Vassar is a Seven Sisters college. Maybe Westboro will one day visit my alma matter, Bryn Mawr.
This is, without a doubt, my favorite story of the week.
The Westboro Baptist Church, everyone’s favorite hatemongering homophobes, announced recently they would be protesting at “Ivy League whorehouse” Vassar College on February 28. (Vassar isn’t an Ivy League, but no one expects Westboro to fact-check.)
Unwilling to let the news bring them down, Vassar students decided to launch a counter-protest. They vowed to raise $100 for LGBT suicide prevention group The Trevor Project for every minute of Westboro protesting, with a total goal of $4,500.
A full two weeks before the protest has even happened, the fundraiser has topped $50,000. (Donate and check on the updated total here.)
As an added bonus, Buzzfeed compiled some of the best student reactions to the Westboro news, mostly people proclaiming school pride for their Ivy League whorehouse and debating which Satan costume to wear on protest day.
I love you, Vassar. Hats off to you.
Politico, HuffPo, Newsmax, tomorrow it’ll be all over the place.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden said transgender discrimination is “the civil rights issue of our time” during a visit to a Florida field office on Tuesday, according to pool reports.
Biden was meeting with volunteers at an Obama for America office in Sarasota, Fla., when he singled out one woman “who he thought had beautiful eyes,” reads the pool report. The woman said something to Biden that was inaudible to the pool reporter, but Biden responded to her by saying it was the “civil rights issue of our time.”
The woman, Linda Carragher Bourne of Sarasota, later said her daughter was Miss Trans New England and that she had asked Biden if he would help them.
“A lot of my friends are being killed, and they don’t have the civil rights yet. These guys are gonna make it happen,” Bourne told the reporter.
The vice president has been an ally to the LGBT community. He told gay rights advocates in August that they are “freeing the soul of the American people.” Most notably, however, he got out in front of President Barack Obama in May when he unexpectedly announced that he is “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. Obama, at the time, was still “evolving” on the issue.
Joe Biden keeps working on my crush
Also in the Democratic Party platform: “Gay Rights as Human Rights. Recognizing that gay rights are human rights, the President and his administration have vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct or ignore abuse. Under the Obama administration, American diplomats must raise the issue wherever harassment or abuse arises, and they are required to record it in the State Department’s annual report on human rights. And the State Department is funding a program that finances gay rights organizations to combat discrimination, violence, and other abuses.”
Moscow’s most powerful court has ruled to uphold a ban on LGBT pride parades in the Russian capital for 100 years, according to the BBC. The ruling places a major Russian city athwart the directives of the European Court of Human Rights for a second time with regards to LGBT rights in suits brought by that country’s most prominent LGBT activist, Nikolay Alexeyev.
Moscow officials insist that LGBT pride parades would pose a risk to public safety and that the majority of the the city’s population are against equal rights for LGBT people. Alexeyev has successfully sued the city of St. Petersburg for arresting him under a law which banned all discussion of LGBT equality on the grounds that it constitutes “homosexual propaganda.” The European Court ruled against the city and ordered Russia to pay damages to Alexeyev.
In the face of Friday’s ruling, Alexeyev vowed to go back before the Court in Strasbourg to have the capital city’s ban on parades branded unjust. In September, Europe’s main human rights oversight agency, The Council of Europe will rule on Russia’s handling of a previous LGBT rights citation.
The new issue of Newsweek features a cover photo of President Obama topped by a rainbow-colored halo and captioned “The First Gay President.” The halo and caption strike me as cheap sensationalism. I realize airport travelers look at a magazine for 2.2 seconds before moving on to the next one. I grant that this cover will probably get Newsweek a 4.4 second glance. I also understand that Newsweek is desperate for sales. Nevertheless, I doubt that the Newsweek of old, before it was sold for a dollar, would have pandered as shallowly.
The caption is a superficial way to characterize an important development of thought that the president — along with the country — has been making over recent years. It is also entirely wrong. Like the mini-furor a couple of months back about the claim that Richard Nixon was our first gay president, the story simply ignores that the U.S. already had a gay president more than a century ago.
There can be no doubt that James Buchanan was gay, before, during and after his four years in the White House. Moreover, the nation knew it, too — he was not far into the closet.
