My Administration has also taken steps to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans in Federal housing programs and to give LGBT Americans the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital. We have made clear through executive branch nondiscrimination policies that discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the Federal workplace will not be tolerated. I have continued to nominate and appoint highly qualified, openly LGBT individuals to executive branch and judicial positions. Because we recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system. We led a global campaign to ensure “sexual orientation” was included in the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial execution — the only United Nations resolution that specifically mentions LGBT people — to send the unequivocal message that no matter where it occurs, state-sanctioned killing of gays and lesbians is indefensible. No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.
Rhode Island Civil Unions Bill Could Face Full Senate Vote Next Week |
Rhode Island’s Senate Judiciary Committee will review the civil unions bill on Thursday, paving the way for a full Senate vote as early as next week the Boston Globe reports. Two weeks ago, the House approved the measure, which “would grant same sex couples in a civil union all of the state rights given to married couples under Rhode Island law.” Since Rhode Island already recognizes out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples, some LGBT advocates see the “compromise” as a step back in the push for full marriage equality.
It’s one of the trashy greatnesses of America that as long as you don’t commit a felony, you get to find yourself a new equilibrium after a scandal by making the rounds on talk shows. Having done that, disgraced minister Ted Haggard is leveling up from the ritual-humiliation rounds, joining the ranks of quasi-political figures who have made movie cameos with an appearance in an abstinence comedy:
His new fellow travelers include anti- tax crusader Howard Jarvis, who rode his role in California’s Proposition 13 to an appearance in Airplane!:
Late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who showed up at the titular bar in Cheers:
And Democratic James Carville in damn near everything:
Haggard’s downfall and subsequent long-running denial that he’s actually attracted to men have always struck me as a sad symptom of a larger disease. When he inched open the closet door last fall, it was mostly to say that he still can’t bring himself to identify as bisexual or gay. The Waiting Game looks like it straddles that same kind of awkward divide, acknowledging that abstinence is unrealistic while also trying to rebrand it as cool with awkward jokes and bad production values. It’s a totally untenable reach, and Ted Haggard, of all people, should know that now. It doesn’t work to say “never a religious right, hateful, anti-gay guy,” and it doesn’t postpone the inevitable to insist you’ve cured your homosexuality, then to say if you were 21 you’d say you’re bisexual.
If anything, Forgetting Sarah Marshall bridges the divide between abstinence and progressive sexual politics better: the subplot with Jack McBreyer as a harried Christian newlywed with an insatiable wife acknowledges that waiting until you’re married probably won’t make sex better, but insists that everyone deserves to have their world rocked when they do decide to get it on.
FY 2009: $690 million FY 2010: $393 million FY 2011: $288 million
While previous grantees will continue to receive the remainder of their four-year grants, no new grants will be made this year through either the Safe and Supportive Schools or Safe Schools, Healthy Students programs.
So where is the threat to religious freedom? And where could their right to free speech be limited? It will no longer be acceptable to speak about fellow gay and lesbian service members in demeaning ways in the workplace and other public settings. The fact that this has ever been acceptable by anyone anywhere, but especially by chaplains, is regrettable. And chaplains from the religious groups who are now demanding protection from discrimination have been some of the worst offenders. They, and others who agree with them, may continue to think and believe what they want, but outside of those areas where their religious speech is protected, they may now have to keep their bigotry to themselves.
The question of how many people are lesbian, gay, or bisexual is complicated and not entirely answerable. A new Gallup poll suggests that the general public thinks the number is quite higher than anyone estimates it actually is. In fact, people think there are now more LGB people than they thought there were nine years ago, with over half the population believing that at least 20 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian:
Compare this to the recent study from the Williams Institute showing that about 3.5 percent of adults (about 9 million Americans) identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. And neither number resembles the 10 percent estimate offered by the Kinsey Reports that many refer to.
The increase in perceived LGB populations likely reflects increases in cultural visibility in the media, as well as possibly more people coming out. A 2009 Gallup poll showed that people who know someone who is gay are more likely to support LGBT equality, and recent polling shows that support for marriage equality, as an example, is higher than ever.
Still, it’s also important to remember that the 3.5 percent represents people who openly identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The National Survey of Family Growth (2006-2008) (PDF) showed that as many as 11 percent of Americans admit acknowledging at least some same-sex attraction. It could very well be that the increase in visibility is also shifting the zeitgeist to be more open-minded about sexuality so that individuals are more willing to explore — or at least acknowledge — that their own sexual orientation is more complex than they would previously have admitted.
At the end of the day, the answer is irrelevant. Whether the number is as low as 3.5 percent or as high as 35 percent, how many LGB people there are offers no argument for denying equality to that population. Everyone, regardless of how they identify, should be free from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy last year did not mark the end of the GOP’s attempt to continue its war on open military service. This year, House Republicans slid multiple amendments into the FY 2012 defense authorization bill to delay the implementation of DADT. Many of this year’s potential GOP presidential candidates, including confirmed candidate Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), pledged to re-instate DADT upon election. GOP Rep. Allen West (FL) bucked this trend, however, by stating he wouldn’t do anything to prevent the DADT repeal. But today, at the Heritage Foundation, he made it clear that he nonetheless does not approve of gays in the military.
Dubbing the military implementation of DADT repeal as “considerable social experimentation,” the Heritage Foundation asked West what top leadership can do “to ensure that force effectiveness is sustained at a superior level.” West opted to “put it very simple,” stating that the military does not conform to the individual or “a very small special interest group” like the LGBT community. When noting that African-Americans were once barred from military service, West said while he can’t change his skin color, gay servicemembers “can change behavior”:
WEST: Let me put it very simple, the U.S. military exists to win the nation’s wars. When you join the military, it takes individual behavior that conforms into the military. Now, if we start to have a perspective and belief in this nation that the military conforms to individual behavior, then we have lost the understanding of what it means to be in the U.S. military. The rules are very clear in the U.S. military. If you don’t want to abide by the rules of the U.S. military, then don’t join.
But the U.S. military is not there as a social experiment and for those who will sit up there and say, Congressman, you should understand because you’re black. Unless I’m Michael Jackson, I can’t change my color. But people can change behavior. And you do not base being a part of the military on adjusting to individual behavior. That’s my concern. And when you look at what our young men and women have to contend with, we’re talking about men and women fifth and sixth tours in combat zones. Now is not the time to appease a very small special interest group and I’ll leave it at that.
West’s belief that gay soldiers can and should somehow change who they are to serve not only flies in the face of American ideals, but in the face of military experience. By insisting the LGBT community jeopardizes the military’s mission, West — who often touts his own military background — directly contradicts the advice and opinion of the military leadership and the majority of the American public who favor open military service. Indeed, the military service chiefs reported that there are “no issues” with implementing the DADT repeal.
Some individuals will find it necessary to transition from living and working as one gender to another. These individuals often seek some form of medical treatment such as counseling, hormone therapy, electrolysis, and reassignment surgery. Some individuals, however, will not pursue some (or any) forms of medical treatment because of their age, medical condition, lack of funds, or other personal circumstances. Managers and supervisors should be aware that not all transgender individuals will follow the same pattern, but they all are entitled to the same consideration as they undertake the transition steps deemed appropriate for them, and should all be treated with dignity and respect.
ALMEIDA: If a federal contractor unjustly fires an aerospace engineer just because she is lesbian or just because she is transgender, and then replaces that engineer with someone who is less qualified, there are two big losers: 1) the victim of the anti-gay discrimination who is out of a job; and 2) the American taxpayers who are paying for the lesser-quality services of the discriminatory federal contractor.
The Washington Posts’ Ben Pershing notes that in the five months since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, they’ve been reluctant to push forward with an effort to repeal same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. Conservative lawmakers have certainly talked the talk of rolling back marriage equality in the District, but so far, “No bill has been introduced to overturn it, nor has any lawmaker publicly sought support from colleagues for such a measure.” This has advocates concerned that social conservatives may still be scheming to attach the measure to a piece of must-pass legislation:
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he knew of no campaign to repeal the law. “My committee has no intention at this time of overturning gay marriage,” Issa said this month, although he later clarified that he was speaking for himself as chairman and not for individual lawmakers.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), now chairman of the D.C. oversight subcommittee, responded similarly Tuesday. He said that he would support a bill to overturn the same-sex marriage law if one were introduced but that he had no interest in spearheading such an effort.
“I was not elected to be D.C. mayor, and I don’t aspire to be,” Gowdy said, echoing a previous comment by him on local issues.
The fact that no Republican has introduced a bill this year could be a sign that the majority plans to use a different tactic. [...]
If Republicans append a rider to a broader debt-reduction measure if one occurs, Obama and Senate Democrats would oppose such a move, but it’s unclear whether they consider the issue a deal-breaker.
D.C.’s marriage law was enacted in 2009, after the D.C. Council passed two measures to recognize marriages performed outside and inside the District. Both bills passed through a mandated congressional review period without challenge, even though several conservative Republicans sponsored bills to ban same-sex marriages in D.C. In January, the Supreme Court declined a request to hear a lawsuit intending to allow a voter referendum on the District’s same-sex marriage law.
Via JoeMyGod, Dave Evans pulls together this video explaining why the Family Research Council (FRC) deserve the “hate group” designation bestowed upon them by the venerable Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The last clip of Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he would support outlawing gay behavior really highlights the point:
MATTHEWS: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?
SPRIGG: Well, I think it’s certainly defensible.
MATTHEWS: I’m just asking, should we outlaw gay behavior?
SPRIGG: I think the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
MATTHEWS: So we should outlaw gay behavior?
FRC “bills itself as ‘the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,’ but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians,” SPLC says of the group. Read more about the classification here.
STEVE NASH: If a player in the locker room came out, it would come and go quickly, too. I really don’t think it’s a big issue anymore. I think it would be surprisingly accepted, and a shorter shelf life than maybe we would imagine. I think the time has come when it should happen soon. I think it will be something that won’t take on this life of its own. It won’t be the O. J. trial.
NOM's Brian Brown at a Rally last summer in New Hampshire.
Those associated with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) twist language to portray themselves as victims, heroes, and even “friends” to gays and lesbians, while regularly using every tool at their disposal to attack same-sex families and deprive them of equality. Whether they are “defending marriage,” using studies about single moms to attack “fatherless” two-mom couples, or taking umbrage at being called bigots, NOM’s talking points are riddled with lies, stereotypes, and fear-mongering. Now, one blogger has created a guide to countering NOM’s talking points.
Alvin McEwen, who blogs at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, has today released a comprehensive debunk of all of NOM’s go-to lines. Not only is this an important tool for defending against NOM’s lies, but seeing all of NOM’s talking points countered on one page also helps convey how insidious their strategy truly is. McEwen writes:
The idea that “marriage has to be defended” is nothing more than a cynical talking point designed to take attention away from the true issue – the lives of same-sex couples and especially the livelihood of children in same-sex households.
And it is a talking point which fuels NOM’s tactic of creating division on many levels – same-sex households vs. heterosexual two-parent household, the lgbt community vs. the heterosexual community, the black community vs. the lgbt community and so on. This “divide and conquer” strategy, created via a passive/aggressive subterfuge, is designed to appeal to people’s fears, jealousies, and ideas of religious superiority rather than their belief in basic fairness.
Here are some examples of his debunks:
NOM – “If courts rule that same-sex marriage is a civil right, then, people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.”
Truth – This is a distortion. Same-sex households are not in competition with heterosexual households. Children need family environments which give them love and support. [...]
NOM - “Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”
Truth – This is a lie. The nonpartisan webpage Politifact found that this claim was inaccurate. In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex intimacy is not in the curriculum. Even those who oppose marriage equality, such as Marc Mutty – who helped lead the charge against it in Maine – said that this claim is hyperbole geared to motivate people through fear.
McEwen’s guide covers NOM talking points that have been heard at rallies, in commercials, and even in Congressional testimony. The frequency with which they will be heard will only increase as NOM ramps up its campaigns against marriage equality in New York and Minnesota. While we will certainly continue to debunk the religious right here at ThinkProgress with facts and research, McEwen’s guide is the perfect resource to turn to when conversing with friends or family who are struggling to support equality.
ThinkProgress LGBT compiled this post using first-hand accounts and reports from the Russian and American press. For continuing updates, follow @TPEquality on Twitter.
Russian police disrupted the sixth-consecutive gay pride parade in Moscow, Russia on Saturday, arresting and beating more than 30 people, including American activist Dan Choi, Andy Thayer, and France’s Louis-George Tin.
Protesters — who had failed to secure a permit from the city — planned to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden, Moscow and then gather for a second action at City Hall. But the Russian ‘Melitzia’ — anticipating their arrival — shut down access to the garden in the morning and formed a human chain to squeeze out people from the area. The officers violently arrested more than a dozen protesters as they attempted to unfold a rainbow flag and signs reading “Russia is not Iran.” Other activists were also arrested near City Hall. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has accused the police of colluding with opponents of LGBT rights, Russian nationalists, and neo-Nazi groups. “I saw neo-Nazis leave and re-enter police buses parked on Tverskaya Street by City Hall,” Tatchell writes. “Our suspicion is that many of the neo-Nazis were actually plainclothes police officers, who did to us what their uniformed colleagues dared not do in front of the world’s media. Either that, or the police were actively facilitating the right-wing extremists with transport to the protest.” Watch the videos:
Gay rights advocates had petitioned the authorities for a permit earlier this spring, but the government denied the application despite an earlier European Court of Human Rights ruling that fined Russia $40,000 for suppressing a similar demonstration. The government claimed to have received an outpouring of opposition to the march from Russian religious groups and citizens.
And indeed, following Saturday’s attempted demonstration, the Russian Orthodox Church issued a statement thanking city authorities for “politely” preventing “an instance of propaganda of homosexuality which could have been witnessed by children and teenagers who crowded the two venues of the action.” Some counter protesters expressed similar sentiments in videos from the protest, calling gay people “sick” and saying, “I really don’t want my kids to be like them.” “Why are they stepping on Russian land which my ancestors defended and spilled blood for so this dirt can step all over it,” another Russian woman asked.
Russia classified homosexuality as a mental illness until 1999 and decriminalized homosexual behavior in 1993, but homophobic attitudes remain despite successful protests in other areas of the country. According to a recent study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, Russian attitudes towards gay people have declined since the Soviet era, making Russia one of only four nations — along with Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Latvia — to see a reduction in tolerance towards homosexuality. Fifty-nine percent of the Russian population “felt that homosexual behavior was wrong in 1991 compared with 64 percent in 2008, the study showed.” In another poll from last year, when asked “Whom wouldn’t you like to have as your neighbor?” respondents said alcohol and drug addicts, former criminals, and homosexuals. This attitude was certainly shared by former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, a virulent homophobe, who explained his opposition to past gay pride events this way: “There are two reasons for which gay pride parades can not be organized in the city. Here is the first one. The society morally does not accept such parades; the society does not accept those homos morally. Secondly, if they gather for a parade, they will be lynched. We have a radical part of the society, which does not accept that. Those people may kill homosexuals…,” Luzhkov said. In February, his successor, Sergey Sobyanin agreed, saying, “it is not necessary” to hold a gay pride parade in Moscow.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s 8:30 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy and politics. Here is what we’re reading, what are you?
– 34 gay activists and counter-demonstrators were arrested in Moscow, Russia on Saturday as they attempted to hold that city’s sixth’s gay pride parade. The United States has voiced ‘concern’ over the police’s violent disruption of the rally and has called on Russian authorities to better safeguard ‘fundamental freedoms’ of assembly. EuroNews has a good report about the protest:
– Veterans across the country celebrated Memorial Day yesterday, but for World War II veteran Paul Goercke, the day held extra significance: “it is the first Memorial Day since Congress repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from serving in the military.”
– Eight New York State senators who are still undecided on marriage equality. “The measure would need 32 votes for adoption in the Senate, and 26 senators, all Democrats, indicated they would back the bill. Twenty-eight senators expressed opposition — possibly leaving the measure’s fate in the hands of the eight undecided lawmakers, five Republicans and three Democrats.”
– Old Navy will begin selling two Gay Pride t-shirts on Wednesday at 26 stores, with some proceeds going to the It Gets Better Project. “We are proud to support the new @OldNavy Gay Pride tees. Yay for all kinds of families!” the retailer tweeted last week. The shirts will only be sold in 26 stores in 19 cities.
– Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera has announced that he will forward to parliament a bill that would allow both heterosexual and homosexual couples to enter civil unions. The measure would “protect and safeguard” the civil rights of couples living outside of marriage and “safeguard the dignity of those couples, whether of opposite sex or even the same sex.”
– The seniors at McFatter Technical High School have elected Andrew Viveros — a transgender woman — their 2011 prom queen. Viveros says she wanted to run for prom queen in order to show other transgender teens “it gets better.”
– The Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church “narrowly approved a groundbreaking same-sex marriage resolution Saturday, setting the stage for a high-stakes vote on the matter at the national conference next year.”
– A new Gallup poll “indicates that the average American believes that a quarter of the population is gay or lesbian. Additionally, 35% of those polled think the figure is even higher.”
Zack Ford and I are extremely excited to welcome you to the new ThinkProgress and ThinkProgress LGBT, a fresh blog focusing on the politics and policy of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Like our predecessor, the Wonk Room, ThinkProgress LGBT will continue to unravel the latest conservative attacks against LGBT people, cover the ongoing campaigns for equality on the federal and state levels and provide exclusive on-the-ground coverage of LGBT issues from all of the the 2012 presidential candidates.
But the increased space and central devotion to LGBT topics will also allow us to solicit contributions from our LGBT policy team at the Center for American Progress and experts from around the country to provide more in-depth analysis of LGBT health equality, school safety, and other issues facing the community.
So bookmark us — http://lgbt.thinkprogress.org — add us to your RSS readers –- http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/issue/feed/ –- follow us on Twitter –- @TPEquality — and contact me with your ideas and suggestions. We’re very excited about all the LGBT news in the weeks and months ahead and look forward to hearing your feedback and comments!
The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion. Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion.
Echoing the opinion of some fellow freshly fired employees, Leslie Montoya said she supported the decision, suggesting it had something to do with protecting children. :
My first thought was we work so hard for the children to have stability in their lives to have permanency and this is another thing that is going to be removed from their lives. A worker they’ve been working with several months possibly a few years and that person’s just going to disappear.
But the decision had nothing to do with the children (who will do just fine with same-sex families) and nothing to do with religious liberty. It was a blatant choice to prefer discrimination and stigmatization of gays and lesbians over the ability to do important, charitable work.
Speaking at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Watchmen on the Wall pastors’ conference today, FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg offered some wisdom on the threat of marriage equality. Given Sprigg’s reputation for reinforcing unscientific stereotypes and myths about the LGBT community, it’s unsurprising that he offers some of the most imaginative and preposterous talking points currently heard in the national dialogue.
- “POLLSTERS HAVE ACTUALLY CHANGED THE WORDING OF THEIR POLLS”: Sprigg’s first concern is that the LGBT community uses “gay” instead of “homosexual.” Two good reasons for this: 1) “Gay” is the word people who are gay use to identify themselves. 2) “Homosexual” is not a “neutral” term, but reflects a clinical history of treating gay people as diseased or disordered.
- “SOMETHING WHICH IS EMPIRICALLY FALSE: NAMELY, THAT THERE IS SUCH A THING AS AN INTRINSIC GAY IDENTITY”: Contrary to all the bunk ex-gay propaganda Sprigg frequently promotes, all research indicates that same-sex orientations cannot be changed and that they are at least somewhat impacted by genetics. For example, twin studies demonstrate that genes play a greater role in determining a person’s sexual orientation than they do in determining whether a person will be right- or left-handed. Same-sex relations are also quite common throughout the animal kingdom.
- “HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS DISTRUST AFRICAN-AMERICANS”: Tell that to all the people who are black and gay! This claim is just patently untrue and unfounded, but it is not to be disregarded. It actually reflects the way opponents of equality have been proffering pseudo-alliances with racial minorities to bait them into opposing gay rights and women’s rights.
- “THE REAL GOAL IS TO CREATE A SOCIETY IN WHICH IT IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR ANYONE, EVER, ANYWHERE, TO SAY THAT HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT IS WRONG.”: This claim doesn’t need debunking. It’s true. The only difference is that we see a stigma-free society — one in which LGBT people have equal protection under the law and no physical or mentalhealth disparities — as a good thing.
Students at Oakland, California’s Redwood Heights Elementary School recently participated in a two-day lesson plan about accepting gender differences. Educators relied on toys and animals to teach kids that “not all children will conform to gender norms around areas such as clothing or hair, or the colors they prefer.” “What it does emphasize is that there are differences,” the school’s principle Troy Flint told FoxNews.com. “We should be accepting of these differences in the interest of creating an environment where all children are welcome.”
This afternoon, Fox News invited the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Tony Perkins to opine about the school’s efforts and he quickly shifted the discussion to “same-sex marriage,” accusing the school of participating in a “bigger agenda” to indoctrinate children into homosexuality:
PERKINS: Our children should be able to go into a safe environment. They should be safe from bullying and they should also be safe from indoctrination into homosexuality.… I mean, how far are we willing to go with this? When you consider that only seven percent of the animal kingdom is monogamous in their sexual relationships, is that what we’re saying our kids should aspire to? [...]
Schools should be teaching reading, writing and asthmatic, not comparing their sexuality to fishes…This is part of a bigger agenda and this is the problem that Americans are waking up to as this idea about same-sex marriage and all this is working its way through. This is a part of a process of indoctrinating children at very young ages at the expense of actually teaching them what they need to be successful at.
Perkins’ comments are part of a pro-bullying campaign orchestrated by a nexus of so-called “family values” organizations that malign educational programs and policies that seek to teach children about tolerance for others and help LGBT students feel safe in schools as tools of the “homosexual agenda.” For instance, the right-wing Christian media ministry Focus on the Family has been attacking anti-bullying standards on the federal level, insisting that bullying prevention is being “hijacked by activists” who are “politicizing or sexualizing the issue.” Focus on the Family’s Candi Cushman claims that the anti-bullying bill currently before Congress “cater[s] to a narrow political agenda” that “becomes a gateway for homosexuality promotion in school.”
Perkins’s FRC is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The group “bills itself as ‘the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,’ but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians,” SPLC has concluded.