McClurkin's artistic talent makes Presidential candidate Barack Obama's decision to put him on his Embrace the Change tour understandable. McClurkin would be a draw for black voters, many of whom are religious, and if Obama wanted to attract votes, having McClurkin around would be a good idea.
But after discovering that McClurkin was going to be on the tour, gay rights groups and the queer blogosphere started clucking like a barn full of angry hens. Mind you, Obama never endorsed McClurkin’s theology nor did he say anything showing any ideological agreement whatsoever with McClurkin (though he did point out that many black ministers agree with McClurkin). Obama's mere association with McClurkin was unacceptable and drew down the fury of queer people.
Then, when Obama announced that he would not ax McClurkin from the tour--thus defying the decrees of gay lobbyist groups (whom thou shalt not disobey!)--the clucking got even louder. Now there is a bunch of hyperbolic talk about how this flap might sink Obama's campaign.
Why am I so sardonic about this? Because the response to Obama is just too tainted by politics that prioritize the needs of white, upper-middle class gay men for me to jump on the "Bash Obama" bandwagon. It is marked by a discourse that says that it is acceptable to endorse candidates and legislation that may adversely effect certain communities (e.g. trans people, minorities, immigrants) for the sake of "bringing people to the table," "incremental progress," or whatever other cliche you like, but which holds that it is always unacceptable to adversely affect white upper-middle class gay men for any reason.
This isn't to say that I don't understand the reaction; after all we should expect a candidate with professed support for gay rights to be consistent in their associations. What sticks out to me is that queer bloggers and gay rights groups feel so offended that Obama merely associated with an anti-gay person--as if mainstream gay politics represented some paragon of inclusiveness. As if the single-issue tunnel vision that plagues gay politics didn't exclude a whole host of people and groups. It is a classic case of, "Get the beam out of your own eye before you worry about the needle in someone else's."
Take John Aravosis' huffing and puffing, for instance. He was so ticked off that he was selling joke T-shirts on his website protesting Obama's decision to keep McClurkin on the tour! It is hard to believe that this is the same Aravosis who defended the exclusion of trans people from ENDA for the "greater good" of passing civil rights protections for just gays and lesbians.
My question is, if it's acceptable for trans people to be excluded for some "greater good", why can't Obama appeal to black voters by using a very popular gospel singer--albeit one who is anti-gay? Obama's goal is to get black votes; McClurkin is a big draw for black voters. It's a no-brainer.
Don't tell me Aravosis is upset because someone might be throwing gay people under the bus for another goal! Don't tell me that he's miffed because someone might prioritize something else like, say, getting votes, over the political aspirations of white gay men, who after, all are way too important to be sacrificed for anything.
No, no, no Obama has it all backwards! Excluding trans people for those uncomfortable with alternative gender expressions is what's okay. But doing something that might negatively affect white gay men? That's an outrage!
The most telling response comes from the misnamed "Human Rights" Campaign. The same organization that endorsed Bush-buddy and warmonger Joseph Lieberman (so much for "human rights!") and supported a trans-exclusive ENDA had the gall to open their traps about McClurkin. The same questions I posed to Aravosis apply ten-fold to the "HR"C. How can you be pissed off at a man who associates with an anti-gay bigot when you support warmongers and endorse legislation that excludes part of our community? Endorsing a man who supports a war that has killed thousands? That's okay. Associating with a man who has made disparaging remarks about gay people? Now that's an outrage.
And while we're on the issue of presidential candidates and their relationships to bad politics, let's not forget the kid-gloves with which Rudolph Giuliani was treated by the gay media--that is, until he started saying things that might negatively affect white, upper-middle class gay men in his attempt to appeal to socially conservative voters. The gay media fawned over his liberal views on gay rights, but ignored the way that many blacks and minorities view Giuliani, or the regime of police brutality and gentrification that occurred during his mayorship. These are issues that are important to minorities, but they can be cast aside by mainstream gay politics because he's liberal on gay rights.
I don't mean to counterpoise war, race and sexuality. McClurkin is actually an anti-gay bigot and Obama's decision to associate with him is a serious problem. Both the war and homophobia are serious issues. My intention is to point out how the discussion of the Obama-McClurkin affair is affected by the problems of mainstream gay politics. The demands that many gay rights groups and supporters are putting on Obama are demands that they themselves flout when it comes to other marginalized groups (e.g. Aravosis with trans people, the HRC with trans people and Iraqis).
The discussion reflects a sense of entitlement that expects everyone else to bend over backwards to put gay and lesbian people at the forefront of their coalition building regardless of what reasons they have for de-prioritizing gay rights, but that insists on the right to build coalitions around gay rights only. Other people aren't allowed to build broad coalitions if that means de-prioritizing gay rights but if other issues (even trans issues!) need to be de-prioritized for the sake of gay rights, well that's fine.
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Two years ago this week QueerToday.com activists organized the largest ever protest of Focus On The Family's anti-gay Love Won Out Conference that features "ex-gays" who advocate sending gay teens to dangerous conversion camps. At the protest we set up a coffin to represent the many teens who have been victims of violent anti-gay crimes and those who have committed suicide due to homophobia.
Amy Contrada, of the vehemently anti-gay duo MassResistance, was in attendance that day. What none of us knew, was that she had the potential to be a "PFLAG mom."
This week Contrada's daughter Claudia is starring in the Acton High School Production of the Laramie Project despite the fact that her mother helped to organize a forum against it, and no doubt opened the door for the similarly anti-gay Fred Phelps crew to plan their own protest of the event.
In a most brilliant display of resilience Claudia is standing up as an inspiring role model for anyone, especially young people, struggling with homophobia in their homes or communities. In addition to her acting, some of the things Claudia speaks out about include animal rights, AIDS, and war.
Today in an exclusive interview with QueerToday.com Claudia has revealed that she is a lesbian.
It seems that for every young person we lose due to homophobia there are many more who are standing strong in the face of adversity.
Please leave your support for Claudia in the comments section, and purchase your tickets to the Laramie Project here.
1. Hi Claudia! Could you tell the readers of QueerToday.com what your participation in the Laramie Project has been like?
Being a part of Laramie Project is great because it’s such an important piece of theater. A lot of us in the cast and crew have been working together for a while so there’s this support we all give to each other.
2. What lesson/s do you think are important for people to come away with after they see the play?
The most obvious message is acceptance, but people also need to understand that Matthew Shepard’s murder was not just a one time kind of thing, but it can happen anywhere.
3. What is it like for you as a young woman of color in your community, school, and home?
It doesn’t really affect me that much. I mean when I was younger some immature kids would make a comment or two about my eyes or something, but now it’s not really a big deal because there are a lot of Asians in my town.
4. What is it like for you to be supportive of gay rights but have an anti-gay activist parent?
It’s difficult because we clash horribly. It’s really stressful because there’s always an argument going on.
5. What has your brother's experience been like?
He went off to college when my mom was starting up with her activist stuff so he hasn’t had to live for extended periods of time lately.
6. Do you have any advice for young LGBT people and/or their allies?
Life can be difficult, to the point where you just want to give up on it, but if you find strength in yourself and support in your friends and don’t let anything hold you back, things will eventually fall into place.
7. What inspired you to become interested in the rights of oppressed communities, and animal rights, etc.? Who are some leaders (alive or dead) you look up to ?
Well I love animals and have grown up with them so the thought of killing them or torturing them tears me up. It’s disgusting. As far as oppressed communities go, I know what it’s like to be prevented from being who you are. It’s painful and psychologically unhealthy. People shouldn’t have to go through that.
8. Do you identify as LGB or T?
I am a lesbian, which my mom still does not get. She just says that I am confused. I realized in around eighth grade, but I was in denial for quite some time because I was scared due to my mother constantly saying that homosexuality is wrong. How can it ever be wrong to love though? That’s what I’d like to know.
By: Jasmyne A. Cannick (QueerToday.com Contributor)
Let's get straight to it. What the hell were Obama's people thinking when they invited a white openly gay minister to open for his South Carolina gospel concert with Donnie McClurkin?
Is he trying to lose the race? That's all I want to know.
It was bad enough that Obama's people invited and announced a gospel concert tour through South Carolina with openly homophobic singers Mary Mary and the ex-gay Donnie McClurkin, which sparked accusations of Obama running a homophobic campaign. But keepin' hope alive, I tried to make the best of it hoping that the protests would be used as a teachable moment for Obama and his campaign advisers. No such luck. First we get the standard statement, that I will point out was posted in the LGBT section of his website in the beginning and not the website's general newsroom, as if to say that this is for the gays only and we want to keep this under wraps. But to add injury to insult, Obama's campaign announces that he invited an openly gay minister to open the gospel concert. Initially I thought he'd gotten with someone in the Black same-gender loving community, perhaps a minister from UnityFellowshipChurch, or some other minister that was of African descent. Instead we get Rev. Andy Sidden, a white South Carolina pastor. Then, just in case the knife wasn't in deep enough Obama speaks with the Human Rights Campaign's president Joe Solmonese about it.
Where are the Black gay civil rights groups and am I the only one that sees this as problematic?
Now see this is the BS I keep talking about.
First of all, let's address the issue of having a white gay pastor at a campaign event that's geared towards religious African-Americans. Here we have a perfect opportunity for African-Americans to internally address the issue of homophobia with an African-American presidential candidate and instead of inviting a Black openly gay pastor, they invite a white man. Um, are we trying to see a repeat of 2004? Because if that's the goal, we sure are headed down the right track. And in the end, in my opinion it's Black gays who have the most to lose from this happening as there's already a general consensus that gay is synonymous with white. All this will do is further that notion and drive it home undoing all of the work that Black lesbians and gays have done over the past decade within their communities.
Oh and please save your energy and mine too from having to press delete. I already know that what I am saying is harsh. Harsh not racist. Harsh but true. It's already been established that using white gay folks to explain to Blacks have the gay civil rights movement is the same as the 60's Civil Right Movement doesn't work. In fact, it's an automatic turn off for most Blacks, including this Black lesbian. With a sensitive issue like this, it's important that Blacks talk to Blacks. Our community needs to see us and hear from us and no one but us. And if we sit up here and allow this to go down, we have no one but ourselves to blame for our invisibility.