Today, I know no historian who has studied the matter and thinks Buchanan was heterosexual. Fifteen years ago, historian John Howard, author of “Men Like That,” a pioneering study of queer culture in Mississippi, shared with me the key documents, including Buchanan’s May 13, 1844, letter to a Mrs. Roosevelt. Describing his deteriorating social life after his great love, William Rufus King, senator from Alabama, had moved to Paris to become our ambassador to France, Buchanan wrote:
I am now “solitary and alone,” having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.
Tl;dr Newsweek go fuck yourself. We’ve had a gay president before. Stop being a sensationalist piece of shit.
A Senate committee has agreed to hold a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act following calls from advocates and senators for lawmakers to hear testimony on LGBT workplace discrimination.
In a statement Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, announced he intends to hold a hearing on ENDA on June 12.
“Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination,” Harkin said. “Workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is reprehensible and has no place in our nation.”
Infographic of the Day: In which gay rights in the U.S. — marriage, adoption, employment discrimination protection, hate crime laws, and whether schools have regulations to ban harassment based on gender and sexual orientation — are broken down state by state (using rainbow colors, of course).
“The judge ‘opened a Pandora’s box’ by issuing the first such ruling, he said, adding that he will appeal and plans to contest the law at the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights…The controversy has also caused diplomatic tensions: the US State Department in February said it was deeply concerned the bill would restrict freedom of assembly for gays. American pop singer Madonna, who has a huge gay following, promised to raise the issue at her concert in the city in August.”
Dear Equality Supporters;
Let me get right to the point. We are asking you to continue taking action against House Bill 2051, which we are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it attempts to remove discussion of sexual orientation from public schools. (I realize this is not a title inclusive of the entire community, but it reflects the language of the bill, cuts to the heart of the issue, and gets things across to the media.)
If you have not done so already, we ask you to sign the petition opposing the bill now and forward it to all of your friends. Many people have asked about writing the bill sponsors; however, these bill sponsors are among the most reactionary members of the House and are not likely to be swayed by a series of emails. Just a few weeks ago during the Rush Limbaugh bust debacle, the Missouri House email system went down for a period of time due to the high volume, yet it did not sway the Limbaugh-nistas.
Our goal with the petition is two-fold: first, to add your names and your friends’ names to the list of supporters who want to see better, stronger protections for youth; and second, to get this issue out into the mainstream press. Right now you have most likely heard about “Don’t Say Gay” only through social media or blogs. We need the mainstream media to start picking up this story to shine a light on the bigotry behind this mean-spirited bill.
Instead of letters or emails, we want to put a face to the issue — your face — and it needs to be visual and emotional. That’s why we have partnered with Progress Missouri to launch a micro-site called www.OktoSayGay.org where you can keep up to date on the bill and upload a video with your personal response to and feelings about this awful bill. Go to www.OkToSayGay.org for details on how to upload your video. If you can’t do your own video, we are working to set up locations and times around the state where you can record a video. Watch for emails from your regional PROMO organizer for further updates.
In short, we couldn’t do this work without your support — whether by signing the petition to add your statement, making a video of your response to this bill, or making a donation.
Thank you, and with your help I look forward to a swift resolution on this matter in favor of justice.
Executive Director, PROMO
Missouri’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill
The Missouri legislature is up to its usual business this week—creating oppressive legislation to silence and devalue minority groups. On Wednesday, April 18th, HB2051 was presented by Representative Cookson (R) from District 153. The bill is set to go to the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, of which six of the bill’s sponsors and co-sponsors are members. It reads:
Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.
One sentence, that will silence thousands of LGBT and ally students across the state. No high school Gay-Straight Alliances, no LGBT bullying education, nothing. If you’d like to see the official government page for the bill, you can view it here.
THIS IS NOT JUST TENNESSEE ANYMORE. And this kind of legislation will continue to spread among red states—unless we make it clear that we don’t want this for our country!! Sign the petition today! If you live in Missouri, make sure that your representative is not co-sponsoring the bill, and if they are, give them a piece of your mind!
(Last week) President Obama’s re-election campaign came out in opposition to Amendment One, which would ban all same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in North Carolina. According to Cameron French, Obama’s North Carolina spokesman:
FRENCH: While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples. That’s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it.
(HT: AMERICAblog Gay.)
To the homophobic Newt Gingrich and his homophobic campaign workers:
Tonight, I was a victim of blatant homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
When I heard the campaign was coming to Oklahoma City tonight, I jokingly texted a few of my politically-aware gay friends that we should go glitterbomb you (I’ll get to this form of “activism” later). While I was joking, one of the friends I contacted, Tyler, was serious about going and talked me into going up from Norman to see you. It should be noted ahead of time that I’m rather leftist and in fact think Obama is pretty moderate, but I’ve been to some town halls in my life, surrounded by people I probably don’t agree with much on. We went anyway. We’re Americans who wanted to actively engage in the political process. We are also college students who took time out of our busy schedules to go see you (yes, some college students are busy - I’m taking 17 hours, working 30, and have five extracurriculars).
Tyler and I got to the meeting, were approached by some Ron Paul supporters who were going to interrupt your event with singing and wanted us to join, but politely declined. We were there to see you. We stood in the back, eager to hear what you had to say, all the while taking in subtle judgmental looks from the occasional person in the crowd. (Neither Tyler or I are very flamboyant-presenting gays, but this shouldn’t matter anyway - something else I will mention later.) As you began your speech, you talked about how America “is the greatest country in the world” and how it’s a nation that since its creation has been fighting for justice and equality for all of its citizens. This was funny to perhaps the only homosexuals in the building who because of this aren’t afforded protections against hate crimes, job discrimination, marriage or its benefits, but we continued to listen. You talked about energy independence, job creation, foreign policy, national security, the Constitution, the difference between liberals and conservatives, and other talking points. To be honest, I don’t think I remember agreeing with anything you had to say but this is actually beside the point. Again, we were there to see you.
You served as Speaker of the House for four years and because of this, played a significant role in American policies and politics. Whether or not I agree with the policies implemented directly under your leadership is again beside the point. I acknowledge the fact that you did affect change in the United States. And indeed admire you for your leadership.
As we listened to you speak, we later reflected that we remember feeling like we were being watched from the minute we walked in. Your security personnel monitored us from the back and front of the room the entire time you were speaking. As your speech ended, we made our way to the front of the room to meet you like everyone else. We waited our turn and even remained patient as other people asserted themselves in front of us to get to you, the entire time being shadowed and eavesdropped on by a rather indiscreet plainclothes security officer. (The reason I was so hyper-aware of all the security is due to the fact of my travels to seventeen countries as a study abroad student in the past year - you learn to watch your back.) Tyler took a picture of the sign that was hanging on your podium which read “Drill here. Drill now. Pay less.” Again, while we didn’t agree, we were to get a better perspective of conservative ideology and this one was aspect. Almost immediately after Tyler had taken the picture, one of your aides came over, made eye contact with us, and held some paper over the sign as another took it down and eyeballed us some more. The entire time we were waiting, we both kept receiving what felt like judgmental gazes and whispers into coat sleeves and blazers.
As we got closer to you, we endured ever-increasing monitoring and stern glances. At one point, one of your female security personnel pushed herself between Tyler and me (for what reason, I have no idea). Again, we endured ever-increasing monitoring and what seemed to be judgmental gazes by your personnel. Tyler laughed that it felt like as we got closer, there was a magnetic force pushing you towards the door with our advances. I won’t go on to describe the whispers, giggles, and more gazes we endured, Speaker Gingrich. But I will note that Tyler and I both made eye contact with you personally. You met Tyler’s gaze as you were taking pictures with a couple of children. Smiling, your face quickly turned stern and somber. I received the same reaction. Your staff were similar. The closer we got to you, the closer you got to the door. We simply wanted to have our picture taken with the former Speaker of the House. Eventually, I guess we got too close for comfort (don’t want to catch the gay, huh?). Your (I assume to be) senior staffer made final eye contact with me, whispered something in your ear, and the announcement was made that you were leaving.
My coming out story is pretty bland and supportive with a couple exceptions. But never in my life have I experienced such blatant discrimination and homophobia. Never in my life have I ever felt so second-class, marginalized, or judged. I realize that your staff were trying to avoid another glitter bombing incident. But there are several things to say to this.
- Not all gays who go to your rallies are glitter bombers. In fact, I would dare to say most are not. How very fatalist of you.
- In my opinion, glitter bombing is a terrible form of activism, however peaceful or comedic its intentions. It’s a terrible reinforcer of gay stereotypes.
- Regardless of how Tyler or I were dressed or what mannerisms we presented, discrimination is wrong. I don’t care if we were in assless chaps and S&M clothes. (We were actually both dressed in slacks and button-down shirts.) The fact remains that we were Americans who wanted to engage in the political process and to meet the former Speaker of the House and Presidential-hopeful.
- Discrimination is not a quality of a leader and most certainly isn’t conduct worthy of a President.
- Just as glitter-bombing reinforces gay stereotypes, your discrimination against my friend and I reinforces the stereotype that conservatives are homophobes and bigots.
As stated previously, I knew about you and your policy stances coming in tonight, but any chance you had at redemption as a decent human being in my eyes has been lost. I hope in the future you will come around to actually believing your own rhetoric about Americans and equality. Because until you embrace homosexuals and diversity the same as you embrace all the white people in the audience tonight (I counted maybe five individuals of racial minorities), that’s exactly what equality is to you: rhetoric.
Join us and help make our schools a safer place for LGBT students. Take two minutes of your day to call your Senators and urge them to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act:
Call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121
Ask for your Senators and make your voice heard
Ask your friends to call too
Keep calling every week until this important bill passes
It’s a time-honored tradition at Navy homecomings – one lucky sailor is chosen to be first off the ship for the long-awaited kiss with a loved one.
Today, for the first time, the happily reunited couple was gay.
The dock landing ship Oak Hill has been gone for nearly three months, training with military allies in Central America.
As the homecoming drew near, the crew and ship’s family readiness group sold $1 raffle tickets for the first kiss. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta bought 50 - which is actually fewer than many people buy, she said, so she was surprised Monday to find out she’d won.
Her girlfriend of two years, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, was waiting when she crossed the brow.
They kissed. The crowd cheered. And with that, another vestige of the policy that forced gays to serve in secrecy vanished.
By Corinne Reilly
© December 21, 2011
While working the room, Romney spotted a man in a flannel shirt wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat and slid in next to him in a booth.
“Vietnam veteran!” Romney greeted Bob Garon.
“I have a question for you,” Garon told the former Massachusetts governor. “New Hampshire right now has some legislation kicking around about a repeal for the same-sex marriage. And all I need is a yes or a no. Do you support the repeal?”
“I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law,” Romney said. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s my view.”
Garon, who lives in Epsom, N.H., and was eating breakfast with his husband, turned to Romney and said: “If two men get married, apparently a veteran’s spouse would not be entitled to any burial benefits or medical benefits or anything that the serviceman has devoted his time and effort to his country, and you just don’t support equality in terms of same-sex marriage?”
“I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney replied, adding, “and we apparently disagree.”
At that, a Romney aide called for him to wrap up the conversation: “Governor, we’ve got to get on with Fox News right now.”
“Oh, I guess the question was too hot,” Garon told Romney.
“No, I gave you the answer,” Romney replied. “You said you had a yes-or-no [question]. I gave you the answer.”
“You did,” Garon said. “And I appreciate your answer. And you know, I also learned something, and New Hampshire is right: You have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer. And you know what, governor? Good luck…. You’re going to need it.”
“You are right about that,” Romney said, as he stood up from the booth and headed into a side room for his interview.
Reporters swarmed around Garon’s booth at Chez Vachon, where he and his newlywed husband eat breakfast almost every day. Garon, who says he’s an independent voter in New Hampshire, said he would not support Romney in the Jan. 10 primary.
“I was undecided,” Garon said. But “I’m totally convinced today that he’s not going to be my president — at least in my book. At least Obama will entertain the idea. This man is ‘no way, Jose.’ Well, take that ‘no way, Jose’ back to Massachusetts.”
Asked why he felt so strongly about Romney’s response, Garon said: “Because I’m gay, alright? And I happen to love a man just like you probably love your wife. Alright? And I think that he or she or whatever are entitled to the same rights that I have. I fought for my country, I did my thing, and I think that my spouse should be entitled to the same entitlements as if I was married to a woman. What the hell is the difference? I was definitely offended. He doesn’t even open the door to a conversation. It’s just a boom! But I did ask him ‘yes or no,’ so I got what I asked for.”