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    July 28, 2008

    Some marriage (and divorce) questions

    Posted by: Andoni

    DivorceSeveral gay couples I know are planning to go to California to get married now that same sex weddings are legal there combined with the fact that there is no residency requirement to marry. The Los Aneles Times just did a piece cautioning out of state gays to be careful because under existing laws throughout the land, it is much easier to marry than it is to divorce - should things not work out. They cited an example of a Rhode Island couple that married in Massachusetts, but now cannot get a divorce because Rhode Island won't do it and Massachusetts has a one year residency requirement for divorce. The couple is resigned to the fact that they might be forced to be married forever, even though they don't want to be married any more.

    As a point of information, in California you can get married in a day, but it takes a 6 month residency to divorce. A Canadian marriage, like Massachusetts, requires going back and establishing a one year residency before you can undo it.

    As gay marriages become more common, we are going to see a grand mess nationally. If people in 48 states can go to California to marry, but then can't get divorced, lots and lots of problems are going to occur.

    Besides all the points raised in the L.A. Times article, here is problem that "acoolerclimate" suggested in a comment to my post Accessing those 1200 federal benefits (III) :  What if a bisexual male goes to California and marries another man and they return to Georgia where their marriage is not recognized. After a few years they break up, but do not want to go back to California to live for the required 6 months to divorce, figuring their marriage was never recognized in Georgia anyway. Imagine that the bisexual partner then meets a woman, falls in love and gets married in Georgia. Is he now a bigamist? If he takes a trip to California, can he be arrested for bigamy when he gets off the plane (assuming his angry ex-spouse has informed the authorities of his flight info, etc).

    Finally assume the day comes when either through legislation or a Supreme Court decree, Georgia is forced to recognize same sex marriages. Is that person suddenly a bigamist because of the Court decision or new legislation?

    I've got tons of these types of questions, but I have to go to Bangkok for a few days, so I'll pick up when I get back.

    July 25, 2008

    Disappearing the 'Golden' gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Goldengirls1 Need any additional evidence that gays are non-existent in the world of U.S. neo-conservatism? Look no further than this post by Kathryn Jean Lopez on the National Review website after the passing of actress Estelle Getty:

    Did any male ever watch The Golden Girls?

    Ironically enough, I came across this bit of know-nothing-ism less than 24 hours after hearing a gaggle of D.C. gays -- including more than a few Republicans -- mourning her loss and reliving their favorite "GG" moments.

    I will admit, however, that I was never a fan.

    More on DADT hearings

    Posted by: Andoni

    DadtYesterday Chris analyzed  the Congressional hearings on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He did this as a journalist who remembers the disastrous last go around when this policy was discussed in 1993 and also as a journalist who happens to be gay and comprehends on all levels why DADT is wrong.

    I found another particularly insightful view on the DADT hearings on Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish, by hilzoy, someone who apparently is straight and was struck emotionally by two moments during the hearings. Getting people to feel an emotion is always better at getting their attention and effecting change, more so than any intellectual argument you can make. The hearings in 1993 concentrated on the emotion fear. Check out the two emotions hilzoy felt while watching these 2008 hearings.


    July 24, 2008

    Sorry we asked, sorrier she told

    Posted by: Chris

    Elainedonnelly Little news was expected from Congressional hearings today on legislation to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military. Much like the last hearings held on the subject, way back in 1993, the witness list was pretty much lop-sided.

    Last time around, even though Democrats were in control, then-Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, worked in bipartisan fashion with bigoted Republicans like Strom Thurmond of South Carolina to put up three or four witnesses opposing President Bill Clinton's campaign promise to repeal the ban on gays in the military for every one who supported it.

    Those gay veterans with the temerity to show up for the hearing were subjected to questioning that was offensive then -- and seems downright loonie now. Thurmond, in particular, would ask in his Southern drawl, "Did you ever seek psiiiichological hep fo' yo' problem?"

    This time around, the comic relief came in the form of Elaine Donnelly, president of the anti-gay Center for Military Readiness. Here's how Dana Milbanks of the Washington Post recounted things:

    Donnelly treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage. She warned of "transgenders in the military." She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading "HIV positivity" through the ranks.

    "We're talking about real consequences for real people," Donnelly proclaimed. Her written statement added warnings about "inappropriate passive/aggressive actions common in the homosexual community," the prospects of "forcible sodomy" and "exotic forms of sexual expression," and the case of "a group of black lesbians who decided to gang-assault" a fellow soldier.

    At the witness table with Donnelly, retired Navy Capt. Joan Darrah, a lesbian, rolled her eyes in disbelief. Retired Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, a gay man who was wounded in Iraq, looked as if he would explode.

    If reaction from House members was any indication, Donnelly's outlandish arguments only served to undercut her cause:

    Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) labeled her statement "just bonkers" and "dumb," and he called her claims about an HIV menace "inappropriate." Said Snyder: "By this analysis . . . we ought to recruit only lesbians for the military, because they have the lowest incidence of HIV in the country."

    That said, inane arguments from the right and public support at a remarkable 75 percent aren't enough to motivate Democrats into doing anything more than holding hearings on the repeal bill. Despite repeated promises to the contrary, the election year is already being blamed for the stalled legislation.

    Considering Democrats couldn't manage to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act despite bipartisan majority support in both houses of Congress and overwhelming public support, it's no surprise that they won't touch the third rail of national defense for the sake of us queers.


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    McCain's neurons

    Posted by: Andoni

    Mccain I could write this piece based on my MD degree ..... or based on my personal experience as someone who has cared for 2 aging parents and 3 aging grandparents over the past 40 years. I'll use the latter experience as the basis for what I write.

    I am concerned about Senator John McCain's mental ability to perform well as president. Anyone can make a gaffe or mis-speak. However, there have been a string of errors from McCain recently that indicate to me that his neurons aren't firing quite optimally. He makes mistakes and doesn't realize it and repeats them over and over again. This is the same pattern of confusion and mis-speak I observed in my parents and grandparents as they aged and their brains began to fail.

    Let's look at some examples of McCain's poor performance. There are the times he kept confusing Shiite and Sunni during his last visit to the Middle East. Then last week he spoke of the Iraq/Pakistan border, a border which does not exist. Another example of McCain not being able to handle the finer points of what's happening in the Middle East is his incorrect recollection of the major events associated with the Surge.

    Finally, there is Czechoslovakia. McCain referred to this country at least 4 times over the past few months. The problem is that this country stopped existing 15 years ago. This example best illustrates McCain's neuron problem. It is my observation that as people age and their brain stops working well, one of the first things to go is the ability to incorporate new information into their mental database and use it properly. Is this what we want in a president?

    I know what I'm writing is not politically correct.

    The McCain campaign insists that Senator Barack Obama must pass the commander-in-chief test. I think Obama has successfully done that on this recent trip to the war zones, the Middle East, and Europe.

    I would argue that what Senator McCain has to prove between now and November is that he can pass the "my neurons are firing properly" test.

    July 23, 2008

    MSM, not so mainstream anymore?

    Posted by: Andoni

    Markos Today's New York Times reports that Markos Moulitsas of the the Daily Kos wants to change the term "mainstream media" (MSM) - a term bloggers started, to "traditional media." Now that a majority of people get their news via the Internet instead of newspapers and broadcasts, he believes the lingo should reflect that reality.

    Continuing with the term "mainstream media" implies that the Internet is fringe, when it is not.

    Some bloggers think that "corporate media" would be a more appropriate term for MSM. I'll let the discussion begin on the blogoshpere for new lingo, but for the moment and until a consensus is reached, I'll try to stop using MSM and will alternate between "traditional media" (TM) and "corporate media" (CM) to see which one feels better or which one sticks.

    I'm with Markos that MSM is no longer an appropriate term.

    July 22, 2008

    Hammering out the party platforms

    Posted by: Chris

    Gopdems_2 There’s been no such thing as the summer doldrums this election season, what with fevered speculation over running mates and overseas trips with dueling photo ops set up to appear more “presidential.”

    Far more consequential, if much less made-for-TV, are the bare knuckles battles that lie ahead over the platforms to be adopted by the Republicans and Democrats, setting forth not just principles but the down and dirty policy positions of each party.

    In past presidential election years, many of the platform planks were already decided on by mid-July, usually in proverbial backrooms with only longtime insiders participating. 

    The process is indeed underway this year, but both parties are making at least perfunctory attempts to seek input from average voters. Color me skeptical, since the platforms are ultimately voted on by the convention delegates, so Barack Obama and John McCain already control the outcome before the process even begins.

    Even still, now is the time when the two campaigns are gauging the public’s temperature on the hot-button issues that tend to be the focus of platform fights. Of course, gay rights will be right up there with abortion, immigration and Iraq when it comes to slicing up language to appeal to the many who will vote in November, while avoiding offense to the few whose dollars and grassroots muscle can make the difference on Election Day.

    Four years ago, both party platforms were a big gay disappointment. The Republicans’ were something of an expected disaster. With Karl Rove in charge and social conservatives one of the few constituencies that President Bush could count on, the anti-gay planks practically wrote themselves.

    GOP delegates rejected efforts by Log Cabin Republicans to oppose gay marriage without specifically endorsing the federal amendment backed by the president. In fact, the platform went further, decrying legal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships as “living arrangements” – why didn’t they just say “living in sin”? – that shouldn’t be treated like marriage.

    It will be interesting to see how the Republican platform tackles marriage this time around, since John McCain said on the Senate floor that the federal marriage amendment was “antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.” The marriage plank will likely focus instead on leaving the issue to the states decide, which mean the real battle will be over whether the platform hints or insists on the answer that states should reach.

    A defeat for Log Cabin would be a marriage plank that backs state amendments like the one pending in California -- or even more draconian amendments like the one McCain endorsed but which failed in Arizona two years ago. A victory would be one that leaves the question more open to the states, while including the familiar battle cry against “unelected judges” have any say at all.

    Marriage will be a testing ground for Democrats as well. Four years ago, the party platform read like a good GOP plank would this year: “repudiating” Bush’s marriage amendment and saying the states should decide. But the platform was silent on civil unions as an alternative, much less advocating the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act – even though John Kerry, the nominee, had voted against it back in 1996.

    Barack Obama made a point of distinguishing himself from Hillary Clinton by favoring DOMA’s full repeal, so the platform should make that explicit. Much more important, however, would be a plank that specifically lays out what the Democratic nominee has said repeatedly about gay relationships – whether recognized by the states through marriage, civil unions or not at all – being afforded fully equal treatment to heterosexual marriage under federal law.

    For this gay American, stuck living in exile because of unequal immigration rights, the plank would include specific support for the Uniting American Families Act, which allows us to sponsor our partners for residence the same way heterosexuals do in the U.S. – and as both gay and straight citizens can in Canada, Australia, Brazil and almost all of Western Europe.

    Trans activists will also be pressing hard for including their agenda in the Democratic platform, since they were turned away by the Kerry camp four years ago. This time, with lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin on the platform committee, they’re likely to get a much more welcome reception.

    Even so, any trans rights plank should avoid taking sides in the bitter fight last fall over whether gay measures like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act should only be adopted if the votes are there for “gender identity” as well.

    If you want your say on these and other platform questions, visit barackobama.com and GOPplatform2008.com, and follow the links for voter input.

    Court rules: there are 2 types of lesbians

    Posted by: Andoni

    Lesbos Lesbians2_2

    I've written here  and here about the lawsuit a group of residents from the Greek island of Lesbos filed against a Greek gay rights group that uses the word lesbian. The islanders wanted the political group to stop using the word lesbian, claiming that they, the islanders, had the sole right to the word.

    Today a court ruled  against the islanders, saying they did not have sole claim to the name. Thus, the court officially acknowledges that lesbian has 2 definitions, and for most purposes it all boils down to whether you capitalize or not. Lesbian, with a capital L, means of or pertaining to the island of Lesbos. Whereas, lesbian, small l, means pertaining to or characteristic of female homosexuality.

    But then that's probably not a fool proof rule, because the group that was sued and successfully defended itself, was the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, with a capital L.

    July 21, 2008

    Obama's latest veep news

    Posted by: Chris

    Jack_reed The latest scuttlebutt on Barack Obama's possible running mate is decidedly mixed. The good news is that some are reporting that one potential finalist for the post is Sen. Jack Reed from Rhode Island, who is accompanying the Democratic nominee on his trip abroad. Tongues are wagging because:

    [Reed] has been to Iraq 11 times (and voted against the original Iraq war resolution)... The widely respected voice on national security is a 1971 West Point grad, though he did not fight in Vietnam. The Army Ranger paratrooper, who eventually commanded the 82nd Airborne, was assigned elsewhere... Father was a school custodian and WWII vet... Was on a trip to Afghanistan with McCain and Lieberman when he first met his wife... Took weekly art classes at the age of 5 at the Rhode Island School of Design... Big Will Ferrell fan and drives a 1991 Ford Escort... Differing with Obama, he was against the 1991 Gulf War and voted against the recent compromise FISA legislation.

    By choosing Reed, Obama could address several perceived weaknesses: Reed served in the military and has significant Washington experience. As a legislator, Reed has focused on education, defense, and healthcare -- all areas that Obama is focusing on. In addition, Reed is a Roman Catholic.

    That 1991 vote is a definite drawback, one shared by John Kerry, the party's 2004 nominee. (I remember thinking then that it was difficult to get excited about a presidential candidate who had been so wrong on the two most important war-and-peace votes of his career.)

    But on gay issues, Reed's record matches Obama's. He's gotten a near-perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign scorecard -- marked down over the last two sessions of Congress for failing to sign on as a cosponsor to the Uniting American Families Act (and its predecessor bill, the Permanent Partners Immigration Act). Obama (and Hillary Clinton) also neglected to sign on to UAFA but have committed repeatedly to its passage with some undefined amendments to combat possible fraud.

    More good news from Marc Ambinder, who lists Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd as the only potential vice president who it can be confirmed the Obama folks are actually vetting for the job. Dodd's presidential run may have been a failure, but his record on gay issues is actually better than Obama's since he has signed on as a UAFA co-sponsor.

    Other names on Ambinder's list are more of a mixed bag. He lists as "almost certainly vetted":

    • Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh: Near-perfect HRC scores, marked off on UAFA and not adding "trans" to his office non-bias pledge.
    • Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine: Backed a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions; did little to stop an even more draconian amendment, which would have banned even D.P. benefits.
    • Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius: Opposed a similar state amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions, and helped head off a bill that would ban gays from adopting.

    Among those Ambinder lists as "unknown" whether they are being vetted are some names with mostly good gay rights records -- like Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Tom Daschle -- as well as some disastrous picks -- like Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (straight zeroes on the HRC scorecard since his election in '88) and might-as-well-be Republican Sam Nunn, former senator from Georgia (architect of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell").

    One name nowhere on Ambinder's list? My personal favorite, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

    GNW 5: Father-son day in S.C.

    Posted by: Chris

    1. S.C. father chases gay son from home with a baseball bat: QUICK LOOK: Violence broke out Sunday in Anderson when an 18-year-old man returned home from a gay pride parade and was assaulted by his father. According to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, the battering... (MORE)
    2. Almost 40 and living on the frontier of transgender civil rights: QUICK LOOK: He has meaty forearms, facial hair and speaks in the animated tones of a pubescent boy. When he dresses in his favorite sweats, he is barrel-bellied and unquestionably masculine. No trace of breasts... (MORE)
    3. Selma Blair shocked by friends' lesbian crushes on herSelma Blair shocked by friends' lesbian crushes on her: QUICK LOOK: Selma Blair is "shocked" by how many of her friends have lesbian crushes on her. The actress, who famously shared a steamy kiss with Sarah Michelle Gellar in ‘Cruel Intentions',... (MORE)
    4. Sydney protest decries Pope Benedict as 'homophobic'Sydney protest decries Pope Benedict as 'homophobic': QUICK LOOK: A coalition of groups – including atheist and gay groups – rallied in Sydney, Australia against Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday. The NoToPope Coalition says Pope Benedict... (MORE)
    5. Anglican row over gay bishops 'like Iraq war': leaderAnglican row over gay bishops 'like Iraq war,' says cleric: QUICK LOOK: One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops has compared the consecration of a gay bishop in America to the invasion of Iraq. Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    July 20, 2008

    McCain: flip-flopper-no; incoherent-yes

    Posted by: Andoni



    The term flip-flopping doesn’t do justice to Mr. McCain’s self-contradictory economic pronouncements because that implies there’s some rational, if hypocritical, logic at work. What he serves up instead is plain old incoherence, as if he were compulsively consulting one of those old Magic 8 Balls. In a single 24-hour period in April, Mr. McCain went from saying there’s been “great economic progress” during the Bush presidency to saying “Americans are not better off than they were eight years ago.” He reversed his initial condemnation of mortgage bailouts in just two weeks.

    Just as Chris pointed out McCain's slipperiness on gay adoption, Frank Rich of the New York Times nails McCain this morning on his total incoherence on most other issues. This is a must read for anyone considering voting for McCain.

    July 18, 2008

    McCain on all sides of gay adoption

    Posted by: Chris

    Straight_talk_banner I recently posted about John McCain's slipperiness on gay issues -- rather than outright flip-flops, the presumptive GOP nominee tries to stake out positions on both sides. It's classic political pandering, but McCain isn't particularly good at it. On most issues -- from gay rights to immigration to taxes to Iraq -- he ends up displeasing everyone equally.

    This week McCain tried the same gambit on gay adoption as he has on marriage. Declaring his opposition and then later attempting a clarification that undercuts his own view. First, in a New York Times interview, he aligned himself with President Bush, who backs Florida's law that blocks even single gay adults from adopting:

    Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?

    Mr. McCain: I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.

    Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.

    Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.

    Q: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple

    Mr. McCain: Yes.

    After gay rights groups raised the alarm, the McCain campaign issued a clarification that not only framed the issue, like marriage, as one best left for the states, but also backed off implicit support for far-reaching bans like Florida's:

    “John McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made it clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue,’’ Tucker Bounds, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement.“He was not endorsing any federal legislation.’’

    “Senator McCain’s expressed his personal preference for children to be raised by a mother and a father wherever possible,” Mr. Bounds said in the statement. But the statement added, “He recognizes that there are many abandoned children who have yet to find homes. John McCain believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative.”

    That clarification pleased some gay conservatives like Dale Carpenter and Log Cabin, but it's unlikely to do much for independent gay and non-gays alike who mostly see McCain pandering out of both sides of his mouth.

    Conservative Christians are similiarly left dissatisfied because they also know a pander when they smell one.

    But this is likely the best those on both sides of the gay Culture Wars will get from John McCain. He'll say he's against discrimination in any form and yet refuse to back any legislation to outlaw it. He'll say gay marriage is wrong and back some efforts to ban it but not others.  He'll say children shouldn't be adopted by gays but he'll back only some efforts to block that.

    It's all one big muddle, which is unlikely to energize gay rights foes or win over many of us who care about the issue from the other side. So much for the maverick Arizona senator and his "straight talk express."

    GNW 5: Newsflash: S.C. isn't 'so gay'

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Federal appeals court OKs removal of anti-gay picketFederal appeals court OKs removal of anti-gay picket: QUICK LOOK: In a closely watched First Amendment case stemming from a clash between a group of Christian protesters and the attendees of a gay pride event, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court... (MORE)
    2. Division emerges among gay marriage foes in Calif.Division emerges among gay marriage foes in Calif.: QUICK LOOK: A united front by conservative forces against same-sex marriage in California is showing signs of cracking -- or of having been an illusion all along. Last week, the... (MORE)
    3. Husband of 'View' ex-host Jonses says he's not gayHusband of 'View' ex-host Star Jones says he's not gay: QUICK LOOK: Star Jones' estranged husband, Al Reynolds, is trying to set the record straight. Reynolds said on a new YouTube video, "I am not a homosexual," and says he still very... (MORE)
    4. E.U. is growing fonder of gay and lesbian residentsE.U. is growing fonder of gay and lesbian residents: QUICK LOOK: The latest Eurobarometer survey examining discrimination in the European Union published this month reveals growing acceptance of the LGBT community within the E.U.,... (MORE)
    5. S.C. tourism agency worker quits over 'So Gay' adsS.C. tourism agency worker quits over 'So Gay' ads: QUICK LOOK: A South Carolina tourism employee has resigned in the wake of outrage over an advertising effort to attract gay tourists to the state. Last week, the state Department... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    A death in the family

    Posted by: Chris

    A difficult journey of more than three years ended this week, as my sister passed away after a long period of incapacitation. Services were yesterday. As much as I would like to write about these many months and the impact they have had on me and my family, I also want to respect my sister's wish that our family life remain private and out of bounds for what it is that I do.

