now that I've made my statement completely, to hold off making any further statements to give him an opportunity to resolve these issues so that this type of injustice can never happen again."

Students have been protesting since Howe's departure and show no signs of stopping.

Just after the controversy erupted, Marty Dickens, chairman of Belmont's board of trustees defended the school's actions, saying, "We do adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don't want to make apologies for that."

There is now a Facebook group demanding Dickens' resignation

Watch News2Nashville's report on the firing and protests, AFTER THE JUMP

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Aftermath of last week’s DADT protest at the White House

Scott Wooledge, who was arrested last week along with other GetEqual protesters, at the White House fence, writes about what the protest accomplished.


—  admin

GetEQUAL strikes again with protest at White House’s Common Purpose meeting

UPDATE @ 11:01 PM Here’s the video of the group going after White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, the man who claimed only a few months ago that DADT would be repealed this year.  How’s that plan going, Jim?

UPDATE @ 8:14 PM via email from GetEQUAL. It was quite a protest:

David Smith, Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the Human Rights Campaign, Winnie Stachelberg, Sr. VP for External Affairs for CAP; Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, were greeted tonight by the protestors and asked to stand with the LGBT community and not attend the meeting. All three of them chose instead to cross the protest line and enter into the hotel. Smith refused saying, “I’m running late”.

Also, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina was greeted tonight by protestors who chanted to him “Obama, What’s Your Plan?” and “Keep Your Promise!

Here’s a photo of Justin Elzie, Rob Smith and Scott Wooledge at the protest:

On Tuesday nights here in DC, there’s usually a gathering of White House staffers, often led by Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, with leaders of progressive organizations. The meeting is called “Common Purpose,” but is better known as the “veal pen” — a term coined by Jane Hamsher. Basically, the White House gives the groups their marching orders — and most of the groups have done as instructed. We can see how well that’s worked.

Among those attending the meeting tonight are CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg and HRC’s V.P. David Smith. Rea Carey from the Task Force is there, too. (UPDATE: Just learned Messina was there.)

Tonight, the Common Purpose attendees were met by representatives from GetEQUAL, including seven of the DADT protesters who were arrested yesterday for handcuffing themselves to the White House fence. They decided to directly address the progressive leaders, because as the sign notes, “There’s no common purpose without equality.”

From GetEQUAL’s press release:

This evening, seven of the original 13 LGBT veterans and advocates who were arrested yesterday at the White House fence, stood outside of the Capitol Hilton (1001 16th Street NW) to protest the White House’s “Common Purpose” meeting, a mostly secret, low-profile gathering of White House officials and institutional, progressive organizations aimed at controlling the agenda and messaging around those issues, which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. The invite-only meeting, first launched back in 2009 by White House Chief of Staff Rahmn Emanuel, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and others, has been previously criticized by liberal, progressive bloggers and advocates for its attempt to shut-down any resistance to the White House’s strategy by instilling fear of retribution amongst the organizations invited.

Here’s the quote from GetEQUAL’s Heather Cronk via Politico:

“The White House’s Common Purpose meeting is the primary way that progressive ideas and values supported by a majority of Americans are being upended and compromised,” said Cronk in an email to POLITICO. “We are calling on the progressive groups attending these meetings to shake free the yoke of White House staff who are refusing to push forward the progressive ideals that President Obama campaigned on.”

Here are the messages the will greet the Common Purpose attendees tonight. I’ll post more about the protest when I get more details:


—  admin

GetEQUAL & gay vets protest DADT, handcuff selves to White House fence

UPDATE @ 9:35 PM: Great news. Nine of the protesters have been released. It looks like all 13 will be out tonight.
UPDATE @ 6:01 PM: Just learned that the lawyers have spoken to the information officer at the United States Park Police at the Anacostia Headquarters. The police have confirmed that all thirteen arrestees are being processed at the Anacostia station. The protesters will most likely be held overnight so they can see a judge in the morning/early afternoon tomorrow.
The third protest of the day over DADT repeal is currently underway at the White House. There are 13 protesters on the fence in front of the White House. There was a heavy police presence in front of the White House and they have cleared the area. There are even police horses on the scene.

UPDATE @ 3:30 PM: All 13 protesters have been removed from the fence — and arrested. Via Tweet from CBS News reporter Mark Knoller:

US Park Police cut the protestors chains and arrested each of the protestors, who insisted on being carried to patrol wagon.

Apparently, the handcuffs were superglued and the protesters engaged in passive resistance, thus had to be carried.  Here is Chris Johnson’s piece about the protest.

Here are some initial photos:

Another photo of the protesters yelling to the White House:

Via GetEQUAL’s press release:

The 13 veterans and repeal advocates arrested today include:

* Five veterans (Lt. Dan Choi, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, and Cadet Mara Boyd) who were arrested back in March during the GetEQUAL organized “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” act of civil disobedience at the White House fence demanding President Obama show leadership on repeal.
* Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL, and Dan Fotou, action strategist for GetEQUAL.
* Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, who was discharged in 1976 for declaring and admitting she was a lesbian. She became the first-ever LGBT servicemember reinstated to her position in the U.S. Military, by a U.S. Federal District Court. On July 30th, 1993, Miriam and 26 other protesters were arrested at the White House fence for protesting then-President Bill Clinton’s broken promise to repeal the gay ban – instead signing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bill into law.
* Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Justin Elzie who, in 1993, became the first Marine ever investigated and discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Elzie was also the first soldier to be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to fight his discharge and win – resulting in his service as a Marine for four years as an openly gay man.
* Former U.S. Army Arabic Linguist Ian Finkenbinder, who was discharged from the Army in December 2004 after announcing to his superiors that he was gay. Finkenbinder is an Iraq war veteran and was about to return for a second tour of duty when he was discharged.
* U.S. Army Veteran and Repeal Advocate Rob Smith, who was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait before being honorably discharged after deciding not to re-enlist in the U.S. Army due to the added pressure of living under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
* Father Geoff Farrow, a Catholic priest who spoke out against the church’s official stance in support of California’s Proposition 8, removing the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Because of his courageous stance against Prop 8, Father Geoff Farrow was removed as pastor of St. Paul’s by his bishop and suspended as a priest.
* Scott Wooledge, a New York-based LGBT civil rights advocate and blogger who has written extensively on the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at Daily Kos and Pam’s House Blend.
* Michael Bedwell, long-time LGBT civil rights advocate, close friend of Leonard Matlovich, and administrator of the site www.leonardmatlovich.com.


—  admin

The Good Guys At The NARTH Protest

Members of NARTH are featured in the slideshow one post down, these photos are all the good guys, the thinkers, those whose minds are unbound by prehistoric religious dogma and twisted unscientific hooey. I think we had about 40 folks willing to sacrifice a beautiful Saturday morning for a schlep out to a remote airport hotel crawling with people who wish them dead. They did this for you. Enjoy their signs.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

NARTH “Lift My Luggage” protest

NARTH “Lift My Luggage” protest

Jeremy Hooper

Remarks as prepared

So I’ll be honest: I didn’t know what I wanted to say here. But as I sat down to put together some thoughts, something so oddly, freakishly coincidental happened that I simply couldn’t ignore it. Literally, as I was writing Photo-25down words to say to you today, a comment came into my site, left on a post dated almost a year ago to the date. The subject of the old post was last year’s NARTH convention. I had written a little post regarding NARTH’s claims that the American Psychological Association has a bias again them. A claim to which I, at the time, basically responded, “No NARTH: scientific fact and biological reality are what have a bias against you, not the APA.” Then I think I made some sort of a joke, put in a period, then moved on to something else. Probably something silly that Maggie Gallagher was saying on that particular day.

Now, it’s very rare that someone takes the time to leave a comment on a year-old post, and usually when they do, it’s because they have a negative bone to pick with whatever was written, not a positive one. And that was certainly true with this comment. It was from a NARTH supporter and it read:

This article is simply a strawman attack on NARTH. In our culture, those who are dissatisfied with their unwanted homosexual attractions and choose to pursue change are often treated with disrespect, mockery and ridicule, as are the therapists who try to help them. It is ironic that some of the people who defend the freedom to embrace homosexuality are the same ones who mock those who want something different for their lives. Tolerance and diversity mean very little if differing worldviews are excluded.”

Okay, right. So nothing particularly interesting or newsworthy about the comment itself. But why I mention it today, beyond the coincidental element, is because this is exactly the reaction I tend to get from pro-“ex-gay” critics. It doesn’t matter how measured my words or how organizationally-directed my rejections, the “ex-gay” supporters almost always see our push back as some sort of personal attack. Like we’re out to get the human being for the choices they’ve made in their life. Like we are picking on them just for the sake of bullying.

The truth, of course, is that the vast majority of us who oppose NARTH and the ex-gay movement in general are 100% supportive of people’s right to get intimate inside of whatever adult relationship they choose for themselves. We are not threatened by their choice of partner — even though that partner is oftentimes celibacy. We are not offended by their right to make their own determinations for their lives — even if that determination means rejecting certain realities. We may feel sorry. I personally feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t live his or her truth, whatever reason. But I have no desire to hurt or offend or unnecessarily pile on. The goal is not to make anyone’s journey any harder.

At least, I should say, that’s not *OUR* goal. That is, however, what the organized Ex-gay movement — led by NARTH — does to LGBT people’s lives and loves. They prey on vulnerabilities, telling the most susceptible among us that most any bit of pain that an LGBT person experiences in life stemmed from their sexuality or gender identity. They target parents who are desperate to come to a better understanding with the movement leaders instead providing obfuscation. They also target us on a political level, working hand in hand with the so-called “pro-family” groups to provide cover in debating legislation like the Employment Discrimination Act or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal. After all, if they can quote/unquote prove that homosexuality is not innate, then groups like Focus on the Family can tell their socially conservative supporter that it’s okay to not support LGBT people in civil government, since we are supposedly nothing more than broken heterosexuals who are choosing our behavior.

