“Head Figure Head” more about journalism than about Gov. Rick Perry’s sex life

Head Figure Head, the new e-book from Glen Maxey, details the author’s arduous and frustrating six-month effort to investigate rumors of Gov. Rick Perry’s gay sex life. Maxey served as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) during Perry’s tenure as a state representative, later serving for 12 years as a state representative, spanning Perry’s time as agricultural commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor. Of all the people who’ve attempted to look into the rumors of Perry’s trysts with men, Maxey is perhaps best positioned to get to the truth, and takes great pains to ensure we are aware of that fact.

The book is the narrative of Maxey’s research, assisted by a journalist from a national media outlet. Like almost every character in the book other than Maxey and Perry himself, “the Journalist” is referred to only as a pseudonym. Maxey and the Journalist begin their search for proof in June 2011 as rumors of Perry’s impending presidential bid are widely circulating. Immediately the pair find that almost every gay man in Austin has a friend who has a friend who claims to have slept with Perry. For the next three months they track those leads and come excruciatingly close to breaking the story.

—  admin

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

‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

IMG_5132

CATCH-ALL CHAPLAIN | Chaplain Chris Antal (Lt.) attended the meeting of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy at Cathedral of Hope in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
When a soldier recently came to Chaplain Chris Antal, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in New York and a Unitarian Universalist minister, and asked if he’d pray with her even though she was a pagan, he said he replied, “Of course I will, but you’ll have to show me how.”

Several weeks later, when he saw her again, she told him that the day she had come to visit him, she had hit rock bottom. He had, she told him, saved her life that day.

But Antal said he was only doing his job — helping any soldier who comes to him.

“I’ve earned the nickname, the Catch-all Chaplain,” he said, explaining that it means he takes everyone the other chaplains don’t want to deal with.

Carpenter.Dodd

Capt. Tom Carpenter (ret.) and Col. Paul Dodd (ret.)

Being there to help a soldier in need is what it’s all about for a military chaplain, said Col. Paul Dodd, a retired chaplain who now lives in Austin.

“The duty of a military chaplain is to perform or provide,” said Dodd, adding that he once sponsored an Islamic conference.

Dodd said that no chaplain can perform every service needed by every member of the military. But if a chaplain can’t perform the service requested, he or she must provide that soldier with a referral to someone else who can.

Antal said that chaplains who enlisted knew what they were getting into — to some extent. But none of them really expected the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And for many, that repeal was a game changer.

In October, a group of active and retired chaplains and military personnel and other people of faith, such as the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity

School in Fort Worth, met at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to begin looking at ways of addressing the issues that arose for military chaplains around DADT repeal.

Dave Guy Gainer said The Forum on Military Chaplaincy is not exactly new. It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.

Sprinkle said people in the Pentagon, up through Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, knew about their work and considered their statements throughout the DADT repeal process.

And now, with repeal complete, the group met to “come out.” At their meeting in Dallas, forum members considered ways to become an independent organization helping to ensure newly out service members receive the pastoral care they need while serving in the military.

Susan Gore, principle of The Mentor Group and editor of the book Coming Out In Faith, moderated the Dallas conference. She said the group started with several retired military officers “who wanted to push back against the far-right skew.”

Sprinkle has been part of the forum for four years and said he was recruited to participate because of his work on hate crimes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sprinkle said, more and more members of the Chaplain Corps have come from just one school — Liberty

University, founded by far-right evangelical Jerry Falwell. Today, Sprinkle estimated, one-third of military chaplains come from Liberty University.

“They instituted a program that barely meets minimum requirements,” he said of the evangelical school. “It’s an online course.”

And, Sprinkle said, Liberty University’s goal is to take control of the Chaplain Corps and use the military as a pool for religious recruits.

“This is fertile ground to bring people to Jesus at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Carpenter, a retired Marine captain and one of the forum’s founders.

“I’ve heard stories of them holding the hand of someone who’s dying and trying to bring them to Jesus.”

And although such actions contradict military policy, no one in the corps has been disciplined or dismissed for it.

“They give chaplains a lot of leeway,” Carpenter said.

Gainer said the military is looking for well-rounded ministers who bring experience with them to the military.

According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., candidates must be endorsed by their denomination or faith group and be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

But Sprinkle said that Liberty University is transparent about its goals, and those goals do not line up.

“They’re not committed to pluralism or serving all the troops,” he said.

Gainer said that the greatest opposition to repealing DADT came from the Chaplain Corps because military chaplains answer to two groups — the military and their denomination. Those chaplains that didn’t adhere to a strict stance of maintaining the ban on gays and lesbians were threatened with losing their accreditation from their endorsing religious body — and with it their livelihood and their pensions.

But that contradicts the stated goals of the Chaplain Corps.

“Someone has to say, ‘Either you comply and serve all the troops all the time or get out,’” Sprinkle said.

Gore said that one of the goals of the newly public forum is to “rebalance the Chaplain Corps by bringing in more mainstream faiths.” She said that for many who come from more liberal traditions, questions of what’s a just war make it hard to serve in the military. Antal, for example, is one of just four Unitarian Universalists in the Chaplain Corps.

During its push for repeal of DADT, members
said, the forum had several successes working behind the scenes.

Despite the assumption of confidentiality between parishioner and clergy, that wasn’t always the case between gay soldier and chaplain. Dodd said that a number of discharges under DADT occurred after a soldier talked to a chaplain and the chaplain turned them in.

In fact, he wrote a white paper on the practice. After he submitted it, the military tightened up on chaplain confidentiality, Dodd said.

Carpenter, an attorney, wrote an amicus brief for the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against DADT. The court found in favor of declaring DADT unconstitutional, but Congress repealed the law before the decision could be enforced.

Carpenter said that the repeal allows gays and lesbians to serve with no protection. The legal decision, had it not been vacated upon repeal, would have allowed gays and lesbians to serve equally.

Now that DADT is gone, the forum is examining how to ensure LGB personnel receive the same services as other troops from chaplains.

Dodd said that right-wing chaplains charge that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military will force them to act in ways that go against their beliefs. Some have said they would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

Dodd called that ridiculous. Chaplains are never asked to perform duties that go against their religious beliefs, he said.

“I turned down weddings,” he said. “An officer came to me who wasn’t divorced.”

He said the officer tried to pull strings and force the issue, but Dodd wasn’t going to discuss marrying someone who was still married to someone else.

“But we’re insisting chaplains have the authority, if it’s in keeping with their faith, to marry same-sex couples,” he said.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal provides no family benefits. For some issues, Dodd and Carpenter suggested work-arounds.

Issuing ID cards would be extremely helpful, especially to same-sex couples with children, Carpenter said, noting that “That way either parent could get on base to get a child to the hospital.”

In another example, joint assignments can be offered at the discretion of a commanding officer, and married couples are often assigned together when they both qualify for positions that are available at the same base. Same-sex couples could be given the same priority.

As the forum looks ahead, rebalancing the Chaplain Corps with members from a more diverse background to reflect the membership of the military is a priority.

“And we need to take care of our trans brothers and sisters,” Carpenter said.

The repeal of DADT did not address any transgender issues and does not allow transgender men or women to serve in the military.

Gainer believes representatives of the forum need to sit down with far-right members of the Chaplain Corps and agree to disagree. He said that before the repeal of DADT, they talked to people at Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. While both groups testified against the repeal, they met with some success.

“The president of the VFW in Pflugerville said it was the right thing to do,” Gainer said.

That dialogue, he believed, would help chaplains perform or at least provide a useful referral, rather than doing more damage to a soldier seeking help.

Gore thought that the focus of discussion should be with the majority of chaplains “who want to do a good job and are part of the moveable middle.”

“We have to convince administrators and educators in divinity schools to encourage some of their best and brightest to serve,” Sprinkle said. “So many schools dropped what they were doing during the Vietnam era.”

Antal thinks that gays and lesbians will gain more acceptance as they tell their stories in non-confrontational settings and others see “their identity as professional service members is primary.”

While the work of the forum will concentrate on helping LGB military personnel, creating a more diverse Chaplain Corps may help a majority of service members. Recent polls show that a majority of troops find the chaplaincy irrelevant.

Sprinkle called the work of the forum a gift from the LGBT community to the nation.

“You wouldn’t think we’d be the ones opening the doors so that all troops will be served with dignity, integrity and respect,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

SLDN issues letter to Secretary Gates requesting Special Boards

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has done remarkable work in assisting gay veterans in the past and continues to defend us by issuing a letter to Secretary Gates requesting that special boards be created in order to assist those of us who were unfairly discharged for being gay.

There are myriad injustices those of us who were discharged for being gay faced, and this letter attempts to address those problems with the creation of special boards.

Personally, I remember just how horrible, and mentally stressful, it was to have to provide any future employer with my DD-214 discharge papers that read, “Member stated he or she was a homosexual or bisexual.” It was like asking for a job while wearing a big “Scarlet A” on my chest. Fortunately, for me, I finally came across a Court Clerk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Oklahoma who said, “You know what? I happen to be a very progressive Democrat and THAT is nobody’s business! Besides, I like you and I need your technical skills to help us build our computer network.” I still consider that woman, Dorothy Evans, somewhat of a Fairy Godmother to me. Mind you, this was back in the pre-”Will and Grace” dark ages, so I owe a lot to her. I think the special boards that would be setup to provide redress for us is an excellent idea. So, will the Obama administration do this?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Homophobe Ike Skelton being talked about as possible Secretary of Defense

I hope this is a joke. Putting one of the lead opponents of repealing DADT as Secretary of Defense? Yeah, that would be a wise move.

But speculation for the top Pentagon job in recent days has included two respected veterans on military matters, both with bipartisan credentials and hands-on experience: John J. Hamre, a deputy defense secretary in the Clinton administration who now leads the Center for Strategic and International Studies while running the Defense Policy Board, an advisory panel to Mr. Gates; and Ike Skelton, the Missouri congressman who lost his seat last week, and with it the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee.

Then again, Obama appointed a staunch opponent of repealing DADT as the new Marine commandant, so don’t for a minute put this past him.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Respectfully, screw you Secretary Gates

On September 29, Defense Secretary Robert Gates addressed Duke University. He made some admirable observations about the pool of military recruits that, demographically, is perhaps not as representative of America as would be ideal. He alludes that a better educated recruitment pool might be better equipped to face the high-tech challenges of a 21st century military. He pinpoints a problem, but neatly sidesteps his own responsibility in working toward a solution.

Gates, from Department of Defense transcript:

University faculty and administrators banned ROTC from many elite campuses during the Vietnam War and continued to bar the military based on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, with Duke being a notable and admirable exception, with your three host programs.

I’m encouraged that several other comparable universities, at the urging of some of their most prominent alumni, including the president of the United States, are at least reconsidering their position on military recruiting and officer training, a situation that has been neither good for the academy or the country.

But a return of ROTC back to some of these campuses will not do much good without the willingness of our nation’s most gifted students to step forward Men and women such as you.  One does not need to look too hard to find Duke exemplars of selflessness and sacrifice.

Respectfully, screw you Secretary Gates. As Washington Post’s Jonathan Capeheart rightly points out:

Many colleges and universities bar the ROTC because of the military’s shameful and discriminatory ban on gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces.

You, Secretary Gates, have more power than any single human on Earth to get the military ROTC programs back on many of the campuses of the United States. The solution is simple: put some effort into doing what you say you want to do: help repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

One press conference from you, telling America you are not able to properly recruit the army you need because of this shameful and arcane policy and it would be gone. Imagine if Bush’s Republican Defense Secretary were to shame the GOP and John McCain on their obstructionism. If you were to focus the public’s attention on the harm they are doing to America’s National Security and your efforts to run a 21st century military the resistance would be cut off at the knees.

One press conference from you telling the Senate, vote now, vote for repeal and the dominoes of obstructionism would surely fall.

But instead you work at delaying and undermining and sabotaging the repeal efforts. You remain silent as the vote failed in the Senate, telegraphing your tacit approval to the Senate and the country.

And now you’re whining because LGBT advocates found a tool that effectively applies pressure to the Pentagon to do what’s right, to do what the American people want you to do. What all our allies did long ago.

Screw you and your whining. It only underscores why these ROTC campus bans are effective and must continue until the military agrees to honor LGB servicemembers appropriately for their selfless service to our country. And it is dismaying–but not surprising–to hear President Barack Obama is working to undermine the ROTC campus bans before he fulfills his promise to Lt. Col. Farhenbach and every LGB servicemember.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

HRC Calls on Secretary of Education to Take Action

In the past several weeks the media has reported on a number of tragic suicides precipitated by bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. Among them are: 13-year-old Seth Walsh who after months of relentless bullying hanged himself from a tree outside his California home this week; Billy Lucas of Indiana, 15, who hanged himself after being called a “fag” over and over again; Asher Brown, 13, whose classmates teased him without mercy and acted out mock gay sex acts in class, shot himself in the head last Thursday; and Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi who killed himself by jumping off a bridge after his roommate secretly recorded him with another male student, then broadcast the video online. Additionally, a single school district in Minnesota has seen seven suicides in the last year by young victims of intolerance. Sadly, these are not isolated incidents; deaths like these continue to occur around the country, but they are preventable.

We have to do something.  Today we ask Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to speak out immediately to push every school in the nation to implement anti-bullying policies inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity

Additionally, The HRC Foundation has developed Welcoming Schools (www.welcomingschools.org) – an innovative program that gives elementary school teachers, parents and students across the country the tools to help stop the name-calling, bullying and gender stereotyping that so many students face every day. It helps kids learn respect and tolerance early on, to prevent violence later in middle and high school.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s Overreaction Only Proves His Gay Sex Scandal Is True

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Barbara Ellen, for guardian.co.uk on Saturday 4th September 2010 23.07 UTC

What a shame that William Hague decided to handle the internet rumours in such a pompous, heavy-handed manner. It doesn't matter that the rumours have been following him since Oxford University: who, these days, would be so silly and thin-skinned as to be genuinely upset by a gay smear? Or so naive as to admit they are?

Making the underqualified Christopher Myers his aide is one thing, but the pair sharing a hotel room could have been handled easily and lightly – Hague joking that he's a Yorkshireman, too tight to pay for two rooms. As for the "True Bromance" pictures of them walking along the street in sunglasses, Hague in a baseball cap and tucked-in top, Alastair Campbell observed drily: "Most politicians are poor at casual clothes." An understatement, but there was no real harm in the photo. It was just so hilariously camp.

Dining with a friend, I was told how she'd once spotted Andy Bell, the fabulous singer from Erasure, on New York's Gay Street, wearing a bum-bag. She mentally filed it away as the campest thing she'd ever seen. "But the Hague photo is camper!" Crucially, neither of us thought any of this (funny photos, ill-judged room sharing) had anything to do with Hague being homosexual. Why, then, did Hague feel compelled to react in such a po-faced, dramatic way?

Hague should have laughed it off. Sure, there's the whiff of gay Salem around Westminster at times. Right now, we seem to be tripping over politicians coming out or having dramas about their sexuality. However, these people are gay. Merely being accused of being gay isn't the same thing. In fact, it appears to be practically a blooding for a certain stripe of workaholic politician, part of the Westminster territory.

For Hague suddenly to barge around, making public statements, dragging his wife Ffion's miscarriages into it, hints at a worrying dearth of emotional intelligence. Miscarriages are incredibly sad, but they aren't proof of a man's sexuality. Nor is having children, nor is even a 20-year marriage, as Crispin Blunt recently demonstrated.

However, that's beside the point. Hague seems to be a decent man and an experienced international statesman. Why, then, would he embark on a course of action that sends out the toxic message that, if it is not actually shameful to be gay, it is an outright insult to be accused of it?

This is what Hague has done and, in a way, that presumes politicians are uniquely targeted. Far from it. Even at my low level, I regularly receive missives from people asking charmingly, and sometimes not so charmingly, whether I might secretly be one for the ladies. It's inaccurate; I sometimes feel that I should be checking my desk diary in case I did black out and spend a month or so dating Ellen DeGeneres. However, it's not remotely distressing or insulting.

Irrelevant? I've not been splashed all over the papers, nor whispered about for years. No, but others have. Take That's new video for "Shame" features Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow parodying the gay movie Brokeback Mountain, making light of the homosexual rumours that have followed the band since the start of their career. Surely if fluffy boyband members can cope with elegance and humour with this kind of thing, a foreign secretary should have breezed it.

This is the point. If Hague can't cope with bromance rumours, however incessant and irritating, then how can we trust him with issues that really matter, such as Afghanistan or Iran? Arguably, all this pouting and stropping has made Hague seem a million times camper. However, none of us has any right to care a damn whether William Hague is gay or straight. What is significant, and troubling, is that our foreign secretary dealt with gay rumours markedly less maturely than a boyband.

The last word isn't always worth it

The case of Californian GP Jacquelyn Kotarac is tragic. Trying to get into her on-off boyfriend's bungalow to confront him over relationship issues, Kotarac didn't realise he had slipped out of the back door to go on a business trip. She climbed on to the roof and into the chimney, getting stuck and suffocating, with her body being discovered several days later. That must have been some conversation Kotarac was determined to have and I, for one, can empathise.

I've been known to go to startling lengths to have my say or get the last word. These have included the "Follow man into street ranting" manoeuvre, the "Stand outside locked bathroom door, repeating yourself" tactic and the "Maximum embarrassment public ambush" gambit. More recently, experts in the field have had great results with the "And another thing" email blitz (with text option).

Men do this, too, but women are better at it. A friend once left gouge marks on a door frame, so determined was she to stand her ground and "unburden herself".

In my youth, when I had what might be termed a lively personality, I once thought it reasonable to run beside a moving train, half-hanging on to a window, "pointing something out".

Admittedly, this could be a fault line of mine, which some may say has contributed to me ending up in a job which could be unkindly yet accurately described as being gobby.

Still, extreme as Kotarac's case was, how human was the compulsion that led to her death. "The last word" is one of the holy grails of relationships, oft sought, but rarely found.

I'm devastated that this poor woman ended up clambering down a chimney because of her desperation to make a point, but a part of me understands.

Will it be Chiles play for these cereal seducers?

So GMTV is no more. Goodbye sweet, strange sofa-people and your touching interest in amusing pet photos, the health of the prostate, and five-year-olds with A-levels. From tomorrow, we have Daybreak, with main presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, and their much-vaunted "chemistry", which is telly-speak for: "Do they fancy the pants off each other?" Or in this case: "Does that poor sod still fancy her?" It's a chance to munch cornflakes and wonder if more than affection flutters in Chiles's tortured breast for Frank Lampard's girlfriend. Or not.

I couldn't care less about their chemistry. Nor do I have any animosity towards Chiles or Bleakley, though one can see why some might have become irritated. What a huge smarmy luvvie fuss they made of all of this. Conjoined twins could have been successfully separated with less drama than these two, um, leaving one television channel for another.

Certainly, they have played a blinder, going from quite-liked screen couple to greedy, overpaid, overrated idiots everyone hates, within just a few short months. Jonathan Ross will be furious – it took him years to achieve that.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

EARLIER:
How William Hague's Totally-Not-Gay Sex Scandal Is Ruining Cronyism For All Of Britain


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Queerty

—  John Wright