Civil Unions Legislation Coming To West Virginia |
West Virginia Delegate John Doyle plans to “introduce a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions,” OnTopMagazine notes. “I’m not going to introduce a gay marriage bill simply because it has no chance of passing the West Virginia Legislature. We just might be able to get a civil union bill through, so I’m going to give it a shot,” Doye — who will not seek re-election — said. A Public Policy Polling survey from September found that only 19 percent of the state voters support same-sex marriage, but 43 percent “want some form of legal recognition for gay couple.”
Uganda Gay Activist Condemns American Religious Right For Exporting Homophobia |
Uganda gay activist Frank Mugisha calls out American Evangelicals for exporting homophobia to Africa in today’s New York Times. “Thanks to the absurd ideas peddled by American fundamentalists, we are constantly forced to respond to the myth — debunked long ago by scientists — that homosexuality leads to pedophilia,” he writes. “In Uganda, American evangelical Christians even held workshops and met with key officials to preach their message of hate shortly before a bill to impose the death penalty for homosexual conduct was introduced in Uganda’s Parliament in 2009.” The measure was shelved after local and international outcry, but may come up again. [HT: Jim Burroway]
The Archbishop of San Francisco has asked the pastor of a gay-friendly church in the Castro district to disinvite “a trio of gay-friendly clergy scheduled to speak at a series of pre-Christmas evening services,” arguing that the speakers were “inappropriate for the season of Advent,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Retired Rev. Roland Stringfellow, one of the cancelled speakers, was taken aback by the implication of the Archbishop’s decision:
“It’s ironic and hypocritical that the Catholic Church has a ‘Come home’ ad campaign going on right now,” he said. “Clearly, not everyone is welcome within the Catholic Church.”…What also bothered Stringfellow was the assumption that because he works with Berkeley’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, he would give a rousing gay rights sermon that ignored the religious themes of the season of Advent. [...]
“Most congregations invite speakers who can speak well to their community’s concerns,” he said. “We are all clergy within our own rites and denominations, and we were very disrespected by the idea that we can only give a talk that’s about gay rights.”
The issue of homosexuality is “a thorny one for the Catholic Church, which holds that while same-sex orientation is acceptable, gay or lesbian sexual activity is not.” Most practicing Catholics disagree with this interpretation. According to one recent survey, only 35 percent of Catholics oppose same-sex marriage and 16 percent of Catholics believe church leaders have “the final say” on homosexuality, down from 32 percent over the past 25 years.
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, and even those who don’t, John McCutcheon’s “Christmas In the Trenches” absolutely slays me every year:
It’s an amazing act of narrative songwriting. And more importantly, a critical call for cross-cultural understanding and peace in our time. I don’t believe that a single act of cultural exchange can turn back the machinery of the state, or reverse the fact that, as McCutcheon puts it, “the one who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame.” But I do believe that engaging deeply with culture helps us understand what we have in common and builds curiosity about and appreciation for the things that differentiate us from each other.
So for all of you who are celebrating Christmas this weekend, I hope you have a wonderful, restful holiday. For those of you midway through Hanukkah, may your celebrations be full of light. And for all of us, a hope for peace in the new year.
48 States Have Elected Openly LGBT Lawmakers |
Denis Dison notes that “last week’s news that Southhaven, Miss., Mayor Greg Davis informed a local newspaper that he is gay means just two U.S. states remain on the list of those with no openly LGBT elected officials — Alaska and South Dakota.” “That doesn’t mean these states aren’t served by LGBT elected officials, just that none have self-identified publicly either in speeches or in the media,” he says.
MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts looks back at the year that was in LGBT news. Here are some of his highlights and our reporting from this “banner year” for equality:
Dec. 6: Obama administration pledges to prioritize LGBT equality in its foreign policy and directs agencies to help LGBT refugees. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech in Geneva, in which she reminds the leaders of the world that “gay rights are human rights.”
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has jumped on Mitt Romney’s lucrative career in the private sector as head of Bain Capital, a private equity group that paid Romney generously while closing companies and cuting thousands of jobs. But Romney’s high net worth — estimated to be in excess of $200 million — and his ongoing retirement from package from Bain — understood to pay Romney millions of dollars per year — has put new scrutiny on the former Massachusetts governor’s unwillingness to disclose his tax returns.