And of course there’s also the element of fact. Pure, raw data. It’s become a political cliché to quote the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s words saying that ‘Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.’ But this quote’s a cliché because it’s so true. We can all disagree. Matt Barber can come out from this hotel and tell me that my marriage is wrong or sinful or whatever. I can then look him back in the eye and tell him it’s truly bizarre that a grown heterosexual man dedicates his life to gay people’s bedrooms. Because it is. Truly. Bizarre.

But neither of us, me nor Matt, should create or promote junk science groups that are purposely designed to muddy the waters of credible research. Oh, but guess what? ONE OF US — TOTALLY — DOES — DO — THAT!!! And spoiler alert: It aint me.

So going back to that aforementioned commenter, I would just say: You are absolutely right — nobody should ridicule, mock, or disrespect you. But pointing out simple facts is not mockery, ridicule or disrespect! Ridicule is telling a legally married man like myself that my family is wrong or broken or unfit for federal rights. Mockery is telling educated scientists that they have a quote/unquote “liberal agenda” anytime they put forth research that jibes with the realities of our known world. Disrespect is taking vulnerable people’s money and telling them that something you know is unsupported by independent, peer reviewed fact is actually some sort of magical cure for a non-affliction that never needed a cure to begin with!

Inside this hotel, NARTH is trafficking in all three. Outside this hotel, I am telling them that I will work with every fiber in my being to drain. their. snake. oil. for. good!!



*And now, video:

Good As You

—  admin

Protest planned to support transgender student

From Queer LiberAction’s website.

Queer LiberAction is planning a protest to support North Dallas High School transgender student Andy Moreno.

According to QL organizer Gabe Coppinger, the action will be held Thursday, Oct. 14 beginning at 3:30 p.m. School lets out at 3:45 p.m.

Andy Moreno was denied a spot as a finalist for homecoming queen on Monday despite reports from members of the vote-counting committee that she received more votes than at least one of the other finalists. Coppinger said the group will be there to support Moreno and thank the students who voted for her as well as the faculty and staff that have treated her with respect. The group’s only criticism with the school is the bullying that they say has come from the principal.

Coppinger said more details will follow.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Transgender girl not a finalist for homecoming queen despite enough votes

SISTERLY SUPPORT | Andy Moreno, left, has her family — including sister Daisy Moreno, right — and her friends backing her up in her bid to be the 2010 homecoming queen at North Dallas High. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)
Andy Moreno, left, and her sister Daisy Moreno

Trangender student Andy Moreno wasn’t among the three finalists for homecoming queen at North Dallas High School announced Monday, according to her sister, Daisy Moreno.

Daisy Moreno told Instant Tea that according to poll watchers and friends on the counting committee, Andy received more votes than at least one of the three finalists. However, based on the principal’s previous decision, school officials didn’t allow votes for Andy to count.

Another transgender youth who also identifies as female was nominated for homecoming king and won, Daisy Moreno said. The school allowed the other youth to run for king because she was born male. Students will choose the homecoming king and queen from among the finalists on Friday, Oct. 15.

Queer LiberAction is reportedly planning a protest of Andy’s exclusion from the ballot.

The Canadian Broadcasting Company saw the story about Andy’s homecoming bid on Dallas Voice’s website and interviewed her Monday afternoon. The report is scheduled to run on NPR in the United States.

It’s unclear whether Andy would have a winning case if she brought legal action against the school or the district, according to Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal in Dallas.

Upton said recent federal court rulings have supported students’ right to dress consistently with their gender identity in other contexts, but he couldn’t recall one that dealt specifically with homecoming. In Indiana, for example, a school district recently changed its policies and settled a case brought by a trans student who wasn’t allowed to wear female attire to the prom.

“In this type of a situation, there would probably be some federal arguments you could make,” Upton said. “It would depend a lot on the circumstances of the homecoming event, and whether it was truly just extracurricular or whether it was related to the curriculum of the school. But as a general rule, the federal law has been in some cases protective of students who kind of buck the gender norms or bend the molds and administrators don’t like it.

“I think it’s something we’re seeing more and more of, because students are increasingly becoming comfortable in their own skin in situations where five or 10 years ago, they would have been scared to death to be themselves,” he said.

Upton added that regardless of the legal implications, he doesn’t understand the school’s motivation.

“What’s the harm?” Upton said. “Especially in the context of proms or homecoming, I always wonder, what really is the objection? And that’s the question that I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer to. You [the school district] might win a lawsuit, but why would you care, and why would you expend so much energy on something like this? You’ve got bigger problems.”

Online editor John Wright contributed to this article.

—  David Taffet

Gay Activists Protest Mormon Church

BoydPackerx180 (LDS Resources) | Advocate.comThousands of gay activists protested outside Mormon Church headquarters in Salt Lake City in response to recent antigay comments from church leader Boyd K. Packer.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright