January 04, 2014
December 26, 2013
That time of year has arrived for some personal lists and I am not immune from creating them! In fact, I love reviewing the year and measuring our enormous progress as a community.
1. The Supreme Court DOMA Decision
Without question one of the most historical moment in the history of the American LGBT community. Because of this decision, we have seen cases being filed all over America. Even more amazingly the courts are becoming activists in granting LGBT Americans their Constitutional Rights. No were is that more clear then the recent decision legalizing marriage in the state of Utah.
Also this case sealed Edie Windsor as the Rosa Parks in LGBT history and as "Person of the Year'. We could not have asked for a better person to file the DOMA case.
2. The Supreme Court Proposition 8 Decision
Another powerful decision from the United State Supreme Court which granted marriage equality to the largest state in America. Californians flocked to get married. While we wish it could be broader, coupled with the DOMA decision it changed LGBT history.
3. Russian Oppression of Their LGBT Citizens
The persecution of Russian LGBT citizens by both the government and Putin's Punks brought the plight of LGBT citizens around the round to the attention of the media, activists and governments.
4. Severe Penalties Being Passed Against LGBT Africans
The horror facing LGBT Africans is among the worse in the world. While not getting the attention of what is happening in Russia, the passage of severe laws against homosexuality is appalling. Uganda has just passed life imprisonment. Africa's largest country Nigeria also has passed outrageous laws against their LGBT citizens.
5. Marriage Equality Passes in More States
Marriage Equality swept the nation this year and we saw Minnesota, Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, New Mexico and now Utah all become marriage equality states.
6. Pope Francis Shifts From Social Issues
The impact Pope Francis shifting from social issues to economic issues can't be underestimated. His famous "Who am I to judge" statement was the beginning of the end of the persecution of LGBT citizens by the Catholic Church. We all have to pray for a long life for this Pope so his policies have time to take hold in the church and he is able to appoint lots of new Cardinals.
7. Prime Ministers Picked in Belgium and Luxembourg
Prime Minister Bettei with Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri
At one time to have an LGBT mayor was considered historical but now we have two Prime Ministers in Europe who are open. Iceland led the way but now it is simply no big deal.
8. Mayor Races Across The Country
Politically it was the race for Mayors that attracted the LGBT community's attention this year. We were successful in picking up a mayor in Seattle, re-electing one in Houston and being disappointed in New York.
9. President Obama Continued Advocacy and Appointments
The President has been relentless in advocating for freedom and justice for LGBT citizens not just in America but around the world. His appointments continue to amaze although we still are looking for that first LGBT Cabinet member! Nevertheless, appointments of Ambassadors to top tier nations like Australia, Denmark, Spain and the Dominican Republic is a real victory.
10. The Embrace Of The Democratic Party
LGBT Americans have been fully embraced by the Democratic Party especially after the DOMA decision. Only three Democratic United States Senators do not support marriage equality, the entire leadership of the Party is for it and the Democratic ticket in Virginia ran on it and defeated a hard line anti-LGBT ticket! Times have changed!
Runner-Up (Emerging Big Story for 2014): The Emergence Of LGBT Athletics and Allies
All over the sports worlds we have seen athletes come out of the closet. This was the year of Jason Collins and so many others. We still have yet to see an active player in football, basketball and baseball play in a game doing the regular season. Count on 2014 delivering on that milestone!
December 18, 2013
History can be so daunting at times. For example, the historic dislike of Russia by right-wing conservatives is being wiped out by Putin's hatred for LGBT citizens. Loving the suppression of Russian LGBT citizens even former Russia hater Pat Buchanan is lining up with other religious right wingers to sing the Russian leaders praises.
In Townhall.com, Buchanan calls the Russian leader as 'one of us'. He writes:
Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?
In the culture war for mankind's future, is he one of us?
While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president's state of the nation address.
With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, "In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered."
"They're now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil."
Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.
No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.
President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire "the focus of evil in the modern world." President Putin is implying that Barack Obama's America may deserve the title in the 21st century.
Nor is he without an argument when we reflect on America's embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.
Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live.
Moreover, Putin asserts, the new immorality has been imposed undemocratically.
The "destruction of traditional values" in these countries, he said, comes "from the top" and is "inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people."
Does he not have a point?
Unelected justices declared abortion and homosexual acts to be constitutionally protected rights. Judges have been the driving force behind the imposition of same-sex marriage. Attorney General Eric Holder refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.
America was de-Christianized in the second half of the 20th century by court orders, over the vehement objections of a huge majority of a country that was overwhelmingly Christian.
And same-sex marriage is indeed an "abstract" idea unrooted in the history or tradition of the West. Where did it come from?
Peoples all over the world, claims Putin, are supporting Russia's "defense of traditional values" against a "so-called tolerance" that is "genderless and infertile."
While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind.
Same-sex marriage is supported by America's young, but most states still resist it, with black pastors visible in the vanguard of the counterrevolution. In France, a million people took to the streets of Paris to denounce the Socialists' imposition of homosexual marriage.
Only 15 nations out of more than 190 have recognized it.
In India, the world's largest democracy, the Supreme Court has struck down a lower court ruling that made same-sex marriage a right. And the parliament in this socially conservative nation of more than a billion people is unlikely soon to reverse the high court.
In the four dozen nations that are predominantly Muslim, which make up a fourth of the U.N. General Assembly and a fifth of mankind, same-sex marriage is not even on the table. And Pope Francis has reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on the issue for over a billion Catholics.
While much of American and Western media dismiss him as an authoritarian and reactionary, a throwback, Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans still caught up in a Cold War paradigm.
As the decisive struggle in the second half of the 20th century was vertical, East vs. West, the 21st century struggle may be horizontal, with conservatives and traditionalists in every country arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite.
And though America's elite may be found at the epicenter of anti-conservatism and anti-traditionalism, the American people have never been more alienated or more divided culturally, socially and morally.
We are two countries now.
Putin says his mother had him secretly baptized as a baby and professes to be a Christian. And what he is talking about here is ambitious, even audacious.
He is seeking to redefine the "Us vs. Them" world conflict of the future as one in which conservatives, traditionalists and nationalists of all continents and countries stand up against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent west.
"We do not infringe on anyone's interests," said Putin, "or try to teach anyone how to live." The adversary he has identified is not the America we grew up in, but the America we live in, which Putin sees as pagan and wildly progressive.
Without naming any country, Putin attacked "attempts to enforce more progressive development models" on other nations, which have led to "decline, barbarity and big blood," a straight shot at the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt.
In his speech, Putin cited Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev whom Solzhenitsyn had hailed for his courage in defying his Bolshevik inquisitors. Though no household word, Berdyaev is favorably known at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.
Which raises this question: Who is writing Putin's stuff?
President Obama yesterday sent a powerful message to President Putin and the Russian people about their violence and brutality directed toward LGBT Russian citizens. Obama in selecting the 'official delegation' to the Russian Olympics clearly made his feelings known about this issue.
Not only did the President make clear that neither the President or Vice President would not be attending Putin's party but he appointed two openly LGBT athletes to be part of the delegation. Billie Jean King and Brian Boitano will represent the United States and be very visible in Sochi. Can't wait to see what kind of actions the two of them will take in Sochi since they are protected by the United States government.
President Obama now joins a long list of heads of state who are refusing to attend the Olympics in protest of the Russian treatment its LGBT citizens. We can only hope the trend continues and the Russians have only 'D-List' guests to its big party.
Now if we can only convince NBC News and Sports to begin covering this story. Surely Matt Lauer and the Today Show will have King and Boitano on in the next week. Right?
Posted at 05:56 AM in Foreign Policy, International LGBT Rights, International Olympic Committee, International Relations, LGBT, LGBT Athletes, LGBT History, LGBT Russians, LGBT Sports, President Barack Obama, President Putin, Russia, Russian Gays, Russian Olympics, Sochi Olympic Games | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
December 14, 2013
The 2013 list of the worst homophobes of the year has been released by The Advocate. This year they got it all right. There is no question that President Putin and the Putin Punks deserve the award.
Here is a sampling of the list and you can see the entire list by clicking here.
PHOBIE OF THE YEAR: VLADIMIR PUTIN
To hold the president or Russia responsible for every antigay moment within his country's border might be unfair. But it's far less offensive than what's happening to LGBT Russians.
A Neo-Nazi group is posting video of gay men it captures and then tortures with humiliating and often violent means. Someone threw poison gas into a gay nightclub in Moscow in November, and that was the second time it had been attacked in a week. The first time men showed up with guns and shot at the front door indiscriminately.
Meanwhile, Putin is touting his Olympic games in Sochi, suggesting that maybe the series of antigay laws he signed won't be enforced. In 2013, Putin signed a law banning any foreigner from adopting a Russian child if they come from a country supportive of marriage equality. Now the standard is so strict that Russia's Children Rights Commissioner says only Italy is narrow-minded enough to meet the qualifications. And Putin famously signed the so-called "gay propaganda" ban this year. It's a law so vague that Olympians could be fined or jailed for kissing their partners. Putin told the International Olympic Committee that he will do "everything" to ensure guests are "comfortable" in Sochi. But he's also banned any protest of any kind there while the games go on. And photos of those daring to protest the law already show vicious beatings as a result. This is the sort of thing that Pride parades were invented to combat. But we're now one year into a 100-year ban of those in Moscow thanks to a law passed in 2012.
To be named Phobie of the Year seems like a slap on the wrist compared to what LGBT activists in the United States are actually worried about. When activist and Broadway producer Harvey Fierstein wrote his op-ed in the New York Times that drew so much attention from the mainstream to this problem, he invoked the specter of the 1936 Olympic games. "In 1936 the world attended the Olympics in Germany. Few participants said a word about Hitler's campaign against the Jews," he wrote. "Supporters of that decision point proudly to the triumph of Jesse Owens, while I point with dread to the Holocaust and world war. There is a price for tolerating intolerance." What an ominous games 2014 may be. While the Olympic charter claims to promote "human dignity," and the event will draw the world's attention in February, the Russian parliament is on the verge of considering yet another law. This one would order children with gay or lesbian parents to be taken from their homes. That's because in twisted Russia it's LGBT people who are considered a danger, and not their government.
Additional Phobie Award Winners Include:
PHOBIE AWARD: SEN. MARCO RUBIO
This Republican golden boy helped broker a deal in the Senate on comprehensive immigration reform while simultaneously threatening to toss out his signature piece of legislation if Democrats added help for same-sex couples who were being split up by outdated immigration rules. "If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill, he said on conservative radio in June. "I'm gone, I'm off it, and I've said that repeatedly."
PHOBIE AWARD: ANTONIN SCALIA
Justice Antonin Scalia has recently taken his homophobia on a speaking tour, arguing regularly that judges shouldn't make decisions on what he sees as moral issues, not constitutional ones. For his part, Scalia claimed repeatedly this year that "I haven't expressed my view about gay marriage." That seemed odd given his snarky dissent in the Supreme Court's landmark Defense of Marriage Act case, Windsor v. U.S. "As I have observed before, the Constitution does not forbid the government to enforce traditional moral and sexual norms," he wrote, referring to his epic dissent in 2003's Lawrence v. Texas.
PHOBIE AWARD: THE GOP'S VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL TICKET
PHOBIE AWARD: DICTATOR ROBERT MUGABE
This isn't the president of Zimbabwe's first appearance on our list of homophobes. He actually made "The 45 Biggest Homophobes of Our 45 Years" list back in 2012. Mugabe's done everything from calling gays worse than pigs and dogs in 1995 to locking up a member of parliament in 2011 for publicly suggesting the aging dictator might be gay himself.
PHOBIE AWARD: TIMOTHY DOLAN
The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t have antigay doctrine; it just has a public relations problem, says the archbishop of New York, leader of one of the largest Catholic archdioceses in the nation. “I think maybe we’ve been out-marketed sometimes,” he said on Meet the Press recently. “We’ve been caricatured as being antigay.” Oh, never mind that Dolan was a prominent opponent of New York State’s marriage equality law, and that he thinks “redefinition” of marriage is akin to totalitarianism and will lead us on the slippery slope to polygamy.
PHOBIE AWARD: PAT ROBERTSON
If we gave out an award for the single worst thing anyone said all year, Pat Robertson would get that award. But it would be hard to pick which of his comments was 2013's most offensive. There was his conspiracy theory in August about gay death rings. Basically, Robertson suggested that men in San Francisco wear very sharp rings that could cut you during a handshake and spread HIV.
PHOBIE AWARD: LOUIE GOHMERT
Gohmert is a prime contender for the title of most homophobic member of Congress, and the Texas Republican is certainly one of the most outrageous and illogical. In his antigay rants this year, he hit the usual notes of linking marriage equality to bestiality and polygamy, gay Boy Scouts to pedophilia, and hate-crimes laws to the end of religious freedom.
December 11, 2013
Protests at 1968 Olympics
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans on getting tough on athletes who in any way protest at the Sochi Olympics the human rights violations in Russia. That includes protests related to Russia's persecution of its LGBT citizens.
The Associated Press is reporting:
The IOC is finalizing a letter to Olympic athletes reminding them to refrain from demonstrations or political gestures during the Winter Games in Sochi, including any protests against Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda.”
The International Olympic Committee executive board is expected to approve the
The memo will focus on Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
“We will give the background of the Rule 50, explaining the interpretation of the Rule 50 to make the athletes aware and to assure them that the athletes will be protected,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“I know from my own experience, this is key,” added Bach, a former Olympic fencer who won a team gold medal for West Germany in 1976. “As an athlete you do not want to be confronted in the Olympic Village or the Olympic Stadium with any kind of political controversies.”
The IOC letter comes amid continuing Western criticism of Russia’s human rights record and the recently enacted law which bans promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. The issue has raised questions over what would happen to athletes who wear a pin or patch or carry a rainbow flag to show their support for gay rights.
The charter says the IOC can take action against — even expel — athletes who violate Rule 50, but the committee has said the rule would be “interpreted and applied sensibly and proportionately.”
“This is about the principles,” Bach said. “The principle is to protect the Olympic athletes to be drawn into political controversies. Then, you always have to decide on a case-by-case basis.”
"If IOC President Thomas Bach truly cares about principles, he should speak out against the discriminatory Russian laws that clearly violate Principle 6 of the IOC's Charter," said Andre Banks, Executive Director of All Out. "These laws not only stigmatize the gay community, they have also ignited a wave of anti-gay violence around the country. It's time to change the Olympic bidding process to ensure that the honor of hosting the Games only goes to countries that respect basic human rights."
"The 34 Olympians who have joined our campaign feel it is their duty to uphold the Olympic Charter and act in the face of any form of discrimination. Equality is not about politics, it's about principles," said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. "The Principle 6 Campaign uses the language of the IOC's founding document to give athletes, fans and global supporters a way to celebrate the Olympic values of non-discrimination and show solidarity with LGBT Russians. How could the IOC object to that?"
Posted at 05:26 AM in Civil Rights, Human Rights, International Olympic Committee, International Relations, LGBT Appointments, LGBT Russians, LGBT Sports, Olympics, President Putin, Principles and Values, Russia, Russian Gays, Russian Olympics, Sochi Olympic Games | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 03, 2013
" Sport Does Not Discriminate On Grounds Of Race, Religion, Politics, Gender Or Otherwise"
-Principle Six of the International Olympic Charter
AllOut.org and Athlete Ally has created a brilliant campaign to take to Sochi in February. The genius of it all is that the LGBT community is not putting any Athletes at risk while slowly and steadily feeding the International Olympic Committee their own words.
There is no question that by the time of the Olympics the Principle Six Campaign will stand not only for human rights but clearly for the freedom from the tyranny directed against the Russian LGBT community. The more athletes, media personalities, entertainers and others who wear Principle Six somewhere on their person the more powerful the message.
The two organizations announced this week that some Olympians have endorsed this effort. However it should not be limited to just Olympians but all athletes and supporters of human rights. American athletes should put a brilliant red '6' on their uniforms to show solidarity. That includes high school and college athletes.
Now is the time in your communities, school, universities and institutions to ask people to wear the bright red six to show resistance to the Putin's Punks.
American Apparel has partnered with the groups and will help finance the bold statement to take to Sochi. You will be able to get your "6" merchandise after January 1. Hope they have a small classy pin to put on your suit or formal wear.
This should be a campaign that everyone should be able to rally behind including NBC Sports, sponsors, athletes and activists
Posted at 06:00 AM in Civil Rights, Human Rights, International LGBT Rights, LGBT, LGBT Athletes, LGBT Discrimination, LGBT Organizatons, LGBT Russians, LGBT Sports, Olympics, President Putin, Principles and Values, Russia, Russian Gays, Russian Olympics, Sochi Olympic Games, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
November 19, 2013
Producer Bruce Cohen announced at the sold out Tyler Clementi Foundation event that the multi-Oscar nominated 'Milk' will be screened at the St. Petersburg LGBT Film Fest in Russia!. Cohen, who produced the movie, will travel will screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and director Gus Van Sant to be at the screening.
The screening of 'Milk' and it attendance by the activist trio will be a remarkable statement in the face of Russian oppression. The story of the life of the assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk has inspired activists around the globe.
The sixth edition of the Russian LGBT film festival Bok o Bok (Side by Side), which came under the authorities’ attack earlier this year, is to be held in St Petersburg on Nov. 21-30.
Among the highlights of the festival's lineup are Matterhorn by Dutch director Diederik Ebbinge, Xavier Dolan’s Tom a la Ferme (Tom at the Farm), W imie... (In the Name Of) by Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska and the documentary Lesbiana, by Canadian filmmaker Myriam Fougère.
The list of confirmed guests includes Ebbinge and cinematographer Dennis Wielaert, American filmmaker Marta Cunningham, whose film Valentine Road is to be screened in the documentary section, and Germany's Andreas Strohfeldt, co-director of Out in East Berlin.
The festival is also going to feature talks and discussions on LGBT issues.
Entrance to all the festival events are strictly to people over 18 years old to comply with the recently enacted controversial law "against propagation of homosexuality among minors."
Earlier this year, the festival came under attack from the authorities as it was branded a "foreign agent" and fined $15,500 (500,000 rubles,) in a move that many believe was a crackdown on non-governmental organizations. However, the festival appealed the verdict, and a higher court later
November 11, 2013
Davey Wavey has done it again. He has created a video that is bound to give chills and tears to anyone who has a heart. All over the world people gathered to write note to the Russian LGBT community of support and love. The video is going viral and it can't be watched enough.
November 04, 2013
In one announcement, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) made the organization one of (if not 'the') major player in the area of international LGBT Rights. The organization is to receive at least three million dollars from two major Republicans from the world of hedge funds.
In a rare interview with Frank Bruni of the New York Times, Republican Paul Singer announced his gift of $1.5 million to be matched by Daniel Loeb. The gift take HRC to the international level as increasingly the battle shifts to other nations. This is a major advancement for LGBT Americans in protecting the rights of our brothers and sisters overseas.
While some long existing international organizations might not be throwing confetti at the news, the fact is that it elevates issues of international LGBT citizens to a much higher level. That can't be bad news.
Bruni writes in his column 'The Tumbling Boundaries of Gay Rights':
I sat in a 30th-floor library with the hedge fund’s founder and chief executive, Paul Singer, a billionaire who was one of the most important donors to Mitt Romney in 2012, gives generously to a range of Republican causes and prefers to do this with a minimum of media notice. He’s wary of speaking with journalists, so much so that I’ve seen the adjective “reclusive” attached to his name
In this case, he was announcing a new project to be funded, at least at the outset, by him and other conservative donors but to be run by the Human Rights Campaign, an L.G.B.T. advocacy group in Washington, which is much more closely affiliated with Democrats. The initiative will be dedicated to fighting the victimization of gays and lesbians internationally. But it will also show that there are Republicans — not a majority, but an increasingly impassioned minority — who are intent on progress and justice for L.G.B.T. people. They won’t surrender that cause to Democrats, and they believe that Republicans who do so are resisting a future that’s both just and inevitable.
“Unless America engages in a terrible, terrible retreat from freedom, towards fascism, communism, whatever — some totalitarian harsh state — this seems inexorable,” Singer told me, meaning equal rights, including the spread of gay marriage, for which he has campaigned with particular energy.
“Social conservatives have and should have a place in the inner circle of what it means to be a Republican,” he said. But, he added, “There needs to be room for conservatives who have different views on some of the social issues.”
His vision of how Republicans must evolve was echoed in a subsequent conversation that I had with Daniel Loeb, another New York hedge-fund billionaire who has given lavishly to conservatives. Loeb is Singer’s principal financial partner in the H.R.C. international project; Singer has already committed $1.5 million, and Loeb has promised a similar amount over its first years.
And the international initiative has a fascinating wrinkle. In addition to training L.G.B.T. advocates outside the United States and publicizing the failings of especially repressive countries, it intends to name and shame American religious zealots who sponsor antigay campaigns abroad. So Republican money may wind up challenging a constituency within the party. (We’re most definitely not in Kansas anymore.)
In Singer’s view, gay rights are consistent with a Republican philosophy of individual liberty, and gay marriage is “an augmenter of social stability, family stability and stability in raising kids.” In other words, it’s conservative.
He has contributed significantly to marriage-equality campaigns in many states, and has convinced wealthy peers in the financial industry, including conservatives, to do likewise.
Last year he started the American Unity PAC, which backs Republican candidates who are generally supportive of gay rights. This year he added the American Unity Fund, an offshoot for lobbying, which has spent about $375,000 — two-thirds from Singer — to promote ENDA.
All in all, he has pumped more than $17 million of his own money over the last decade or so into gay rights. And he privately tells Republicans leaning toward pro-equality positions that if they face fire from antigay groups, he’ll help them round up retaliatory funds.
The battlefield isn’t what it used to be. From the 30th floor, I could see that most clearly of all.