It's not personal against Rev. Sidden, I am sure he's a great person. It is personal however with HRC who knows better but can't ever seem to pass up the chance to make the national news, no matter whose community gets dumped on in the process. But oh I forgot, we've come such a long way.
In a statement, HRC thanked Obama for including Sidden but said that they were disappointed McClurkin will remain part of the program.
Please note that they were not disappointed that an openly Black minister wasn't chosen or that there Black gays were not a part of the conversation and that it was important for African-Americans to hear from their same-gender loving daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers. No, they were disappointed that McClurkin was still a part of the program.
And I quote:
"There is no gospel in Donnie McClurkin's message for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies," Solmonese said. "That's a message that certainly doesn't belong on any presidential candidate's stage."
But what about the message in using a white openly gay pastor at a Black event to convince Blacks that homophobia is wrong? What kind of message is that going to send?
So now I am wondering who or what constitutes as an ally? Is an ally an ally when it's beneficial to them and them alone? Is an ally and ally when there are no media around? Is an ally an ally when they have millions in the bank and are still going after the same pots of money as their lesser-funded "people of color" counterparts? Tell me, are we allies then? Because an ally would have bowed out gracefully and encouraged, oh I don't know, maybe an African-American gay civil rights organization to take the lead. And if that organization for whatever reason failed to step to the plate, instead of trying speaking for people that you know nothing about, could that ally at the very least taken the time to point out that an important part of the equation is missing---us. Maybe something similar to the strategy adopted when our allies went running down to Jena, Louisiana to show their support for Blacks. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall them trying to upstage or drown out the voices of Reverend's Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
But no, Black gays get [insert four letter expletive here] from both sides, no pun intended.
Whether you believe it or not, having to talk about this in the manner that I have is not something that I get a kick out of doing. In fact, I try to ignore as much of this I can. However, since it's either going to be left up to HRC or Rev. Sidden to be the voice of Black gays regarding this slap in the face, kick in ass, jab in the gut, and knife in the back, I was compelled to give my two cents. I'll be damned if I don't feel it necessary to point out the hypocrisy from organizations that claim to be our allies while being recognized, credited with, and referred to for representing the majority of the gay community.
Now back to my man Obama, who over the past week has made it increasingly difficult for me as an African-American to overlook a horrendous mistake that was only made worse with the announcement of the invitation of Rev. Sidden.
Look, I can put up with a lot. I can put up with you hiring people who don't look like me or you who are then sent into our communities to "rally us." It's hard, but I can deal with it. Even when those people come into our communities and use our leaders to stage events and that bring us out, and then at the same time turn around and try to undermine our strategies. I mean after all, there's no written law that says you have to be from the community and at least identify with the community you are trying to cajole. But it does help, that's all I'm saying.
I can even rationalize how a homophobic gospel artist could get booked for a campaign event, especially if there's no one around to say anything differently. No one, like maybe openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender Blacks. Although, there's still no guarantee that even if there had been someone that raised a flag about the concert that his or her opinion would have been taken seriously. Just keeping it real.
Organizations like HRC help to pave the way for decisions like having Rev. Sidden at an African-American gospel concert. Decisions like inviting Rev. Sidden, a white openly gay pastor to address a mostly African-American audience further push the idea among Blacks that gay is white. The belief that whites are trying to push gay issues onto Blacks further divides the African-American community from their same-gender loving counterparts who continue to remain invisible. All of this while racial incidents involving whites and Blacks are occurring from coast to coast causing many Blacks to question whether or not there's a coordinated plan in action for their reentry in slavery. Couple that with a heavily divided Black constituency on issues of morality during a pivotal Presidential election and we stand a higher chance of repeating the past, which resulted in the current regime.
The behavior of certain organizations is almost expected. It isn't the first time and won't be the last. But where does all of this leave Black gays? What are we supposed to do? You keep pushing us against wall and I know we let you slide before, but this one can't be overlooked. We deserve better. Nix Sidden and invite an openly gay Black pastor. Then let's sit down and talk about this so it doesn't happen again. Anything less, and it's a wrap.
GENDER-IDENTITY INCLUSIVENESS IN ENDA -- (House of Representatives - October 23, 2007)
[Page: H11911] GPO's PDF
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from
Mr. WEINER. Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, later on this week or perhaps early next week, this House will embark on the latest chapter in our Nation's history of extending the civil rights that all Americans should be entitled to to one other group. We will be considering the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. It is an effort to make sure that people are not discriminated against in their workplace because of their sexual orientation, because of their gender identity. It is something that is intuitive to so many Americans, and, frankly, the overwhelming number of Americans. And it is an example of how sometimes we in this House lead on civil rights issues and sometimes we follow.
In this case, it is a little bit of each. Under ENDA, we will be following to a large degree. Hundreds of companies, including virtually all of the Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 companies, already recognized fundamentally that it is good business to judge people by the quality of their work, their intellect, their drive, by what they bring to the business, not what their sexual orientation or gender identity is.
Overwhelming numbers of companies, and not just companies that you would describe as being progressive, but companies from all across the political spectrum, financial services groups like American Express and J.P. Morgan and Lehman. You have companies like Clear Channel Communication, Coca-Cola, Nationwide Insurance, Nike, Microsoft. These are all companies that, when they write the contracts for their other workers, it is fundamental to them that there will be no discrimination based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.
For these companies and for the 90 percent or so of American people that responded to a
But we are going to be leading in some important ways. There are still about 30 percent of people who respond to polls who are members of the lesbian, bisexual and transgender community who say that they experience discrimination at the workplace regularly. Some of them, 25 percent, say they experience it on a regular basis. Why should that be? Is that an American value? Is it an American value to say we should discriminate on someone based on the sense of who they love or how they express it? Of course not.
So, for those men and women throughout all 50 States, we will be leading later on this week when we pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. But it is very important that we also realize that we are leading on another element to this discussion. There is an active discussion going on in this Chamber and elsewhere whether or not to include gender identity in the same category we include sexual orientation. I say unequivocally the answer is yes. There are people who every day experience discrimination because of their gender identity.
Susan Stanton spent 14 years as the
Diane Schroer, 25 years of distinguished service in the Army as David. Recorded 450 parachute jumps, received the Defense Superior Service Medal, hand picked to lead a classified national security operation. Retired and was offered a job with a private homeland security consulting firm. The offer was rescinded when Schroer explained he was transgender and wanted to begin the job as a woman.
But the question has come up: If we can't include gender identity in this bill, should we do anything at all? Should we take half a loaf.
My colleagues, I think the answer is no. I think we cannot toss this element of an important civil rights coalition to the side. We have to make sure, particularly in the context of us doing what is largely symbolic, there is no sense that the Senate is going to act on this, and certainly no sense that the President of the
If we are going to make a symbolic stand, the symbolic stand should be let's pass a one House bill with only part of the protections. Let's let the symbolic message be that we are sticking together, that when we say ``GLBT,'' we mean it. And we should do something else. We should also make it very clear to those watching this discussion that we are not going to negotiate against ourselves. We are not going to say if we toss this element or that element off to the side, maybe we will be able to get what we need. There are some things that are immutable, some civil rights that are immutable. This is one of them.
We are going to stick together and pass an inclusive ENDA, or we are going to come back again and do it right.
Even 365gay reported:
" (Washington) Rep. Barney Frank on Friday said that he will lobby other members of Congress to support an amendment to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would cover transsexuals."
No Barney, that is the lie you have perpetrated to make your case for a split ENDA. These protections are good for you and the rest of us!
CALL YOUR REP TODAY and support the Tammy Baldwin's amendment, even if you already called.
www.blackandpink.org/ministry (please pre-register for the conference at this site)
An Overnight Conference for Translesbigay/queer Youth
(endorsed by the Boston Area Youth Organizing Project, BYOP)
In celebration of queer youth we (Jason Lydon and Kate Long, two Divinity Students at Andover Newton Theological School and Harvard Divinity School) will be hosting a conference from Nov. 16 at 7pm till Nov. 17th at 7pm at the Community Church of Boston (565 Boylston Street in Copley Square). This conference will be a celebration of queer youth and religion. We will look at how one can read all of the major religions as queer positive. We will look at the faith and practice of queer youth and figure out how to find queer identity within one's own faith. This will not be about converting anyone to a particular religion or even to religion at all. This is a place to explore together this concept of religion that is so often used against us. It's time to turn the tables around and create a radical queer understanding of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Food will be provided and registration is FREE!!!!
I applaud MassEquality for opening their doors to the queer community to hear our suggestions for the organization's future. In addition to providing a survey on their website, they made an admirable effort on October 15 to create a forum that allowed diverse views to be heard.
Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to think about the future of MassEquality if the organization will not first address and begin to heal the wounds they have inflicted upon the queer community.
The members of MassEquality's Board of Directors who were present at each of the three group discussions I attended during the forum seemed shocked to hear that their own coalition members and queer community members are upset with the organization.
They did not know that:
- women are frustrated because MassEquality actively campaigned against several pro-choice candidates that were endorsed by the National Organization for Women (NOW),
- immigrants rights advocates are frustrated because the organization endorsed a vehemently anti-immigrant candidate (yet they gathered signatures at immigrant rights rallies),
- and anti-war activists feel betrayed because the organization endorsed pro-war candidates (yet they gathered signatures at anti-war rallies).
They were also surprised to learn that many of the queer youth of Boston, who were at first energized by the protests at the state house, now feel silenced and betrayed by the organization.
As a local organizer, I have been hearing these concerns for years, so I was astonished to learn that MassEquality had not.
Something about the structure of MassEquality must have fostered an environment that allowed members of their Board of Directors to be out of touch with the pressing needs of its coalition members and the queer community at large. If NOW's concerns had more consideration, for example, perhaps the two groups could have created a more cohesive effort to elect pro-choice, pro-same-sex marriage candidates.
Many of the folks I spoke with at the forum were afraid that broadening the mission of MassEquality could cause "division," but what they did not consider before was that the organization's tactics had already divided us.
We now have an organization with compassionate staff who promised the transgender community they would "come back for them," but because of its narrow mission it is unable to officially endorse the campaign for a United ENDA.
The moderator of the forum said that there was a consensus among the attendees that MassEquality's strength is its broad coalition. Why, then, were some of the board members hearing frustrations from their own coalition members for the very first time? Another theme that emerged was that people wanted MassEquality to re-elect pro-marriage candidates, which begs the question: will the organization continue to marginalize their own community by campaigning for anti-immigrant, anti-choice, and pro-war candidates?
The sad truth is that MassEquality's strategy for strength and success relied upon its monolithic focus, big budget, slick and patriotic marketing, and a willingness to fight for marriage equality on the backs of other organizations more rooted in the spirit of liberation for all.
If the organization intends to move forward and keep their coalition intact, their Board of Directors must actively work to give their staff and coalition members an actual voice at the table, and, most importantly, make a fresh commitment to learn about and execute the principles of anti-oppression work and social justice in their decision making process.
"Washington) The revised Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace, but with references to gender identity removed, is headed to a vote on the House floor following approval Thursday in committee.........Reminder to HRC/Frank/Media - It is not just trans protections. It is protections for everyone based on gender identity and expression!
Several of them refused to vote in favor of marking up the bill as it stands - among them presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich..........
When the revised bill reaches the floor of the House, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will introduce an amendment that would add trans protections......
As opposition mounted a number of organizations met last Friday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi who gave assurances that once ENDA becomes law and as soon as there is enough support for amendments adding back in the protections for transsexuals that version would also be presented.....
HRC called the the process less than ideal but acceptable. It was rejected outright by the other major LGBT rights groups. "
United ENDA Supports Congresswoman Baldwin’s newly announced efforts to restore gender identity protections to Employment Non-Discrimination Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced today that she has secured an agreement from the Democratic leadership to introduce an amendment to H.R. 3685 that would restore gender identity protections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The amendment would be considered on the House floor next week, after the bill moves through the House Education and Labor Committee this Thursday. After her announcement, the United ENDA coalition released the following statement:
Two weeks ago, our community was told that gender identity would not be included in any version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Congressional Leadership expected our community to acquiesce. However, United ENDA effectively communicated the strong opposition of hundreds of organizations and millions of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to leadership's efforts to advance a stripped down version of the bill.
It is because of our unprecedented efforts that new options, such as the proposed amendment by Congresswoman Baldwin, are able to come before Congress. Members of Congress responded to the successful strategy of our coalition and many expressed their strong desire to vote for an inclusive bill that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Clearly, our preferred strategy is to pass the original ENDA (H.R. 2015) out of committee. However, if we are faced with a non-inclusive bill following the committee vote, we will work with Congresswoman Baldwin to repair ENDA to include protections on the basis of gender identity. We appreciate that Congressional leaders like Congresswoman Baldwin continue to share our commitment to pass an inclusive bill, and we expect Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership will actively support the
Barney Frank is stepping up his rhetoric in favor of a stripped ENDA, and HRC is virtually standing by his side.
We must act now to show the broad support for a United ENDA! A decision could be made in the next 24 hours. If you haven't taken one minute to call, please do it now. It's easy! 202-224-312 HR2015 and nothing else.
we'll be protected by our government, the good news is that Barney Frank's divisive ENDA strategy has galvanized the queer community and sparked a long overdue discussion about gender identity and expression.
Take Action This Week! Call your Representative right now at 202-224-3121, even if you have already called him/her already about this issue. Tell him/her to oppose advancing H.R. 3685, the bill that leaves transgender people behind. Tell him/her to push for a vote on H.R. 2015, the transgender-inclusive ENDA, instead.Talking Points:
- It is unprecedented for Congress to pass civil rights legislation that is not supported by a single organization in the community the law is supposed to protect. Over 300 LGBT organizations representing over 2 million Americans actively oppose any employment nondiscrimination legislation that does not include gender identity.
- HR 3685 does NOT provide sufficient protection against discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Not only does this bill completely fail to protect transgender people, but it also fails to protect lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and straight people who do not conform to gender stereotypes.
- HR 3685 is morally and strategically wrong. Not only is it morally wrong to leave part of the LGBT community out of this bill, but it is also strategically wrong. We have learned from our work in the states that it is far easier to include gender identity in civil rights legislation the first time it is passed than it is to try to go back and add it in later.
The Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project has growing concerns about the safety of GLBT visitors to Provincetown. There have been several recent cases of anti-GLBT violence, and the Provincetown Police are part of the problem rather than the solution. The Cape Cod Times reported on October 12, 2007 that the police are refusing to prosecute the perpetrator of an attack in which rocks were thrown at a group of gay men, who were also shoved while threats and homophobic epithets were shouted. The perpetrator has been identified, and there seems to be no dispute about the hateful words and his actions. But he won’t get so much as a slap on the wrist for his crimes.
On September 10th, a New Bedford gay man was brutally attacked with a blunt object from behind, just after he had been called a “faggot” by a group of 3 young men. He was unconscious for a period of time, but there are indications from his injuries that he was dragged over rocks and sand by his assailants. The police failed to conduct a timely search for potential witnesses to the attack, and apparently have no leads in the case. The crime may well go unsolved, with the bashers remaining on the loose to strike again. At least one additional summer hate crime is under investigation, while advocates have concerns that the police have failed to recognize other potential gaybashings.
Finally, the Provincetown Police are coming under fire for unprofessional conduct. In the most egregious instance, police themselves perpetrated a brutal attack on Boston DJ Barry Scott in July. Scott was targeted because he briefly criticized the police after they shut down a birthday party at 10:30 on a Saturday evening. Scott was beaten up and is being prosecuted for his alleged words. Repeated complaints about the party were phoned in by one of Provincetown’s most notorious homophobes, whose motives are suspect.
Meanwhile, the police are understaffed and undertrained, but resistant to change and actively hostile to GLBT victim advocates. Instead of hunting for other witnesses in the wake of the September 10th gaybashing, the Acting Chief of Police spent time on a press offensive to impugn the victim for allegedly having been drinking before he was attacked, and to assail advocates telling the victim’s story for spreading “inaccuracies.” The siege mentality is reflected in the recently announced plans of the Provincetown Police Union to go to court to stop the Town from hiring a permanent chief of police unless one is chosen from within their own ranks. The only hope for reform lies in bringing in a police chief from outside who is committed to respect for civil rights, an end to hate crimes, and sensitivity to the public safety needs of GLBT visitors.
Guest Post by Sue Hyde
Director, Creating Change Conference
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force promised in 1999 to advocate for job protections for all LGBT people. We meant it then, we mean it now. We're following through on that promise by going all out for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that will protect all of us from arbitrary discrimination at work.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, H.R. 2015, was originally introduced to ban job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality) and gender identity and expression (transgender and non-conforming gender identity and expression). The Task Force believes that federal job protections must protect the rights of all of us to get a job, keep a job, have a job. Getting and keeping a job is fundamental to everyone's survival in our society.
But last week, Congressional leaders announced that they would not go forward with H.R. 2015, the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Fearing that the fully inclusive bill would go down to defeat, they now propose splitting the bill into two parts: one that would protect us from job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and one that would protect us from job discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. Although they say that their strategy is to pass the sexual orientation-only bill first and then come back to a jobs protection bill for gender identity and expression, this strategy has yielded few victories in state legislatures. There is no reason to think that transgender job protections will do any better in the U.S. Congress.
Action on the sexual orientation-only bill has been postponed, for up to two weeks. Hearings on the split, trans-stripped bill may take place on October 15, but perhaps sooner.
We have only a short window open to us for advocacy supporting the original bill, H.R. 2015 Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
You can help us turn up the heat for job protections for all of us!
1. Congress needs to hear from you! Click on the link to send your message to Congress.
Visit our ENDA Action Center to send an updated e-mail message to your U.S. representatives.
2. Become a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force or renew your membership. Here is why: The Task Force is leading an exciting and energizing campaign to support HR 2015, the fully inclusive version of ENDA. As in any campaign, all available resources must be put to the task at hand. But, we need to do more to win the day. We need to bring on additional lobbyists; we need to ratchet up our presence on blog/web sites that support a fully inclusive ENDA; we'd like to be doing so much more in this campaign! As we see in Presidential campaigns, there is a fundraising race that precedes the actual election. We want to show the naysayers that we have good support from all over the country and one very concrete way to show that support is to be able to say that our allies in this epic struggle voted with their cheers and thanks and their precious personal funds for our ENDA work.
Help us get this job done by supporting the Task Force in this critical moment. Thank you for your commitment and support!
" Following the meeting the Human Rights Campaign said a commitment was made to send the stripped down version of bill - with the exclusion of protections for transsexuals or sexual identity - to a committee vote next week with a House floor vote to follow and that Pelosi had given assurances that as soon as there is enough support for amendments adding back in the protections for transsexuals that version would also be presented..........Frank last week said once the gay and lesbian portions of the bill were passed he would work to have transsexuals added. Only the Human Rights Campaign supported the tactic. Nine other major LGBT groups announced their opposition and by the end of the week the number had grown to almost 300.....The agreement worked out Friday between Pelosi and the HRC does little more than reaffirm Rep. Frank's earlier commitment to work for trans rights once the rest of ENDA is passed.....And it drew the immediate ire of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force."We completely disagree with this proposed strategy – it simply makes no sense," said executive director Matt Foreman in a statement. .....Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, also attended Friday's meeting with Pelosi but declined to sign on to the agreement reached with the HRC. "
Start thinking about your outfit and get your tickets now! The Femme Show is the place to be this weekend.
The Femme Show offers smart, sexy, interactive performance about queer femme identity taking place in Jamaica Plain October 12 and 13, 2007. Some of the area's hottest, most provocative artists have banded together to bring you an evening of film, dance, literary readings, burlesque, drag, and performance art that is sure to delight. In addition to rocking performances, the Femme Show includes vendors, an art show, and a bake sale to benefit the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.
October 12 and 13, 2007
8:00 PM Capen Auditorium,
Central Congregational Church, JP
85 Seaverns Ave, 1 block from the Green Street T Stop
$11 in advance, $12 at the door
for Tickets, Artist info, and more
I was doing some research on the controversy surrounding the private security firm Blackwater, and its CEO and founder Erik Prince. Blackwater employees were involved in a massacre of Iraqi civilians in Baghdad last month, and Erik Prince was forced to appear before a House Committee last week.
I was intrigued to learn that his father Edgar was a co-founder of the Family Research Council with Gary Bauer. Erik interned in the first Bush Administration, but grew disenchanted in part because he didn’t agree with “homosexual groups being invited in” to the White House, as he told the Grand Rapids, MI press. He campaigned for Pat Buchanan in 1992. A former Navy Seal, he came into a large inheritance when his Dad died in 1995, and he used the funds to start Blackwater. He is a major contributor to both Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. He’s on the Board of “Christian Freedom International.” His sister married a Republican bigwig in Michigan and has been a major fundraiser for the second George Bush.
I’ve always wondered where James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Gary Bauer got the big bucks they needed to bankroll their massive media operations. I gather they benefit from the largesse of wealthy fundamentalists like the Prince family. Meanwhile, Blackwater has raked in around a billion dollars in US government contracts for its controversial security role in Iraq. The September 16th episode may prove to be Prince’s downfall, given the fallout.
I think it’s a scandal that the guy who founded the trigger-happy security firm that shoots up the streets in Baghdad is a major supporter of the religious right. Apparently Prince’s Bible omits the part where God commands Thou shalt not kill.
Andrew Sullivan, however, the most classic example of a homocon, and the embodiment of everything I fear the mainstream gay movement is right-wardly heading towards, used his bullshit surface-level discarding rhetoric to toss aside, as usual, those "crazy pomo overly-intellectualizing self-alleged radical bohemian theory-jargon-gender-*#&2!" queers that are siding with the IRANIAN ENEMIES who are un-American-ly killing off the gays:
Read Andrew Sullivan's comment here
SICK OF IT! Andrew Sullivan, homocons in general, and mainstream LGBTers continually use these strategies to further schism the "gay left" or more radical queer perspectives from the larger gay movement... these tactics and these unscathing arguments that do not examine the underlying issues critically will eventuate in nothing but further debilitating queer-related politics... sigh
QueerToday.com officially supports a United ENDA, and has signed the United ENDA document at http://www.unitedenda.org. There are now over 282 LGBT organizations and allied groups including labor unions and others representing over 2 million people in support of one ENDA.
HRC is not signing the document because while they are supporting a united ENDA, they refuse to encourage legislators not to vote for the version of ENDA that does not include gender identity and expression. MassEquality is not signing the document because their "mission is too narrow" at this time.
As a member group of United ENDA we will do everything we can to support the effort to pass one, unified version of ENDA. Most importantly, we will continue to do everything we can to educate the LGBT community and our allies about what gender identity and expression means, and why it is important for all of us to be protected from discrimination based on our gender identity or expression.
Please call (Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121) your representative today and ask them to only support the original ENDA: H.R. 2015. It only takes two minutes.
I am amazed at how people who have studied no ancient languages and know nothing about ancient cultures can still proclaim that they know exactly what the Bible says about sexuality. Professional scholars who have studied the Bible for decades won't display the kind of hubris in biblical interpretation I have seen on the pages of The Sun Chronicle.
Actually, the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexuality because there was no such thing as "homosexuality" in the ancient world. Rather, the Bible discusses specific same-sex acts in specific contexts.
Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 prohibit a specific act between two males. Some say that it is a purity regulation Christians can disregard, like the ban on sexual relations with a woman in her menstruation. Others suggest that the passage deals with cultic sexual practices of the Canaanites. Still others, such as gay-affirmative orthodox Jews, argue that the passage is just a proscription of anal intercourse but not other physical expressions of same-sex love.
When St. Paul discusses same-sex behavior (Rom. 1:18-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10), some suggest that he is dealing with orgiastic behavior associated with fertility cults, and others suggest that he is discussing same-sex relationships in the context of the slave trade. I personally believe that Paul's views on sex were based on ancient assumptions no one accepts today. (If anyone is interested in ancient notions of sexuality they should read "Making Sex" by Thomas Lacquer or Dale Martin's "Heterosexism and the Interpretation of Romans 1:18-32" in his most recent book "Sex and the Single Savior.")
That these verses are blanket condemnations of all same sex behavior in all contexts is one interpretation among many and is not the result of a simple reading of the texts. Rather it is a decision, informed by bigotry, to privilege one reading over another.
As a Christian, my ethics and values are informed by the Bible. But the Bible was written in societies that did not presuppose democracy, universal human rights, racial and ethnic equality, and other values I hold dear. That is why some biblical passages promote women's social inferiority (1 Cor. 11:3-15; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Tim. 2:9-15), slavery (Exod. 20:2-11, 20-21; Col. 3:22; 1 Pet. 2:18-20) and condemn protest and resistance to oppressive governments (Rom. 13:1-7). Simply applying biblical language and assumptions to the modern era is dangerous, as we have seen with the issue of slavery in U.S. history.
A truly ethical Christian worldview is informed not only by the Bible, but by important modern ideas that resonate with the true spirit of scripture - a spirit of love and justice. Those of us who approach the Bible with this spirit know that there are some ideas that we need to leave in the ancient world. And we stand in the tradition of the biblical prophets, who understood that new insights often meant leaving old interpretations behind (Ezek. 18:2-9; Jer. 31:28-30; cf. Exod. 20:5; 34:7; Num 14:18 and Isa. 56:3-4; cf. Lev. 21:20; 22:24; Deut. 23:1).
In reference to his partner who died of AIDS complications, "There were times that I saw Christ's face within Frank's face as I penetrated him in intercourse As I was penetrated I felt penetrated by Frank and Christ. As I tasted Frank's body, I tasted Christ's body. We experienced a menage a trois and the inclusionary love of God."
"Many priests enjoy the masochism of submission to a Catholic top while defiant and out priests are stigmatized as fallen, no longer obedient to their hierarchical husbands."
In reference to the spiritual aspects of barebacking (which i'm still struggling with, but appreciating the theological challenge) "Recognizing that power is one of the ways I defy this virus [HIV], I believe in exchanging bodily fluids, not wedding rings." This quote is actually from Scott O'Hara
Quoting Montefiore, an Anglican, "if Jesus were homosexual in nature, then this would be further evidence of God's self-identification with those who are unacceptable to the upholders of 'The Establishment" and social conventions. The character of Jesus here discloses an important aspect of the nature of God, befriending the friendless, and identifying with the underprivileged"
The stories go on and on. I would encourage folks to check out this book, Queering Christ. I especially like that lots of folks have written that Paul may have actually been gay and that his writings in the Christian text about "homosexual behavior" was actually him acting out his internalized homophobia. Such a concept fills me with compassion for anti-gay zealots. Most of them, like St. Paul, are likely dealing with so much internalized homophobia. My heart goes out to them.
So, queers, lets queer up religion. (though it's likely that dismantling religion as a whole is the real answer, it seems to do far more bad than it does good... not so sure...."
For more actions check out uscampaignforburma.org.
For coverage check out the BBC coverage of Burma. If you have found any better coverage let me know.
From Today's BayWindows editorial entitled "Barney Frank is Right"
"LGBT organizations from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network are demanding that either a trans-inclusive ENDA be put forward or none at all.She goes on to defend HRC's relative neutrality, and insinuate that anyone fighting for one ENDA is divisive. Wake up Susan! HRC has a long history of shaky relations with the trans community. And the fact that in 2007 they have lost their first and only trans board member speaks for itself! As the editor of an LGBT newspaper you should be better informed about how gender identity and expression protections are the most important for all of us.
This is madness."
So far, over 150 of the leading LGBT organizations have signed the letter of opposition to any ENDA that does not include trans people. The inspiring story here, is that the vast majority of our community is united in support of one, trans-inclusive ENDA!
William Henderson, the editor of InNewsWeekly had a different take than Ryan-Vollmar. This is one of several recent pro-trans rights articles Henderson has written for the paper.
"The freedom to express ourselves and be ourselves is at stake when any one of us is punished and persecuted for stepping outside the rigid rules of gender conformity. Lesbians, gay men and bisexual people historically engage a whole range of dress and behaviors that challenge the traditional gender code."
Their featured ex-gay speaker, Stephen Bennett, didn't show up because he was allegedly involved in a hit and run accident just before the event. Brian and the other panelists were convinced that it was a "homosexual" who hit Stephen and drove off - providing them with a theme for the night. One speaker asked, " Where is Stephen Bennett's 'safe zone?'."
All of the speakers could not stop talking about our penises and vaginas, and what people should do with said body parts. They are more obsessed with our bodies and sex lives than we are.
Each speaker made a point to compare the LGBT community and our "propaganda" to "Nazi Germany." I do not make such comparisons, but is it not the "ex-gay" movement that sends teenagers to abusive conversion camps?
The most disturbing speaker was Dr. Diggs who reminded the predominately white audience several times that he was speaking "as a black man." He invoked the names of Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders only to assure the audience that they were never speaking about the rights of "homosexuals." He would go into graphic detail about racist hate crimes for no apparent reason at all, and then transition into incoherent discussions about transexuality. I wonder how he would feel, as a black man of course, about the fact that the people he mentioned looking up to, James Dobson and Tony Perkins, have connections to white supremacist groups. Diggs also had plenty of "statistics" up his sleeve to prove that homosexuality is a "dangerous" world that leads to a shorter lifespan, AIDS, and anal cancer. His best one liner was that homosexuality was not a lifestyle but a "death-style." Clever. I feel bad for anyone who is his patient because he is practicing medicine based on junk science.
The speakers made it a point to distance themselves from the Fred Phelps cult. But the thing is, they agree with everything Fred Phelps says. They are just embarrassed by his tactics and choice of words.
Nothing the speakers had to say was in any way related to the Laramie Project.
People were encouraged to write questions on notecards, but no questions were asked aloud. One of the "ex-gays" sorted through the questions before handing them to the panelists.
After the program one crazed Amy Contrada fan came over to us and said that we hated her lord and savior Jesus Christ because she had read what we wrote about "Queering Jesus." I assured her I did not hate Jesus, a minister wrote the post, and he was quoting a book. She said she could see in my eyes that I hated myself. I assured her that I loved myself and that I was in a loving relationship and had loving parents. I even said I had compassion towards her. She insisted that I hated myself. (craaaaazy lady!) Then I asked if she would like her picture on queertoday.com. She immediately ran back over to Amy to tell her what happened. I'm sure she will try to say that we threatened her or something even though she approached us. MassResistance has a reputation for twisting the facts.
The crowd was mostly older, too old to be parents of high school students. I would feel confident in assuming that most of them were not from Acton or had any affiliation with the school.
I will update soon with links to other blogs and news sources that covered the event.