Last night, Newt Gingrich’s campaign sought to capitalize on Romney’s unwillingness to release tax returns and sent reporters the following email:
Just in case you were curious, Newt Gingrich plans to release his income tax returns if he is the GOP nominee.
The move by the Gingrich camp comes after multiple news organizations reported on the Romney campaigns unwillingness to release the returns. Yesterday, Romney told reporters, “We don’t have any current plans to release tax returns but never say never.” In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Romney went further:
Mr. Romney made the statement in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, but the network did not show that part of the interview. Mr. Romney, a multimillionaire who made his fortune running a private equity firm, was asked whether he planned to release his tax return.
“I doubt it,” Mr. Romney said, according to a transcript of the interview provided by NBC News. “I will provide all the financial info, which is an extraordinary pile of documents which show investments and so forth.”
“But you won’t do the tax returns?” asked Chuck Todd, host of “The Daily Rundown.”
“I don’t intend to release the tax returns. I don’t,” Mr. Romney responded.
In 1994, Romney challenged Sen. Ted Kennedy to disclose his state and federal taxes to prove he has “nothing to hide.”
Indeed, scrutiny on Romney’s tax returns lies in the fact that Romney is likely not paying normal income tax rates on the ongoing payments from Bain. He is likely paying a capital gains tax rate of 15 percent instead of an income tax rate which, in his bracket, would be 35 percent.
Romney’s unwillingness to release his tax returns, and the Gingrich camp’s efforts to capitalize on Romney’s secrecy, could pose a challenge as Romney continues his assault on Gingrich’s lobbying and business dealings.
This winter has been unusually warm, crippling ski resorts, ruining holiday traditions, and dashing hopes of a white Christmas across the northern hemisphere. While the billions of tons of greenhouse pollution in our atmosphere sometimes encourage freak snowstorms, the primary effect of global warming on winter is, well, warmer temperatures — making white Christmases less likely. Temperature increases in some regions were off the charts in November, with northern Norway about 10°F warmer than average. In Finland, snow has been replaced by rain, killing World Cup and European Cup ski races, hurting retail sales, and adding to the gloom people feel from the long winter dark. This “black Christmas” shows the “footprint of global warming“:
Helsinki is experiencing uncharacteristically mild December temperatures, and only light dustings of snow have come and gone. “At the beginning of December it was on average six degrees warmer than is usual for this time of year,” meteorologist Pauli Jokinen told AFP. He said the snow’s no-show in the south of the country this year was partly due to natural variations, but also a footprint of global warming. “You can’t put a single season down to climate change, but we have seen that climate change has lifted the baseline temperatures,” he explained.
Biden Bashes Romney In Des Moines Register Op-Ed |
Vice President Biden attacked GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register today, less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The Obama re-election campaign has focused on Romney as the most likely GOP nominee, but Biden is the highest-profile member of the president’s team to directly attack the former Massachusetts governor. “How can anyone forget the economic catastrophe brought about by the same policies Mr. Romney’s proposing? His are the same policies that deregulated Wall Street and turned it into a casino that gambled recklessly with hardworking Americans’ money,” Biden wrote. The vice president did not mention any other presidential candidates in the op-ed, even though former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (GA) recently had been seen as a frontrunner.
U.N. Foundation President Tim Wirth told Climate Wire this week that President Obama has a “last window of opportunity” to avert catastrophic climate change — assuming he gets reelected:
“I don’t know who and where the climate leadership in the administration is. It doesn’t exist. There is no resolve in the Obama administration to do anything, and I think they look at Congress and say, ‘We can’t do anything, so why break our pick now?’” Wirth said.
Hey, if the White House waits long enough, all the ice will melt and they won’t need a pick!
He argued that the administration and environmental groups alike must “spend the year 2012 setting the table for the next four years.” Dismissing the possibility of a Republican win in November, Wirth called a second Obama administration term “the last window of opportunity” to enact policies that can avert a catastrophic rise in global temperatures.
“It’s the last chance we have to get anything approaching 2 degrees Centigrade,” he said. “If we don’t do it now, we are committing the world to a drastically different place.”
Obama’s reelection is only at 51.9% on Intrade, so I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of him losing at all, particularly given how poor the White House had been at messaging on most issues.
It’s also quite interesting that Wirth takes a similar view to Climate Progress on Durban (see “2C or not 2C: That Is the Question About the Durban Deal” and various responses in the comments). The fault lies not in the negotiators, but in the instructions they had from those in charge: