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

Dave Wilson robo-calls Houstonians, warns of Annise Parker’s ‘alternative lifestyle’

Houston mayoral candidate Dave Wilson has stepped up his homophobic attacks against incumbent Mayor Annise Parker with a recent robo-call targeting Houston voters:

“Hello Houstonians, this is Dave Wilson, candidate for mayor. In 2009 I warned voters that Annise Parker would use her position to promote her alternative lifestyle, and she’s done that. Her very first executive order was to allow men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom. Her appointments have been based on sexual orientation, rather than ability. She appointed George Greanias, head of Metro, who was caught viewing porn sites such as rentaboy.com. Dave Wilson would have fired him on the spot. Join me in taking our city back, vote Dave Wilson, paid for by the Dave Wilson for Mayor.”

Wilson’s call contains several misleading, or outright false, claims, such as saying that Parker’s first executive order was to allow “men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom.” The first executive order Parker signed after being sworn in (E.O. #1-50), clarified the process for filing sexual harassment claims for city employees. The second (E.O #1-25) dealt with city operations during a natural disaster, the third (E.O. #1-42) with city credit cards, and the fourth (E.O. 1-14) with the city’s procurement procedure. The fifth and sixth executive orders signed by Parker (E.O. 1-8 and E.O. 1-20) dealt with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression and the use of hate language by City of Houston employees while on the job. Both order were signed on March 25, 2011, 2 months and 23 days after Parker took office. These are is the ones that chafe Wilson. Under order 1-20 access to public accommodations in city buildings, including restrooms, cannot be denied to any member of the public because they are LGBT. While Wilson fears “men in dresses” discretely handling their business in the stall next to his wife, he seems to miss that it also allows burly, bearded men who happened to have been assigned a female identity at birth to use the men’s room. One wonders if he’s ever thought about that.

Executive Order 1-20 is about basic courtesy and access to public facilities that most of us take for granted. No one should be put in the position of risking arrest for using a public restroom (which happened shortly after E.O. 1-20 went into effect), and it is humiliating to expect trans Houstonians to have to ask “which bathroom do you expect me to use” every time they’re in a city building.

The situation with George Greanias, CEO of Houston’s public transit system Metro, is far more complicated than Wilson describes it. To hear the robo-call you’d think Greanias was simply caught looking at pornography, a constitutionally protected right. The issue is that Greanias was caught looking at porn on Metro’s internet wi-fi, all be it accidentally. According to the Metro investigation Greanias accessed sites containing gay oriented adult material on 14 separate days between February 9, 2011 to July 1, 2011. The access was from Greanias’ personal computer and he believed through his personal internet access. In a letter to Metro employees he explained that “the violation was unintentional. I thought I was using my own computer, but was in fact in Metro’s system — but it was a violation all the same. The sites I accessed were of a sexual nature — to say the least, highly inappropriate, and embarrassing.”

Typically a violation of this nature by a Metro employee would have resulted in a verbal warning. Because of the high profile nature of Greanias’ job he received a much harsher punishment. According to Metro’s official statement “Chairman Gilbert Garcia has concluded that, as president and CEO, Mr. Greanias must be held to a higher standard, and decided instead of a warning Mr. Greanias would receive a more stringent punishment of one week suspension, without pay.”

None of that matters to Wilson. He “would have fired [Greanias] on the spot,” bypassing the review process guaranteed to all Metro employees and likely subjecting the city to a very expensive lawsuit. More than his overt homophobia, it’s Wilson’s blind ignorance of the procedural facts of running a city that should frighten Houstonians.

Early voting in Houston municipal elections (including mayor) continues through Nov. 3 at all early voting locations. Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting turnout continues to lag; votes cast during the first four days of voting have trailed the 2009 municipal election turnout by 21%.

—  admin

Palm Springs Police Chief Resigns Over Remarks Made During Sting Targeting Gay Men

Palm Springs Police Chief David Dominguez resigned today over remarks he made during a sting operation targeting gay men in the city's Warm Sands neighborhood in 2009, the Southwest Riverside News Network reports

Dominguez Dominguez came under fire after a June 2009 operation in the Warm Sands neighborhood. The sting, which netted 19 arrests, was done in response to what police said were complaints about drug use, public sex and prostitution in Warm Sands. However, it drew complaints that police were targeting gay men unfairly.

During a pretrial hearing, one defendant said a police officer could be heard using a gay slur on a video recording in an undercover vehicle. An attorney for some of those arrested said Dominguez was in that particular car.

The lawyer lodged a complaint, alleging Dominguez disparaged the arrestees to his officers.

“What a bunch of filthy mother (expletive),” Dominguez allegedly said. “You guys should get paid extra for this.”

As Steve reported last week, "According to court documents, Dominguez used the phrase 'filthy motherf**kers' while another officer involved in the sting was overheard using the slur 'c**ksuckers.'"

Dominguez also apologized last week, but issued this statement today: "“After careful consideration of the events surrounding the Warm Sands undercover operation, I believe this decision is in the best interest of my family, the city and the Police Department."


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Anti-Gay Hate Groups Launch Bus Tour Targeting Pro-Equality Judges in Iowa

Judgebus

Last week I wrote a lengthy post on the new hate-a-palooza bus tour in Iowa, meant to drive up support for the campaign to oust state Supreme Court justices who approved marriage equality, and sponsored by a coalition of anti-gay hate groups like NOM and the AFA.

NOM's Brian Brown tweeted the photo above of the bus at its first stop, revved up and ready to hate.

The WaPo covers the kick-off:

At a Statehouse rally Monday to kick off a bus tour, gay marriage opponents pleaded their case for why voters on Nov. 2 should opt not to retain Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, and justices David Baker and Michael Streit. Iowa voters have never ousted a state Supreme Court justice.

"I can't overstate the significance of what is about to happen in Iowa," said Brian Brown, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage. "The whole country is looking at you. This cannot be overstated."

At a counter rally about 100 yards away, organizers argued that anti-gay rights groups that have been spent more than 0,000 to oust the justices are only focused on the one issue and don't care about the damage they'll do to the state's judicial appointment process.

****

"We are going to send a message all the way across America. These judges are rogue judges and they're arrogant," Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King told the crowd Monday, standing in front of a bus emblazoned with the justices faces with the word "No," superimposed on them.

The campaign is well-funded: "Thus far, the campaign to remove the justices has spent more than 0,000 and those who want to retain them have spent 7,000, much of it on television ads. The National Organization for Marriage has been the biggest spender, contributing 5,000 to efforts to remove the judges. About 0,000 has come from the AFA Action Inc., the political arm of the Mississippi-based American Family Association. The Campaign for Working Families, a Washington-based group, also spent 0,000, and the Washington-based Family Research Council added ,000. The Iowa-based Iowa Family Policy Center has spent roughly ,000."

Another group, Fair Courts for Us, is holding a series of press conferences and events around the state meant to counter the Judge Bus' hateful message.

Watch its first press conference, held today in Des Moines (tomorrow in Sioux City, Carroll, and Mason City, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Adulterous GOP NY gov. candidate Paladino attacks gays for ‘targeting children’, says gays are ‘dysfunctional’ – oh, and he has a love-child

UPDATE: He has a love-child?  What a freaking hypocritical ass.

Great thing to say when we’re in the middle of a gay youth suicide epidemic, you bigoted ass.

“We must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts [he pronounces the word "per-VERTS"] who seek to target our children and destroy their lives. I didn’t march in the gay parade this year -the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that’s not the example we should be showing our children…

“And don’t misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is ‘live and let live.’ I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option – it isn’t.”

And his prepared remarks also said the following, per the NYT:

“There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr. Paladino omitted that statement when he gave the speech.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Lady Gaga and SLDN will rally for DADT repeal in Portland, ME – targeting Collins & Snowe

This is BIG. Lady Gaga just tweeted:

Meet me in Portland, Maine 2moro, 9/20 to help repeal #DADT. I’m holding a Rally + speaking live in Deering Oaks Park http://bit.ly/cO4cY9

Yes, our truly fierce advocate is on her way to my hometown, Portland, Maine, to hold a rally with SLDN to push for the repeal of DADT. The targets are Maine’s Republican Senators: Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

The rally, called “For the 14,000”: A Rally for the 14,000+ Discharged” is tomorrow at 4:00 PM Eastern in Deering Oaks Park. For you tweeters, the hashtag is #4the14k.

This is very, very strategic on the part of SLDN and Lady Gaga.

Here’s what SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis said, via press release:

The votes to break McCain’s filibuster are not there. We need Sens. Snowe and Collins on board; they’re key to us breaking the filibuster. With the vote less than 48 hours away, we need everyone supporting repeal to call the Senate. We’re bringing gay and straight service members to Portland to help make the case. And we’re proud to have the support of Lady Gaga to bring grassroots attention to repeal at a critical hour. Like Lady Gaga, all New England senators, indeed all 100 senators, Democrats and Republicans, need to engage in a real debate on this issue, and not just posture and spin this week over procedure and Senate rules.

So, that’s the situation. It’s dire.

As Aubrey notes, right now, we don’t have the 60 votes to break the GOP filibuster of the Defense Authorization. Senator Susan Collins already voted for that very bill in the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27, 2010. Collins is now playing partisan procedural games to rationalize her support for the filibuster. It’s gross. Maine’s other Senator, Olympia Snowe, should do the right thing, too. She is playing the same game.

The usual lobbying tactics aren’t working. So, desperate times call for new and innovative tactics. And, this is one of the most sophisticated lobbying efforts I’ve seen in a long time.

They’re taking the fight right to Collins and Snowe — in a way that no other issue or group has. This event will be noticed in Maine. It’s so much smarter than bringing another celebrity to DC, where political media is so cynical. Again, Gaga has over 6,390,000 followers on twitter. And, she’s got over 18,255,000 fans on Facebook. No political organization in DC has anything that compares to that kind of outreach.

The 14,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers who have been discharged under DADT and the 60,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers still serving have been waiting 17 years for this vote. It’s not a political or procedural game for them — it’s their lives and they’re willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of us. And, the time is now.

Lady Gaga has been using her extensive bully pulpit to elevate the DADT repeal issue for the past several weeks. It’s been very, very impressive. (Meanwhile, despite the impending vote and the GOP filibuster, President Obama has been largely silent on this issue, which, sadly, is not a surprise.)

This week, the action is in the Senate. Collins and Snowe are the targets. Now, they can’t hide. They’re going to have a very powerful spotlight on them, thanks to Lady Gaga and SLDN.

Maine is the best chance we have. If Collins and Snowe abandon the gay and lesbian servicemembers, it could be a long time before we get another vote.

I’ll have more as events unfold…the next two days are going to be wild.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

LGBT activists targeting Rep. George Miller over failure to move ENDA

Promises have been made. Promises haven’t been kept. There have been lots of promises on ENDA.

While members of Congress are asking us to help them keep their jobs, they’re not doing much to help LGBT Americans keep their jobs. ENDA isn’t moving, despite repeated commitments from leading Democrats to move the legislation.

So, tonight, Rep. George Miller, the Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, will be hearing from LGBT activists on ENDA. From Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

Activists affiliated with GetEQUAL were set on Thursday to interrupt a debate between Rep. George Miller (D-Calif) and his Republican opponent in an effort to push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

According to a statement, GetEQUAL was set to stage an act of non-violent, civil disobedience during the debate between Miller and GOP candidate Rick Tubbs at the Travis Credit Union Auditorium in Vacaville, Calif.

Protesters were set to silently walk to the front of the auditorium holding a sign reading: “Miller Markup Employment Non Discrimination Act Now.”

Set to work in conjunction with GetEQUAL was One Struggle One Fight, another LGBT civil disobedience organization, and Pride at Work, an LGBT constituency group of the AFL-CIO.

Miller has made promises that haven’t been kept. Chris linked to this Blade article from March 18, 2010:

Moments after the arrested protesters were taken away, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) was seen walking along a nearby street. He chairs the House Education & Labor Committee, which is handling ENDA. Asked by DC Agenda when ENDA would advance to a markup, Miller replied, “Right after health care.”

Health care passed in the House on March 22, 2010.

There’s not much time left to pass ENDA this year. And, as noted in the post below, DADT appears to be in peril. And, Democrats wonder why the base isn’t enthusiastic.

We’re all supposed to do everything we can to make sure these “supportive” members of Congress keep their jobs. It’s really a one-way relationship.

But, sure looks like GetEQUAL and its allies aren’t going to be silent. I’m thinking things could get interesting.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

More info on Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas

If you’re interested in helping out with Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas but couldn’t make last night’s organizational meeting, there’s plenty of contact info and volunteer opportunities after the jump.

—  John Wright