    So instead I'll just say a very sincere thank you to the many friends who have been so wonderfully supportive during this time. It is a great relief to all of us to know that she is no longer suffering.

    Now, after a long absence, back to blogging…

    A tale of 2 immigration systems

    Posted by: Andoni


    How can a gay HIV positive man deported from the United States in January end up in the Netherlands with the equivalent of their “green card” in less than 6 months? The answer is that the Dutch have a fair, sane, and just immigration system -- and the US does not.

    I would like to tell you the story of my friend, whom I’ll call Pedro – and you will realize why I use the pseudonym as you read on.

    Pedro came to the US legally on an H1B1 visa. It was his intention to work, apply for a permanent residence visa (green card) and eventually become a US citizen.

    During his stay, he discovered that he had contracted HIV. Because of the HIV ban inserted into US law by now deceased Senator Jesse Helms, Pedro was ineligible to make the natural progression from an H1B visa to a green card. (Thank God, this law is on the way to being repealed as reported by Andrew Sullivan, but it was too late for Pedro.)

    Pedro was employed by a law firm and his duties required him to appear in court a lot, interact with lots of officials at the courthouse, including judges. His work product was excellent and he was well loved by all with whom he interacted. When the time on his visa ran out, he would have to leave the country because he knew he would be rejected for a green card because of his HIV status. Although he had been in a relationship, that was not a path for him to stay in the US, because the US does not recognize same sex couples for immigration (or anything for that matter). Pretty much everyone he worked with or had contact with was very upset that he was going to have to leave the US.

    The heads of the law firm (lawyers) hatched a plan to arrange for Pedro to marry a female employee of the firm so he could stay. (Note this is highly illegal and people go to jail for this type of fraud.) The HIV ban allows a waiver for spouses of the heterosexual variety. Pedro’s same sex relationship with a US citizen was worth nothing in the eyes of immigration, but if he married a woman, it would not only grease the path to a green card, but also overcome the HIV barrier as well, because of an HIV waiver for opposite sex spouses.

    Because the wedding was scheduled, the law firm did not make any arrangement for Pedro’s replacement. The interesting thing is that a lot of people, including those at the court house, were aware of the impending marriage and the reason for it, and voiced no fraud concerns. In fact they were supportive. This is a prime example of a double standard between those immigrants you know personally and like --- versus some unknown illegal immigrant working in a meat plant in Kansas.

    In the end and to his credit, Pedro could not go through with the fraudulent marriage. He left the US on time and legally.

    While Pedro was in his home country looking for employment his old law firm kept calling him to try to get him back because they were having a hard time getting along without his specialized talent. I won’t go into the details of who did what or how it happened, but after a few months, Pedro returned the US on a tourist visa in order to work for his old company, and to help find and train a replacement. Again, this is highly illegal.

    During this temporary period of once again working for his old firm, Pedro met and fell in love with Peter, a Dutch citizen. They made plans for Pedro to immigrate to the Netherlands to be together as a same sex couple once Pedro finished training the new employee. Before this was able to happen however, a few weeks before he planned to leave permanently, Pedro was found out and deported (again, details left out to protect a lot of people).

    So how fast can a person who could not get residency in the US either based on his same sex relationship or on his job talents (he was disqualified based on his HIV status) get a green card in Holland? Here’s how fast:

    After deportation to his home country in January, Pedro studied for a Dutch language and culture exam which he took and passed in February. In April he received his entry visa to join his partner in the Netherlands. Once united with Peter in Holland, they formed a civil partnership (the Dutch can choose marriage or partnership – both yield immigration benefits) and in July he received a one year visa. After one year he gets a 5 year visa. However, after only 3 of those 5 years he can choose to become a Dutch citizen.

    This is so amazing compared to how he was treated in the United States. Basically, the Dutch (as well as a lot of the EU) treat same sex couples the same as opposite sex couples.

    I spoke with Pedro the other day to congratulate him on his green card. He wanted everyone to know that in the Netherlands it was illegal for them to ask about his HIV status. The only health question he had to answer was with respect to tuberculosis. And that question was simply a “we are going to test you for TB and if you test positive, you have to consent now that you agree to be treated before you can get your visa.” How sane! How rooted in real medical science!

    I dream of the day that the United States starts granting its gay citizens the same rights that other Western Democracies are granting theirs.

    I’m also sorry Pedro did not experience the day that the US stopped discriminating against HIV positive people for immigration. But I’m comforted that he is happy and with a wonderful partner living in the Netherlands – a country that treats his relationship better than our country treats our gay relationships.

    July 16, 2008


    Posted by: Kevin

    [**UPDATE at bottom of the post.]

    No Apparently, on the heels of the death of ex-Senator Jesse Helms, his successor, Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) is looking to have his name added to the formal title of the reauthorization of the PEPFAR program, which is currently in mid-debate on the Senate floor.



    And furthermore, NO.

    Maybe if Ted Kennedy had introduced the amendment, then yes.  The spirit of "reconciliation" would perhaps be given the right air, and the right floor speech.  And given Kennedy's emotional return to the Senate in order to cast a vote he felt he couldn't miss, it seems even in the realm of the possible that he could endorse this amendment and change my mind.

    But no other gesture should convince the Senate to profane that important legislation with the name of Jesse Helms.  It's like adding Bill Clinton's name to a sexual harassment bill -- it's just unacceptable and insulting no matter how contrite he may have said he was.  Because we don't believe him.

    I just learned that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has dropped his effort to remove the amendment to lift the HIV travel ban that was added to the bill.  This means that barring something completely unforeseen, the Senate will pass PEPFAR including the lifting of the ban.  Then, it must survive a House-Senate conference and final passage, but all reports are that the House has already agreed to including the measure, and the White House also supports it.  Perhaps we should rename the amendment repealing the HIV travel ban after Jesse Helms instead.  Any takers?

    July 12, 2008

    How was your day, Express readers?

    Posted by: Chris

    Danrenzi1 When last we checked in on Dan Renzi, "Real World: Miami" alum turned editor of the Express Gay News, South Florida's gay newspaper, he was editorializing about how his Latino boy toy didn't speak English very well. We hoped against hope that his curious selection to run a serious newspaper might result in young Dan exploring the big bad world that exists below the surface he is so used to barely scratching.

    Alas, the early returns aren't encouraging. This week's "editorial" is about how he took the day off from his Express duties to work as a stringer for Us Weekly, trying to gather dirt on baseball phenom Alex Rodriguez, rumored to be having an affair with Madonna. Is this was "E-List" celebs do in their spare time? Dig dirt on those with higher listings?

    Dan's gift of gab is well-suited for his blog "How was your day, Dan?" or even for 411, the lifestyle mag produced out of the same Fort Lauderdale offices as the Express. But readers of South Florida's only serious gay publication deserve better than an editor who has decided to treat his editorial column "like it's a big blog post from now on.  Screw the politics and the news is unnecessary."

    July 11, 2008

    GNW: Art of being 20-something

    Posted by: Chris

    1. 'Art of Being Straight' finds 20-something credibility'Art of Being Straight' finds 20-something credibility: QUICK LOOK: A low-key comedy high on charm and credible twentysomething observation, Jesse Rosen's debut feature, "The Art of Being Straight," stars the writer-director as a possibly-coming-out... (MORE)
    2. Milwaukee deacon arrested in park's gay cruising areaMilwaukee deacon arrested in park's gay cruising area: QUICK LOOK: Police have been targeting Milwaukee's Estabrook Park for years trying to stop men from soliciting sex from other men there. The latest suspect is 48-year-old Jerome... (MORE)
    3. Judge rejects DNC effort to end gay liaison's bias suitJudge rejects DNC effort to end gay liaison's bias suit: QUICK LOOK: A gay man’s case against the Democratic National Committee moved toward trial last week when the organization’s appeal for summary judgment was rejected. D.C. Superior... (MORE)
    4. Gay activists urge boycott of S.D. hotel over ownerGay activists urge boycott of S.D. hotel over owner: QUICK LOOK: A $125,000 donation in support of an anti-gay marriage initiative by a San Diego hotelier has drawn the ire of gay and lesbian activists and local labor unions who are... (MORE)
    5. Mass. high court says no retro marriage benefits for gays: QUICK LOOK: The state's highest court ruled Thursday that marriage benefits for gay couples can't be applied retroactively to the time before same-sex marriage was legalized -- a ruling affirming a bright line... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    McCain's non flip-flop on marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Mccainhardball This year's presidential election will be putting old-line journalism to the test, seeing as how both parties have nominated media darlings from the primaries. Supporters always complain their opponent is escaping media scrunity, but this year the charge may hold weight -- in both directions. We'll see whether traditional media will wake up to their responsibility or further tarnish a reputation left in tatters by failures post-9/11 and in the run-up to the Iraq War.

    So supporters of John McCain are no doubt right to complain that Barack Obama has gotten largely glowing press treatment, but it's also true that a fawning press corps lets McCain get away with murder. Leave it to the blogosphere to fill the gap, especially on this McCain meme that Obama is a "flip flopper."

    Obama has, of course, been moving to the middle, in substance as well as in rhetoric, and it's certainly fair game for McCain to point it out -- especially since Obama has set a higher standard for himself and his "new politics." But McCain is still the pot calling the kettle black -- no, I'm not a racist -- on the issue, considering his own extreme makeover from party "maverick" to line-toeing standard-bearer.

    The Carpetbagger Report has done a nice job of doing what the mainstream media has not -- compiling McCain's flip flips -- on more than 60 important issues of domestic and foreign policy. Some items on the list are actual flip-flops more than others, but it caught my eye that gay marriage made the list:

    McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

    This one turns out to be more inartful rhetoric than a flip-flop, and the list compiler knows it since both the "allowed" and "shouldn't be allowed" links relate to a single McCain appearance back in 2006 on MSNBC's "Hardball" college tour.

    A February 2007 profile of McCain captures his political highwire act that day, complete with backstage tactics:

    “Should gay marriage be allowed?,” Matthews asks.

    “I think that gay marriage should be allowed, if there’s a ceremony kind of thing, if you want to call it that,” McCain answers, searching in vain for the less loaded phrases he knows are out there somewhere, such as “commitment ceremony” or “civil union.” “I don’t have any problem with that, but I do believe in preserving the sanctity of the union between man and woman.” It may not be clear just what McCain is trying to say, but it’s easy to see how his words could be skewed in a direction that the Republican right might not like at all.

    Fast-forward to the next commercial break, during which McCain and Matthews reposition themselves from the stage to the auditorium floor to take questions from the students. McCain’s longtime political strategist, John Weaver, a lanky, laconic Texan, moves in to whisper some advice. The next question is about the pending federal farm bill, and McCain repeats his long-standing opposition to certain agricultural subsidies.

    But then, out of nowhere, he adds, “Could I just mention one other thing? On the issue of the gay marriage, I believe if people want to have private ceremonies, that’s fine. I do not believe that gay marriages should be legal.” There: he said it, the right words for his right flank. It might seem that this audience, the sons and daughters of a socially conservative and culturally traditional bellwether state, would accept, if not approve of, what McCain has just declared. But they are the Wi-Fi wave of the future, and they can smell a pander bear as surely as they can a hog lot. They erupt in a chorus of deafening boos. “Obviously some disagreement with that last comment,” McCain says tightly. “Thank you. It’s nice to see you.”

    Moments later, McCain remounts the stage for the program’s final segment, and he bores into Weaver, standing quietly in the wings, with a cold look that seems to mingle irritation at Weaver’s whispered advice with regret that he took it, and demands, almost hisses, “Did I fix it? Did I fix it?”

    The problem is with Matthews' original question, which taken literally is asking McCain whether the government should be able to prohibit gay couples from conducting private marriage ceremonies that have no legal significance. McCain answers it literallly and then has to circle back to make semi-clearer that he was referring to civil marriage, not private ceremonies.

    McCain's original answer to Matthews, left out of the Vanity Fair piece, is really more about having it both ways than it is about flip-flopping:

    On the issue of gay marriage, I do believe, and I think it’s a correct policy that the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, a marriage between man and woman, should have a unique status. But I’m not for depriving any other group of Americans from having rights. But I do believe that there is something that is unique between marriage between a man and a woman, and I believe it should be protected.

    You can be for limiting marriage to heterosexual couples and you can be against "depriving any other group of Americans from having rights," but you can't be both -- because limiting marriage to straights is, of course, depriving gays from having the same rights.

    An earlier Carpetbagger post also calls McCain inconsistent for opposing a federal marriage amendment while supporting an even more draconian version in his home state of Arizona. The two positions are fully consistent, however, when you remember that McCain's only problem with the federal amendment is that it violates the principles of federalism, under which marriage is defined at the state level -- including by draconian amendments to a state's constitution.

    Ironically, John McCain has, in fact, flip flopped on gay marriage -- just not in the way Carpetbagger suggests. His full-throated opposition to the federal marriage amendment back in 2004 as "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans" -- meaning states' rights, not non-discrimination -- has since given way to wishy-washiness:

    If the Supreme Court of the United States rejects the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional; if state legislatures are frustrated by the decisions of jurists in more states than one, and if state remedies to such judicial activism fail; and finally, if a large majority of Americans come to perceive that their communities’ values are being ignored and other standards concerning marriage are being imposed on them against their will, and that elections and state legislatures can provide no remedy, then, and only then, should we consider, quite appropriately, amending the Constitution of the United States.

    Although flip-flop isn't really a fair characterization of McCain's gay marriage views, it does seem to be an example of how he avoids reversing himself by taking multiple positions on the same issue simultaneously.

    July 09, 2008

    Moving to the middle on marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Michellebarackobama With presidential primary season is behind us, now is the time when the presumptive nominees take aim at independent voters by tacking their way to the political center.

    For gay issues, that typically means we see the Republican nominee rediscovering his “compassionate conservative” side, reaching out through rhetoric if not through an actual thaw in policy positions on gay rights. Remember George W. Bush back in 2000 famously declaring himself “a better man” for having met with the so-called “Austin 12,” a group of gay Republicans who told the Texas governor about how discrimination had impacted their lives.

    On the Democratic side, gay marriage becomes a “Sister Souljah” issue, on which the candidate can prove his centrist credentials by emphasizing the very same opposition to marriage equality that he practically apologized for during the primaries.

    The gay marriage ruling in Massachusetts gave Sen. John Kerry just such an opportunity back in 2004. He leapt on it with gusto, declaring his opposition to the court’s ruling and throwing his support behind efforts there and elsewhere to roll back marriage rights through state constitutional amendments.

    Running mate John Edwards hit mostly the same notes, declaring twice in national television interviews that he and Kerry were of like minds with President Bush on gay marriage, forgetting momentarily that the two Democrats had voted against the president’s notorious federal marriage amendment.

    The ink is barely dry on this year’s party primaries, but it’s curious how the presumptive nominees from both parties are departing from the script written by previous presidential candidates.

    Johncindymccain Initially it seemed John McCain was following closely in W.’s footsteps. News leaked last month that the Arizona senator had a “secret meeting” with the president of the Log Cabin Republicans, who have done their best to smear lipstick on the pig that is McCain’s horrendous gay rights record.

    A few conservative Christian leaders squawked in protest, as they did over W.’s more public gay Republican encounter back in 2000, but McCain proved himself anything but “a better man” in response. It should have been an opportunity for McCain to set his jaw and declare as he has before that he “opposes discrimination in any form” – always curious for a politician who also opposes legislation in any form that’s meant to outlaw said discrimination.

    But instead of tacking to the center, McCain chose to pander to the right – issuing a public statement in favor of the California ballot measure aimed at overturning that state’s landmark gay marriage ruling. In another secret meeting, this time with social conservatives, McCain is said to have promised to increase the volume even more on his gay marriage opposition.

    If McCain lacks the will to withstand even a smattering of criticism from conservatives on gay issues, it bodes very poorly for how a President McCain might be in office.

    On the other side of the aisle, Barack Obama is so far proving he’s no John Kerry on gay marriage. Even though the Illinois senator had pretty much locked up his party’s nomination when the California Supreme Court issued its gay marriage ruling, he didn’t use the occasion to bolster his centrist credentials by declaring himself in opposition.

    Instead, he issued a statement saying he “respects the court’s decision.” Later, when the amendment that would overturn that ruling qualified for the November ballot, Obama declared his opposition to it, in marked contrast to Kerry’s position as the Democratic presidential nominee just four years ago.

    (Not surprisingly, Kerry himself has flip-flopped on the issue. Facing a Senate primary challenger, he came out in opposition to state constitutional amendments banning gay couples from marrying.)

    Even in these early days of the general election, then, the distance between these two presidential candidates on gay rights is already quite striking.

    In previous cycles, the move to the political center has made the Republican candidate more palatable and even encouraged fantasies of a gay-friendly GOP president able to accomplish what a Democrat couldn’t – sort of Nixon goes to China for the gays. We are encouraged in that delusion by how the Democratic candidate has by now already betrayed his vow of unwavering support for us during the primary season.

    This time around, at least so far, John McCain seems more interested in using gays as a political wedge to energize conservatives than he is in reaching out to moderates. In fact, Washington pundit Fred Barnes declared on Fox News declared last week that waving the gay marriage flag was McCain’s last, best hope of winning the White House.

    It’s a curious strategy, given where the population is moving on the issue. Poll after poll shows growing public support for marriage equality, and the power of the issue as a panic button for conservatives fades a bit each and every month that gay couples marry and the sky doesn’t fall.

    Maybe that’s one reason why Obama did not choose gay marriage as a sacrificial lamb on which to prove he’s no liberal. It’s not just that he’s unwilling to pander at our expense, but the center itself has moved on gay marriage.

    And maybe 2008 will be the last presidential race in which we’ll see both major party candidates in opposition to our full marriage equality.

    July 07, 2008

    Obama on same sex immigration

    Posted by: Andoni

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    Barackobamagrins Throughout the primary season I was angry that no gay reporter or gay person asked either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama a question about same sex immigration, the issue I care about most.

    As a result, I decided to take things into my own hands. I would find a way to personally lobby the Democratic nominee how important this issue is for me and tens of thousands of others in the gay community. That opportunity arose tonight in Atlanta at an Obama fundraiser.

    I attended the Obama VIP reception which entailed a photo with Barack and maybe the possibility of 10 seconds chat time while the photo was being taken. I consulted Rachel Tiven of Immigration Equality for her suggestion as to what the best 10 second bite would be. She suggested to be as emotional as possible and gave me, “I have to choose between the love of my life and my country because I am gay. Please support immigration rights for gay and lesbian families.”

    I practiced this line over and over. However, when my moment came, I flubbed my lines. I don’t know exactly what I said, but I did manage to get out gay and immigration --- and then I choked up. It was a real emotional choke up, not an act, and not the script. However, I said enough for Obama to know what I was talking about.  He put his arm around me and in a very comforting way said, “I know, I know.”

    It was apparent that he knew this issue well. He took some time to explain that same sex immigration is going to be a very difficult one because it combines two of the most controversial issues Congress faces, gay rights and immigration. (I heard this from Barney Frank two years ago as well.) Obama also said that to tackle it we were going to have to establish a vehicle to recognize gay couples. I think we both said “civil unions” simultaneously -- me as a question, he as a statement.

    Civil unions could be a possible vehicle. Then a stand-alone bill limited to same sex immigration rights, similar to the Uniting Americans Family Act could work. He seemed to imply that without that vehicle, it wouldn’t work. More broadly, if DOMA is repealed, then granting federal benefits to couples who are civil unioned (or married, although he didn’t say married) would realize immigration rights. Immigration is one of those 1200 federal benefits he so often says he wants to grant gay couples in civil unions.

    He ended by wanting me to know that the road for a solution to same sex immigration is a difficult one but that he would not forget about our conversation or the issue once he got into office.

    I don’t know exactly how much time I spent talking with Barack Obama, but it was at least a minute or two, far more than the 10 seconds I expected. And if the handlers hadn’t escorted me along, I could have asked a dozen follow up questions.

    I left the event with a good feeling that he understood my problem and would work hard to fix it as soon as it could politically possibly be fixed.

    The photo above is one taken by a friend with my camera when Barack was working the crowd…..and shaking my hand. The official photo from the professional photographer won’t be ready for a week or so.

    UPDATE: And here is a photo I just received of Barack Obama comforting me as I got all emotional telling him that I have to choose between the love of my life .....and my country. I think he really got it.

    As an aside, what struck me most about Obama, was how very thin he was. He is much much leaner in person than he appears on TV--athletically lean, not sickly lean.



    July 06, 2008

    HRC out of touch with community

    Posted by: Andoni


    I am fascinated with the results of the current poll being conducted on the Washington Blade website. The poll called “The Q” asks viewers what is the first item they want Obama to do should he be elected president. You can only choose one and here are the choices:

    a. Work to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

    b. Grant federal rights to gay couples

    c. Work to pass ENDA

    d. Work to expand hate crime laws

    Three of the above 4 items are HRC (Human Rights Campaign) priorities and on their agenda --- and one is not. Which one do you think got the most votes? If you guessed the one that is not an HRC priority, you are correct.

    Here are the poll results as of this posting:

    Grant federal rights to gay couples – 39%

    Work to pass ENDA – 27%

    Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – 21%

    Work to expand hate crime laws – 11%

    Granting federal benefits to gay couples wins in a landslide. It is what the community wants most, yet it is not on the HRC agenda at all.

    I realize this is not a scientific poll, but I do believe it reflects sentiments in the community that HRC is missing. As I said in a prior post, HRC is like George Bush, it makes its plan and just stays the course regardless of changing circumstances.

    I really believe HRC needs to re-examine its priorities. It’s still operating on an agenda it set in 1990’s and it is oblivious to what the community needs.



    July 04, 2008

    Cliff and Norm, R.I.P.

    Posted by: Chris

    Cliffnorm It's been a quiet week of blogging for me, and I want to thank Andoni and Kevin for doing such a great job holding down the fort. I've alluded before about having returned early for this trip to the U.S. because of a difficult time for my family. Some of you already know that my sister is very near death after a prolonged period of incapacitation, and these final weeks have been wrenching for all of us.

    This past week, I have taken a detour from my family time in Memphis to come to Atlanta, which was my home for most of the 1990s. Unfortunately, grim news followed me. My time here happened to coincide with a visit by the very kind family who took in my beagles, Cliff and Norm, when I moved to Brazil in 2006. They shared the very sad news that Norman had passed away some six months ago, and Clifford had run off two or three months before that.

    The news came as a complete shock, somewhat compounded by my not knowing for so long it had happened. (Long story there.) I remain grateful to them for providing a home to my dogs for their final years, and they did their best to reassure me their neighborhood is densely populated and chances are good that Cliff was simply taken in by another family.

    Cliffnormhug That isn't hard to believe, actually. Everyone loved Cliff and Norm. In the 15 years these lifelong littermates were my nearly constant companions at home and at the office, friends and coworkers would come by as much to hang out with "the boys" as to see me. When I began the heavy travel schedule to Holland and then Brazil, there was never a shortage of friends more than happy to adopt them for a long-weekend or even a couple of weeks.

    I was a bit of a mess when I said my goodbyes to Cliff and Norm back in October 2006, because I knew I might not see them again. They were far too old to endure the travel to Brazil, and I had no good way of caring for them properly down there. I do know that their final year or so was happy, because the friend's family who took them in loves dogs and has a big backyard with lots of room for exploring.

    Still, I feel some guilt about how the boys were impacted by my life decisions, dating back to 2005 when I moved for the first time into a condo setting. Beagles need space because their noses are always compelling them to explore. Our short walks to the park in Colombia Heights couldn't compare to time spent sniffing the winds and rummaging around the backyard.

    Of course I hope that Cliff remains alive and thriving, but I will let go of my own relationship to him, and say thanks to them both for so many years of unconditional love and faithful companionship.

    The Crist nuptuals

    Posted by: Kevin

    Regarding the timely announcement that Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R) is getting married, Andrew Sullivan gets it right.  I, too, am a Crist fan on many issues (not on his waffling on the marriage amendment ballot measure).  I have no idea if he's gay or not, but I know what it's like to get married later in life than you thought you would.

    And if it plays out as it seems it will, this will be an even more peculiar and fascinating race than its first act proved to be.

    The Moses of anti-gay hatred

    Posted by: Kevin

    HelmsAs Andoni well-noted, not only has a man of note died today, but a symbol has also died.  Former Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) was more than just a figure of anti-gay bigotry in the political arena.  A lot more.

    When I heard this morning that he was dead, I immediately thought of the death of Jerry Falwell last year.  I had similar emotions, like many gay people for sure.  They were both among those few figures in the world where you just might, for a moment, feel good that they are dead.  But it's a moment that even I then regret afterwards, for hate should never take hold of our souls the way it spewed from theirs for so many, many years.

    Unlike Falwell, it appears Helms' death was slower and much more painful.  I don't glee in any person's suffering, but it is very challenging to not feel a sense of justice as well.  I am struggling hard against that feeling.  To let it in means I've become as bad as him.

    And maybe something is dying along with these men who so delighted and drew strength from being our tormentors.  In political terms, the sense that the hate-filled world that Helms represented is dying away would be a welcome thing.  The vestiges of that world should die too, like the HIV ban – but also all of the legislative children and grandchildren of Helms' own record.

    Jesse Helms was the Moses that led all the haters across the Red Sea and into Congress and showed them the way to their promised land of legislative horrors.  He raised his mighty scepter on high and bellowed his message more shamelessly, more enduringly and more effectively - more than any other before him, or along side him.  He proved that there was no floor to the depth of lurid bigotry you could rain down on gay people from the most prestigious debating well of the Republic -- and there would also be no retribution, only greater power and glory.  He proved that hating us was a winner.  There would have been no Defense of Marriage Act, no Federal Marriage Amendment, without him.  They, too, should be set on course for oblivion.  All about that man's legacy should be tipped into the sea.

    We should take note, however, that things have indeed changed.  And it's because we all fought so hard to change it together as gay people from all walks of life.  In a way, he united us more than any other figure could.  We are not out of the woods, of course, but Helms' legacy is receding, not advancing, and we should acknowledge that.  As we fight on, particularly in California in November, we should remain tenacious but we should also earnestly take heart in that we have come a long way from those dark days.  And even a glimmer of regret that the dying Helms showed in his final years over the repulsive war he waged on HIV/AIDS funding should tell us that even the most evil men in positions of power can be persuaded to a change of heart if we ourselves do not fall into the same pit of hate as they have.

    And that we were right, even back then.  And he was wrong.

    (Post-script:  Hat tip to Andy for setting this Roman Catholic straight, as it were, regarding Biblical Facts 101.)

    Jesse Helms dies and so should his HIV ban

    Posted by: Andoni

    JessehelmsI’m in Yosemite National Park, but just learned that former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms has died at the age of 86. I am not sad.

    Helms did more damage to the gay rights movement than any other single person I can think of in the Senate. One particular piece of legislation Helms is responsible for is his infamous HIV travel ban, known as the "Helms Amendment" which outlawed people with HIV from visiting the United States or immigrating to the United States. The U.S. is now one of only 13 nations including Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia and Sudan that ban HIV positive visitors and immigrants. That law, however, is on its last legs because a Senate panel just approved a move to repeal it.

    I think a great way for all LGBT people to “honor” Jesse Helms at this moment is to make sure that this law is repealed. We cannot allow a pause due to reflection or “respect.” So call your Congressmen and Senators and tell them that the HIV ban must go and you support the PEPFAR legislation which removes the HIV travel and immigration ban. We need to make sure that Helms’ death accelerates this repeal rather than slows it down.

    July 03, 2008

    Here we go

    Posted by: Kevin

    Obama2 Obama is now backing off his promise to immediately pull troops out of Iraq.  Alas, the galling number of flip-flops continue to pile up.

    Are we still all ready to jump head first into Lake Obama even before the party conventions, and deal away all our leverage to a man who is willing to flip-flop even on the central and defining promise of his presidential campaign? 

    Are we so utterly powerless as a community that we must ignore such alarming signs of political shamelessness and unquestioningly trust this man as if he were the Second Coming?

    Perhaps it's time to call off the kool-aid drinking party and shed more light on exactly what deeds we can expect from Obama as opposed to sweet words.  I'd hate to think the man who slew the Clinton beast is now becoming one himself.

    For all those who enjoy trashing gay Republicans...

    Posted by: Kevin

    ...think again.

    And the fact that just by someone being a gay Republican makes you froth at the mouth and hurl obscenities makes you closer to being a right-wing evangelical Christian yahoo than it makes me.

    No matter what happens in the 2008 election, I for one will be committed to building a GOP that looks more like California's and less like Mississippi's.  The former will win elections, and deservedly so.  The latter will, and should, lose.

    Another blow to DNC in Hitchcock case

    Posted by: Kevin

    DeanwideeyedThe judicial hammer came down yet again on Howard Dean's Democratic National Committee in the lawsuit by former LGBT outreach director Donald Hitchcock last night.  And this latest finding by Judge Jeanette Clark is perhaps the most ominous yet for a growing list of high-level Democratic operatives -- including gay and lesbian Democrats at the highest levels of the party -- who have been implicated in an alleged effort to punish Hitchcock for his partner, Paul Yandura, having openly criticized the party for its lack of real commitment -as opposed to lip service- on gay rights.

    The Washington Blade reports that Judge Clark dismissed a motion by the DNC for summary judgment, turning down an effort by the party to avoid a trial.  As if this wasn't enough of a blow, Clark's ruling also revealed that indeed some of the statements already aired in the case, which had been made by Dean as well as openly gay Democratic Party Treasurer Andrew Tobias, may have been defamatory, and that they might have "aided and abetted the DNC by participating in a scheme to discriminate and retaliate that resulted in" Hitchcock's firing from the DNC.

    Clark asserted that the facts are indeed in dispute over Hitchcock's firing so soon after Yandura issued an open letter in April 2006 criticizing the Democratic Party's attitude towards the gay community -- particularly in the party's lack of support against state anti-marriage ballot measures.  It seems Yandura, an influential voice among gay Dems and a former Clinton White House staffer, broke the cardinal rule of the gay Democratic power structure: he called for gays to withhold donations until the party cleaned up its act.  That crossed the line, and it seems to have caused the party leadership to trample every one of its so-called principles around discrimination and fairness, and to retaliate by firing Hitchcock.  They then trotted out the whispers about Donald being incompetent, and the timing being a mere coincidence.  (Right.)

    Hitchcockyandura I've said it before - and I'll say it again.  I have never known more fervent, loyal Democrats in my years in Washington as those two.  The only reason I knew Donald or Paul was because I frequently clashed with them, sometimes quite heatedly, in my role as flack for Log Cabin Republicans in the 1990s and early 2000s. Donald in particular went for my throat in a post-election panel discussion at the 2000 Creating Change Conference - not exactly friendly territory for me - and I'll never forget it.  Believe me - I can attest to their blood loyalty to their party.  And no one of any political persuasion who knows Paul Yandura could ever say with a straight face that he issued his open letter in April 2006 as a means to undermine the Democratic Party against the GOP.  He was voicing dissent in a way that he felt was necessary to hold his party to the standard it said it was setting for itself on gay rights -- the whole "fight til hell freezes over and then fight on the ice" rhetoric trotted out year after year by DNC honchos at gay (fundraising) events.  Paul was trying to leverage power to get results.  Remember that?  Anyone?

    All that Dean and company had to do was admit they broke the law in firing Donald, and make restitution, and I'm willing to bet this whole thing would have gone away and Donald would have gone right back to the front lines.  Instead, they have gone to ground in all their petty arrogance at the DNC and tried every kind of underhanded means to make Donald crawl away in fear.  That has turned this case into a cause, and has allowed for the airing of a great deal of damaging correspondence and behind-the-scenes beliefs among DNC staff that show a sort of contempt for the gay community as little more than a cash machine for more important political fights, one that should best be docile and adoring and keep the checks coming.

    It's sad because, in reality, the DNC could really live up to the ideals that made Donald and Paul so fervently committed in the first place.  The Democratic Party could actually win over people like me.  They could get waves of support and dedication -- as could the Human Rights Campaign and other pseudo-party branch organizations in the gay community -- from a lot of now-very-disaffected gay people if they really did show the level of commitment and support and guts that they blather on about promising to have.   But time after time, like in this case, they show themselves to be narrow-minded, petty, arrogant jerks who will throw you under the bus at the first sign of problems (or dissent) and then expect you to stand up and support them still, or else.  (And no, guys, simply comparing them to the other party isn't an answer.)  The Democratic Party's passive-aggressive relationship with many constituencies isn't a new story, but it seems to be one which teaches its leaders no lessons at all episode after episode, chapter after chapter.

    The Republican Party under Karl Rove became just as poisoned a well, and has the chance to cast off its detritus from that stewardship in this election.  If it doesn't, it will be defeated.  But if any gay Democrat thinks that brushing Donald and Paul under the rug is somehow going to be good for gay rights has no right to call anyone else an Uncle Tom from inside their glass houses.  Gays who would abet the DNC in illegally firing a gay person and then call on all gays to support their party at any cost are, I would argue, far more self-loathing than any gay Republican.

    Here's hoping this suit is settled and Donald is given the respect he deserves.  That would be a victory for gay Democrats, and a step forward for their party.  But if it goes to trial simply out of blind arrogance, they will live to regret it for years to come.

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