DADT update: Most troops don’t mind serving with gays; appeals court to rule Friday on injunction

A majority of service members who responded to a Pentagon survey wouldn’t mind living and serving alongside openly gay people, according to The Washington Post. Of course, more than half of those who received the survey didn’t respond, which would seem to indicate that they don’t have much of a problem with “don’t ask don’t tell” being repealed, either. And that’s a good thing, because whether they like it or not, they’re already serving alongside gays and lesbians. Besides, it shouldn’t really be up to the troops. Anyhow, the Post’s report is based on findings that were leaked from the study that’s due to President Barack Obama by Dec. 1, on how to end the 17-year-old policy. The Post goes on to note that a federal appeals court is expected to rule later today on whether the military can continue enforcing DADT pending the government’s appeal of a district court’s ruling declaring the policy unconstitutional.

UPDATE: The appeals court did not issue its ruling as expected Friday. Sources said the ruling will be issued next week at the earliest.

—  John Wright

Supreme Court hears Phelps case

Counterprotesters in Dallas earlier this year.

The Fred Phelps clan was at the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case involving their alleged right to picket military funerals. A jury awarded the family of a fallen soldier $10 million, but that verdict was overturned by an appeals court.

During Wednesday’s one-hour hearing of oral arguments in the case, Phelps cult members stood outside the Supreme Court picketing with their “God hates …” signs.

The attorney for the family of the soldier argued that if context ever mattered in a free speech case, this was it, according to the Washington Post. Attorneys general from 48 states signed on to briefs supporting the family, and 40 senators have also sent their support.

Margie Phelps, one of Fred Phelps’ daughters, argued on behalf of the family. She said the protest was done with “great circumspection” and within boundaries of previous Supreme Court rulings.

Justice Samuel Alito seemed the most sympathetic to the soldier’s family, while Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed to have the most trouble with limiting free speech. She suggested no Maryland law was broken and the family could have obtained an injunction.

The attorney for the soldier’s father said his depression from his son’s death and his diabetes were made worse by the protest. Phelps said that being a Catholic and divorced made him a prime target for punishment from God.

Signs also used in the Phelps family’s recent Dallas protests were displayed in court.

The Phelpses have targeted the LGBT community for years, and gays and lesbians don’t take them very seriously anymore. When they were in Dallas, the LGBT community turned it into an all-day party with counterprotests, stupid signs of their own and an opportunity to raise money.

But the Supreme Court case involves a funeral and a family’s grief. The court will need to decide if and when free speech rights end and when a person has a right to privacy. While the Dallas protests were just silly fun, the military funeral protests can be classified as bullying. The intent to hurt other people must be weighed along with the right to speak freely.

—  David Taffet

Supreme Court rules on the side of LGBT rights in Washington state case

Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas

As the Supreme Court session comes to a close, a number of decisions have been handed down this week. With little fanfare, the court ruled for LGBT rights groups in an 8-1 decision. Only Clarence Thomas voted against, according to the Washington Post.

The Supreme Court ruled that people who sign petitions calling for public votes do not have a right to have their names shielded.

The case involved a Washington state petition to repeal an LGBT domestic partnership law. The anti-marriage group Protect Marriage Washington sued to keep the names of people who signed their petitions secret fearing harassment.

What was surprising about the ruling against the right-wing organization is that the ruling and supporting opinions came from the Court’s own right wing.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion. He said disclosure of names is necessary to ensure their authenticity.

The group argued that petitioners have a right to free speech without fear of harassment. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that laws are in place to prevent reprisals.

The Supreme Court blocked the release of names until their decision. Names are unlikely to be released until the case goes back to lower courts for review.

In the election, Protect Marriage Washington lost by a vote of 53 percent to 46 percent. Same-sex domestic partnerships are the equivalent of marriage in Washington state law.

Fewer than half of states allow citizens to put initiatives on the ballot through petitions. Texas is not one of them.

—  David Taffet

Vatican supporters strike back

Below is a scan of an ad that ran in today’s issue of The New York Times. The ad was paid for by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and it ran on the Times’ op-ed page.

Apparently, the Catholic League is unhappy with the Times’ recent coverage of yet another sex scandal in the Catholic Church, this was reaching as high, possibly, as Pope Benedict, with some charging that the pope — back when he was Cardinal Ratzinger — participated in a cover-up of at least one instance of a priest being accused of molesting a child. So the Catholic League ran this ad that, in essence, blames the gays.

Pope ad

The articled referenced in the ad is “Vatican declined to defrock U.S. priest who abused boys,” by Laurie Goodstein. Goodstein and David Callendar wrote the article “For years, deaf boys tried to tell of priests’ abuse.” And today, The Washington Post published “Vatican defends Pope amidst Catholic Church sex abuse scandal,” by Anthony Faiola, in which some Vatican church officials seem to be trying to lay all the blame at the feet on the late Pope John Paul II.

What it sounds like to me is an argument between my sons — ages 13 and almost-11 — over who is responsible for the mess in the living room: “He did it, not me!” “Nu-uh! It’s his fault!” That can go on forever, and the end result is, the mess in the living room doesn’t get cleaned up.

I think it’s time for the leaders of the Catholic Church — starting with the pope — to stand up and say, “We either messed up, or we were in charge of the people who messed up. And either way, it’s our responsibility. And we are going to clean up the mess.”

—  admin

Gotta love the British press

Despite recent, horrible coverage by the BBC of the proposed Ugandan genocide of gays and lesbians, you’ve got to love the British press. They pull no punches.

The (U.K.) Guardian’s headline about the proposed legislation:

Anti-gay bigots plunge Africa into new era of hate crimes

Gets right to the point. Those proposing genocide are anti-gay bigots. Period.

Compare that to New York Times coverage:

Death Penalty for Gays? Uganda Debates Proposal

This is only story I found about the crisis in the New York Times and it is NOT a New York Times story. It’s an Associated Press story. Very neutral headline. Non-judgmental. Same headline might have been used for an article about something innocuous. “Increase spending for education? Uganda debates proposal” or for criminal activity: “Death penalty for rape? Uganda debates proposal.”

But this law is not about something innocuous and not about criminal activity. It is about genocide.

Another example. London Times:

Uganda’s Inhumane Bill

Clear. Unequivocal. This bill is genocide, which goes against all human morality. This bill is inhumane. Humans don’t do this.

Back to U.S. coverage:

Dallas Morning News:

Under proposed bill, some gays in Uganda could face death penalty

Same bland AP story as the NY Times. Note the downplay. “Some gays.” Others will be OK rotting in jail for the rest of their lives, but that’s OK. And their relatives and anyone else they want to jail? Hey, they just get three years. At least they’re not going to kill everyone.

Washington Post. Couldn’t even find the same, bland AP story.

For the only national coverage of this story, only Rachel Maddow is hammering the administration for not speaking out strongly about this and evangelical scum like Rick Warren who has hosted the author of this bill in his church and may have been involved in actually writing this legislation. And “The Daily Show,” not actually a news show, for bringing attention to this issue.

—  David Taffet