Houston’s State Rep. Garnet Coleman applauds Prop. 8 decision

State Rep. Garnet Coleman

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, took to his blog today to applaud yesterday’s decision by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring Proposition 8  unconstitutional (Prop. 8, passed in 2008, prohibited marriage equality in California):

“Yesterday’s 9th Circuit decision, just like the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, is a stepping stone on the path to marriage equality for all. As Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the opinion, ‘Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.’ The same holds true for the marriage equality ban in Texas. That is why I continue to fight for marriage equality and continue to file the repeal of the ban of same sex marriage. Denying gay couples the right to marry is unconstitutional and a blatant denial of human rights. “

Coleman has a long history of filing pro-LGBT legislation in the Texas House. Last year he introduced historic legislation that, had it passed, would have called for a state-wide vote to repeal the section of Texas’ constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage, so he’s no stranger to the battle for marriage equality.

Coleman is seeking re-election to his District 147 seat. He will face long-time local LGBT activist Ray Hill in the Democratic Primary. No republican candidate has filed for the seat.

Read Coleman’s full statement on his blog.

—  admin

Mubarak NOT Stepping Down

Contrary to jubilant early reports today, Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak is not stepping down, but is merely transferring some power to his number two man. Angry crowds are presently marching on the television studio where Mubarak made the below announcement less than an hour ago. I’ll replace this clip with a proper network account when it becomes available.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Catholics stepping up holy marriage war; our wholly non-war against faith to remain exact same

Louisville, Kentucky’s Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ increased efforts against same-sex marriage:

Archbishop Kurtz said 4,500 copies of a DVD “Made for Each Other,” and its accompanying education materials had been distributed around the country, and other materials are in development aimed at teaching children. He also announced that there are plans to hire a full-time staff adviser at the USCCB on marriage and family

Archbishop Kurtz: A ‘Roe Moment’ for Marriage? [National Catholic Register]

Well first off: We don’t know what the 1939 Carole Lombard/Jimmy Stewart classic Made For Each Other

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…has to do with faith-based resistance to civil marriage. But okay, whatever. We learn about Catholics from Dominique and The Sound of Music, so we do know how invaluable Turner Classic Movies can be.

But no, what we really wanna focus on is the materials they’re sending out to teach kids. Because what are these folks always saying about us? That we indoctrinate children. That we recruit. That we try to capture the young minds when they are young and malleable. Yet here we have the Catholic Church doing just that. Proudly. Unapologetically. And of course whereas our efforts to educate youth are all based on a casual, benign, instinctual acceptance of the world’s population for what it truly is, the Catholic Church’s effort is all about telling kids that certain, cherry-picked faith condemnations have cast millions of the world’s creatures into the realm of sin, where celibacy is the best hope for a happy life. Sorry, but that kind of teaching is the very definition of indoctrination (whether you agree with it or not)!

Archbishop Kurtz says he is so concerned about this, at this time, “today is like 1970 for marriage”:

“If you had seen Roe v. Wade coming three years out, what would you have done differently?”

Our answer: We would’ve given thanks for being born into a country with a co-equal branch of government that, like all branches of government, are to be separated from personal faith-based whims or unfair impediments that are drummed up a motivated majority. Then we would’ve drug our bell-bottomed booties back to our Tang and first-run “Brady Bunch” episode. And we’d hope that fair-minded Americans of 2010 would do the exact same of us (except with skinny cords, Red Bull, and “Glee”)




Good As You

—  admin

Stepping Out to Get Out the Vote for Pro-Equality Candidates in Minnesota

The following post comes from HRC Staff member Paul Smith. Paul is just one of 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

I’ve been on the ground working for a few days now here in Minnesota, and I’m filled with excitement and enthusiasm about electing pro-equality candidates here in my home state.  One of the great things about working at HRC is meeting our members and supporters.  As my “day job” is in the finance department, my fellow accountants and I work behind the scenes and don’t get the chance to engage with our members frequently.  During election years and pride season, when HRC asks us to step out of our normal roles and hit the road, we jump at the chance!

I’m working in St. Paul engaging HRC members and supporters about the upcoming races throughout the state for pro-equality candidates up and down the ticket.  We’re gearing up for Saturday’s huge rally with President Obama and the University of Minnesota.  If you haven’t attended a big political rally before, don’t pass this one up.  How often do you get to see the President?   I’m hoping for a sunny fall day and I know we’ll all be pumped up to Get Out the Vote in Minnesota!

Join President Barack Obama and Mark Dayton on October 23rd for the “Get-Out-the-Vote for a Better Minnesota Rally”

Saturday, October 23, Doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Northrop Mall, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus
Minneapolis, MN
Click here to sign up to attend the event.

I’ve been spending my evenings calling HRC members recruiting volunteers for Get Out the Vote events.  I’ve been amazed how excited HRC folks are for candidates like Mark Dayton and I have had some great conversations with many of you.  HRC is definitely making a difference here in Minnesota, with four HRC staffers and an army of volunteers on the ground.

Speaking of ground, we need folks to hit the streets to door knock and distribute campaign literature the weekend before and up until Election Day.  Why is this work so important?  I had the privilege of working on Senator Al Franken’s campaign in 2008.  Maybe you remember how close that election was? That campaign proved to me the power that we as individuals have in electing our fair-minded candidates.  I know that I convinced a few people that weren’t planning to vote that year to get to the polls.  When the margins are slim, those few personal conversations matter.  This truly is important work, and it is fun and rewarding.  If an introverted accountant like me can do it, so can you!  Please sign up for a shift at www.HRC.org/VolunteerMN

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign Minnesota PAC and authorized by the Minnesota DFL and Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Liveblog: Stepping on the third rail of race w/Steven Thrasher of ‘White America Has Lost Its Mind’

Join us tonight at 8PM ET for the liveblog with Steven Thrasher (http://tinyurl.com/ThrasherPHB)


Zap! It’s the sound of The Village Voice ‘s Steven Thrasher stepping on the third rail of race by taking a tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek, but deadly spot-on look at how the masks have completely dropped off with the election of Barack Obama — White America Has Lost Its Mind.

This post is a not-so-little primer in advance of tonight’s Blend live chat with Steven, whose piece is one of the most-read Village Voice’s stories of the year and has generated a record number of comments at the Voice. It has been shared on Facebook more than 21,000 times, and tweeted (and re-tweeted) extensively.

In terms of mail, poor Steven’s inbox has exploded — over 1,500 email responses to date. Most are overwhelmingly positive (though he says the negative ones were really negative – more samples of that later).

Why did this article strike a nerve with people, besides being a piece on race? Well…

1) The Title: This is obvious – saying “White America Has Lost Its Mind” is such a sweeping, hilarious generalization right up front – if you’re a person of color, you probably laugh right off of the bat. If you’re not, some white folks will laugh, and some will immediately get defensive, thinking the author is unfairly lumping all white people of all political persuasions in with the Limbaughs, Palins and the Teabaggers.

That’s the point – how often do you hear “the black community” discussed as a political or cultural monolith in the MSM? The fact that I had to explain this to some of my defensive white Facebook friends when I “shared” this article shows you how jumpy and paranoid some white folks are about raising the spectre of being judged as racist even when the finger isn’t pointing directly at them.

2) The truth in the piece. Steven Thrasher takes no prisoners from the very beginning to paint an epic mural of stereotypes that, sadly, are backed by cold hard facts covering very prominent bigot eruptions. How can you not laugh (and want to cry) at this:

About 12:01 on the afternoon of January 20, 2009, the white American mind began to unravel.

It had been a pretty good run up to that point. The brains of white folks had been humming along cogently for near on 400 years on this continent, with little sign that any serious trouble was brewing. White people, after all, had managed to invent a spiffy new form of self-government so that all white men (and, eventually, women) could have a say in how white people were taxed and governed. White minds had also nearly universally occupied just about every branch of that government and, for more than two centuries, had kept sole possession of the leadership of its executive branch (whose parsonage, after all, is called the White House).

But when that streak was broken-and, for the first time, a non-white president accepted the oath of office-white America rapidly began to lose its grip.

As with other forms of dementia, the signs weren’t obvious at first. After the 2008 election, when former House majority leader Tom DeLay suggested that instead of a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should “have a nice little chicken dinner, and we’ll save the 5 million,” black folks didn’t miss the implication. References to chicken, particularly of the fried variety, have long served as a kind of code when white folks referred to black people and their gustatory preferences-and weren’t many of us already accustomed to older white politicians making such gaffes? But who among us sensed that it was a harbinger that an entire nation was plunging into madness?

I have to disagree with Steven here – having covered the 2008 election year, the nation’s race-based plunge into madness began once it was clear that Barack Obama had a chance to win the Democratic nomination, and escalated into what we referred here on the Blend as the McCain mob incidents. White folks in despair of the thought of Obama being elected POTUS generated these (a small sample):

* The parade of racist images continues: Obama ribs ‘n chicken

* California: Sacramento GOP web site calls for the torture of Barack Obama

* Mike Signorile listens to The Hate Out There

* Here we go again: another Palin groupie shouts ‘kill him’ at PA rally

* Own it, bigot

* Missouri: More of the McCain/Palin/GOP Base

* Frank Rich on the fires stoked by McCain/Palin

* The GOP ticket draws, and apparently embraces, the bigot eruption crowd

* More fun in post-racial America

* John McCain forced to denounce racist, homophobic member of Virginia leadership team

* Kentucky, I know you can do better than this

* FL: middle school teacher uses ‘nigger’ to describe Barack Obama

* Palin praised racist writer who called for RFK’s assassination

* Values at the Values Voter Summit – Obama as a Muslim Aunt Jemima

* Westmoreland stands by ‘uppity’ remark about Obama

* White supremacists: Obama’s boosting our movement

* John McLaughlin: Obama fits the ‘Oreo’ stereotype

* Georgia: publication features Obama in crosshairs on cover for article on white supremacist threat

* Bigot eruption: GOP House member refers to Obama as ‘boy’

* South Carolina: black reporter attacked by white family (on camera!)

3) Declaring white folks insane. Satire aside, as you read the piece you have to wonder what is mentally wrong with a too-large slice of the white population.

But the more you shook your head at it, the more it seemed to have taken root deep in the lizard part of the white nervous system. Obama is not an American. He says he’s Christian, but he has a Muslim-sounding name. He’s not black, he’s not white. . . . Is . . . is he even human?

Today, Newsweek has found, nearly a quarter of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, with barely 42 percent of the nation accepting his claim that he’s a Christian. CNN finds that a quarter of Americans also believe that Obama was “probably or definitely” born in another country.

Harris found in an online poll that 14 percent of Americans believe in their hearts that President Barack Obama is the antichrist, with nearly a quarter of Republicans saying so.

More below the fold…
As I said earlier – if you’ve been reading the Blend, post after post covered absolutely certifiable people who have no compunction about declaring birth theories in public (e.g. Joseph Farah), hoping to be taken seriously.

4. The conclusion drawn in the piece. It’s a provocative and worthwhile discussion-generator — it’s not just race, it’s a generational conflict being stirred by yes, white folks — the elder, vulnerable Boomers.

For the first time in their lives, baby boomers are hard up against it economically, and white boy is becoming outnumbered and it’s got his bowels chilled with fear.

“In an age of diminished resources, the United States may be heading for an intensifying confrontation between the gray and the brown,” writes Ronald Brownstein in his July National Journal article, “The Gray and the Brown: The Generational Mismatch.” That’s a polite and understated way of saying that older white folks are losing their shit as they’re being replaced by young brown and black kids while the economy is in the crapper.

The demographics of this enormous, Social Security-crushing generation (80 percent white) mean all of us have been subjected to its cultural influences and impact as it matured in its 30s, 40s, 50s…and now a good slice of them are grandparents with retirement dead ahead. It’s also the generation that wants to prove itself immortal, highly potent, and powerful because it’s getting grayer, weaker and insecure as the country grows more black and brown. And this large group of historically self-focused people used to being the center of the universe are about to become dependent on these black and brown young people to pay their entitlement tab.

And yes, in that group of color-aroused people you can count a lot of Tea Party voters, and the right-wing MSM and political figures on the cover of the Voice piece.

And yes, there are also a lot of white progressive, white privilege-aware people in the Boomer Generation, as well as many more who really don’t think about the impact of race at all in their lives, living in mostly-white neighborhoods, sending their kids to majority white schools; they may work with people of color but most don’t have any close social connections with non-white people to discuss race matters with. Steven’s piece is meant to be provocative. And it has been. Take a look at the word cloud his piece generated. Foster Kamer at the Voice, in reaction to the initial response to the article:

Without further ado, we invite you to take a look around this word cloud of the 150 most popular terms in the first day’s comments (excluding otherwise common language):

If you can’t tell, it’d seem like white people love to talk about….White People! Thrasher’s name is invoked quite a bit, as is the word “America,” which, okay, are all in the title and byline of the story. Yet, even more interesting are the smaller words: “racism,” “racist” “think,” “folks,” and so on, but the real story comes in the occurrences:”democrat” and “liberal” are invoked more than “conservative,” none of which are invoked more than “blacks” or “lost.”

And about that hate mail? Well, you can only imagine what came flowing into the inboxes at The Village Voice. It was enough to generate two posts: The Village Voice Institute of Crazy White American Folk (Letters to the Editor), and The Village Voice Institute of Crazy White American Folk, Pt. 2 (Letters to the Editor).

This week’s Village Voice‘s cover story by staff writer Steven Thrasher, an essay entitled White America Has Lost Its Mind, sure has attracted some interesting attention! Whether or not readers agree with what we have to say, we often get letters from them regarding our stories, many of which are exciting, substantial, or, at the very least, rational, nuanced, and psychologically stable. These letters are none of those things.

Not. Kidding. Look at these gems:

From: jay5775@ionet.net

Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 7:08 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: Howdy

You racist fuck. Like to use the term white boy a lot huh? Well how about this black boy…. go fuck yourself. Regarding your recent article… sounds like you’re the one all gunched up with fear. I could smell it right from the page. Did I tell you to go fuck yourself? Oh yeah I guess I did. Have a great day now you silly little racist black boy.

***

From: Michael G Smith

Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:46 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: I can see November from my house!

Steven….

If you’re this fucked up now, I can’t wait to see how over the top bat-shit looney tunes you’re gonna be after we kick your punk-ass to the curb come November! You and the Jug-eared pant-load deserve what’s coming. I’m giddy with sweet revenge. HA HA. Oh yeah, and nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. Best buy some new panties. You’re gonna piss all over the ones you’re currently wearing……Girlie man!

***

From: Jerry Wigutow

Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:44 AM

To: Thrasher, Steven Subject: white American mind

You are very correct in pointing out the white American mind was in disarray. They white America elected obama and they have come to their senses by virtue of LEARNING that he is unfit and incompetent at the job of President of the USA. The man has a ghetto personality and it is quite obvious since that is where he was educated once he left college.

Jerry Wigutow

***

From: Clint

Sent: Sun 10/3/2010 2:05 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: U r a piece of shit

The day your gun toting, drug selling, baby machines, non educated, prison filling race takes over white people won’t care. The US will be fucked…just look at all those African countries ran by all the browns….you poor soul really have no clue do you. You pretend to think you know but you don’t. Do you think white people are just gonna step aside after centuries of building this country…posh posh you poor thing. Think about it…white people may have lost it, but brown people never fuckin had it and will never have this country as successful as the crazy whites. You sir are a prime example of this idiocy, the moment your people deem they have control dumb bloggers like yourself will make articles like this that will inflame the white minority and talk about an uprising of people… The browns would be powerless…I hope when it goes to hell you have at least one white friend who can save you…it won’t be me!!! Hey have a good one, theres not to many left you silly browny!! You are just to funny..I hope your white boss don’t fire you!

Sent from my iPhone

You have to surf over to the Voice site to read how Foster Kamer handles these letters. Hilarious.

We can discuss all of this during tonight’s Blend liveblog with Steven, but I wanted to share a reminder that a post-racial society remains a distant dream, and not just because of the observations Steven Thrasher makes in White America Has Lost Its Mind.

Here’s very timely example that Adam Serwer pulled from C-SPAN the other day. The YouTube’s title is self-explanatory – “Haven’t We Done Enough For You People?”

A self-identified 90-year-old woman calls into C-SPAN’s Washington Journal discussion on Wall Street and the administration and tests the legendary professionalism of one of the show’s hosts, Robb Harleston, by saying she was just calling in to ask “a colored man,” why black people aren’t more thankful for everything whites have done for them. When he gently reminds her of the topic at hand, she assures him she’s not a racist.


Ta-Nehisi Coates notes that the host never accused her of being racist – he told her that she was off-topic, but in her mind he went there.

This leads me to separate point–I’m very interested in, precisely, what it means among white people to be considered a racist. I don’t mean under the sanction of black people. I mean in places where there are no black people. It almost feels like, among whites, to be accused of being a racist is a class slur. Like racist is short for “inbred uncultured hick.” It’s fascinating.

It’s an honest question I have as well — when cornered for saying/doing something blatantly racist, calling the person out as racist is always vigorously denied? What in their minds constitutes being racist if they aren’t? Are they thinking cross-burning and Klan night riding?

As you can see there are many facets to the discussion we’ll have tonight, and I hope you’ll come with your civility hats on as well as a willingness to be frank.

I’ll end with a snippet from a post I wrote a while back (“Revisiting the difficult conversations that people don’t want to have“) that’s particularly relevant here.

In my own blogging I have tried to made it safe to discuss race by saying no question is dumb, and that mutual understanding can be gained only be holding discussions, not shouting sessions. What this requires from me, though, is a lot of listening, and self-censorship to a degree — with those who disagree or are coming from a place of anger, resentment or fear, I really have no latitude to become angry or defensive. If I do, it only affirms the belief that the topic cannot be discussed and worse, they can’t trust engaging any black person on the topic. While that seems ridiculous, it has played itself over and over, as an entire race is colored by a single negative interaction with a person — as if class, education, local, family history has no bearing on the individual in question. How ludicrous would it be to say that if I were mugged by a white man that I would then fear all white men?

We’ll never know how to build bridges if people aren’t willing to express their fears and ignorance without getting their heads bitten off. By the same token, no rational discussion about sensitive topics can take place if that expression is not really about engaging tactfully or diplomatically, but unloading frustrations in a way that is hurtful and shuts down conversation. That’s what happens when people leave these discussions buried — they come out in all the wrong ways, resulting flashpoints at the completely wrong time.

***

On a completely different note, I want to again congratulate Steven for being honored with a 2010 Courage Award by the New York Anti-Violence Project. It’s the oldest organization in the nation that combats violence toward and within the LGBT community. Bil Browning, Joe Jervis, Andy Towle and I received it last year.

Steven’s going to be feted along with other winners of the award on October 18 at the Prince George Ballroom on East 27th Street, and event hosted by the oh-so-fabulous BD Wong (see his touching video for the It Gets Better series).
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Prop. 8 Judge Vaughn Walker Stepping Down Next Year

Vaughnwalker Judge Vaughn Walker, who declared California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional, announced today that he will step down from the bench in February of next year.

"Concluding 21 years of judicial service, I leave the bench with the highest respect and regard for the federal judiciary, its judges and their staff and the essential role they fulfill in our constitutional system," Walker, 66, wrote to President Obama.

Walker became a highly controversial figure during the trial, when right-wing opponents claimed he was gay and that he should therefore be removed from the same-sex equality case. Walker has never discussed his sexuality in public.

Gay, straight or somewhere in between, best of luck to you, Your Honor. And thank you for your years of dedicated, fair-minded service.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Bishop Long Stepping Down In Wake Of Fourth Lawsuit?

Eddielong

Homophobic Pastor Eddie Long's problems grow by the day.

Various sites, including AOL's Black Voices, are reporting that Long, who has already been accused of severely inappropriate contact with three male congregants, will be stepping down from the pulpit at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church after Sunday's sermon.

The news comes after a fourth young man leveled still more allegations against Long. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provides the details of this latest lawsuit.

"Spencer LeGrande, named in a civil lawsuit filed Friday, claims he
was 17 the first time the two had a sexual relationship while
vacationing in Nairobi, Kenya.

LeGrande, of Charlotte, N.C., alleges that the New Birth Missionary
Baptist Church pastor  gave him an Ambien, a popular prescription sleep
aid, followed by a "prolonged hug," kissing and rubbing, according to
the suit.

The suit claims the two shared a bed for the remainder of their trip."

Long and his attorneys continue to deny the numerous claims, and his defense today declared, "We believe that it is unfortunate the young men have chosen to take this course of action. The defense team will review the complaints and respond accordingly at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum."

Even if he's not stepping down, this weekend won't be very relaxing for Long.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright